School of Information Assistant Prof. Eytan Adar knows that computers designed to deceive their users anger technology experts.

Despite the stigma surrounding it, Adar said such deception is rampant, from physical therapy equipment that stealthily coaxes users to try harder to malicious online shopping sites that add extra items to customers’ carts.

“No one wants to think that they’re deceiving the user, and yet we’re all still doing it in the interfaces that we build,” Adar said. “We wanted to have a better perspective of what we were doing and why we were doing it.”

Adar, along with two researchers from Microsoft Research, investigated the many cases of such deception and presented their findings at the ACM SIGCHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in Paris this week, where dozens of University students, faculty and alumni discussed computer-human contentions.

The conference is hosted annually by the Association for Computing Machinery, the world’s largest computing society. This year, the conference was held from April 27 to May 2.

Heather Newman, director of marketing and communications for the School of Information, said the conference was one of the most prominent in the CHI field. Only 20 percent of submissions were approved to be presented at the 2013 conference, according to a CHI publication. Along with two other University papers, Adar’s paper was deemed an Honorable Mention, an honor granted to only five percent of submissions. One University paper was named Best of CHI, a distinction given to less than one percent of submissions.

Members of the School of Information, along with LSA and the College of Engineering, presented at the conference, Newman said. Professors and graduate students presented research and attended workshops. One group of students was named semifinalists in the CHI Student Design Competition with their mobile app, Xpress.

Information graduate student Yung-Ju Chang, a member of the semi-finalist group, said Xpress is an app to help language learners. For example, an English-speaking Xpress user interested in learning Mandarin could post a situation or image in which they might have difficulty communicating verbally. A native Mandarin-speaking user would reply with an appropriate response to that particular situation.

Chang said the app is designed for native speakers to both ask and answer questions.

“A lot of them would like to improve their English speaking,” Chang said about his fellow Chinese students. “They just don’t have a lot of exposure to colloquial expressions. We learn the language from dictionaries and textbooks, but they are not good at helping you in casual chat.”

Chang said the interdisciplinary nature of the conference allows a variety of scholars, from the social sciences to computer engineering, to collaborate.

Information Associate Prof. Nicole Ellison’s research, also presented at CHI, reflected a social science approach to the technology revolution. With fellow Assistant Prof. Cliff Lampe and two researchers from Michigan State University, she studied how different methods of asking Facebook friends to take a survey may affect the number of survey takers.

“There’s a public debate now over whether social media is just a waste of time or whether it provides some sort of benefit to people who are using it,” Ellison said.

Follow Rachel Premack on Twitter at @rr_premack

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