Anna Kantosalo defends her PhD thesis on Human-Computer Co-Creativity

On Tuesday the 13th of August 2019, M.Sc. (Tech) Anna Kantosalo will defend her doctoral thesis Human-Computer Co-Creativity - Designing, Evaluating and Modelling Computational Collaborators for Poetry Writing. The thesis is a part of research done in the Department of Computer Science and in the Discovery research group at the University of Helsinki.

M.Sc. (Tech) Anna Kantosalo defends her doctoral thesis Human-Computer Co-Creativity - Designing, Evaluating and Modelling Computational Collaborators for Poetry Writing on Tuesday the 13th of August 2019 at 12 o'clock noon in the University of Helsinki Exactum Building, Auditorium CK112 (Pietari Kalmin katu 5, ground floor). Her opponent is Professor Mary Lou Maher (University of North Carolina at Charlotte, USA) and custos Professor Hannu Toivonen (University of Helsinki). The defence will be held in English.

Human-Computer Co-Creativity - Designing, Evaluating and Modelling Computational Collaborators for Poetry Writing

Human-computer co-creativity examines creative collaboration between humans and artificially intelligent computational agents. Human-computer co-creativity researchers assume that instead of using computational systems to merely automate creative tasks, computational creativity methods can be leveraged to design computational collaborators capable of sharing creative responsibility with a human collaborator. This has potential for extending both human and computational creative capability. This thesis focuses on the case of one human and one computational collaborator. More specifically this thesis studies how children collaborate with a computational collaborator called the Poetry Machine in the linguistically creative task of writing poems.

This thesis investigates three topics related to human-computer co-creativity: The design of human-computer co-creative systems, their evaluation and the modelling of human-computer co-creative processes. These topics are approached from two perspectives: an interaction design perspective and a computational creativity perspective. The interaction design perspective provides practical methods for the design and evaluation of interactive systems as well as methodological frameworks for analysing design practices in the field. The computational creativity perspective then again provides a theoretical view to the evaluation and modelling of human-computer co-creativity. The thesis itself consists of five papers.

This thesis starts with an analysis of the interaction design process for computational collaborators. The design process is examined through a review of case studies, and a thorough description of the design process of the Poetry Machine system described in Paper I. The review shows that several researchers in the field have assumed a user-centered design approach, but some good design practices, including the reporting of design decisions, iterative design and early testing with users are not yet fulfilled according to the best standards.

After illustrating the general design process, this thesis examines different approaches to the evaluation of human-computer co-creativity. Two case studies are conducted to evaluate the usability of and user experiences with the Poetry Machine system. The first evaluations are described in Paper II. They produced useful feedback for developing the system further. The second evaluation, described in Papers III and IV, investigates specific metrics for evaluating the co-creative writing experience in more detail. To promote the accumulation of design knowledge, special care is taken to report practical issues related to evaluating co-creative systems. These include, for example, issues related to formulating suitable evaluation tasks.

Finally the thesis considers modelling human-computer co-creativity. Paper V approaches modelling from a computationally creative perspective, by extending the creativity-as-a-search paradigm into co-creative systems. The new model highlights specific issues for interaction designers to be aware of when designing new computational collaborators.

Avail­ab­il­ity of the dis­ser­ta­tion

An electronic version of the doctoral dissertation is available on the e-thesis site of the University of Helsinki at

Printed copies will be available on request from Anna Kantosalo: