Prof. Matarić named one of the Top 10 Tech Innovators by LA Times

I interviewed Professor Maja J. Matarić for the book Impact X, December 2013. Yesterday, Prof. Matarić was named one of the Top 10 Tech Innovators by the Los Angeles Times. Congrats; I could not agree more!

Matarić is the co-director of the USC Robotics Research Lab and pioneered “socially assistive robotics”.

From the interview for Impact X:

Matarić: “I am not interested in robots that look realistically like people as that can lead into the Uncanny Valley, where people think the robots are freaky. That is because it is really hard to create truly realistic-looking human behavior. Also, hyperrealism is too expensive. You do not need realism to engage people. It is behavior that matters, and so I don’t work on appearance. There are other people who do, and that’s great. It is definitely worth studying. I want the robots to be affordable. I want it to be something people can use in my lifetime.

One of the really interesting things about what we do is to better understand what people really need, what makes us human. Putting people and intelligent machines together is a whole new area of engineering. It tells us a lot about us. I’m really touched when we work with patients, people in need. They are in many ways so modest, and their needs are humble; they’re not demanding. They often don’t want to put human helpers out, and so they’re sort of inhibited. With a machine, they really feel this is their buddy—it never gets tired of them. It is remarkable how effective robots can be. And that’s what gives me hope.”

Complete interview with Prof. Mataric and other impact makers see Impact X.

Photo by Steven Heuer.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *