"Socially Cognizant Robotics", Kristin Dana (Rutgers University, Electrical & Computer Engineering Department)
Tuesday, February 09, 2021, 01:00pm
via Zoom: Email Jason Geller at
Abstract: Emerging applications of robotics, from telepresence, transportation, elder-care, remote health care, cleaning, to warehouse logistics and delivery, will bring significant changes in individuals’ lives and profound social impact. The traditional objective of robotics research has been to provide automated platforms that operate at high-speed, accurately and consistently, such as in the context of manufacturing systems. Traditional social sciences are studying the effects of technology on society after the deployment and wide use of the corresponding tools. Given the potential impact that robotics can have, we cannot afford to evaluate the societal and human impact of this technology a posteriori.
Thus, key questions arise: What research can catalyze positive social impact with feasible advances in the state-of-the-art? How can costly mistakes be avoided in robotics technology development and adaptation? SOCRATES (Socially Cognizant Robotics for a Technology Enhanced Society) is a new NSF National Research Traineeship at Rutgers that will create a new vehicle for graduate training and convergence research that operates at the Human-Technology Frontier. It integrates the technology domains of robotics with social and behavioral sciences, including psychology, cognitive science and urban policy planning. The program aims to train a new type of professional, the socially cognizant roboticist, which will arise from the convergence of: 1) socially aware technologists, who must be able to develop intelligent devices in ways that coordinate with existing human and social behavior; and 2) technology-aware social scientists and policymakers, who can translate studies of robotics’ social effects into actionable and technically-viable lessons.