When machines have a “mind of their own”

“In the beginning, my journey at the University of Vienna was not what one would call linear. I guess some students can sympathise with me in this regard. I had to change my degree programme several times and attend courses from different programmes before finally finding my ‘home’ at the Faculty of Computer Science. Without having any previous knowledge but having a great interest in and a passion for the field, I soon realised that the degree programme in Computer Science at the University of Vienna is the perfect mix for me and corresponds to my greatest areas of interest: philosophy, logic, digital technology and the practical application of all these fields.

Through my degree programme, I could gain insight into many different areas of computer science that aroused my fascination, especially artificial intelligence (AI). I had already been interested in robots and AI in my youth but the insight I gained into the implementation and use of these technologies shed a whole new light on them. Thus, when it was time to choose a topic for my bachelor’s thesis, I immediately knew that I wanted to write about artificial intelligence. However, I did not want to implement a small, simple project, but something with added value as far as possible. Thanks to the excellent support of my supervisor Simone Kriglstein at the Faculty of Computer Science, who attended to me and my ideas, I was indeed able to meet my grandiloquent goals.

In my bachelor’s thesis, I investigate how humans interact with seemingly intelligent machines, especially when these have a ‘mind of their own’. In practice, this means that users interact with a group of robots in a virtual environment by using virtual reality glasses and the relevant controllers. The aim of the project is to gain knowledge about how humans deal with ‘intelligent’ machines, how they perceive such machines and how the behaviour or the design of the machines influences the interactions. The finished project has already had an impact on research projects by the Faculty of Psychology. I hope that the results that will be produced can contribute to improving interactions between humans and robots.” – Mathias Weinhofer

Mathias studied Computer Science at the University of Vienna.

“I have to admit that I did not really follow a linear path towards the master’s programme in Science – Technology – Society. As I am the child of parents who had not studied themselves, it was helpful that I could try out different degree programmes without having to go through a challenging entrance exam … Continued

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“Indecisiveness has always been my greatest enemy. At the University of Vienna, I could convert my weaknesses into strengths. My name is Ludmila Peterková. I come from Slovakia, but I am of Russian origin, which is why I grew up bilingually. I was not only exposed to languages at home, but I also found them … Continued

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“My educational journey into Cognitive Science shattered beliefs and made me stumble into a crisis about what science even is. But ultimately, my Master’s degree in Cognitive Science was the most rewarding experience I could have wished for and fundamentally reconceptualized how I see the world. I was already reading books on cognitive psychology during … Continued

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