Learn More About Ayanna Howard
Contrary to pop culture depictions of robots taking over the world, artificial intelligence (AI) is not out to destroy us. In fact, says Ayanna Howard, PhD, dean of the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University, AI is poised to enhance every aspect of our professional and personal lives, particularly in such areas as remote work, health care, education and manufacturing. But, she emphasizes, we must ensure the ethical development of these increasingly prevalent technologies.
A globally recognized roboticist and founder of the trailblazing education technology company Zyrobotics, Howard teaches organizations how to ethically develop and deploy innovative, AI-driven products that create efficiencies and improve the lives of users in the workplace, at home and in society. In the process, she helps developers avoid building biases into the AI they create so these transformational technologies can be useful and trusted learning partners, empathetic sounding boards, and relatable companions to people. She is particularly focused on assistive applications that improve the delivery of pediatric health care and education and serve people with physical or cognitive disabilities.
“The only way to prevent biases from seeping into the development of technologies is to ensure they are created with diversity of thought,” says Howard, author of the Amazon #1 bestselling audiobook “Sex, Race and Robots: How to Be Human in the Age of AI” (Audible Originals, September 2020). “That means making sure all genders and ethnicities participate in their creation. Otherwise, organizations not only risk perpetuating biases and offending potential users, they also miss an opportunity to broaden their reach.”
Confident the problem of bias can be addressed as she educates more people and organizations, Howard – who was named one of America’s Top 50 Women in Tech by Forbes – remains cheerfully optimistic about AI’s capacity to solve problems and improve many aspects of human life. That spirit shows through in her talks, writings and her March 2021 appearance on the ABC television talk show The View.
With a futurist’s eye, Howard helps leaders in every sector prepare for the exciting changes that lie ahead in AI so they can develop innovative, disruptive products that serve the widest possible range of unique users.
Dr. Ayanna Howard began developing robots as a team leader at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. She is the founder and board director of Zyrobotics, a STEM education and therapy company that designs products for children with special needs. An engineer by training, she recently joined the esteemed ranks of the Institute of Electrical & Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellows. Her work and accomplishments have been the subject of numerous articles and profiles, including in Time Magazine, USA Today and Black Enterprise.
Named by MIT Technology Review as a top young innovator and one of the 23 most powerful women engineers by Business Insider, her work has been featured in more than 250 peer-reviewed publications, reflecting her reputation as a foremost authority on human emotion-centered robotic design. Howard received the 2018 Richard A. Tapia Achievement Award for Scientific Scholarship, Civic Science and Diversifying Computing from the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in Information Technology. In 2019, Thinkers50 named Howard to its Radar Class of emerging thinkers to watch, and she was appointed to the Board of Directors of Autodesk and Partnership on AI. In 2021, she was one of two Ohio State engineers elected to the National Academy of Inventors.
Before embarking on a career in robotics with NASA, Howard earned both her doctorate and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from the University of California. She also holds an MBA from Claremont University’s Drucker School of Management and a bachelor’s degree from Brown University.
Ayanna Howard is available to advise your organization via virtual and in-person consulting meetings, interactive workshops and customized keynotes through the exclusive representation of Stern Speakers & Advisors, a division of Stern Strategy Group®.