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2018 Gibbons Lecture 4: Can we be friends with robots?

24 May 2018: 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm

University of Auckland,
Owen G Glenn Building,
Room OGGB 3/260-092,
Level 0,
12 Grafton Road,

There is public parking in the basement of the Owen G Glenn Building at 12 Grafton Road.

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2018 Gibbons Lectures in association with ITP

The Computer Science Department at the University of Auckland, in association with IT Professionals New Zealand, is pleased to announce the Gibbons Lecture Series for 2018. This year the lectures address aspects of Robotics in Industry and at Home.

Robots Everywhere
Robotics in Industry and at Home

A robot is a machine capable of sensing and carrying out a complex series of actions automatically, especially when controlled by computer programs. It seems that every day we hear news items concerning robots, the tasks that they are now able to perform and how they are expected to interact with humans.

Particularly newsworthy are autonomous robots that operate without immediate human control and androids that are made to resemble humans, but most robots are machines designed to perform a task with the most practical shape for the task itself.

The branch of technology that deals with the design, construction, operation, and application of robots, is called robotics. Robotics is an interdisciplinary branch of engineering and science that involves mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, computer science and other disciplines from the social sciences. In New Zealand, robotics is an active area of research.

The first speaker this year, Bruce MacDonald from our Faculty of Engineering, will overview the state of robotics research, especially local research directions. Mike Shatford, Managing Director of Design Energy, will follow with a summary of how robotics and supporting technologies are solving problems for industry, world-wide and in New Zealand, particularly in small and medium enterprises. From our Department of Computer Science, Patrice Delmas will discuss the problems of providing robots with vision. To end the lecture series, Elizabeth Broadbent from our Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences will present some of the social issues of interacting with robots and her research into this area.

Lecture 4: Can we be friends with robots?

Associate Professor Elizabeth Broadbent, Department of Psychological Medicine, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, University of Auckland

Social robots are now being made to assist us in our daily lives in our homes and workplaces. These robots typically look humanoid, and are designed to display signs of attention, cognition and emotion. This lecture will discuss research on how people feel about living with such robots, and the benefits and harm robots may bring.

The talk will draw on a series of New Zealand studies examining how people respond to robots in their own homes and in healthcare settings for long periods. People's attribution of mind to robots and their feelings of companionship with robots will be a particular focus.

Please join us for refreshments from 6pm at Level 1 of Owen G Glenn Building, 12 Grafton Road.

About The Speaker

Elizabeth Broadbent is an Associate Professor of Health Psychology in the Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. She initially gained an honours degree in electrical and electronic engineering in order to pursue her desire to make personal robots.

After becoming interested in the psychological aspects of illness and in psychoneuroimmunology, she obtained her MSc and PhD in health psychology. She now combines her health psychology and robotics interests to study healthcare robotics.

Elizabeth is a vice-chair of the multi-disciplinary CARES robotics group at the University of Auckland. In 2010, Elizabeth was a visiting academic at the School of Psychology at Harvard University and in the Program in Science, Technology, and Society at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston, USA.

In 2017, she obtained a Fulbright award to return to Boston to conduct further research on companion robots. She is an associate editor of the journal IEEE Transactions on Human-Robot Interaction, and Director of the Masters of Health Psychology programme at the University of Auckland.

Drinks and nibbles will be served from 6pm on Level 1 of the Owen G Glenn building. Lecture commences at 6.30pm. Live streaming will also be available.

Find out more information about the Gibbons Lecture Series.

Registration Details:

Attendance is free, however please register below for catering and to secure your place.


Please note that this session may be video or audio recorded for viewing by other members at a later date. As it is possible that audience members may be incidentally recorded, please let us know if you specifically want to be excluded and we will ensure you are not shown.

Attendance Cost


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