Plenary speakers

José Halloy
Robotics as zombie technology: how to bring them back to life?

Since the end of the 18th century, the progressively massive use of fossil fuels (coal, oil, gas) has favored the development of new technologies based on new materials, essentially of mineral origin or derived from petrochemistry. Semiconductors, electronics, artificial intelligence and robotics represent the most sophisticated pinnacle of this technological evolution. All these technologies raise two fundamental and related issues: on the one hand, the depletion of mineral resources and the fossil fuels used to implement them, and, on the other hand, their respective contributions to greenhouse gas emissions and, consequently, to global warming and other ecological disasters. Technologies must become sustainable, i.e., they must be able to last over the (very) long term and be scalable, they must be installed on a global scale. For the moment, it seems that most of the technologies issued or inherited from the Industrial Revolution are not sustainable. They are in fact zombie technologies that are acting and continuing to invade the world, but are already dead in terms of sustainability. By way of comparison and solution, life on Earth has existed for about 3.5 billion years, which we can consider as sustainable. According to what scientific criteria, could we invent sustainable technologies for centuries to come?

Biography: José Halloy is a professor of physics and co-founder of the Laboratoire Interdisciplinaire des Énergies de Demain (LIED CNRS UMR8236) in 2013 at the Université Paris Cité. Since 2011, he has been developing interdisciplinary research, including social sciences, within an “Earth system” frame of reference intended to build a systemic thinking of sustainability. For example, the energy transition is often perceived as a problem of renewable energy production without considering the material basis of this production. On the other hand, the analysis of socio-technological systems is still often decoupled from their overall energy and material consumption. In addition, he also works on globalization and the sustainability of agriculture.

Eleanor ‘Nell’ Watson
Ethics Challenges and Astounding Opportunities: Prompt-Driven Multimodal AI in Science and Education

The emergence of prompt-driven AI technology presents a unique opportunity for exploration and advancement. This technology has the potential to revolutionize various fields, including the development of AI-designed antibodies, the automation of mathematical proofs, the creation of robots capable of completing domestic tasks, and even the implementation of neural networks in unconventional environments. However, the integration of AI in education also poses significant challenges that must be addressed. It is crucial that we engage in a discourse to navigate the uncharted territories of our respective disciplines and to fully harness the potential of this technology to simplify complex processes.

Biography: Eleanor ‘Nell’ Watson, a leading researcher in the field of ethics and machine intelligence, has played a crucial role in the development of various artificial intelligence ethics initiatives, including the IEEE 7001 standard on transparency. Her efforts have been recognized by the esteemed institutions of the British Computing Society, Royal Statistical Society, and The Atlantic Council, which have awarded her fellowships in recognition of her contributions.

Oliver Brock
Embodiment: A Key Ingredient for Biological and Artificial Intelligence?

The intelligence of biological systems manifest itself through physical interactions with the environment. These interactions are only possible with some form of embodiment. Is embodiment simply a necessary nuisance to house and move about a learning apparatus like a brain? I don’t think so. I will argue that the simplest path towards understanding intelligence and towards building intelligent machines must be based on a thorough understanding of how to leverage embodiment. Only by leveraging embodiment will general intelligence be put into the reach of machines. I will report on our attempts to understand and leverage the computation provided by cleverly designed bodies in the context of soft manipulation. I will compare this to purely machine learning based approaches that ignore the role of embodiment. And I will also report on our attempts to understand better biological intelligence and the role embodiment plays in producing intelligent behavior. As we will see, the joint study of artificial and biological systems can be very fruitful but new scientific methods might be required to accelerate progress.

Biography: Oliver Brock is the Alexander-von-Humboldt Professor of Robotics in the School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at the Technische Universität Berlin, a German “University of Excellence”. He received his Ph.D. from Stanford University in 2000 and held postdoctoral positions at Rice University and Stanford University. He was an Assistant and Associate Professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Massachusetts Amherst before moving back to Berlin in 2009. The research of Brock’s lab, the Robotics and Biology Laboratory, focuses on embodied intelligence, mobile manipulation, interactive perception, grasping, manipulation, soft material robotics, interactive machine learning, motion generation, and the application of algorithms and concepts from robotics to computational problems in structural molecular biology. Oliver Brock directs the Research Center of Excellence “Science of Intelligence”. He is an IEEE Fellow and was president of the Robotics: Science and Systems Foundation from 2012 until 2019.

Ong Soh Khim
Enabling Tools in Human-Machine Symbiosis

Human-machine interaction (HMI) has been widely researched and reported, with approaches ranging from co-existence to collaboration and human-machine symbiosis. Many research and applications of HMI in human-robot collaboration and human-robot cooperation have been reported. Augmented Reality and Digital Twins have been applied in HMI. This presentation aims to provide an overview of the technical features and characteristics of various HMI approaches. The presentation will summarize the enabling tools for achieving human-machine symbiosis. The current limitation factors and future trends of human-machine symbiosis will also be discussed.

Biography: SK Ong lectures at National University of Singapore, and her research interests are virtual and augmented reality applications in manufacturing, ubiquitous manufacturing, assistive technology and rehabilitation engineering. She is a pioneer in the research and development of augmented reality technologies application in product design and manufacturing. As a firm believer that research outcomes should benefit the general population, she leads the laboratory to apply these augmented reality technologies that have been developed for manufacturing in the assistive technology area. She is a Fellow of the International Academy for Production Engineering CIRP, where she was the 1st from the Asia region and the 4th female fellow in the world to be elected in 2012. She received the 2004 Outstanding Young Manufacturing Engineer Award, US Society of Manufacturing Engineers and the 2009 Emerging Leaders Award in Academia (US Society for Women Engineers). She has published 8 books and over 300 international refereed journal and conference papers, with a google citation of more than 11,508, and a H-index of 59.