Iliana Depounti

  • Doctoral Researcher
Iliana was born in New York, US and was raised in Athens, Greece by Greek parents. She graduated from Deree-The American College of Greece with a BA in Communication. She worked in social media management and copywriting in Greece, the US and the UK, before pursuing a career in academia. In 2019 Iliana got her MA in Digital Media Management from Birkbeck, University of London and in 2020 she got her MSc in Social Science Research from Loughborough University. Iliana's PhD is funded by the ESRC and it is about care and companionship to and from social robots. Iliana is also a member of ECREA and EASST and a reviewer for JEICOM. She is also the Communication Assistant at the CRCC Centre for Research in Communication and Culture.

PGR Supervisors: Professor Paula Saukko, Professor John Downey, Associate Professor Simone Natale- University of Turin

Iliana’s research is on social robots and consists of three studies exploring different aspects of the social bot Replika, an AI companion app for companionship, care and social and mental health support. Drawing from the interpretative flexibility of AI technology, Iliana uses it as a conceptual framework to organise her project. Iliana’s work analyses how the app environment, the public debates and the user experiences shape the chatbot at the stage where as a technological object it has a considerable amount of interpretative flexibility and has yet stabilized. The project will contribute to understanding how care and companionship are constructed and enacted through AI companions.