Alisa Rieger, TU Delft
Alisa Rieger is an Early Stage Researcher in the NL4XAI project and a PhD student at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands.
Within the NL4XAI project, she is working on the interactions to mitigate human biases.
"Being an ESR in the NL4XAI project allowed me to travel a lot within Europe and experience being part of and collaborating with different research groups"
What is your current role?
I’m an early-stage researcher (ESR) in the NL4XAI project and 3rd year PhD candidate in the WIS group at Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands. My PhD advisors are Prof. Nava Tintarev (Maastricht University/Delft) and Dr. Mariët Theune (University of Twente).
What is your research focus and what problem(s) does it address?
My research focuses on the effect of explanations for automated decisions and recommendations on users and their behavior. Specifically, my work aims at finding interventions to boost users’ agency, understanding, and awareness of their behavior and behavioral limitations during web interactions such as search. For this, I primarily focus on studying user behavior and reflections when exposing them to various interventions (e.g., warning labels, argument summaries, viewpoint labels) that aim at improving search for responsible opinion formation with a focus on cognitive bias mitigation.
What reads that influence your research do you recommend?
– Lorenz-Spreen, P., Lewandowsky, S., Sunstein, C. R., & Hertwig, R. (2020). How behavioural sciences can promote truth, autonomy and democratic discourse online. Nature human behaviour, 4(11), 1102-1109.
– Shah, C., & Bender, E. M. (2022, March). Situating search. In ACM SIGIR Conference on Human Information Interaction and Retrieval (pp. 221-232).
– Azzopardi, L. (2021, March). Cognitive biases in search: a review and reflection of cognitive biases in Information Retrieval. In Proceedings of the 2021 conference on human information interaction and retrieval (pp. 27-37).
What is your key takeaway so far?
If we want interventions to be sustainable and safe, they should focus on empowering users for well-informed choices instead of making the choices for users which further reduces their agency and comes with the risk of misuse and manipulation.
What are (some of) the tasks in your day-to-day life as an ESR/PhD candidate?
My most important task is conducting research. In my case, that means defining research problems, formulating hypotheses, implementing user studies, collecting and analyzing data, and submitting academic papers for publication. A significant perk of being a PhD candidate is the continued focus on my training, through mentoring by my immediate supervisors and collaborators, training events with my fellow ESRs in the NL4XAI project, or graduate school courses and summer schools. I get to pass along the skills that I am being trained in to master’s students and student project groups when supervising them which gives me valuable insights into the joys and challenges of supervision. Being an ESR in the NL4XAI project allowed me to travel a lot within Europe and experience being part of and collaborating with different research groups that are also part of the project, e.g. the IIIA CSIC in Barcelona and the HMI group at the University of Twente. Besides research tasks, I very much enjoy tasks related to organizing events. So far, I got to do things like preparing a panel discussion, acquiring funds for a symposium, planning and conducting a summer school, or co-chairing a conference late-breaking results/demo track. This diversity of tasks and experiences provides me with numerous opportunities to learn new things from the brilliant collaborators and mentors with which I work.
What keeps you entertained in your spare time?
Beyond my life as a PhD candidate, I love to go on bike rides along the canals and dunes to explore the Den Haag area, where I am based. I enjoy always finding great new restaurants and cafes in Delft, Den Haag, Utrecht, or Amsterdam. My favorite Den Haag activities are kayaking in the canals and watching performances by the Nederlands Dans Theater.
Where can people learn more about you and your research?