The rapid digitalization of the world has affected engineering and design in a variety of ways, including the introduction of new computer-aided ideation tools. Cognitive assistants (CA), an increasingly common digital technology, use natural-language processing and artificial intelligence to provide computational support. Because cognitive assistants are capable of emulating humans in some tasks, they may be suited to support brainstorming activities when trained coaches or facilitators are not available. This study compared co-located brainstorming groups facilitated by human facilitators and a CA facilitator. Interaction Dynamics Notation was used to code the sessions, and Hidden Markov Models were used to define the group’s states. We found that human facilitation was associated with blocks/interruptions and responding to those while cognitive assistant facilitation was associated with deviations and silence. Human facilitation was also found to produce a more equal distribution of speaking time.

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