Image - robot hand pointing to human hand

San Francisco

The Future of Robotics: Human Aids or Replacements?

If you are not a member yet, now is the time to join our community and receive the great benefits of membership. We are a group of people seeking truth, insight and wisdom about the issues we face as individuals and as a society. Please join! You can become a monthly sustaining member for just $10 a month.

What will our future with robots look like? Robots are already rolling out of the research lab and into the real world. In the last decade, robotics has gone through a revolution; the price of robotics systems has decreased 100-times and the number of new companies in robotics has increased 100-times.

The pandemic has accelerated demand for robotics, a key technology for enabling remote work, managing dynamic production lines, meeting the demand for 1-hour deliveries, and filling vacant positions for "dull, dirty, dangerous" jobs. Robotics technologies also offer the promise of supporting an aging population to live at home longer, to enable sustainable agricultural practices, and to reshore manufacturing back to the Americas.

Our speakers will share some highlights of their careers in robotics, including their favorite robotics applications and their insight into what the next major developments in robotics will look like.

Plus: We’ll be bringing some robots as well, for the audience to interact with.

About the Speakers

Alexander Kernbaum is the interim director of robotics at SRI International. He says his passion "is creating novel hardware innovations that provide compelling value in the market. I am the inventor of several novel actuators which have been licensed to major manufacturers or spun out in to new companies. For these efforts I was awarded the IEEE RAS Early Career Award in 2018." As a principal investigator, he has led efforts on a wide range of topics, including personal mobility platforms, human power augmentation, efficient drive trains, human-safe robotic actuation, under-actuated systems, soft robotics, search and rescue robots, and biologically inspired control architectures. As an artist, he has led several large-scale projects, including an interactive feature-length movie and a 160-foot-long kinetic sculpture.

Jasmine Lawrence is product manager at Everyday Robots, X. Lawrence is an experienced product manager and entrepreneur with a passion for both consumer technology and business strategy, and says "It brings me joy to solve human-centered problems on diverse teams using my technical, communication, and leadership skills. Whether it's building devices or formulating beauty products, I focus on creating delightful experiences that make a difference in people's lives."

Andra Keay is a global thought leader and ecosystem builder in the emerging sectors of robotics. She is managing director of Silicon Valley Robotics, an industry group supporting innovation and commercialization of robotics technologies. The Silicon Valley area is home to the world’s largest robotics and AI cluster, with more than 600 robotics companies, and more than 50 robotics/AI research labs. Keay is also the founder of Women in Robotics, the vice president of IEEE Robotics and Automation Society Industrial Activities Board and the deep tech lead for IEEE Entrepreneurship. She is involved in global standards development for inclusive and ethical A/IS, autonomous and intelligent systems.

MLF Organizer
Gerald Anthony Harris

This program has 2 types of tickets available: In-person and online-only. Please pre-register to receive a link to the live-stream event.

Safety Protocols for in-person attendance:

  • We follow best practices laid out by the CDC and state and local guidelines.
  • We strongly recommend vaccination for guests, staff, and volunteers.
  • Masks are strongly encouraged while indoors (if you do not have one and would like one, inquire at our front desk for a complimentary mask).
  • We reserve the right to require different rules for specific events as necessary.

Our LEED Gold-certified building is designed to cool with outside air, using digitally controlled moveable windows and large ceiling fans. We are deploying additional HEPA filters inside to scrub the air. This is all in addition to increased cleaning of surfaces throughout the building.

We welcome donations made during registration to support the production of our online programming.

A Technology & Society Member-led Forum program. Forums at the Club are organized and run by volunteer programmers who are members of The Commonwealth Club, and they cover a diverse range of topics. Learn more about our Forums.

Photos courtesy the speakers.

All ticket sales are final and nonrefundable.

Tue, Jun 27 / 3:00 pm PDT

The Commonwealth Club of California
110 The Embarcadero
Toni Rembe Rock Auditorium
San Francisco, CA 94105
United States

Image - Alexander Kernbaum

Alexander Kernbaum

Interim Director of Robotics, SRI International

Image - Jasmine Lawrence

Jasmine Lawrence

Product Manager, Everyday Robotics Corp.

Image - Andra Keay

Andra Keay

Managing Director, Silicon Valley Robotics

Image - Gerald Anthony Harris

Gerald Anthony Harris

President, Quantum Planning Group; Chair, Technology & Society Member-led Forum, The Commonwealth Club of California—Moderator


2:30 p.m. doors open & check-in
3–4 p.m program
4 p.m. meet the robots
(all times PDT)