Tony Belpaeme is Professor at Ghent University and Professor of Cognitive Systems and Robotics at Plymouth University. He is a member of IDLab – imecat Ghent and is associated with the Centre for Robotics and Neural Systems at Plymouth. His research interests include social systems, cognitive robotics, and artificial intelligence in general.
Until April 2005 he was a postdoctoral fellow of the Flemish fund for scientific research (FWO Vlaanderen) in the Artificial Intelligence Laboratory at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. He held a guest professorship at the same university, where he taught introductory artificial intelligence and autonomous systems.
Starting from the premise that intelligence is rooted in social interaction, Tony and team try to further the science and technology behind artificial intelligence and social robots. This results in a spectrum of results, from theoretical insights to practical applications. The theoretical insights, in which he argues that interaction is central to natural and artificial cognition and that robots and machines should be sensitive to language and paralinguistic social mechanisms used by people, has drawn considerable academic attention. He complements his work by applying these insights in the design and implementation of robots and robotic applications.
His research is regularly used as a showcase of funding success by funding agencies, most recently the Research Councils UK, Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the European Commission. The combination of both theoretical cognitive systems research applied to topics with societal relevance has gained him an international reputation. His research has been exhibited at the Natural History Museum London, the Wellcome Trust, the London Science Museum, and the National Space Centre. He has featured in IEEE Spectrum, the Communications of the ACM, and Scientific American. In 2012 his work was named as one of “ten life-changing ideas under research at UK universities” by Research Councils UK, and in 2014 his work was lauded as one of “20 new ideas from the UK that will change the world“.
In 1942, the science fiction author Isaac Asimov introduced the three laws of robotics:
- A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
- A robot must obey orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
- A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
Isaac Asimov was not spreading some farfetched ideas while introducing the three laws of robotics. Only some 75 years later, in 2018, robots are everywhere. Think about household robots mowing the lawn or vacuuming the house, humanoid robots working as reception assistants, and drones that deliver packages or scan the environment for safety intrusions. Or let’s, for example, focus on the integration of robots in healthcare: Robots support medical personnel in routine tasks, make medical procedures safer and more price-efficient, alert nurses when a human intervention/decision is needed, and assist surgeons in performing more accurate and precise surgery. Next, we also have humanoid robots assisting children, elderly and disabled in giving personal care and communication support. Furthermore, robots are increasingly used in training and learning: they provide real-life environments with human-like actors that provide immersive learning and training environments. In short, everybody agrees up on the fact that a robot is a valuable help in our daily lives.
There are, however, still some question marks when it comes to the tasks that define our personal lives, which we would rather not to be taken over by robots. Are robots, for example, ever going to be able to take over our jobs, even if human basic contact will never be replaced?
In this seminar, Tony Belpaeme starts from the premise that intelligence is rooted in social interaction. He talks about social robots, the interaction between humans and all kinds of robots, and touches upon the field of robotics in industry as well as how this will influence the interaction with the workforce.
You will be given the chance to interact with several robots. Several use cases with robots in industry will be demonstrated by video or by face-to-face discussion.
Vaartdijkstraat 19 D, 8200 Brugge | GPS: Z1 Ten Briele