The robots are coming! The robots are coming! The robots are already ... here. In recent months, there has been an upsurge in the attention given to robots and artificial intelligence (AI) and their inevitable destruction of the human race if we are not watchful. Whether your opinion sits on one side or the other, the fact remains: Robots have already become a part of our society and, in some cases, an integral part. No longer is a robot chauffer, i.e., an autonomous robot car that can drive an individual to work, a whimsical thought of a science-fiction movie director. No longer is a robot suit, i.e., a robot exoskeleton that can assist a paraplegic to walk, a fantasy story of a writer. Not to argue against being vigilant (because ethical considerations concerning the inclusion of new technology in society should always be a part of the discussion), but coupled with the doom-and-gloom messages of robots and AI, robots, with intelligence, are also being seen as beneficial, life-saving, machines for assisting us in our everyday lives. Robots, no doubt, are changing our lives and will provide new ways to support a better society. This talk provides a first look at how robots can change the texture of our day-to-day experiences and how we, as a human race, can best integrate them to enable a healthier, less stressful, equality of life, now and in the future.

Speaker: Ayanna Howard, Ph.D. is professor and Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Endowed Chair in Bioengineering in the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Her area of research is centered around the concept of humanized intelligence, the process of embedding human cognitive capability into the control path of autonomous systems. This work, which addresses issues of autonomous control as well as aspects of interaction with humans and the surrounding environment, has resulted in over 200 peer-reviewed publications in a number of projects – from scientific rover navigation in glacier environments to assistive robots for the home.

This event is part of the The Future of Being Human, an initiative of the McDevitt Core Professorship and McDevitt Center.

In light of ecological crisis, rapid technological change, and widespread social alienation, what is the future of being human? Join a multidisciplinary conversation about what it means to be human in the 21st century.