Bad Robot, Good Robot - Rethinking the Agency of Our Artificial Teammates

Abstract: Should autonomous robots always obey instructions and comply with our expectations? Most existing research on collaborative robots and agents assumes that a “good” robot should abide by the instructions it is given and should act in a way that will not interfere with its surroundings: a fetching robot should do its work seamlessly, a navigating robot should always avoid collisions, and a guide robot should always do as it is instructed. In this talk, I will question this assumption by presenting the Guide Robot Grand Challenge and discussing the components required to design and build a service robot that can replace or surpass the functionalities of a guide dog. This challenge encompasses a variety of research problems, for each of which I will present a novel contribution: reasoning about other agents, initiating an interaction, teaching teammates, and more. Finally, I will discuss the many remaining challenges towards achieving a guide robot and how I plan to tackle these challenges.

Bio: Reuth Mirsky is a senior lecturer (assistant professor) in the computer science department at Bar Ilan University. Before her current position, she was a postdoc at the Computer Science Department at the University of Texas at Austin. She received her Ph.D. on plan recognition in real-world environments from the Department of Software and Information Systems Engineering at Ben Gurion University. She is interested in the similarities and differences between AI and natural intelligence and how these can be used to extend AI. In her research, she seeks algorithms, behaviors, and frameworks to improve AI with human-inspired design. Beyond her research, Reuth is an active member of the AI and HRI research communities. Some of her recent roles are a program chair for the symposium on Technological Advances in Human-Robot Interactions (TAHRI), a guest editor in Frontiers of Artificial Intelligence in a special issue on Plan and Goal Recognition, a senior program committee member for ECAI, and a reviewer for AIJ, JAIR, and RA-L. Reuth is part of the HRI consortium funded by the Israeli Innovation Authority and was selected as one of the 2020 Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) Rising Stars.