Tuesday 19th – Wednesday 20th September 2023


“Talking to Machines” is a Swiss National Science Foundation funded project (#100018M-215519) lead by Sonja Vogt at HEC University of Lausanne and Ray Duch at Nuffield College University of Oxford.  The project will study how machines can play an important role in the dynamic design of experiments.

An important challenge facing policy makers is the effective communication of policy-related information to the average citizen. Our focus is on the information content of video communications.  People differ in many ways that are relevant when it comes to behavioral responses to the information content of videos. Any intervention – nudges, edutainment, information campaigns, or legislative changes – has heterogeneous effects among the targeted population. The Talking to Machines project uses recent methodological advances to create a platform for designing experiments with information treatment arms that consist of video narratives. How do we know what information should be incorporated into a particular treatment and how should the information be framed and delivered? Moreover, how can we address heterogeneous attitudes and needs when developing communication campaigns for diverse societies?  In this project, we tackle both challenges, namely optimal design of information treatment arms that are sensitive to heterogeneous treatment effects.

Our goal is to incorporate intelligent technologies in the design of policies informing average citizens about critical behaviors related to health, saving, or education. We combine narrative information with intelligent technologies to develop effective video interventions for heterogeneous populations. There have been significant advances in computational social science that provide the tools for optimizing the design of digital content and the development of information interventions.  Important elements of the project include automating the conversations with subjects who participate in these experiments; programming ChatBots to facilitate these conversations; generating large corpuses of text and voice data; LLM; machine learning data analytics; and machine-enhanced design of video treatments.

We are committed to evidence-based policies and engage with national, and international governmental agencies to evaluate the effectiveness of current policies, as well as design new programs and tools with the potential to ultimately affect the lives of millions of individuals.  We are an international collaboration with a talented global team of faculty, staff, postdocs, and graduate and undergraduate students.   The project is a unique combination of both academic and industry researchers working in very diverse institutional contexts throughout the world.  Research results from these studies have been published widely in leading social science peer-reviewed publications.


Principal Investigators



Tuesday 19 – Wednesday 20 September 2023

Policymakers and scientists are increasingly using video content to deliver information to the general public – often with the aim of affecting preferences or behaviour. The challenge policy makers face is how to design this video content, or these video treatments, so as to ensure subjects engage with, and understand, the information content. The workshop will focus on how to rely on intelligent technologies to provide the tools for optimizing the design of digital content and the development of information interventions for heterogenous populations.

For more info about the schedule, venue and registration download the Programme by clicking the button below.



Raymond Duch – University of Oxford

Sonja Vogt – University of Lausanne

Thomas Robinson – London School of Economics

Mario Callegaro – Google

Solomon Messing – New York University

Musashi Jacobs-Harukawa – Princeton University

Paul Rottger – Bocconi University

Edward Flahavan – BIT

Christopher Lucas – Washington University

Justin Ibbett – CEO & Founder of Focaldata

Ben Warner – BOWU

Roberto Cerina – University of Amsterdam

Benjamin Manning – MIT

Apostolos Filippas – Fordham University

Joe Paxton – Google

Christopher Summerfield – University of Oxford

Nandan Rao – Kannact

Piotr Kotlarz – European Central Bank