How do you see your work impacting the social services field?
With the move towards smarter cities, new technological solutions such as ours will assist social service providers and policy makers improve the lives of vulnerable populations such as the homeless. One thing that Professor Fox has stressed from the beginning is that we need to approach the problem of the homeless with the right questions that identify the real underlying problems. By working with practitioners on the front lines, we’re learning what issues affect them most and what prevents them from doing their jobs.
Now is the right time for a centre like the CSSE to begin the work of identifying how to measure and improve the work of social service providers and policy makers in order to increase the effectiveness of interventions vulnerable people receive.
Dr. Gruninger, from a theoretical perspective, what do you consider to be the key contributions of this project?
There are several deep questions in artificial intelligence that are closely related to client modelling within this project. One of the most interesting aspects of this project has been the interplay between psychological theories within the social services sector and
some of the more "traditional" problems of planning and the representation of knowledge in artificial intelligence. We are in the position to develop more comprehensive theories about how people generate goals based on what are often conflicting sets of motivations and needs. The subtleties and complexities of human behaviour that arise from the interactions between clients and social service providers provide a rich environment to both propose and evaluate our theories.
Tressa Fox is a freelance journalist based in Vancouver, British Columbia.