The context of the program is found in the consideration that the 21st century will witness a next industrial and societal revolution by the development and deployment of CSIMs in our society. These systems can be realized as pragmatic and functional products such as mobile devices and services; educational and edutainment systems; information systems and media applications; assistive applications; culture creation, dissemination and promotion systems; interactive systems for leisure activities; artistic installations, etc. What these systems have in common is that they must perceive, make decisions and behave in the real-world in close collaboration and interaction with humans and/or other artefacts. The final instantiation of the resulting applications and machines may be: robots, interactive installations and applications, intelligent-emotive buildings, systems and services for ambient assisted living, informational environments, etc.
CSIMs are expressed at the interface of neuroscience, psychology, communication sciences, robotics and computer science while their practical realization will draw on media research, design and the arts (see Fig 1). The MP aims to be at the forefront of this development and will train the researchers and professionals that will investigate the biological, psychological, linguistic and information principles underlying cognition, emotion, communication and behaviour and develop and deploy the technological methods and artistic concepts required for the realization of CSIMs as real-world systems.
Fig 1: Conceptualisation of the relationship between CSIMs and their environment illustrating the inherent interdisciplinary nature of their creation and deployment. See text for further explanation.
The successful realization and deployment of CSIMs requires the close interaction between a number of disciplines. At the level of the design and realization of their control systems, central research and development themes will be closely tied to computational, cognitive and neuroscience including the integration of multiple sensory modalities into systems for decision-making, action selection, communication and behavioural control and the coordination of these processes. For instance, the coordination within and between sensor modalities, their consistent integration with different behavioural goals and strategies. Or we can think of the adaptation of perception and behaviour in the context of social interaction and high-level communication. CSIMs, whether services or robot, will be real-world systems and in their physical instantiation central concepts and methods will be used from media research, digital arts and design. In their interaction with their physical and social environment CSIMs must be able to interact and communicate, including the use of advanced natural-language-like symbol systems. To shape the communication and to optimize the procedures for information acquisition and presentation well established paradigms from information and communication science must be considered. Subsequently concepts and methods from psychology, cognitive-neuroscience, computer science and anthropology must be deployed to study in detail the interaction between humans and CSIMs and the impact of CSIMs on their social environments.
The master program aims at training its students to practically and conceptually master these different domains and to be able to both contribute detailed and specialized knowledge and skills to the construction of CSIMs and, in particular, to manage and understand the complex interdisciplinary coordination that is required for their realization and deployment.
The objective of the CSIM master program is to train a truly interdisciplinary researcher / professional who will by virtue of his/her fundamental knowledge and practical skills have a significant impact on the rapidly evolving field of CSIMs.
Students, after completing the program, will comprehend the specificities of interactive media and cognitive systems, understand the potential and differences of these systems with respect to other media, will know how to generate and analyse a specific user experience and how communication between an artefact and a human user can be created and analysed. In addition, the students will be trained to understand how CSIMs are structured, as well as their basic underlying technologies. Finally, the students will acquire a deep knowledge of the relevant theories and methods used to design, analyze and study CSIMs and their interaction with people and other artefacts.
From the point of view of practical work, students will be capable of understanding and use current CSIM technologies and those that may be realized in the near future. This will place them in a position to incorporate new developments efficiently, coherently and in a consistent manner within existing CSIMs. This program will train students to be active as researchers or professionals that know from both a fundamental as well as a practical point of view how to design, develop, deploy and integrate CSIMs into useful real-world systems. In addition, they will know how to autonomously study these CSIMs and their interaction with people, including data acquisition and analysis.