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Dan Ariely
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V. Michael Bove, Jr.
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Ike Chuang
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Judith Donath
Neil Gershenfeld
Hiroshi Ishii
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Ted Selker
Barry Vercoe

Bruce Blumberg

My passion is to create creatures whose behavior, form, and underlying architecture not only inform our understanding of the natural intelligence displayed by animals and ultimately ourselves, but that also touch a person interacting with them on a profound personal level.

I view the synthetic creatures that we create as personal statements that challenge us to ask important questions about the nature and meaning of intelligence, as well as about our relationship to, and with, animals. At the heart of this work is the search for the "computational scaffolding" that forms the basis of commonsensical behavior and learning.

Bruce Blumberg Rather than taking a top-down or bottom-up approach, we start in the middle, informed by nature, and ask "What does the observed behavior of animals, such as dogs, seem to imply about the underlying representations and processes that allow them to behave and learn?" We believe that the best way to gain insight into this question is to build characters that solve similar problems. Our expectation is that through this work we will uncover "catalytic" representations and processes whose presence bootstraps more powerful ones.

Increasingly, it is important to understand not only how to build systems that can learn, but also how to train these systems. This is necessary because we are rapidly approaching the point at which our ability to build complex systems is outstripping our ability to design or understand the resulting behavior.

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Favorite childhood toys: first, my Teddy Bear and stuffed dog, Rover; then my hamster, Snagglepuss
Copyright 2003 MIT Media Laboratory; Image Webb Chappell