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Fast Talk: Cynthia Breazeal on Teaching Robots

Cynthia Breazeal
Director of Personal Robots Group, MIT
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Breazeal, 43, director of MIT's Personal Robots Group, uses crowdsourced data to teach robots about human behavior.

"When people are around robots, they act differently. It's like coming into your mother-in-law's house — you're on your best behavior. I'm thinking about how robots can learn about human behavior, so when they interact with people, they have reasonable expectations. You can leverage online gaming with virtual robots to create interaction models and then transfer those to a physical robot. We want to capture human behavior so you can empirically ground these models. But the human-robot relationship is going to be its own thing, and it's important not to force-fit it into what we think a human-to-human relationship is."

A version of this article appeared in the April 2011 issue of Fast Company magazine.