Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of 14 December 2017

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking

Stanford, 14 December 2017
c/o Stanford University
Alway building - Room M114
Chaired by Piero Scaruffi

The LASERs are a national program of evening gatherings that bring artists and scientists together for informal presentations and conversation with an audience. See the program for the whole series. The event is free and open to everybody. Email me if you want to be added to the mailing list for the LASERs. Like previous evenings, the agenda includes some presentations of art/science projects, news from the audience, and time for casual socializing/networking.
Where: Stanford University, Alway building - Room M114
There should be ample parking in the structure on corner of Campus Drive West and Roth Way. (Stanford map)
Parking is mostly free at Stanford after 6pm.
Program (the order of the speakers might change):
  • 7:00-7:25: Melissa Merencillo (Virtual Reality Evangelist) on "Where We Are in XR (X Reality: Augmented, Virtual, Mixed and Cinematic Realities)" Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality of the last 12 months... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Steve Omohundro (A.I. and Blockchain researcher) on " AI, Deception, and Blockchains" Can A.I. help with detecting fakes, whether "fake news" or forget art? ... Read more
  • 7:50-8:10: BREAK. Before or after the break, anyone in the audience currently working within the intersections of art and science will have 30 seconds to share their work. Please present your work as a teaser so that those who are interested can seek you out during social time following the event.
  • 8:10-8:35: Mel Day (SJSU) on "Everyday Voices: Building a Different Kind of Wall" Amateur and collective singing can play a role in deepening dialogue among groups... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Denise Gigante (Stanford/ Literature) on "Too Much Life: Romantic Monstrosity in Frankenstein" Mary Shelley animates a radically new concept of monstrosity in her novel Frankenstein... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

Watch it live on your mobile device by using
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See also...
  • Other LASER series
  • Archive of past LASERs
  • Leonardo ISAST
  • Art, Technology, Culture Colloquia
  • CODAME
  • ScienceSchmoozer
  • LAST Festival
  • Other recommended events
    Bios:
    • Mel Day is an interdisciplinary artist and educator, currently at San Jose State University, and previously at UC Berkeley, Santa Clara University, and University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College. Recent work explores the role of singing in civic engagement, deepening dialogue among potentially insular groups. Day is currently building a "Wall of Song" with artist Michael Namkung, a massed singing of Leonard Cohen's Hallelujah, which has been exhibited nationally, most recently at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco. Her work has also been exhibited and screened in venues such as Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco Film Festival, Pacific Film Archive, Berkeley Art Museum, San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, ZERO1 Biennale, and Peak Gallery in Toronto. She has participated in residencies nationally and internationally including Stanford University's Experimental Media Arts Lab, Headlands Center for the Arts, Djerassi Resident Artist Program, Oberpfaelzer Kuenstlerhaus (Schwandorf, Germany), The Lab, SF and she recently co-founded an IDEO-awarded Youth Fellowship program at Djerassi. Other honors include San Francisco Foundation's Murphy Fellowship in the Fine Arts and the Eisner Prize in the Creative Arts from UC Berkeley.
    • Denise Gigante teaches eighteenth and nineteenth-century British literature at Stanford, with a focus on Romanticism. Her interests include the longer historical tradition of poetry and poetics, the English periodical essay, the Romantic novel, taste, gastronomy, aesthetic theory, antiquarianism, and the history of the book. She is currently working on The Book Madness: A Story of Book Collectors in America and is the author of The Keats Brothers: The Life of John and George, (just released by Harvard UP in paperback), Life: Organic Form and Romanticism (Yale UP, 2009), Taste: A Literary History (Yale UP, 2005), and two anthologies: The Great Age of the English Essay (Yale UP, 2008) and Gusto: Essential Writings in Nineteenth-Century Gastronomy (Routledge, 2005).
    • Melissa Merencillo is an X-Reality (XR = AR/VR/MR) enthusiast and technophile focusing on social presence, behavioral communication and interaction design in digital reality systems. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication from California State University East Bay (2012) and a Master of Arts in Multimedia in Interaction Design also from California State University East Bay (2017). Her work on the collaborative thesis, Project: This Way!, explored the concepts of copresence in VR and was shown at the VR Mixer of the Game Developer's Conference in San Francisco, Maker Faire Bay Area in San Mateo, and at the symposium, If You Weren't: Playing with Realities in ARG, AR, and VR held at Stanford University in Palo Alto. She is a member of various AR/VR MeetUps and attends industry conferences on AR/VR technology throughout the Bay Area. She is currently the Instructional Support Technician II and Video Lab Coordinator of the Department of Communication at California State University East Bay supporting courses in digital video and media production.
    • Steve Omohundro founded Possibility Research and Self-Aware Systems to develop beneficial intelligent technologies. He has degrees in Physics and Mathematics from Stanford and a Ph.D. in Physics from Berkeley. He was a computer science professor at the University of Illinois and cofounded the Center for Complex Systems Research. He published the book "Geometric Perturbation Theory in Physics", designed the A.I. programming languages StarLisp and Sather, wrote the 3D graphics system for Mathematica, invented many machine learning algorithms (including manifold learning, model merging, bumptrees, and family discovery), and built systems that learn to read lips, control robots, and induce grammars. He's done internationally recognized work on AI safety and strategies for its beneficial development. He is on the advisory board of AI startups AIBrain and Cognitalk, and is past chairman of the Silicon Valley ACM Special Interest Group in AI. He is also on the advisory board of blockchain startup Dfinity and the Institute for Blockchain Studies. See for example his Presentation on Deep Learning for Business and TED talk on A.I.
    • Piero Scaruffi is a cultural historian who has lectured in three continents and published several books on Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science, the latest one being "The Nature of Consciousness" (2006). He pioneered Internet applications in the early 1980s and the use of the World-Wide Web for cultural purposes in the mid 1990s. His poetry has been awarded several national prizes in Italy and the USA. His latest book of poems and meditations is "Synthesis" (2009). As a music historian, he has published ten books, the latest ones being "A History of Rock and Dance Music" (2009) and "A History of Jazz Music" (2007). His latest book of history is "A History of Silicon Valley" (2011). The first volume of his free ebook "A Visual History of the Visual Arts" appeared in 2012. His latest book is "Intelligence is not Artificial" (2013). He has also written extensively about cinema and literature. He founded the Leonardo Art Science Evening Rendezvous (LASER) in 2008.

    Extended abstracts:

    Omohundro
    Recent AI systems can create fake images, sound files, and videos that are hard to distinguish from real ones. For example, Lyrebird's software can mimic anyone saying anything from a one minute sample of their speech, Adobe's "Photoshop of Voice" VoCo software has similar capabilities, and the "Face2Face" system can generates realistic real time video of anyone saying anything. Continuing advances in deep learning "GAN" systems will lead to ever more accurate deceptions in a variety of domains. But AI is also getting better at detecting fakes. The recent rash of "fake news" has led to a demand for deception detection. We are in an arms race between the deceivers and the fraud detectors. Who will win? The science of cryptographic pseudorandomness suggests that the deceivers will have the upper hand. It is computationally much cheaper to generate pseudorandom bits than it is to detect that they aren't random. The issue has enormous social implications. A synthesized video of a world leader could start a war. Altered media could implicate people in crimes they didn't commit. Governments have tampered with photographs since the beginning of photography. Stalin, for example, was famous for removing people from historical photos when they fell out of favor. The art world has had to deal with forgeries for centuries. Good forgers can create works that fool even the best art critics. The solution there is "provenance". We not only need the work, we need its history. But provenances can also be faked if we aren't careful! Can we create an unmodifiable digital provenance for media? We describe several approaches to using blockchains, the technology underlying cryptocurrencies, to do this. We discuss how the time and location of events can be cryptographically certified. And how future media hardware might provide guarantees of authenticity.


    Gigante
    In an era of vitalism, Mary Shelley animates a radically new concept of monstrosity in her novel Frankenstein. The classical definition of monstrosity as deformity-or a structural assemblage of ill-arranged parts-was challenged by the British physiologist John Hunter. Hunter posited a "principle of monstrosity" much akin to the formative powers of German Naturphilosophie, and specifically, the Bildungstrieb of Johann Friedrich Blumenbach, which influenced the Kantian definition of the monstrous. The debate over the "principle of life" between Hunter's student John Abernethy and Percy Shelley's physician William Lawrence, at the Royal College of Surgeons in the years 1814-1819, is an acknowledged context for Mary Shelley's novel. But what contemporary concern with vitalism had to do with the era's most famous monster has not yet fully been grasped. The fact is, that when aesthetics crossed paths with science in the years around the turn of the nineteenth century, a different kind of monster was born: one whose vital power exceeded any formal effort to contain it.


    Day
    Mel Day will discuss the role of amateur and collective singing in deepening dialogue among potentially insular groups and in civic engagement as it has evolved in her own work and in select resonant cultural and historical contexts. She will share her current project, “Wall of Song” with artist Michael Namkung, recently exhibited at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, and how they’re gathering hundreds of voices to build a “different kind of wall” that brings us together instead of dividing us.


    Merencillo
    I will share first-hand experiences with the evolving technology of AR/VR hardware and software through events and major conferences that took place in the Bay Area this past year. Events include the VRX USA, World's Fair Nano SF, Game Developer's Conference, ALT+CTRL, Silicon Valley VR Expo and XTech Expo. At these events, I demoed technology and spoke with developers and designers who are creating new methods for users to experience digital reality systems in ways that we thought would only exist in futuristic movies. Through VR haptic technology we can feel the 3D objects in VR with our fingers or feel the vibrations of the VR environment through our chest, by using wearable EEG sensors we can visually monitor our brain activity through an app or use our minds to manipulate objects in a game or control drones in flight, there is the ability to now smell in VR environments with microfans and artificial scents embedded in VR headsets, or attend holographic meetings in a virtual space where you can see the actual bodies of other people and not just their artificial avatars. The Bay Area has numerous events and opportunities to experience the possibilities and potential of AR/VR technology. We live in an area where we can learn about where this technology is going and what our future reality may become.


    Photos and videos of this evening

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    The Stanford LASERs are sponsored by the Stanford Deans of Research; Engineering; Humanities & Sciences; Medicine; and Earth, Energy & Environmental Sciences; Continuing Studies; and the Office of Science Outreach.