The HINTS lab seeks to address - from a psychological stance - two world trends that are powerfully reshaping human existence:
The degradation if not destruction of large parts of the natural world, and
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.