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Illinois CS Equity & Justice in Computing Conversation: Dr. Ayanna Howard, The Ohio State University, "Tackling the Human Bias in Robotics"

Event Type
Illinois Computer Science
wifi event
Apr 21, 2021   5:00 pm  
Jancie Harris
Originating Calendar
Computer Science Equity and Justice in Computing Conversations


People tend to overtrust sophisticated computing devices, including robotic systems. As these systems become more fully interactive with humans during the performance of day-to-day activities, the role of bias in these human-robot interaction scenarios must be more carefully investigated.  Bias, as a feature of human life, has often been encoded in and can manifest itself through robots and AI, which humans then take guidance from, resulting in the phenomenon of excessive trust. Bias further impacts this potential risk for trust, or overtrust, in that these systems are learning by mimicking our own thinking processes, inheriting our own implicit gender and racial biases, for example. Consequently, the propensity for trust and the potential of bias may have a direct impact on the overall quality of the interaction between humans and machines, whether the interaction is in the domains of healthcare, job-placement, or other high-impact life scenarios. In this talk, we will discuss this phenomenon of integrated trust and bias through the lens of robotic systems that interact with people in scenarios that are realizable in the near-term.


Dr. Ayanna Howard is the Dean of Engineering at The Ohio State University and Monte Ahuja Endowed Dean's Chair. Previously she was the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Endowed Chair in Bioengineering and Chair of the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology. Dr. Howard’s research focus is on intelligent technologies, encompassing advancements in artificial intelligence, assistive technologies, and robotics. Dr. Howard received her B.S. in Engineering from Brown University, and her Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Southern California. Dr. Howard is an IEEE and AAAI Fellow and recipient of the CRA A. Nico Habermann Award, Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award, and NSBE Janice Lumpkin Educator of the Year Award. To date, Dr. Howard’s unique accomplishments have been highlighted through a number of other public recognitions, including being recognized as one of the 23 most powerful women engineers in the world by Business Insider and one of the Top 50 U.S. Women in Tech by Forbes. In 2013, she also founded Zyrobotics, which develops STEM educational products to engage children of all abilities. From 1993-2005, Dr. Howard was at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Faculty Host: Nancy Amato

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