M. Ehsan Hoque

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Renowned Computer Scientist and Leading Authority on AI-Driven Skills Training, Accessibility and Health; Expert in Human-Machine Symbiosis, Ethics and Future of Work; Professor, University of Rochester

Biography

Imagine a future where computers can mediate a conversation toward more respectfulness and productivity, help a worker hone their job interview skills or assist a patient diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease by monitoring their symptoms. According to Professor M. Ehsan Hoque – award-winning teacher and leading expert on the impact of AI on human capabilities, the future of work and ethics – we are living in a time of great opportunity to ethically augment and enhance humanity’s potential. Named to the MIT Top 35 Innovators under 35 list in 2016, and to the 10 Scientists to Watch list by Science News in 2017, Professor Hoque combines a visionary approach to the opportunities afforded by AI and computing with a reflective analysis of – and unique framework for addressing – the ethical dilemmas which these technologies raise.

An Asaro-Biggar Family Assistant Professor of computer science at the University of Rochester, where he directs the Rochester Human-Computer Interaction (ROC HCI) Lab, Professor Hoque showed the first measurable evidence that it is possible for humans to improve their socio-emotional skills by interacting with an AI system. His dissertation work, known as My Automated Conversation Coach (MACH), was selected as “one of the most unconventional inventions” by the MIT Museum. Since Hoque earned his Ph.D. from the MIT Media Lab for MACH in 2013, he has improved upon his doctoral work while enhancing its relevance to society. Automated recognition of human nonverbal behavior is increasingly required as people realize digital agents such as Apple Siri, Amazon Echo, Google Now or Microsoft Cortana do not understand or know how to respond to human feelings. Recognized as a leading innovator in training the workforce to prepare for the digital age, Hoque’s work also addresses and designs solutions to feed the demand for employees with social-emotional and technological skills.

To guide his work on AI and affective computing, Hoque extensively draws upon personal experiences. Growing up in Bangladesh with a brother with down syndrome and autism, Hoque sought out ways technology could augment cognitive abilities, help people overcome disabilities and aid individuals with social tasks in the workplace. Many of his fundamental AI contributions have been instantiated as deployable practical systems that humans can readily use. Hoque’s experience as his brother’s caregiver inherently biases him to incorporate a human element in his AI research. As a result, he developed ROC Speak, the first AI-driven communication training platform in a lab setting, which has helped more than 30,000 people improve their communication skills in a real-world setting.

An inaugural member of ACM Future of Computing Academy, Professor Hoque has received multiple Google Faculty Research Awards, an NSF CAREER Award (2018) and four best-of-conference citations, while being widely covered by the popular press – including The New York Times, BBC, PBS, NPR and Canadian National TV.

Ehsan Hoque is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

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Hoque, M. Ehsan

Biography

Imagine a future where computers can mediate a conversation toward more respectfulness and productivity, help a worker hone their job interview skills or assist a patient diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease by monitoring their symptoms. According to Professor M. Ehsan Hoque – award-winning teacher and leading expert on the impact of AI on human capabilities, the future of work and ethics – we are living in a time of great opportunity to ethically augment and enhance humanity’s potential. Named to the MIT Top 35 Innovators under 35 list in 2016, and to the 10 Scientists to Watch list by Science News in 2017, Professor Hoque combines a visionary approach to the opportunities afforded by AI and computing with a reflective analysis of – and unique framework for addressing – the ethical dilemmas which these technologies raise.

An Asaro-Biggar Family Assistant Professor of computer science at the University of Rochester, where he directs the Rochester Human-Computer Interaction (ROC HCI) Lab, Professor Hoque showed the first measurable evidence that it is possible for humans to improve their socio-emotional skills by interacting with an AI system. His dissertation work, known as My Automated Conversation Coach (MACH), was selected as “one of the most unconventional inventions” by the MIT Museum. Since Hoque earned his Ph.D. from the MIT Media Lab for MACH in 2013, he has improved upon his doctoral work while enhancing its relevance to society. Automated recognition of human nonverbal behavior is increasingly required as people realize digital agents such as Apple Siri, Amazon Echo, Google Now or Microsoft Cortana do not understand or know how to respond to human feelings. Recognized as a leading innovator in training the workforce to prepare for the digital age, Hoque’s work also addresses and designs solutions to feed the demand for employees with social-emotional and technological skills.

To guide his work on AI and affective computing, Hoque extensively draws upon personal experiences. Growing up in Bangladesh with a brother with down syndrome and autism, Hoque sought out ways technology could augment cognitive abilities, help people overcome disabilities and aid individuals with social tasks in the workplace. Many of his fundamental AI contributions have been instantiated as deployable practical systems that humans can readily use. Hoque’s experience as his brother’s caregiver inherently biases him to incorporate a human element in his AI research. As a result, he developed ROC Speak, the first AI-driven communication training platform in a lab setting, which has helped more than 30,000 people improve their communication skills in a real-world setting.

An inaugural member of ACM Future of Computing Academy, Professor Hoque has received multiple Google Faculty Research Awards, an NSF CAREER Award (2018) and four best-of-conference citations, while being widely covered by the popular press – including The New York Times, BBC, PBS, NPR and Canadian National TV.

Ehsan Hoque is available for paid speaking engagements, including keynote addresses, speeches, panels, and conference talks, and advisory/consulting services, through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.

Speech Topics

Upskilling the Workforce Through AI

As more menial, repetitive tasks are automated, HR managers increasingly value social skills and emotional intelligence in employees. The workforce of the future will have to be creative and innovative, rather than merely good at performing specific tasks. But the problem is that many employees lack these skills, particularly if they suffer from cognitive disabilities or difficulties. Professor M. Ehsan Hoque has used AI technology to successfully aid individuals in tasks such as job interviews, public speaking, negotiations, working as part of a team and even routine social interactions for people with autism. Hoque emphasizes that these technologies augment human beings rather than replace them, and that HR managers should see AI as a complement to human skills that cannot be easily automated. To executives and managers, Hoque offers a new perspective on effective feedback strategies for employees while imposing transparency and fairness. Employees, meanwhile, will get fresh perspectives on how to continue to sharpen their skills at work.

The Opportunities of Affective Computing

What’s in a smile? Increasingly, algorithms are better at determining the answer than other humans. While it can be difficult to decipher the meaning behind the more than 10,000 different facial expressions of which individual human beings are capable, Professor M. Ehsan Hoque has constructed algorithms that automatically predict the underlying meanings of smiles. By applying these algorithmic intuitions, we can learn new insights about deception, group dynamics, high-level negotiations, end-of-life communication between doctors and patients, and even autism. The potential use of this technology for psychologists, health care professionals, business executives and diplomats is vast. In this presentation, Hoque delivers an overview of the nuances of human facial expression and reveals how his apps can help you delve into their hidden meanings and their significance for your industry or goals.

The Ethics of AI: New Technology, New Perspective

AI is no longer a technology used for menial, repetitive tasks. It is mimicking human intelligence, behavior and emotions, and equipping us with powerful tools for peering into individuals’ thoughts and feelings. Emotion recognition technologies aid people who lack vital social skills but are advancing to the point at which they can detect whether subjects are lying. What happens when these technologies are used to decipher political views or sexual orientation, perhaps for the purposes of discrimination or punishment? Professor M. Ehsan Hoque has been a highly recognized AI researcher and developer, which gives him a unique perspective on the ethical implications of the technology. A firm believer in the positive role that AI can play in augmenting human capabilities, Hoque also warns that applications employed with malign intent – or developed with unintentional bias – can be dangerous for privacy and civil liberties. In this presentation, Hoque draws on his intimate knowledge of these emerging technologies to offer recommendations for how developers and regulators can approach these issues. We are past any point at which AI was unambiguously a positive, says Hoque. The task now is to ensure we reap the benefits and not the worst possible consequences.

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