Karen Spärck Jones Lecture 2017

Karen Spärck Jones Lecture 2017: Creating Robots That Care

by Academy Admin

Thursday 25th May
5.30pm (registration)
6.00 - 7.30pm (lecture)


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.

Professor Maja Matarić of the University of Southern California will be presenting the 7th Karen Spärck Jones Lecture, an evening event honouring women in computing research. 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.


How can human-robot interaction be improved by making robots more socially intelligent? This is the key question at the heart of socially assistive robotics (SAR): a new field of intelligent robotics that focuses on developing machines capable of assisting users through social rather than physical interaction, in order to encourage people to have the drive and motivation to do their own work, for improved health and wellness. Our research brings together engineering, health sciences, neuroscience, social, developmental, and cognitive sciences to create robots that can serve as coaches, motivators, and companions. This requires personalising human-robot interaction through appropriate speech, gesture, and body language; the embodiment is the most important even without physical work. Our successes include coaching stroke patients to perform rehabilitation activities, helping children with autism to learn social skills, encouraging teens at risk for type-2 diabetes to exercise, motivating first graders to make healthy food choices, and helping elderly patients with Alzheimer's disease to stay engaged. 

This talk will describe those projects and the associated research into embodiment, modelling and steering of social dynamics, and long-term user adaptation for SAR, illustrated with many videos.



We are delighted to have several livecast venues across the UK and in the US, in many cases in conjunction with networking events. Please contact the venues directly for more information, as detailed below.

Edge Hill University: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/live-cast-of-the-karen-sparck-jones-lecture-creating-robots-that-care-tickets-34471365783

Loughborough University: contact Shaheen Fatima, Computer Science. s.s.fatima@lboro.ac.uk

Newcastle University: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/karen-sparck-jones-lecture-creating-robots-that-care-newcastle-screening-tickets-34359681733?aff=es2

Plymouth University: http://www.bcssouthwest.org.uk

Queen’s University Belfast: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/2017-karen-sparck-jones-lecture-creating-robots-that-care-tickets-34232069040

Robert Gordon University, Aberdeen: SIWB Amphitheatre (N303). https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/towards-socially-intelligent-robots-karen-sparck-jones-lecture-livecastrgu-tickets-22784507074

University of Aberystwyth: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/karen-sparck-jones-lecture-2017-creating-robots-that-care-tickets-34620385505

University of Bath (Room 1W3.103): https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/karen-sparck-jones-lecture-2017-creating-robots-that-care-tickets-34508131751

University of Edinburgh / BCS Women: An evening of social robotics https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/karen-sparck-jones-lecture-2017-creating-robots-that-care-edinburgh-screening-tickets-33956945137

University of Glasgow / BCS Women: An Afternoon and Evening of Social Robotics https://www.eventbrite.com/e/karen-sparck-jones-lecture-2017-creating-robots-that-care-tickets-33926218232

University of Hull: a live stream will take place in Teaching Room 2, Brynmor Jones Library. Please contact Dr Mike Brayshaw M.Brayshaw@hull.ac.uk

University of Southern California: contact Amy Blumenthal, amyblume@usc.edu