Keynote Speech

Research Challenges to Humanizing Cyberspace

Sara Kiesler

Human Computer Interaction Institute
School of Computer Science
Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, PA, USA

Tuesday, 25 July 2023, 18:30 Central European Summer Time - CEST (Copenhagen)

Sara Kiesler



Advances in technology and global business practices have led to a global cyberspace, with many benefits for the citizens of the world, including new services and products that make lives better, but as well, to serious threats and harms. These include online harassment and hate, cyberbullying, invasions of privacy, threats to democracy, and scams and schemes that hurt businesses and individuals. 

Hundreds of examples could be cited. For example, among 14,000 girls and young women in 31 countries, more than half in one survey said they had been harassed online and one-quarter felt unsafe. Health misinformation, such as that HIV does not cause AIDS, has led to thousands of deaths in Africa and vaccine misinformation has led millions to forgo life-saving vaccines. Among the sorts of misinformation online we see a deluge of fraudulent services and goods, polarization of groups, distrust in elections, threats to journalism, fake science, and real-world violence.

High quality science and journalism has made some gains in understanding and mitigating the tsunami of both accidental and intentional misinformation online but opposing lies with truth can feel like a losing arms race. Why is the current situation so dire? I will enumerate recent discoveries that anchor reasons for misinformation online in psychology, in social institutions, and in the structure and functioning of the online world, each of which (and all together) that makes humanizing cyberspace so extremely challenging. I will highlight research gaps and point to research goals for making real gains in humanizing cyberspace.



Sara Kiesler is University Professor and Hillman Professor Emerita of Computer Science and Human-Computer Interaction at Carnegie Mellon University, and a program director of the National Science Foundation. She is a well-known social psychologist with broad interests in the design and social impact of technology. Kiesler’s research has contributed to our understanding of the social dimensions of computing and the internet, including the emergence of new forms of distributed work and science, of commerce, changes in how people communicate and keep in touch, of group interactions in social media, and emerging threats to privacy, security, and information authenticity. She brought concepts and methods from social psychology and social sciences to the fields of human-computer interaction and robotics, helped create a new interdisciplinary field of human-robot interaction, and was the founding editor of the Journal of Human Robot Interaction. Her books, Connections, with Lee Sproull, Culture of the Internet, and Distributed Work, with Pam Hinds, had a wide influence on both researchers and practitioners.

Kiesler has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Science and the National Academy of Engineering. She has received the Association of Computing Machinery’s Special Interest Group on Computer-Human Interaction (CHI) Lifetime Achievement Award, awarded to individuals who have made extensive contributions to the study of human-computer interaction and who have led the shaping of the field. She also received the Human Robot Interaction Lifetime Service Award, the InGROUP McGrath Lifetime Award, the International Communication Association Williams Prize , and the Allen Newell Award for Research Excellence. She is a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychological Society. She served as a board member of the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board of the National Academy of Sciences. She was a long-time director of American Institutes for Research, a nonprofit research company that specializes in education research and evaluation.