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Keynote: It Really is a Series of Tubes

Location: Grand Ballroom ABC & Simulcast in Garden

Duration: 9:00am - 10:10am

Day of week: Tuesday

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Senator Ted Stevens once described the Internet as a series of tubes—he was just off by a century. Pneumatic tubes, the ones that you know from banks and hospitals, used to run under the streets of every major financial center in the world, connected post and telegraph offices. Starting in the 1850s, booming in the 1880s and -90s, and in service as late as 1980s to early 2000s, pneumatic tubes made it possible to get a message across the city quickly. Paris had the biggest tube network in the world until 1984, going out of service only when fax and phone service became reliable enough. This talk goes in-depth to one of the largest information networks of its day and provides an interesting historical comparison to the development of modern digital networks - the challenges faced by constructing these networks, the limits of what could be sent through these networks and the impact they had on communication as a whole - and wonderful talk by Molly Wright Steenson goes right down the tubes.

Speaker: Molly Wright Steenson

AI, Ethics & Design: Author, Designer, Professor, Research Leader

Molly is Senior Associate Dean for Research in the College of Fine Arts and the K&L Gates Associate Professor in Ethics and Computational Technologies at Carnegie Mellon University and the School of Design—a designer, author, and international keynote speaker whose work focuses on the intersection of design, architecture, and artificial intelligence. She is the author of Architectural Intelligence: How Designers and Architects Designed the Digital Landscape (MIT Press, 2017), which traces architecture’s collaborations with AI over 50 years and how they poured the foundation for digital design, information architecture, and UX, and the editor of Bauhaus Futures (with Laura Forlano & Mike Ananny, MIT Press, 2019), which asks: if the Bauhaus were around today, what would keep it up at night? Molly is also a web and UX pioneer who has worked with the web since 1994 at Fortune 500 companies, consulting firms and innovative startups. She holds a PhD in architecture from Princeton University and a master's in architectural studies from Yale.

Find Molly Wright Steenson at

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