Robotics • Ethics • Artificial Intelligence • Quantum Computing
Suzanne is founder and CEO of Sanctuary AI, a company with a mission to create ultra human-like robots – “synths” – that are indistinguishable from us physically, cognitively and emotionally. Sanctuary is structured to explore both cutting edge technology and the ethical issues that arise from creating human-like machines. The company strives to create a micro-society in which synths can develop and be granted a safe haven as they transition into full acceptance by our wider society.
Prior to Sanctuary, Suzanne founded Kindred Inc., an artificial intelligence and robotics company. She hand built over 30 robots to demonstrate Kindred’s core technology concept of human robot tele-operation for reinforcement learning. She grew the company to over 50 employees and opened offices in Vancouver, Toronto, and San Mateo. She helped raise over $50M in venture funding for Kindred from top tier investors including Eclipse, Google Ventures, First Round Capital and Data Collective.
Suzanne also worked for D-Wave Systems Inc. a Canadian company pioneering quantum computing technology. In 2011, Suzanne joined D-Wave’s machine learning group. In this role she invented and coded most of the use cases D-Wave produced in the period 2011-2013, including MAXCAT, the world’s first quantum computer game, and the world’s first control of a robot by a quantum computer. She also worked on the world’s first supervised binary classifier (a workhorse machine learning algorithm) run on a quantum computer. Her work has been published in several scientific peer reviewed journals, including Nature magazine, and she holds 2 patents in quantum software stack design. Her role at D-Wave not only focused on the technical, but involved marketing and communicating complex concepts and products to a range of audiences. She led the quantum computing training programs for Lockheed Martin, Google and NASA. She designed, coded and ran the company’s Developer Portal and the company website. In 2013 she was awarded a prestigious top D-Wave performer award, given to the top 10 D-Wave employees as chosen by peer vote. Prior to joining D-Wave, Suzanne worked at the University of Birmingham, UK, where she earned a PhD in Physics and Electronics and subsequently undertook a postdoctoral role. The role focused on cutting edge research with superconducting devices at ultra-low temperatures, giving her a wealth of experience in the design, fabrication and debugging of complex hardware systems. She has worked with hardware at all scales, from microscopic devices up to large, heavy-duty industrial machinery.
Suzanne is also a published digital artist and poet, has worked as a graphic designer, and pioneered a technique for creating art using a quantum computer. She loves painting using acrylic on canvas, mixed media, digital painting, tapestry, and she also creates electronic music (synthesizer / keyboard / piano) inspired by retro video games and the synthwave genre.
Throughout the entirety of human history, we have been captivated by the idea of creating machines that are like us. Human-like robots have appeared in endless science fiction movies, often in dystopian narratives involving conflict between biological and non-biological life. Recent advancements in hardware technologies such as improved sensors, batteries, actuators and 3D printing are allowing us to realise the dream of building human-like robots. Meanwhile, advancements in machine learning and AI are enabling the minds of such robots to become increasingly human-like. Over the next couple of decades there will be positive and negative impacts to life and society as highly intelligent, sentient robot life comes online. This talk will describe how machines that look, move, and think like us may soon emerge. It will focus on the breakthroughs that are enabling AI minds to become more and more indistinguishable from human intelligence. It will also address some of the social, economic and ethical questions that arise from these breakthroughs.
What does a future that includes robots as co-workers, friends, and perhaps even family look and feel like? How are we ensuring that this new “class” is integrated into our societies with respect and empathy? And what about those who worry about a robotic invasion or overlord, how can we ensure that humans feel safe to expand our view of humanity? Is this something we are ready to imagine? This talk focuses on the core issues of empathy, ethics, and rights as we move into a future reality that includes robots as an upgrade to our shared civilization.