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April 21, 2023

E281 - Disney's Robots Get Emotional: As If We Needed More Drama at Theme Parks

This week on the podcast, we explore relatable robotics at Disney in Once More, With Feeling. Our community questions are also answered, including the exciting UX projects we've worked on and the best methods for finding a mentor. Plus, we dive into the use of AI models like ChatGPT in research analysis.

#podcast #Disney #relatablerobotics #UXprojects #mentoring #AI #ChatGPT #research #analysis

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Recorded live on April 20, 2023, hosted by Nick Roome with Barry Kirby.

Check out the latest from our sister podcast - 1202 The Human Factors Podcast -on Naturalistic Decision Making - An interview with Rob Hutton:




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[00:00:00] Nick Roome: hey, what's going on everybody? This is episode 281. We're recording this live on April 20th, 2023. This is He Factors Cast. I'm your host, Nick Knack. Patak Give a Dog a Rome. Joined today by Dingleberry Kirby.


[00:00:12] Barry Kirby: Hello. That's awesome. We need that every week.


[00:00:15] Nick Roome: I went with it last week. I'm going with it this week.


We got a great show for you all tonight. We're gonna be talking about relatable robotics that Disney is putting together. Later on, we'll be answering some questions from the community, including the most exciting project we've ever worked on using Chat, G p t and other AI models in your research and what the best methods are for finding a mentor through a voicemail.


First we got some programming notes. Barry, what is the latest over at 12? Oh, So


[00:00:40] Barry Kirby: 1202, we've got naturalistic decision making with Rob Hutton. I spoke a bit about this last week where he gives us this idea about what naturalistic decision making is and really how that's taking well, very academic methods and taking out the lab and bringing them into the real world, and actually giving us some stuff that we need to be able to use in real world application.


And then there's gonna be a short break for about three weeks. So there's not gonna be any new episodes for at least three weeks because of the ergonomics Human Factors Conference coming up, and quite frankly, me being very busy. So we're taking, taken a short break, and so we expect to be back at the back end of May.


[00:01:17] Nick Roome: Yeah. And let's just take a quick moment to appreciate and recognized Mr. President Barry Kirby. Congratulations, man. That's awesome.


[00:01:27] Barry Kirby: I'm so proud. And so wanted to have been made president of the Chat Institute, ergonomic, ergonomics and human factors, if I could even say it. No, it is it's one of these things that like, lifelong career highs as it were.


So now that, obviously getting to be president is one thing. Now I've gotta actually do something with it. So the next 12 months, I'm thoroughly looking forward to seeing what differences we can make.


[00:01:49] Nick Roome: I'm looking forward to it too. And now that you're president, I'm looking forward to your commentary on this week's story.


So let's get into it.


That's right. This is the part of the show all about human factors news. Barry, what do we have up this week?


[00:02:02] Barry Kirby: So this week it's once more with feeling exploring relatable robotics at Disney. So Disney's Indestructibles project focuses on creating robots that emotive and relatable instead of prioritizing stability or reliability.


Disney wants its robots to evoke human emotions by showcasing relatable character traits, mannerisms, gate, or expressions. The projects aims to create robots that can tumble whilst remaining in character. Disney's latest prototype was showcased at South by Southwest in March, 2023, where the company was able to realize the full potential of the instructor Indestructibles project and the crowd cheered for the little character.


The team had to adopt a modular design strategy to keep the small to keep the scale small, reduce points of failure, and provide shock absorption, and use carbon fiber to minimize weight. The software interface with the robot is si simple, interactive, allows for smooth blending of emotions already grounded in the physics of the robot.


The team has discovered that there is a huge unexplored space of robotic locomotion that evokes human emotion. By prioritizing character traits and emotions Disney has is open to possibilities for dynamic and expressive robots regardless of conventional robotic limit. So Nick, what are your thoughts on a, on an indestructible li little robot that you can watch tumbling around Disney?


Oh, I love it.


[00:03:22] Nick Roome: I absolutely love it from like a park goer perspective. Heck yeah. Look, so someone who loves Star Wars, you can imagine you take a robot like this, dress it up like Jar R Banks, it's a bumbling mess. And you throw it in Galaxy's edge and everybody can knock over Jar R And because every, all the pieces are modular and relatively replaceable, you can imagine a lot of park goers have fun with that.


But this is a really cool tack really cool piece attack from a like interaction perspective. You can imagine that you can do things with these types of performers that you wouldn't be able to do with humans for one reason or another. One example is already in play, right? So I don't know if any of our listeners have been to Disneyland, probably lots of listeners in the Long Beach area.


But there's a at Disneyland, California Adventure, there's a there's the Marvel campus. And there's a show that happens a couple times a day where Spider-Man comes out and then you see 'em launch in the air and fly through the air. And that's a robot. It's really cool.


You wouldn't be able to send an actor like that, but it's really cool to see 'em, like flying above the air. You can expose these robots to dangerous stunts that humans couldn't necessarily do. And if it's done correctly, it still encompasses that magic that Disney is known for. I'm Disney fan here, but I think there's still reason to be critical about this.


I do wanna just mention that this could be really cool to see some fantastical scenes acted out by these robots with superhuman capabilities. I like, I don't know if you think about that Avengers Campus Exploration, you might be able to have a full fight scene that has some really convincing contact, like hand-to-hand contact where they're falling over, they're getting back up, they're just going left and right, and it's happening in front of park goers.


They're robots. So they have awareness of everything that's going on. If they need to adapt and move, they can, like these really cool interactions could happen. I also think that beyond Disney, beyond the entertainment aspect of these, there could be a lot of interesting applications specifically around mental health therapy, improving the lives of a lot of folks who deal with various ailments.


You can imagine a scenario where these. These interactable robots that could potentially do these things, could be, like someone, someone's glitzy, makes somebody laugh, makes a kid laugh. I don't know. There's just so many other applications. I think that building these types of emotional robots as they call 'em would be really beneficial.


I don't know. Barry, what are your thoughts?


[00:05:55] Barry Kirby: So my first reaction when I read the story was, that's cool. Like that's, it's of hits that piece you, and I'd recommend them when you go and click the link and watch the videos, because it's interesting seeing how they've taken it. And they've really looked at some of this stuff, but then I was like, my second thought was, second reaction was but why?


What is it they're truly trying to accomplish? Because if they're, try, if you try to design a ride at Disney, right? You're trying to design a ride, you want people to have that adrenaline rush. Cool. If you, or if you're on the boat ride or something, then I get all that. But if this is it meant to be on a stage?


Is it meant to be in the crowd? They're not really that clear about about what it is. So I posed it to the dinner table as I often do before the, before these things and highlighted the family and say, so what do you think of it? And actually they come back with the same answer almost straight away.


We're like why? What does it do? What does it need? And so without being boring, but looking at it from nature HR perspective, I'm like so what's the task goal for Disney? Where, why are they truly interested? But to get away from that stuff for the second. We already know that people do feel empathy.


We non-real characters. So any animation you feel feel character with, think a six on all that sort of stuff as well that, we, we can get that. Robot characters, you already mentioned Star Wars, A two D two, E loves a two D two is a trashcan with some fancy knobs and lights on.


But you feel natural empathy with him for what he's gone through. So this is a natural step. You've already mentioned lots of applications entertainment, health therapy, stuff like that. I do have a bit of an ethically sort of issue though. Is there a bit of a gesture, a bit of village idiot about this because are we laughing at them or with them?


So if they're following over, getting back up again, they're are we mocking them? Is it right to mock them just cause they're in a largely inanimate objects? Are we then belittling, does that have repercussions in the longer term for the way we treat AI way, the way we treat machine?


That sort of stuff. I don't know. There's something about it that doesn't quite sit right and I'm not sure what it is yet. But I do love the quote. There's a quote in the article which was by shifting our emphasis towards the way we reach our goal, rather than just the end. We've opened up what feels like the world of possibilities for dynamic and expressive robots.


Now take the rob even take the robot bits out of it by emphasizing the way you read a go rather than just the result. I think that's brilliant. Cause I have some of my most fun when you are tr we problem solvers, we like solving problems. And so rather than just always trying to get to the result, actually in joining that piece of the journey and not belittling it, not trying to just get, make it happen as quickly as possible.


There is something about that I think is quite poignant. I really like it. Yeah. So having gone through that slightly emotional rollercoaster there what do you think around the basic principles of it? So they're putting together this quite a small robot on roller skates.


The idea being that it, it naturally falls over. It naturally is a bit cloudy, as we've said, but the design behind that to make that happen is quite sophisticated. How do you think, how do you think that focus works?


[00:08:58] Nick Roome: The focus on the inner, the interchangeable parts to make it,


[00:09:03] Barry Kirby: I get all of it really.


Cause the, there's so many, you think, oh, just to make it fall over that can't be that difficult. But you watch them videos and actually to have it fall over in a way that it could self recover, crack on, there, there was so much complexity behind you, I thought.


[00:09:16] Nick Roome: Yeah, I agree. So the way in which they're approaching this is, they mentioned several times the modular design strategy and the approach of making parts that could break replaceable easily.


And I think that's right for a robot that fulfills this purpose. And I want to go back to what you were talking about, the why. I think the, to me, this robot here is not the end game for them. I don't think that they would reveal their end game, but I don't think that this robot is the end game for them.


I think this is this is a stepping stone to what I was describing earlier, where you have these really intricate scenes that human performers cannot replicate. And you have almost like these robotic cartoon characters performing it. There's a lot to be said about the I'm jumping to the other point that you made about, are we laughing at them or with them?


There's a lot to be said about physical comedy and comedic elements. I can imagine that this could be one of those instances where they're performing things that could be dangerous for humans to do, fall, be klutzy in an effort to make that comedic timing work. And And then I'm just jumping off the other deep end here with what about robotic stuntman?


We talked last week about, about John Wick and the post show, right? And I was marveling at how a stunt person could fall down some stairs and not get hurt. If you could send a robot down couple times, just replace a couple parts and have it react in a very similar way, you would mitigate the risk for humans to be injured during that process.


They might still interact with humans at some point, but you're just throwing, a robot down the elevate escalator instead. So I think there's a lot of uses outside of just looking at this little cute guy with the rollers skate who does the little somersault. Because to me this has larger ambitions written all over it.


And this is a stepping stone. I don't even know where to go from here. There's so much, there's so many ways in which we could talk about, we could talk about the societal applications, we could talk about the different domains that it's applied to. We could talk about the way in which this thing is built.


We could talk about some controversial take. I don't know, Barry, where do you want to go?


[00:11:42] Barry Kirby: I wanna go into into application to certain extent. But the safe, the safety aspect of it. And this goes down that whole human machine teaming or the humane machine interaction rather than teaming sense.


So if you've got one of these things in a crowd of. And I think that's probably the, some of the reason behind the sizing of what it's done. If it falls on you, as just a a person in the park, it falls over, it lands on your foot or whatever, then it's not gonna cause that much damage.


But even so in in we are largely having a culture now where there's a, there's there's blame, there's a claim type thing. What sort of I guess safeguards are we gonna need in place for this type of interaction? That is we encouraging interaction, but actually it's still a robot.


It could still do some stuff. So what sort of fail safes? What sort of guidance are we gonna have to have? Could you j could you just let this loose in a park and just say, go big guns? If it's still live at the end of the day, then well, that, that's a bonus.


[00:12:42] Nick Roome: I, yeah, that's interesting points. And as somebody who follows a lot of the news coming out of the Disney robotics site, I can at least comment on some of it, right?


So take an example that exists today, the Spider-Man example that I was talking about, right? They launch a robot and it flies through the air. This is all done over an area where there's no park goers. And so yeah, it's un it's not gonna fall on anybody. You can see it from a wide variety of angles. It just happens, and so that in a way is constraining that safety element. Unless something dramatically catastrophic happens, then you're not going to endanger your park guests. Now, with something like this, I can imagine the fail safes would look similar to start. There were these big grand plans when Galaxy's Edge first was introduced as a concept that you would have droids roaming around the park autonomously amongst park guests.


And that is still not a reality today. I think largely because of the safety element, people tripping over them, people not paying attention to them. The density of park goers in one place is probably a large factor too. You're probably limited in where you can launch them, what days you can launch them, all these different things. And so I'd imagine that they are keeping all that in consideration whenever they'd wanna put something like this into the park. And then the interaction element, I can imagine a situation where they might small scale test this first, where instead of actually roaming around the park, you have that character as a meet and greet and maybe it's behind a little partition or something.


So that. It can do what it needs to do and be a little klutz behind the scenes, and then anything, it's not going to it's not going to impact you because you are behind that partition. So I, I think there's still some interactable elements there, but maybe not necessarily the the piece where you're gonna get injured.


Then the next test would obviously be to take away that partition and see if it can interact. Yeah. And see if it can interact. So I think that's, at least from my perspective, where the safety element is that the slow role and to see, how each one of these pieces works together before exposing fully to the environment.


[00:15:07] Barry Kirby: And I guess the, there's another cause most of the robot robots I've interacted with, they've been in a very sterile, but also adult environment as in you've got, sorry, I was gonna say grownups. I've never been accused of being a grownup. But the, you're talking like over sixteens who know what the, rob, the fact that it is a robot and that type of thing.


But obviously Disney's full of young children, very small children. And so I'm just, I'm, I guess I'm qualifying myself to a certain extent. Cause I said earlier, it's diversity design is it's quite small, but actually to a certain size, a child, this is still gonna be quite a size. Object as well.


So who that maybe doesn't have the social understanding or the necessary human machine teaming understanding that we have at the moment that yeah it's fun. It's whatever it is, but it's still not a human to play with where, whether, how much that influences the design.


I quite like some of the stuff that they suggest in the design that they've made it a certain amount of elasticity in the joints and the actual material itself, because they fully anticipate it is, the characteristics that this robot is going to have. But still, fundamentally the emotion, what's quite interesting is the face of it is just a smiley face.


It's, that's not changing. It's a fix of from what they've got. As Robert, it's a fixed face at the moment, yet it still conveys for now, but at the moment it still conveys that sort of emotion which I just think is totally interesting. I think there's gonna be a whole bunch of PhDs span off this to using this as a basis of of experimentation.


And I think it's gonna be really interesting to follow.


[00:16:41] Nick Roome: Yeah, I agree. And I think there's going to be back to the safety elements. There's always with character actors, you have. Humans right beside them to step in. If for whatever reason there's drama happening with the character, that character cannot break that immersion for the children, right?


That is, one of their goals is to not break that immersion for the park goers. And so it's the role of the handlers so to speak, to, to step in and say, Hey, you need to leave, or Please don't, whatever, or is going on break right now. They can't take a picture with you.


It's their role. So that way the person, that character is protected. And so I'd imagine you'd have these human handlers that would be saying, oh, we can't play with whatever his name is. This robot. I didn't even get a name. We can't play with them that this way. That is not, we can't do that, so it's gonna hurt him or what, whatever it is, the excuse that they give.


So I'm imagining that this won't be fully autonomous for a while until it can, do those things on its own or until we come up with some robotic handlers that they can do a different character. That's where my mind's at. And you're, you're right. There's going to be a lot of PhD spun off of this.


I think this will definitely enhance the field of robotics from a lot of perspectives, right? You have the Boston dynamic stuff. This really is making some advances in the durability of robots. And you can imagine in a scenario where we've talked about like life size, humanoid robots in the home and the tasks that they might be able to perform for us.


You can imagine that if we look towards this modularity design and this durability, adaptability components of being able to swap out pieces of a robot that is meant for, I don't know I don't wanna say physical abuse, but it is physical abuse, right? And if you have robotics that are in environments in which they could get hit by things, right?


I'm imagining like in a factory floor or something, lifting stuff up and the person operating the forklift doesn't see 'em and they run over 'em and so you just need to replace a leg instead of the whole thing. So those types of applications where they're might be a little bit more stress testing I think you can certainly see those types of advancements coming in.


There's also the advancements in emotional expression and specifically through this one in the form of movement, right? Cuz you mentioned the faces static, but movement and nonverbal cues give us emotion as well. And It'll be interesting to see what this does from that emotional expression perspective as well for a human robot interaction perspective, just without that face, right?


What does that do? I don't


[00:19:46] Barry Kirby: know. No, it's interesting because, again, it's, they may, the way that they say this because of the motion under failure in what it does, so it falls over, et cetera, et cetera. It makes it charming. And I think that's an interesting characterization because what do we mean by why does something failing make it charming?


Why does it mean a bit fuzzy? Why does it mean falling over makes it, it, does it sound


[00:20:12] Nick Roome: that's human?


[00:20:14] Barry Kirby: But is it though, because we don't, not everybody walking down the street falls over all the time. But it's, again, it goes back to this, what is it we're truly laughing at or with, or whatever, because actually you could argue being that bit, that slightly character, it's almost very British, it's that idea of what people think the British people would, they might fall over or something like that, but it would be almost either ignored or very, laughed off type of thing.


But actually, why would that possibly, why do we interpret that as charming? Why do we interpret that as a characteristic that is good? I think there's something to dive into. Again, maybe, it's a area of study about why do we f is it true? Do we, are we truly feeling empathetic with it?


Is it like, oh, that is something that I do or whatever. Or is it because I fell over, therefore I'm better than it? Where, what is the, what is that feeling that we would truly feel for it? I'm not entirely sure that charming is the right description. Could be wrong. Need to see it, need to see it work.


I still have this hankering feeling that it's a bit of the laughing at the village idiot rather than something that you are empathizing with. Oh, am I just reading too much into it?


[00:21:24] Nick Roome: But what if the village idiot's a robot?


[00:21:26] Barry Kirby: That's true. Yeah. But what, but do we, should we be encouraging just laughing at people or laughing at things?


I don't know. There, there's


[00:21:35] Nick Roome: there's, okay, so there's, you mentioned this earlier, but there is a difference between laughing at somebody and laughing with somebody, right? Absolutely. Yeah. And I think that's what I'm trying to get at here. When I talk about comedy and comedic timing when it comes to physical, right?


Like three stooge, three stooges. That's not my type of humor, but they are physical comedian actors in the sense that they are hurting each other, quote unquote, right? Where a lot of those things are stunted and so they're not actually hurting each other, but it certainly looks that way. And why is that funny to us as humans?


I don't have that answer, but that is something that we certainly, a certain demographic enjoys watching. And I can imagine that there are just there. There are certain situations where sluttiness is funny. And just clumsiness, because we've all had that scenario. You fall down a flight of stairs and then get laughed at in the office every day after that because you fell down the stairs.


Yes, I still remember that. So there's, but that happens, right? That happens and people in hindsight can laugh at how silly it is when it happens to you. You can be like, oh man, I was I can't believe I got a hairline fracture in my arm because I fell down the wrong way. Something.


And at least with a robot, no one's getting hurt. The robot's feelings aren't getting hurt, at least until it becomes sentient. And that's a different discussion entirely. But yeah.


[00:23:06] Barry Kirby: It's just, yeah I just find it interesting cause it's a bit like so to taking your three stooges step further jackass as a, yeah, there you go.


As a thing. I, are you laughing at the more with them that's a very fine line. The other bit that interests me about this is how they teach it. So they talk about the software being, very simple, very a really smooth interaction piece on this.


And that's gotta be so critical. You see a bit of the video of where they're doing. So they have a person using the where they've got the dots on the body to do some to do some tracking. And then they translate that that movement into the robot. That's also gonna be another significant part of that development to give it human-like, Characteristics where they're actually taking human movement and translating it to a robot form.


So I think also that's quite, I think it is one of these things that there is, it looks quite simple on the face of it, but there's an awful lot of complexity in the background to make something a simple fall be a robust action. Cause it's a fall, it's a pick itself up again to carry on, to do then something else similar later on.


So I, I think that whole software development cycle is also quite a complex thing. Yeah.


[00:24:21] Nick Roome: And there's I had some help with this one but there's there's a couple reasons in which we might think that physical comedy is funny. So shot and fraud, right? There's always that there's this incongruity concept where it, it's this unexpected or violation of that expectations where you are not expecting it to fall or trip in that way.


There's obviously the superiority complex piece that you're less for you're more fortunate than the other people. There's a couple different options and humor's highly subjective. So yeah, I'll take that with a grain of salt. I do wanna get into one of these social thoughts though before we get too far.


So you mentioned safety earlier. Alex brings up what safety measures will be in place for the guests. They say new consents since there will be likely data capture. How is that regulated implications across domains outside of media for human replacement bonus? Would this further expand STEM careers?


So maybe we take that one at a time. What safety measures will be in place for the guests? So I think we already talked about that one. Let's talk about this next one here, new consent. Since there will be likely data capture, what do you think? Do you think there's going to be some increased resistance to getting into the parks into these scenarios where you're going to be interacting with these robots?


[00:25:35] Barry Kirby: I don't think there would be, I think anybody who's going along to Disney's already signing up for an immersive experience. You already know this. You already know there's cameras everywhere. There's actors walking around that you are going to have level interaction with. And as you said earlier, there are boundaries that that there's a behavior code that you're expected to adhere to.


So your data is already being used in a multiple multitude of different ways from where you eat, what you eat, how you eat, what you drink, where you drink, what you buy. So they're already there. I don't think this all, I think you will have to have new contents. I think there, because there is, there'll be something about interacting with with this type of stuff, but I don't think it'll stop people from doing it because I think people are wholesale, sign wholesale signed up to it anyway.


[00:26:20] Nick Roome: No. Yeah, I think you're right. There's gonna be like a clause in the terms and services of purchasing a ticket that says you may interact with a robot, it may hurt you, you are waving your right to whatever it's gonna be in there that no one reads, and it's just gonna be part of that. So I don't think any new consent forms will be drawn up until there's a lawsuit about it.


In terms of regulation, I don't know what types of, are you familiar with any sort of laws regulation in place to protect humans from robots at this time? There's standards,


[00:26:51] Barry Kirby: There's standards out there, but there is no actual regulation there. The nearest I've got is transport regulation around the use of, autonomy in vehicles, but nothing out there that would do this.


It is a question that has been, I've been considering recently because some work I'm doing, I'm looking at in the medical domain and having a sort of a robot engagement at that element. But again, there's no legal aspect that certainly in the UK that I'm aware of. Are we going to need something?


Don't know. I think we'll see how we, I it's almost like what you said earlier, we don't need it until the point that somebody gets sued. And then there will be regulation created.


[00:27:34] Nick Roome: And the next part of the question, implications across domains outside of media for human replacement.


I think we talked a little bit about this with like factory floor settings, being able to modularly replace these robots in-home humanoid robots that need replacing parts. Just in terms of the emotional aspect we had talked about putting devices in elder care homes a while back and Yeah for that emotional support, I can imagine putting a robot in a ho, was it a robot or was it a voice chat?


I don't remember. It was something, but I can imagine putting an emotional support robot in people's homes to help out with that. So yes, for human replacement, certainly. What other scenarios can you imagine there, Barry?


[00:28:16] Barry Kirby: Looking after children quite simply. Child Companion we already have various things with videos built into them.


Cameras built into them and that type of thing. Huge toys that they can play with. Why? Yeah, why is this that I can easily see being this being the your next, your child's next best friend. Again, for children's therapy we talked about adult therapy, but also children's therapy. I think a, there is a potential, I dunno, there was a potential law aspect here, a justice thing where you're wanting to get testimony out of children.


And if you've got something like this that is fear, that is a much more engaging thing than somebody, some, what comparatively old white man trying in a uniform, trying to get you to describe what happened as a, three or five year old. You might relate more to a a thing like this than you would anything else.


But I dunno there's potential, lots of different types of application from The word now that I can't remember the name of but basically look, looking at you, put having robots available to do different things, but they're not, they're having a level of engagement, but do they, they could be easily maintainable and easily replaceable.


[00:29:30] Nick Roome: Agree. This last part, I think we kinda talked about this already, but further expanding STEM careers. We talked about PhDs being spawned off from this, but I agree that this could be another, the modular piece, especially being able to build modular robots in a STEM class, science and engineering classroom setting would be very cool.


And I just think the emotional piece could add an additional element to that, at least from a human factors perspective. Let's get human factors engineering in at, the STEM level. That would be great. Any thoughts on that one? Yeah,


[00:30:02] Barry Kirby: It's just asking for 3D printed parts, isn't it?


So you printed parts to be designed and developed and you creating your own version of this robot. So the core articulation piece being a common element that you build the electronics, you build the servers, you build the motors, you build the engagement, you do the bit of programming, but the limbs, the arms and the head, you can print your own custom versions of them.


And I dread to think what some kids will come up with. I dread to think what some adults will come up with. But yeah, so there, there's clearly a lot around that. It would be a great really good teaching mechanism. Not only because you could print out, you could design and print some stuff, but actually it would have to work within the system.


So if you built two limbs that were unequal, it would b it would misbalance the robot. So it would be a, it would fall over and not recover. So you'd have to, you'd have to not only just design some cool stuff, cause you're gonna come up with some weirder, wacky stuff, but you'd have to look at the entire system to make sure it fit in with the system.


And that would be quite quite a nuanced piece of education. Yeah.


[00:31:03] Nick Roome: Or you could have the uneven things and fix it through software. Have it do a maneuver where, it's one-sided maneuver where it does like a shoulder roll or something instead of a somersault. So you could definitely, by modifying the infill of the 3D prints, change the weights of things and accommodate for those things in a software basis.


All right. I think we're talked out on this topic. Do you have any other closing thoughts on this, Barry?


[00:31:28] Barry Kirby: Just actually you, just in spite of thought just by your, that last comment, that by doing that would be a natural alignment to the way they design faster aircraft now because they designed faster aircraft to be aerodynamically unstable and the software fixes it to make it more agile.


So yeah, that, that would make that directly applicable to to modern engineering.


[00:31:48] Nick Roome: There you go. The last thing I'll say is that I'm excited. Let's bring it on. I can't wait till this is like humanoid robots and I can see Spider-Man fighting I don't know, venom in, in the parks and they're just beating each other up and flying everywhere.


That'd be cool. That'd be cool. I'm excited for it. Let's make it happen. Cuz humans can't do that in a safe way. That's re replicatable every couple hours for a show. All right, thank you to our patrons this week for selecting the topic, and thank you to our friends over at I e Spectrum for our news story this week.


If you wanna follow along, we do post the links to all the original articles and our weekly roundups and our blog. You can also join us on our discord for more discussion on these stories and much more. And of course, you can always leave us social thoughts by using the hashtag HFC social Thoughts.


We're gonna take a quick break. We'll be back to see what's going on in the Human Factors community right after this. Are you tired of boring lectures and textbooks on human factors and ux? Grab your headphones and get ready for a wild ride with the Human Factors Minute Podcast. Each minute is like a mini crash course, packed with valuable insights and information on various organizations, conferences, usability, methods, theories, models, certifications, tools, and much more.


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[00:34:26] Nick Roome: Yes. We wanna give a huge thank you as always to all of our patrons. We especially wanna thank our human factors, cast all access, patron, Michelle, trip patrons like you truly keep the show and the lights on and everything just going. We need your support and we appreciate your support, so thank you. But now it's time of that show where we do the things.


So Barry, I'm gonna have you do this one this week. Oh, okay. Let's do this catch off guard.


[00:34:52] Barry Kirby: Okay, ladies and gentlemen, hold onto your hats. Buckle up because we have some breaking news. Are you ready for it? Brace your sales. Here you goes. We officially have a disc card server. That's right. Our very own secret society, A secret clubhouse for all high flying professionals like yourself.


Believed or not. There are other people out there just like you. Folks from different parts of the world with unique insights. Take a stroll into our magnificent server, a world-class server that even Elon Musk will be jealous of. And you can find the access, all those resources that you've been guarding so preciously in our underground bunker for many years.


Have you been yearning to talk about the latest cloud gaming trends, NFTs or just finding other intelligent, like-minded people who share your passion for all things? Our discord server is the place to be. And don't even get me started on our voice channels. You can finally lose your inhibitions, only unleash your true voice.


No more soulless and dry text messaging. You can even chat with other users in our lab chat. Now I know that we what you're thinking, but hey, what about career advice? Don't worry, we've got you covered. As always, we've got a wealth of knowledge and experience in various fields, and our disco is where you can tap into all of that incredible expertise.


Ask the most brilliantly dumb questions. That's my job. And post questionnaires for research and voa, you have your career trajectory all figured out. So what are you waiting for? Join us on our discord server. Now let's get this party started.


[00:36:23] Nick Roome: Sometimes they're great and sometimes they're not, and sometimes they're accurate and sometimes they're not.


But yeah, we have a discord server. Come join us. All right, let's get into this next part of the show.


It came from.


That's right. It came from this is the part of the show where we search all over the internet to bring you topics the community is talking about. So if you give, if you think any of these answers are useful, give us a actually just give us a, like, wherever you're listening or watching right now to help other people find this stuff.


Alright, we have three up tonight. We have two from Reddit. One, one voicemail, which is nice. A nice change of pace here. And if you wanna leave us a voicemail, that's human factors cast media slash voicemail, you can do that. And if we like it enough, we'll feature it on the show. Alright. This first one here is by Deanna Sarah Uxr on the UX Research subreddit.


What is the most exciting project that you've worked on? Tell me about your favorite project that you've worked on. I love discussing new features for AI with security cameras. Wanna hear what excites you?


[00:37:18] Barry Kirby: Oh see I struggle with this because I've been lucky enough to be involved in a broad variety of stuff.


So early on in my career in my HF career, I got involved in the early touchscreens in civil aircraft and helicopters. Playing with them before, now they, they're all over the place. But this was like really, we were actually looking like what technology gets involved and how you apply them.


And that was also when I was like my, that was my early introduction to human factors. So that always has a sort of a special place in my heart. But then I was, couple years on, I was then designing an interface for the Harrier G nine fast jet aircraft, fast jets. What is not to love about playing with such pieces of high tech.


But what was really cool about this was I was putting a single system, that's it. I team was putting a single system into an already super complicated platform that we wanted the pilot to be able to access when they're, all they've got is a hands-on throttling stick that was already crammed full of the equivalent of control or delete and stick a finger up your nose to make it happen.


We were putting color into a monochrome cockpit that was a, it was, that was phenomenal. It was really good fun. But then more recently, I've d been doing some a couple years ago interface design on nuclear sub Marines. Leading a team, implementing new processes. So whilst I was doing the, some of the design work had a team who was doing the design work, but we were developing it in a completely different way, bringing more agile and things like that, and fundamentally being trusted not to mess it up.


Yeah, that wasn't the question. You wanted one, but I've given you three and I could have picked in a bunch more. It's what I love about doing this sort of work is, no, literally, it's a bit of a cliche, but no two projects are the same.


[00:38:51] Nick Roome: You love all your children, right? That's how it feels.


All the projects that you work on have had their own unique challenges. They've had their own unique requirements. Solutions, really. And so when it comes to what my favorite is, I'm with you Barry. I like a lot of the stuff that I've worked on. I think my favorite ones I can't necessarily talk about, but it was closely related to data aggregation and providing tools to act and act on and manipulate that data.


And that's about all I can say. It was just a really fun project to work on when you think about a lot of different data sources. Again I wish I could say more, but that's about it. But supply chain is cool too. If you wanna talk to me about supply chain come visit me at Discord, I'm happy to talk about that.


Alright, this next one here is one that's near and dear to our hearts. Barry, do you use chat G P T and other AI models in your research analysis? If so, how? This is by minor 73 on the UX research subreddit. They write as a UX researcher for five years. I'm interested in knowing if others u a use AI models in their work.


How do you use AI models in your research? Do you have any successful cases that you can share Also, if you're interested. Okay there you go. What do you use AI models for in your work if you use it at Berry?


[00:40:08] Barry Kirby: So we still playing with it and working out what the boundaries are and what it is you can actually play with this stuff.


So we've been quite successful in developing early stage personas early exploration of topic ideas. The We've, I think we, the idea came up on one of the, our previous things now previous s and I tried about having them as a, another head at the table for ideation. So tapping ideas into it and getting it to reflect some ideas.


Cause what I quite like about it, even though we talk about AI bias, is the lack of bias into what, I will always plum into certain things that I know even, unconsciously you do it. And it does throw out other ideas that are just completely out left field, but are completely legitimate.


So I quite like that. Survey testing ideas, testing, prototype testing. So that, that's not the testing of the actual prototype, but testing the prototype idea of what we're doing to see if it holds together. Bits of engagement, bits of of analysis of inputs. So when we've done surveys, things like that, bringing some of that in and getting it to summarize and articulate some of the main outcomes.


I think it's a great starter. It's a great analysis tool, but it's not a finisher, you cannot rely on it. I think to give you beautifully, it, it's not taking our jobs away. I think it's a great tool to use. I think it's, it gives, it allows me as a small company to do more so I can turn around to my team and, my fir when initially there would come to me and I would go, with a question.


I was like, have you Google. To see if there's answer already out there, rather than trying to do something from scratch. There's now a two stage process. Have you Googled it and yet have you chat gtd it to see what comes up with. Yeah, there is a bit of that. And given that you didn't read the other bit out of that, I can't say my other, I'm not gonna say my other comment.




[00:41:51] Nick Roome: okay. Okay. So let's just say it because the original, what I wasn't gonna say was that they wrote a blog piece and they were plugging that. But Barry, what was your other piece? Because I wanna highlight that. Yeah. Cause


[00:42:03] Barry Kirby: I, I wrote an article and it made magazine and stuff as, as well and under the front cover and Nick was cited in it and stuff.


So it was all very exciting.


[00:42:10] Nick Roome: I love that. Love that. I use it in my workflows. And the way I use AI models and chat tools, AI chat tools is a couple things. You're right, it is the starter but not a finisher. I use it for preliminary data analysis. And what I mean by that is very rudimentary, summarize this like the The outputs of a you do like a user interview with several different people and then they all give you an answer.


Summarize these answers. It's very preliminary. Just in terms of and I do it on an answer by answer basis because of restrictions with the memory in the chat. And so there's very specific use cases that I do for analysis. I wanna be clear. It's not like the entire analysis that I do.


It's a very useful starting point for understanding what was said across multiple people. Though there's other things that you can do with it, like making preliminary personas. Obviously they are not a replacement for real persona data, but based on averages and based on everything that's out there, it can provide you with some information that is a good placeholder for when you vet that with people.


Then there's also data structuring. So let's say I have unstructured data and I throw it in there. I can say, make this into a table or whatever, and it'll just do it and I don't have to worry about it. Let's say it's let's say it's a chat from an interview or something and they say you to make a margarita, you need one lime and you need margarita mix and you need tequila and.


Basically then I say make this into a table with ingredients and what I need, how much of it, right? And I take that qualitative data, that transcript and turn it into a table. That's the type of things that I do with it as well. I do meeting recaps with AI tools. I think that is really useful.


There's one that I really like that is free right now. It's called briefly, and it is just phenomenal. I don't use it at work, but I use it for other things in my personal workflow. And it's just, if you don't care about giving your data to a company, it's really good. So I don't use it for anything that's super important.


I use it for emails and communications internal and external, especially when you think about how to phrase something going out to a customer of yours or an end user of yours that you don't wanna necessarily lose. You wanna be careful about how you phrase things. I also use it for survey development, making sure that the response options and the question phrasing are all good to go.


I have, if I can't quite think of how to ask this question, I brainstorm some ideas that way. Again, Barry. Yeah, I think it is very much a starter, not a finisher. I think that's it. We got one more question, and this one's by rain. They actually left us a voicemail, so I'm gonna play this.


Nick and Barry. Love your show guys. I'm new to this field graduating soon, and I was just thinking how do I make some connections, maybe find a mentor, someone who's like really established so I can learn the ropes, have some virtual coffee chats, and just absorb all their wisdom.


And Any advice guys? Any advice? Barry what do you think for mentorship?


[00:45:20] Barry Kirby: I would go and look at the Chat Institute of Economics and Human Factors, which has worldwide membership. So no matter where you're at, it's always there. And the reason you say that is we've got some amazing mentors in there.


So we have a specific mentor, mentor forum where you can ask broader questions and find the mentors that's perfect for you. And really outside of that as well, we very close-knit community. Very helpful people. And the reason I say that is because mentors are really good for that one-to-one support in helping you develop personally and basically being an honest broker they'll, they can give you the the hard line when you need to hear it.


But actually when Ray was asking about virtual coffee meetings and stuff, don't forget the wider network because a lot of us like coffee even if it's virtual. And we're all very friendly people, the, take both sides of that and do both. So I would personally push the Chat Institute of Economics in Human Factors for obvious reasons.


Nick, what do you think? What,


[00:46:13] Nick Roome: where would you go? Mr. President so look there's a couple options. One, one of the easiest, I wouldn't say easiest, it's always gonna be difficult to let me say that it's going to be difficult for people who are awkward about networking. Let me just put it that way.


If you find yourself in a situation where you are networking with others, say, let's say at a conference, maybe, perhaps one that's happening next week in the uk, yay. If you find yourself in a room of folks and you find yourself talking to somebody who's had a similar background as you, similar experiences, you, similar career trajectory that you want, you might wanna pull them aside and say, Hey, I really appreciate.


The chat that we had, would you be okay if, I reached out and followed up a little late? You don't have to call it a mentorship thing, but just, I'd love to, have a chat with you a little bit later. I would love to learn a little bit more about your, how you handled these types of things in your past.


You don't have to call it a mentorship, it'd be really informal. There's I also wanna talk about the types of mentorship that you can have. There's these structured set up for you mentorships where you're like working at a company and somebody pairs you with someone who knows the ropes has been around for a while, and they can teach you.


Then there's also the almost self prescribed mentorship options, like in academia school where you have said, I want to work with this professor because they are working on this thing. And so that is almost like a self prescribed thing because you're working in that area, but then you've chosen the teacher, it's this weird relationship sometimes, but can al also be very good and fruitful.


And then there's also this one that happens naturally where you're talking with somebody and it just evolves into that me. There's plenty of resources online. ADP List is one. I'm a mentor over there. Full disclosure I think that I will describe one instance that worked on me. Somebody cold messaged me on LinkedIn and said, Hey, would you mind talking about human factors?


And I said, no, I would not mind talking about human factors. They had some really interesting questions that I didn't mind an answering for them. So cold messaging on LinkedIn Pro, providing a little bit of context around your situation, and again, spelling out the background piece. And then of course, you can always visit us on our Discord.


There's a ton of people in there that you can ask for. You know what, myself included I'll throw myself in there and presumably Barry too, if he has time. But throwing us in there. Barry you can reach out to us. We can be your your Discord mentors. Okay. Yeah. Anything else with that one, Barry?


Or should we move on to one more? I think


[00:48:47] Barry Kirby: actually there's one small thing I, because when you were talking about different types, I think it's all also you need to work out what it is you want from a mentor as well. Because if you want promotion within your company, so if you've got a company and so you can often get senior people within your company to mentor you.


And that's useful because they will know, the other players within the company, how the company processes work and stuff like that. That's good. However, you've also gotta remember that they, that with them, the company will probably, it might not come first, but it will certainly come equal power to you.


They will not put you above the company at that point. And that's nothing against them. That's just the way life is. If you are looking for your own professional development, somebody to be an honest broker for you, I would strongly recommend getting somebody outside of your company to be a mentor cuz then they can be objective.


I've done it quite a few times with mentees where you've been there and you can say, is this the point where you need to move department or jump ship or do something like that because I don't, you're not necessarily getting everything that you need here. Or they might be having a hard time with it within the company.


And you can be that objective, is this person you treat treating you in the right way? Maybe you need to raise this up and give that sort of affirmation. So just be clear about what it is you are wanting out of a mentorship. Cause that will direct you to sort person that you get either internal or external to your organiz.




[00:50:02] Nick Roome: points. Alright, it's time for one more thing. It's where we get the opportunity to talk about one more thing. Barry, what's your one more thing this week? So this


[00:50:10] Barry Kirby: week we are talking about a channel four program here in the UK called Scared of the Dark, where they've started it. And it's basically I think it's seven days.


The, they've got a bunch of celebrities in there inside this hangar inside this complex where they've literally, they're, it's blacked out. And they are for seven. They've gonna last all this time doing tasks, doing various bits. Some of them are scared of the dark, some of them are not. But literally it's pitch black and you get to watch it all through the night vision camera lenses and stuff.


And they've had like various things like people walking around in the dark around them and they have to do various challenges like getting through lock doors and, but what, so they've got a variety of celebrities in there, but one of them is really cool cause he's blind. And so for him he is he's just another Tuesday, isn't it?


And and he's leading everybody else around and really being really beneficial to them. But one of the, if they get some of the task they get, they actually get some time in a light room. And so he was part of this. So there, there was two of them won this task. And and this this blind guy was one of them.


And so then the reward is to go to his light room and his light well, What's the point in that? Because it he couldn't get the benefit of it, but it was really, it's really interesting seeing some of these dynamics work and just went you get a real appreciation of how important site truly is to our engaging with our our environment.


And this is apparently a world first. So it is, it's, we are about halfway through at the moment. It's quite, it's making quite an interesting watching.


[00:51:35] Nick Roome: What is this like celebrity Big Brother in the dark?


[00:51:39] Barry Kirby: Pretty much. That's not far off actually. Yes. So in terms of some of the celebr, I dunno if you heard of Chris Eubank, the Boxer you may not.


I think these are mostly British celebrities probably. Yeah. But they're yeah it is interesting. It's hard as well, but there we go.


[00:51:53] Nick Roome: We've been going through Old Seasons, A Big Brother, cuz it's been forever, since I watched million years ago. But we've been going through some old seasons which will be a one more thing in the future.


But I was going to comment on the final update of Love is Blind, but I understand that somebody on this distinguished panel of of podcast hosts is now watching that show. So I'm going to hold off on that until next week. I did notice a really, so my one more thing this week is this really interesting thing that happened to me.


My son loves to watch on my YouTube account garbage for a lack of a better word. Kid related content. Okay. And what I noticed the other day is that I think YouTube knows this. I think YouTube knows that there are two people watching on this account. You know how I know, oh, at night the recommendations are very different than in the morning what the recommendations are for.


And this surprised me. I was like, oh wait. You're showing me all Star Wars stuff right now. Why are you showing me All Star? Wait, I don't see a single kid related thing that would be like of his I logged on, the morning after I had noticed that and I was like, yep, it's all kid related.


And so I'm really impressed by their ability to parse apart two separate watching viewing profiles. They understand that two people are watching this or they at least understand that there's a preference for certain types of content in the morning. Then there is for other types of content in the evening.


Yeah. And it's also device specific. If I were to log in on my phone, it's Star Wars recommendations. If I were to log. On the TV where he watches it's child related recommendations. So I just thought it was interesting and a really good application of human factors taking that user-centered approach. And so kudos.


All right, I think that's it for today. So if you like this episode and enjoy some of the discussion about robots, I'll encourage you to go listen to our last episode where we talked about how robots will teach kids in the future. Comment, wherever you're listening, what you think of the story this week for more in-depth discussion, you can always join us on our Discord community.


Visit our official website, sign up for our newsletter, stay up to date with all the latest human factors news. If you like what you hear, you wanna support the show, there's a couple options for you. One, you could like and leave us a five star review wherever you're watching or listening right now, that is free for you to do, helps out the show.


Two, if you have friends, you can tell 'em about us that really helps the show grow. Number one way that we grow, make a LinkedIn post. Facebook post. I don't know, somewhere you, you can show your appreciation for us. We'd appreciate that. Three, if you have the financial means to do you want to get some cool perks and you want to give to the show, you can financially give to the show via Patreon.


Like I said, you get a bunch of cool perks there. Just a buckets. You in the door. There's always a revolving door of content going on. In fact, Barry and I are recording a piece of exclusive content tomorrow morning. So that's tomorrow morning for me. Anyway, that's a whole bunch of fun. As always, links to all of our socials and our website are in the description of this episode.


Sir, Mr. President Barry Kirby, your worship, where can our listeners go and find you if they want to talk about robots stumbling and falling? So


[00:55:02] Barry Kirby: you can find me on social media, particularly Twitter at ba k, or if you wanna listen to some interviews that I've been doing, you can find me on the 1202 Human Factors Podcast at 1202


[00:55:13] Nick Roome: As for me, I been your host, Nick Rome. You can find me on our discord and across social media at Nick underscore Rome. Thanks again for tuning into Human Factors Cast. Until next time. It depends



Barry KirbyProfile Photo

Barry Kirby

Managing Director

A human factors practitioner, based in Wales, UK. MD of K Sharp, Fellow of the CIEHF and a bit of a gadget geek.