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Not so long ago, robots were the subject of sci-fi movies or production lines in some industries. Nowadays, the use of robots in hospitals, hotels or coffee shops has been gradually increasing. All over the world, cases of robot-related anxiety have been noted. Specialists even talk about robophobia - a strong fear of robots.

During the upcoming event in the HumanTech Meetings series, organized by SWPS University’s HumanTech Center for Social and Technological Innovation, two world-renowned scientists, Professor Christoph Bartneck, University of Canterbury, New Zeland, and Professor Agnieszka Wykowska, the Italian Institute of Technology, in Genoa, Italy, will tell us about their own experience of building difficult relations with robots.

The meeting will be hosted by Dr. Konrad Maj.

Due to the pandemic, the meeting will take a form of an online webinar.

Lanuages of the event: Polish and English (with translation to both languages).
Registration required.

December 2
19:00-22:00 CET (GMT+1)

HumanTech Meetings

We live in an era of innovation, technological progress and digitalization. This current innovation drive may lead to unpredictable psychological and social outcomes. Therefore, it is crucial to establish collaborations between engineers, programmers, IT specialists and social scientists during initial phases of any new projects related to development of new technologies or services. Such collaborations may help to avoid mistakes and can support better development of new ideas.

The project is planned as a series of meetings, gathering academics and professionals from the technology sector from Poland and other countries. Each meeting will include two lectures, one delivered by a speaker from Poland and one presented by a guest from another country. The lectures will be followed by panel discussions, where panelists will represent different approaches to innovation and technology.

HumanTech Meetings is a project of SWPS University's Center for Innovation. More information »

Recently, we have begun researching human-robot interactions at our Center, although undoubtedly, this is still an abstract area in Poland. All the more so, we would like to recommend this topic to everyone. We are also looking forward to hearing what our distinguished guests have been doing in this field. I can’t wait!

Assistant Professor Konrad Maj, Head of the HumanTech Center for Social and Technological Innovation



Lecture 1: Social cognition in human-robot interaction

In daily lives, we need to be able to efficiently navigate through our social environment. Our brain has developed a plethora of mechanisms that allow smooth social interactions with others, and that enable understanding of others’ behaviors, and prediction of what others are going to do next. At the dawn of a new era, in which robots might soon be among us at homes and offices, one needs to ask whether (or when) our brain uses similar mechanisms towards robots. In our research, we examine what factors in human-robot interaction lead to activation of mechanisms of social cognition. We use methods of cognitive neuroscience and experimental psychology in naturalistic protocols in which humans interact with a humanoid robot. Here, I will present results of several experiments in which we examined the impact of various parameters of robot social behavior on the mechanisms of social cognition. We examined whether mutual gaze, gaze-contingent robot behavior, or human-likeness of movements influence engagement of mechanisms of social cognition, such as joint attention or social decision making. Our results show an interesting interaction between more “social” aspects of robot behavior and fundamental processes of human cognition. The results will be discussed in the context of several general questions that need to be addressed: the societal impact of robots towards whom we attune socially or clinical applications of social robots.

agnieszka wykowska

Agnieszka Wykowska – leads the unit “Social Cognition in Human-Robot Interaction” at the Italian Institute of Technology (Genoa, Italy), and is an adjunct professor of engineering psychology at the Luleå University of Technology as well as visiting professor at the University of Manchester. She graduated in neuro-cognitive psychology (2006, LMU Munich), obtained PhD in psychology (2008) and the German “Habilitation” (2013) from LMU Munich. In 2016 she was awarded the ERC Starting grant “InStance”. She is an Editor-in-Chief of International Journal of Social Robotics and an Associate Editor of Frontiers in Psychology. She is a board member of the European Society for Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience (ESCAN). In her research, she combines cognitive neuroscience methods with human-robot interaction in order to understand the human brain mechanisms in interaction with natural and artificial agents.

Lecture 2: Same same but different

The idea of robots have inspired humans for generations. The Bank of Asia, for example, had commissioned a building that looks like robot to host its headquarters in Bangkok. This profound interest in creating artificial entities is a blessing and a curse for the study of human-robot interaction. On the one hand it almost guarantees a headline in newspapers, but on the other hand it biases all participants in the study. Still, almost all robots that made it out of the research labs and into the market failed. This talk with try to shine some light on why robots are so (un)popular. 

christoph bartneck

Christoph Bartneck – is associate professor and director of postgraduate studies at the HIT Lab NZ of the University of Canterbury. He has a background in Industrial Design and Human-Computer Interaction, and his projects and studies have been published in leading journals, newspapers, and conferences. His interests lie in the fields of HCI, Science and Technology Studies, and Visual Design. More specifically, he focuses on the effect of anthropomorphism on human-robot interaction. As a secondary research interest he works on bibliometric analyses, agent based social simulations, and the critical review on scientific processes and policies. In the field of Design Christoph investigates the history of product design, tessellations and photography.

He has worked for several international organizations including the Technology Centre of Hannover (Germany), LEGO (Denmark), Eagle River Interactive (USA), Philips Research (Netherlands), ATR (Japan), and The Eindhoven University of Technology (Netherlands). Christoph is an associate editor of the International Journal of Social Robotics, the International Journal of Human Computer Studies and Entertainment Computing Journal. Christoph is a member of the New Zealand Institute for Language Brain & Behavior, ACM SIGCHI, The New Zealand Association Of Scientists and Academic Freedom Aotearoa. The press regularly reports on his work, including the New Scientist, Scientific American, Popular Science, Wired, New York Times, The Times, BBC, Huffington Post, Washington Post, The Guardian, and The Economist.


mateusz łukasiak

Mateusz Łukasiak – is a graduate of the Medical University of Warsaw (WUM) and President of the Polish Transhumanist Association. He is interested in applications of new technologies in medicine and human-machine interactions. Mateusz is an enthusiast transhumanism, in particular longevity and morphological freedom, realized also through cyborgization, i.e. an integration of mechanical elements with a human body. He is an organizer of an annual scientific conferences on “Transhumanism: Ideas, strategies, doubts”, and a series of lectures on the subject of “Transhumanism in Warsaw”.

kamil muzyka

Kamil Muzyka – is a doctoral candidate at the Institute of Law Studies of the Polish Academy of Sciences. He specializes in the space production law and artificial intelligence law. He published numerous articles on the legal aspects of AI in Paladyn, a journal of behavioral robotics, the Journal of Artificial General Intelligence, and Maska, a Polish online magazine devoted to anthropology, sociology, and culture. He is a member of the Polish Transhumanist Association, member of the board of the Polska Fundacja Fantastyki Naukowej (Polish Sci-Fi Foundation), and a member of The Spokesmen of Science association. He completed a fellowship at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, at Trinity College in Hartford, USA (2013-2014). His lectures and talks often focus on robotization of industry, self-replicating technologies, and legal aspects of synthetic biology and industrial astrobiology.

paweł zarzycki

Paweł Zarzycki – is the founder of SmartLife Robotics. He graduated from the Warsaw University of Technology with a Master’s degree in computer engineering. He also obtained an MBA, with honors, from Oxford Brookes University. Paweł is an expert in the field of artificial intelligence (AI). He was named one of the "50 most creative business people in Poland" in 2015, and was the finalist in the SingularityU Global Impact Challenge 2018. He published articles on semantic technologies and controlled natural languages. He is currently a doctoral student at the Interdisciplinary Doctoral School at SWPS University and PJATK.. He thesis focuses on social robots (affective robotics). Recently, he has become a member of the Human-Tech Center for Social and Technological Innovation at SWPS University.

Meeting Host

Kaja Tomczak

Konrad Maj, Ph.D. – Social psychologist, Head of the HumanTech Meetings project, initiator and Head of the HumanTech Center for Social and Technological Innovations. In his research and teaching he focuses on social influence, media psychology and innovations. Recently, he has been working on a Human-Robot-Interaction (HRI) project. From 2013 to 2016 he held the post of Rector’s Representative for Research, focusing on practical application of research results and social innovations. He visited numerous innovation centers, including the Institute for Social Innovation (ISI) at Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, USA, the ID+ Research Institute for Design, Media and Culture at the University of Averio, Portugal, and Design Factory at Aalto University, in Finland.



HumanTech Center for Social and Technological Innovation >>



Media Support





Date and Location 

Wednesday, December 2, 2020, online


Coordinator: Ewa Łuczak
e-mail: eluczak1@swps.edu.pl

The HumanTech Meetings project is funded by the Ministry of Science and Higher Education, under the “Promotion of Science” funding scheme - contract no. 792/P-DUN/2019.




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