Second Workshop on Chatbots and Conversational Agent Technologies

Keynote Speech

"Designing Bots and Other Systems that Can Hold up their End of the Conversation"
Justine Cassell, Carnegie Mellon University


In today's era of intelligent personal assistants, a conversational front end is a necessity. Particularly in the mobile domain where users may be engaged in multiple tasks at the same time, and have their eyes on something other than the screen, the ability to use conversation to access services is particularly important. On the other hand, most existent conversational UIs 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 are revolutionizing the conversational front end of intelligent personal assistants.


Justine Cassell is Associate Dean of Technology Strategy and Impact in the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University, and Director Emerita of the Human Computer Interaction Institute. She co-directs the Yahoo-CMU InMind partnership on the future of personal assistants, and the Simon Initiative on Technology-Enhanced Learning. Previously Cassell was faculty at Northwestern University where she founded the Technology and Social Behavior Center and Doctoral Program. Before that she was a tenured professor at the MIT Media Lab. Cassell received the MIT Edgerton Prize, and Anita Borg Institute Women of Vision award, in 2011 was named to the World Economic Forum Global Agenda Council on AI and Robotics, in 2012 named a AAAS fellow, and in 2016 made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Scotland. Cassell has spoken at the World Economic Forum in Davos for the past 5 years on topics concerning the impact of AI and Robotics on society.