Technology with a Heart: A Rendezvour with Jeff Lieberman

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Jeff Lieberman needs little introduction. He is the host of Discovery Channel’s “Time Warp”, who holds four degrees (two B.S. degrees, in Mathematics and Physics, two M.S. degrees, in Mechanical Engineering and Media Arts & Sciences and is currently pursuing a doctorate at MIT’s Media Lab) behind him. He has headed the design of the Cyberflora installation, a robotic flower garden that senses and responds to people in a lifelike manner, and the Motor Learning Robotic Wearable Suit, a robotic suit that teaches motor skills (dance, sports, rehab, etc). One of the most successful roboticists in the world, Lieberman is currently on an India tour that he kick- started with a lecture at Tryst, the Technical festival of IIT Delhi, on Sunday 3rd March.

Lieberman spoke about the intersection of art, science, technology, human perception, learning, passion and consciousness, enlightening students through the use of numerous videos from his show. Most of us tend to overlook the most subtle aspects of our humanity, as we are what our mind makes us believe. The human brain is the most malleable as well as the most important aspect of our being, and Lieberman made this complex theory appear so simple that students were left in awe.

Lieberman talked about some really interesting experiments, for example, if one wears glasses in which the world appears upside down, after a few days when one removes the glasses, the world actually appears upside down to our eyes! Lieberman also showed some clippings of the effect that a drop of water makes on water, the effect of sound waves on drums, and many more. Using expensive cameras and high speed technology, Lieberman and his team have managed to show the world how beautiful waves are, since they are mostly overlooked by us as we do not have the infrared vision that would have enabled us to see them. Lieberman encouraged all students to follow their passion and pursue their weirdest dreams. He managed to show the students how they could strike a balance between art and technology, by creatively employing their technological expertise to come up with wacky ideas.

It was a wonderful session, with students staying engrossed till the end. Lieberman truly managed to make most students change their perception about technology, and those students belonging to a non- engineering background too marvelled at the spectacular inventions of Jeff Lieberman. This year, Tryst had some amazing guest lecturers with scholars like Kazutaka Kurihara speaking on acoustics and Chittaranjan Andrade speaking on the habit of nose- picking! However, Lieberman’s lecture was the most awaited event of Tryst, with the seminar hall of IIT seeing a packed audience. Tryst ’13 indeed inspired students to bring out their innovative and wackier side, and students are eagerly awaiting the next years’ fest!

[email protected];I am a third year History (Hons.) student studying in Lady Shri Ram College and I am extremely passionate about my subject. Writing is one of my favourite hobbies, and I am also a trained classical singer. DU Beat has fascinated me since my first year, and working for DU Beat has been the most challenging as well enjoyable phase of my life. I am also into archaeology, South East Asian studies and I am a big fan of Roger Federer (no offence to Nadal fans!). I religiously follow tennis, and I am also into judo. I hope to be a researcher in the future. Administration does not lure me, but the love of the past does, for history is what we make it, and what defines our very base of existence!

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