In this episode, social robotics pioneer Prof. Cynthia Breazeal discusses artificial intelligence in our lives, digital citizenship, and AI education for all.



When humans interact, they don’t just pass information from one to the other; there’s always some relational element, with the participants responding to each other’s emotional cues. Professor Cynthia Breazeal, MIT’s new Dean of Digital Learning, believes it’s possible to design this element into human-computer interactions as well. She foresees a day when AI won’t merely perform practical tasks for us, but also will provide us with companionship, emotional comfort, and even mental health support.

But a future of closer human-AI collaborative relationships doesn’t only require technological development—it also requires us to learn what AI is capable of and how to interact with it in a more informed way. To further this goal, Professor Breazeal leads the Responsible AI for Social Empowerment and Education (RAISE) initiative at MIT, which runs an annual “Day of AI” program to promote better understanding of AI in the next generation of technology users and developers. In this episode, she describes those projects as well as her work developing the groundbreaking social robots Kismet and Jibo, prototypes of what she calls “warm tech”—AI-enabled devices designed to be engaging, expressive, and personal.

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Sarah Hansen, host and producer

Brett Paci, producer

Dave Lishansky, producer

Nidhi Shastri and Aubrey Calloway, scriptwriters

Show notes by Peter Chipman