Owen Conlan and Ben Cowan: AI and SciFi

09 October 2022

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The movies we’ve grown up watching have made quite the impression on our lives and how we think about AI.

From the exciting prospect of flying cars in Back to the Future, to the grim post-apocalyptic landscape of Mad Max. What’s closer to the truth in our near future? For instance, we’ve recently seen ABBA launch a ‘hologram’ tour and Mark Zuckerberg enter the metaverse.

What else can we expect from the coming decade and how might these technologies evolve to become seamless in our lives?


  • How movies like ‘The Matrix’ and Spike Jonze’s ‘Her’ were incredibly prescient when considering our future interactions with machines.
  • How TV shows like ‘Black Mirror’ identify potential negative and positive aspects of AI, sounding a warning before the technology is actually made.
  • How the Adapt Centre is involved in Digitally Enhanced Engagement that’s bringing about a revolution in AI.
  • The work at the Adapt Centre aimed at improving user experiences by focusing on human centric AI.
  • How personalising proactive agents to model users appropriately could allow them to represent us in real life.
  • The need for designers to be discerning consumers of the data they gather to create AI.


Owen Conlan is a full Professor in the School of Computer Science and Statistics. He is an internationally recognised researcher and thought leader in the field of Personalised Visualisation.

Prof Conlan has authored 180+ peer-reviewed and high impact publications and has a h-index of 27. His most significant research contributions are the multi-model, metadata driven approach to personalisation, the non-invasive approach to personalisation, and the automated construction of personalised visualisations (which underpins several industry collaborations).

Ben Cowan is Associate Professor at UCD’s School of Information and Communication Studies; and Funded Investigator within the Adapt Centre. He specialises in voice UX and Conversational User Interfaces. He has published over 70 academic research papers on topics related to voice user interfaces, communication and cognitive psychology.

His research lies at the juncture between psychology, human-computer interaction and communication systems in investigating how design impacts aspects of user behaviour in social, collaborative and communicative technology interactions.