Department of Computer Science

Autotelic Interaction Research

The Autotelic Interaction Research (AIR) group seeks to understand, model and support self-directed behaviour in AI, in people, and in their interaction.
The research basis, interests and contributions of the group. Artist: Solip Park, 2023.
The research basis, interests, and contributions of the group. Artist: Solip Park, 2023.

Being rewarding in and of themselves, autotelic (gr. autos - self, telos - end/goal) behaviours are key to lifelong cognitive development, underlie many forms of play and creativity, and have been linked to human well-being. We combine computational modelling, theoretical work and empirical Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) studies to understand, reproduce and foster autotelic behaviour. We approach this as an interdisciplinary team, bridging between AI, HCI, and Cognitive Science, as well as various application domains such as Videogames and Design. Our research contributes to the development of more adaptive, creative, playful and open-ended AI; aims to foster richer and more meaningful interaction through insights into human-AI goal alignment; and yields artefacts and methods contributing to peoples’ autotelic activities. Some examples of our research: 

  • Computational models of intrinsic motivation
  • Minimal models of creative cognition
  • Methods for next-generation videogame AI
  • User studies to support the sustainable adoption of co-creative AI

We are part of the Finnish Center for Artificial Intelligence FCAI, the Helsinki Institute for Information Technology HIIT, and the European Laboratory for Learning and Intelligent Systems ELLIS.

The AIR Group and visitors on a nature outing in October 2023 (some members missing)
The AIR Group and visitors on a nature outing in October 2023 (some members missing)

Meet the Group

 Nadia Ady

Nadia Ady

Postdoctoral Researcher
 Sebastian Berns

Sebastian Berns

Doctoral Researcher (External)
 Katri Manninen

Katri Manninen

Doctoral Researcher (Film)

Joonas Lahikainen

Research Assistant

Philip Müller

Master Thesis Student



  • Natalya Weber (Doctoral Resarcher, Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology)

Master Thesis Students

  • Vertti Luostarinen (M.A., Art & Media)
  • Julius Repo (M.A., Film)
  • Veera Vimpari (MSc., CS)
  • Inan Evin (MSc., CS)
  • Ville Kopio (MSc., CS, Univ. of Helsinki)
  • Xuehao Zhang (MSc., CS)
  • Susanna Värtinen (MSc., CS)
  • Antti Mäkipää (MSc., CS)

Research Assistants

  • Niki Pennanen

Selection of Current Research Projects

  • Next-Generation Computational Intrinsic Motivation (NEXT-IM, Academy of Finland)
  • Intrinsic Motivation-Based User Modelling (FCAI)
  • Embodiment and the Human Perception of Creative AI (HIIT)

Come work with us!

We’re always interested in meeting curious, smart and ambitious people to work with. If you would like to do a Research Visit/Postdoc/PhD or your MSc thesis with us, please send an email to Christian with: 

  1. Your study transcript incl. grades and scale; 

  2. CV incl. examples of previous work; 

  3. Short motivation incl. the research questions that excite you most, and how they connect with our work specifically. 

Unfortunately, we do not have time to respond to requests that do not include these materials. 

We also encourage you to check out Postdoc/PhD positions in our group advertised through the FCAI/HIIT bi-annual calls. If you are still looking for an inspiring MSc thesis topic, please also check out our current MSc topic offerings on the Aalto CS Wiki.

Latest Publications

Not All the Same: Understanding and Informing Similarity Estimation in Tile-Based Video Games

Sebastian Berns, Vanessa Volz, Laurissa Tokarchuk, Sam Snodgrass, Christian Guckelsberger 2024 CHI '24: Proceedings of the 2024 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

WAVE : Anticipatory Movement Visualization for VR Dancing

Markus Laattala, Roosa Piitulainen, Nadia Ady, Monica Tamariz, Perttu Hämäläinen 2024 CHI '24: Proceedings of the 2024 CHI Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems

Creativity and Markov Decision Processes

Joonas Lahikainen, Nadia M. Ady, Christian Guckelsberger 2024 Proceedings of the 15th International Conference on Computational Creativity (ICCC 2024)

Advancing Self-Determination Theory With Computational Intrinsic Motivation: The Case of Competence

Erik Matias Lintunen, Nadia M. Ady, Christian Guckelsberger, Sebastian Deterding 2024

On Creativity and Open-Endedness

Lisa B Soros, Alyssa M Adams, Stefano Kalonaris, Olaf Witkowski, Christian Guckelsberger 2024 ALIFE 2024: The 2024 Conference on Artificial Life

Creative collaboration with interactive evolutionary algorithms: a reflective exploratory design study

Severi Uusitalo, Anna Kantosalo, Antti Salovaara, Tapio Takala, Christian Guckelsberger 2024 Genetic Programming and Evolvable Machines

Towards Mode Balancing of Generative Models via Diversity Weights

Sebastian Berns, Simon Colton, Christian Guckelsberger 2023 Proceedings of the 14th International Conference on Computational Creativity (ICCC 2023)

Designing for Playfulness in Human-AI Authoring Tools

Antonios Liapis, Christian Guckelsberger, Jichen Zhu, Casper Harteveld, Simone Kriglstein, Alena Denisova, Jeremy Gow, Mike Preuss 2023 Proceedings of the 18th International Conference on the Foundations of Digital Games, FDG 2023

Computationally Modelling Self-Determination Theory for HCI: The Case of Competence

Erik Lintunen, Christian Guckelsberger, Sebastian Deterding 2023

Effects of Cognitive Abilities on Success in Computer Use

Erik Lintunen, Viljami Salmela, Petri Jarre, Tuukka Heikkinen, Markku Kilpeläinen, Markus Jokela, Antti Oulasvirta 2023
More information on our research in the Aalto research portal.
Research portal

Related Professors

 Samuel Kaski

Samuel Kaski

 Jaakko Lehtinen

Jaakko Lehtinen

Associate Professor

Janne Lindqvist

Associate Professor
 Robin Welsch

Robin Welsch

Assistant Professor
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