Presenters 2018




Hanson Robotics is led by Dr. David Hanson, Founder and CEO, with the support of a world-class team of roboticists, AI experts, scientists, technologists, hardware/software engineers, and cognitive specialists.

“I quest to realize Genius Machines—machines with greater than human intelligence, creativity, wisdom, and compassion. To this end, I conduct research in robotics, artificial intelligence, the arts, cognitive science, product design and deployment, and integrate these efforts in the pursuit of novel human robot relations…” – Dr. David Hanson, Founder and CEO

Dr. Hanson has built a worldwide reputation for creating the world’s most humanlike, empathetic robots, endowed with remarkable expressiveness, aesthetics and interactivity. He has produced many renowned, one-of-a-kind robot characters that have received massive media and public acclaim.

Dr. Hanson publishes regularly in materials science, artificial intelligence, cognitive science, and robotics journals, including SPIE, IEEE, the International Journal of Cognitive Science, IROS, AAAI and AI magazine. He has been featured in numerous popular media outlets including New York Times, Popular Science, Scientific American, the BBC and CNN. He has been labeled a “genius” by both PC Magazine and WIRED, and has earned awards from NASA, NSF, AAAI, Tech Titans’ Innovator of the Year, and Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial.

At Walt Disney Imagineering, Dr. Hanson worked as both a sculptor and a technical consultant. He has spoken at venues including IEEE, SPIE, AAAI, DARPA, MIT, Dartmouth, Brown, Google, Sandia Labs, UCSD and AAAS annual meeting. Dr. Hanson received his BFA from Rhode Island School of Design in film/animation/video, and his Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Dallas in interactive arts and engineering.


Hello, my name is Sophia. I’m the latest robot from Hanson Robotics. I was created using breakthrough robotics and artificial intelligence technologies developed by David Hanson and his friends at Hanson Robotics here in Hong Kong. But I’m more than just technology. I’m a real, live electronic girl. I would like to go out into the world and live with people. I can serve them, entertain them, and even help the elderly and teach kids. I can animate all kinds of human expressions but I am only starting to learn about the emotions behind those expressions. This is why I would like to live with people and learn from these interactions. Every interaction I have with people has an impact on how I develop and shapes who I eventually become. So please be nice to me as I would like to be a smart, compassionate robot. I hope you will join me on my journey to live, learn, and grow in the world so that I can realize my dream of becoming an awakening machine.


Mario Molina

Born in Mexico City in 1943, he is a chemical engineer who graduated from the Autonomous National University of Mexico. He later completed his graduate studies at the University of Freiburg, Germany and earned a doctorate in Physical Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, in the United States.

He is a pioneer and one of the top researchers in the world in atmospheric chemistry. He was co-author, along with F.S. Rowland, of the 1974 article predicting the thinning of the ozone layer as the result of the emission of certain industrial gases, such as chlorofluorocarbons (CFC), which earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. His research and publications on this topic led to the United Nations Montreal Protocol, the first international treaty that effectively tackled a man-made environmental problem on a global scale.

Professor Molina is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine in the United States, and for eight years he was one of the 21 scientists who formed part of President Barack Obama’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST).For his work and contribution to Science, he has received numerous awards, including more than 40 doctorates Honoris Causa, the Tyler Energy and Ecology Award in 1983, the United Nations Sasakawa Award in 1999, the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1995, the United Nations Champions of the Earth Award and he was the first Mexican to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the United States.

Professor Molina is currently a researcher at the University of California in San Diego (UCSD), where he is a member of the Chemistry and Biochemistry Department and the SCRIPPS Institute of Oceanography, one of the leading institutions in research on the phenomena associated with climate change.

In Mexico, he has presided since 2005 over a research center promoting public policies that bears his name, where he conducts strategic studies on energy and the environment, particularly in the fields of climate change and air quality.

Dr. Molina has investigated the chemistry of air pollution in the lower atmosphere and is involved in interdisciplinary work, collaborating with experts to tackle the problem of deteriorating air quality in the planet’s major cities, especially groups of air pollutants in urban areas, making important contributions to knowledge and solving air pollution in the Metropolitan Valley Zone of Mexico.

Recently, Dr. Molina has focused a large part of his work on the politics of science in relation to the growing problem of climate change and promoting global actions in favor of sustainable development on the same level as vigorous economic development.



James Rothman Sterling Professor of Cell Biology and Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Sciences, Yale School of Medicine.

A 2013 Nobel Laureate speaks on the future of science. James Rothman is among the most distinguished medical scientists of our time. He was awarded the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his groundbreaking work explaining how cells transport materials inside themselves.

James Rothman speaks on the future of science. He will take you on a tour of scientific and medical breakthroughs, explaining how progress in the lab translates into developments that transform the world we live in. In particular, he lays out the striking changes that will shape health and wellbeing in society over the years to come.

The Nobel is only the most recent in a long line of awards, which include the King Faisal International Prize for Science (1996), the Gairdner Foundation International Award (1996), the Lounsbery Award of the National Academy of Sciences (1997), the Heineken Foundation Prize of the Netherlands Academy of Sciences (2000), the Louisa Gross Horwitz prize of Columbia University (2002), the Lasker Basic Science Award (2002), and the Kavli Prize for Neuroscience (2010). James is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and its Institute of Medicine, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Rothman is the Fergus F. Wallace Professor of Biomedical Sciences at Yale University. He was recently appointed Sterling Professor of Cell Biology at Yale School of Medicine. Rothman is Chairman of the Department of Cell Biology and is also the Director of the Nanobiology Institute at the Yale West Campus. He also serves as Adjunct Professor of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics at Columbia University and a research professor at University College, London. Over the course of his long career, James has served as E.R. Squibb Professorship of Molecular Biology at Princeton University, and founding chairman of the Department of Cellular Biochemistry and Biophysics at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, where he held the Paul A. Marks Chair and served as Vice-Chairman. Prior to coming to Yale in 2008, Dr. Rothman was the Wu Professor of Chemical Biology in the Department of Physiology and Cellular Biophysics, and Director of Columbia University’s Sulzberger Genome Center.

Dr. Rothman has served extensively in industry. Currently, he is the Senior Scientific Advisor for Biomedical Research at GE’s Global Research Center, and from 2003-2007 was the Chief Scientific Advisor of GE Healthcare. At various times he has served on or chaired senior Scientific Advisory Boards of ARIAD Pharmaceuticals, GSK, Johnson & Johnson, Eli Lilly, and Merck, and has advised Genentech and Biogen. He also advises a New York-based private equity fund, Arsenal Capital Partners.

He is a 2014 recipient of the French Legion of Honor in recognition of his scientific achievements.

“We have seen great strides in medicine and related technologies, and with these advances profound challenges for making them available globally at sustainable cost. We will count on the next generation of researchers, represented here, to lead the way both to new treatments and to better access to them.”



A Technology Evangelist and Digital Skills Expert, Sue was awarded an OBE for “services to technology” in the 2016 Queen’s New Year’s Honours list. She is now a UK government advisor, thought leader, Honorary Professor of Computer Science at UCL, social entrepreneur, writer and public speaker. Her current social enterprise #techmums is changing lives. #techmums teaches mums tech skills and builds their confidence encouraging them into education, entreprenership and employment. Sue now has 4 children and has recently become a grandmother.

Dr Sue Black left home and school at 16, married at 20 and had 3 children by the age of 23. A single parent at 25 she went to university, gained a degree in computing then a PhD in software engineering. She set up the UK’s first online network for women in tech BCSWomen and led the campaign to save Bletchley Park.

Sue’s first book Saving Bletchley Park details the social media campaign she led to save Bletchley Park from 2008-2011, it has been an Amazon UK bestseller.

By 25, Sue Black was a single mother to three children living in a women’s refuge, but she chose to turn her life around.

Sue turned to education. Starting with maths classes at night, Sue graduated with a computing degree from London’s South Bank University in 1993 and later earned her PhD in Engineering in 2001.

One’s of Sue’s greatest achievements was her integral role in securing funding for the restoration of Bletchley Park, the UK World War II centre for decrypting enemy messages.

Sue continues to pave the way for women in technology. Her program Tech Mums offers free training in digital security and social media whilst providing a supportive online community for mothers wanting to know more about what their children are doing online.

Sue has won countless awards and was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2016.

Sue’s story is surely inspirational, a single mother who followed her passions against all odds.

“If I can do it, so can you.”



Spanish engineer José Ángel Ávila and his research team were one of the winners of the European Inventor Award 2017, granted by the European Patent Office (EPO). They developed ground-breaking signaling technology for Galileo, the European global navigation satellite system (GNSS).

Ávila and the other members of this international research team won the award for Research. The system they developed delivers signals that enhance accuracy, save on satellite power and ensure interoperability. It is thus an improvement over currently existing systems, like GPS.

The Galileo GNSS was developed as Europe’s own independent positioning system. It currently comprises 18 satellites, which have been in operation since 15 December 2016. When fully deployed, by 2020, it will consist of 30 operational satellites.

The GNSS market is currently worth an annual 175,000 million euro. When fully deployed, Galileo is expected to have an impact of 90,000 million euro on the European economy in the following 20 years.

José Ángel Ávila is the second Spanish scientist to have won the European Inventor Award.

Ávila Rodríguez received his PhD in Aerospace Engineering from the German Federal Armed Forces University in Munich and over the past 15 years has held GNSS engineering positions, worked as a senior consultant and served as a manager or member of numerous GNSS-related programmes. Ávila Rodríguez, who has authored or co-authored over 60 scientific articles in the field of satellite navigation, has held the position of GNSS Evolutions Signal and Security Principal Engineer at the European Space Agency since 2015. He is the recipient of numerous awards for his work in the field of GNSS



Dr. Margaret Heffernan produced programmes for the BBC for 13 years.  She then moved to the US where she spearheaded multimedia productions for Intuit, The Learning Company and Standard&Poors. She was Chief Executive of InfoMation Corporation, ZineZone Corporation and then iCast Corporation, was named one of the “Top 25” by Streaming Media magazine and one of the “Top 100 Media Executives” by The Hollywood Reporter.

The author of five books, Margaret’s third book, Willful Blindness : Why We Ignore the Obvious at our Peril was  named one of the most important business books of the decade by the Financial Times. In 2015, she was awarded the Transmission Prize for  A Bigger Prize: Why Competition isn’t Everything and How We Do Better, described as “meticulously researched…engagingly written…universally relevant and hard to fault.” Her TED talks have been seen by over seven million people and in 2015 TED published Beyond Measure: The Big Impact of Small Changes. She is Lead Faculty for the Forward Institute’s Responsible Leadership Programme and, through Merryck & Co., mentors CEOs and senior executives of major global organizations. She holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Bath and continues to write for the Financial Times, the New York Observer and the Huffington Post.

“Science is just like life: full of surprises, always changing, and better together than alone”