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About Reckless Ideas

Created in collaboration with Vermont Complex Systems Center at UVM, Reckless Ideas is a speaker series featuring Burlington’s top thinkers and innovators at the intersection of design and science.

Reckless Ideas speakers push disciplinary boundaries with topics including Artificial Intelligence and creativity, data privacy, and the tension between creativity and profit for entrepreneurs.

All Reckless Ideas lectures are free and open to the public and take place here at Generator. Liquid libations and light snacks are served.

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Guest Speaker: Alan Newman

Alan Newman: Unfiltered

Serial entrepreneur Alan Newman co-founded several Vermont-based companies with international recognition, including Magic Hat Brewing Company, Seventh Generation, and Gardener’s Supply Company. Enjoy this lecture of unfiltered advice and musings from an indomitable visionary and entrepreneur.

Guest Speaker: Peter Dodds

Lexical Churn: Trump is more popular than God [on Twitter]

Peter Dodds discusses the speed of stories and why it matters as we enter a new age of story density. His work aims to measure and draw inferences from the masses of qualitative data that we share online on a daily basis. He considers influencers from Korean boy bands to current political figures and looks at their journey to the top of lexical stardom.

Guest Speaker: Ann DeMarle

Emergence: What I Know Now in Art, Technology, and Education

As a teenager Ann hated her typing class. Little did she know that her prophetic pursuit of her MFA in painting and computer graphics would prepare her for a life of typing and swiping (and much more). Ann will look at the dual nature of computing, the challenges it poses to education, and what’s she learned creating ground breaking degree programs that merge art and technology.

Guest Speakers: Randall Harp & Julia Vallera

More Data, More Problems: On tracking, consent, and control of personally identifying information

Julia Vallera is a data privacy advocate and former Outreach Manager for Mozilla. Randall Harp is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at UVM whose research focuses on the philosophy of collective action and decision theory.

Guest Speaker: Paul Budnitz

Making Art and Making Money: Navigating the Trainwreck between Art and Commerce

Q&A follows with puppet.

Paul Budnitz is an entrepreneur and the founder of Kid Robot; ELLO; Budnitz Bikes.

Guest Speaker: Lisa Soros 

Creating Creativity: Artificial Life and Evolution in Design

Lisa Soros is an Assistant Professor in Computer Science and Innovation at Champlain College whose research focuses on open-ended and generative artificial evolutionary systems.

This talk explores the roles artificial life and evolutionary algorithms can play in the design process and also considers the ways we use technology to understand ourselves and the world around us.

Guest Speaker: John Cohn

Digital Disruption and the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things is changing the world and causing Digital Disruption particularly in the fields of artificial intelligence and blockchain technology. John Cohn relates some fun and (hopefully) useful insights how these same concepts of disruption can help us manage our own lives and careers.  Dr. John Cohn is an IBM Fellow and Chief Scientist for IBM’s Watson Internet of Things Division.

Guest Speaker: Jenny Bower

The Mineralogy of Pipe Organs: Science, Sound Art, and Aging Instruments

After two thousand years as the Western “king of instruments,” the popularity of pipe organs is waning. With connections to early environmental health risks, the ivory trade, colonialism, and industrialization, the organ represents the quintessential machine of the Anthropocene. This lecture explores the complex history of the organ through a material investigation of its component parts, using mineralogy, historical science, and biology as tools. Special emphasis on Vermont’s own local organ history will be woven throughout the talk.

Guest Speaker: Josh Bongard 

Creating Autonomous Yet Safe Robots

The robot revolution is upon us: autonomous cars are almost ready to drive our streets, and drones are almost ready to deliver packages right to our doorstep. How do we ensure that these machines are still free to make decisions as they navigate our world but not harm people in the process? Josh Bongard is the Director of the Morphology, Evolution & Computation Lab at UVM.

Guest Speaker: Laurent Hébert-Dufresne

Spread of Viruses and Ideas in the Age of Echo Chambers.

With the advent of the new science of networks, we now know how unequal and segregated our social networks are. This lecture will introduce this new science as well as two concrete examples. In the physical world, understanding social networks changes how we fight diseases. In the virtual world, it highlights the feedback loop between the spread of new ideas and how we choose to interact; often leading to closed echo chambers and less dialogue.  Laurent Hébert-Dufresne is an Assistant Professor of computer science at UVM.