Ken is Director of the CITRIS “People and Robots” Initiative with over 60 affiliated UC faculty, and Director of the UC Berkeley AUTOLAB, where he supervises 30 postdoctoral, graduate, and undergraduate students pursuing research in Robotics, Automation, and Social Information Filtering for warehouses, homes, and operating rooms.
Ken is a “skeptimist”: very skeptical about utopian claims of an impending Singularity, yet hopeful about the potential of technology to improve the human condition. He has presented over 400 keynote and invited lectures at events such as the World Economic Forum, Aspen Ideas Festival, Zeitgeist, TEDx, SXSW, and at Cisco, Fujitsu, Google, General Electric, Intel, Samsung, Siemens, Tata, and Vodefone. Ken earned dual degrees in Electrical Engineering and Economics from the University of Pennsylvania (1984) and MS and PhD degrees from Carnegie Mellon University (1990).
He joined the UC Berkeley faculty in 1995. Ken has held visiting positions at San Francisco Art Institute and MIT Media Lab and his knowledge of sports remains approximately zero. Ken has published over 250 peer-reviewed technical papers and his inventions have been awarded eight US Patents. Ken developed the first provably complete algorithms for part feeding and part fixturing and the first robot on the Internet. He co-founded and served as Editor-in-Chief of the IEEE Transactions on Automation Science and Engineering (T-ASE). He is also Co-Founder of the Berkeley AI Research (BAIR) Lab, the Berkeley Center for New Media (BCNM), the African Robotics Network (AFRON), the Center for Automation and Learning for Medical Robotics (CAL-MR), the CITRIS Data and Democracy Initiative (DDI), Hybrid Wisdom Labs, and Moxie Institute.
Ken’s artwork, closely linked with his research, has appeared in over 70 venues including the Whitney Biennial, San Francisco Contemporary Jewish Museum, Pompidou Center, Buenos Aires Biennial, Berkeley Art Museum, Nevada Museum of Art, and the ICC in Tokyo.
Ken co-wrote three award-winning Sundance documentary films, “The Tribe”, “Yelp”, and “Connected: An Autoblogography of Love, Death, and Technology” and co-directed the Emmy-Nominated Short Doc “Why We Love Robots.” Ken’s Ballet Mori was performed by the SF Ballet at the San Francisco Opera House to commemorate the 1906 Earthquake. Ken is Founding Director of UC Berkeley’s Art, Technology, and Culture Lecture Series and is represented by the Catharine Clark Art Gallery. His Erdos-Bacon number is 6.
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Ken was awarded the Presidential Faculty Fellowship in 1995 by Bill Clinton, the Joseph Engelberger Robotics Award in 2000, elected IEEE Fellow in 2005, and selected by the IEEE Robotics and Automation Society for the George Saridis Leadership Award in 2016. Ken is an East-Coast Jew, with all the associated baggage.
His many weaknesses include impatience, reluctance to participate in webinars, and peanut-butter cookies.