Our modern society faces multiple challenges, including an increased number of older people, an increasing social gap and (health) differences between people of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds, a shortage of qualified and specialised professionals, and loneliness. These challenges affect our (perceived) health and life expectancy and make great demands on the self-, and collaborative management.
A growing number of studies reveal how the living environment can preserve and promote our social connections, health and (perceived) quality of life. Having some form of ‘community’ and social interaction in the neighbourhood is a precondition for creating informal networks. Especially for people in vulnerable situations, the (design of the) outdoor space is decisive for establishing social cohesion.
The concept of ‘public familiarity’, which is used to indicate the relationship between the living environment and social interaction, potentially enhances good neighbourliness. It refers to short, repeated encounters between neighbours and contributes to feelings of safety and social acceptance. Fourth places, such as squares or parks, that function as the “living room” of a neighbourhood are essential in this regard.
Artificial intelligence solutions and art are also rich in interaction and are more often used to promote social interaction in these ‘living rooms’. In doing so, public space not only ‘facilitates’ social interaction but also ‘stimulates’ it.
Ethical issues of these AI-based places should certainly not be overlooked. However, some researchers argue that nudging is manipulative as psychological processes (such as priming and framing) affect people’s behaviour unconsciously. Much data on the behaviour and subtle behavioural influenced by AI-interventions are collected. This knowledge brings responsibility for finding out whether the impact is desirable.
Therefore, this international workshop sets out to explore if and how smart technologies can turn semi-public spaces into resilient communities. More specifically, we focus on how (semi-)public spaces can contribute to encountering and strengthening social connections between neighbourhood residents. The aim is to explore and understand factors that influence the design of AI-based environments where human scale and ethical values are integrated.
Ensuring the social embedding and sustainable use of these solutions require the involvement of all stakeholders, particularly citizens, in the design process. The workshop thereby explores the dynamics between AI, artwork, place-making, and social health. It investigates the design and participation process, ethical matters, as well as the validity and (socio-economic and emotional) impact of these AI-based solutions.