Machine Agency: Making Machines that Make
Assistant Professor, Human Centered Design and Engineering
University of Washington
How can we harness the precision of machines for the creativity of individuals? Digital fabrication tools promise quality production in low volume and are now accessible in maker spaces worldwide. However, the maker context is very different from the historical industrial settings in which digital fabrication was developed. Yet these differences have not led to many changes in contemporary tools. I argue that personal fabrication requires a rethinking of production infrastructure, and in this talk outline a research roadmap for machine agency.
Nadya Peek develops unconventional digital fabrication tools, small scale automation, networked controls, and advanced manufacturing systems. Spanning electronics, firmware, software, and mechanics, her research focuses on harnessing the precision of machines for the creativity of individuals. Nadya directs the Machine Agency at the University of Washington where she is an assistant professor in Human-Centered Design and Engineering. Machines and systems Nadya has built are shared widely including at SIGGRAPH, CHI, Guggenheim Berlin, and the White House Maker Faire, and she has given keynotes at Chaos Computer Congress, SolidCon, and H.O.P.E. Nadya is an active member of the global fab lab community, making digital fabrication more accessible with better CAD/CAM tools and developing open source hardware machines and control systems. She is VP of the Open Source Hardware Association, half of the design studio James and the Giant Peek, plays drum machines and synths in the band Construction and got her PhD at MIT in the Center for Bits and Atoms.