Karen Spärck Jones Lecture 2017

Karen Spärck Jones Lecture 2017: Creating Robots That Care

by Academy Admin

Thursday 25th May


To honour the pioneering work of Karen Spärck Jones, the BCS holds a distinguished lecture in her name each year, celebrating a prominent female computing researcher. This is a showcase lecture, aimed at a wide general audience: we welcome all ages and levels of computing experience.  The event will be next be held on Thursday 25 May 2017 at BCS's London office, First Floor, The Davidson Building, 5 Southampton Street, London, WC2E 7HA.

The lecture series builds on other activities to celebrate, inform and support women engaged in computing. These include the annual London Hopper, providing networking opportunities for early career researchers, and the Lovelace Colloquium, for women undergraduates in computing and related subjects.

This year's lecture concerns socially-assistive robotics, and will be presented by Professor Maja Matarić of the University of Southern California. Dr Matarić is the Professor and Chan Soon-Shiong Chair of Computer science, Neuroscience & Pediatrics; Founding Director at the USC's Robotics and Autonomous Systems Center; and Director of the USC's Robotics Research Lab. Socially assistive robotics (SAR) is a new field of intelligent robotics that focuses on developing machines capable of assisting users through social rather than physical interaction. The robot’s physical embodiment is at the heart of SAR’s effectiveness, as it is based on the inherently human tendency to engage with lifelike (but not necessarily human-like or otherwise biomimetic) social behavior. People readily ascribe intention, personality, and emotion to robots; SAR uses non-contact social interaction involving speech, gesture, and body language to develop robots capable of monitoring, motivating, and sustaining user activities and improving human learning, training and health outcomes. Human-robot interaction (HRI) for SAR is a growing multifaceted research area at the intersection of engineering, health sciences, neuroscience, social, developmental, and cognitive sciences.

This talk will describe research into embodiment, modeling and steering of social dynamics, and long-term user adaptation for SAR. The research will be illustrated with projects involving analysis of multi-modal activity data, modeling personality and engagement, formalizing social use of space and non-verbal communication, and personalizing the interaction with the user over a period of months. The presented methods will be demonstrated with videos of implemented SAR systems evaluated by human subject cohorts from a variety of user populations, including stroke patients, children with autism spectrum disorders, healthy elderly, and elderly with Alzheimers and other forms of dementia.