In the very near future, robots will be able to fully perform key tasks and jobs ranging from educating children to caring for the sick. In order for them to be truly helpful to humans, they must understand us, our emotions, our many differences and our unpredictability.

Dr. Ayanna Howard, a renowned roboticist, AI expert and professor at Georgia Tech, says her experiences and research have found that more human-like robots are received positively by the humans whom they help. But the ability of AI to become more human-like depends on two factors: their aptitude for learning and empathizing with humans, and the availability of human-generated data, including the emotional signals we give.

In a recent profile in WIRED, Dr. Howard elaborates on a new concept – the Artificial Intelligence of Things or AIoT – and how the potential of AI to transform the world depends on freeing robots to collect and interpret data in a safe and secure manner. The robotic revolution will depend on another revolution to power ahead and transform our world: Big Data.

When you blend algorithms with hardware, it’s like you’re giving the math life in the real world.Click To Tweet

Howard, a pioneer in programming machines to better mimic human emotion and intelligence and a speaker at this week’s TED Women 2018 Conference, is currently experimenting with robots in early childhood education and pediatric health care. Her algorithms are designed to detect when children are expressing a particular emotion – sadness or alarm, for example – and react accordingly. This technology could play a major role in improving childcare and learning, while providing companionship to people of all ages. But AI’s ability to learn human facial expressions, as well as what they can do to make humans feel better, depends on being able to access the data collected by other robots. Just as our digital devices can all communicate with each other and share information, so too must robots be able to collaborate. The Internet of Things (IoT) that links our phones, TVs and digital assistants together can be replicated by autonomous robots, creating the AIoT. This enables machines to quickly learn best practices from one another on a massive scale.

The new frontier of AI is quickly coming into view, and it entails the humanification of machines. Building an AIoT will be essential in making this stage come to fulfillment. Dr. Howard can help your organization not only understand the new technology but develop a proactive strategy for tapping into its potential and helping to bring together the world of robotic AI and data.