Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of June 16, 2016

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking

Stanford, June 16, 2016
c/o Stanford University
Room LK101/102
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, Room LK101/102
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 4pm.
What (the order of the speakers might change):
  • 7:00-7:25: Nicholas de Monchaux (UC Berkeley Architecture) on "Spacesuits and Cities" The frontier of urban design is as much physiological as physical... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Tom Abel (Stanford/ Physics) on "How Things in the Universe Came About & How They Ended Up Within Us" Computer animations to tell the story of our beginnings... 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: Andra Keay (Silicon Valley Robotics) on "Designing Good Robots" In science fiction the robots are either very good, or very bad. How can we build robots that do the best things for our future?.. Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Piero Scaruffi (Cultural Historian) on "Why the Singularity is not Coming any Time Soon - A Contrarian's View" AlphaGo beat a go master and robots will soon steal your job... 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
  • Leonardo ISAST
  • Art, Technology, Culture Colloquia
  • ScienceSchmoozer
  • LAST Festival
    • Tom Abel is Professor of Physics at Stanford University, Director of Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology at SLAC, and Director of the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics and Cosmology. His group explores the first billion years of cosmic history using ab initio supercomputer calculations. He has shown from first principles that the very first luminous objects are very massive stars and has developed novel numerical algorithms using adaptive-mesh-refinement simulations that capture over 14 orders of magnitude in length and time scales. He currently continues his work on the first stars and first galaxies and their role in chemical enrichment and cosmological reionization. His group studies any of the first objects to form in the universe: first stars, first supernovae, first HII regions, first magnetic fields, first heavy elements, and so on. Most recently he is pioneering novel numerical algorithms to study collisionless fluids such as dark matter which makes up most of the mass in the Universe as well as astrophysical and terrestrial plasmas. Prof. Abel graduated from the Ludwig Maxemillian University of Munich and conducted post-doc research at both Cambridges, in England and MA. He joined Stanford and SLAC in 2004. He received multiple honors in both continents (including a Career Award from the National Science Foundation) and was elected fellow of the AAAS in 2014.
    • Andra Keay is the Managing Director of Silicon Valley Robotics, an industry group supporting innovation and commercialization of robotics technologies. Andra is also founder of Robot Launch, global robotics startup competition, cofounder of Robot Garden hackerspace, mentor at hardware accelerators and startup advisor. As well as being an active angel investor in robotics startups, Andra is a Director at Robohub.org, the global site for news and views on robotics. Andra graduated as an ABC film, television and radio technician in 1986 and obtained a BA in Communication from the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS) Australia, in 1998, where she taught interaction design from 2009 to 2010. She obtained her MA in Human-Robot Culture at the University of Sydney, Australia in 2011, building on a background as a robot geek, STEM educator and film-maker and was selected as an HRI Pioneer in 2010. Andra has keynoted at major conferences including the WebSummit in 2014 and 2015, Pioneers Festival 2014, JavaOne 2014, Solid 2014 and Collision 2015. See JavaOne 2014 Community Keynote highlights: https://www.oracle.com/openworld/live/on-demand/index.html#javaone 52-Insights: "The Future is Here: How Robotics Will Change Our Lives" Interview: http://www.52-insights.com/inspirations/the-future-is-here-how-robotics-will-change-our-lives/
    • Nicholas de Monchaux is is an architect, urban designer, and theorist; Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at UC Berkeley. He is the author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo (MIT Press, 2011), an architectural and urban history of the Apollo Spacesuit, winner of the Eugene Emme award from the American Astronautical Society and shortlisted for the Art Book Prize. The work of de Monchaux's Oakland-based design practice has been exhibited at the 2010 Biennial of the Americas, the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale, San Francisco's SPUR, and SFMOMA. de Monchaux received his B.A. with distinction in Architecture, from Yale, and his Professional Degree (M.Arch.) from Princeton. Prior to his independent practice, he worked with Michael Hopkins & Partners in London, and Diller, Scofidio + Renfro in New York. de Monchaux's work has been supported by the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, the Hellman Family fund, the Macdowell Colony, the Santa Fe Institute, and the Smithsonian Institution. He has received design awards and citations from Parsons The New School for Design, the International Union of Architects, Pamphlet Architecture, and the Van Alen Institute.
    • 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:

    In science fiction the robots are either very good, or very bad. But in reality what are we building today, and how can we build robots that do the best things for our future? Until recently, helpful robots have been just science fiction. For the last 50 years, real robots have been confined to a few large industries, kept behind closed doors. They haven't been 'socialized' or safe to be around. But advances in technology mean that new 'collaborative robots' are able to work alongside people safely. What sort of robots do we really need?
    I recently gave talks in China about progress in Artificial Intelligence and this is a 20-minute version of those talks. It has been 70 years since the first electronic computer was unveiled, 60 years since the first Artificial Intelligence conference was held at the MIT and 10 years since Deep Learning was invented in Toronto. And since 2012 deep learning has propelled A.I. to new heights, renewing fears in people that their jobs will soon be automated and that machines will become not only intelligent but super-intelligent. I think both fears are misplaced. Machines are still fundamentally stupid and will remain so for a long time. Applications of A.I. will multiply and we desperately need some of them asap. These new machines will create millions of jobs and human intelligence will be more valuable, not less. So when a Chinese journalist asked me "Are you afraid of A.I." i replied "I am afraid that it will not come soon enough".
    Abel will take the audience on a journey through the early stages of the universe, using the latest computer animations of how the first stars formed and died, and how stars built up the first galaxies. His work has shown that the first luminous objects in the universe were very massive stars, shining one million times as brightly as our Sun. They died quickly and seeded the cosmos with the chemical elements necessary for life. Galaxies started to assemble just one hundred million years after the Big Bang, and they are still growing now. Computer simulations of these events provide remarkable insights into the early history of the cosmos. A computational astrophysicist who explores cosmic history using supercomputer calculations, Abel also directs the Kavli Institute for Particle Astrophysics & Cosmology at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory and Stanford University. Abel's long-term goal is "to build a galaxy, one star at a time," via computer modeling. Among his research interests are the processes and events of "the dark ages," the first few hundred million years after the Big Bang. His visualizations and simulations of dark-age events and have been featured on PBS, the Discovery Channel, and the cover of National Geographic.
    Between 1971 and 1974, it took Architect-turned-Artist Gordon Matta-Clark months of methodical research to locate the fifteen vacant and moribund sites - marginal fragments of New York City real estate - that form Fake Estates: Reality Properties. Using a contemporary geographic information system, or GIS, the same search can be accomplished in minutes, and locates tens of thousands of similar lots throughout the five boroughs of New York (or any other urban landscape). The lecture presents recent design work that explores how the ability of digital systems to identify and re-envision marginal spaces can critique and expand contemporary discourse around technology and the city - where conventional `smart' prescriptions fail to comprehensively capture both the nature of urbanity, and, for that matter, nature and technology as well. Yet for all its contemporaneity, this is not a new conversation. The urgent search for adaptive, robust, and resilient urban infrastructure readily recalls the seminal debates of a half-century ago, in which cities, ecologies, bodies and, technology were thrown together, both in a quest for the Moon and an attempted re-making of city and society on earth as well. Through design work, historical documents, critical speculation (and a minimum of slides) the lecture argues that the frontier of urban design is as much physiological as physical, and, remains-crucially-out of our predicable control.
    Photos and videos of this evening