"To the first machine that can appreciate the gesture:" Nicholas Negroponte and the MIT Architecture Machine Group

Wednesday, November 7, 2012 - 4:30pm to 5:30pm
CS Department Colloquium Series
Computer Science Small Auditorium (Room 105)
Host: Rebecca Fiebrink
Molly Steenson (Assistant Professor, School of Journalism & Mass Communication, University of Wisconsin-Madison PhD )
Nicholas Negroponte today is best known for founding the MIT Media Lab in 1985. But before the Media Lab, he founded the Architecture Machine Group at MIT in 1968 (Arch Mach for short). As an architect captivated by computers, Negroponte created the lab as a test bed for interactive computers, sensors and programs that sought to change the manner in which computers and humans interacted with each other. He envisioned a world in which everybody would live in immersive, intelligent environments, even dedicating his first book The Architecture Machine “To the first machine that can appreciate the gesture." But what is the nature of that gesture? Arch Mach's structure and funding benefited from the same relationships as MIT’s major engineering and computing labs, collaborating especially closely with the Artificial Intelligence Lab, and its projects echoed the dynamics of Department of Defense funding that occurred in AI. In this talk, I will introduce Arch Mach's projects, projections—and gestures.

Molly Wright Steenson is a Ph.D. candidate in Princeton University’s School of Architecture where she researches the history of architecture and information. In January 2013, she will join the faculty of the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the School of Journalism & Mass Communication, where she will focus on digital media studies. Steenson was also a professor at the Interaction Design Institute Ivrea in Italy. As a design researcher, she examines the effect of personal technology on its users, with recent projects in India and China for Microsoft Research and Intel Research and ReD Asscoiates. Prior to her scholarly career, Molly started working with the Web in 1994, producing sites and leading design strategy for Reuters, Netscape, and Razorfish. She holds a Master’s in Environmental Design from the Yale School of Architecture and a B.A. in German from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.