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Intel’s Genevieve Bell to Give CS Distinguished Lecture

June 30, 2015

Jon Bashor, jbashor@lbl.gov, +1 510 486 5849+1 510 486 5849

Photo of Genevieve Bell

Dr. Genevieve Bell of Intel will be the July 17 speaker for the CS Distinguished Lecture series.

Dr. Genevieve Bell, a noted anthropologist and Intel Fellow in the Corporate Strategy Office at Intel, will be the next speaker in the Computing Sciences Distinguished Lecture Series. Bell will give her talk on "Making Life: the art & science of robots” at 10:30 a.m. Friday, July 17, in the Bldg. 50 Auditorium.

Here is the abstract for her talk: As human beings we have always been fascinated with making life, in its many forms, with all of the technologies of the day at our disposals. Our cultures and our histories are steeped in stories of making life: gods making human beings to do their biddings; gods making themselves into human beings temporarily; ancestral figures transforming themselves into human beings; strange hybrids of gods and human beings with blends of skills and powers. In this talk, anthropologist and technologist Genevieve Bell explores a different set of narratives about making life – ones that revolve around technology. Specifically, around robots and artificial intelligence which have become a flashpoint and a source of social anxieties for some time. This talk attempts to locate robots in a larger set of cultural, historical and scientific conversations. When it first appeared in English, the word robot had immediate and global resonance in no small part because it became the place where centuries of literary and technical activities collided. We had already built mechanical objects (and indeed mechanical people), and we had imaged making life. Thus the very idea of robot was immediately populated by both technical strivings and literary imaginings; and has been ever since.

At Intel, Bell leads an R&D team of social scientists, interaction designers and human factors engineers to drive consumer-centric product innovation in Intel's consumer electronics business. In this role she is responsible for setting research directions, conducting comparative qualitative and quantitative research globally, leading new product strategy and definition, and championing consumer-centric innovation and thinking across the company. She also serves as an Intel vice president. She was the keynote speaker at the SC13 conference.

Bell joined Intel in 1998 as a researcher in the Corporate Technology Group's People and Practices Research team – Intel's first social science-oriented research team. She helped drive the company's first non-U.S. field studies to inform business group strategy and products and conducted groundbreaking work in urban Asia in the early 2000s.

In 2010 Bell was named one of the top 25 women in technology to watch by AlwaysOn and as one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. Bell is a Thinker in Residence for South Australia, and in 2012 was inducted into the Women In Technology International Hall of Fame. Her book, "Divining a Digital Future: Mess and Mythology in Ubiquitous Computing,” written with Prof. Paul Dourish, explores the social and cultural aspects of computing. She and Dourish are writing a second book, “Telling Techno-Cultural Tales,” which is being published by MIT Press.

Prior to joining Intel, Bell was a lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Stanford University. She has written more than 25 journal articles and book chapters on a range of subjects focused on the intersection of technology and society. Raised in Australia, Bell received her bachelor's degree in anthropology from Bryn Mawr College in 1990. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in anthropology from Stanford University in 1993 and 1998, respectively.

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