BIO HIGHLIGHT — Margot Paez

Margot Paez believes her earliest memories are of computers, floppy disks, and programming books.

Her father introduced her to computers before she could read and he tells his friends that he taught her binary when she was 3 years old. She doesn't remember this. However, she does remember learning how to program in QBASIC around 8 years old.

In the 5th grade, young Margot popped open her Acer Sapphire and replaced a graphics card on her own, sparking over a decade of fascination with building and modifying her own computers. During this time, she also asked her parents to buy her a book on HTML. Coding for the web is her main source of programming for fun and profit since age 12. She continues to do freelance work in her spare time.

Not to be pingeonholed, Margot enjoys hamming it up on stage and in front of the camera. Her most favorite performance was playing in the all women Monty Python group, Monty Pythong. She is an amateur filmmaker and an occasional reporter. She started writing for print and web when she was in high school, beginning with her self-published entertainment magazine, Sexy Monkey Magazine. She was a guest editor for an upscale pet magazine and a former regular contributor to White Hot Magazine and the London Student newspaper. She has filed reports for KPFK and appeared as an expert on RT America. In 2011, she founded InsightOut News and published over 50 self-produced video reports on the Occupy LA movement through this outlet.

She has attended more universities than whole families of college grads and has multiple degrees in music and physics. She is currenty a PhD student in the physics department at Georgia Institute of Technology where she works in the Complex Rheology and Biomechanics Lab (CRAB Lab). She studies sand-based burying locomotion using a robophysical model (a robot), using the family of sand-swimming skinks as a biological model. She also assists on a project to improve planetary rovers for space exploration.

Margot was a year round intern for 3 years at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA where she developed a web-based repository to house information about samples analyzed on various instruments. Her former lab has a Raman spectrometer, SHERLOC, that is part of the NASA Mars 2020 mission. She is proud to say that she made very minor contributions to this project. She hopes that after her PhD she can return to mop the floors of her former lab and return to her favorite couch for a much needed mid-day nap.

Dummy robot Margot Paez is a PhD student in the physics department at Georgia Institute of Technology. She studies principles of locomotion using physics and a robot she built. She is available for commentary and interviews.
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Bit #2: Artificial Intelligence: it's dumb and dumber.


"Terminator Genisys" (2015) Paramount Pictures
Artificial intelligence (AI for short) is hot thanks to recent advancements in game playing algorithms. Google's Alpha Go's success sent the media into a tizzy, leading to debates on the future of AI and the role it will play in the lives of humans as it becomes more ubiquitous. A lot of these debates revolve around the dangers of AI, how it could go Hal 9000 on us, committing crimes against humanity like the robot in I, Robot. Or worse, it could become Skynet and lead to the destruction of human civilization. These fears are literally (and literarily) based in fiction. The reality is equally troubling, not because machines could become sentient and harm us, but because machines are still just so darn stupid.

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Bit #1: The robots are coming for your job, but that doesn’t have to mean the end of your happy existence.


“The Jetsons” (1963) Hanna-Barbera / Warner Bros.
These days, there’s a lot of talk about what robots will do to the workforce. Most people are convinced that a robot will eventually takeover their job. It’s only a matter of time before you exclaim to your friend as your sip your sad, warm beer, “That robot stole my job!” Well, I have bad news and good news. This could happen sooner than you think, but it doesn’t have to mean doom and gloom for humans.

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