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Cynthia Breazeal's Robotic Quest


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Cynthia Breazeal and her Jibo robot.

Cynthia Breazeal of the Personal Robots Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab has committed herself to the development of socially intelligent robots.

Credit: Jason Grow/The Wall Street Journal

Cynthia Breazeal, founder and director of the Personal Robots Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Media Lab, has committed herself to the development of socially intelligent robots.

Recent products of her research include Jibo, designed to be a companion as well as an assistant, and Buddy, another companion robot that can remind people of appointments and events while also monitoring household operations.

The guiding design principle of Breazeal's social robots is improving the machines' responses to people in ways that appear empathetic and emotional. She uses her projects to investigate how well robots can interpret people and whether humans will trust and feel comfortable engaging with such devices. Breazeal says she also explores the question, "what are these emotional, interpersonal interactions that set the foundation for all communication?"

She does not think interactions with robots will ultimately replace human relations, but people could regard the robots as pets or supportive acquaintances. "I'm hoping not for a denigration of the human experience but almost a re-enlightenment and a re-appreciation of what it means to be human," Breazeal says. "How can we create technology to support who we are?"

From The Wall Street Journal
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Abstracts Copyright © 2016 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


 

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