Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of March 2021

Online Edition: the L.A.S.T. Dialogues


Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
Hosted from Stanford during March 2021
by Piero Scaruffi

During the covid pandemic, this online program replaces both the 12 physical L.A.S.E.R.s that were planned at Stanford University and University of San Francisco for 2020 and the L.A.S.T. Festival that was planned for Spring 2020. Since some of them are simply "fireside chats", we tentatively called them the The Life Art Science Tech (L.A.S.T.) dialogues. See previous and future speakers and their videos.
(Note: All times are California time)

  • February 11 @ 12pm (California time)
    Maryam Razi (Art Researcher, live from Iran) on "Iran's Media Art Scene"
    Mike Parker Pearson (UC London/ Archeology, live from England) on "The World of Stonehenge"

    Register here or here


    Maryam Razi (Art Researcher, live from Iran) on "Iran's Media Art Scene"
    After the event, the video will be posted here.

    Maryam Razi (Art Researcher, live from Iran) is a graphic designer and independent researcher based in Iran, with special interest in intersections of transdisciplinary Innovative projects involving art, science and technology. After her M.A. graduation with a focus study in parameters "flow" and "aesthetics" in immersive installations, she started extending her knowledge about convergence of science and technology in media art projects. Razi is passionate about building a transdisciplinary platform for Iranian media artists, scientists and all who believe in variable realities to join, collaborate and discover.


    Mike Parker Pearson (UC London/ Archeology) on "The World of Stonehenge"
    After the event, the video will be posted here.

    Mike Parker Pearson is Professor of British Later Prehistory at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London (UCL). After gaining a BA in European Archaeology at Southampton University in 1979, he was awarded a PhD at Cambridge University in 1985. He worked as an Inspector of Ancient Monuments for English Heritage until 1990. From then on, he lectured in the Department of Archaeology & Prehistory at Sheffield University where he was given a professorial chair in 2005, which he held until moving to UCL in 2012. He is a Fellow of the British Academy. Mike began his archaeological career in 1972, working on archaeological excavations in southern England, and has since worked on archaeological sites around the world in Denmark, Germany, Greece, Syria, the United States, Madagascar, Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and the Outer Hebrides. He has published twenty books and many scientific papers. In 2010 he was voted the UK's 'Archaeologist of the Year' and in 2011 he was awarded the Samuel H Kress Lectureship in Ancient Art by the American Institute of Archaeology. Mike first visited Stonehenge when he was just a year old, though his first memories of it are as a student and free-festival goer in the 1970s. In 2004 he began the Stonehenge Riverside Project with colleagues Josh Pollard, Colin Richards, Julian Thomas, Chris Tilley and Kate Welham. Over the years, this evolved into two further projects: Feeding Stonehenge, and the Stones of Stonehenge. His current field research is in west Wales, where Stonehenge's bluestones were quarried.
  • February 25 @ 6pm
    Irina Raicu (Program Director of Internet Ethics at the Santa Clara University), Michal Kosinski (Stanford Graduate School of Business), Simina Mistreanu (China-based journalist) and cultural historian Piero Scaruffi on "The Algorithmic Society".

    Register here or here
    After the event, the video will be posted here.

    The original idea was to celebrate 70th anniversary of George Orwell's death. The author of "1984" died one year before the introduction of the first commercial computer. His novel is therefore devoid of algorithms. The 70 years since his death have instead been the age of algorithms, that increasingly dominate our lives. An individual is increasingly defined by a combination of numbers (your tax id, your driver license number, your medical insurance number, your credit card numbers, etc). And numbers are assigned to various aspects of your life: your state's DMV rates your driving skills, credit bureaus rate your financial life, and unknown numbers of algorithms spy on you online (and make you buy things you don't need). We have slowly created "algorithmic societies", societies where algorithms rate us and sometimes spy on us. There is hardly any government or private entity that doesn't require you to run an algorithm in order to get what you want, whether it's an application for a driver license or a medical visit. One could argue that algorithms have been pervasive in organized societies ever since. One could argue that the US constitution is an algorithm, and that recently the mechanical application of that algorithm prevented a coup. China has launched a "social credit system" that is possibly the most advanced use of algorithms to enforce "proper" behavior in society, but de facto the network of algorithms that, here in the USA, keep track of our increasingly online lives constitute a decentralized version of it (and perhaps an even more effective one). Are we achieving "social engineering" through algorithms? Can we use algorithms in more positive ways?

    Michal Kosinski is a psychologist and data scientist. His research focuses on studying humans through the lenses of digital footprints left behind while using digital platforms and devices. He is an Assistant Professor at Stanford Graduate School of Business. Michal holds a PhD in Psychology from University of Cambridge, an MPhil in Psychometrics, and a MS in Social Psychology. Michal coordinates the myPersonality project, which involves global collaboration between over 200 researchers, analyzing the detailed psycho-demographic profiles of over 8 million Facebook users. While at Cambridge University, he started an open-source online adaptive testing platform Concerto and ApplyMagicSauce.com predictive engine. Previously, Michal was the Deputy Director of the University of Cambridge Psychometrics Centre, a researcher at Microsoft Research, and a post-doc at Stanford's Computer Science Department.

    Irina Raicu is the director of the Internet Ethics Program at the Center at Santa Clara University. She is a Certified Information Privacy Professional (U.S.) and was formerly an attorney in private practice. Her work addresses a wide variety of issues, ranging from online privacy to net neutrality, from data ethics to social media's impact on friendship and family, from the digital divide to the ethics of encryption, and from the ethics of artificial intelligence to the right to be forgotten. She holds a J.D. degree from Santa Clara University's School of Law, as well as a bachelor's degree in English from U.C. Berkeley and a master's degree in English and American Literature from San Jose State University. Her writing has appeared in a variety of publications, including The Atlantic, U.S.A. Today, MarketWatch, Slate, the Huffington Post, the San Jose Mercury News, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Recode. Raicu is a member of the Partnership on AI's Working Group on Fair, Transparent, and Accountable AI. In collaboration with the staff of the High Tech Law Institute, Raicu manages the ongoing "IT, Ethics, and Law" lecture series, which has brought to campus speakers such as journalist Julia Angwin, ethicists Luciano Floridi and Patrick Lin, and then-FTC commissioner Julie Brill. She tweets at @IEthics and is the primary contributor to the blog Internet Ethics: Views from Silicon Valley. As a teenager, Raicu came to the U.S. with her family as a refugee; her background informs her interest in the Internet as a tool whose use has profound ethical implications worldwide.

    Simina Mistreanu is a China-based journalist whose work, spanning everything from China's social credit system to the crackdown campaign against minorities in Xinjiang, has appeared in publications such as The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The Guardian and Al Jazeera. Before moving to China, in 2015, she covered local politics in Portland, Oregon. (Read her article in Foreign Policy)

    Piero Scaruffi has published several books on Artificial Intelligence and Cognitive Science since 1985. The latest is "Intelligence is not Artificial" (2016). He pioneered Internet applications in the early 1980s and the use of the World-Wide Web for cultural purposes in the mid 1990s. He is also the author of "A History of Silicon Valley". 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.




The Stanford LASERs are sponsored by the Deans of: Engineering; Humanities & Sciences; and Medicine.