Resonance Test 58: A Conversation with Marcio Macedo


“How Close Is Too Close for the Robot to Get to a Person?”

Resonance Test 58: Marcio Macedo

December 16, 2020
by Toby BottorfKen Gordon
Marcio Macedo

Robots are inching their way toward us. In the workplace. In grocery stores. In hospitals. This isn’t a necessarily alarming development. It's certainly not in the eyes of people like our guest, Marcio Macedo, Co-Founder and VP of Product at Ava Robotics. Macedo says it’s all about creating the right kind of human-to-robot partnerships: “To us, it comes to down to a focus on learning with the customer.”

Luckily, Macedo’s interlocutor this episode, Toby Bottorf, is the author of a classic blog post called “Robots for People: A Humanist Reframing of Automated Labor.” Their conversation is anything but robotic. For instance, Macedo talks about how, during family visits to nursing facilities during COVID times, Ava’s telepresence robot is “a very physical way for family members to come in,” adding that it’s “much more immersive and engaging than an iPad being brought on a tripod.” Bottorf points out the “stalking pandemic of loneliness, which Zoom is no cure for” and Macedo says: “There’s a lot of promise in robotics for sure in helping address that.”

Macedo talks about the hybrid office situation so many of us do, or will soon, face, and says that here robots will “not just deliver the productivity but some amount of accessibility and fairness as well, because there are populations that will not be able to be physically in the [workspace].” Can you see our robot avatars hanging out with each other? Bottorf can: “I have a mental image that makes me smile: The idea that in 2021 there will be workplaces where clusters of remote workers, or their robot physical presences, will be having a water cooler conversation.”

Host: Alison Kotin
Engineer: Kyp Pilalas
producer: Ken Gordon

The Resonance Test 58: Marcio Mecado
filed in: healthcare, product experience, employee experience

About the Author

  • Bottorf Toby
    Toby Bottorf
    VP, Service and Experience Design

    Toby joined Continuum to establish a digital design capability, and is now a VP in service design, leading teams to design solutions for complex human and technical systems. His work builds on a career in UX and interface design.

    Recent work includes Audi on demand, a premium mobility service; the design of a client communications tool for a financial services company; and the strategy and experience design of a digital coaching platform for a leading American health insurer.

    Toby holds a master’s degree in communications design from the Institute of Design (IIT) and a BA in art from Yale University.

  • Ken Gordon
    Ken Gordon
    Chief Communications Specialist

    Ken makes EPAM Continuum’s work visible to the necessary people. He creates superlative content, works with colleagues to do the same, and employs social networks to share it widely.

    A card-carrying humanist, Ken co-founded QuickMuse, the improvisational writing website, and JEDLAB, the Jewish education community. He has written for, the New York Times, and many other pubs.

    Ken has an English degree from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and an MA in English from the State University of New York at Albany. He framed both diplomas long ago, but can’t seem to find them now—a fact he considers all-too-human.