Departmental Seminar : 20 March 2017

CAMERA Departmental Seminar : 20 March 2017

This month the Department of Computer Science’s seminar, 12.15-12.45 in 1W 3.30, hears from Dr Leon Watts discussing the notion of slowbotics and how performing work at a slower rate may be suitable for a range of social interactions between humans and machines.


Title: Slowbotics: Wasting time wisely on social actions in human-robot interaction

Robots are constructed and programmed to perform tasks with efficiency and safety in mind. When in caged and fixed locations, such as in factory assembly line work, the constraints on operation are highly deterministic, safety assured by the physical properties of the environment, and work efficiency and effectiveness are easily understood. Robots are entering social environments where predictability is difficult or impossible to assure. Some are being designed to integrate the efforts with human collaborators, assisting people in joint activities which will almost certainly require mutual awareness of team member state. Team member awareness can span the physical (e.g. injury), the physiological (e.g. fatigue) and especially the psychological (e.g. stress, anger) realms of human collaboration. These operational conditions – social environments and integration of joint effort – raise questions about task efficiency that are hard to answer. They will probably require a new understanding of risk and corresponding safeguards that may create meaning for socially directed actions: robots that slow down as they work to perform in a manner that might otherwise be thought of as wasteful and irrelevant for getting their work done.  

We will also have a special guest, Naomi Deering, who will be talking to us about her toilet twinning project. Toilet twinning funds enable people living in poor communities to have clean water, a basic toilet and to learn about hygiene. £60 is all it takes to build a household latrine in an impoverished community. To become a toilet twinned university we need to raise a total of £1500 (to twin 25 toilets). There are currently five other universities, including University of Bristol that have toilet twinned status and we’d like to help lead from the front with this initiative. ​

Information about past and future seminars can be found on the Computer Science Wiki.

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