Middlebury

Lecture September 22 explores future in which humans, machines merge

September 3, 2009

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. - Hugh Herr, a leading expert on engineered devices designed to improve the lives of people facing physical challenges, will give a free public lecture titled "Human 2.0: New Minds, New Bodies, New Identities" on Tuesday, Sept. 22, at 5 p.m. in Room 216 of McCardell Bicentennial Hall, located on Bicentennial Way off College Street (Route 125). Herr is associate professor of arts and sciences and director of the Biomechatronics Group at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab.

In his talk, Herr will explore the concept of a new age when machines will no longer be separate, lifeless mechanisms, but instead intimate extensions of the human body. This merging of body and machine will not only improve the quality of life for disabled people, but will allow individuals to experience cognitively, emotionally and physically augmented capabilities.

Herr will describe a new era where technology will merge our bodies and minds to change forever our concept of human capability. He will describe research that blurs the distinction between able-bodied and disabled, demonstrating technologies at the neural-digital interface. He will also talk about sweeping new research initiatives, including techniques to treat conditions such as Alzheimer's and depression, sociable robots that monitor the health of children or the elderly. He will also look at the development of smart prostheses that can mimic and even exceed the capabilities of biological limbs.

Herr is appearing as the keynote speaker for the Vermont Academy of Science and Engineering, which holds its annual meeting at Middlebury College for the first time this year. For more information contact Rich Wolfson at 802-443-5427 or wolfson@middlebury.edu.

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