Will robots take over the world? What role will they play in society in 20, or 50 years time? Can robots really care?

These are just some of the questions addressed by Dr Thusha Rajendran and Prof Ruth Aylett at their public lecture 'Innovation Robotics' at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre. This talk was part of their Innovation Nation series, monthly talks from some of Scotland's leading innovators in science, technology, business and the arts. 

Professor Ruth Aylett | Creating robots that care

Professor Aylett discussed work in social robotics. This covered how her work is focussing on producing robots that function well and help in human social environments - whether supporting the elderly to remain independent longer, helping children practice their homework, or acting as a robot team buddy in the office. Ruth highlighted the importance of embodiment, expressive behaviour, and sensitivity and responsiveness to human emotions.

Dr Thusha Rajendran | Through the looking glass: what robots tell us about ourselves

Dr Rajendran spoke about what the science of human robot interaction tells us about the psychology of human interaction. He discussed how human to robot interaction, forces us to think about people interacting with other people as ‘systems', as opposed to in isolation. In abnormal psychology the ‘problem' is usually seen with the individual rather than the system (i.e. someone with a mental illness, rather than someone in distress), which could be the interaction between two or more people (mother-child, employee-employer etc.). Art [in the form of Science fiction] has a long history of using robots as a mirror to own psychology, for example Data in Star Trek trying to understand human emotion, which essentially comes from the Pinocchio.

If you missed this enthralling event, check out the video below.