Speaker's Profile

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Hiroaki Kitano

President & CEO, Director of Research SONY Computer Science Laboratories, Inc.

Kitano is known for developing AIBO, and the robotic world cup tournament known as Robocup. Kitano started the development of the AIBO robotic pet. This research was developed further as the QRIO, a bipedal humanoid robot. The research behind AIBO and QRIO led to Kitano founding the RoboCup annual international robotics competition in 1997. The goal of RoboCup is to create a team of autonomous robotic footballers that would be able to beat the best team in the world, by 2050.
He says “My major preoccupation has always been how to find far-reaching solutions to major problems and what frameworks must be created to accelerate progress towards those solutions. I studied particle physics in college, later moving into computer science, in particular artificial intelligence research, and then engaging in research into massively parallel artificial intelligence, voice recognition systems, and machine learning. But I felt that in order to accelerate progress in AI and robotics, it would be necessary to establish some kind of big goal and global project. This became RoboCup, a project with the target of developing a team of fully autonomous humanoid robots able to win the FIFA World Cup by 2050. At the same time, I started to realize that intelligence is a byproduct of evolution, so I would have to study life itself. And so I switched to biosciences research, where I soon recognized the need for a conceptual shift from reductionist research into genes and proteins to a systems thinking approach. In order to accelerate that shift, I advocated for research domain status for systems biology, then worked to advance and broaden research in that domain. On visits to numerous developing countries over the past decade or so, I saw firsthand the pressing need for solutions to global problems. This led me to begin research into Open Energy Systems and proof-of-concept projects focused on renewable energy and energy access for all.”

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