Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of 13 June 2019

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking

Stanford, 13 June 2019
LiKaShing building - Room LK130
Chaired by Piero Scaruffi

The LASERs are an international 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 and the dates for the Bay Area. 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 LK130
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: Kimford Meador (Stanford Neurology and Neurosciences) on "How does brain damage affect how we think?" Focal brain injury can result in different deficits depending on the affected network nodes... Read more
  • 7:25-7:50: Vivek Bagaria (Stanford/ Electrical Engineering) on "Prism - Deconstructing the Blockchain to Approach Physical Limits" Prism is a new proof-of-work blockchain protocol which improves security and optimal throughput... 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: Dasha Ortenberg (Designer/Artist) on "Transformative Potentials of Speculative Mapping" The potentials of data visualization to represent and promote a highly-textured interpretation of human existence... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00: Piero Scaruffi (Cultural Historian and L.A.S.E.R. founder) on "The Two Cultures in the age of A.I." On the 60th anniversary of CP Snow's "The Two Cultures" about the gap between the humanities and sciences, let's update it to the age of A.I./Deep Learning... 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
    • Vivek Bagaria is a doctoral student in the Electrical Engineering Department at Stanford. His research interests are broadly in algorithms, machine learning and blockchain.
    • Kimford Meador is a Professor of Neurology and Neurosciences at Stanford University, and Clinical Director of the Stanford Comprehensive Epilepsy Center. He was the Chair of Neurology at Georgetown University (2002-2004), the Melvin Greer Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at the University of Florida (2004-2008) where he served as Director of Epilepsy Program and Director of the Clinical Alzheimer Research Program, and Professor of Neurology and Pediatrics at Emory University (2008-2013) where he served as Director of Epilepsy and of Clinical Neurocience Research. He joined the faculty of Stanford University in 2013. Dr. Meador has authored over 350 peer-reviewed publications. He has served as the PI for a long running NIH multicenter study of pregnancy outcomes in women with epilepsy and their children. He has served on the editorial boards for Clinical Neurophysiology, Epilepsy and Behavior, Epilepsy Currents, Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, Neurology, Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, and Epilepsy.com. He has received numerous awards and honors. He is the past Chair of the Section of Behavioral Neurology of American Academy of Neurology; past President of Society for Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology; past President of the Society for Behavioral & Cognitive Neurology; past President of the Southern EEG & Epilepsy Society; and was ranked in the top 10 experts in epilepsy worldwide by Expertscape.
    • Dasha Ortenberg believes deeply in design's ability to stimulate critical thought, highlight the weirdness of individuals, and the reveal uncanny overlaps of (sub-)cultures. Her cross-scalar and cross-media approach to space is the result of a perpetual fascination with modes of human communication, collaboration, and cohabitation. Having emigrated from the Soviet Union as a child, she is driven by a deep gratitude to the United States for having provided the opportunity to pursue her passions and understand her heritage, and works to promote and propagate such opportunities for others. Dasha holds degrees in Art History and Linguistics (UC Berkeley), and Architecture (Harvard GSD). Her formal education is supplemented by a variegated work experience, which includes radio, dance, and archival conservation. In her conceptual projects, pedagogical pursuits, and work for art and architectural practices she strives to combine traditional and contemporary technologies to transform individual narratives and historic cross-currents into socially-impactful spatial experiences. She leverages the media of documentation, representation, and fabrication to highlight juxtapositions and create conversations that encourage mutual understanding. Her project, A Franchise of Difference, transformed documentation of interviews and sites from a 7,000-mile road trip into architectural concepts. She works as a designer at Anderson Brule Architects. As an artist with the ZERO1 American Arts Incubator in March 2018, she developed, taught and administrated the "Rhetorical City" program at L'Uzine in Casablanca, Morocco. She is also developing and directing the 2018 events cycle "Structures of Power," -- which explores the structures of traditional power and methods of empowerment -- for the Women in Architecture group of Silicon Valley.
    • 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.

    Extended abstracts:

    Borges’s “On Exactitude in Science” at first appears to be a work satirizing a quasi -medieval obedience that drives a given technique to the absurd. Yet, as its title suggests, the passage is also an allegory of the human tendency, across the sciences, to pursue explanations or “truths” through infinitely detailed representations and deconstructions of our perceived environments and experiences. The greater the level of detail, the more convincing the science. Yet, this pursuit of and faith in detail risks both a misperception of “reality” and a myopic focus on the illusion of fact. The two collections of work I will present in this talk, A Franchise of Difference and Rhetorical City, recognize mapping as data visualization and question which data is selected for representation and how. They simultaneously engage in methods of data collection and dissection and react to these by considering individuals and human interactions both as quantifiable parts and as irreducible wholes. With today’s ability to generate a continuous spectrum of scaled mapping from Global Information Systems (GIS) or Google Earth to genetic sequencing, scale is synched and linked and individuality dissolves into a sea of data points. The reconstruction of the individual through socio-spatial data analysis claims a level of objectivity as it embeds assumptions ever-more deeply in an echo-chamber of meta-interpretation of fragmented information. Rhetorical City postulates that psycho-geographies and global information systems should engage with and inform one-another. A Franchise of Difference considers the opportunities for discourse offered by spaces represented and/or perceived as voids and questions visual value-judgements. Both collections speculate on the methods by which culture and power are manifested through drawn, built, and virtual cartographies. They consider some of the potentials of data visualization were it to seek to represent and promote a highly-textured and conflicted interpretation of human existence rather than one that is simplified and transactional. Finally, they propose that speculative ideological and idiosyncratic mapping have the capacity to critique, and thereby transform, the political and fiscal speculation embedded in pseudo-objective standardized systems-mapping.

    The brain is a complex electrochemical organ that is the basis of all our thoughts, movements, perceptions and emotions. The average human brain weighs only 3 pounds but has about 100 billion neurons (i.e., nerve cells). Each neuron has about 7,000 synaptic connections to other neurons. Thus, there are a total of 7 trillion synapses in the average brain. Electrochemical communications across these neurons and synapses are organized into numerous networks to produce specific functions. Focal brain injury can result in different deficits depending on the affected network nodes and how the brain reorganizes to the injury. Although the functional mechanisms of the brain continue to be unraveled, we do understand a great deal about the anatomical brain relationships to syndromes of neurobehavioral dysfunction produced by focal lesions. We will review classic syndromes including: 1. aphasia (i.e., language disorders) and apraxia (i.e., loss of skilled motor movements) from left brain lesions, 2. neglect (e.g., inability to perceive things from the left body and left hemispace) and aprosodia (i.e., loss of production and understanding of the emotional aspects of speech) from right brain lesions, 3. prosopagnosia (i.e., loss of facial recognition) from posterior-inferior lesions, 4. executive disorders and behavioral abnormalities from frontal lesions, 5. memory disorders from several different focal lesions. These focal syndromes will also be related to effects of more diffuse disorders such as dementia and head trauma.

    The concept of a blockchain was invented by Satoshi Nakamoto to maintain a distributed ledger. In addition to its security important performance measures of a blockchain protocol are its transaction throughput and confirmation latency. In a decentralized setting these measures are limited by two underlying physical network attributes: communication capacity and speed-of-light propaga- tion delay. In this work we introduce Prism a new proof-of-work blockchain protocol which can achieve 1) security against up to 50% adversarial hashing power 2) optimal throughput up to the capacity C of the network 3) confirmation latency for honest trans- actions proportional to the propagation delay D with confirmation error probability exponentially small in the bandwidth-delay prod- uct CD 4) eventual total ordering of all transactions. Our approach to the design of this protocol is based on deconstructing Nakamoto's blockchain into its basic functionalities and systematically scaling up these functionalities to approach their physical limits.

    In 2019 we celebrate many important anniversaries, but one is particularly relevant for the LASERs. "The Two Cultures and the Scientific Revolution", a Cambridge University lecture by physicist and novelist Charles Percy Snow (7 May 1959), which expanded on a previous article titled "The Two Cultures" (1956), started the debate on how to close the gap between the humanities and the sciences. Sixty years later, as Deep Learning technology bestows a (primordial) form of intelligence on machines, the gap can be reframed as a gap between humanity and machine: the machine has been and is being designed largely in labs that are insulated from the humanities, despite the fact that the machine is increasingly being asked to replace and collaborate with humans. What is the nature of the gap between Deep Learning and Humanities, and what is being done to close it? Do we need a new discipline, "Deep Humanities"? (Credit SJSU for coining the term in 2018!)

    Photos and videos of this evening


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