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Mark Stephen Meadows

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Mark Stephen Meadows is President of BOTanic, a company that provides natural language interfaces for conversational avatars, robots, IoT appliances, and connected systems. He is the author of “We Robot,” “I Avatar,” and other books. Mark Stephen Meadows is an author, inventor and designer. With more than two decades' experience in virtual reality and artificial intelligence he began working with robotics and natural language interface in 2009. He is the author of "We, Robot” and other books that examine media, technology, and their cultural impact. He is also the author of six patents in related fields. Helping to build the third dot-com webserver (, in 1993) Meadows went on to found his first company, Construct, in 1995. In the following years Meadows worked at Xerox-PARC, Stanford Research Institute, the Waag (among other research centers), government associations in Holland and Australia, and traveled extensively lecturing on this work. He is the President of BOTanic (formerly Geppetto Labs), which he founded in 2012. He lives in San Francisco on his sailboat.

roboswarm1bVirtual assistants are setting the bar for the kind of user experience people will expect from the social robots of tomorrow.

Chappie_MovieNeill Blomkamp’s new film CHAPPiE can teach us a lot about how to design robots. That, and how to be sexy. Rolling out in theatres this week.

Just like the GUI overlapped and largely replaced the command line, NLP is now being used by robots, the Internet of things, wearables, and especially conversational systems like Apple’s Siri, Google’s Now, Amazon’s Echo and others. These interfaces are designed to simplify, speed up, and improve task completion. Natural language interaction with robots, if anything, is an interface, and it needs to be designed.

amazon-echoAmazon, the largest online retailer and Internet company in the USA, sells media, data, software, video games, electronics, food, toys, clothes, furniture, and jewelry. It is a big provider of cloud computing services. The company also produces readers, tablets, TVs and phones. And now Amazon sells a little robot named Echo. This little genie-in-the-bottle is summoned with the word “Alexa.”  Let’s see what kind of genie it might be.

by   -   September 5, 2014

Already there are a bunch of talking avatars running wild out there, and they’re turning out to be pretty valuable.


Bruno Maisonnier at TedExConcorde. Photo credit: Rodrigo SEPÚLVEDA SCHULZ.

Last week I dropped by Aldebaran’s studio to get a glimpse of Pepper in action, and was pretty excited about this robot. But then I talked with Bruno Maisonnier, the CEO of Aldebaran. And then I got really excited: what Pepper represents is another iteration in the realization of the roboticists’ dream.


A discussion with Ryan Calo on Google, your personal data, and the consumer robotics market

Can someone tell me: What’s Google doing, making robots? Or at least: What is it doing, making such acquisitions?


The incoming second wave of contextual agents

There’s a virtual lobby of Intelligent Virtual Assistants (IVAs) waiting to help us these days. These multi-million dollar systems include Yahoo’s Donna, Samsung’s SAMI, Google’s Now, Nuance’s Nina, Motorola’s Assist, Microsoft’s Cortana and of course Apple’s Siri. They can give you driving directions, book a dinner table, launch an app, tell a joke, take a memo, send a text, post a tweet, ring a phone, update Facebook, check stocks, search the web, turn off the lights when you go to bed, and set an alarm to wake you up in the morning. They can do incredible things, but they’re not very valuable for one weird and very general reason.

Her_movie_Spike_Jonze_posterHer is a science fiction movie about love.  It’s about robot love, about love for robots, and it’s also not that fictional.

The story you already know: a sentimental writer (Joaquin Phoenix) falls in love with his OS, named Samantha (played by the inimitable Scarlett Johansson). His OS falls in love with him.  Mayhem, hot sex, and crocodile tears follow. It’s great. If you haven’t seen it yet, stop reading now and go.

happy_sad_maskThis article returns to the thread of the last few months by looking at how robots can measure our emotions and body language.

My aunt, a Tennessee tobacco grower, used to remind me that God gave me two ears and one mouth for a reason. What she meant is that a good conversationalist is not so much someone with the ability to talk, but the ability to listen.

Robots can take a cue from my aunt.