Computer science has served to isolate programs and programmers from knowledge of the mechanisms used to manipulate information, however this fiction is increasingly hard to maintain as devices scale down in size and systems scale up in complexity. This talk will explore the consequences of exposing rather than hiding this underlying physical reality, in areas including logic automata, interdevice internetworking, intelligent infrastructure, digital fabrication and programmable matter. Breaking down these boundaries between bits and atoms can help improve not just the performance but also the relevance of information technologies for some of our greatest technological challenges and opportunities.

Neil Gershenfeld is the Director of MIT's Center for Bits and Atoms, and has been named one of Scientific American's 50 leaders in science and technology. He's a pioneer at the boundary between computer science and physical science, from early quantum computations to virtuosic musical instruments to field "fab labs".