Seven Days Article: Generator to Present Big Thinkers in ‘Reckless Ideas’ Series

By February 23, 2018News

Generator to Present Big Thinkers in ‘Reckless Ideas’ Series
Find the schedule and RSVP for the Reckless Ideas Speaker Series here.


The Generator Maker Space in Burlington’s South End is launching a new speaker series that follows the previous Big Maker Series.

“Reckless Ideas” is the brainchild of Generator director Chris Thompson and Juniper Lovato, outreach director for the Vermont Complex Systems Center. That part of the University of Vermont’s College of Engineering and Mathematical Sciences deals with trans-disciplinary ideas.

“I met Juniper a few months ago when she was just getting ready to move to Vermont with her husband, Laurent [Hébert-Dufresne],” Thompson writes in an email. “We were talking over coffee at Muddy Waters about all the incredible people doing intriguing, original work around Burlington who she had to meet. Within about half an hour, we had decided that we had to collaborate on a speaker series as an excuse to bring them together.”

Thompson and Lovato are interested in creating a “salon atmosphere,” the director says. The name Reckless Ideas comes from a similar event that Lovato hosted at the Santa Fe Institute, where she was the director of education for complex systems.

The speakers are a mix of big thinkers from the Complex Systems Center and Generator. Josh Bongard is the director of the Morphology, Evolution & Cognition Laboratory at UVM; Hébert-Dufresne is an assistant professor of computer science at the same university.

Jenny Bower, a keyboardist and data scientist, is the next maker-in-residence at Generator, and John Cohn, chief scientist for IBM’s Watson Internet of Things Division, is one of Generator’s founding board members.

Bongard is first up with a talk on Wednesday, February 28, called “Creating Autonomous Yet Safe Robots.” He’ll address the onset of the robot revolution and our approach to the new reality it will create.

Lovato says each lecture will be followed by a conversation. “I envision the series to be an opportunity to bring two worlds together,” she writes in an email, “and I hope that the lectures will be a springboard for discourse.

“In complex systems research, we’re always trying to push the boundaries and form unlikely pairs,” Lovato continues. “I hope the maker community and the scientific community coming together will inspire new collaborations and ideas.”