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Division of Information and Intelligent Systems

Cyber-Human Systems  (CHS)


See program guidelines for contact information.


In a world in which computers and networks are increasingly ubiquitous, computing, information, and computation play a central role in how humans work, learn, live, discover, and communicate. Technology is increasingly embedded throughout society, and is becoming commonplace in almost everything we do.  The boundaries between humans and technology are shrinking to the point where socio-technical systems are becoming natural extensions to our human experience – second nature, helping us, caring for us, and enhancing us.  As a result, computing technologies and human lives, organizations, and societies are co-evolving, transforming each other in the process. Cyber-Human Systems (CHS) research explores potentially transformative and disruptive ideas, novel theories, and technological innovations in computer and information science that accelerate both the creation and understanding of the complex and increasingly coupled relationships between humans and technology with the broad goal of advancing human capabilities: perceptual and cognitive, physical and virtual, social and societal.

Advancement can take many forms, and involve diverse computing platforms.  These platforms can include “traditional” devices and systems, such as common computers and handheld and mobile devices.  Increasingly, however, the frontier is moving towards cyber-human technologies in the “post-mobile and web” world, including robots, wearables, person-embedded sensors and computers, digital fabrication and programmable matter, virtual and augmented reality, computationally-enabled objects and environments, distributed and networked socio-technical systems, socially intelligent computing, and cloud computing. These technologies increasingly involve smart objects and systems with increased “agency,” along with other less traditional interfaces, such as systems that interact with users through varied and possibly multiple modalities, including innovative computer or visual displays; haptic, audio, and brain-machine interfaces; and other transformative interaction techniques. Proposed projects may work at scales ranging from an individual device with a single user; to networked and cloud-based information systems supporting collaborating groups; to large, evolving, heterogeneous socio-technical systems supported by pervasive networking; and to systems that merge the physical and virtual for both places and people.

CHS research advances scientific understanding of computing and communications systems together with theoretical and practical understanding of behavioral, social, and design sciences to better design and develop diverse kinds of systems, such as those that:

  • amplify individual human capabilities through a device or environment that empowers them to improve their performance, achieve their goals, improve well-being, and enhance creative expression while assuring that the computer is no longer a distraction or an obstacle;
  • enrich the abilities, lives, and self-sufficiency of people with disabilities, including people with temporary or situational disabilities;
  • improve the intelligence of increasingly autonomous systems that require varying levels of supervisory control by the human; this includes a more symbiotic relationship between human and machine through the development of systems that can sense and learn the human’s cognitive and physical states while possessing the ability to sense, learn, and adapt in their environments;
  • enhance computing environments, including virtual and/or augmented reality, to enable and improve scientific, engineering, and education production and innovation;
  • augment individuals’ and computers' abilities to work together, to distribute and assimilate information and knowledge as required, to solve previously intractable problems, and to do things collectively that neither could do separately;
  • advance computer facilitated human networks and communications that help teams, groups, organizations, and communities accomplish collective goals; and
  • use computing to advance society's cohesiveness, innovativeness, security, and sustainability.

In addition, CHS research seeks to improve our fundamental understanding of how, and the processes by which, interactive systems should be designed to achieve human-computer symbiosis and computer-mediated human communication, collaboration, and competition. It explores the designs of socio-technical systems that lead to new ways of perceiving the self, groups, organizations, communities, and society, along with the broader impacts of these designs on both individuals and society.  It extends the reach of computing to new communities and furthers understanding of the newly-created communities made possible by computing.

Through partnerships and engagements across diverse and emerging disciplines, CHS research brings novel technology, new perspectives, and new models of inquiry, practice, and scholarship to research and education in computer and information science. While diverse in approach, CHS research is grounded in theory and rooted in empirical methods to produce broadly applicable and transferable results that advance the knowledge and practice around cyber-human systems.

More information on topics of interest to the CHS program is available at:

Cyber-Human Systems (CHS) Staff

Funding Opportunities for the Cyber-Human Systems (CHS) Program:

Information and Intelligent Systems (IIS):  Core Programs.   NSF 18-570