Justine Cassell was faculty at the Media Lab from 1995 to 2003, and was tenured there in 2002. She moved from the Media Lab to Northwestern University, where she founded the Technology and Social Behavior Doctoral Program and Research Center. Justine then moved to Carnegie Mellon University, where she is currently Associate Dean of Technology Strategy and Impact in the School of Computer Science, and Director Emerita of the Human Computer Interaction Institute. Justine co-directs the Yahoo-CMU InMind partnership on the future of personal assistants. She received the MIT Edgerton Prize and Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision award; in 2011, she was named to the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on AI and Robotics, which she subsequently chaired; in 2012, she was named an AAAS fellow; in 2016 she was made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Scotland; and in 2017, she was named an ACM Fellow. Justine has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos for the past 6 years on topics concerning the impact of AI and Robotics on society. In 2017/2018, she holds a Blaise Pascal international chair for excellence, financed by the Île-de-France Region. She is hosted at the Institute for Intelligent Systems and Robotics (ISIR) in Sorbonne Université.
In today's era of intelligent assistants of all kinds, a conversational front end is a necessity. Particularly in the mobile and home domains where users may be engaged in multiple tasks at the same time, and have their eyes on something other than a screen, the ability to use conversation to access services is particularly important. On the other hand, most existent conversational user interfaces are really thinly veiled search engines. The interaction between user and system couldn't be called a "conversation" by a long shot. In this talk I'll discuss the SARA (Socially-Aware Robot Assistant) project and, more generally, our work around building socially-aware agents of all kinds, and therefore how we intend to revolutionize the conversational front end of intelligent personal assistants, pedagogical agents, homebots, and other systems that interact with people repeatedly.