PITTSBURGH— Anind K. Dey, an assistant professor in the Human-Computer Interaction Institute at Carnegie Mellon University, has received the National Science Foundation's Faculty Early Career Development (CAREER) Award, the agency's most prestigious award for junior faculty.
A five-year, $500,000 grant will support Dey's work on making intelligent, interactive systems easier for people to understand and control. These intelligent systems are expected to proliferate in the years ahead, gathering information not only about people's circumstances and environment, but also their preferences. Such systems could aid with tasks such as route planning for car trips, making travel reservations and managing family schedules and activities, but they also have the potential to be intrusive and to make irritating mistakes that could cause people to reject them.
"These systems will have to explain themselves or people will abandon them," Dey said. "If people understand how the system works, I believe they will be more willing to accept them."
Microsoft, for instance, eventually eliminated Clippy, the paperclip-like character that was supposed to help people use Microsoft Office 97 features, but proved puzzling and annoying. Amazon.com, by contrast, was able to solve problems with its system for recommending books based on previous purchases by allowing customers to identify recommendations that were unwanted. "They gave people control over the system and that helped people accept it," Dey noted.
With the NSF's support, Dey's research team is creating a tool for developing these intelligent systems so that they include features that explain to users why they do things and give users control over both the system and any personal information the system gathers.
Dey and his students also are working on three intelligent systems of their own: a system for helping two-career families with children cope with schedule overload; a system for recording daily experiences and critical information for patients with dementia; and a system that learns a person's driving preferences and recommends compatible routes.
Dey received a bachelor's degree in computer engineering from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, Canada, in 1993, and a master's degree in aerospace engineering from Georgia Tech in 1995. He earned a second master's degree and a Ph.D. in computer science at Georgia Tech in 2000. He was a senior researcher at Intel Research Berkeley from 2001-2004. Before joining Carnegie Mellon in 2005, he was an adjunct assistant professor of electrical engineering and computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, from 2002 to 2005.
About Carnegie Mellon: Carnegie Mellon is a private research university with a distinctive mix of programs in engineering, computer science, robotics, business, public policy, fine arts and the humanities. More than 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students receive an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration, and innovation. A small student-to-faculty ratio provides an opportunity for close interaction between students and professors. While technology is pervasive on its 144-acre Pittsburgh campus, Carnegie Mellon is also distinctive among leading research universities for the world-renowned programs in its College of Fine Arts. A global university, Carnegie Mellon has campuses in Silicon Valley, Calif., and Qatar, and programs in Asia, Australia and Europe. For more, see www.cmu.edu.