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Kevin Slavin

  • Founding Chief Science & Technology Officer for The Shed
  • Faculty & Founder of Playful Systems Group & Research Affiliate, MIT Media Lab
  • Serial Entrepreneur/Provocateur/Raconteur

A serial entrepreneur with a brilliant mind, Kevin Slavin explores the nexus of technology, science, and culture with ease and sophistication. Widely admired for his creativity and vision, he is the mastermind behind ideas, projects, and companies that are transforming culture, design, media and entertainment, using big data, next-generation technologies, and the frontiers of science.

As a cultural and design visionary, Kevin served as the founding Chief Science and Technology Officer of The Shed, New York City’s first multi-arts center for artistic invention, a 500 million dollar capital project that commissions, produces, and presents a range of performing and visual arts as well as popular culture.

During his tenure, Kevin’s led The Shed in integrating technology and science into cultural forms: everything from the experience of the 21st century visitor, to the capabilities of the projects presented, to curatorial efforts working with some of the most advanced technologists and scientists in the United States. During the institution’s planning and development, he worked directly with both Artistic Director Alex Poots, and the building’s architect, Liz Diller.

Kevin has built, managed, and sold visionary companies, led a research group at the MIT Media Lab, and developed the technological vision for the first major cultural institution in New York City since 1955. He is also a founding editor of the MIT Press Journal of Design and Science, and an advisor to startups, MoMA’s design department, and HBO’s Westworld. He serves on the board of the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art where he was Vice-Chair between 2014 and 2016.

His popular TED talk, “How Algorithms Shape Our World,” has been viewed almost four million times, figuring prominently in spaces ranging from classroom instruction to ads for Apple's iPad and sparking documentaries and primetime TV episodes. With his characteristic wit and intelligence, he noted—long before the headlines—the expanding space in our lives that’s determined and run by algorithms. From Netflix recommendations to Wall Street stock trading, he explains the scope of their influence and how we can survive and thrive in the new landscape that these technologies have formed.

At the MIT Media Lab, Kevin was founder and faculty of the Playful Systems research group and remains at MIT in the role of Research Affiliate. Translating the complex systems of today’s technology into games, stories and narratives, he has focused on everything from board games to urban metagenomics. In this capacity, he worked with the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values, chess grandmaster Maurice Ashley, MIT’s Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences, the Mori Building Corporation and the Japanese Olympic Committee. His work at the Media Lab has been featured in Wired, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, and Discovery.

Keywords: artificial intelligence, collaboration, design, innovation, biotechnology, technology, culture and technology, games, algorithms

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