Science Fiction Prototyping: Interdisciplinary Collaboration

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Eva Dooley attends the opera in Shanghai. Photo courtesy: Eva Dooley

Eva Dooley attends the opera in Shanghai. Photo courtesy: Eva Dooley

This May, I had the opportunity to travel to Shanghai, China, in order to attend a workshop at the IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA). The workshop that I attended was called on Robots & Art, and featured invited speakers, short paper presentations, and videos from both roboticists and artists. The goal of this multidisciplinary workshop was to examine issues relating to robot-art collaboration and provide roboticists and artists the chance to appreciate and understand each other’s perspectives and issues. The various presentations throughout the day covered many interesting topics and provided many opportunities for discussion.

In the fall of 2010, I took a course with Professor Sarah Pérez-Kriz on Science Fiction Prototyping (SFP), and participated in a research group on the same topic this past winter. Science Fiction Prototyping is an emerging methodology that uses the process of writing fiction based on actual science to describe potential future technologies and discuss the issues that might arise from the existence of those technologies. These experiences prepared me to contribute to on Robots & Art. The two papers I co-authored that were accepted to the workshop were both on the topic of SFP; one discussed the use of science fiction and SFP in a classroom setting, the other described the process of creating an SFP from the student perspective and the interdisciplinary collaboration that occurs within that process.

At the workshop, I presented a paper, "Science Fiction Prototyping: Interdisciplinary Collaboration," which was the first that I'd ever presented in a conference setting. I also assisted Professor Pérez-Kriz with the mini-workshop that she presented on the practice of Science Fiction Prototyping. The mini-workshop was well-received by participants, and was a pleasure to take part in. My research advisor from my undergraduate work at Washington University in St. Louis also attended the workshop, and it was a pleasure to catch up with him. The workshop and the dinner that followed gave me an excellent opportunity to participate in interdisciplinary dialogue with people from around the world. It was an eye-opening and enjoyable learning experience.

I am very grateful to Professor Pérez-Kriz and the department for giving me the opportunity to attend this workshop. It was my pleasure and privilege to represent HCDE internationally, and I hope that I did it justice.