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University of Michigan School of Information


Robert discusses the future of Human-Robot interactions with AAAS

Friday, 10/09/2020

In a member profile on the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) website, UMSI associate professor Lionel Robert says the only difference between science fiction and reality is time, and “time is catching up with us.”

The profile covers many of Robert’s areas of research, including robot coworkers, self-driving cars and online interactions. He tells AAAS he’s optimistic about the future of artificial intelligence “not because I believe in technology but because I believe in people. We have a voice, and I think as long as that's there, we're going to move in a positive direction.”

Robert’s research in online interaction has proven to be valuable during the pandemic, as more relationships and meetings have moved online while people practice social distancing. 

One study he did, of diverse groups working remotely, showed that texting worked best if group members were racially diverse, while video meetings got the best outcomes with gender-diverse groups. The team concluded that race tends to recede in online collaborations, but gender differences can be exacerbated if men are aggressive or ‘tone deaf.’ Seeing women in the meeting can help men rein in those impulses.”

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