Is AI the New Frankenstein? with Ken Goldberg

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

5:00 pm

Levinthal Hall Map

Sponsored by:
Humanities Center, Department of Communication, Taube Center for Jewish Studies

Is AI the New Frankenstein? (Ken Goldberg, UC Berkeley with Fred Turner, Stanford)

In 1919, a year before the word “robot” was coined, Sigmund Freud published an influential essay, Das Unheimliche, later translated into English as “The Uncanny”.  The essay and the concept of the Uncanny are familiar to literary theorists and art historians, who have charted its the literary and theatrical origins of the concept through the classic Jewish tale of the Golem through works by ETA Hoffman, Mary Shelley, Karel Capek, and Isaac Asimov, its rich history in psychoanalysis, aesthetics, and philosophy, from Jensch to Freud to to Heidegger to Derrida to Cixous to what Martin Jay described as the “master trope” of the 1990’s.

However, the Uncanny remains esoteric and unfamiliar to engineers and the public. They are familiar with the Uncanny Valley, a related but distinct concept that originated in 1970. Goldberg will describe the Uncanny in plain language, trace its origins back to Descartes and medieval automata, and show how it relates to our contmporary human fear and fascination with a broad variety of technologies from AI to cosmetics to robots to Siri to Google Glass to zombies.


Ken Goldberg is an artist and professor UC Berkeley. Ken is a pioneer in internet-based robotic telepresence and Cloud-Based Robotics / Automation and has published over 200 peer-reviewed technical papers on algorithms for robotics, automation, and social information filtering; his inventions have been awarded eight US Patents. He is Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering (T-ASE), Co-Founder of the African Robotics Network (AFRON), Co-Founder of the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM), Co-Founder and CTO of Hybrid Wisdom Labs, Co-Founder of the Moxie Institute, and Founding Director of UC Berkeley's Art, Technology, and Culture Lecture Series which has hosted over 150 presentations by artists and curators. Ken's artwork has
been exhibited at Ars Electronica, ZKM, Centre Pompidou, ICC Biennale, Kwangju Biennale, Artists Space, The Kitchen, and the Whitney Biennial. For details on research and art, please visit:

Tuesday, April 17, 2018
5:00 pm – 6:30 pm
Levinthal Hall Map

Free and open to the public


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