What we've talked about so far...
10,000 hours of practice to achieve expertise in any one field ... Is it possible to excel in more than one discipline, or is it inevitably a trade-off between depth and breadth? Join us on our very first Dialogue in this multidisciplinary debate exploring what it means to be a polymath - and can you not be one in our increasingly competitive modern society.
[Sep 2nd] Reality: Empowerment or Imprisonment?
How do I know the red I see is the red you see? Do we share the same reality? With recent innovations in Virtual and Augmented reality (think Google glass, Oculus Rift, Microsoft Hololens), the lenses through which we see the world are about to be altered more than ever. What are the implications? Fear or excitement? Join us as we explore the nature of reality with artists, philosophers, AR and VR pioneers.
Whatever it is, chances are it can be manufactured in the same 'mini-factory'. From printing an iPhone case, to printing a pizza, to printing a kidney, we have all been astonished by what 3D printing can offer. How can 3D printing be creatively used in solving the world's most urgent problems?
Creativity – the cog that has long been missing in education. There is now widespread consensus among education policy makers that injecting creativity is the next step forward, but the harder question follows: How do we deliver ‘creative education’? There are now as many ways to learning as there are people – is the ‘one-size-fits-all’ paradigm still the necessary evil in education? Or is individualization the way forward? Reform or not – join us as we dig deep into the science behind creativity, and debate our way through to a better future.
No, it's not just about climate change. Learning how to meet present needs without compromising the future. So what does really it mean to be sustainable - as an individual, as a society, as an economy and as a planet? Is it even possible to achieve a balance? Join us as we explore the concept of sustainability, both as the world's biggest challenge and as a common battle within human nature.
[Jan 6th] Science of Wellbeing: Fact or Fad?
Superfoods help prevent cancer; Bikram yoga accelerates weight loss more; brain training apps improve your memory. We all know these to be true...but are they really? Learning to look after our wellbeing is the common fight that unites us all. With so much information out there, what are facts, grounded in science and what is hype we should be wary of? As we move into the New Year, join us for a healthy Dialogue as we debunk the common myths surrounding health tips – and learn to stay well for the rest of the year.
George Orwell may be right after all… we are increasingly being ‘watched’ by digital Big Brother. People know of the ‘privacy crisis’ yet we still sign up to free apps simultaneously signing away access to our friends and photos. On the other hand, without proper surveillance and regulation, dangerous content is easily distributed across the ‘dark net’. What about the need to publicize yourself on Facebook - thereby increasing the possibility of stalking? Join us as we explore these digital dilemmas, towards the kind of freedom that is worth protecting.
[March 23rd] Neuroenhancement: Mirage or Miracle?
Better memory, extended concentration, super problem-solving, brilliant creative insights and senses beyond those nature intended. As researchers work to expand our knowledge of the brain, some hope that their findings will not only allow us to treat diseases of the brain, but also enable healthy individuals to enhance their mental abilities. Is there a clear distinction between the treatment of disease, and the enhancement of normal functioning? Cosmetic surgery, sports medicine and assisted reproductive technologies show that we already use the fruits of medical research to go ‘beyond therapy’. Why not do the same to improve the power of our minds? If you could, would you swap your morning coffee for a bit of electric brain stimulation to kickstart your day? While all this may sound appealing to some, many remain profoundly skeptical. And even if we could, should we want to use emerging technologies to enhance the brain?
[Aug 16th] Male or Female: Is Gender a Construct?
Recent MRI research shows there is no such thing as a 'male' or 'female' brain. Brains cannot be divided into gender based categories. Some features of the brain are more common in men and some in women. Hardly ever is a human brain exclusively male or female. This research challenged how society divided people into categories and how it justifies treating male and females differently. What makes us feel male/female? Is it innate or imposed. Are we all simply just Human?
[Sep 21st] Hack the Senses: Can We Redesign Perception?
This Special Edition of Dialogue will bring together academic, artistic, entrepreneurial and design perspectives to explore what it means to 'hack' our senses'. Specifically, we'd like to explore two topics: Firstly, the interface between design and sensory science. From architecture through fashion to product and interaction design, aesthetically pleasing and functionally intuitive design exploits the characteristics and organisation of our sensory system. How are the most recent findings from crossmodal research and the psychology of perception informing design practices and product development? Secondly, we'd like to turn to the burgeoning field of sensory modification. We are currently witnessing the emergence of novel technologies that hold out the promise of expanding the scope of human perception beyond its current limitations. What are the opportunities and constraints of developing new, technologically mediated ways of perceiving the world, ourselves and others?
[Oct 18th] "Machine vs Machine": Should AI be Human?
If we continue to develop and research ‘Artificial Intelligence’, humans could eventually create machines that think and feel like we do. If we accept that our thoughts are simply the firing of neurons, then should we also accept that the mind IS the physical brain? Would this also imply that humans are nothing but incredibly sophisticated machines? This might unsettle our self-perception of uniqueness and the very foundations of our moral codes and human rights. Perhaps then, we need to dig even deeper and ask ourselves the question, artificially or not, what does it even mean to possess ‘intelligence’ or ‘consciousness’? How appropriate is the Turing test for comparing and contrasting machine and human qualities or do we need to identify new measures to take it further? Optimists argue AI could be an utopian symbiotic solution to the world’s greatest needs, a learning system that foresees the future far better than we do. Should we design AI to have human-like qualities or bypass emotional subjectivity to become a more ‘rational’ utilitarian mirror reflecting our interests? Beyond replicating ourselves, what of the potential of AI to evolve?We can imagine artificial intelligences with sensors and intellectual capabilities profoundly different (and potentially greater) than ours, for example seeing far beyond our limited visual spectrum of electromagnetic radiation, or thinking billions of times faster than us. Yet never far from the surface are worries that unchecked learning could lead to manifold dystopian outcomes, immortalised in sci-fi through the horror classic ‘Frankenstein’, or modernised in recent cinema with the bittersweet ‘Ex Machina’ or the urgently practical moral questions being raised by imminent driverless cars. Friend or foe – join us as we decode the hype surrounding A.I., and delve into the philosophical hard problem of consciousness, before discussing the ethics and current applications of artificially intelligent systems.