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Details of Grant 

EPSRC Reference: EP/S027424/1
Title: A Platform for Responsive Conversational Agents to Enhance Engagement and Disclosure (PRoCEED)
Principal Investigator: Buckley, Dr O J
Other Investigators:
Wyer, Dr N
Researcher Co-Investigators:
Project Partners:
Byte London Limited CREST (Ctr Res & Evid Security Threats) Government Office for Science
Humanise.AI Phonehub IO Ltd Velmai Ltd
Department: Computing Sciences
Organisation: University of East Anglia
Scheme: Standard Research
Starts: 01 June 2019 Ends: 31 May 2021 Value (£): 203,940
EPSRC Research Topic Classifications:
Artificial Intelligence Human-Computer Interactions
EPSRC Industrial Sector Classifications:
Information Technologies Healthcare
Financial Services
Related Grants:
EP/S027467/1 EP/S027297/1 EP/S027211/1
Panel History:
Panel DatePanel NameOutcome
12 Feb 2019 Digital Economy Investigator-led Research Projects 12 February 2019 Announced
Summary on Grant Application Form
The way in which individuals interact with technology is rapidly evolving, as users increasingly expect fast, reliable and accurate information. In order to deliver systems capable of meeting these expectation both businesses and government departments alike are turning to conversational agents (or chatbots). These conversational agents are capable of interacting and engaging with users, answering user queries and even providing advice and guidance as required. This research considers how this technology can be optimised to provide a more effective method of communication, while also focusing on the implicit trust that a user has with a conversational agent.

As part of this research we will investigate the nature of sensitive information and how the context of the information can play a role in its perceived sensitivity. This will be achieved using a range of experiments to better understand the public's perceptions of personal information, and how those perceptions relate to the classification of the information.

In order to fully understand the use of conversational agents it is essential to properly understand the nature of personal, sensitive information and also their perceived trustworthiness. We will examine how different facets of a conversational agent's humanity, personality and appearance can be used to affect an individual's perceptions and trust in that agent.

We will focus on the use of conversational agents across three key sectors: healthcare, defence and security and technology. These three areas have been selected as they are significant users of conversational agents and all deal with potentially sensitive and personal information, as well as being areas of significant public spending. Our research will understand how these interactions between humans and computers can be optimised to deliver a bespoke conversational agent tailored to meet the expectations and needs of the individual. This in turn will increase the trust and confidence in these digital services.
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