by Eric Joyner
And all this science
I don’t understand
It’s just my job five days a week
Ian R. Kerr was an explorer. You see him here: animated, energetic, drumming to the beat he set for himself—and for all of us in his orbit. Here on this Planet of Playthings, he was friend to dogs, finisher of donuts, and philosopher of robots. Armed with an unmatched capacity for lateral thinking, and accompanied by his loyal companion Newton, he set off on countless quests in our shared corner of the universe: quests for knowledge, for joy, for the very best new music, for wisdom, for a delicious sweaty Pep from Tom’s House of Pizza.
He knew the old road was rapidly aging. Each frontier further unlocked his universe, infusing his driving drumline with a cacophony of inspiring sources. These shiny science fiction objects, dressed up as scholarship, are all assembled here: the perfect library for a rocketman, relinquishing control of his exclusively human activities. The key he sought most relentlessly was one he saw as sacred to humanity and one he swore could not be lost—even in the human-machine merger, and the quest to build better humans. Hold your fire! You’ll need it, to realize the extraordinary humanist possibilities he believed could be unlocked at the heart of such universal human quests.
In Eric Joyner’s portraits of robots and their donuts, Ian found a kindred spirit who was also able to derive the humanity of mechanical creatures and a shared love of round pastries. We asked Eric Joyner to bring Ian’s memory to canvas, reinforcing the dreams he learned to steer by the stars.
Take care of the sense, and the sounds will take care of themselves, Ian told us. If we listen carefully, perhaps his wise drumline will keep beat for us evermore.
This original painting by Eric Joyner has been commissioned by Ian’s family and his friends at the University of Ottawa Centre for Law, Technology and Society.
Ian R. Kerr (1965 - 2019) was a beloved law professor, educator, thinker, mentor, and friend. A pioneer and trailblazer, he identified the need to examine the legal and ethical implications of technology years before these issues emerged as leading societal concerns. Named the Canada Research Chair in Ethics, Law and Technology in 2001, Ian helped establish the University of Ottawa Centre for Law, Technology and Society.