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July 11-13, 2016
Brooklyn, New York

Library Selection
Our Robots, Ourselves: Robotics and the Myths of Autonomy (Viking, 2015)
By David A. Mindell



"Love rests on two pillars: surrender and autonomy. Our need for togetherness exists alongside our need for separateness." — Esther Perel

"If opportunity doesn't knock, build a door." — Milton Berle

conference overview
Combine our April 2014 meeting, “Connecting the Bots,” with the September 2015 meeting, “Collaboration and the Future of the Workplace, and you get the big takeaway of this decade: The short- and even medium-term future is one of robots and humans working cooperatively. The questions posed by such a future are almost as large as the opportunities it presents—How much work should be done by each? How do we avoid a dangerous over-reliance on systems and machines? What systems can be fully autonomous? What happens to all our institutions of work? And even, can humans and machines co-exist in the long term?

  • Autonomy & Interaction
  • How Systems Live in the World
  • The Automation Paradox
  • Situated Systems
  • The Human in the Machine
  • The Art of the Possible
  • Smart Stuff
  • Design
  • User Experience
  • Software bots
  • Prosthetics
  • Autonomous Vehicles

list of speakers
Antoine Blondeau is CEO of Sentient AI, which has created the world’s first autonomous hedge fund, one that makes all its own investment decisions.

Chad Bouton is the Managing Director of the Center for Bioelectronic Medicine at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research. He recently led a team that implanted a chip in a quadriplegic man, allowing him to regain some movement in his right arm hand.

Sonia Chernova directs the Robot Autonomy and Interactive Learning (RAIL) lab at Georgia Tech, which is developing robots that are able to effectively operate in human environments.

Rodolphe Gelin is Chief Scientific Officer at Aldebaran, the creators of the Romeo robot platform, and of Pepper, a service robot that reads and reacts to emotions as well as words.

Ian Glenn is Chief Executive Officer and Chief Technology Officer at Ing Robotics, which develops data driven robotic aviation services for harsh conditions.

Robin Hanson is an Associate Professor of Economics at George Mason University and the author of The Age of Em (Oxford University Press, June 2016), a futuristic look at the nature of “work, love, and life when robots rule the Earth.”

Jeremy Heffner of Azavea is the product manager for HunchLab, a web-based predictive policing system used in a number of jurisdictions, including Ferguson, Missouri.

Robert Howe is a Professor and heads the BioRobotics Lab at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences. The lab’s research focuses on the role of sensing and mechanical design in motor control, in both robots and humans.

Jeff Legault is the Director of Strategic Business Development at Carnegie Mellon University’s National Robotics Engineering Center. He thinks the main challenge of robotics today is not doability, but affordability.

Hod Lipson directs the Creative Machines Lab at Columbia University and, which pioneers new ways to make machines that create, and machines that are creative. He is co-author of Fabricated: The New World of 3-D Printing (2013) and Driverless: Intelligent Cars and the Road Ahead (2016).

Pam Mueller is a recent Ph.D. graduate of the Department of Psychology at Princeton University. Her research on computer-based note taking and cognitive processing has been written about in Harvard Business Review, The Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic, Fortune, and Scientific American.

Marc Raibert is the founder of Boston Dynamics, which is developing the next generation of Atlas robots, specialized for mobile manipulation.

Julie Shah, of the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT, previously worked at Boeing Research and Technology on robotics applications for aerospace manufacturing. She currently leads the Interactive Robotics Group, which is devoted to human-robot collaboration for high-intensity and safety-critical applications.

Ian Stewart is an economist at Deloitte UK and co-author of the 2014 paper, “Technology and People: The Great Job-Creating Machine,” which takes a counterintuitive look at the impact of automation on job markets.

Duncan Wass, of the University of Bristol, whose lab is creating self-healing composites for airplane and automobile bodies.

Amit Zoran is Senior Lecturer at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His interests include digital design and fabrication, human-computer interaction, and craft. His Ph.D. is from MIT, where he developed a number of smart tools that combine human craftsmanship with machine accuracy.

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