In a new book, MIT’s Ethan Zuckerman asserts that we need to overcome the Internet’s sorting tendencies and create tools to make ourselves ‘digital cosmopolitans.’
The Media Laboratory's Professor Bruce Blumberg will discuss "Building Things with Behavior and Character" at the next Perspectives lecture on Tuesday, April 29 at 5pm in Bartos Theater (Building E15). The event is open to the public.
By combining ideas from the study of animal behavior and classical animation, we can learn how to build interactive characters that not only display the rich level of behavior found in animals, but also convey what they are "feeling" and what they are likely to do next, according to Professor Blumberg. He is the Asahi Broadcasting Corporation Career Development Professor of Media Arts and Sciences in the Media Lab's Learning and Common Sense section.
Applications for Professor Blumberg's work include interactive characters and companions used for immersive story-telling environments and as the basis for "smart" avatars for Web-based environments. These creatures provide models for exploring issues associated with building intelligent systems, as well as better understanding the mind itself.
Professor Blumberg is one of the chief architects of the Media Lab's ALIVE project and creator of Silas T. Dog, a "virtual pet" at the Lab. He recently completed his PhD with Associate Professor Pattie Maes in the Autonomous Agents group. His research has focused on creating lifelike creatures that interact in natural ways with users in a virtual world.
Before coming to MIT, Professor Blumberg worked at Apple Computer as a product manager for the Lisa as well as the original Apple Laser-Writer, and at NeXT Inc., where he was the first employee after the founders. He received the MS from the Sloan School in 1981.
A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 16, 1997.