New re­search group starts: Fo­cus on men­tal mod­els of AI

Starting in November, the Paderborn University will fund the independent research group on mental models in the context of developing explainable artificial intelligence for three years. The group "Developing a symmetric mental models approach" is led by Dr. Christian Schulz, media scientist at the Paderborn University, and complements the work of TRR 318. With the "Independent Research Groups", the Paderborn and Bielefeld Universities support outstanding young researchers in their careers.

"The research project is divided into two parts: on the one hand, it is dedicated to a genealogical, historical approach by tracing different strands of mental models in different disciplines, such as cognitive science, computer science, and human-computer interaction, and on the other hand, the empirical investigation of mental models itself is the subject of the research group. The aim of the project is to link the knowledge and ideas of everyday users more closely with the conceptualizations of AI developers, i.e. the mental models they have of users", explains Schulz. The interdisciplinary context of the TRR offers an optimal environment for the realization of this project.

In terms of content, there are many links to the research in the Transregio – ranging from the history of AI development to the study of co-construction, in which the perspective of everyday users is to be strengthened. Several collaborations with other TRR projects are planned. Aims of the research group include a reconceptualization of mental models in the context of AI development and the development of a symmetric concept of such models. Thus, a conceptual contribution of co-constructive explainability in AI systems shall be made. Schulz has already formulated the approaches for the research of the new research group, which will also include a PhD student, in his paper "From mental models to algorithmic imaginaries to co-constructive mental models". It will be published in the journal "Navigationen" in October. A preprint of the paper is already available here.

Dr. Christian Schulz is associated with the research area Cultures of Digitality at the Institute of Media Studies at the Paderborn University. In the Collaborative Research Center Transregio 318, he was previously employed as a research assistant in project B03 "Exploring users, roles and explanations in real-world contexts". Recently, Campus Verlag published his book "Infrastructures of Recognition. A Theory of Social Media Platforms", based on his dissertation.

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Dr. Christian Schulz is the leader of the new research group investigating mental models