Keynote: The Future of Human-Robot Interaction

November 25, 2020, 1:00pm - 1:50pm MST

Speaker: Kate Darling - Researcher, MIT Media Lab

The robots are coming and they’re getting smarter, evolving from single-task devices (think Roomba) into machines that can make their own decisions and autonomously navigate public spaces. From transportation systems, hospitals, and the military, to the robotization of our workplaces and households, robots will be everywhere and will increasingly interact with people. Much space has been devoted to talking about robots as replacements for humans, but Dr. Darling looks instead at our rich legal and cultural history of using animals for weaponry, work, and companionship to consider how people and machines will work together. Drawing from her recent work exploring humans’ emotional responses to robots, Dr. Darling examines why people fear some robots and empathize with others, while also prompting—and answering—questions about what society’s relationship with these robots could look like in the future. What follows is in part an examination of the technology itself, but ultimately, offers a window into how it’s poised to change the way we relate to each other and our own humanity—and why it matters.