Dr. David Hanson

Robotics Designer

Dr. David Hanson creates androids-humanlike robots with intelligence and feelings. Via integrated research in cognitive A.I., material science, sculpture and animation, expressive robotic faces and walking robot bodies, Hanson strives to bring robots to life, literally. The walking, animated, conversational robots resulting from Hanson's efforts were called "genius" by WIRED and PC magazine, and appeared in National Geographic, Popular Science, BBC, Science, among others. A former Disney Imagineer, Hanson received awards from NASA, NSF, AAAI, Tech Titans' Innovator of the Year, Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial, several best poster and paper awards. Hanson invented or co-invented numerous technologies, including lipid-bilayer nanotech simulating skin, expressive face mechanisms, and neurocognitive-inspired software systems for A.I. He published over 32 peer-reviewed papers with IEEE, Science, Springer, Cog Sci, AAAI, SPIE, chapters in 4 books, and coauthored a book with JPL senior scientist Yoseph Bar-Cohen.

As an artist, Hanson exhibited at the Cooper Hewwit, Tokyo Modern, Reina Sofia, and many other museums and galleries, as well as the Atlantis Resort, Universal Studios Islands of Adventure, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo Disney Sea, and Disneyworld, with reviews in the New York Times, L.A. Times, and others. Hanson received his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Dallas and film BFA from Rhode Island School of Design. Hanson founded Hanson Robotics and RoboKind to pursue character robot research and applications, releasing numerous products for science research and an upcoming consumer product. Ultimately, Hanson strives to help realize Genius Machines-machines with greater than human intelligence, creativity, wisdom, and compassion.

Intelligent, Embodied Animation--when art comes to life, literally

From the caves of Lascaux to modern computer animation, humans have long attempted to recreate living beings as art. Robots, and many other of today's technology and sciences, now allow humans to simulate biological processes as never before, and the trends of discovery and invention are only accelerating, offering tremendous waves of opportunities for the arts. One may even consider the possibility that art that may become truly alive within our lifetimes. This talk discusses the consequences of such a reality, in the context of recent work in intelligent robots, agents, and artificial life, including the speaker's own work in these areas with such works as the Android portraits of Albert Einstein and Philip K Dick, Bina 48, Zeno, and Deigo-san robots, in collaboration with many artists and scientists. While we have a long way to go before making such machines truly alive, even the early versions of the robot have made strong leaps forward towards this goal, resulting in numerous awards, breakthrough abilities in conversational capabilities and abilities to see people, and the love and fear of people around the world. To achieve the grand ambition of living characters, however, will require much bolder efforts. To this end, the speaker describes a network of collaboration with scientists around the world, in a growing open-source movement to achieve Genius Machines-- with greater-than-human intelligence, creativity, and wisdom. But if A.I. does "awaken" in this way, we need that technology to feel compassion, to care about us, or else it could be dangerous. Perhaps, raising such machines among us as works of art-to be protagonists, friends, and members of our family-will push them to convergently evolve values analogous to ours, and thus come to truly care for us and earn our trust? Given the potentially profound impacts on humanity, the Genius Machines movement certainly must weigh the ethical consequences of such a brave new world of living media, and hopefully only unleash super-friends, not super-monsters.