Past Meetup

Skeptics in the Pub: The Robot Revolution

This Meetup is past

50 people went


The robot revolution has begun!

Today our computer programs process information, but soon they’ll change tangible, physical things in our world. This month, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at Texas A&M University, Dr. Dylan Shell, will share his thoughts with us on a future where multi-robot systems will likely form a backbone of pervasive, efficient networks of cooperative, task-able agents.

Will self-organized approaches for biologically-inspired swarms of homogeneous robots be the most pervasive paradigm going forward, or will it be algorithmic approaches for explicitly coordinated teams of fewer, more capable robots?

Dr. Shell will discuss both these possibilities; what we've learned about synthesizing cooperative systems, and where challenges and open research problems lie. (Time permitting, he may veer away from the technical aspects of robot systems and AI to the philosophical.)

Add it to your calendar!

About Dylan Shell:

Dylan Shell is an assistant professor of computer science and engineering at Texas A&M University. He received his BSc degree in computational & applied mathematics and computer science from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa, and his M.S. and Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of Southern California. His research aims to synthesize and analyze complex, intelligent behavior in distributed systems that exploit their physical embedding to interact with the physical world. Although his focus is on multi-robot applications of these ideas, his broader research interests include emergence, unconventional and statistical models of computation, cooperation and competition in artificial systems.


As always, this month's Skeptics in the Pub meetup will be at the Stag's Head Pub (

Don't forget, if you'd like to address the group, like Dr. Shell will this month, about anything sciency, skeptical, or newsworthy, don't be afraid to ask.

The Skinny on the Digs

The Stag's Head Pub is located in the old Sheperd Plaza. It's a traditional style pub with a decent selection of beverages and reasonably priced food, with laquered hardwood everywhere you look.

But more importantly, the Stag's Head features a private room called The Oak Room that allows us to avoid any undue bar noise, and to have a good setting for conversation and any guest speakers we may have.

Now here's the important part: The manager usually charges a fee to book the Oak Room, but I explained that our group does not have a budget, and so would most likely not be able to pay the room fee. I assured her, however, that our group is good about ordering drinks and lots of food. We don't just use up space for nothing. And I told her that we could put 20 or more people in the room each month, most of whom would do some kind of business with the bar. And she was kind enough to wave the room fee with the understanding that our business would still make it worth her while.

So, we need to strive for two things to keep this venue at no cost to us:

Put butts in the seats, as they say --- We need to have a good showing of members. Tell all your friends, bring a family member, invite a co-worker, anything. But let's get the word out, and get as many people to attend as possible. Enjoy the fare offered by the Stag's Head Pub --- Have a few beers. Order some appetizers and a sandwhich, whatever strikes your fancy. No reason to empty your wallet, but let's show Stag's Head a little financial love. Keep them happy and they will keep us happy. Other Important Information

The Skeptics in the Pub meetups will take place on the 4th Tuesday night of each month. Note the standing meetup posted here.

Driving Tips and Directions

The Stag's Head Pub is in the old Sheperd Plaza, easily accessible from US Highway 59. From Highway 59, take the Sheperd/Greenbriar exit, and go north on Sheperd. Turn left on Portsmouth, and after a block, you will see the stag's head mounted on the building to your left. You have arrived.

Upon leaving, you can exit Sheperd Plaza onto Greenbriar and turn left on Greenbriar to link up with 59.

If you are heading south on 59, turn right at the Greenbriar/59 intersection, and enter the freeway immediately.

If you are heading north on 59, TURN RIGHT at the Greenbriar/59 intersection, stay on the access road toward Kirby Drive. Make a U-turn at Kirby, and enter the freeway to head north.

Hope to see you all there!