Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of 14 February 2019

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking

Stanford, 14 February 2019
LiKaShing building - Room LK120
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, LiKaShing building - Room LK120
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: Christopher Tyler (City University of London) on "Leonardo himself: A lifelong self-portrait" Reconstructing the life of the young Leonardo and his role as the iconic 'rock star' of his time... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: E.J. Chichilnisky (Stanford/ Neurosurgery) on "Toward a High-fidelity Artificial Retina" How to improve artificial vision with bi-directional devices that adapt to the host neural circuity... 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: Ge Wang (Stanford CCRMA) on "Artful Design: Technology in Search of the Sublime" What is the nature of design, and the meaning it holds in human life? ... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Lucia Aronica (Stanford Prevention Research Center) on "Epigenetics, Nutrition and your Health" Nutrition today is slowly shifting from a one-size-fits-all approach to precision nutrition... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

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See also...
  • Other LASER series
  • Archive of past LASERs
  • Leonardo ISAST
  • Art, Technology, Culture Colloquia
  • ScienceSchmoozer
  • LAST Festival
  • Other recommended events
    • Lucia Aronica is a Lecturer in Nutritional Genomics at the Stanford Prevention and Research Center and at Stanford Continuing Studies. She is is currently leading the epigenetic analysis of the Stanford DIETFITS study by Prof Christopher Gardner — the largest randomized clinical trial ever undertaken to compare low carb vs. low fat diets for the design of personalized weight loss strategies. The focus of her research is investigating how diet affects the epigenome, and whether we can use epigenetic biomarkers to design personalized weight loss plans. Lucia serves also as an advisor for companies active in the personal genomics and precision health field. Lucia received her PhD from the Universitaet Wien, and has research experience from the University of Oxford, University of Southern California, and University Federico II of Naples. She has published research papers in top-ranked peer reviewed journals such as Cell, Genes and Development, and the EMBO Journal.
    • E.J. Chichilnisky is the John R. Adler Professor of Neurosurgery at Stanford University, where he has been since 2013 after 15 years at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies. He received his B.A. in Mathematics from Princeton University, and his M.S. in mathematics and Ph.D. in neuroscience from Stanford University. His research program focuses on understanding the spatiotemporal patterns of electrical activity in the retina that convey visual information to the brain, and their origins in retinal circuitry, using large-scale multi-electrode recordings. His research also involves physiological experiments with electrical stimulation and computational methods aimed at advancing the design of visual prostheses for treating blindness. He is the recipient of an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, a McKnight Scholar Award, and a McKnight Technological Innovation in Neuroscience Award.
    • 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. Since 2015 he has been commuting between California and China, where several of his books have been translated.
    • Christopher Tyler is the Director of the Smith-Kettlewell Brain Imaging Center at the Smith-Kettlewell Eye Research Institute with scientific interests in the brain mechanisms of visual perception and the diagnosis of retinal and binocular eye diseases. He also holds a Professorship at City University of London. He has a longstanding interest in the interface between art the science of vision, including portraiture, the general principles of composition, and the historical development of space representation. He was the inventor of 3D ('Magic Eye') autostereograms that you may have dazzled your eyes with back in the 1990s and has lectured around the world on both science and art topics. He has created a website on Leonardo.
    • Ge Wang is an Associate Professor at Stanford University's Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics (CCRMA). He researches artful design of tools, toys, games and social experiences. Ge is the architect of the ChucK music programming language, director of the Stanford Laptop Orchestra, co-founder of Smule and designer of the Ocarina and Magic Piano apps for mobile phones. He is a 2016 Guggenheim Fellow and the author of "Artful Design: Technology in Search of the Sublime", a photo comic book about the ethics and aesthetics of shaping technology. Based on the book, Ge is currently teaching a new critical thinking course at Stanford, "Design that Understands Us." .

    Extended abstracts:

    Despite having written thousands of pages of notes on all topics under, and including, the sun, Leonardo da Vinci reveals remarkably little of his inner motivations and personal development through these or any other of his works. It is only through his biographer, Giorgio Vasari that we learn what a striking figure he was; " [In] Leonardo da Vinci, ... besides a beauty of body never sufficiently extolled, there was an infinite grace in all his actions; .... In him was great bodily strength, joined to dexterity, with a spirit and courage ever royal and magnanimous." Following these clues, and coupled with the fact that throughout the 1470s he worked closely with the dominant Florentine workshop of the era, the studio of Verrocchio, I flesh out the likely activities of the young Leonardo da Vinci and his role as the iconic 'rock star' of his time, who could literally extemporize a 'rap' song for any civic occasion. Several of the portraits that can be identified as resulting from this popularity have a divergent eye alignment that suggests that he may have had the ophthalmological condition of intermittent exotropia, or 'lazy eye', which could have stimulated his profound grasp of three-dimensional depth cues that had a momentous effect on the art of subsequent centuries. An avid horseman, he went on mountaineering expeditions of the Alps that inspired the snowcapped peaks in the backgrounds of most of his paintings (including the Mona Lisa). He also became an experienced cartographer who may have played a role in developing the inspiration for Columbus' voyage to the Americas, in relation to which he drew a unique map of the complete globe that was only the second in history to use the designation 'America' for these lands. These novel insights into Leonardo the man expand the justification for his role as the inspiration of the modern Leonardo/LASER multiverse.

    E.J. Chichilnisky
    Retinal prostheses are electronic devices used to treat incurable blindness from retinal degeneration, and represent an advanced form of brain machine interface. These devices electrically stimulate surviving retinal neurons, causing them to send artificial signals to the brain. However, existing devices produce only very crude visual sensations. I will discuss how the limitations of current devices can be understood based on the exquisitely precise and specific neural circuitry of the retina, propose that we can substantially improve artificial vision by incorporating our knowledge of the visual system in bi-directional devices that adapt to the host neural circuity, and sketch our initiative aimed at producing such a device. Finally, I will discuss the potential implications for other neural interfaces of the future.

    Nutrition today is slowly shifting from a one-size-fits-all approach to precision nutrition, that is, personalized dietary recommendations that take into account people’s unique physiological and molecular characteristics. Dr. Aronica will provide an introduction to precision nutrition, and explain how genes and lifestyle interact with each other to create our metabolic fingerprint—the unique way in which we process the food we eat. You will see that there is a give and take between our genes and the food we eat: genes affect nutrient response through genetics, while nutrients affect gene activity through epigenetics. Drawing from her research at Stanford, she will also provide an overview of the possible applications of epigenetic biomarkers for the design of personalized weight loss strategies.

    What is the nature of design, and the meaning it holds in human life? What does it mean to design well? To design ethically? How can the shaping of technology reflect our values as human beings? Drawing from Ge's new book ARTFUL DESIGN: TECHNOLOGY IN SEARCH OF THE SUBLIME (a 488-page photo comic!), this talk will examine everyday examples of design - tools, musical instruments, toys, and social experience - to consider how we shape technology and the ways in which technology, in turn, shapes our society and ourselves. This is a meditation on design for engineers, builders, and anyone curious (or concerned) about technology - not only what it does for us, but also what it does *to* us.

    Photos and videos of this evening


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