Cynthia Breazeal Profile

  • Creator of the groundbreaking social robots, Kismet, Leonardo, and Jibo, she leads MIT Media Lab's Personal Robots Group.

  • A pioneer in developing sociable artificial intelligence, she has been referred to as "the Steve Wozniak of robots."

  • Founder and chief scientist of Jibo, the market's first personal robot for the home, she raised more than $2 million for her start-up in the most successful technology campaign in Indiegogo history.

  • She has been a guest speaker at the World Science Festival, the World Economic Forum, SXSW, and TEDWomen.
  • Cynthia Breazeal’s fascination with integrating robots into everyday life began at age 10 when she saw C3PO and R2D2 in the original Star Wars. Today she leads MIT Media Lab’s Personal Robots Group, and is the founder of Jibo, the world’s first family robot.

    Early in her career Dr. Breazeal was one of the co-creators of the first social robot, Kismet, who was capable of reacting to human conversation. Her next robot, Leonardo, was a landmark accomplishment in developing social learning abilities for AI including imitation, tutelage, and social referencing.

    Dr. Breazeal’s latest projects investigate the impact of social robots on helping people of all ages to achieve personal goals that contribute to quality of life, in domains such as physical performance, learning and education, health, and family communication. Recently she has added “successful entrepreneur” to her resume with her start-up Jibo. Dr. Breazeal raised over $2 million in an Indiegogo campaign to bring Jibo, the personal assistant robot, to market.

    Dr. Breazeal’s work is internationally recognized. She has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles in journals and conferences on the topics of autonomous robotics, artificial intelligence, human robot interaction, and robot learning. She is also a recipient of the National Academy of Engineering’s Gilbreth Lecture Award, Technology Review’s TR35 Award, and one of Fortune Magazine’s Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs.

    • View Extended/Alternate Bio

      Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, MIT Media Lab

      Founder & Chief Scientist of Jibo, Inc.
      Dr. Cynthia Breazeal is an Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she founded and directs the Personal Robots Group at the Media Lab. She is also founder and Chief Scientist of Jibo, Inc.

      She is a pioneer of Social Robotics and Human Robot Interaction. She authored the book Designing Sociable Robots, and she has published over 100 peer-reviewed articles in journals and conferences on the topics of Autonomous Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Human Robot Interaction, and Robot Learning. She serves on several editorial boards in the areas of autonomous robots, affective computing, entertainment technology and multi-agent systems. She is also an Overseer at the Museum of Science, Boston.

      Her research focuses on developing the principles, techniques, and technologies for personal robots that are socially intelligent, interact and communicate with people in human-centric terms, work with humans as peers, and learn from people as an apprentice. She has developed some of the world’s most famous robotic creatures ranging from small hexapod robots, to embedding robotic technologies into familiar everyday artifacts, to creating highly expressive humanoid robots and robot characters. Her recent work investigates the impact of social robots on helping people of all ages to achieve personal goals that contribute to quality of life in domains such as physical performance, learning/education, health, and family communication + play over distance.

      Jibo, Inc. brings the technologies, design insights, and user experience of social robots to the home as the world’s first family robot. Jibo is designed to help busy families to communicate, coordinate and connect with loved ones with greater ease, efficacy, and delight. As an open platform, Jibo enables third party developers to bring the humanized engagement and emotional lift of social robots to their apps, content and services.

      Dr. Breazeal is recognized as a prominent global innovator. She is a recipient of the National Academy of Engineering’s Gilbreth Lecture Award and an ONR Young Investigator Award. She has received Technology Review’s TR100/35 Award, TIME magazine’s Best Inventions of 2008, and has been honored as finalist in the National Design Awards in Communication. Her work has also won numerous best paper awards at top academic conferences. In 2014 she was recognized as an entrepreneur as Fortune Magazine’s Most Promising Women Entrepreneurs, and she was also a recipient of the L’Oreal USA Women in Digital NEXT Generation Award. The same year, she received the 2014 George R. Stibitz Computer & Communications Pioneer Award for seminal contributions to the development of Social Robotics and Human Robot Interaction.

      She received her B.S. (1989) in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the University of California, Santa Barbara. She did her graduate work at the MIT Artificial Intelligence Lab, and received her M.S. (1993) and Sc.D. (2000) in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

    Cynthia Breazeal Speaking Videos

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    Cynthia Breazeal's Speech Descriptions

    Bringing us closer to the question of “when might a machine be a person”, Dr. Cynthia Breazeal reviews various technological aspects ranging from the biological model to the vision for the future. Her one-of-a-kind presentations feature footage of her breakthrough creations – robots capable of interacting with people on an emotional level. Interweaving these unbelievable videos with the latest psychological research, Dr. Breazeal shows how robots can help individuals and families negotiate daily life.

    Suggested Topics:

    • The Rise of Personal Robots
    • Social Robotics and Human Robot Interaction (HRI)
    • Innovation design and Intelligence
    • Social Impact of Technology
    • Artificial Intelligence
    • The Future: Living Better with Robots

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    Books by Cynthia Breazeal:

    Designing Sociable Robots

    Cynthia Breazeal here presents her vision of the sociable robot of the future, a synthetic creature and not merely a sophisticated tool. A sociable robot will be able to understand us, to communicate and interact with us, to learn from us and grow with us. It will be socially intelligent in a humanlike way. Eventually sociable robots will assist us in our daily lives, as collaborators and companions. Because the most successful sociable robots will share our social characteristics, the effort to make sociable robots is also a means for exploring human social intelligence and even what it means to be human.

    Breazeal defines the key components of social intelligence for these machines and offers a framework and set of design issues for their realization. Much of the book focuses on a nascent sociable robot she designed named Kismet. Breazeal offers a concrete implementation for Kismet, incorporating insights from the scientific study of animals and people, as well as from artistic disciplines such as classical animation. This blending of science, engineering, and art creates a lifelike quality that encourages people to treat Kismet as a social creature rather than just a machine. The book includes a CD-ROM that shows Kismet in action.

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