In his latest book “Klara and the Sun”1, the Nobel Prize-winning author, Kazuo Ishiguro, recounts the story of human-robot friendship. Being an Artificial Friend, Klara’s existential goal, is to help children to be less lonely. She – the main protagonist of Ishiguro’s novel – is equipped with abilities resembling those of humans, albeit with superior speed and accuracy. Besides, Klara can communicate and interact with children and adults equally well, even though she cannot smell. She recognizes emotions based on voice, facial expressions, and choice of words. Her loyalty is so strong that she is willing to make sacrifices for Josie, her owner, who is a genetically engineered teenager.
The story indeed highlights Klara’s human-like qualities and her socialness. While artificial friends like Klara are no more than fictional fictious characters in dystopian novels their less sophisticated counterparts are real to us and our young ones. We can easily observe the abundance of smart toys, adaptive learning applications, and digital assistants for schoolchildren on the market. Winky (https://heywinky.com), Miko (https://store.miko.ai), Moxie (https://embodied.com), and Misa (heymisa.myshopify.com) are only four examples of them. These products are conversational agents (CAs), artificial intelligence (AI) based entities which can understand children’s natural speech and, in turn, articulate their responses in such a manner that is understandable by children. These conversational agents are embodied physically, making them a vivid and haptic digital companion to our next generation.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which promoted social distancing, has led to an increase of robots to clean metros or classrooms. The accompanying switch to distant learning has also changed the way how children learn. Anecdotal evidence shows children and families relied on voice assistants (a form of CAs) to schedule schoolwork2 or check historical facts3. Learning activities have shifted from in-person classrooms to digital and hybrid environments. But not quietly, as teachers, parents, and schoolchildren voice divergent reactions. Some are concerned with schoolchildren’s learning progress and social development, whereas others are more optimistic, highlighting how schoolchildren discover and develop new learning and social strategies, such as watching publicly available tutorials to accompany their lectures and experimenting with social networking applications for team assignments. Whatever the reactions, we still do not know much about how and why schoolchildren can benefit from embodied conversational agents. And because this concerns children and education, there is a lot at stake.
In order to broaden our horizons in digitally united societies, we need to consider the impacts of autonomous and “intelligent” information systems on the early stages in life. The panel will be guided by five overarching questions. The questions are intended to trigger discussion about what we, as IS community, already know about people’s interaction with artificial intelligence (AI) and embodied conversational agents (ECA). Moreover, the questions probe deeper into the generalizability of our knowledge in understanding children’s interaction with AI and ECA.
Alexander Mädche is a full professor at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), Germany. He heads the research group “Information Systems I” at the Institute of Information Systems and Marketing (IISM). His work is positioned at the intersection of Information Systems and Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Alexander is Co-Department Editor for Human Computer Interaction and Social Computing at the Business and Information Systems Engineering (BISE) journal. His recent research is focused on designing interactive intelligent systems, including conversational agents.
Cathrine Edelhard Tømte’s research interests include technology, society and education. Since September 2018, she is affiliated with the Department of Information Systems at the University of Agder, and responsible for courses on teachers’ and school leaders’ professional digital competence. Tømte has published extensively nationally and internationally. Tømte has a PhD (Dr. Art) from the Norwegian University for Technology and Science, NTNU. She has previously been affiliated with the Norwegian Center for ICT in education and the OECD. Before joining Dep. of Information Systems at University of Agder, she worked as a Research professor at the Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation Research and Education, NIFU.
Jenny Eriksson Lundström is a Senior Lecturer and former Head of Department at Uppsala University, Department of Informatics and Media and Chair of the Swedish Foundation of Legal Information. After her Ph.D. on AI and formal modelling in the legal domain, she has broadened her research scope and agenda. She is currently co-PI for the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program in Humanities and Society funded project BioMe: Existential Challenges and Ethical Imperatives of Biometric AI in Everyday Lifeworlds. Jenny is a Guest Co-Editor of the European Journal of Information Systems special issue on the Dark Side of Analytics and AI.
Kieran Conboy is a Professor in Business Information Systems in the School of Business and Economics at National University of Ireland and is a co-Principal Investigator in the Lero Irish Software research center. He is also on the board of the Irish Research Council and Co-Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of Information Systems. Kieran has recently published a series of papers on responsible artificial intelligence and the promethean principles in information systems design and use.
Suprateek Sarker (“Supra”) is Rolls-Royce Commonwealth Commerce Professor (Information Technology) at the McIntire School of Commerce, University of Virginia. In 2021, Suprateek was elected President-Elect of the Association for Information Systems (AIS). He serves on the editorial boards of a number of leading academic journals. One of his recent papers presents the sociotechnical perspective as the axis of cohesion for the IS discipline, with the hope that the perspective continues to serve as a distinctive and coherent foundation for much of our work.
The AIS community is committed to enabling and promoting all AIS members’ full participation in the activities, groups, and decision-making of the AIS without distinction and/or discrimination on the basis of individual or group differences (AIS, 2018). In 2021, the AIS Region 2 Board established a Task Force on Inclusion and in this panel, members of this Task Force seek to open up the discussion to the researcher community to ensure a more comprehensive understanding of issues that should be addressed. This panel seeks to respond to the question: What are key issues that jeopardize diversity, equity and inclusion among IS researchers in Region 2, and how can we mitigate these issues? The intended purpose of the panel is to raise awareness in the community about diversity, equity and inclusion issues and provide a collaborative forum for planning appropriate measures. A desired outcome will be an actionable set of suggestions regarding what the AIS could do to address the identified issues.
Region 2 of the AIS community comprises Europe, the Middle East and Africa and exhibits large differences, not the least in socio-economic conditions and access to resources. The global AIS SIG Social Inclusion Task Force found in a 2017 survey that “members from countries lower on human development indices, particularly in Region 2, emphasized exclusion on the basis of socio-economic factors” (Windeler et al., 2018; p. 8). Furthermore, the report states that “The most common drivers of perceived exclusion included: exclusion from elite, closed networks (“the in-crowd, “the establishment”), language and geographic barriers, academic rank (including tenure-track vs. clinical), and research focus.” According to the survey, the most common attributes related to perceived exclusion were: lacking social capital, language barriers, discipline/area, academic rank, type and country of employment or origin (ibid., p. 8). These attributes illustrate inclusion as a multifaceted concern. Five years since the time this study was conducted, the pandemic has further disrupted academic activities and stretched researchers’ access to resources. It is therefore time to re-activate the debate and examine how our community perceives issues of diversity, equity and inclusion in 2022, and how the perceived issues can be mitigated.
One of the purposes of the panel is to source a problem definition from the participants, rather than state up front what the issues for discussion should be. Tentatively, some of the concerns that emerge and will be discussed could be among the following: access to financial resources as a barrier for participation, insufficient transparency regarding knowledge about the publication ‘game’, researchers facing exclusion due to their juniority/seniority, that the research domains and contexts where the Region 2 researchers are active, may be less reflected in academic outlets, issues with the formal representation, or other unintended biases that members of our community experience.
Margunn Aanestad (moderator) is Professor of Information Systems, University of Agder, Norway. She researches digitalization of the healthcare sector, including how to design inclusive digital services that also serve the non- or partly digitally competent. In her former position at the University of Oslo, she collaborated frequently with researchers from the Global South. Out of this experience comes a wish to create a researcher community that utilizes the potentials of digital technology to create more accessible activities and resources. As one of the co-chairs for ECIS 2023, she seeks to pilot a distributed conference format where the main, on-site conference is connected to satellite events in Africa, as a way to extend the reach of the conference.
Emma Coleman (panelist) is a Senior Lecturer in Information Systems, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, specialising in IS and society, social inclusion, and inequality, with further research interests in qualitative research methodology and philosophy. She was a Track Chair for ICIS 2021, is a Junior Faculty Consortium Mentor for ICIS 2022, and is Region 2 Representative of the AIS Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Treasurer and past Secretary of the AIS Special Interest Group on Social Inclusion (SIGSI), and Past-President of the AIS South African Chapter. Emma views social inclusion as important to both local and international IS communities. She believes that devising strategies for greater inclusion will strengthen the capabilities and opportunities of IS academics locally and globally, and in turn increase the research impact of the field.
Dr. Antoine Harfouche (panelist) is an Associate Professor of Information Systems (IS) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) at University Paris. Dr. Harfouche has contributed to the IS & AI community through his excellent teaching, cutting-edge research, and outstanding service. He was awarded the AIS Sandra Slaughter Outstanding Service Award in 2020. Dr. Harfouche’s research primarily examines how to design efficient artificial intelligence to solve managerial problems. His publications appeared in peer-reviewed journals (e.g., International J. of Information Management, Annals of Operation Research, and others) and conference proceedings (e.g., ICIS, PACIS, AMCIS, ICTO, MCIS, MENACIS, LCIS). He is also a member of the editorial advisory board of the Journal of Enterprise Information Management. Dr. Harfouche is co-founder of many AIS Chapters, such as the MENA-AIS, LAIS, WACAIS, CAAIS.
Prof.dr.ir. Remko Helms (panelist) is a professor in Business Analytics at Open University in the Information Science group and Vice-dean of Education of the Science faculty. His teaching and research interests are mainly focused on how organizations realize value from (big) data, including topics such as data analytics processes, data governance and analytics governance. Part of his teaching and research is conducted for the Center of Actionable Research of the Open University (CAROU), which is specialized in data science and artificial intelligence in a social context. He is a member of Association for Information Systems (AIS), former secretary of the AIS Region2 Board and currently involved in ECIS 2022 as a program chair and ICIS 2022 as a junior faculty chair.
Silvia Masiero (panelist) is an Associate Professor of Information Systems at the University of Oslo. She is Secretary of the IFIP Working Group 9.4 on the Implications of Information and Digital Technologies for Development, and a co-chair for the AIS Women’s Network. She has authored over 20 peer-reviewed works in the domain of Information and Communication Technology for Development (ICT4D) and has a long-standing interest in the role of digital platforms in socio-economic development processes. She is a Senior Editor at the Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries, and an Associate Editor at Information Technology for Development.
Nancy Pouloudi (panelist) is Professor of Information Systems Management, Chair of the Department of Management Science and Technology, Athens University of Economics and Business, Greece. She is the incoming (September 2022) AIS President-Elect. Her research focuses on organizational and social issues in IS adoption and implementation. Recent work studies user post-adoption behavior and the impact of cloud computing and the pandemic in the work and personal contexts of IS use. She is a long-standing AIS member honored with the AIS Sandra Slaughter Service Award for her service in representing Region 2 on AIS Council (2010 – 2013), offering editorial and conference service at ICIS, ECIS, and MCIS, and leading initiatives to promote access and inclusion and improve AIS services.
With the growing and critical dependency of people round the world on ICT, academic associations, such as AIS must ask themselves:
What is their role in enabling and empowering people to use ICT to bridge gaps between those with high versus low ICT accessibility, between people in different countries and between people of different cultures?
This panel will concentrate on enabling and empowering people by promoting the use of ICT for coordination and collaboration in times of crisis and in times of calm. We will examine the role of AIS as an association of educators and researches who understand the potential of ICT to facilitate coordination and collaboration across social, cultural and economic boundaries. In particular, we will examine the feasibility and impact of coordination and collaboration across boundaries in normal days and in days of crisis, including natural disasters as well as human inflicted crises.
The panelists will first explore some of the resources AIS can leverage to promote coordination and collaboration. These can include AIS members’ knowledge of ICT that can be translated into training to build and maintain SM communities, infrastructure services, information centers services, virtual worlds, data science services and many other technologies that are critical for effective coordination and collaboration, technologies we teach and study. As researchers we have knowledge of the impact of using ICT on breaches of our privacy and human rights but also on the protection of privacy and on security. We can educate and train people on the dangers and need to combat fake news, especially in times of crisis.
The panelists will then address the dilemmas AIS face, as an organization as opposed to individual members, in promoting coordination and collaboration without necessarily ‘taking sides’ and keeping politics outside its activities. This would also include decisions in utilizing AIS resources (servers, online materials etc.) for such purposes.
Dov Te’eni obtained his PhD from Tel Aviv University in 1987 and returned as faculty after serving at Case Western Reserve University and Bar Ilan University. He currently studies visualization, feedback and knowledge sharing, combining human and machine intelligence. He has co-authored “Human- computer interaction for developing effective organizational systems” and, amongst others, co-edited the “Encyclopedia of Knowledge Management”, and “Innovation and IT in an international context”. When President of AIS, he called for building bridges to industry. He chaired MCIS2010, ECIS2014 and ICIS2008, and served as Editor-in- Chief of EJIS. Dov was awarded the AIS Fellowship (2008) and LEO Lifetime Exceptional Achievement award (2015) as well as the AIS Vision award (2016), and the ILAIS over-the-years award (2021).
Michel Avital is Professor of Digitalization at Copenhagen Business School. He studies how information technologies are developed, applied, managed, and consumed. He currently examines blockchain-enabled innovation, transformation, organization, collaboration, and business models. Title of presentation: Smart contracts as a driver of the digital economy Abstract of presentation: The panel draws on experts in digital ledger technology, contract specification language, digital law, and cybersecurity to explore how smart digital contracts are used to reframe the prevailing business models and drive a new digital economy. The panel focuses on how digital contracts can generate business value while reinforcing regional development, financial inclusion, and green transition.
Monideepa Tarafdar is Professor of Information Systems at UMass Amherst. She has an unparalleled understanding of technostress and how we can manage our frustration with it. One of the first scholars to identify and study technostress, her work has influenced other scholars, companies, and governments. Her recent work extends to examining the dark and bright sides of social media use as well as understanding bias in artificial intelligence-based hiring. Educated in India, Monideepa studied physics, math, and chemistry as an undergraduate and earned a master’s degree in engineering and a PhD in Management, specializing in information systems and strategy. She has taught at the University of Toledo (Ohio) and at Lancaster University in England. She began teaching at UMass Amherst in January 2021 and serves as her department’s PhD coordinator.
Emma Coleman is a Senior Lecturer in Information Systems, University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, specializing in IS and society, social inclusion, and inequality, with further research interests in qualitative research methodology and philosophy. She was a Track Chair for ICIS 2021, is a Junior Faculty Consortium Mentor for ICIS 2022, and is Region 2 Representative of the AIS Diversity and Inclusion Committee, Treasurer and past Secretary of the AIS Special Interest Group on Social Inclusion (SIGSI), and Past-President of the AIS South African Chapter. Emma views social inclusion as important to both local and international IS communities. She believes that devising strategies for greater inclusion will strengthen the capabilities and opportunities of IS academics locally and globally, and in turn increase the research impact of the field.
Tilo Böhmann is Professor and Deputy Head of Department, Informatics, University of Hamburg, researching digital service systems engineering & management. He has served AIS in several capacities including council member.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies have been widely adopted in both social and commercial domains in a drive towards a vision of automated, efficient, sustainable and inclusive futures. At the same time, it has become increasingly clear that the potential benefits of these technologies come with associated risks and potential harm to data subjects, such as security and privacy, discrimination against vulnerable persons and groups, over-indebtedness and other financial problems.
This panel addresses the relationship between emerging AI capabilities and data-driven financial inclusion, ranging from AI-powered financial applications to alternative data collection and applications, to the darker side of AI and ethical considerations.
The issues or dilemmas addressed by the panel include:
Julien Malaurent is Associate Professor in the IDS department, and academic director of the Executive Master (online) on the subject of digital transformation. He is also in charge, together with Prof. Guillaume Chevillon, of Metalab. Julien’s research projects are based on qualitative approaches (case study and action research), and address issues related to the work practices of users rooted in a multicultural context, but also digital ubiquity, and the subjects of digital transformation at organizational and societal levels. In terms of methodology and epistemology, Julien’s research projects emphasize the importance of reflexivity towards the use of theoretical frameworks and the interpretation of empirical data.
Massimo Preziuso is specialised in the interaction between technological innovation, sustainable finance and entrepreneurship. He is part of the research project SFIDE (Strengthening financial inclusion through digitalisation in Europe), funded by the European Investments Bank (EIB). He is also principal Investigator of “COVID-19 and crowdfunding: an investigation on impact-oriented entrepreneurship projects in 2020” research project, financed by BMS Covid-19 Fund. His academic experience includes Senior Research roles at University College Cork on the project FintechNext, and at University of Naples (Artificial Intelligence for sustainable investing).
Ravishankar M. N. is Professor of Globalisation & Technology and Associate Dean (Research) at Loughborough University School of Business and Economics. He was previously the School’s Director of Internationalisation (2018-2020) and Head of the International Business, Strategy and Innovation (IBSI) group (2015-2018). He is currently involved in research projects that explore digital innovations and entrepreneurship and their social and economic impacts. He has published refereed journal articles on globalisation and emerging markets, management of digital technologies, social innovations and global sourcing. He has completed a number of externally funded research and industry-commissioned projects. The UK’s Economic and Social Research Council, UK Home Office, Newton Fund, Society for the Advancement of Management Studies (SAMS), British Academy of Management, Commonwealth Scholarship Commission and UK Trade and Industry have funded his recent work.
Lindsey Appleyard is Assistant Professor at the Research Centre for Business in Society at Coventry University. She is an economic geographer with research interests around financial geographies, specialising in financial inclusion and inclusive economies. Lindsey’s recent research has focused on responsible lending and borrowing, subprime credit, financial capability and financial citizenship. Lindsey adds value to the research enriched learning agenda through guest lectures, internships, teaching case studies and PGR supervision. Through Lindsey’s networks and collaborations, her body of research aims to make a significant impact on the economy and society by influencing policy and practice. Since 2016, Lindsey has successfully been awarded over £900k worth of funding for research and impact from a range of sources, including RCUK, Barrow Cadbury Trust, Carnegie Trust UK and the Money Advice Service.
Robert Buchmann is a Professor and a Scientific Director of the Business Informatics Research Center at Babeș-Bolyai University of Cluj Napoca, Romania. Robert has a BSc in Business Informatics and a PhD in Cybernetics and Economic Statistics from Babeș-Bolyai. As a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Vienna he specialized in Enterprise Modelling and Semantic Technology at OMiLAB and the Research Group Knowledge Engineering led by Professor Dimitris Karagiannis. A member of AIS since 2016, he has been involved as Track Chair or Associate Editor at ECIS since 2018. In 2022 he is Program Chair for the AIS-affiliated conference ISD, to be held in Cluj-Napoca. His current research interest lies at the intersection of domain-specific conceptual modelling and knowledge graphs, with applications in requirements engineering or business process management – typically within the Design Science frame.