Dick Bulterman

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam & CWI, The Netherland

Title: Musings on Robot Intelligence


Abstract: Robots have come a long way since Shakey first bounced onto the scene 60 years ago. Future robots will move beyond repetitive production in factories to social-interaction interfaces with real people. They are predicted to displace over 60% of the adult workforce this century.
They are replacing pets in the home. They will be teaching our children’s children.

This talk muses on the application of psychological frameworks to understand they kind of developments that semantic processing of information for and by robots will need to support. We try to fit emerging robot intelligence in the frameworks used to model highly sensitive people, and to judge whether robots will become the next generation of gifted individuals in our society.


Bio: Dick Bulterman is a member of the faculty of the department of computer science at the Vrije Universiteit (VU) in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. He is also a Fellow at Centrum Wiskunde en Informatica (CWI), also in Amsterdam, where he has worked on multimedia systems, languages and user interfaces for more than thirty years. Prof. Bulterman was President and CEO of the FX Palo Alto Laboratory (FXPAL) in California from 2013-2016 and CEO of Oratrix Development from 1998-2002.

Bulterman’s main research interests include the development of declarative multimedia languages (leading to the development of W3C’s SMIL standard for temporal control of XML content) and the development of user agents that can flexibly and interactively control the content of media presentation in a distributed context (leading to the GRiNS and Ambulant multimedia engines). He has contributed to a dozen European and national research projects, has provided fundamental contributions to hypermedia languages and has studied user behavior in creating and experiencing media content.

In addition to his work at the VU and CWI, Bulterman is chair of ACM SIGWEB. He received the ACM SIGMM Lifetime Achievement Award in 2013. He was a long-time editorial board member of ACM Transactions on Multimedia, Multimedia Systems and Multimedia Tools and Applications. He has been an organizer of conferences for major ACM and IEEE conferences in the area of multimedia and multimedia systems. He received his PhD from Brown University in Providence, RI, initially specializing in computer graphics architectures.

Blake Hannaford
University of Washington, USA

Title: Surgical Intent in Medical Robotics


Abstract: Surgical robots are evolving from direct teleoperators, in which the robotic surgical instruments precisely follow the surgeon's hand movements, to smart surgical assistants in which surgeons and autonomous agents trade off or share the role of direct manipulation control.   Autonomous agents will perform assistive sub-tasks supporting the surgeon's goal of a good outcome for the patient. Assistive tasks may include automating repetitive tasks like suturing, or guiding therapy delivery by sensing and planning means not directly accessible to, but supervised by, the surgeon.


This talk will present some frameworks with which to formulate and study medical tasks and their effective semi-autonomous assistance.  We will review Behavior Trees as such a data representation, and relate them to Hidden Markov Models, through which real-world datasets can be modeled and apply them to a variety of interventional medical procedures.


Bio: Blake Hannaford received the B.S. degree in Engineering and Applied Science from Yale University in 1977, and the M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Electrical Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. From 1986 to 1989 he worked on the remote control of robot manipulators in the Man-Machine Systems Group in the Automated Systems Section of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Caltech and supervised that group from 1988 to 1989. Since September 1989, he has been at the University of Washington in Seattle. He was awarded the National Science Foundation's Presidential Young Investigator Award, the Early Career Achievement Award from the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society, and was named IEEE Fellow in 2005.  He was at Google X / Google Life Sciences from April 2014 to December 2015. His currently active research interests include  surgical robotics, surgical skill modeling, and haptic interfaces. He is currently Director of Technical programs at the UW and Tsinghua University's GIX Master of Science in Technology Innovation(Robotics) program.

Sven Helmer
University of Zurich, Switzerland

Title: The Pitfalls of Interdisciplinary Research


Abstract: For a while now, interdisciplinary research is making headlines, as a lot of the interesting and important research questions we face today cut across different disciplines. However, it is much easier said than actually done. If conducted with the right mindset, though, it offers a lot of opportunities, especially for the semantic computing research community, since a large part of the work involves unearthing, making sense of, representing, and processing domain knowledge. I have been involved in interdisciplinary research for twenty years (in areas as diverse as physics, ethnography, and medicine) and in my talk will be sharing my experiences and insights, gained from successful undertakings, and, more importantly, failed ones. I will highlight some general approaches (many of them not only advocated by me), which I found to be important via personal experiences. Interdisciplinary research is not an easy way to do research, but I believe it to be a very valuable and rewarding endeavor.


Bio: Sven Helmer is a senior researcher in the Department of Informatics at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, after holding positions as Associate Professor in the Faculty of Computer Science at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy, and as Senior Lecturer at Birkbeck, University of London. He acquired a PhD from the University of Mannheim, Germany, an MSc in Computer Science from the University of Karlsruhe, Germany, and also spent some time as a visiting professor at the University of Heidelberg. He has taught and is teaching courses on data science, databases, and information security; his research interests include database systems, cloud computing, Raspberry Pis, query optimization, route planning, complex event detection, as well as interdisciplinary research in the areas of information systems and ethnography. He has published more than 90 peer-reviewed papers and book chapters.

Vishy Swaminathan
Adobe, USA

Title: Enhancing Immersive Experiences with Contextual Data


Abstract: It took about 20 years for video over the Internet to be delightful for end users. This was built on a large body of research from both academia and the industry.  Over the last few years, AI has provided generational transformations both  in content understanding and in ML algorithms that  learn and adapt using large contextual data. How do we stand on the shoulders of these giants (transformations) to make next-gen media  experiences compelling? I will start with a glimpse of available data from user sessions for on-demand and live videos.  I will elaborate on how this fine-grained contextual data can be combined with deep learning powered multimedia understanding to enhance multimedia experiences. The first generation of our video research at Adobe focused on simple insights from content while the second focused on insights from video consumption data. Now, the explosion in compute and data enables the third generation of research that derives insights simultaneously from both content and the behavioral data to close the feedback loop to improve the multimedia content experiences.  I will attempt to show with some examples how to leverage these technological transformations to enhance end-user content experiences ranging from traditional video to immersive mixed-reality  experiences.  Some demos of past and current projects will be shown with a call to leverage contextual data to improve and personalize end-user media experiences.


Bio: Vishy (Viswanathan) Swaminathan is a Principal Scientist in Adobe Research working at the intersection of insights from behavioral data and multimedia content. His areas of research include next generation video and immersive experiences, video streaming, and security, and in general data-driven content and marketing campaigns. His research work has substantially influenced various technologies in Adobe’s video delivery, advertisement, and recommendations  products including the guts of HTTP Dynamic Streaming which won the ‘Best Streaming Innovation of 2011′ Streaming Media Readers’ Choice Award. He has received several awards including for best papers, 2017 Distinguished alumnus from Utah State University ECE Department, and 3 ISO certificates of appreciation for MPEG Standards contributions. He has chaired multiple technical organizations (ISMA Technical Committee, JSR-158, MPEG-J and DASH Server push ad-hoc groups).  Prior to joining Adobe, Vishy was a Senior Researcher at Sun Labs. He received his MS and Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Utah State University. He received his B.E degree in ECE from the College of Engineering, Guindy, Anna University, Chennai, India. Vishy has authored several papers, articles, RFCs, and book chapters, has about 60 issued patents, and volunteers in organizing IEEE and ACM conferences.