Human Interaction With Nature and Technological Systems Lab
(The HINTS Lab)

Recent Publications


The Rediscovery of the Wild (2013)


Ecopsychology: Science, Totems, and the Technological Species (2012)


Technological Nature: Adaptation and the Future of Human Life (2011)



A nature language: An agenda to catalog, save, and recover patterns of human-nature interaction (2010)



"A Nature Language" Website (2010)



The Human Relation with Nature and Technological Nature (2009)


Office Window of the Future? (2008)

Girl hugging robovie

Director: Peter H. Kahn, Jr.

The HINTS lab seeks to address - from a psychological stance - two world trends that are powerfully reshaping human existence:

  1. The degradation if not destruction of large parts of the natural world, and
  2. Unprecedented technological development, both in terms of its computational sophistication and pervasiveness.

Humans will adapt to such changes. In response, some people say: "Don’t worry, adaptation is how we evolved, and adaption is good for us; we’ll be fine." But adaptation is not always good for a species. An African elephant can "adapt" and live "sustainably" in zoo confines the size of a parking lot, but that doesn`t mean the elephant is flourishing given its evolutionary capacity. We could all adapt to living in San Quentin Prison, but that doesn`t mean we would do well. With this conceptualization in hand, the HINTS lab investigates the following questions

  • Are frequent interactions with diverse nature important, or even necessary, for children to develop well -- physically and psychologically?
  • Do we need interaction not just with domestic nature but more wild nature – that which is often big, untamed, unmanaged, self-organizing, and unencumbered by human artifice.
  • What are the psychological effects of interacting with “Technological Nature” – technologies that mediate, augment, or simulate nature (e.g., robot pets, real-time digital windows of nature, and tele-operated gardening)?
  • How can personified computational systems (e.g., humanoid robots, androids, and “smart homes”) be designed to enhance children’s social and moral development?
  • How can technological systems be designed to enhance the world and human flourishing?

The HINTS lab focuses on these questions. We aim for rigor in our scientific research. Depth in our apprehension of the problems. Solutions that build on the depth and authenticity of human experience. And far-ranging visions of the future.



Last updated: Monday, 15-Apr-2013 16:13:17 PDT
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Children's and Young Adults' Social and Moral Interactions with a Humanoid Robot1

Moral Accountability

Robovie Claiming Responsibility and Asserting Authority (1 of 2)
(2 minutes, 47 seconds)

Robovie Claiming Responsibility and Asserting Authority (2 of 2)
(57 seconds)

Robovie Pays a Compliment and Makes a Joke
(23 seconds)

Robovie Shares a Personal Interest and Elicits the Participant's Opinion
(33 seconds)

Robovie Requests Help and Orients the Participant to a Map
(34 seconds)

Moral Standing

Meeting the Robot for the First Time
(24 seconds)


Walking with the Robot

(31 seconds)


Witnessing a Moral Violation to a Robot Following a Game of "I-Spy"

(3 minutes, 20 seconds)

1This current research is being conducted in collaboration with Hiroshi Ishiguro and Takayuki Kanda at Advanced Telecommunications Research (ATR) in Kyoto, Japan. The robot used in this study is ATR's Robovie.