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Familiar but Strange: Exploring our Relationships with Robots

Familiar but Strange: Exploring our Relationships with Robots

Monday, December 5, 2011

The New York Academy of Sciences

Presented By

Presented by Science & the City


You see a film about a group of robots that seem human, but there is something off about them that you can't quite pinpoint. It makes you feel a little creepy inside, and you don't know why. At that moment you're experiencing the uncanny valley, a phenomenon in which the more human-like a robot becomes, the more unsettled by it we humans become.

From the robotic vacuum buzzing around your bedroom to the voice of your navigation system, robots and computers with human-like qualities are becoming ever more pervasive in our society. Why do some make us want to hug them and others make us want to run and hide?

For this event in our Being Human in the 21st Century series, roboticists Heather Knight and Chris Bregler discuss the future of robot-human relations.

Join us for a reception afterwards, where you might just get to meet some robots.

Registration Pricing

Student / Postdoc / Fellow Member:$15
Student / Postdoc / Fellow Nonmember:$20



This event is part of the Being Human in the 21st Century Series

One of the signature traits of being human is our quest to define what it means to "be human." But that definition is always changing—now perhaps more than ever. From virtual reality to mundane reality, science and technology continue to push the boundaries of human existence. In this series, Science & the City will examine what it means to be human in the 21st century.

Other upcoming events in this series:
System Overload: The Limits of Human Memory, September 6, 2011
Celluloid Science: Humanizing Life in the Lab, October 20, 2011
Virtual Humanity: The Anthropology of Online Worlds, November 9, 2011
Matchmaking in the Digital Age, February 15, 2012

Learn more about the series here.


Chris Bregler

New York University

Chris Bregler's primary research interests are in the areas of motion capture, animation, computer vision, graphics, statistical learning, gaming, and applications in the bio/medical field, human-computer interaction, and artificial intelligence. Currently he focuses on human movement research, including projects in human face, speech, and full-body motion analysis and animation, movement style, expressions, body language, and Massive Multiplayer Mocap games. Most of these projects are interdisciplinary collaborations with other (computer) scientists, engineers, dancers, animators, bio/medical experts, game designers, and producers.

Heather Knight

Carnegie Mellon University

Heather Knight is currently conducting her doctoral research at Carnegie Mellon's Robotics Institute. She is also founder of Marilyn Monrobot Labs in New York City, which creates socially intelligent robot performances and sensor-based electronic art. Her previous work includes robotics and instrumentation at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, interactive installations with Syyn Labs, field applications and sensor design at Aldebaran Robotics, and she is an alumnus from the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab. Knight earned her bachelor and master's degrees at MIT in electrical engineering and computer science and has a minor in mechanical engineering.

Travel & Lodging

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The New York Academy of Sciences is a member of the Club Quarters network, which offers significant savings on hotel reservations to member organizations. Located opposite Memorial Plaza on the south side of the World Trade Center, Club Quarters, World Trade Center is just a short walk to the Academy.

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Other nearby hotels

Millenium Hilton


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Club Quarters, Wall Street


Eurostars Wall Street Hotel


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Wall Street Inn


Ritz-Carlton New York, Battery Park