Emma Hart takes inspiration from the natural world to build computer algorithms and evolving robots.

Why you should listen

Emma Hart is a professor of computer science at Edinburgh Napier University in Scotland, where she leads a research group working on nature-inspired intelligent systems.

Hart develops computer algorithms to solve challenging, real-world problems by taking inspiration from the processes observed in natural evolution that allow species to continually adapt and learn in order to thrive in a given environment. Her algorithms have been applied to applications that range from optimizing infrastructure design to solving logistics and scheduling problems. Her recent work mainly focuses on evolutionary robotics, addressing the challenge of how an artificial version of evolution can be used to autonomously design and fabricate robots that perform well in unknown environments. Such robots will fundamentally change the concept of machines, showcasing a new breed that can change their form and behavior over time to adapt to new situations.

Hart's work has been featured in variety of mainstream media such as the New Scientist and The Guardian. Since 2017, she has been editor-in-chief of Evolutionary Computation (MIT Press), the journal's first female editor.  She also contributes more widely to the artificial intelligence community worldwide, most recently on the Steering Committee and to a working group that led to the publication of Scotland's AI strategy in 2021.

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