Season 6: Can You Hear Me Now • May 16, 2023

Technology, Timing, and the Metaverse

Shana Cosgrove talks to Cori Lathan, Ph.D., Author of Inventing the Future and Founder of AnthroTronix

In this episode of The Outspoken Podcast, host Shana Cosgrove talks to Dr. Corinna (Cori) Lathan, Chief Science Officer at DANA Brain Vital, about her current role and her two decades as founder and CEO of AnthroTronix. Cori tells Shana about how she pursued her interests in neuroscience and human space flight into lab jobs (the “vomit comet”) and then a PhD in Neuroscience and an MS in Aeronautics and Astronautics from MIT (in that order). They discuss her decision to leave a tenured university position to start up AnthroTronix, and Cori retells the company’s history of groundbreaking inventions, moving from educational robotics to designing VR experiments for the International Space Station to making “sensors for soldiers.” Cori talks about how she wrote her 2022 book, Inventing the Future: Stories from a Techno-Optimist, as a legacy memoir of her company, as an inspiration to younger generations, and as a way to honor the memory of her parents. She tells Shana that we are already living in the metaverse, urges listeners to make STEM a creative endeavor again, and remembers when her fifth-grade classmates voted her “most likely to go to Mars.”

  • “I think we’re going to move in and out of the physical-digital convergence. ‘Physical-digital convergence’ is how I think of the metaverse. And It’s going to be a spectrum of technologies, and it’s going to be a spectrum of uses, and it’s going to be pervasive. Our day will be moving in and out of this physical-digital continuum.” – Cori Lathan [13:05] 
  • “Call it whatever you want. Get the tools you need to get [things] done. . . . If you need to have the label, you can always tack the label on.” – Cori Lathan [48:23]
  • “We very much have done ourselves a disservice by making math the end-all, be-all. . . . I happen to love math and I happen to have been good at it. If I hadn’t, I would have been completely steered out of a STEM career.” – Cori Lathan [50:19]
  • [00:04] Intro
  • [01:34] Meet Cori Lathan
  • [04:30] Writing the Stories of AnthroTronix’s Inventions 
  • [09:35] Emerging Technologies That Improve Human Performance
  • [12:12] Living in the Metaverse? How Pervasive AR/VR Will Be
  • [14:32] Finding the Authentic as New-Generation Digital Natives
  • [16:49] On Tech and Timing: When Technology Meets Market Readiness
  • [21:42] Starting up AnthroTronix
  • [27:45] Winning a National Science Foundation SBIR Grant
  • [29:10] From Disability Product Development to DARPA
  • [34:07] Growing Up Fearless, Inventing a College Major at Swarthmore
  • [40:50] Researching Human Space Flight, Earning a Neuroscience PhD at MIT 
  • [48:15] Find Cool Projects with Cool People
  • [51:36] Maker Spaces: Let’s Change the Way We Do STEM Education
  • [57:58] Outro

I’d love to hear from you — your feedback is important to me and I read all of it. If you enjoyed the podcast, I hope you’ll give us 5 stars. I’ll be sure to thank you via email. If not, let me know what you think we should do differently. Don’t forget to hit “subscribe” so you’ll receive notifications about guest interviews and other topics that drop every Tuesday.

Live well, Shana

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