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)

  • March 11 @ 6pm
    Ian Duncan (UC Berkeley) on "The Novel after the Scientific Revolution"
    Anastasia Raina and the Posthuman Mobility team (Rhode Island School of Design) on "Microbial Cosmologies"
    Christian Kohler (Lawrence Berkeley Labs) on "Environmental Building Technologies"

    Register here or here


    Ian Duncan (UC Berkeley) on "The Novel after the Scientific Revolution"
    After the event, the video will be posted here.

    Ian Duncan studied at King's College, Cambridge (B.A., 1977) and Yale University (Ph.D., 1989), and taught for several years in the Yale English department, before being appointed Barbara and Carlisle Moore Distinguished Professor of English at the University of Oregon in 1995. He came to Berkeley in 2001, and was appointed to the Florence Green Bixby Chair in English in 2011. He is a recipient (2017) of the university's Distinguished Teaching Award. Duncan is the author of Modern Romance and Transformations of the Novel (Cambridge, 1992), Scott's Shadow: The Novel in Romantic Edinburgh (Princeton, 2007), and "Human Forms: The Novel in the Age of Evolution" (Princeton, 2019). He is currently writing a short book on Scotland and Romanticism. Fields of research and teaching include the theory and history of the novel, British literature and culture of the long nineteenth century, Scottish literature, literature and the natural sciences, and literature and other storytelling media (opera, film). Duncan is a Corresponding Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, a member of the editorial board of Representations, a General Editor of the Collected Works of James Hogg, and co-editor of a new book series, Edinburgh Critical Studies in Romanticism. He has held visiting positions at the Universities of British Columbia and Konstanz, Bogazici University, LMU Munich, Princeton University, and Aix-Marseille University.


    Anastasia Raina and the Posthuman Mobility team (Rhode Island School of Design) on "Microbial Cosmologies"
    After the event, the video will be posted here.

    Anastasia Raina is a multidisciplinary designer, researcher, and an Assistant Professor in the Graphic Design department at the Rhode Island School of Design. She graduated from the Yale School of Art with an MFA in Graphic Design and has lectured and served as a critic at design schools, including Yale University, Parsons, Pratt, Otis, UCLA, Pomona College and University of Chicago. Prior to her MFA, she worked as a commercial graphic designer and art director in Los Angeles. In her research-based practice, Anastasiia is interested in exploring the aesthetics of technologically mediated Natures through machine vision and computer-generated forms, neuroscience, evolutionary biology, and the incorporation of biomaterials into the artistic vernacular. She draws upon scientific inquiry and collaborations with scientists as a means for generating new methodologies and forms in design. In addition to teaching, she consults and collaborates with various international firms, including the Hyundai Motor Group, and has delivered lectures at conferences about posthumanist aesthetics and pedagogy to engage with a wide range of scholars from a variety of disciplines.


    Christian Kohler (Lawrence Berkeley Labs) on "Environmental Building Technologies"
    After the event, the video will be posted
    here.

    Christian Kohler is the department head for Building Technologies at Berkeley Lab. For over 20 years he has been involved in all aspects of building energy efficiency research such as simulation, measurement and technology development. He has been deeply engaged in software development for various windows related tools, e.g., THERM, WINDOW, and Optics5. He has also led the development of new technologies for highly insulating and dynamic windows. His activities include algorithm development, user support, training, developing embedded controllers and experimental work on highly insulating and dynamic windows. His major work with industry has included being an elected Member of the Board of Directors of the National Fenestration Rating Council and the past Research Chair and Committee Chair Fenestration Technical Committee, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). Prior to that he was working at the LBNL Infrared Thermography research facility.
  • March 25 @ 6pm
    Monica Smith (UC Los Angeles) on "Urban Art: The First 6,000 Years"
    TBA (TBA) on "TBA"
    Sophia Moskalenko (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism) on "Radicalization and Martyrdom"

    Register here or here


    Monica Smith (UC Los Angeles) on "Urban Art: The First 6,000 Years"
    After the event, the video will be posted here.

    Monica L. Smith (UCLA) is Professor in the Department of Anthropology and in the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability at the University of California, Los Angeles. She holds the Navin and Pratima Doshi Chair in Indian Studies and is the director of the South Asian Archaeology Laboratory at the Cotsen Institute of Archaeology. Her archaeological field experience includes work in England, Italy, Egypt, Madagascar, Bangladesh, Tunisia, and the American Southwest. With her colleague R.K. Mohanty she has co-directed a long-running archaeological research project in eastern India at the sites of Sisupalgarh, Talapada and Ostapur and their environs, supported by funding from the U.S. National Science Foundation, the National Geographic Society, the Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research, and the American Institute of Indian Studies. She is the author of The Prehistory of Ordinary People (2010) and Cities: The First 6,000 Years (2019), the co-author (with R.K. Mohanty) of Excavations at Sisupalgarh (2008), and the editor of The Social Construction of Ancient Cities (2003) and Abundance: The Archaeology of Plenitude (2017).


    Sophia Moskalenko (National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism) on "Radicalization and Martyrdom"
    After the event, the video will be posted here.

    Sophia Moskalenko received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Her research on terrorism and radicalization has been presented in scientific conferences, government briefings, radio broadcasts and international television newscasts. As a research fellow at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (NC-START) she has worked on research projects commissioned by the Department of Defence, Department of Homeland Security and Department of State. With Clark McCauley, she has co-authored award-winning books: "Friction: How Radicalization Happens to Them and Us" (2011), "The Marvel of Martyrdom" and "Radicalization to Terrorism" (2020). <-- I am vegetarian (since i was 18) and i do believe that humans are causing climate change, but i can see radicalization also among vegetarians (or at least animal-rights advocates) and climate-change believers. So radicalization is a general process that happens in human society, and has been happening for millennia. role of religion role of left-wing conspiracy theories relationship between racialized and radicalized i feel that more research on radicalizaiton has been done in Europe than in the USA It's like the terrorist attacks of 2001: the USA suddenly woke up to the fact that Islamists had been blowing up people, airplanes, buildings and giant Buddha statues all over the world On the one hand are those who want to reduce radicalisation to an individual pathology. In this view, people who become terrorists are all mentally ill, have a low IQ, or a personality disorder. On the other are those who ignore the individual altogether and explain away those who become terrorists by purely environmental factors - whether it's poverty, marginalisation, or being "brainwashed" by online propaganda. an international research team, Artis International, that's been studying something called "sacred values" and their role in violent conflicts around the world. Sacred values are moral values that are non-negotiable and inviolable. Spain ranks among Europe's top countries for failed and completed terror attacks and the greater Barcelona region is the country's primary recruitment hotspot. Is radicalization related to specialization? We live in an age in which from a young age we are told to specialize in something instead. We are trained to focus on what we know best. We are not trained to broaden our interests. We are not trained to enter the mind of someone who has a completely different job. We assume that things work but we can't explain how they work, so we actually live daily in a post-truth world. How many people can explain how their smartphone works? or how a computer works? or even why the light goes on when i press a switch on a wall? or why a car starts moving when i turn a key? On the other hand, we tend to spend more and more time on our own discipline, because that's how we get recognized, admired and rewarded. Is radicalization a consequence of information overflow? I know people who have written on radicalization. Some have written articles and books on radicalization/extremism for 20 years but of course it was mostly about the Islamic world. Surprise: in 2020 we're dealing with radicalization here at home. Anyway... I started thinking if there is a relationship between radicalization and specialization. We live in the age of specialization: people are trained to focus on their job and get better and better at that one thing and read only about their discipline and socialize with the people in the same discipline. Isn't that a form of radicalization? Is our society of specialists a training ground for extremists? Can you think of someone who could give a good talk along these lines? Somebody who has been preaching that a society of specialists is, sooner or later, also a society of political radicals? that specialists are the prototype for extremists? (and for martyrdom!) Not a psychologist please. A philosopher, a neuroscientist, a sociologist, a historian... Just thinking aloud. Susan Greenfield's mind change I invited Sophia Moskalenko to give a presentation on radicalization and she accepted. She has written tons of articles and two books on that subject. She's at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism in Maryland. Of course she's very focused on terrorists (until Jan 6, that meant "Islamic ones") so, probably, she never thought about the perils of specialization. I can probably find a neuroscientist who can speculate about radicalization in the context of neurological disorders. It would be nice to have a neuroscientist who can explain what happens to the brain when neural activity becomes overly localized because almost all signals excite the same region (the case of hyper-specialization). And whether this region makes the individual more vulnerable to political radicalization. It certainly makes the specialist less capable of processing information outside her field of specialization, i.e. more vulnerable to conspiracy theories and fake news. Think of an artificial neural network that was trained to analyze only texts about chemistry, and an artificial neural network that was trained to analyze texts in multiple fields: which one is more likely to show symptoms of radicalization when applied to political articles? (I don't know the answer, just asking the question). Years ago i was also intrigued by Susan Greenfield's idea of "mind change", the idea that the human mind is being changed by its "environment" the same way that climate is being changed by the human-made environment. Is it possible that "mind change" includes making our minds more prone to radicalization? Is radicalization a state toward which the human mind is evolving? I also wonder whether radicalization is good or bad. What's a genius after all? A genius is a radical. What's a revolutionary? A radical. Great writers, musicians, artists? Radicals. Is radicalization a state of the creative mind? What would the world be without radicalization? This space at the border between neurological disorder and genius has always intrigued me. Madness and creativity. An old topic. (Incidentally, it would also be interesting to talk about dictators as conceptual artist, and of a coup as a work of art. But i digress). -->


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