Hosted by Piaggio Fast Forward's Chief Visionary Officer Jeffrey Schnapp, the PFF Podcast covers a wide range of topics from robotics and tech to the design of walkable towns and cities, always with an emphasis on the human factor: how can we move about the world more enjoyably, efficiently, and sustainably? And how, in turn, can we reshape the built environment to foster a sense of community, freedom of movement, and the quality of life?
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Ben Shneiderman is a professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Maryland, where he is also the founding director of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory and a member of the Institute for Advanced Computer Studies as well as author or co-author of numerous influential books. On this episode of the PFF Podcast, Ben talks with Jeffrey about human-computer interaction, the balance between human and machine control and building machines that empower people - enhance, augment and amplify human abilities, not replace or mimic them.
Tom Vanderbilt is a writer on design, technology, and culture, Tom has consulted for a variety of companies, from ad agencies to Fortune 500 corporations. He has also served as a visiting scholar at NYU’s Rudin Center for Transportation Policy and Management and as a research fellow at the Canadian Centre for Architecture. On this episode of the PFF Podcast, Tom talks with Jeffrey about the impact the pandemic is having on the mobility infrastructure of cities, the fate of mass transit, interventions such as the creation of cycleways, and experiments with new forms of transportation.
Daniela Rus is a former MacArthur Fellow and the Director of the Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) at MIT. On this episode of the PFF Podcast, Daniela talks with Jeffrey about how her work is enabling a future in which smart machines are fully integrated into the fabric of life, supporting people as they perform a wide array of cognitive and physical tasks. She talks about her interest in the integration of robotics into everyday life and rethinking what a robot is, both in terms of its form, its morphology, its function, what it can accomplish and the materials that it can be made of.
Craig Bida is CEO/Founder of Think Design Disrupt, an impact-focused, brand-building and innovation consultancy; a Senior Fellow in Social Innovation and Adjunct Lecturer in Social Entrepreneurship at Babson College; recently helped to launch the FutureLab on Mobility, a collaboration between Babson College and the Toyota Mobility Foundation; and serves on the board of the Charles River Conservancy. On this episode of the PFF Podcast, Craig and Jeffrey discuss his passion for mobility as a factor underlying many key societal challenges, and his work to identify potential mobility solutions that can shape how we move people and things on the broader landscapes of cities and exurban and rural environments in the U.S. and all around the world.
Diana Nyad is the author of four books including a memoir published by Knopf, sports correspondent and celebrated motivational speaker. Most of all, Diana is admired throughout the world for her legendary accomplishments as a long-distance swimmer including a 28-mile swim around the island of Manhattan carried out in 1975 at the age of 26; and, after four aborted tries, her 111 mile, 53 hour swim from Cuba to Florida completed on September 2, 2013 at the age of 64. Most recently, together with her partner Bonnie, Diana co-founded the Everwalk movement. On this episode of the PFF Podcast, she discusses the value of walking on this earth and igniting a "walking revolution" in the United States in the name of health, a renewed sense of community, and self-empowerment.
Ben Green is the author of The Smart Enough City: Putting Technology in Its Place to Reclaim Our Urban Future (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2019). He is an Affiliate at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet & Society at Harvard and a Research Fellow at the AI Now Institute at NYU. Ben studies the social and policy impacts of data science with a focus on algorithmic fairness, municipal governments, and the criminal justice system. In this episode of The PFF Podcast, Ben and Jeffrey discuss the powers and limitations of the "smart city" approach to urban design, emphasizing what Ben calls "smart enough" alternatives that leverage the power of technologies in the service of a holistic vision of social justice and inclusion.
Mitchell Weiss has a long and distinguished career in the field of robotics with special attention to the field of manufacturing systems and mobile robots and is currently the COO of Piaggio Fast Forward. He is Co-author of Industrial Robotics: Technology, Programming and Applications (1986) and Instructor of automation and robotics courses at the University of Pennsylvania and Pennsylvania State University, and of engineering design at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. On this episode of the PFF Podcast, he provides an overview of what has changed and what hasn't over the course of three decades and calls special attention to the challenges presented by the development of robots, like PFF's own gita®, that operate in unstructured environments like towns and cities.
Kristian Kloeckl's work weaves together data science, industrial design, and architecture. On this episode of the PFF Podcast, he discusses the implications of a shift from traditional planning-centered approaches to the design of cities to ones that embrace unplanned, dynamic, and emergent phenomena.
Sara Hendren is an artist, designer, and writer who teaches design for disability at Olin College of Engineering. On this episode of the PFF Podcast, Sara discusses some of the key arguments of her forthcoming book, What Can a Body Do? How We Meet the Built World, from the affordances of ordinary objects such as ramps to how disability opens up new perspectives on the design of cities and the built environment. Learn more about Sara’s book here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/561049/what-can-a-body-do-by-sara-hendren/.
Shane O’Mara is a noted neuroscientist and author who explores brain systems supporting learning, memory and cognition, and brain systems affected by stress and depression. On this episode of the PFF Podcast, Shane and Jeffrey delve into the cognitive, social, and cultural benefits of walking, walking's role in human evolution, and its fundamental association with mental processes from high level thinking to creativity.