"What Can a Robot Do?" With Ken Goldberg

09 Mar, 2021

"What Can a Robot Do?" With Ken Goldberg

Professor, artist, and researcher Ken Goldberg recently spoke about robots, AI, and gardening with Nero Magazine. He also delved into his artistic practice and the intersections between design and ecology. Here is a snippet from the interview with Prof. Goldberg speaking about his past artistic project, Telegarden:

For Telegarden we installed an industrial robot in a living garden. It was also intended as a critique of technology. While I am very excited about technology and its potential, I’m also critical of what often is an exaggeration of technology, both in terms of potential, and negative aspects. The reality is really very different, and so I feel that, as an engineer, it’s really important for me to also convey the nuances of the underlying questions around technology.

We thought of the Telegarden as an absurdist application, as if gardening would be the last thing that people want to do over the internet, because a garden is so tactile and immediate and natural. Remember, this was in 1995, in the very early days of the Internet. The word spread very quickly: first we got dozens and then hundreds and thousands of people coming to visit the garden, again and again, because the idea wasn’t something you just go in and look at and then move on. It was something you had to return to, and had to spend time with there. What started as a critique evolved into a study of our human response to nature in the digital context.

Check out the full interview here!