Peter Kahn

Image of Peter Kahn

Peter Kahn, Ph.D.

Professor
(206) 616-9395
Guthrie 308
Advising: Not accepting new graduate students in 2023-2024.
Interests: Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems. Ecopsychology. Social and Moral Development. Human-Robot Interaction.

Research

The Human Interaction with Nature and Technological Systems (HINTS) lab seeks to address – from a psychological stance – two world trends that are powerfully reshaping human existence. One is the degradation if not destruction of large parts of the natural world. The second is unprecedented technological development, both in terms of its computational sophistication and pervasiveness. Humans will adapt to such changes. How could we not: it is that or we will die as a species.

But questions emerge: (a) Will such adaptations portend any fundamental impoverishment in terms of human functioning and human flourishing? (b) Are frequent interactions with diverse nature important, or even necessary, for children to develop well -- physically and psychologically? (c) 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)? (d) How can personified computational systems (e.g., humanoid robots, androids, and “smart homes”) be designed to enhance children’s social and moral development? And (e) how can technological systems be designed to enhance the world, and where should we back off from specific technological designs and implementation?

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 biodiversity of human experience. And far-ranging compassionate visions of the future.

Education

University of California - Berkeley (1988)

  • Kahn, P. H., Jr., & Hasbach, P. H. (2012). (Eds.). Ecopsychology: Science, totems, and the technological species. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Kahn, P. H., Jr., Kanda, T., Ishiguro, H., Freier, N. G., Severson, R. L., Gill, B. T., Ruckert, J. H., & Shen, S. (2012). “Robovie, You’ll Have to Go Into the Closet Now”: Children’s social and moral relationships with a humanoid robot. Developmental Psychology, 48, 303-314.
  • Kahn, P. H., Jr. (2011). Technological nature: Adaptation and the future of human life. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
  • Kahn, P. H., Jr., Friedman, B., Gill, B., Hagman, J., Severson, R. L., Freier, N. G., Feldman, E. N., Carrère, S., & Stolyar, A. (2008). A plasma display window? – The shifting baseline problem in a technologically-mediated natural world. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 28, 192-199.
  • Kahn, P. H., Jr., Ishiguro, H., Friedman, B., & Kanda, T. (2006). What is a human? – Toward psychological benchmarks in the field of human-robot interaction. Proceedings of the 15th International Workshop on Robot and Human Interactive Communication (RO-MAN ’06) (pp. 364-371). Piscataway, NJ: Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE).
  • Kahn, P. H., Jr. (1999). The Human Relationship with Nature: Development and Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.