Friday, May 27, 2016

Robotic Symbionts

Human desire to transform, to become an entity beyond given biological limitation has been a central driving force behind the collective and technological advancements we have achieved. Our lives are no longer separable from computers, always linked to the network of data and virtual worlds. On this segway from Homo sapiens to Cyborgs, I glimpse into the future through prototypes of machine-driven evolution.

Towards that end, I am creating a robotic wearable that provides extended body. Robotic joints worn on the wrist turn into extra fingers so that a person acquires skills beyond what five fingers can offer, or performs “tri-manual” tasks with the machine joints. Extrapolating on this exploration, we are shaping a new computing paradigm of “Human-Machine Symbiosis” embracing late advancements in AI. This is a spiritual continuation of the vision Joseph C. R. Licklider had, where humans and machines synergistically collaborate by offloading repeated mechanical tasks to machines. We envision that, with increasingly advanced AI that can realize computational behaviors and thoughts close to biological organisms, we can realize more radical human-machine integrations. “The computer is incredibly fast, accurate, and stupid. Man is unbelievably slow, inaccurate, and brilliant.” My ultimate goal is to investigate the future where infinitely accurate computing is internalized into creative human.

S. Leigh, and P. Maes. Body Integrated Programmable Joints Interface, CHI 2016 (Best Paper Honorable Mention - 4%), 2016
S. Leigh, and P. Maes. Morphological Interfaces: On Body Transforming Technologies, Alt.CHI 2017, 2017