Dr. Ayanna Howard is the Dean of Engineering at The Ohio State University and Monte Ahuja Endowed Dean’s Chair. She also holds a faculty appointment in the college’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering with a joint appointment in Computer Science and Engineering. Previously she was the Linda J. and Mark C. Smith Endowed Chair in Bioengineering and Chair of the School of Interactive Computing at the Georgia Institute of Technology.
Prior to Georgia Tech, Dr. Howard was at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory where she held the title of Senior Robotics Researcher and Deputy Manager in the Office of the Chief Scientist. Her research encompasses advancements in artificial intelligence (AI), assistive technologies, and robotics, and has resulted in over 250 peer-reviewed publications. At NASA, she worked on designing advanced technologies for future Mars rover missions. Now, she works on projects ranging from healthcare robots to developing methods to mitigate bias and trust in AI. In 2013, she founded Zyrobotics, an education technology startup, which designs AI-powered STEM tools and learning games to engage children with diverse abilities. She has also served as the Associate Director of Research for the Institute for Robotics and Intelligent Machines, Chair of the Robotics Ph.D. program, and the Associate Chair for Faculty Development in ECE at Georgia Tech.
Dr. Howard is an IEEE and AAAI Fellow and recipient of the Anita Borg Institute Richard Newton Educator ABIE Award, CRA A. Nico Habermann Award, Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award, and NSBE Janice Lumpkin Educator of the Year Award. She also serves on the Board of Directors for the Partnership on AI and Autodesk. To date, Dr. Howard’s unique accomplishments have been highlighted through a number of other public recognitions, including highlights in Vanity Fair, USA Today, Upscale, Black Enterprise, and TIME Magazine, as well as being recognized as one of the 23 most powerful women engineers in the world by Business Insider and one of the Top 50 U.S. Women in Tech by Forbes. She regularly advises on issues concerning robotics, AI, and workforce development, including functioning as an AI advisor on the YouTube Future of AI documentary series produced by Robert Downey Jr.
Dr. Howard is a frequent speaker and expert source for venues such as CNN and NPR. She regularly gives invited seminars at venues such as the Smithsonian Design Museum, Science Museum of London, Detroit Science Museum, and the National Security Agency. Her research leadership has also been externally recognized through her role as a U.S. Embassy Speaker Specialist and her Congressional Testimony on Innovation, just to name a few.
The Trusting of Cyber-Physical Systems: How AI Influences Human Behavior
People tend to overtrust sophisticated computing devices, especially those powered by AI. As these systems become more fully interactive with humans during the performance of day-to-day activities, ethical considerations in deploying these systems must be more carefully investigated. Bias, for example, has often been encoded in and can manifest itself through AI algorithms, which humans then take guidance from, resulting in the phenomenon of excessive trust. Bias further impacts this potential risk for trust, or overtrust, in that these cyber-physical systems are learning by mimicking our own thinking processes, inheriting our own implicit gender and racial biases, for example. These types of human-AI feedback loops may consequently have a direct impact on the overall quality of the interaction between humans and machines, whether the interaction is in the domains of healthcare, job-placement, or other high-impact life scenarios. In this talk, we will discuss various forms of bias, as embedded in our machines, and possible ways to mitigate its impact on cyber-physical human systems.