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Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin New Shepard crew capsule
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos shows off a mockup of Blue Origin’s New Shepard crew capsule during a 2017 space conference. Blue Origin will be represented at Amazon’s re:Mars conference. (GeekWire Photo / Kevin Lisota)

Amazon didn’t have to look very far for one of the biggest headliners due to appear at re:MARS, the Seattle-based company’s open-to-the-public event focusing on artificial intelligence and other tech frontiers.

Billionaire founder Jeff Bezos will share the stage with actor/producer Robert Downey Jr. and a cavalcade of CEOs, researchers and Amazon executives.

Today Amazon is taking the wraps off the starting lineup for the first re:MARS conference, set to take place June 4-7 at the Aria Resort and Casino in Las Vegas — and is letting the world know that registration will open at 6 a.m. PT March 28.

Re:MARS is modeled after the company’s invitation-only MARS conference, which has focused annually on Machine learning, Automation, Robotics and Space since 2016. In 2017, Bezos stole the show by stomping onstage in a giant robot, and in 2018, MARS photos of Bezos and Boston Dynamics’ robot dog went viral.

This year’s edition of MARS is reportedly running next week. (Our invitation must have gotten lost in the mail. Again.)

This year’s re:MARS is Amazon’s maiden effort to share the MARS experience with a wider public, as long as that public is willing to pay the $1,999 price for a pass. (Astronauts, however, can attend for free.)

What will attendees get for their money? Access to more than 100 sessions over the course of three and a half days, including keynotes, innovation spotlights, deep dives, demos and interactive workshops. An opportunity to experience Blue Origin’s New Shepard suborbital space capsule. And the chance to hobnob with the luminaries of the burgeoning artificial intelligence field … in Vegas, no less.

In addition to Bezos, the Amazon contingent will include Worldwide Consumer CEO Jeff Wilke and Dave Limp, senior vice president of Amazon Devices and Services. They’ll provide an inside look at the AI innovations behind Alexa, Amazon Web Services, the cashierless Amazon Go stores, Prime Air’s delivery drones, Amazon Robotics and more.

The list of speakers also includes leaders in the four MARS fields, with a heavy emphasis on artificial intelligence and its applications (leavened with what’s likely to be some fun stuff from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Bezos’ Blue Origin space venture). Here’s the lineup announced today:

  • Colin Angle, chairman, CEO and founder of iRobot.
  • Kate Darling, researcher at MIT Media Lab and affiliate at the Harvard Berkman Center.
  • Robert Downey Jr., actor and producer.
  • Aicha Evans, CEO of Zoox, a self-driving technology development company.  
  • Ken Goldberg, engineering professor at the University of California at Berkeley.
  • Daphne Koller, founder of Insitro, an AI-based drug discovery company, and computer science professor at Stanford.
  • Andrew Lo, professor at the MIT Sloan School of Management and director of the MIT Laboratory for Financial Engineering.
  • Andrew Ng, founder and CEO of Landing AI and deeplearning.ai, general partner at AI Fund, co-founder of Coursera and an adjunct computer science professor at Stanford.
  • Naveen Rao, corporate vice president and general manager of Intel’s AI Products Group.
  • Tom Soderstrom, IT chief technology officer at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
  • Patrick Zeitouni, head of Blue Origin’s Advanced Development Program.

Featured sponsors for re:MARS include Accenture, Intel and iRobot. Folks who want all the latest info can sign up for email updates at the re:MARS website.

There’s sure to be further details to come as the agenda gets filled out. One big question: Will Robert Downey Jr. come to re:Mars in his “Iron Man” suit? Or would Elon Musk get jealous? As Tony Stark might say, “We’ll make it work.”

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