The rise of robots, artificial intelligence, and smart machines
Right now, a 15 year old robot is wandering around on the surface of Mars. Cars are driving themselves. Warehouses are buzzing robot hives. Robots in Singapore just developed superhuman Ikea furniture assembly skills. These are not fantasies of the future. They are real. And it’s happening now. FutureWorld is a Toronto event exploring how machine learning, robotics, and AI are transforming our world. Featuring presentations and demos on the future of robotics and AI from creators, researchers, industrialists, and visionaries, it offers a glimpse of what’s possible and what’s on the horizon.
FutureWorld: designing the robotic future
As robotic and AI products diffuse into our lives, they’re changing how we work and play, how we interact with technology, how we live. The impacts are profound. News feed algorithms have already transformed our politics; just imagine how self driving vehicles will change how we build cities. The shape the changes will take - how the systems will work and how humans will relate to the machines of the future - are questions of design. Communities of hackers, researchers, engineers, and artists around the world build robots and explore these questions. In June they’re coming to Toronto for FutureWorld to share their stories. These are just a few of the speakers you’ll find at FutureWorld, which runs on June 9th, 2018 at OCAD University in Toronto, Ontario.
Bobak Ferdowsi and the robots on Mars
You may remember Bobak from such extraterrestrial events as 2012’s Martian landing of the Mars Science Laboratory (aka Curiosity). In his role as a NASA Jet Propulsion Systems Engineer, he’s had an insider’s view and personal impact on the robot-mediated exploration of the solar system. (And, yes, he is “Mohawk Guy”.)
Curiosity is a towering human achievement. It delivers stunning pictures of Mars that inspire people around the world. But it is also a very high value system built on decade old technology, operating on a 10-20 minute communications delay in a very hostile environment. It is a robot that stretched the limits of human ingenuity. Bobak’s post has given him a unique perspective on what it means to design, build, deploy, and interact with it. While the world watches. (That William Shatner periodically drops by the office is a nice perk.)
Ryan Gariepy: mobile robots at work
Back on Earth, Ryan Gariepy’s mobile robots are being put to work. With deep roots in the wider robotics community, and having made his bones building mobile platforms for research with his companies, OTTO Motors and Clearpath Robotics, he is a leader in the rise of ubiquitous autonomous mobile robots. As CTO, Ryan drives the vision of filling warehouses and factories with helpful
self-driving platforms that interact with people, allowing them to focus on higher value tasks.
Given the obvious risks inherent in large pieces of metal driving around on their own, Ryan is keenly aware that, as a certain web slinger teaches us, with great power comes great responsibility. His team takes advantage of state of the art technology to bring systems out of the lab safely.
Sougwen Chung makes art with robots
In the studio rather than the factory, Sougwen Chung explores new forms of human robot interaction, creating art in collaboration with robot arms and machine learning algorithms. Her system watches her draw, creating neural network models of her style and technique which a robot arm imitates.
The loop of action and imitation turns into an iterative duet between the human artist and the machine. Drawing with robots in this way, she creates hybrid human-robot artwork that hints at the ways robotics and AI will expand and extend human potential. It provokes some clear questions about where the work of the human ends and the robot begins. But, as these strange and wonderful drawings make clear, human-robot collaborations can become far more than the sum of their parts. We’ll also be welcoming Andra Keay, managing director at Silicon Valley Robotics; Lisa Winter a BattleBot robot builder, artist, rapid prototyper, machinist, as well as robotics engineer and PM at Huawei; Jared Ficklin, the chief creative technologist at argodesign; and Josh Bongard, the director of the Morphology, Evolution & Cognition Laboratory at the University of Vermont.
Robotics and AI are in the smart machines around us. These are the people who are designing them, and thinking about how we’ll live with them. They’ll dig deep into questions of what robots are, what they are becoming, and what they can be.
Bobak Ferdowsi Systems Engineer, NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory
Andra Keay Managing Director Silicon Valley Robotics