Forbidden Research: speaker bios

Mim Adkins

July 21, 2016


Joi Ito
Joichi "Joi" Ito has been recognized for his work as an activist, entrepreneur, venture capitalist, and advocate of emergent democracy, privacy, and Internet freedom. As director of the MIT Media Lab he is currently exploring how radical new approaches to science and technology can transform society in substantial and positive ways. He has served as both board chair and CEO of Creative Commons, and sits on the boards of Sony Corporation, Knight Foundation, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, and The New York Times Company. In Japan, Ito helped establish and later became CEO of the country’s first commercial Internet service provider. He was an early investor in numerous companies, including Flickr, Six Apart, Last.fm, littleBits, Formlabs, Kickstarter, and Twitter. At age 31, he was selected as one of TIME magazine’s "Cyber-Elite.” He was also named a "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum and one of BusinessWeek’s "25 Most Influential People on the Web." Ito is the recipient of a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oxford Internet Institute. In 2013, he received an honorary D.Litt from The New School in New York City, and in 2015, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Tufts University.

Ethan Zuckerman
Ethan Zuckerman is director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT. He is the author of Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection (W.W. Norton, 2013). With Rebecca MacKinnon, Zuckerman co-founded international blogging community Global Voices. Global Voices showcases news and opinions from citizen media in over 150 nations and 30 languages. Zuckerman's research focuses on issues of internet freedom, civic engagement through digital tools and international connections through media. He blogs at http://ethanzuckerman.com/blog and lives in the Berkshire mountains of western Massachusetts.

Program Committee

Hal Abelson
Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at MIT

Lorrie LeJeune
Assistant director of the Center for Civic Media at MIT

Jess Sousa
Manager of events and special projects at MIT Media Lab

Speaker Bios

Ronald Arkin
Ronald C. Arkin is Regents' Professor and associate dean for research in the College of Computing at Georgia Institute of Technology. He served as STINT Visiting Professor at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sabbatical Chair at the Sony IDL in Tokyo, and in the Robotics and AI Group at LAAS/CNRS in Toulouse. Ronald's research interests include behavior-based control and action-oriented perception for mobile robots and UAVs, deliberative/reactive architectures, robot survivability, multiagent robotics, biorobotics, human-robot interaction, machine deception, robot ethics, and learning in autonomous systems. Serving on a number of IEEE boards, Ronald is also a distinguished lecturer for the IEEE Society on Social Implications of Technology and a fellow of the IEEE.

Stewart Brand
Stewart Brand has co-founded a number of influential projects including Revive & Restore, The Long Now Foundation, The WELL, and The Global Business Network. He also the founder/editor of the Whole Earth Catalog. His books include Whole Earth Discipline, The Clock of the Long Now, How Buildings Learn, and The Media Lab. He was trained in biology at Stanford and served as an Infantry officer in the US Army.

George Church
George Church is professor of genetics at Harvard Medical school and professor of health sciences and technology at Harvard and MIT. He directs the US Department of Energy Center on Bioenergy at Harvard and MIT as well as the National Institutes of Health Center of Excellence in Genomic Science at Harvard. Church is widely recognized for his innovative contributions to genomic science and his many pioneering contributions to chemistry and biomedicine. In 1984, he developed the first direct genomic sequencing method, which resulted in the first commercial genome sequence (of the human pathogen, H. pylori). He helped initiate the Human Genome Project in 1984 and the Personal Genome Project in 2005. Church also invented the broadly applied concepts of molecular multiplexing and tags, homologous recombination methods, and array DNA synthesizers.

Christina Couch
Christina Couch is a freelance science writer specializing in technology and psychology. Her writing can be found in Discover Magazine, Mental Floss magazine, Fast Company Co.Exist, Science Friday, Nova Next, MIT Technology Review, and Wired Magazine.

Kate Darling
A leading expert in robot ethics, Kate Darling is a researcher at the MIT Media Lab where she investigates social robotics and conducts experimental studies on human-robot interaction. Kate explores the emotional connection between people and life-like inventions, seeking to influence technology design and policy direction. Her writing and research anticipate difficult questions that lawmakers, engineers, and the wider public must address as human-robot relationships evolve in the coming decades. While her background is in intellectual property, law, and economics, Darling's passion for technology and robots led her to interdisciplinary fields. After co-teaching a robot ethics course at Harvard Law School with Lawrence Lessig, she now increasingly works at the intersection of law and robotics, with a focus on legal and social issues. Kate is a fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society and the Yale Information Society Project, and is also an affiliate at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.

Cory Doctorow
Cory Doctorow is a LA-based science fiction author, activist, journalist and blogger — the co-editor of Boing Boing (boingboing.net) and the author of the young adult graphic novel In Real Life, the nonfiction business book Information Doesn't Want to Be Free, young adult novels like Homeland, Pirate Cinema and Little Brother, and novels for adults like Rapture of the Nerds and Makers. He works for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and co-founded the UK Open Rights Group.

Kevin Esvelt
Kevin Esvelt leads the Sculpting Evolution group at the MIT Media Lab, which invents new ways to study and influence the evolution of ecosystems. By carefully developing and testing these methods with openness and humility, the group seeks to address difficult ecological problems for the benefit of humanity and the natural world, as well as to ensure that community discussions always precede and guide the development of technologies that will impact the shared environment. Prior to joining the Media Lab, Esvelt wove many different areas of science into novel approaches to ecological engineering. In the laboratory of David R. Liu at Harvard, he invented phage-assisted continuous evolution (PACE), a synthetic microbial ecosystem for rapidly evolving biomolecules. At the Wyss Institute, he worked with George Church to develop the CRISPR system for genome engineering and regulation and began exploring the use of bacteriophages and conjugation to engineer microbial ecosystems.

bunnie huang
bunnie huang is best known for his work hacking the Microsoft Xbox, as well as for his efforts in designing and manufacturing open source hardware, including the chumby (app-playing alarm clock), chibitronics (peel-and-stick electronics for craft), and Novena (DIY laptop). He received his PhD in EE from MIT in 2002. He currently lives in Singapore, where he runs a private product design studio, Kosagi, and actively mentors a number of startups.

Karrie Karahalios
Karrie Karahalios is an associate professor of computer science at the University of Illinois where she heads the Social Spaces group. Her work focuses on the interaction between people and the social cues they emit and perceive in face-to-face and mediated electronic spaces. Her work is informed by communication studies and visualizations of social communities. Of particular interest are interfaces for pubic online and physical gathering spaces, such as twitter, chatrooms, cafes, parks, etc. Karrie's eesearch projects range from studying tie strength between people to encouraging vocalization through visualization. A major theme in the work is to create interfaces that enable users to perceive conversational patterns that are present, but not obvious, in traditional communication interfaces.

David Keith
David Keith has worked near the interface between climate science, energy technology, and public policy for 25 years. He took first prize in Canada's national physics prize exam, won MIT's prize for excellence in experimental physics, and was one of TIME magazine's Heroes of the Environment, 2009. Keith divides his time between Cambridge, where he is Gordon McKay Professor of Applied Physics in the John A. Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences at Harvard and Professor of Public Policy in the Harvard Kennedy School; and Calgary, where he helps lead Carbon Engineering, a company developing technology to capture CO2 from ambient air.

Saeed A. Khan
Saeed A. Khan is a lecturer of Near East & Asian Studies at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, where he teaches Islamic and Middle East History, Politics and Culture. He is also is a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Citizenship. Khan is also an Honorary Fellow at Australian Catholic University in Melbourne, Australia. His primary area of research is the identity politics of Muslim diaspora communities in the US, UK, and Europe. In addition, he is a founding member and a Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Social Policy & Understanding: a Michigan-based think tank promoting the study and analysis of US social and domestic policy.

J. Nathan Matias
J. Nathan Matias is a PhD candidate at the MIT Media Lab and fellow at the Harvard Berkman Center for Internet & Society, where he studies online discrimination, harassment, and the effect of efforts to reduce these social problems online. Matias is also an advocate for legal rights and legal defense of students and researchers doing work at the edges of the law. Nathan's data journalism and feature writing has been published by The Atlantic, The Guardian, and PBS. Before MIT, Nathan studied postcolonial literature at Cambridge University, served as Chief Technical Advisor to London's Ministry of Stories, and developed software used by over a billion people as a developer at SwiftKey.

Alaa Murabit
Alaa Murabit is a physician and one of the Global Sustainable Development Goals Advocates appointed by the UN Secretary General and a UN High-Level Commissioner on Health Employment and Economic Growth. At the age of 15, Dr. Murabit completed high school and moved from Saskatoon, Canada to Zawia, Libya. It was there that she enrolled in medical school and founded the group Voice of Libyan Women at the age of 21. With a strong focus on challenging societal and cultural norms and utilizing traditional and historical role models, Murabit champions women’s participation in peace processes and conflict mediation. Her programs, such as the groundbreaking “Noor Campaign,” are replicated internationally. Praised for her innovative approach to security issues, Murabit acts as an advisor to numerous international security boards, think tanks, and organizations, including the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 Global Advisory Board, UN Women Global Advisory Board, and the US-based Council on Foreign Relations.

Megan Palmer
Megan J. Palmer is a scientist and engineer turned policy wonk who is fascinated by biological systems from molecular to social scales. She is a senior research scholar at the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University where she leads a research and practice program on international biotechnology governance. Palmer also founded and is executive director of Synbio LEAP, an international fellowship program in biotechnology leadership, and helps lead the human practices and safety programs of the iGEM Competition. Palmer spent five years leading the policy and practices portfolio of the multi-university NSF Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), and has advised numerous academic, civil society, government and industry organizations on their approaches to the responsible development of emerging technologies.

Ryan Phelan
Ryan Phelan is co-founder and executive director of Revive & Restore, with a mission to enhance biodiversity through the genetic rescue of endangered and extinct species. Phelan is a serial entrepreneur active in both the for-profit and non-profit worlds. She was the founder and CEO of two innovative healthcare companies: DNA Direct, the first medical genetics company to focus on bringing personalized medicine to the consumer, and Direct Medical Knowledge, a consumer health website unique for its content depth and innovative search interface. She currently serves on the board of directors of the Personal Genome Project, which aims to sequence and publicize the complete genomes and medical records of 100,000 volunteers, in order to enable research into personalized medicine.

Gernot Wagner
Gernot Wagner is a research associate at Harvard’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences, a lecturer on Environmental Science and Public Policy, and a Fellow at the Harvard University Center for the Environment. With Harvard’s Martin Weitzman, Gernot co-wrote Climate Shock, (Princeton University Press, 2015), a 2015 Top 15 Financial Times McKinsey Business Book.

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