Andra Keay | Since moving to Silicon Valley in 2011 and finishing my Masters, I have been focusing on the large scale socio-technological implications involved in commercializing robotics. I’ll be sharing my personal views here, and at times on CITRIS, svrobo.org and robohub.org.
Since 2012, I’ve been the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, the non-profit industry group supporting innovation and commercialization of robotics technologies. I am a trained futurist, also founder of the Robot Launch global startup competition, Robot Garden maker space, Women in Robotics and core member of Robohub.org, the site for news and views of research robotics and early stage commercialization of robotics. Https://robohub.org
I am a mentor, investor and advisor to startups, accelerators and think tanks, with a strong interest in commercializing socially positive robotics and AI. The views of Silicon Valley Robotics represent as closely as possible the combined viewpoints of our robotics association. Http://svrobo.org
I am also a Visiting Scholar with the UC’s CITRIS People and Robots Research Group, directed by Dr Ken Goldberg. CITRIS or The Center for Information Technology Research in the Interest of Society and the Banatao Institute is a research institute operated by the University of California to facilitate the real-world application of technological research. The founding and now Emerita Director is Dr Ruzena Bajscsy. https://citris-uc.org/people-and-robots
I was a Masters Dissertation student at the University of Sydney in the Digital Cultures Program, working in the area of Human-Robot Interaction, and an HRI Pioneer in 2010. My project on ‘the Naming of Robots’ explores the ways in which robotics research cultures express identity and gender by examining empirical data from robot competitions integrated with a cultural studies of science approach. I studied Communications at UTS and the ABC, working as a film editor, multimedia artist and writer before moving into the area of technology for social justice, non-profit and educational purposes. I have been running science and robot workshops for children since 1995, including coaching all girls competition teams in Moonbots, First Lego League and RoboCup Jnr.
Interest in Robotics: I am always interested in asking ‘what’s at stake?’ as Donna Haraway put it. Robotics for example is a highly gendered field, which is not obviously a requirement. Robots, as engineered (in)organisms, are not dependent on sexual differentiation, so gender in robotics culture is a fascinating expression of human engineering and how we create others. Ultimately, I am interested, much like Haraway is, in Derrida’s robotic cat. http://robotstate.com