How could I resist the little yellow Perforce robot? Had to grab a coaster!

Last night, I accompanied Danielle Siembieda, Community Engagement and Special Projects Manager for zero1, to Girl Geek Dinner (GGD) held at Perforce, a Tech company in (Downtown) Alameda, CA. Granted, it’s some distance away from Silicon Valley but seemingly filled with just as much energy and innovation (if not more). You can read more about Perforce’s revision control system here.

Upon entering the GGD, I was given an icebreaker Bingo card. I met some pretty interesting people and won a plush Perforce robot!

Upon entering the GGD, friendly, smiling faces welcomed me (as well as a lot of pink and purple decor). In the main office downstairs, everyone was preparing for the evening and running about and this is where I noticed the P4 robot. One of the Perforce employees actually created an entire costume that looks just like the plush doll you see above. I regret not taking a photo but I learned pictures will be posted to the company’s blog! Overall, the ambiance and environment was fun and inviting.

Perforce Branding on the front...

Nobody likes to have expectations but I have to admit, I had them. Quite frankly, I assumed the many engineers, programmers, and web developers would be out of my league when it came time to discuss new media arts. I know very little about the technical side (I don’t count playing around in Processing as technical knowledge either). There was a lot of trepidation to engage in conversation but when asked about the art writing and my strong interest in new media artists, some of the discussions ended up being much more lively than I had expected.

I met James Creasy, a Perforce Product Technology Manger, who is also an artist. Some wonderful discussion ensued about art and technology. I also learned that his job entails looking at trends and seeing what new technologies people are using and what has needs to be created. Ashley, a Tech recruiter, and Christine, CEO of Sharefund, joined in the conversation. It was definitely a sweet start to the evening.

Girl Geek Dinner logo on the back (or front, depends on your perspective)...

A couple of memorable events: 1) Defining ‘geekiness’ and 2) Discussing new media art with programmers and engineers and hearing, “Hmmm, what is new media art? I don’t really know what you mean by that?”

1) Seeing what defined ‘geekiness’ last night, well, to me, those things aren’t geeky (i.e., building a 3D printer, being the only girl in the math club in high school, and having multiple Apple devices, etc.). All of these things are pretty awesome. I’m no mathlete BUT I love mapping and flow charting my writing ideas, I’m a sucker for continental philosophy, and own multiple Apple devices. Oh, and I’m into corny jokes (now, THAT is really geeky). So, perhaps, I fit in more than I originally thought.

2) Now, this is my passion. I’ll spare you transcripts of the conversations but let’s just say it was great to discuss new media arts with technologists. From electronics to robotics to programming and immersive environments, I was more than happy to discuss new media arts, conceptually and philosophically. Hoping I sparked some interest but just as long as one person engages in fruitful and thought-provoking conversation around the topic, I’m happy.

Open up the snazzy bracelet to reveal...a thumb drive! Nice.

The question after last night, Would I do another GGD?

Yes!! The dinners are facilitated and hosted by different companies but I’m totally into going to these events after all the unique conversations I had from last night. Next time: I’m bringing a stack of business cards! 🙂

I'm tellin' ya. Touching my actuator tickles. In a good way (I think).

I’ve gone through the videos and quizzes for the Intro to Artificial Intelligence (AI) class and it’s pretty fun and engaging. Sebastian Thrun has done a great job at providing the basics. He actually has the type of voice that smiles (if you can imagine that). I’m catching up and looking forward to Peter Norvig’s lectures and problem solving videos. The first set of video lectures has been about defining an intelligent agent, various applications of AI (i.e., in Medicine, Games, Finance, Robotics, etc.), and AI environments.

Something worth sharing is the definition of an Intelligent Agent. According to Thrun, an intelligent agent (IA) can intuit something about its environment through its sensors. Then, the sensors affecting the IA’s state through its actuators (mechanical device or source of energy). In humans, actuators run the gamut. I’ve oversimplifying here but if you’re an athlete, your actuators are your limbs (i.e., for catching, throwing, skating past your opponent, etc.)? Sounds about right. Nifty, eh?

Hey! How does Data have a beard and bear a striking resemblance to Brian Wilson? That's some advanced finagling of sensors!

Overall, the class is meant to explore the question of how AI make decisions based on data into the sensors then carried out by its actuators. I’m hoping the class will inspire me to get back into playing around with Processing (maybe even C++, okay, maybe not but one day) and looking at New Media arts differently. I’m sure it will.

Okay, I think I need to start watching Star Trek: Next Generation and study up on the character, Data? First question, how the hell is Data so incredibly pasty? I guess being on a ship (in space) doesn’t allow for any kind of work on a tan.