The Sound of Science

Fridays 9am – Sheffield Live! – 93.2FM

Show 68 first broadcast on 18th September 2009


First up in this week’s programme we go back to an item from Show 65 (August, 29) to find out what happened to the petition to get an apology from the UK for the treatment of mathematician and founder of computer science, Alan Turing. The petitioner, John Graham Cumming tells me about how he got a surprise phone call from the prime minister Gordon Brown and what was said.

In our featured interview this week I talk  to world renowned AI and robotics expert, Professor Rolf Pfeifer about  a revolutionary approach to AI that devolves some of some of the computing to the body.  He argues that it is not processor speed that we need for human-like intelligence but a human body.

Feature Interview: How the body shapes the way we think

Professor Rolf Pfeifer is a visionary in AI and Robotics whose range is extremely broad.  He has been head of the famous Zurich University AI labs since 1987.

rolf and arms

Rolf is the author of the exceptional book “How the body shapes the way we think: a new view of intelligence,” MIT Press, 2007 (with Josh Bongard) which is written in popular science style (no specific prior knowledge required). Japanese, Chinese, and Arabic translations of “How the body …” are to appear shortly. I recommend this as part of your reading list if you want to know the most recent direction of AI and robotics.

Now Rolf  is someone who seems to have been almost everywhere you can think of. He spent 3 post-doctoral years in the early 1980s at Carnegi Mellon University in the US and then with the Yale AI group (where I shared an office with him for a year). Then after his appointment at Zurich he was visiting professor and research fellow at Free University of Brussels (Belgium), the Beijing Open Laboratory for Cognitive Science (China), the MIT Artificial Intelligence laboratory in Cambridge, Mass. (US), the Neurosciences Institute (NSI) in San Diego (US), and the Sony Computer Science Laboratory in Paris (France), he was elected “21st Century COE Professor, Information Science and Technology” at the University of Tokyo, Japan, for 2003/2004, from where he held the first global, fully interactive, videoconferencing-based lecture series “The AI Lectures from Tokyo” (including Tokyo, Beijing, Jeddah, Warsaw, Munich, and Zurich). In 2009 he was elected as a “Fellow of the School of Engineering at The University of Tokyo”. He is also a visiting professor at the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna in Pisa, Italy. Most impressive.

rolfs book


September 18, 2009 - Posted by | Science on Radio, Uncategorized

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