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Spring 2023 GRASP on Robotics: Rodney Brooks, Robust.AI, “Academic research: exploration vs exploitation”

February 10, 2023 at 10:30 AM - 11:45 PM

This is a hybrid event with in-person attendance in Wu and Chen and virtual attendance via Zoom. This week’s presenter will be in-person as well. 



Intelligent action is critical in robotics, more so than much of AI where results are often mediated by humans in the loop. That said, robotics also needs to interact with humans. Currently we are in an age of exploitation of techniques that give new capabilities, and this is as true in academia as it is in industry. But we should hope that a few people in academia are also exploring whether current techniques are the ultimate solutions for robotics, or whether we should give some thought to whether we are busy riding a silicon-powered wave which will asymptote way below where popular hypenotism would lead us to expect. Perhaps there are really different questions to ask; looking at biological systems suggests that perhaps we don’t yet have a good grasp of very fundamental possibilities, and that there are rich rewards (and also possible penury) for those willing to take a hard look.

Rodney Brooks

MIT Professor Emeritus, Robust.AI co-founder

Rodney Brooks wrote a really bad MS thesis on Machine Learning in Australia in 1977, and then joined the Stanford AI Lab where he received a PhD in 1981 with a thesis on computer vision (he processed three images in four years; computers were slow then).  He bounced between CMU, MIT and Stanford, being on the faculty at Stanford 1983-1984 and MIT 1984-2010 where he is an emeritus professor of robotics. He was the director of the MIT AI Lab and then the founding director of the MIT Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL).  He has cofounded six companies since 1984 including iRobot, Rethink Robotics, and (currently) Robust AI. rodneybrooks.com/blog @rodneyabrooks.


February 10, 2023
10:30 AM - 11:45 PM
Event Category:


General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Lab
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Wu and Chen Auditorium (Room 101), Levine Hall
3330 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104 United States
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