An emotional discussion about robots

As the future comes into focus, thanks to advances in technology, what will our lives be like and how will we function? When it comes to how robots may interact with us, expect it to include a little emotion.

That’s what Rosalind Picard, a pioneer in the field of robotic emotional intelligence, will discuss during her talk on November 5, 2018 at the Vogue Theatre as part of the Fall 2018 Wall Exchange, a free, community forum that brings experts from diverse fields to Vancouver twice a year (spring and fall) to discuss a wide range of societal issues.

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“It’s one of our main vehicles of public engagement by bringing in really top minds from around the world and many different fields,” said Philippe Tortell, director of the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, a research institute based out of UBC that organizes the Wall Exchange series.

“Most of them are university-based, some are not. And they provide a publicly accessible lecture on their work and engage the audience in conversation around their topic of expertise,” added Tortell.

For Picard, professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT, that means describing how computers are now able to measure and respond to our emotions and feelings, and how that can provide benefits for human wellbeing by means of affective computing.

“It is a way to introduce some emotional intelligence into robotic systems,” Tortell explained, “both in terms of detecting emotions from humans who they are interacting with, and also displaying more emotional attributes themselves.”

Tortell added that this is an important area of research in today’s society, which is increasingly robotic and computerized.

“She (Picard) will come in and give the audience an update on the field, explain the challenges that remain to be tackled and what are the exciting breakthroughs.” There will also be ample time for the audience to ask questions.

“We typically have almost an equal length of time for the talk and the discussions,” Tortell said, adding the evening will be moderated by Nora Young, host of the CBC's Spark, a program that guides Canadians through the current dynamic era of technology-led change.

For more information and to reserve free tickets to the Wall Exchange featuring Rosalind Picard, visit the event page on the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies website at pwias.ubc.ca/event/fall-2018-wall-exchange-rosalind-picard

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