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  • asked in Social Sciences 16th May '17:

    Please share an example you have come to appreciate, as remarkable progress in a social science?.

    Ilkka Arminen replied 9th Jun '17:

    One good example of progress in social science would in my opinion be The Imitation Game or imitation games in more general.

    The Imitation Game is inspired by the Turing Test - an experiment invented by Alan Turing to test the notion of artificial intelligence. In the Turing Test, a person is allowed five minutes to ask questions to which they will get typed answers from a computer and another person. If the person cannot distinguish the fellow person from the computer, the Turing Test is passed and the computer is deemed artificially intelligent.

    Later, the Imitation Game has been developed into a social scientific research method in which, instead of people playing with computers, the game is played between members of different social groups. Recently the Imitation Game has been used to address issues of social inclusion and exclusion, belonging, integration, majority – minority relationships, empathy and intersubjectivity. For example a research group led by professor Harry Collins (Cardiff University) has developed imitation game as tool to examine interactional expertise. By interactional expertise they mean one’s capability to participate in to a conversation with a group whose practical knowledge and experience one doesn’t have.

    Interactional expertise is also a key to develop neighbour relationships. Neighbour relationships are loaded with cultural, linguistic and religious differences which increase the risk of exclusion and cumulative marginalisation. Imitation Game gives an opportunity to examine how well neighbours know each other and whether their knowledge about one another’s correct or stereotypical.

    Our multidisciplinary project called Know Your Neighbour involves researchers, pedagogues and media producers. The project uses the imitation game as a tool to a) conduct research, b) develop educational methods to enhance collective learning c) spread information about neighbour relationships through digital mass media platforms.

    In our project we examine social relationships and distribution of social knowledge by addressing the concept of interactional expertise. With the help of experiments, we study the formation of borders between communities both in Finland (the Finnishness of Finns/non-Finns) and in Estonia (Estonians/Russians). In our research we combine SEE (studies of expertise and experience) and EMCA (ethnomethodological conversation analysis) approaches. In addition, we will create and develop applications based on Imitation Game to enhance cultural learning and know-how. Furthermore our plan is to create a program format pilot based on the Imitation Game.

    The project group consisting of researcher of Helsinki University, pedagogues of Otava Folk High School and media producers is creating experimental social research, enhancing collective learning and producing a media project pilot. Any of these projects would be a brave opening by itself – together they make this project almost audacious!

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