Jessica Riskin and Oussama Khatib

Androids, Automata, Avatars, and Agency

Tuesday, February 5, 2019 at 4:00 pm
Green Library, 5th floor, Bender Room
Please register if you would like to attend.

The library's Information, Intelligent Machines and New Knowledge program began in October 2018 with the "Discovery Sessions," oriented to applications of artificial intelligence within the library. The program continues with the series, "Dialogues: Navigating Human-Machine Relationships in Knowledge Creation" that brings researchers into conversation across disciplines The first in the series, "Androids, Automata, Avatars, and Agency" brings together robotics and the history of science.

Historian Jessica Riskin and computer scientist Oussama Khatib will join the library's digital research architect, Nicole Coleman, for a conversation about the latest developments in robotics today and how, since the seventeenth century, the design of artificial life has been a reflection of our relationship to machines. 

Zoom teleconferencing will be availble available. Details will be provided to registrants prior to the event.


Oussma Khatib is a professor of computer science and mechanical engineering at Stanford where he is currently teaching the Introduction to Robotics, Experimental Robotics, and Advanced Robotic Manipulation. Khatib is a member of Stanford's Bio-X as well as the Wu Tsai Neurosciences Institute. He received his PhD from Sup-Aero in France.

Jessica Riskin received her B.A. from Harvard University and her Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley. She taught at MIT for several years before coming to Stanford, and has also taught at Sciences Po, Paris. Her research interests include early modern science, politics and culture and the history of scientific explanation.

Related Reading

Interviews and press

OUSSAMA KHATIB: An Interview Conducted by Peter Asaro, IEEE History Center, 10 April 2013. https://ethw.org/Oral-History:Oussama_Khatib

Jessica Riskin introduces her book, The Restless Clock: A History of the Centuries-Long Argument over What Makes Living Things Tick. The University of Chicago Press Books: https://www.press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/author/R/J/au5159043.html

"Stanford historian examines age-old inquiry about what it means to be 'living.'" Stanford Report, April 4, 2016.
https://news.stanford.edu/2016/04/04/riskin-mystery-life-040416/

"Maiden voyage of Stanford's humanoid robotic diver recovers treasures from King Louis XIV's wrecked flagship." Stanford Report, April 27, 2016.
https://news.stanford.edu/2016/04/27/robotic-diver-recovers-treasures/

Papers, articles, books

Ajoudani, Arash, Andrea Maria Zanchettin, Serena Ivaldi, Alin Albu-Schäffer, Kazuhiro Kosuge, and Oussama Khatib. "Progress and prospects of the human–robot collaboration." Autonomous Robots (2018): 1-19.

Biagioli, Mario, and Jessica Riskin, eds. Nature Engaged: Science in Practice from the Renaissance to the Present. Springer, 2012.

Khatib, Oussama, Xiyang Yeh, Gerald Brantner, Brian Soe, Boyeon Kim, Shameek Ganguly, Hannah Stuart et al. "Ocean one: A robotic avatar for oceanic discovery." IEEE Robotics & Automation Magazine 23, no. 4 (2016): 20-29.

Riskin, Jessica. The Restless Clock: A history of the centuries-long argument over what makes living things tick. University of Chicago Press, 2016.

Riskin, Jessica. “The Value of W, or, Interdisciplinary Engagements on Culture.” Los Angeles Review of Books. https://lareviewofbooks.org/article/the-value-of-w-or-interdisciplinary-engagements-on-culture/ October 31, 2018.

Riskin, Jessica, ed. Genesis redux: Essays in the history and philosophy of artificial life. University of Chicago Press, 2010.

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