Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of June 6, 2013

Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
Stanford, June 6, 2013
c/o Stanford University
Braun Corner ("Geology Corner") Room 105
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 320-105, Geology Corner, Braun Corner (Stanford map)
Parking is mostly free at Stanford after 4pm.
  • 7:00-7:25:
    Sean Gourley (Quid) on "A global intelligence platform: the new AI - not Artificial Intelligence, but instead Augmented Intelligence" How to Augment our Intelligence as Algorithms Take Over the World. Read more
  • 7:25-7:50:
    Walter Kitundu (Sound artist) on "The Turntable as a Lens" Records are sonic archives and they naturally reference the past. They are also objects that encourage a conversation with materials and movement. The turntable becomes a lens through which one can view the world... 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:
    Melanie Swan on "Natural Aesthetics: GenArt, BioArt, Biomimicry, SynBio, CrowdArt" The arts and technology are coming together in exciting ways in contemporary society... Read more
  • 8:35-9:00:
    Jeremy Mende (Designer) on "Confrontational Strategies - The Social Mirror". Two recent art installations use different approaches to the idea of the social mirror.... Read more
  • 9:00pm-9:30pm: Discussions, networking You can mingle with the speakers and the audience

See also...
  • An Evening on Design (UC Berkeley, 14 august 2013):
  • Stanford events calendar
  • Los Angeles LASERs
  • Washington DASERs
  • Art, Technology, Culture Colloquia
  • ScienceSchmoozer
  • Previous Art/Science Evenings
    • Sean Gourley, Quid co-founder and CTO, did research into the mathematics of war for his PhD thesis at Balliol College, Oxford. His findings appeared as the featured article in "Nature" (December 2009) and were the subject of a popular TED talk (2009). His work on statistical analysis, probability, and algorithm development applied to complex systems and large datasets inspired the creation of Quid. Sean is a Rhodes Scholar PhD in Physics (Complexity) from the University of Oxford; his is undergraduate degree in Physics is from the University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand.
    • Walter Kitundu is an artist and designer, instrument builder and photographer. He is a Senior Design Developer for the Studio Gallery at the Exploratorium. In this capacity he helps to design and build environments for learning, develops and facilitates activities, and provides artistic direction. As an artist he has created hand built record players powered by the wind and rain, fire and earthquakes, birds, light, and the force of ocean waves. Walter has performed and been in residence at art centers and science museums internationally. He has performed with the renowned Kronos Quartet, bassist Meshell Ndegeocello, the electronic music duo Matmos, and the legendary Marshall Allen - in venues from Carnegie Hall to a high school library in Egilstaadir, Iceland.
    • Jeremy Mende is a US designer who lives and works in San Francisco, California. Mr. Mende holds a BA in psychology from UCLA and an MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. In 2000 he founded MendeDesign, a creative practice that balances commercial projects with visual research and public art. Mr. Mende is an associate professor of design at the California College of the Arts, and in 2010-11, he was the Rome Prize Fellow in Design at the American Academy in Rome. Before his career as a designer, Jeremy skippered a mail packet off the west coast of Nova Scotia.
    • Piero Scaruffi is a cognitive scientist 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. He has also written extensively about cinema and literature.
    • Melanie Swan is is a science, technology, and philosophy futurist at the MS Futures Group in Palo Alto, California. She founded the participatory medicine research organization DIYgenomics in 2010. Swan's educational background includes an MBA in Finance and Accounting from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, a BA in French and Economics from Georgetown University, and recent coursework in philosophy, biology, nanotechnology, physics, and computer science. She is a faculty member at Singularity University and the University of the Commons, an Affiliate Scholar at the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, and a contributor to the Edge's Annual Essay Question (2012, 2013). Swan's career has focused on philosophy, research, finance, and entrepreneurship, including founding a technology startup company, GroupPurchase, which aggregated small business buying groups. She served as Director of Research at Telecoms Consultancy Ovum RHK, and previously held management and finance positions at iPass in Silicon Valley, J.P. Morgan in New York, Fidelity in Boston, and Arthur Andersen in Los Angeles. Swan serves as an advisor to research foundations, government agencies, corporations, and startups and is active in the community promoting science and technology, and opportunities for women. She designs professional and educational simulations, including "Discontinuity Futures," "Being an Entrepreneur" and "The Trader's Pit."

    Extended abstracts:

    How to Augment our Intelligence as Algorithms Take Over the World.
    Financial markets provide liquidity to the world, in today's society the markets should be considered a public utility something more akin to clean water than the modern day casino that they have become. However financial markets, unlike water, are incredibly complex. Indeed the majority of financial transactions are algorithmic trades made by algorithms or nonhuman software agents. These trades happen at the sub 600ms time frame, beyond the limits of human decision making. This type of trading is called high frequency trading, and the world that it inhabits is the new financial ecosystem. There are predatory algorithms, parasitic algorithms, and algorithms that are preyed upon. These algorithms are not smart at the moment, only capable of processing a few bytes of information and generating a few cents per trade. But they are getting smarter. They are now starting to process unstructured news, the kinds of news that humans read, and they are making decisions that generate more profit. This high speed algorithmic world is not however isolated from the human time-scales of the world we live in. The instability of micro-second crashes is highly correlated with global macro instability. Indeed the 10 stocks with the most micro crashes were all major financial institutions that had massive volatility on a human time scale. The high frequency financial ecosystem is incredibly important, important perhaps as access to water. Yet instability in this system is correlated with instability in the world we humans inhabit. So it is too important to regulate out of existence and too damaging to leave unregulated. We must control a system that is beyond our understanding. To do this we have two choices, we can create software to augment our human abilities. The software equivalent of a robotic exoskeleton. Or we can create fully autonomous algorithmic agents, a new set of algorithmic species, and set them loose into the sub micro second world. Perhaps we can control the system by competing within it. Either way, within the next few years a robot will have read this text, processed it and made a trade before you've even got past the first sentence -- in another 3 more, the machine will be the one writing the article in the first place.

    Confrontational Strategies: The Social Mirror.
    Contemporary culture tends to reward self-interest. An awareness of our globalized way of life, however, underscores the critical importance of collective thought and action. As credible evidence mounts outlining the interconnected social and environmental issues that face us - sea-level rise, climate disasters, natural resource depletion, extreme economic inequality - I'm interested in how we each reconcile individual well-being with the anthem a collective good. Using different immersive strategies my work involves the creation of social mirrors - confrontational experiences that reflect us back to ourselves - highlighting our level of engagement with, or denial of, the social and environmental realities that surround us.

    I will discuss two recent installation projects that use different approaches to this idea of the social mirror. The first, a city-wide installation in Rome entitled 100 Years From Now, placed thousands of provocative text-fragments throughout the city to spur broad online dialogue around our sense of responsibility for a collective future. The second, Narcissus, a collaboration with Bill Hsu, used visitor's biometric data and a reflecting pool of poison to suggest our relationship to a decaying natural system.

    Natural Aesthetics: GenArt, BioArt, Biomimicry, SynBio, CrowdArt.
    The arts and technology are coming together in exciting ways in contemporary society. New experimental media such as biology, data, and technology are leading artists, scientists, and other individuals to new realms of knowledge discovery and creative expression. Philosophy, concerned with aesthetics and epistemology (the study of knowledge), provides an interesting lens for understanding current activity in a range of contexts where art, technology, and biology are linked. These contexts include GenerativeArt, BioArt, Biomimicry, Synthetic Biology, and CrowdArt. Slides: http://www.slideshare.net/lablogga/digital-art-and-philosophy-4

    An interview with Walter Kitundu (video)

    Photos and videos