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  1. Research within sociotechnical domains, such as Software Engineering, fundamentally requires the human perspective. Nevertheless, traditional qualitative data collection methods suffer from difficulties in participant recruitment, scaling, and labor intensity. This vision paper proposes a novel approach to qualitative data collection in software engineering research by harnessing the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI), especially large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT and multimodal foundation models. We explore the potential of AI-generated synthetic text as an alternative source of qualitative data, discussing how LLMs can replicate human responses and behaviors in research settings. We discuss AI applications in emulating humans in interviews, focus groups, surveys, observational studies, and user evaluations. We discuss open problems and research opportunities to implement this vision. In the future, an integrated approach where both AI and human-generated data coexist will likely yield the most effective outcomes. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 1, 2025
  2. Machine Learning (ML) is increasingly gaining significance for end- user programmer (EUP) applications. However, machine learning end-user programmers (ML-EUPs) without the right background face a daunting learning curve and a heightened risk of mistakes and flaws in their models. In this work, we designed a conversa- tional agent named “Newton” as an expert to support ML-EUPs. Newton’s design was shaped by a comprehensive review of existing literature, from which we identified six primary challenges faced by ML-EUPs and five strategies to assist them. To evaluate the efficacy of Newton’s design, we conducted a Wizard of Oz within-subjects study with 12 ML-EUPs. Our findings indicate that Newton effec- tively assisted ML-EUPs, addressing the challenges highlighted in the literature. We also proposed six design guidelines for future conversational agents, which can help other EUP applications and software engineering activities. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available February 6, 2025