Seeking Social Awareness and Ethics in Human-Robot Interaction
"I hope to make people's lives better. Artificial intelligence and robotics can provide many benefits to people and to society," says Assistant Professor Jason “Willie” Wilson. "I'm particularly interested in how social robots can provide assistance to older adults living on their own and to students as they learn. When a robot helps a person, it is also important to consider the risks in using a robot. There are many unethical applications of technology, and part of my research looks at how autonomous systems, like robots, may be able to act ethically and protect the dignity of the people they are helping."
Prof. Wilson explains that it is sometimes hard to concisely describe his research. He was first drawn to this research by his curiosity of how computers could reason people's emotions. One way, he explains, to divide up his current research interests are the following: human-robot interaction, multimodal recognition, affective computing, and machine ethics. One common theme that usually arises in the computer scientist’s research is robots, specifically, robots that help people: socially assistive robots, which are robots that use social interactions to help people rather than physical intervention. These robots should be able to understand how people socialize and the social norms that people use in order to better help them.
“Working with students is essential to my research. Students will be living in a world where robots are becoming increasingly more prevalent, and my research is an opportunity for students to influence what that world will look like,” the computer scientist comments.
“I have typically worked with a wide variety of students, from freshman to seniors; computer science, psychology, cognitive science, and occupational therapy students; and students from many different countries,” says the professor. “I greatly value the perspectives that all students provide, and I look forward to developing a diverse research lab.”
Prof. Wilson collaborates with researchers from many places. Current and past collaborators include researchers from MIT, Northwestern University, Occidental College, the Navy Research Lab, and Barnstorm Research Corporation. “I am also looking forward to collaborating with my colleagues here at F&M. In addition to the computer science department, I hope to work with faculty in the psychology department and those affiliated with the SPM program,” Prof. Wilson notes.
The computer scientist received his joint Ph.D. in Computer Science and Cognitive Science at Tufts University, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University.
When not teaching or researching, Prof. Wilson enjoys cooking, practicing or teaching martial arts, playing ultimate frisbee, and riding his motorcycle.