Last Chance to Sign Up for Silicon Valley’s Best Robotics Event

You love robots but you haven’t yet bought a ticket for Xconomy’s April 11 robotics event, Robots Remake the Workplace. Why the heck not?

Actually, we know why—you’re busy, you like to keep your options open until the last minute, yadda yadda. Well, I’m posting this to let you know that you don’t have much time left to dawdle. At the rate tickets were being snapped up on Monday, this event will be sold out before the end of the day Tuesday.

And it’s easy to see why. I don’t mean to brag, but we’ve assembled a pretty amazing lineup of speakers for the event—people you rarely see all in one  room. I’m talking about luminaries like Rod Brooks, the founder and chief technology officer of Rethink Robotics; Chris Anderson, the former editor-in-chief of Wired, who now leads 3D Robotics; iRobot CEO Colin Angle and InTouch Health CEO Yulun Wang, who will give a joint presentation on their RP-VITA hospital telepresence robot; Silicon Valley investor and robot enthusiast Steve Jurvetson; Aethon CEO Aldo Zini; scholar and critic Vivek Wadhwa; and many more. The full speaker list is below, and the complete agenda is online here.

It’s National Robotics Week and if you’re a robot enthusiast, chances are you’re also attending other events and demos this week, such as the Robot Block Party organized by Silicon Valley Robotics. We’ll have a few demos of our own, but we designed our afternoon event mainly as an opportunity to sit back and hear leading robot entrepreneurs make the business case for their innovations. Think back to 1990 or so, and the way personal computing exploded into every home and workplace after the release of Windows 3.0. That’s roughly where robotics is today, and the coming transformations could be just as dramatic. At our Thursday event you’ll meet the people who are going to make it happen.

The Romo iPhone robot from Romotive is invading living rooms and offices everywhere. Romotive co-founder Keller Rinaudo will be on hand to talk about the Kickstarter-backed startup.

Of course, they don’t call those kinds of changes “disruption” for nothing. As businesses see the efficiencies and cost savings they get from buying and deploying robots, it’s likely that some humans will be displaced from low-skilled jobs—and it could take a while for our employment and training systems to readjust so that future workers are prepared to move into the higher-skilled roles robots will never fill.

It’s a real issue (one that 60 Minutes addressed in a controversial January segment called March of the Machines), and we’re going to tackle it head-on. After an opening keynote from Rod Brooks, we’ll dive right into a debate over the impact of robotics on jobs. Rich Mahoney of event host SRI International and Aaron Edsinger from Redwood Robotics will argue on behalf of the motion that in the long run “robots won’t put people out of work; in fact they may create new jobs.” Vivek Wadhwa of Singularity University will argue against.

We’ll also have great panels on telepresence, the venture investing perspective on robotics, and the emergence of robots in unconventional workplaces like energy plants, farm fields, and Hollywood studios. For previous stories highlighting the event, check out Debating Robots, Jobs, and the Changing Nature of Work (Feb. 5), Rod Brooks, Chris Anderson, Aldo Zini to Star at SRI Robotics Event (Feb. 20),  The Bots Are Back! Photos of the Robot Makers You’ll Meet April 11 (Mar. 26), and Bot & Dolly’s Robotic Cameramen Rewrite the Script in Hollywood (Apr. 1).

So get your ticket now—when I last checked, we only had about two dozen seats left.

We couldn’t pull off an event like this without support from some great outside organizations. Thanks in advance to our event host SRI International, our event sponsor Silicon Valley Bank, and our media partner RoboBusiness Leadership Summit 2013.

Here’s the full list of speakers.

Rodney Brooks, Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Rethink Robotics
Colin Angle, Co-founder and CEO, iRobot
Yulun Wang, Chairman and CEO, InTouch Health
Steve Jurvetson, Managing Director, Draper Fisher Jurvetson
Chris Anderson, CEO, 3D Robotics; former Editor-in-Chief, Wired
Aldo Zini, President and CEO, Aethon
Curt Carlson, President and CEO, SRI International
Ajay Agarwal, Managing Director, Bain Capital Ventures
Wasiq Bokhari, Founder and CEO, Qbotix
David Cann, Founder, Double Robotics
Aaron Edsinger, Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer, Redwood Robotics
John Kawola, CEO, Harvest Automation
Rich Mahoney, Director of Robotics, SRI International
Jim McCollum, CEO, Restoration Robotics
Keller Rinaudo, Founder and CEO, Romotive
Marcus Rosenthal, CEO, Revolve Robotics
Ian Sherman, Head of Development, Bot & Dolly
Vivek Wadhwa, Vice President of Academics and Innovation, Singularity University

Wade Roush is a freelance science and technology journalist and the producer and host of the podcast Soonish. Follow @soonishpodcast

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