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Distinguished Lecture Series

"Next Generation Computing"

Dr. Alex (Sandy) Pentland
MIT Media Laboratory
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Thursday, April 6

Talk: 7-8:00 p.m.
Recept: 8-8:30 p.m.
Room 2135, Engineering Building

Host: G. Stockman

Abstract: The era of the PC is coming to an end, and that of the wireless internet is beginning. By 2002 observers expect more than 100M people to have wireless internet connections...and they will be outnumbered by autonomous devices using the internet. What will this next generation of computing look like?

In this talk I will discuss how the future of computing is shaping up, and then talk about the technical challenges posed by these new devices. Problems such as context sensing, privacy, personalization, and interface design will begin to drive research in the very near future. Software technologies such as machine learning and behavior modeling, together with novel display, sensing, and fabrication processes, will become increasingly important.

Finally, I will talk about the digital divide: the concentration of new technologies in the hands of the wealthy. Despite some very gloomy statistics, I believe that there are some very hopeful trends, and I will describe some new projects that may have a very significant impact on the problem.

Biography: Alex (Sandy) Pentland is the Academic Head of the M.I.T. Media Laboratory. He is also the Toshiba Professor of Media Arts and Sciences, an endowed chair first held by Marvin Minsky. He has done research in wearable computing, human-machine interface, computer graphics, artificial intelligence, machine and human vision, and has published more than 200 scientific articles in these areas. He a founder of the IEEE Computer Societies' Wearable Computer task force, and General Chair of the upcoming IEEE International Symposium on Wearable Computing (see

His research focus includes both understanding human behavior (e.g., face, expression, and intention recognition; word learning and acoustic scene analysis) and wearable computing (e.g., augmenting human intelligence and perception by building sensors, displays, and computers into glasses, belts, shoes, etc.). These are described in the April 1996 and November 1998 issues of Scientific American, respectively.

He has won awards from the AAAI, IEEE, and Ars Electronica. Newsweek magazine has recently named him one of the 100 Americans most likely to shape the next century. Most recently, his `future of cyberfashion' event received rave reviews from virtually the entire range of news organizations, including the NY and LA Times, Newsweek, Time, ABC, NBC, and Vogue, and was named `idea of the year' by Parade Magazine (see