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Max Van Kleek

Professor Max Van Kleek is Associate Professor of Human-Computer Interaction in the Department of Computer Science.

Areas of interest

Although digital technology has in many ways made life easier for people, it has made our lives substantially more complicated in other ways. For instance, people are now surrounded by things that collect data about them, and increasing numbers of invisible algorithms that govern the most trivial details of our lives. This is why I work on what I call 'end user empowerment' – understanding needs and opportunities for tools to help end users survive (and even thrive) in complex digital environments. 

My work, at the intersection of AI and human-computer interaction, includes work on helping people improve and maintain their privacy online, regain autonomy in an era full of weaponised behavioural targeting, and supporting their long-term needs, including those pertaining to their digital and physical wellbeing. Key to this is keeping people 'in the loop', learning and supporting people in formulating and refining preferences that help them live better online – rather than replacing them with algorithms.

What makes Oxford such a good place to work in AI?

Increasingly, progress and breakthroughs in AI is being made through interdisciplinarity, from nearby fields including mathematics and statistics to those that have traditionally been farther, including law, philosophy and history. Oxford has an incredible tradition of such disciplines, which means that some of the world's top experts are always at hand. Also, much of Oxford's power to do research comes from its students – undergraduates and postgraduates alike who are truly world class in terms of being capable, motivated and creative.

What is the biggest opportunity or challenge in AI?

The biggest opportunity AND challenge right now is in AI and interfaces to help the 99%: AI has clearly helped the most privileged players (including platforms like Google and Facebook) advance and expand their influence and reach. But end users have not benefited comparatively from the AI explosion, and the next generation will involve substantial gains in AI by and for end users.

More about Max

https://www.cs.ox.ac.uk/people/max.vankleek/

Max Van Kleek
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