Computer Science and Information Technology Group

Computer Science and Information Technology

Some of the most fascinating questions about the nature of spirituality are raised by the various fields of computer science and information technology (CSIT). The role of intelligent machines and computational models for human thought have already been discussed. But the advent of technology also raises crucial ethical and social questions for society today. The scientists in the CSIT group, specialized as they are in the development and use of these new technologies, discussed the probable effects of future technologies on human social and political life. Finally, the interconnectedness now made possible by the World Wide Web offers new models for human spirituality. Questions of future modes of human existence and the present and future forms of the human religious impulse thus lie at the center of this group's interests.

Please note: these bios date from the time of the SSQ program. In the time since the program, some of the participants have moved institutions and some have passed away.

Donna M. Auguste
Freshwater Software Inc

Donna Auguste founded Freshwater Software, Inc. in 1996 to bring to market tools that would help companies harness the Internet and technology to grow their businesses. Prior to founding Freshwater, Auguste was senior director for US West Advanced Technologies, was a key engineering manager for the landmark Newton Personal Digital Assistant product family at Apple Computer, and spent six years at IntelliCorp as part of the engineering team that introduced some of the world's first commercial artificial intelligence knowledge engineering technology products. Auguste holds a bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of California, Berkeley. She has completed graduate studies in Computer Science at Carnegie-Mellon University. She was awarded four patents by the US Patent and Trademark Office for her innovative engineering work on the Apple Newton Personal Digital Assistant. Auguste is the editor of a business newsletter,, and is active in her community as a gospel musician and a volunteer for children's organizations. She is currently leading an effort to bring solar-powered electricity and e-mail communication to hospital clinics in remote villages in Africa.

Dr. Hendrik Pieter Barendregt
Catholic University Nijmegen

Hendrik (Henk) Barendregt studied mathematics at Utrecht University specializing in logic and completed his Ph.D. in 1971 on the topic of lambda calculus with Georg Kreisel. At that university he continued to work and wrote his monograph The Lambda Calculus (1981). Since 1986 he has been a professor at Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, and currently holds the Chair of the Department of Foundations of Mathematics and Computer Science. In 1997 Barendregt was elected member of the Royal Dutch Academy of Sciences. He is currently working on a book on Type Theory. As a post-doc at Stanford University Barendregt came in contact with his first Buddhist teacher Kobun Chino Roshi, through whom he began training at the Tassajara Zen mountain center. Back in the Netherlands he met his present Buddhist teacher Phra Khru Kraisaravilasa Mettavihari and has been studying vipassana meditation with him. Barendregt is trying to connect phenomenological information obtained via intensive meditation retreats with those obtained through neurophysiology.

Dr. Praveen Chaudhari
T. J. Watson Research Center, IBM

Praveen Chaudhari was born into a Hindu family in India and immigrated to the U.S. in 1961. He holds a B.S. from the Indian Institute of Technology and both an M.S. and Sc.D. from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1966, he joined IBM’s Research Division, headquartered at the Watson Research Center in Yorktown, New York. Chaudhari had a productive 36-year career with IBM as a scientist and senior manager of research being appointed Director in 1981 and Vice-President of Science in 1982. The science programs flourished during Chaudhari’s management tenure in the IBM Research Division. Materials research, for example, became the basis of the $2-billion-a-year optical-disk industry. Also under Chaudhari’s watch, IBM scientists captured Nobel Prizes in physics for two consecutive years. In 1991, Chaudhari returned full-time to research primarily in the area of materials physics. He has published over a hundred and sixty technical papers and holds over twenty patents. Chaudhari has been honored with the National Medal of Technology (1995), the American Physical Society’s George E. Pake Award (1987) for his personal contributions to science and science management, and the Excellence Award of the US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, a fellow of the American Physical Society, and a member of the National Academy of Engineering. In 1993, at the request of the Indian Minister for Sciences and Technology, he led an IBM group to evaluate India’s parallel computer activities; and, in 1994, he made a presentation to Indian Prime Minister Rao on materials and critical technologies. In 2003 Dr. Chaudhari was appointed Director of the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Brookhaven Lab employs more than 2,800 scientists, engineers, technicians, and support staff and has an annual budget of $463 million. Major programs include nuclear and high-energy physics, physics and chemistry of materials, environmental and energy research, nonproliferation, neurosciences and medical imaging, and structural biology.

Char Davies

In her work, Char Davies explores the perceptual paradoxes of being embodied in virtual space. Her immersive virtual-reality environments are world renowned for their use of breath as navigational interface, their lyrical evocation of the natural environment, and their profound emotional effect on participants. To date, Osmose (1995) has been exhibited in Montreal, New York, the UK and Mexico. Ephemere (1998) premiered at the National Gallery of Canada. Formerly a painter and filmmaker, Char Davies began working with 3D digital media in the late '80s. She was a founding director of the software company Softimage, leaving two years ago to create Immersence, as a vehicle for pursuing artistic research.

Anne Foerst
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Dr. Foerst is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Research Associate at the Center for the Studies of Values in Public Life at Harvard Divinity School. As a participant in a project in which a robot is being built as an analogue to a human infant, Foerst is interested in demonstrating that dialogue between AI and contemporary theology is of tremendous significance. Additionally, she plans to analyze the extent to which AI and the Cognitive Sciences influence the values and self-understanding of Western Society.

Dr. Noreen Herzfeld
St. John's University

Dr. Herzfeld is both a computer scientist and a theologian. She is Associate Professor of Computer Science at St. John's University ( in Collegeville MN. She received a B.A. from St. Olaf College in Mathematics and Music, an M.A. in Mathematics and an M.S. in Computer Science from Penn State, an M.A. in Theology from St. John's University, and a Ph.D. in Christian Spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley. Noreen just completed a year as a visiting scholar at the Center for Theology and Natural Science in Berkeley. Her current research investigates the intersection between computer technology and Christian theology.  Noreen is a member of the Lutheran Church (ELCA) when in Minnesota, and the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) when in California. In her spare time, she is a certified wine judge and sings in an early music group, The Collegeville Consort, which has recently recorded their first CD.

Kevin Kelly
Wired Magazine

Kevin Kelly is the founding Executive Editor of Wired Magazine, which won the National Magazine Award for Excellence in 1994 and 1997. Kelly is also founding member of the WELL, a Sausalito-based teleconferencing system which was a pioneer in online service. He is the author of Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines, Economic and Social Systems.

Dr. Brenda Laurel
Art Center College of Design

Dr. Laurel is a designer, researcher and writer. Her work focuses on interactive narrative, human-computer interaction, and cultural aspects of technology. Her career in human-computer interaction spans over twenty years. She holds an M.F.A. and Ph.D. in theatre from the Ohio State University. Her doctoral dissertation was the first to propose a comprehensive architecture for computer-based interactive fantasy and fiction. Brenda was one of the founding members of the research staff at Interval Research Corporation in Palo Alto, California, where she coordinated research activities exploring gender and technology, and where she co-produced and directed the Placeholder Virtual Reality project. She was also one of the founders and VP/Design of a spinoff company from Interval—Purple Moon—formed to market products based on this research. Purple Moon was acquired by Mattel in 1999. In 1990 she co-founded Telepresence Research, Inc. to develop virtual reality and remote presence technology and applications. She has worked as a software designer, producer, and researcher for companies including Atari, Activision, and Apple. Brenda has published extensively on topics including interactive fiction, computer games, autonomous agents, virtual reality, and political and artistic issues in interactive media. Brenda lives with her husband Rob Tow and their family at their house Locus Voci in the Santa Cruz Mountains above the Silicon Valley region of the San Francisco Bay Area.

Mitch Marcus
University of Pennsylvania

Dr. Marcus studied Linguistics at Harvard University as an undergraduate, and received his Ph.D. Degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A former member of technical staff at AT&T Bell Laboratories, he is currently RCA Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Pennsylvania, and is Chair of the Computer and Information Science Department, as well as holding an appointment in Linguistics. He is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence and is a past-president of the Association for Computational Linguistics. He was the principal investigator of the Penn Treebank Project. Marcus's research interests include computational models of computer and human sentence processing, the development of large corpora of raw and annotated text, and the development of techniques for learning the second from the first.

Bonnie Nardi
AT&T Research

Dr. Nardi is an anthropologist at Agilent Technologies in the Experiment Management Project in the BioScience Information Solutions Department in Agilent Laboratories. Her current research investigates the work practices of molecular biologists. Dr. Nardi has worked in industry since 1984, studying the use of technology in offices, hospitals, schools and libraries. Her theoretical orientation is activity theory, a philosophical framework developed by the Russian psychologists Vygotsky, Luria, Leont'ev and their students. Her interests are collaborative work, theoretical approaches to technology design and evaluation, and understanding how technology affects consciousness. With Vicki O'Day, she co-authored Information Ecologies: Using Technology with Heart (MIT Press, 1999). They try to find a middle ground between technophilia and technophobia. Based on many years of empirical research, they believe there are ways for people to use technology critically and responsibly. She has also applied some of the information ecologies ideas to a consideration of the future of nanotechnology.

Pierre Perrier
French Academy of Sciences

Dr. Perrier is the General Secretary of the Academy of Technology, he is also a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences. His scientific and technical work has been dedicated to modeling with calculus. He is the author of numerous publications in the domain of fluid mechanics especially concerning turbulence and computational analysis. He has also great interest in modeling of language and conducts research on languages of the first century.

Mark Pesce
University of Southern California

Dr. Pesce is a co-creator of Virtual Reality Modeling Language (VRML). Pesce's networking research made it possible and now commonplace to dial into a remote network. He was the Principal Engineer for Shiva Corporation, the company credited with inventing dial-up networking. Pesce has developed a program at San Francisco State University, College of Extended Learning that trains students in all facets of production and design of 3D media, with an emphasis in Web technologies.

Azriel Rosenfeld
University of Maryland

Dr. Rosenfeld is distinguished university professor and director of the Center for Automation Research at the University of Maryland and holds affiliate professorships in the departments of Computer Science and Psychology and the College of Engineering. He holds a Ph.D. in mathematics from Columbia University, a doctor of Hebrew literature degree from Yeshiva University, and two honorary doctorates. An ordained rabbi, Rosenfeld is widely regarded as the world's leading researcher in the field of computer image analysis; he wrote the first textbook in the field, was founding editor of its first journal and co-chairman of its first international conference. Prof. Rosenfeld has published over twenty-five books and contributed over five hundred book chapters and journal articles. He is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the Association for Computing Machinery, the Washington Academy of Sciences, the Machine Vision Association of the Society of Manufacturing Engineers, and the International Association for Pattern Recognition. He has won the latter's premier academic achievement awards, as well as those of the IEEE Computer Society's Committee on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence, IEEE Systems, Man, and Cybernetics Society and the International Association for Pattern Recognition.

Brian Cantwell Smith
Duke University

Dr. Smith (Ph.D. 1982 MIT) will join the Duke Faculty September 1, 2001 as the Kimberly J. Jenkins University Professor of New Technologies and Society, with appointments in both philosophy and computer science. He previously taught at Indiana University in Bloomington. Before moving to Indiana in 1996 he was principal scientist at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and an adjunct professor of philosophy at Stanford University. He was a founder of the Center for the Study of Language and Information at Stanford University (CSLI), and a founder and first President of Computer Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR). Smith's research focuses on the foundations and philosophy of computing. His writings emphasize the inadequacy of our current understanding of computation, and recommend viewing it as an unrestricted site in which to explore fundamental questions about the relation between meaning and mechanism. He is the author of On the Origin of Objects (MIT Press, 1996), a proposal for a unified metaphysics of ontology and epistemology.

Henry Thompson
University of Edinburgh

Dr. Thompson is a Reader in the Department of Artificial Intelligence and the Centre for Cognitive Science at the University of Edinburgh, where he is also a member of the Human Communication Research Centre. Since coming to Edinburgh in 1980, he has become a leading member of the British and European speech and language processing research community. His research interests are in the area of Natural Language and Speech processing, from both the applications and Cognitive Science perspectives.

Jacques Vauthier
University of Paris, La Sorbonne

Dr. Vauthier is a Professor of Mathematics at the University of Paris La Sorbonne, Vauthier is the author of numerous articles and 12 books on mathematics and the philosophy of science including An Open Letter to Researchers Who Take Themselves for God ( Lettre ouverte aux savants qui se prennent pour Dieu) and The Mathematician's Cloak co-authored with the theologian Pere Marie Dominique Philippe. Besides, his academic career Vauthier is the editor in chief of the Scientists and Believers, a collection of the Editions Beuchesse, where he has published eight books of interviews with Christian, Jewish, Muslim and Buddhist scientists on the theme of science and religion. He also works as an international expert in knowledge based industries and information technology and is the director of EduFrance which is directly affiliated to the Ministries of Education and Foreign Affairs.

Mark Weiser
Xerox PARC

Mark Weiser is the Chief Technologist at the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center. He was assistant and Associate Professor and Associate Chair in the Computer Science Department at the University of Maryland, before joining Xerox as a member of the technical staff and eventually heading the Computer Science Laboratory. Widely known for what has been called "ubiquitous computing," Weiser is currently working on a program he initiated that envisions PCs being replaced with invisible computers in everyday objects.

Manuela M. Veloso
Carnegie Mellon University

Dr. Veloso is Associate Professor of Computer Science and Robotics at Carnegie Mellon University. She received her Ph.D. in Computer Science from Carnegie Mellon University in 1992. A native of Portugal, she received a B.S. in Electrical Engineering in 1980 and an M.Sc. in Electrical and Computer Engineering in 1984 from the Instituto Superior Tecnico in Lisbon. Dr. Veloso researches in the area of artificial intelligence. Her long-term research goal is the effective construction of intelligent agents where cognition, perception, and action are combined to autonomously address planning, execution, and learning tasks. She has developed robotic soccer teams that have participated in the RoboCup international competitions in three different categories, namely simulation software agents, small-wheeled robots, and Sony four-legged robots. Dr. Veloso is the Vice-President of the RoboCup International Federation. Dr. Veloso received an NSF Career Award in 1995 and the Allen Newell Medal for Excellence in Research in 1997. She is the author of one book on Planning by Analogical Reasoning, editor of several other books, and the author of over 70 technical journals and conference papers. More details are available at

Books by Manuela Veloso:
RoboCup-99: Robot Soccer World Cup III (edited with Enrico Pagello and Hiroaki Kitano) Springer Verlag, 2000
Symbolic Visual Learning (edited with Katsu Ikeuchi) Oxford University Press, 1997
Case-Based Reasoning Research and Development (edited with Agnar Aamodt) Springer Verlag, 1995
Planning and Learning by Analogical Reasoning, Springer Verlag, 1994.