ACI2017 Keynotes

Fourth International Conference on Animal-Computer Interaction
21-23 November 2017, Milton Keynes, United Kingdom




Dr. Anne McBride is a Senior Lecturer in Human-Animal Interactions and Animal Behaviour at the University of Southampton. She is also a practicing animal behavior therapist and from 1999 to 2009 was a head clinician at the Animal Behaviour Clinic at the University of Southampton. Between 1995 and 2002, McBride co-founded HOPE (Homeless Owners with Pets project), later subsumed under the National Canine Defence League (now Dogs Trust). She was a member of the advisory panel for the production of the 'Canine Code for Kids', of the executive committee of SCAS (Society for Companion Animal Behaviour Studies), and of the British Veterinary Behaviour Association. Between 2000 and 2013, McBride has been awarded a number of honorary positions, including Honorary Member of The Canine Training and Behaviour Society; Honorary Member of the British Veterinary Nursing Association; Honorary member of the Italian Veterinary Behaviour Association; Honorary member of the UK Registry of Canine Behaviourists; Honorary Teacher at the University of Bristol Veterinary School; Honorary Fellow of Myerscough College, University of Central Lancashire; Honorary Secretary of the Association of Pet Behaviour Counsellors. She is currently a Member of the Companion Animal Welfare Council and Chair of the Programme Recognition Committee of the Animal Behaviour and Training Council. She is Deputy Chairperson of PATHWAY - a working party looking at pets and housing issues in the UK. She is a patron of the Rabbit Welfare Association. McBride lectures nationally and internationally, on various aspects of animal behavior and the human-animal bond. Her passion is to increase our understanding of what animals need, how we perceive them and interact with them, be they pets, farm, laboratory or living in the wild so that we can improve animal welfare, reduce animal-related injury to people and ensure a sustainable future world for both humans and animals.

Title: Thinking Aloud: Animals as Technology, Technology ‘for’ Animals, Technology as Animals and Back Again
Abstract: Human-animal interactions occur in a range of settings with animals being used for various purposes; as labor, companions, producers of food, data, and entertainment, as 'co-therapists', and as co-habitants of the planet. Throughout our own development, we have used technology to further our understanding of how animals ‘work’; i.e. function as physiological and/or behavioral entities. These may have involved direct or indirect interactions between the animals and the technology. We have applied this knowledge and associated technological advances to improve how animals perform in their captive functional roles and to improve how we control (or preserve) them in the wild.  Latterly, in some cases, technology has been used to assess and provide for their needs, aiming to improve their quality of life in captive environments and in the wild in terms of conservation. This keynote will take a long view of how humans have used technological advances in their relationships with animals. Reasons why these may or may not have had benefits for either the humans or non-humans involved, regardless of human intention, will be posited.  This will involve brief consideration of why humans keep animals and some of the factors that influence how we may regard and thus interact with them, directly or indirectly. Finally, the discussion will briefly turn to the potential for benefits from computer/information technology and, also, the potential for pitfalls in the road ahead. It is concluded that steps may need to be taken to put in place means by which these can be prevented or circumnavigated, and some suggestions are made, such as revisiting what is meant by ethical standards in pure and applied research in this field.



Adam Miklósiis a full Professor and the Head of the Department of Ethology at the EötvösUniversity in Budapest (Hungary). He is also the co-founder and leader of the Family Dog Project which aims to study human-dog interaction from an ethological perspective. Due to the process of domestication dogs evolved a unique relationship with humans because they had gained skills, which allow specific behavioral adjustments in the human social environment. Miklósiand his collaborators showed that dogs develop specific attachment relationships with their owners, dogs are able to communicate with humans using a range of fine-tuned visual and acoustic signals, and dogs are also able to learn via observation and utilize such knowledge for their own benefit. In recent years, Miklósihas also become interested in the automation of measuring dog behavior and his research group is looking at ways to study the neural and genetic aspects of dog behavior using non-invasive methods like fMRI and EEG. In 2008 Miklósibecame involved in human-robot interaction research, and soon he became interested in studying dog-robot interaction as a new method to understand the functioning of dogs’ minds. Over a period of more than twenty years, The Family Dog Project has published more than 150 scientific papers and organized several conferences. In 2008 researchers and experts gathered for the first time in Budapest to start the conference series of Canine Science Forum to share their results and insights on dogs and their relationship with humans. In 2014 Miklósipublished the second edition of an academic volume entitled Dog Behavior, Evolution, and Cognition by Oxford University Press that summarizes the most recent status on dog-oriented research.​


Title: EthologicalApproachtoAnimal-MachineInteraction

Abstract: Why do we study animal-machine/computer interaction?  Is it only interesting because it is possible? Is it possible because these days we have better hardware and easy programming tools? Where is the science behind these approaches? Are these tools only for improving animals’ life, replacing dummy stimuli, or making the experiments easier to execute? Are we studying the ‘animal’ or the ‘machine/computer’? For cognitive ethology, the use of computer interactions has huge potential but the field is still in its infancy, partly because we still need to identify the best fundamental questions and develop an appropriate theoretical basis. Of course, I may not know the answer but I will try to show how our research group tried to move forward on this exotic terrain, and why I think that the approach facilitated by ACI or animal-machine interaction may have a great impact on how we study behavior and the mind. By building agents that are able to interact with animals we can not only develop methods but also move toward in silico modeling of the animal mind. In the last few years, we have developed a procedure that allows us to determine to what extent dogs regard unidentified moving objects (UMOs) as potential social partners. These experiments, in the long run, may reveal what are those behavioral features that are necessary for becoming a social partner for dogs. (Work conducted in collaboration with JuditAbdai)