Leonardo Art/Science Evening Rendezvous of October 2021

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


Exploring the Frontiers of Knowledge and Imagination, Fostering Interdisciplinary Networking
Hosted from Stanford during October 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)

  • October 6 @ 6pm
    David Kirby (Cal Poly) on "The Nature of Diegetic Prototypes and their Social Impact"
    Jessie Liu, David Moses & Sean Metzger (UC San Francisco) on Speech Neuroprosthesis
    Alysson Muotri (Director of the Stem Cell Program Institute for Genomic Medicine, UC San Diego) on "Applications of Human Brain Organoids"
    Register here or here


    David Kirby (Cal Poly) on "The Nature of Diegetic Prototypes and their Social Impact"
    If you missed this dialogue, you can view it by clicking on the image:

    . David A. Kirby is Chair of the Department of Interdisciplinary Studies in the Liberal Arts and Director of the Science Technology & Society Program at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo. Previously he was Professor of Science Communication Studies in the Centre for the History of Science, Technology and Medicine at the University of Manchester. His research examines how movies, television, and computer games act as vehicles of scientific communication, trying to understand how the stories told about science in media products impact the construction of ideas and our perceptions of science as a social, cultural, and political force. Several of his publications address the relationship between cinema, genetics and biotechnology. He has also explored the collaboration between scientists and the entertainment industry in his book "Lab Coats in Hollywood: Science, Scientists and Cinema" (MIT Press, 2011), which was named one of Physics World magazine's top 10 best popular-physics books of 2011. He is currently writing a book titled "Indecent Science: Religion, Science, and Movie Censorship".


    Jessie Liu (UC Berkeley), David Moses (UCSF) & Sean Metzger (UCSF) on Speech Neuroprosthesis
    If you missed this dialogue, you can view it by clicking on the image:

    . Jessie Liu (UC Berkeley), David Moses & Sean Metzger (UCSF) work in the lab of UCSF neurosurgeon Edward Chang. They have developed a "speech neuroprosthesis" that decodes the signals sent by the brain to the vocal tract and turns them into words displayed on a screen, and then uses statistical language models to improve accuracy. The brain implant and the related A.I. software has enabled a man with severe paralysis to communicate in sentences, although limited to a vocabulary of 50 words.


    Alysson Muotri (Director of the Stem Cell Program Institute for Genomic Medicine, UC San Diego) on "Applications of human brain organoids"
    If you missed this dialogue, you can view it by clicking on the image:

    . Alysson Muotri is a professor at the Departments of Pediatrics and Cellular & Molecular Medicine at UC San Diego. He is also the Director of the Stem Cell Program and Archealization Center. He earned a BSc in Biological Sciences from the State University of Campinas in 1995 and a Ph.D. in Genetics in 2001 from University of Sao Paulo, in Brazil. He moved to the Salk Institute as Pew Latin America Fellow in 2002 for a postdoctoral training in the fields of neuroscience and stem cell biology. His research focuses on brain evolution and modeling neurological diseases using human induced pluripotent stem cells and brain organoids. He has received several awards, including the prestigious NIH Director's New Innovator Award, NARSAD, Emerald Foundation Young Investigator Award, Surugadai Award, Rock Star of Innovation, NIH EUREKA Award, Telly Awards among several others.
  • October 13 @ 6pm (California time):

    Catherine Blish (Stanford/ Infectious Diseases) on "A fireside chat on Covid-19 and the Virusphere"
    Register here or here


    If you missed this dialogue, you can view it by clicking on the image:

    . Catherine Blish is an Associate Professor of Medicine and Immunology at Stanford University School of Medicine and an Assistant Director of the Stanford Medical Scientist Training Program. Her clinical focus is on infectious diseases. The goal of her lab is to develop new methods to prevent and control infectious diseases through better understanding of human immunology. Her lab is perhaps best known for redefining our understanding of the diversity of human natural killer cells, a critical first line of defense against viruses and tumors. She has received numerous awards for research and mentoring.
  • October 20 @ 12pm (California time)
    Heather Barnett (University of the Arts London) on "Compostulations: stories of interspecies encounters (between art, science and ecology)"
    Clare Stanton (Harvard Law School) on "Linkrot and Content Drift: The Irreversible Decay of Internet Content"

    Register here or here


    Heather Barnett (University of the Arts London) on "Compostulations: stories of interspecies encounters (between art, science and ecology)"
    If you missed this dialogue, you can view it by clicking on the image:

    . Heather Barnett is an artist, researcher and educator working with living systems. Recent work centres around nonhuman intelligence, collective behaviour and systems for co-enquiry and knowledge distribution, including The Physarum Experiments, an ongoing enquiry with an intelligent slime mould, interventions with an ant colony in Almeria, and Animal Collectives collaborative research with the SHOAL Group at Swansea University where she is an Honorary Research Fellow. Heather is Pathway Leader on the MA Art and Science and Convenor of the Art & Living Systems Lab at Central Saint Martins (University of the Arts London), a Visiting Associate Professor at Tokyo Institute of Technology, and founding member of The Slime Mould Collective (http://slimoco.ning.com/). She works with natural phenomena and emergent systems. Employing live organisms, imaging technologies and playful pedagogies, her work explores how we observe, influence and understand multi-species ecosystems. Combining disciplinary methods from art and science, participatory art and practical philosophy, Barnett will share recent work made in `collaboration' with a range of organisms including slime moulds, ants and humans. Her work aims to tease and test our definitions of agency, intelligence and collective behaviour.


    Clare Stanton (Harvard Law School) on "Linkrot and Content Drift: The Irreversible Decay of Internet Content"
    If you missed this dialogue, you can view it by clicking on the image:

    . Clare Stanton is in charge of Communications & Outreach at Harvard's Library Innovation Lab, a forward-looking group of thinkers and doers working at the intersection of libraries, technology, and law. Clare's true occupation is as a milliner, creating multiple hats for herself everywhere she goes. She also is the outreach and communications lead for Perma.cc. Hyperlinks are a powerful tool for journalists and their readers. Diving deep into the context of an article is just a click away. But hyperlinks are a double-edged sword; for all of the internet's boundlessness, what's found on the web can also be modified, moved, or entirely disappeared. This often-irreversible decay of web content is commonly known as linkrot. It comes with a similar problem of content drift, or the often-unannounced changes--retractions, additions, replacement--to the content at a particular URL. Stanton and collaborators at Harvard Law School undertook a project to gain insight into the extent and characteristics of journalistic linkrot and content drift. We examined hyperlinks in New York Times articles starting with the launch of the Times website in 1996 up through mid-2019, developed on the basis of a dataset provided to us by the Times. We focus on the Times not because it is an influential publication whose archives are often used to help form a historical record. Rather, the substantial linkrot and content drift we find here across the New York Times corpus accurately reflects the inherent difficulties of long-term linking to pieces of a volatile web. Results show a near linear increase of linkrot over time, with interesting patterns emerging within certain sections of the paper or across top level domains. Over half of articles containing at least one URL also contained a dead link. Additionally, of the ostensibly "healthy" links existing in articles, a hand review revealed additional erosion to citations via content drift. Read the report here.


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