In 1919, a year before the word “robot” was coined, Sigmund Freud published an influential essay, Das Unheimliche, later translated into English as “The Uncanny”. The essay and the concept of The Uncanny are familiar to literary theorists and art historians, who have charted the literary and theatrical origins of the concept through works by ETA Hoffman, Mary Shelley, Karel Capek and Isaac Asimov.
The Uncanny remains esoteric and unfamiliar to engineers and the general public. In his talk, Ken will describe The Uncanny in plain language and trace its origins back to Descartes and medieval automata. He will go on to show the relationship between contemporary human fear and fascination with a broad variety of technologies from AI to cosmetics to robots to Siri to Google Glass to zombies.
Ken is interested in mortality and the boundary between what is alive and what is life-like. He will present a series of short films and artworks that explores this boundary, including the Telegarden (1995-2004), an online installation that let participants tend a living garden using an industrial robot via the Internet.
Ken Goldberg is an artist and professor at the University of California, Berkeley. He is a pioneer in internet-based robotic telepresence and cloud-based robotics/automation and has published over 200 peer-reviewed technical papers on algorithms for robotics, automation, and social information filtering. His inventions have been awarded eight US Patents.
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