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James McLurkin    

Roboticist, Inventor, Researcher & Teacher

James McLurkin is a Sr. Hardware Engineer at Google. He is one of the leads on the Google "Coral" Project, where he designs Artificial Intelligence hardware for users so that they can build their own awesome AI-powered projects. But his top-secret plan for global change is to build things that help build more engineers.

He is a recovering academic; as an Assistant Professor at Rice University his research was on distributed algorithms for multi-robot systems, which is software that produces complex group behaviors from the interactions of many simple robots.

Previously, McLurkin was a Lead Research Scientist at iRobot, and was the 2003 recipient of the Lemelson-MIT student prize for invention. He holds a S.B. in Electrical Engineering with a Minor in Mechanical Engineering from M.I.T., a M.S. in Electrical Engineering from University of California, Berkeley, and a S.M. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from M.I.T.

Speech Topics

Lifting as You Climb & Other Every Day Responsibilities of the Minority Professional

Engineering Creativity: Exercises for the Right Brain

The Future of Robotics & Swarm Robot Applications

The End of the World & Other Misconceptions: The Truth About Robotics

Dances with Robots: The Story of One Engineer, 112 Little Robots, & the Toys, Insects, & Star Wars Movies that Made it all Possible

The presentation starts with a lighthearted look at society's views on robots, Hollywood's portrayal of them, the current state of the art, and the future of the technology. Philosophical questions about the nature of intelligence are discussed, as they pose serious problems for the creation of artificially intelligent devices. The final conclusion? Robots are phenomenally stupid and we should be more concerned about the next asteroid strike than a robotic rebellion. In spite of this, robots are still useful, and swarms are the future of robotics. McLurkin explains the need for swarms of robots and the technology required to produce their group behaviors. Live robot demonstrations and video clips of the swarm in action punctuate these main points. The presentation concludes with an autobiographical sketch that traces the events, ideas, and toys that have influenced McLurkin's career. Starting with cardboard boxes and tape, moving through LEGO and video games, this high-energy slide show concludes with a behind-the-scenes look at the construction of the iRobot Swarm.


Hive minds: How 'swarm robots' are learning from insects - CNN.com
James McLurkin, Assistant Professor, Rice University Department of Computer Science. "Some potential application areas for swarms of robots are: cooperative  ...

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