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NEW FRONTIERS / The Edge of Possibility

PUSH 2005: The Geography of Change, Session 3


Throughout history, technology has shaped how we see the world and its possibilities. And now that the rate of innovation and change is accelerating exponentially, we are seeing ever more radical capabilities that are altering our definitions of "world," "life," and "human." What new frontiers and resources are opening up as a result, and ow will it affect the choices we make? What influence will it have on how we live, and on society as a whole?


Loretta Hidalgo has a Masters degree in Biology from Caltech and a Bachelors degree in Biology from Stanford and has participated in research expeditions to the High Arctic as well as 3,519 meters underwater to the Mid–Atlantic Ridge. In 2003 she was part of a team that dove to the bottom of the ocean with Director James Cameron to film a 3D IMAX movie discussing the search for life in the universe called “Aliens of the Deep.” In 2004 she worked for the X PRIZE Foundation as their Special Operations Lead, helping to create the events leading up to the winning of their 10 million private space flight prize. She is also an FAA–certified In–Flight Crewmember for the parabolic flight company ZERO–G, which in September 2004 became the only company to offer “weightless” flights in the United States.

She is the President of the Space Generation Foundation and the Co–Creator of Yuri’s Night, the World Party for Space. Between degrees she interned at NASA in the Astronaut office, worked on Safety for the International Space Station, was staff at the NASA Academy and served as the North American Representative to the Space Generation Advisory Council. She has spoken to children about science in Africa during a total eclipse of the sun; worked with NASA in the Arctic looking at plant life in extreme environments; studied Space Tourism in Chile with the International Space University and, together with George T. Whitesides, was awarded the “Permission to Dream” Award from the Space Frontier Foundation for their work creating Yuri’s Night. Loretta's passion is bringing together people who want to use space to make a difference in the world. (And when she is not doing that, she is working on just how to get herself launched out into space...)

Go Aliens of the Deep –to see the James Cameron 3D IMAX movie trailer, and
Yuri's Night –to learn more about a worldwide celebration of Yuri Gagarin's Launch and the 1st Space Shuttle Launch's Anniversaries No Gravity
–to look into getting your own weightless flight!


Helen Greiner is the Chairman and Cofounder of iRobot Corporation, a company that she co–founded in 1990. iRobot is currently the leader in the mobile robotics field, an emerging high growth industry. Aggressively pursuing both the consumer and the military market for robots, irobot products include the Roomba® Robotic Floorvac, an autonomous vacuum; and the PackBot™ tactical mobile robot, a military robot.

Ms. Greiner attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology where she majored in Mechanical Engineering with concentrations in Economics and Electrical Engineering. Her Masters in Computer Science was performed in the MIT Artifical Intelligence Lab under Dr. Ken Salisbury. She worked at NASAs Jet Propulsion Laboratory as a student building gripper systems for space satellites. In 1989, after graduation she founded a company commercializing JPL Technology called California Cybernetics. This company sold force controllers and performed government sponsored research in robotics.

In 1990, Ms.Greiner saw this technology as the basis for a whole new class of products – ones that improve life by taking on dangerous and tedious jobs. She moved back to the East Coast to start iRobot (then called IS Robotics) with two like–minded business partners, MIT classmate Colin Angle and Prof. Roney Brook (Dr. Brooks is now the director of the Computer Science Labs at MIT). iRobot is now the industry leader in robotics dedicated to creating realistic robotic solutions to real world problems. Under her leadership, iRobot has grown from a garage venture to over $50M with 4 locations in Massachusetts, District of Columbia, California, and Hong Kong. Ms. Greiner raised $28M in venture capital to support growth. Ms Greiner took the military side of the business from zero, to running DARPA contracts, to participating in the Future Combat Systems program – the largest army procurement program ever funded. In the consumer space, iRobot’s Roomba™ Robotic Floorvac is the best selling robot ever with over one million units in homes around the world.

Ms. Greiner is the recipient of many prestigious awards and honors. In 1999, she was named as one of the Innovators for the Next Century by Technology Review Magazine. In 2000, she won the prestigious “DemoGod” award with Scott Cook of Intuit and Jeff Hawkins of Handspring (now Palm). In 2003, Ms. Greiner was recognized by Fortune magazine as one of the top 10 innovators in the country. Ms. Greiner won the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year Award for New England (with iRobot Cofounder Colin Angle) and was a National Award Nominee. Ms Greiner has appeared on numerous shows, such as Scientific American Frontiers and CNN, and has had numeous articles written about her in places such as Wall Street Journal and Readers Digest. Ms Greiner is frequently asked to speak at conferences and in 2004 kenoted the O’Reilly Emerging Technology Conference and the American Nuclear Society Robotics Conference. Ms. Greiner has been an active participant in the World Economic Forum.


Push Singh is a post-doctoral researcher in the department of computer science and electrical engineering at MIT. His research goal is to understand how minds work, so that he can construct a machine that thinks. He is building a “unified theory of non-unified theories of cognition” so that he can draw on a diversity of ideas to help him in his purpose.

Singh is opposed to the popular idea that machines that see, hear, move about, and think can be built by the simple application of a single, theoretically neat but conceptually impoverished idea like feedforward neural networks, statistical estimation, or first–order predicate calculus. He believes that the artificial intelligence systems of the future will contain many different internal architectures, each designed to learn to solve certain kinds of problems. Each architecture will have its own set of interpreters, languages, libraries, and other resources for expressing and managing the kinds of processes, representations, and knowledge needed to deal with those problems. Only such extensive diversity will provide the ability to cope with the vast range of situations that will appear both in the world and in the minds of the systems themselves.

His advisor and mentor is Marvin Minsky, whom he assists in teaching a course based upon Minsky’s book The Society of Mind.


Tina Blaine (aka Bean) is a visiting scholar and adjunct faculty member at Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center and Human Computer Interaction Institute, exploring new interface designs for collaborative musical games and interactive media. Inspired by global traditions and spontaneous music, Blaine has explored musical interaction starting in the &lsqu;80’s building electronic MIDI controller instruments and large–scale audience participation devices with the multimedia ensemble D’CuCKOO.

As a musical interactivist at Interval Research, she led a development team in the creation of a collaborative audiovisual instrument known as the Jam–O–Drum, now on permanent exhibit at the Experience Music Project in Seattle. Blaine’s work has been featured at SIGGRAPH’s Emerging Technologies, Design of Interactive Systems (DIS), Zeum’s Youth Art and Technology Center in San Francisco, and is currently on exhibit at the Ars Electronica Center’s Museum of the Future in Linz, Austria.

In 2001, she co–organized the first CHI workshop called “New Interfaces for Musical Expression,” which has since become an International Conference on Musical Interfaces. Blaine serves on the California College of Arts & Crafts (CCAC) Media Design and Advisory Board, teaches sound design part–time at CCAC, and was recently selected for Richard Saul Wurman's 2002 publication, Who’s Really Who: 1000 Most Creative Individuals in the USA. An energetic composer and multi–instrumentalist, Blaine has written music for NPR, video games, TV and documentary soundtracks, and currently performs with RhythMix, Pandemonaeon, and Bogo. She has also recorded with Brian Eno, Mickey Hart, Haunted by Waters, D’CuCKOO, Tracy Blackman, and others lured by the muse.


Philip Blackburn was born in Cambridge, England, and studied there as a Choral Scholar at Clare College. He earned his Ph.D. in Composition from the University of Iowa where he studied with Kenneth Gaburo and began work on publishing the Harry Partch archives, now completed after 15 years. Blackburn’s book, Enclosure Three, won an ASCAP Deems Taylor Award. He has been the Senior Program Director for the American Composers Forum since 1991 and continues to compose, build sound–sculptures, perform, and write about things like Partch, Vietnamese music, and the use of sound in public art. He runs the innova record label and the Sonic Circuits International Festival of Music and Art. He received a 2003 Bush Artist Fellowship to begin building a sound park in Belize.