Mark Sagar is the director of the Laboratory for Animate Technologies based at the Auckland Bioengineering Institute, and CEO of Soul Machines, an AI company founded last year. The core business for both lab and company is the development of interactive autonomously animated systems which will help define the next generation of human-computer interaction and facial animation.
The former medical researcher started his career building computer simulations of the human eye for virtual surgery. He has since moved on to working on computer-generated faces for Weta Digital, and is currently leading the team behind the world-renowned Baby X; an intelligent, emotionally responsive avatar.
Jeff Zacks is the head of the Dynamic Cognition Laboratory at Washington University in St Louis. His laboratory studies how the representations in the brain and the world work together in cognition. The lab studies perception and cognition using behavioral experiments, functional MRI, computational modeling, and testing of neurological patients.
One line of his research examines how people parse the continuous stream of behavior into meaningful events, and how this affects memory and cognition. Another line examines how mental imagery contributes to reasoning about spatial relations, especially how mental representations of one's body are updated during imagery and reasoning.
The workshop is organised within the framework of the Matariki Network of Universities, as part of the network's 'Brain and Mind' theme