Dancing With Droids

Heidi Voskuhl, University of Pennsylvania; Youngmoo Kim, Drexel University

Wagner Free Institute of Science; Consortium for HSTM (Philadelphia, PA)

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 - 7:00pm

Time: 6:00pm Location: Wagner Free Institute of Science, 1700 W Montgomery Ave, Philadelphia, PA, 19121 The Mechanics of Man: A Robot to Teach Physiology. The Illustrated London News. December 22, 1928 Throughout history, our relationship with human-like machines has changed just as rapidly as the technology used to build them. Today we appreciate the work that machines do for us in the home, workplace, and battlefield—but, if pop culture is to be believed, tomorrow we could be at war with said machines. As we build more advanced droids and other forms of artificial intelligence, we are faced with conflicting feelings of fear and fascination, and questions about what distinguishes man from machine. Join us to explore these issues with both a historian of technology who studies Enlightenment-era automatons and a current engineer who is teaching humanoid robots to understand music. Heidi Voskuhl teaches the history of technology in the Department of History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her PhD from the Department of Science and Technology Studies at Cornell University and taught after that at the Department of the History of Science at Harvard University.Her first book, Androids in the Enlightenment: Mechanics, Artisans, and Cultures of the Self, was published in June 2013 with the University of Chicago Press. It won the Jacques Barzun Prize in Cultural History of the American Philosophical Society in 2014. Her larger interests include the philosophy of technology, modern intellectual history, and theories of media and textuality. She is currently working on a book project on the role of the philosophy of technology in engineers' efforts to constitute themselves as a new professional group during the Second Industrial Revolution. Youngmoo Kim is Director of the Expressive and Creative Interaction Technologies (ExCITe) Center and Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Drexel University. He also serves as Resident Technologist at Opera Philadelphia.He received his PhD in Media Arts and Sciences from MIT in 2003 and also holds Master's degrees in Electrical Engineeringand Music (Vocal Performance Practice) from Stanford University as well as a B.S. in Engineering and a B.A. in Music from Swarthmore College. His research group, the Music & Entertainment Technology Laboratory (MET-lab) focuses on the machine understanding of audio, particularly for music information retrieval. Other areas of active research at MET-lab include human-machine interfaces and robotics for expressive interaction, analysis-synthesis of sound, and K-12 outreach for engineering, science, and mathematics education. Youngmoo also has extensive experience in music performance, including 8 years as a member of the Tanglewood Festival Chorus, the chorus of the Boston Symphony Orchestra.

This lecture will take place at the Wagner Free Institute of Science and is presented by both the Wagner and the Consortium for History of Science, Technology, and Medicine. It is part of a lecture series that the Wagner is presenting in conjunction with its 150th building anniversary celebration, exploring historical perspectives on contemporary issues.