In conversation with Ken Goldberg
Beyond the Uncanny Valley of the Dolls – an exploration into what’s alive and what’s life-like
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.
I want to be a robot.
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 explore this boundary, including the Telegarden (1995-2004), an online installation that let participants tend a living garden using an industrial robot via the Internet.
The event will start with a drinks reception at 17:30 and the talk will start at 18:15
Ken Goldberg is an artist and professor UC 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 and his inventions have been awarded eight US Patents.
He is Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering (T-ASE), Co-Founder of the African Robotics Network (AFRON), Co-Founder of the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM), Co-Founder and CTO of Hybrid Wisdom Labs, Co-Founder of the Moxie Institute, and Founding Director of UC Berkeley's Art, Technology, and Culture Lecture Series which has hosted over 150 presentations by artists and curators.
Ken's artwork has been exhibited at Ars Electronica, ZKM, Centre Pompidou, ICC Biennale, Kwangju Biennale, Artists Space, The Kitchen, and the Whitney Biennial.