DISRUPTIVE: BIOINSPIRED ROBOTICS Radhika Nagpal

 

Disruptive radhika2  

DISRUPTIVE: BIOINSPIRED ROBOTICS
RADHIKA NAGPAL

Host Terrence McNally interviews Radhika Nagpal. Podcast published July 27, 2015.

McNally:
Hello, welcome to DISRUPTIVE the podcast from Harvard’s Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering. I’m your host, Terrence McNally.

The mission of the Wyss Institute is to: Transform healthcare, industry, and the environment by emulating the way nature builds.

Our bodies — and all living systems — accomplish tasks far more sophisticated and dynamic than anything yet designed by humans. By emulating nature’s principles for self-organizing and self-regulating, Wyss researchers develop innovative engineering solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics, and manufacturing.

They focus on technology development and its translation into products and therapies that will have an impact on the world in which we live. At the Wyss, folks are not interested in making incremental improvements to existing materials and devices, but in shifting paradigms. In this episode of DISRUPTIVE, we will explore: BIOINSPIRED ROBOTICS.

Many of the most advanced robots in use today are still far less sophisticated than ants that “self-organize” to build an ant hill, or termites that work together to build impressive, massive mounds in Africa.

From insects in your backyard, to creatures in the sea, to what you see in the mirror, engineers and scientists at Wyss are drawing inspiration to design a whole new class of smart robotic devices.

We’re going to explore this exciting territory in a three-part episode of DISRUPTIVE, featuring three members of the Wyss faculty, CONOR WALSH, ROBERT WOOD, and RADHIKA NAGPAL.

[01:30]
Nagpal’s Bio

Today’s guest, Radhika Nagpal is the Fred Kavli Professor of Computer Science at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences (SEAS) and Bioinspired Robotics Platform Co-Leader and a Core Faculty member at the Wyss Institute. Naming her one of the ten scientists and engineers who “made a difference” in 2014, NATURE Magazine wrote that her “self–organizing, swarm robotics are today’s state of the art in collective artificial intelligence.”

Radhika is developing programming paradigms that enable new types of autonomous robotic systems to mimic the collective behaviors of living creatures to meet real-world challenges. Inspired by social insects and multicellular systems, she’s developing sensor networks that monitor the environment, and robots that collectively construct or self-assemble complex structures without human supervision. Her recent work includes the Termes robots for collective construction of 3D structures, and the Kilobot thousand-robot swarm.

Welcome, Radhika Nagpal to DISRUPTIVE…In order for listeners to get a sense of you as a person, beyond your work and ideas, Rahdika, can you take us back and tell us a bit about your path?

[02:37]
Nagpal’s Path

DISRUPTIVE: BIOINSPIRED ROBOTICS CONOR WALSH

disruptive_walsh  

DISRUPTIVE: BIOINSPIRED ROBOTICS

CONOR WALSH

Host Terrence McNally interviews Conor Walsh. Podcast published July 27, 2015.
McNally:
Hello, welcome to DISRUPTIVE the podcast from Harvard’s Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering. I’m your host, Terrence McNally.

The mission of the Wyss Institute is to: Transform healthcare, industry, and the environment by emulating the way nature builds.

Our bodies — and all living systems — accomplish tasks far more sophisticated and dynamic than anything yet designed by humans. By emulating nature’s principles for self-organizing and self-regulating, Wyss researchers develop innovative engineering solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics, and manufacturing.

They focus on technology development and its translation into products and therapies that will have an impact on the world in which we live. At the Wyss, folks are not interested in making incremental improvements to existing materials and devices, but in shifting paradigms. In this episode of DISRUPTIVE, we will explore: BIOINSPIRED ROBOTICS.

Many of the most advanced robots in use today are still far less sophisticated than ants that “self-organize” to build an ant hill, or termites that work together to build impressive, massive mounds in Africa. From insects in your backyard, to creatures in the sea, to what you see in the mirror, engineers and scientists at Wyss are drawing inspiration to design a whole new class of smart robotic devices.

We’re going to explore this exciting territory in a three-part episode of DISRUPTIVE, featuring three members of the Wyss faculty, CONOR WALSH, ROBERT WOOD, and RADHIKA NAGPAL.

Walsh’s Bio
Today’s guest, CONOR WALSH is Assistant Professor of Mechanical and Biomedical Engineering at the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, founder of the Harvard Biodesign Lab, and a Core Faculty member at the Wyss Institute. His research focuses on applying disruptive technologies to the development of robotic devices for augmenting and restoring human performance. He leads a team of researchers on the DARPA Warrior Web project whose long term goal is to develop fully portable wearable robots to assist the disabled and able-bodied.
Conor received his B.A.I and B.A. degrees in Mechanical and Manufacturing engineering from Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Mechanical Engineering from MIT. He has been the recipient of over a dozen invention, entrepreneurship, and student mentoring awards including the MIT $100K business plan competition and the MIT Graduate Student Mentor of the Year. Walsh established the Harvard Medical Device Innovation Initiative that provides students with the opportunity to collaborate with clinicians.

Welcome, Conor Walsh to DISRUPTIVE…I like listeners to get a feel for the people behind the work and ideas we talk about. Could you share a bit about your personal path?

[02:40]

Walsh’s Personal Path

DISRUPTIVE: BIOINSPIRED ROBOTICS ROBERT WOOD

robertcollage

DISRUPTIVE: BIOINSPIRED ROBOTICS

ROBERT WOOD

 

Host Terrence McNally interviews Robert Wood. Podcast published July 27, 2015.
McNally:
Hello, welcome to DISRUPTIVE the podcast from Harvard’s Wyss Institute of Biologically Inspired Engineering. I’m your host, Terrence McNally.

The mission of the Wyss Institute is to: Transform healthcare, industry, and the environment by emulating the way nature builds.

Our bodies — and all living systems — accomplish tasks far more sophisticated and dynamic than anything yet designed by humans. By emulating nature’s principles for self-organizing and self-regulating, Wyss researchers develop innovative engineering solutions for healthcare, energy, architecture, robotics, and manufacturing.

They focus on technology development and its translation into products and therapies that will have an impact on the world in which we live. At the Wyss, folks are not interested in making incremental improvements to existing materials and devices, but in shifting paradigms. In this episode of DISRUPTIVE, we will explore: BIOINSPIRED ROBOTICS.

Many of the most advanced robots in use today are still far less sophisticated than ants that “self-organize” to build an ant hill, or termites that work together to build impressive, massive mounds in Africa.

From insects in your backyard, to creatures in the sea, to what you see in the mirror, engineers and scientists at Wyss are drawing inspiration to design a whole new class of smart robotic devices.

We’re going to explore this exciting territory in a three-part episode of DISRUPTIVE, featuring three members of the Wyss faculty, CONOR WALSH, ROBERT WOOD, and RADHIKA NAGPAL.

Wood’s Bio
Today’s guest, ROBERT WOOD is the Charles River Professor of Engineering and Applied Sciences in the Harvard John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, founder of the Harvard Microrobotics Lab, a founding core faculty member of the Wyss Institute, and co-leader of its Bioinspired Robotics platform. Wood completed his M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences at UC Berkeley.

In 2010, Wood received the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers from President Obama for his work in micro-robotics and in 2012 was selected for the Alan T. Waterman award, the National Science Foundation’s most prestigious early career award.

Welcome, Robert Wood to DISRUPTIVE…I mentioned a few biographical highlights, but before we jump into your work, in your own words, can you tell us a bit about your path?

[02:20]
Wood’s Personal Path

Q&A: SHERRY TURKLE, Psychologist & Author – ALONE TOGETHER

  Aired 02/13/11 How much technology do you use? Email, texting, facebook, twitter, second life, etc. How's it working for you? Has it freed you up, given you more time, or has it added new demands to your life that actually make you feel you have less time? If you're using social media regularly, do you feel more connected with your friends and family or less? Clinical psychologist SHERRY TURKLE has been studying our relationship with technology for most of her career, and has written several books about what she's experienced and learned. Of her newest, ALONE TOGETHER, she has said, "This is a book of repentance. I have been studying computers and people for thirty years. I didn't see several important things. I got some important things wrong." I was already interested in talking to her, but that really grabbed my attention. I'm interested in people, maybe especially experts, who are willing to change their minds. Turkle writes: "Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone. But it also drains us as we try to do everything everywhere. We begin to feel overwhelmed and depleted by the lives technology makes possible. We may be free to work from anywhere, but we are also prone to being lonely everywhere. In a surprising twist, relentless connection leads to a new solitude. We turn to new technology to fill the void,but as technology ramps up, our emotional lives ramp down." http://www.alonetogetherbook.com/

System Failure: We Are Approaching the End of Society As We Know It — And That May Be a Good Thing

 

Paul Gilding says it’s time to stop worrying about climate change; global crisis is no longer avoidable. He believes the Great Disruption started in 2008, as spiking food and oil prices signaled the end of Economic Growth 1.0 based on consumption and waste. Coming decades will see loss, suffering and conflict, but he believes the crisis offers us both an unmatched business opportunity as old industries collapse to be replaced by new ones, and a chance to replace our addiction to growth with an ethic of sustainability.

Gilding has been involved with activist campaigns on a wide variety of issues and served as executive director of Greenpeace Australia and Greenpeace International. He founded Ecos Corporation in 1995, consulting to some of the world’s largest corporations on issues of sustainability until its sale in 2008. Gilding’s first book is The Great Disruption: Why the Climate Crisis Will Bring on the End of Shopping and the Birth of a New World.

Terrence McNally: Could you briefly talk about your path to the work you do today?

Paul Gilding: I started as an activist really very young. Age 14, 15, I got involved in a variety of issues and went on from there through 19 years of traditional activism, more on the human social side than the environmental side. Then through the late ’70s to early ’80s, I got involved in the anti-nuclear weapons and nuclear war movement. That led to a greater understanding of environmental issues, which then led to Greenpeace and very focused direct-action campaigns against corporate pollution. I ended up head of Greenpeace International.

I left there in the mid ’90s, focused on the role of markets and companies. How could we mobilize the power of markets as a force for good in this area? For the next 15 years I focused on that question, working in the corporate sector, running two companies that I built. Really trying to see if you can drive change through business — from the point of view of self-interest, recognizing that business is driven by making money. That’s their core metric.

Then about four or five years ago, I came to the conclusion that we really had done our best in the environmental and social change movements, but the ecological and system pressures we’d brought to bear on the global ecosystem were now in full flight. Change is going to be unstoppable.

continue

Can Computer Games Save Us All? New Research Shows How Gaming Can Help Cure Our Social Ills

 

February 21, 2012

Tech futurist and game designer Jane McGonigle on how computer games can help the fight against AIDS, heal disabilities, increase optimism, and make us better people.
 
There are 183 million active computer game players in the United States. The average young person will spend 10,000 hours gaming by the age of 21. More than 5 million “extreme” gamers in the U.S. play an average of 45 hours a week. Videogames took in about $15.5 billion last year.
 
Most of what you hear about this phenomenon is doom and gloom – people becoming addicted, isolated and socially inept. Some worry that gaming is pulling people away from productive work, fulfilling relationships and real life. But game designer Jane McGonigal says the reason for the mass exodus to virtual worlds is that videogames are increasingly fulfilling genuine human needs. In a very popular TED talk — and in her first book, Reality Is Broken, just out in paperback – she suggests we can use the lessons of game design to fix what is wrong with the real world.

Jane McGonigal is the director of Game R&D at the Institute for the Future and creative director of Social Chocolate. BusinessWeek called her “one of the ten most important innovators to watch.” Oprah magazine thinks she’s “one of the twenty most inspiring women in the world.” And MIT Technology Review named her “one of top 35 innovators changing the world through technology.”

Terrence McNally interviewed McGonigal for AlterNet by phone from her home in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Terrence McNally: I see four strands in what I’ve read about you and your work: Buddhism, games, positive psychology, and entrepreneurism. How do you describe your path?

Jane McGonigal: That’s a pretty good breakdown, I like it. I think, first and foremost, I try to help people unleash their real-life superpowers to bring out the best in them so they achieve epic wins lead extraordinary lives, and be of extraord

Link: Full Interview

Economic Armageddon: Gretchen Morgensen on How Wall Street Broke the Economy

NYT business reporter Gretchen Morgensen discusses her new book and the corruption of the mortgage lending industry.

July 26, 2011  | Gretchen Morgensen was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 2002 for her “trenchant and incisive” coverage of Wall Street and has been on that beat ever since. Her new book, Reckless Endangerment: How Outsized Ambition, Greed, and Corruption Led to Economic Armageddon (written with Joshua Rosner), lays out the toxic interplay between Washington, Wall Street and corrupt mortgage lenders that led to the meltdown. It examines how the watchdogs who were supposed to protect us from financial harm were actually complicit in creating the crisis.

Gretchen Morgenson is a business reporter and columnist at the New York Times, where she also serves as assistant business and financial editor. Prior to joining the Times in 1998, she worked as a broker at Dean Witter in the 1980s, and as a reporter at Forbes, Worth, and Money magazines.

Good Without God: Why “Non-Religious” Is the Fastest-Growing Preference in America

Authors Phil Goldberg and Greg Epstein share their provocative views on why a quarter of Americans now call themselves agnostic, atheist or nonreligious.

 
May 10, 2011  | Currently more than one billion people around the world define themselves as agnostic, atheist or nonreligious — including 15 percent of Americans. Perhaps more striking, “nonreligious” is not only the fastest growing religious preference in the U.S., but also the only one to increase its percentage in every state over the past generation.

Phil Goldberg and Greg Epstein have provocative perspectives on who these people are, what they believe, and how they arrived at their worldviews and their moral codes.

In February, 1968, the Beatles went to India for an extended stay with their new guru, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. It may have been the most momentous spiritual retreat since Jesus spent those 40 days in the wilderness.

With these words, interfaith minister Goldberg begins American Veda, his look at India’s impact on Western culture. From Emerson, Thoreau and Whitman, succeeding generations absorbed India’s “science of consciousness,” and millions have come to accept and live by the central teaching of Vedic wisdom: “Truth is One, the wise call it by many names.”

Acccording to Greg Epstein, the humanist chaplain at Harvard University, recent bestsellers from Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, and Sam Harris stress the irrationality of belief and what’s wrong with religion, while offering few positive alternatives. In Good without God, Epstein explains how humanists strive to live well, build community, uphold ethical values, and lift the human spirit…all without a god. “It’s not enough to just ‘discover’ the meaning of life. Humanism is concerned with one of the most important ethical questions—what we do once we’ve found purpose in life.”

How You Can Have a Billion-Dollar Income in America and Pay No Taxes

Tax journalist David Cay Johnston explains what’s so rotten about our taxation system and the distribution of wealth in this country.

April 20, 2011  | When I was growing up, people joked about how much they hated taxes, but they paid them, and we had a solid middle-class society. Real wages rose from WWII through 1973.

Today one of our two major political parties — nationally and in state capitals — is unwilling to consider raising taxes no matter the circumstances. Though most of Washington’s officials and media are hysterical about the deficit, and willing to hurt anyone in an effort to reduce it, both parties voted in December to extend tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans for two more years.http://aworldthatjustmightwork.com/wordpress/wp-admin/post.php?post=947&action=edit

Despite profits of $14.2 billion — $5.1 billion from its operations in the United States — General Electric, the nation’s largest corporation, did not have to pay any U.S. taxes last year. Its CEO, Jeffrey Immelt, recently replaced Paul Volcker as leader of President Obama’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board as its name was changed to the Council on Jobs and Competitiveness.

David Cay Johnston worked as an investigative reporter for several newspapers, including the Los Angeles Times from 1976 to 1988, and the New York Times from 1995-2008 where he won a Pulitzer Prize for his innovative coverage of our tax system. He now teaches at Syracuse University College of Law and Whitman School of Management and writes a column at Tax.com. He is the author of two bestsellers, Perfectly Legal and Free Lunch. His next book, The Fine Print, will be published later this year.

Alone Together: Why We’ve Started Expecting More from Technology and Less from Each Other

Author Sherry Turkle on her new book arguing that relentless connection through technology leads to a new solitude.

March 18, 2011  |   “This is a book of repentance,” Sherry Turkle has said of Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other. “I have been studying computers and people for thirty years. I didn’t see several important things. I got some important things wrong.”

“Technology promises to let us do anything from anywhere with anyone. But it also drains us as we try to do everything everywhere. In a surprising twist, relentless connection leads to a new solitude.”

Sherry Turkle is Professor of the Social Studies of Science and Technology at MIT and founder and director of the MIT Initiative on Technology and Self. A licensed clinical psychologist, Sherry is the author of several books including The Second Self: Computers and the Human Spirit, and Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet. Alone Together completes a trilogy.