Tag Archives: down to a science

What Daily Thing? There Could Be Life Out There!

Last night I took a night off, and tonight I did, too, but I at least got out of the house. I joined Kishore Hari’s Down to a Science program for tonight’s presentation from Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute.

Shostak talked about the history and mission of the SETI project, and took lots of questions from a largely excited and completely sympathetic audience. I can’t really do justice to Shostak’s talk. If you’ve followed SETI at all, frankly, there was not a lot of new information, but I hadn’t quite realized what an engaging speaker he is ad lib.

And he took potshots at dolphins, Neptune, San Mateo, college education, the impoverished prisoners of the 4 dimensions we experience, people with navels, AND the post office. I mean, in a nice way, but I can’t help saying, you know, the post office has a really hard job. It’s like DNA, when you think about it, especially if you really love your Netflix subscription, as I do – so many things can go wrong it’s kind of amazing what a good job they do.

Anyway, if you get a chance to see him in an interactive environment, go!

Robots! This Week in San Francisco

The human love affair with robots dates all the way back to ancient Greece, whose lore told that Hephaestus made a man of bronze to defend Crete. They are splendid screens for our projections, for our fantasies and fears, and populate countless works of fiction, opinion, proposal, and speculation. In real life, robots pick up dog hair and assemble cars and stuff.

Ask a Scientist: This coming Wednesday, David Calkins will talk about artificial intelligence and real-life applications of robotic technology. Also, he’s bringing along some ROBOTS! The format is a medium-length talk followed by a question-and-answer session. Ask a Scientist is held at the Axis Cafe, which serves light meals, coffeeshop drinks, beer, and wine. Get there early if you want a seat at a table.

Wednesday, August 6th, 7:00 PM: Robots, David Calkins, at Ask a Scientist

Down to a Science: Professor Goldberg is investigating questions raised by robots and social networks. His group is interested in leadership, group discovery, and the power of crowds. The format is a brief talk by the expert followed by a highly interactive question-and-answer session. Down to a Science is held at the Atlas Cafe, which serves coffeeshop drinks, and soups, salads, sandwiches, and pizzas. Get there early to get a seat – this venue is small, and it attracts more people than it has chairs.

Monday, August 18th, 7:00 PM: Robots and Representational Democracy, by Ken Goldberg, at Down to a Science

The Long Now Foundation: If robots are a little too concrete for you, there’s the Long Now talk Friday at Fort Mason about software bots. Daniel Suarez, author of thriller Daemon and a software developer, will give a talk about the growing use of these bits of programming – and the risk of unintended consequences as we use them more frequently for more tasks. The Long Now talks are extended, relatively formal talks, in an auditorium. The talk itself will likely be more than an hour, and Long Now talks in general focus on long-term thinking (the organization’s mission is to work within a framework of 10,000 years).

Friday, August 8, 7:30 PM: Bot-mediated Reality, by Daniel Suarez, at the Long Now Foundation