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January 12, 2015

Davos 2015

Integrated Intelligence

CMU Leading Integrated Intelligence

by Greg Faist

Ever since Carnegie Mellon’s Nobel Laureate Herbert Simon and Turing Award winner Allen Newell pioneered the concepts of artificial intelligence and machine learning in the 1950s, CMU has been at the forefront bridging the gulf between technology and humanity.

Today, that fact is more relevant than ever. People, technology and machines are becoming increasingly interconnected. Smart devices detect structural deficiencies on bridges before they cause injury and unaffordable repairs. Humans learn through apps and software that were unimaginable a few years ago. Robots not only perform dangerous jobs that keep us safe, they are also now capable of interacting autonomously, both with people, and with each other.

This new reality — a state of integrated intelligence — is unfolding at a blinding pace, bringing vast, new opportunities for governments, business, health care and education to significantly improve human life. But it also introduces implications and questions about the shared future of humans, robots and technology that must be explored today.

A group of CMU faculty, led by President Subra Suresh, was invited by the World Economic Forum to lead discussions on integrated intelligence at the forum's annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 21-24. The forum is the world’s foremost international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political and academic leaders, and other leaders of society, to shape global, regional and industrial agendas. Read President Suresh's thoughts on integrated intelligence at CMU.

CMU’s leadership and expertise around integrated intelligence will continue to be highlighted beyond Davos through a number of opportunities in 2015, including a gathering of alumni, donors and corporate partners in San Francisco in February.

CMU at Davos

Davos ContingentPresident Suresh represented CMU during the annual meeting of the forum’s Global University Leaders Forum —a select group from 25 global institutions (11 from the U.S.) — and also introduced the university’s IdeasLab presentation that featured:

  • Justine Cassell, associate vice-provost for Technology Strategy and Impact and co-coordinator of The Simon Initiative, discussing robots as friends and companions;
  • Illah Nourbakhsh, professor in the Robotics Institute and director of the CREATE Lab speaking about human empowerment and how robotic technologies can enhance and challenge society;
  • Tony Stentz, research professor at the Robotics Institute and director of the National Robotics Engineering Center, exploring robots in the work place; and
  • William (Red) Whittaker, the Fredkin University Research Professor, director of CMU’s Field Robotics Center and chairman and chief science officer at Astrobotic, discussing robotics in rescue environments.

“As we integrate technology into more aspects of society, we must ensure that we attend to the cultural, social, legal and economic implications — as well as the technical implications of those technologies,” Cassell said. “In my own work, I pay attention to those aspects of being human that are most important to us: relationships with other people, interaction and a feel of rapport. I build technologies that highlight and preserve those aspects.”

Faculty also spoke or moderated during a number of other sessions:

  • Whittaker - Extreme Robotics; Mining and Metals in a Sustainable World;
  • Nourbakhsh - The Implications of Greater Human–Machine Interaction; and
  • Cassell - Insights on Innovation and Industry; and the Promise and Peril of Exponential Technologies.

“By combining our strengths in sociology, design, machine learning, robotics and human-computer interaction, Carnegie Mellon is demonstrating how culture, big data and massive Internet connectivity can be forged into new tools that serve humanity,” said Nourbakhsh.

To further engage with industry and government leaders attending Davos, the university hosted a networking reception where Whittaker demonstrated one of CMU's latest robots — a lunar rover.

Read more about CMU’s involvement 
with the World Economic Forum at

Pictured above is CMU's contingent at Davos (l-r): Illah Nourbakhsh, Tony Stentz, William "Red" Whittaker, President Subra Suresh and Justine Cassell. 

In Pittsburgh, Blum Was Panelist for "Shaping Davos" Event

In Pittsburgh on Jan. 20, Lenore Blum, professor of computer science, was a panelist at the first-ever Shaping Davos event, part of a global dialogue of 40 cities held in conjunction with the Davos meeting. Pittsburgh was selected by the WEF as the only North American city to share its story of innovation. Blum, co-director of the Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship and director of SCS’s Project Olympus, discussed how innovation is reshaping Pittsburgh’s economy.

Shaping Davos, presented by Pittsburgh’s Global Shapers Hub at the Energy Innovation Center, included a panel on innovative ideas that included CMU engineering graduate Hahna Alexander, co-founder of SolePower. The panel on innovative actions, included both Blum and CMU Trustee Luke Skurman.


Ideas Lab: Integrated Intelligence — Bridging Humanity and Technology for the World

Scientific America: Tech Consequences Voiced by Carnegie Mellon Prez

HuffPost Live: Justine Cassell: Microchips in Humans Not A Question of 'If,' But 'When'