Innovation at the Interface: Technological Fusion at MIT

01/21/2004 7:00PM KresgeEdward B. Roberts, '57, SM '58, SM '60, PhD '62, David Sarnoff Professor of the Management of Technology; Chair, MIT Entrepreneurship Center; Rodney A. Brooks, Founder, Chairman and Chief Technical Officer, Heartland Robotics; Robert S. Langer, Jr., ScD '74, Institute Professor, Kenneth J. Germeshausen Professor of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering, Department of Chemical Engineering and Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences and Technology ; Description: When disciplines converge, innovation results. To prove the point, two inventers offered rich and varied examples from their respective areas: artificial intelligence and biomedicine. Rodney Brooks describes robots exploring dangerous bunkers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and intelligent prosthetic limbs. He predicts that in a few decades, helper robots will be as prevalent as computers are today. Aging baby boomers, says Brooks, will insist on remaining in their own homes as long as possible. They'll require high tech caretaking, as well as entertainment and education opportunities. Brooks believes that low-paid assisted living jobs, as well as agricultural and manufacturing work, will gradually migrate to smart machines. Robert Langer has a string of remarkable biomedical inventions to his credit. He tells us that not so long ago, sausage casing was used for dialysis tubing and mattress stuffing for breast implants. Langer turned the medical world on its head by creating new materials for clinical application: chemical compounds for skin grafts and for targeted cancer therapy. He has created an artificial scaffold for tissues and organs that may also help rebuild spinal cords. The latest research involves microchips that can deliver precise doses of drugs, and respond by remote control like a garage door opener.
ABOUT THE SPEAKERS:
Edward Roberts co-founded and directed for nearly two decades the mid-career MIT Management of Technology Program. His "Entrepreneurs in High Technology: Lessons from MIT and Beyond" (Oxford University Press, 1991) won the Association of American Publishers Award for Outstanding Book in Business and Management. He is actively involved as a co-founder, board member, and angel investor in many high-tech startups.
In addition to his multiple roles at MIT, Rodney Brooks is Chairman and Chief Technical Officer of iRobot Corp. He received degrees in pure mathematics from the Flinders University of South Australia and the Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1981. Dr. Brooks is a Founding Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Robert Langer has more than 500 issued or pending patents worldwide. In 2002, he received the Charles Stark Draper Prize, considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for engineers, from the National Academy of Engineering. Among numerous other awards Langer has received are the Heinz Award for Technology, Economy and Employment (2003), the John Fritz Award (2003) (given previously to inventors such as Thomas Edison and Orville Wright) and the General Motors Kettering Award for Cancer Research (2004). Dr. Langer is one of very few people ever elected to all three U.S. National Academies and the youngest in history (at age 43) ever to receive this distinction. About the Speaker(s): Edward Roberts co-founded and directed for nearly two decades the mid-career MIT Management of Technology Program. His "Entrepreneurs in High Technology: Lessons from MIT and Beyond" (Oxford University Press, 1991) won the Association of American Publishers Award for Outstanding Book in Business and Management. He is actively involved as a co-founder, board member, and angel investor in many high-tech startups.

In addition to his multiple roles at MIT, Rodney Brooks is Chairman and Chief Technical Officer of iRobot Corp. He received degrees in pure mathematics from the Flinders University of South Australia and the Ph.D. in Computer Science from Stanford University in 1981. Dr. Brooks is a Founding Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Robert Langer has more than 500 issued or pending patents worldwide. In 2002, he received the Charles Stark Draper Prize, considered the equivalent of the Nobel Prize for engineers, from the National Academy of Engineering. Among numerous other awards Langer has received are the Heinz Award for Technology, Economy and Employment (2003), the John Fritz Award (2003) (given previously to inventors such as Thomas Edison and Orville Wright) and the General Motors Kettering Award for Cancer Research (2004). Dr. Langer is one of very few people ever elected to all three U.S. National Academies and the youngest in history (at age 43) ever to receive this distinction.

Host(s): Alumni Association, MIT Enterprise ForumTape #: T18111.

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