Last Thursday I received possibly the most interesting job description I’ve ever seen. A colleague in the Office of the CTO, Maurice Conti, has a team of robotics researchers working in the Applied Research Lab on Pier 9 in San Francisco and is looking to bring Machine Learning expertise into the team. I’ve talked about the Lab before, and you may also have seen this Guardian coverage of my friend David Thomasson, who works there.
I think this might actually be my dream job. There are a few reasons I won’t be applying: there’s a skills gap (I only have cursory knowledge of Machine Learning, just for instance) and there’s a location issue (my family and I are very happy in Switzerland), but otherwise I’d be bashing down Maurice’s door for this opportunity. There’s also the fact I’m really enjoying my current role, of course, which I’m happy to say is getting more interesting by the day.
My interest in the Pier 9 job probably also relates to the fact I’ve recently finished Neal Stephenson’s excellent Seveneves, which contains a character named Dinah who could easily have been based on the researchers in this lab. I doubt this was the case, but still. Seveneves is a really important Sci-Fi novel that starts around the current day and speculatively spans the coming 5,000 years of our planet’s history (although that time period is really book-ended by the first two-thirds and the last third of the book: there’s not much reported on the time in-between). It’s about to come out in paperback (on May 17th), and so the Kindle price has just dropped. I’ve loved all of Stephenson’s books – just for instance, Snow Crash and The Diamond Age were particularly forward-thinking about the Internet/VR and additive manufacturing/nanotechnology, respectively – but this book looks at how a future civilization might look if shaped by today’s (well, tomorrow’s) technology, if that’s all we had access to while living off-planet for the foreseeable future. It’s hard Sci-Fi at its best: grounded in reality, yet genuinely mind-expanding. I consider this book a must-read for designers, engineers and developers with an eye on the horizon.
Anyway, enough of all that, Without further ado, here’s the job description. I would sincerely love one of this blog’s readers to get the job, so I can feel like I’m doing it vicariously. If you do end up applying, please let me know!
Software & Machine Learning Ninja
Join Autodesk’s Applied Research Lab and help create the future!
The Autodesk Applied Research Lab pursues a broad scope of inquiry–from Advanced Robotics, IoT and Machine Learning, to Climate Change and the Future of Work. We gain insight by diving in to the subject matter head first. We build real-world prototypes to truly understand how cutting-edge technology will develop in the future, and how these developments will affect the future of Autodesk and the world at large. Check out an article about the Lab here.
We’re looking for someone to be our lead software guru. You’ll develop proof-of-concept and prototype code for our experiments and research. You’ll be asked to break new ground in how robots and sensors are controlled, how they perceive their environments, and how they think. We believe Machine Learning is a key technology in our future, and you’ll be leading the Lab’s work in this area.
Most of our projects have both hardware and software components. Although you’ll be leading the software side, it’s important you have a passion for the fusion of these two disciplines. If you have an interest in delving into the hardware side even further, so much the better.
Our research focus changes over time, so we’re looking for someone that thrives in a dynamic environment and loves to explore.
We work out of the incredible creative workshop facility at Pier 9 in San Francisco, with a new lab equipped with a variety of industrial robot arms, a motion capture system, drones, boats, an underwater ROV, a kick-ass stereo system, and a beautiful view of the San Francisco Bay.
Links about the lab:
- Forbes article (and vid) about interaction
- Today In The Lab
- FastCo article about the MX3D collaboration
- Madeline’s How To Tame Your Robot
- Hive project at AU
- Good grounding in machine learning and statistical methods
- Experience with computer vision, including pattern recognition, depth sensing, SLAM, image processing
- Some deep learning experience (at least basic CNN’s). Familiarity with embedded systems, and communication protocols
- Experience with control systems, digital filters, control theory and application. Strong interest in the making of physical things
- Able to quickly make robust prototype desktop and web applications, as well as make libraries and plugins for existing applications
- Experience with CAD and graphics programming
- Good verbal and written English skills
- Self-motivated generalist with a proven ability to dive deep into new areas
- Experience with robotics/mechatronics projects working both individually and in small teams
- Some reinforcement learning experience (various forms of optimization)
- Unsupervised learning, classification and prediction systems
- Familiar with visual node-based programming environments
- Experience with ROS
- Strong intellectual curiosity
- Self-directed but enjoys working in a small close-knit team
- Interested in working hands-on in the workshop
- Personally motivated by the promise of technology being an enabler for positive change
- Science fiction, music, art, food, design, sport, tools
If you find this job description as interesting as I did, and want to be part of a cutting edge team inventing the future, apply today!