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SMARTWEEK 2013: Neuroscience and Innovation Summary

23 Sept 2013

THECUBE kicked off SMARTWEEK 2013 with a roundtable discussion on Neuroscience and Innovation. Leading neuroscientist Dr Hana Ros and computational neuroscientist Dr Matteo Farinella discussed how neuroscience correlates to innovation and what knowledge from neuroscience we can begin to practically change into tools.

Does Free Will Exist?

  • In short, no. Even in micro decisions like what to have for lunch are still governed by how hungry one is, the bacteria in the gut and the cravings, all of which are subconscious mechanisms.

What is the divide between subconscious and conscious?

  • The brain is a whole ecosystem and there is no understanding of a clear divide between these two. This is especially important in regards to policy, law, and blame. This is why we believe that the subconscious  and how it works will be the next big area for neuroscience research. We are only at the start of brain exploration and it will be as big as our space endeavours. The sector is fascinating for its complexity and despite its breakthroughs little has been done in regards to generating new theories on how the brain works. Furthermore linking it to pragmatic applications is still cast off as pop science or marketing.

Can brain patterns be changed and if so, how?

  • Yes, we do have the capacity. We can accomplish this by creating a new circuit for a new behaviour. Each behaviour is tied to a well used circuit which cements the behaviour therefore to change you must first start with thinking differently. The brain works in the form of patterns as it makes learning much infinitely easier and it allows us to do very complex functions like facial recognition, however it can also make changing behaviour a long laborious process. The good news is that it is possible and therapy methods like CBT are proving quite effective at doing so.

Participants

  • Frances Booth: Writer
  • Araceli Camargo: Cognitive Neuroscientist
  • Giulio Carini : Social Scientist
  • Andrew Connolly: Business Admin and Psychology
  • Matt Cullin : Designer
  • Marta Dalton: Specialist Coffee Retail
  • Matteo Farinella: Computational Neuroscientist
  • Tomas Gould: Consultant
  • Michelle Hawkins: Head of Innovation Virgin Healthcare for NHS
  • Jennifer Marcello: Investment fund + Innovation consultancy
  • Pamela Parker : Artist and Designer
  • Hana Ros: Neuroscientist

 

17 Oct 2013

SMARTWEEK 2013: Biophilia Summary

Bill Finnigan, the lead documentary maker of Biophilia joined us at THECUBE to discuss our connection with nature, why we enjoy being in it, how it shapes us, and how we interact with it, but also how in regards to innovation it can help create more calming environments which can lead to focus and productivity.

What does biophilia mean?

  • According to definition it is the human connection to nature, however the argument arose that humans are nature. Therefore a more apt definition would be that it is our conversation with other natural elements aside from ourselves.

What is the relevance of biophilia?

  • As we continue to head into a more artificial world with technology, the question arises how do we stay connected with natural elements. There have been many studies on the mental and health benefits of nature.

What is nature?

  • On a more philosophical level, this question came up as humans are nature therefore we are not separate from it. So to make the distinction seems irrelevant and another way to separate the two entities.

 

17 Oct 2013

SMARTWEEK 2013: Epigenetics Summary

Evolutionary biologist Sarah Emberson hosted THECUBE’s roundtable discussion on the social implications of epigenetics.

When looking for the outer limits in science which would correlate to innovation and economy, we decided on epigenetics. We thought that cities like Detroit for example, which have large amount of toxins and the genetic effect this has on its population, could this have an impact on cognition? If so, what is the knock on effect on education and economy.

What is epigenetics?

  • Epigenetics is the influence environment has on switching genes “on” or “off”.

What is the relevance of Epigenetics?

  • There are already countries like China, who are paying attention to genetic engineering to create the perfect intelligence. Epigenetics would allow this type of engineering to become more accurate and present us with complex moral, strategic, and economic questions.

How much control do we actually have?

  • It seems to be a human trait to want to control and become engineers of our own fate, however it is important to not forget that nature is unpredictable and highly complex. Science is only at the start of understanding how our environment affects our genetics and it continues to discover its complexity, like the recent discovery of orphan genes. Which do not seem to be defy our understanding of evolution. Therefore however we would like to implement epigenetics to manipulate genes for the purposes of genetic engineering, nature will always have the potential to create an anomaly.  

 

17 Oct 2013

SMARTWEEK 2013: Quantum Computing and Big Data Summary

Telecoms and technology policy strategist Bostjan Makarovic and cyber security expert Stuart Meader presented and discussed their thoughts on the correlation between Quantum Computing and Big Data with us at THECUBE, as we have been observing the developing trend and interest on big data. However, convinced that big data needs a purpose and the technology to be able to do analyze it, we wanted to explore the possibility of quantum computing and how we could use to analyze large amounts of data.

What is Quantum Computing?

  • Quantum computing relies on quantum physics by taking advantage of certain quantum physics properties of atoms or nuclei that allow them to work together as quantum bits, or qubits. The theory is that it would allow computers to give a variety of possible solutions simultaneously. We are still a long way from making this a reality and there is a lot of skepticism as to whether or not we will be able to create a strong enough computer which will have the capacity for quantum computing.

What are the concerns?

  • The main fear with quantum computing and big data is that we are going to live in world where we will be robbed of our identity and our privacy. Knowing the parameters of where there could be breaches of civil rights companies that use this technology can learn to manage the consequences.

Do we have the right cognition for this type of technology?

  • If quantum computing were to be used, we will need better statistical thinkers. People will still be needed to interpret the data as the computer will not reach 100% accuracy.

What are the linguistics and legislation?

  • One of the more interesting points which were brought up was legislation and language. We are probably do not have the appropriate linguistic capacity to explain the legal parameters presented by quantum computing.

What are the possibilities?

  • Quantum computing can be used to track potential criminals, predict weather systems or find better cures for complex diseases.

17 Oct 2013

SMARTWEEK 2013: Culture and Sanity Summary

Professor Emeritus John Onians of World Art joined us to explore the role of culture in the sanity and well being of the society it lives in, as well as tool used from culture to create sustainable change.

What is Neuroarthistory?

  • It is a term coined by Professor John Onians, which combines the neurological study of art in society, by reconsidering the interaction between the senses and cognition.

What is the relevance of culture to society?

  • Culture can play a significant role in changing social norms. As institutions, companies and countries are being presented with the challenge of creating innovation and change, it is important to learn how they function at a cultural level. For example, in Japan culture was used to make them more attuned to other cultures as part of the strategy to make Japan more economically competitive.

What is the significance of neuroscience in cultural studies?

  • According to Professor Onians neuroscience is our greatest alliances, it teaches us about who we are and how we think. It is this knowledge which will help answer bigger questions on cultural shifts and our own evolution.

 

SMARTWEEK 2013: Quantum Computing and Big Data Summary

17/10/2013

Telecoms and technology policy strategist Bostjan Makarovic and cyber security expert Stuart Meader presented and discussed their thoughts on the correlation between Quantum Computing and Big Data with us at THECUBE, as we have been observing the developing trend and interest on big data. However, convinced that big data needs a purpose and the technology to be able to do analyze it, we wanted to explore the possibility of quantum computing and how we could use to analyze large amounts of data.

What is Quantum Computing?

  • Quantum computing relies on quantum physics by taking advantage of certain quantum physics properties of atoms or nuclei that allow them to work together as quantum bits, or qubits. The theory is that it would allow computers to give a variety of possible solutions simultaneously. We are still a long way from making this a reality and there is a lot of skepticism as to whether or not we will be able to create a strong enough computer which will have the capacity for quantum computing.

What are the concerns?

  • The main fear with quantum computing and big data is that we are going to live in world where we will be robbed of our identity and our privacy. Knowing the parameters of where there could be breaches of civil rights companies that use this technology can learn to manage the consequences.

Do we have the right cognition for this type of technology?

  • If quantum computing were to be used, we will need better statistical thinkers. People will still be needed to interpret the data as the computer will not reach 100% accuracy.
  • What are the linguistics and legislation?
  • One of the more interesting points which were brought up was legislation and language. We are probably do not have the appropriate linguistic capacity to explain the legal parameters presented by quantum computing.

What are the possibilities?

  • Quantum computing can be used to track potential criminals, predict weather systems or find better cures for complex diseases.

SMARTWEEK 2013: Culture and Sanity Summary

17/10/2013

Professor Emeritus John Onians of World Art joined us to explore the role of culture in the sanity and well being of the society it lives in, as well as tool used from culture to create sustainable change.

What is Neuroarthistory?

  • It is a term coined by Professor John Onians, which combines the neurological study of art in society, by reconsidering the interaction between the senses and cognition.

What is the relevance of culture to society?

  • Culture can play a significant role in changing social norms. As institutions, companies and countries are being presented with the challenge of creating innovation and change, it is important to learn how they function at a cultural level. For example, in Japan culture was used to make them more attuned to other cultures as part of the strategy to make Japan more economically competitive.

What is the significance of neuroscience in cultural studies?

  • According to Professor Onians neuroscience is our greatest alliances, it teaches us about who we are and how we think. It is this knowledge which will help answer bigger questions on cultural shifts and our own evolution.