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Research Scientist II
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- (404) 407-6522
- alan [dot] wagner [at] gtri [dot] gatech [dot] edu
I am currently a Research Scientist at Georgia Tech Research Institute working in the ATAS Lab. Previously I was a graduate student studying under Dr. Ron Arkin as part of the Mobile Robot Lab within the College of Computing.
I grew up in North Olmsted Ohio, a suburb of Cleveland. I began my academic career at Northwestern University graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Psychology. After that, I worked for a bit as an editorial assistant for a financial magazine. I first returned to academia as a member of the research and development team at MIT's genome center helping to sequence the human genome. It was there, building robotic liquid handling systems, that I became interested in AI and robotics. Later I went on to work with production robots at Speedline and commercial software at Symantec while concurrently completing a Master's degree in Computer Science at Boston University. After completing the degree I taught at BU for a year before matriculating at Georgia Tech. I have a wonderful family.
My research focuses on developing the theoretical underpinnings necessary for human-robot social relations. My goal is to build robots that can not only interact with humans, but are also capable of representing, reasoning, and developing relationships with others.
I believe that the search for intelligence is the heart of AI. The research of AI patriarchs like Turing and Minsky has often centered on the challenge of defining and imbuing intelligence with respect to a machine. Recent AI research has (sadly in my opinion) neglected this original quest and taken a more pragmatic approach to AI. This de novo approach to AI emphasizes systems engineering and iterative improvement of machine performance. I think that it is important for AI to return to its roots and renew its commitment to the purpose of using computers to understand and recreate intelligence in a machine. This is my overarching research theme.
I am also interested in AI and HRI methodology. In particular, I am interested in developing repeatable, falsifiable methods to explore human-robot relations.