Seminars 2017-2018

  Program of the 14th ECCO/GBI Seminar Series (2017-2018)

 

First series (autumn):

 
Date Room Speaker Topic
Oct. 13 D.1.07

 Clement Vidal

 Cadell Last

 Are we cosmically (in)significant?

 Technological Singularity and the Big Historical Worldview

Oct. 20 D.1.07  Li Xiubo  The practical reasoning of complex engineering systems design
Oct. 27 D.1.07  cancelled  cancelled
Nov. 3 D.1.07  Petter Törnberg  The social complexity of digital data
Nov. 10 D.1.07  Atanu Chatterjee  Non-equilibrium thermodynamics from First Principles
Nov. 17 PL5.5.61  Katarina Petrovic  On cosmogony: approaching the unknowable origin
Nov. 24 D.1.07  Paul B. Rainey  Ecological scaffolding and the origins of multicellular life
Dec. 1 D.1.07

 Francis Heylighen

Dec. 8 D.1.07  Francois Taddei  Towards a learning planet

Dec. 15

D.1.07

 Mareno de Kort 

 The idealists: developing an idea factory

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 

Second series (spring):

 
Date Room Speaker Topic
April. 20 D.1.07

 Jonito Aerts

 Art and Science: Exploring the Interface between Image and Spectator

April 27 D.1.07  Sergio Rubin  Steps to the Mind of Gaia
       
June 8 D.1.07  Dirk Bruin  A Memetic View on the Firm (Update)
June 15 D.1.07

 

 Inês Rebanda Coelho

 

June 22 D.1.07  Robrecht De Schreye  Avoidance and Struggle, our attitude towards death

June 29

D.1.07

Katarina Petrovic & Francis Heylighen

 ArtScience: the meeting of art and science (discussion)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Are we cosmically (in)significant?

 

Are we cosmically (in)significant?

Clement Vidal

Abstract:

The relationship between humanity and the cosmos is one of the most fundamental questions of philosophy.  How can we find a meaning to life if the second law of thermodynamics says that everything is doomed to oblivion?  How can we understand the big history of our universe, and use this understanding to envision a big future?  Could other intelligent civilizations in the galaxy already be on a path towards such a big future?  In this short presentation, we attempt to touch upon these most fascinating questions.

 

Technological Singularity and the Big Historical Worldview

 

Technological Singularity in the Big Historical Worldview

Cadell Last

Abstract:

The philosophy of cosmic evolution provides a worldview for thinking about the human position and relationship to universal processual dynamics.  This evolutionary process is conceptualized as a network of relations with a specific astrophysical singularity origin as the first cause in a progressive complexification of organization from sub-atomic particles to human civilization.  Throughout this complexification of organization key physical events are identified as representing qualitative phase transitions where new relations form emergent integrated ordered wholes.  The hypothesized/anticipated next stage of cosmic evolutionary imminence is often described by futurists as a technological singularity where complex organization generated by scientific knowledge in the form of artificial general intelligence and distributed digital networks create an integrated ordered whole beyond any previous known level of complexity.  This paper does not challenge this hypothesis/anticipation but rather seeks to “re-frame” the human position and relationship to such processes by focusing analysis on the internal-subjective-conscious ideational landscape of human mind.
 

 

The practical reasoning of complex engineering systems design

 

The practical reasoning of complex engineering systems design

Li Xiubo

Abstract:

Complex engineering systems (CESs) (such as Power Grid, Transportation networks, Communication System and Rail System) are integrated with thousands of products, electronic components and parts. These systems evolve dynamically in uncertain technological, social, political and economic environments. Compared to simple technical artifacts (products), the paradigm of CESs design has fundamentally transformed.  As a consequence of this transformation CESs does not primarily seek to produce predictable, stable behavior within carefully constrained situations, but rather to obtain systems capable of adaptation, change and novelty—even surprise.  From this effort special methods and ad hoc approaches have developed beyond empirical understanding and reflection to deal with uncertainty, emergence and complexity in engineering practice.  Thus, this talk will focus on the emerging philosophy of engineering studies for complex adaptive systems design with the specific focus of attempting to elucidate new forms of practical reasoning.   

 

The Social Complexity of Digital Data

 

The Social Complexity of Digital Data

Petter Tornberg

Abstract:

The deluge of digital data has become a powerful force in shaping how we think about society. Its emergence has given social scientists unprecedented access to previously unimaginable data – traces of the lives, dreams, and feelings of hundreds of millions of people. This seems to be leading to a renewed naturalism in parts of the social sciences -- a reinvigoration of the notion that, given enough data, we may find a “physics of culture” that permits prediction and control of the type that characterize the natural sciences. But this naturalism differs in important ways from the one that came before it: since digital data does not hide the intricate relational complexity or mass-interactional nature of the social, it tends to chafe with the traditional Cartesian-Newtonian paradigm. The new naturalism instead sees society through the lens of the mass-interaction and relationality that digital data provides, with naturalist analogies of “avalanches and granular flows, flocks of birds and fish” (Ball 2012, p.IX): society is increasingly understood as complex.
 
This development begs a revisiting of the questions of the influential mid-20th century debates on naturalism: what are the possibilities of social scientific knowledge and the limits of naturalism in our new digital world? Fundamentally, society seems characterized not merely by bottom-up emergence, but by a continuous dialectic between agency and structure; between emergence and structure; between bottom-up and top-down. People shape society, and society shapes us, as we, individually and collectively, go about changing it or maintaining it. Its structures are themselves instilled with agency, as the actors are reflexively conscious of the emergent structures of which they are part. The human capacity of reflexivity, imply the formation of “causal thickets” (Wimsatt 1994) that cut through the timescale separation that lies as a foundational cornerstone assumption of many naturalist methods, what Herbert Simon (2002) called "near-decomposability" and others through the distinction between “closed” and “open” systems. This seems to have fundamental implications for the ontological nature of society, as well as for how we approach it. This presentation hence suggests that the complexity scientific approach to society is in a need of a “turn to ontology”: the formulation of an explicit metatheory for the nature of society.
 
A possible source of such a metatheory is suggested to be complex realism, constituted by the integration between complexity science and critical realism, which may provide a foundations for “the development of a situated, reflexive and contextually nuanced epistemology" (Kitchin 2014) to serve a system that is not only complex, but also structured, meaning- and value-laden.
 
The presentation furthermore illustrates this tentative metatheoretical framework through on-going work that looks empirically at the dialectic between agency and structure, through a case study on gender expression on social media. This study looks at 500,000 photographs of men and women on Instagram and Flickr using a mixed-methods approach, including image and text analysis, to study the question of how gender, as a social structure, is perpetuated in and through a dialectic between agency and structure. The theoretical lens of Erving Goffman shows social media as a platform through which we are socialized into society through a continual "learning by posting": the platforms function as a mirror that guides us in the shaping and reshaping of our identities through repeated attempts at self-representation. This study hence also illustrates how digital data emphasize not only the quantifiability and complexity of social life, but paradoxically also precisely the distinctive features that makes society ontologically distinct: the self-reflexivity and hyperreality characteristic of postmodernity.

 
 
References
Ball, P., 2012. Why society is a complex matter: Meeting twenty-first century

 
Kitchin, R., 2014. Big Data, new epistemologies and paradigm shifts. Big Data & Society, 1(1), p.2053951714528481.
 
Simon, H. A. (2002). Near decomposability and the speed of evolution. Industrial and corporate change, 11(3), 587-599.
 
Wimsatt, W. C. (1994). The ontology of complex systems: levels of organization, perspectives, and causal thickets. Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 24(sup1), 207-274.

 

Non-equilibrium thermodynamics from First Principles

 

Non-equilibrium thermodynamics from First Principles

Atanu Chatterjee

Abstract:

In this talk I present a fundamental first principles approach to undestand non-equilibrium phenomena and the onset of complexity in nature.  I begin the talk by putting forward a simple observation, the analogous of the Principle of Equivalence in Thermodynamics.  I probe this by laying out an equivalent field-theoretic approach to classical thermodynamics.  The central core of this idea is to identify a thermodynamically open system as a scalar field over a symplectic energy manifold.  Once the Lagrangian density is defined in terms of thermodynamic state variables, the Euler-Lagrange equations yield the steady-state energy conservation law.  The salient feature of this formulation is the emergence of the spatial and temporal derivatives of these state variables as non-equilibrium corrections to the First Law of Thermodynamics.  I thus put forward a generalized First Law equation, whcih has a virial-like expansion of the state variables and their higher-order spatial and temporal derivatives.  Moreover, the generalized First Law hints at the presence of a pair of constants, that corresponds to characteristic time and length scales for physical systems at various orders of complexity. 

 

On cosmogony: approaching the unknowable origin

 

On cosmogony: approaching the unknowable origin

Katarina Petrovic

Abstract:

Exploring the intersection of art, science and humanities, Katarina Petrovic's work focuses on the notions of creation, origin and self-organization.  Her interest in the nature of creation, the one found in the artistic process, language, physics, mythologies and symbolic order generally, has led her to create several artworks that go back to the essential contradictions of human thought and question the existence of an isolated event, a closed system that the notion of Origin seems to imply. 
 
With a set of concrete practices and mediums, the quest for unraveling the unknowable Origin becomes an act of creating; a specific cosmogram weaving together the knowledge of different disciplines.  The talk will present you with her recent works Lexicon Liber Novus, Cosmologicus and the current research and prototype work The Collection of Nothing: The World, developed as part of the Summer Sessions artist in residence program, co-produced by V2_ Lab for the Unstable Media and MoTA in Ljubljana, with support of the Creative Industries Fund NL.
 
Katarina holds a MMus degree from ArtScience Interfaculty, Royal Conservatoire and Royal Academy of Arts in The Hague, and an MFA equivalent from the Academy of Fine Arts in Belgrade.  As a bursary of the French government, she also attended Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris.  A co-founder of an association and podcast Femkanje, Katarina is active as a journalist and a radio host.  She is an indicator and author of the ArtScience Forum & research initiative together with Luke Boorman and a member of artist associations ULUS, Serbia and Stroom Den Haag.

 

Ecological scaffolding and the origins of multicellularity

 

Ecological scaffolding and the origins of multicellularity

Paul B. Rainey

Abstract:

Life is hierarchally structured, with replicating entities nested within higher order self-replicating structures.  Take, for example, multicellular life: the multicellualr entity replicates, as do the cells that comprise the origanism.  Inside cells are mitochondria that also have capacity for autonomous repliaction; the same is true of chromosomes within the nucleus, and of genes that comprise chromosomes.  Such hierarchal structure reflects a series of major evolutonary transitions in which lower order self-repliacing entities have been subsumed within higher order structures.  Typically this involves the lower level entity "giving up its right to autonomous replication" and with this "sacrifice" comes enslavement to the "needs" of the higher order "corporate body".  Posed in these terms it is difficult to see how evolutionary transitions unfold; how selection might shift levels and why life is hierarchally structured.  Necesssary for progress is clarity concerning what needs to be explained.  I will argue that this is the evolution of Darwinian individuality -- the evolution of properties of entities (variation, reproduction and heredity) that ensure participation in the process of evolution by natural selection.  There has been a tendency to assume these properties as pre-existing but they are not: they are derived and require evolutionary explanation.  Pressing to the heart of the problem, the challenge is to explain how Darwinian properties emerge from non-Darwinian entities by non-Darwinian means.  THis challenge permeates each evolutionary transition including the emergence of life from non-life.  I will argue that solutions to this seemingly unsolvable problem arise once we consider ecology.  I will also argue that the feedback between organismal charcteristics and the amplifying effects of natural selection makes evolutionary transitions in indivduality inevitbale, and thus too, life's hierarchal structure.  Theoretical ideas will be augmented with experimental data on the evolution of multicellular life.  

 

Social Control Mechanisms

Time: Friday, December1, 14h-16h

Place: room  D.1.07, VUB Campus Etterbeek, Pleinlaan 2, 1050 Brussels

Social Systems Programming:
Behavioral and Emotional Mechanisms Co-opted for Social Control

Francis Heylighen, Marta Lenartowicz, Kate Kingsbury‡, Shima Beigi & Tjorven Harmsen

Evolution, Complexity and Cognition group, Vrije Universiteit Brussel
*Department of Anthropology, University of Alberta

Abstract: Social systems can be defined as autopoietic networks of distinctions and rules that specify which actions should be performed under which conditions. Social systems have an enormous power over human individuals, as they can “program” them to sacrifice resources, happiness, loved ones and even themselves to the perpetuation of the system—as exemplified by religious celibacy, honor killings and suicide bombings. Such overriding of the biological instincts of survival and procreation demands powerful control mechanisms. The present paper surveys the most important neural, behavioral and emotional mechanisms that have been co-opted for social control. Basic conditioning happens through rewarding or reinforcement of socially sanctioned actions. Its power is extended by the conformist transmission of narratives that promise as yet virtual rewards. Deviation from the norms is suppressed through negative emotions: fear of punishment and ostracism, guilt about wrongful thoughts or actions, shame about personal deficiencies, and disgust for pollutions of the “pure” social order. Insecurity, cognitive dissonance and jostling for status in social hierarchies make individuals particularly susceptible to avoid such negative reinforcements. Through these suppressive mechanisms, social systems commonly impede individual emancipation, self-actualization and societal progress.

Reference:

Social Systems Programming I: neural and behavioral control mechanisms
https://www.academia.edu/34865997/Social_Systems_Programming_I_neural_and_behavioral_control_mechanisms

Social Systems Programming II: emotional and structural control mechanisms

https://www.academia.edu/35155123/Social_Systems_Programming_II_emotional_and_structural_control_mechanisms

(both submitted to Systems Research and Behavioral Science)

 

Towards a Learning Planet

 

Towards a Learning Planet

Francois Taddei

Abstract:

How can we structure an open research agenda for education at an international level?
 
The world is facing a unique convergence of crises -- environmental, economic, and social (hunger, disease, violence, climate, biodiversity loss, pollution, etc.).  Needs are massive, urgent and universal.  They are calling for a collective and dynamic response to engineer learning environments and empower everyone wishing to contribute to meeting these challenges.  In the meantime, exponential growth of technology has a significant impact on all human activities.  As Artifiical Intelligence can beat humans at the game of Go, win a literature prize or be recruited to a board of directors, it is legitimate to be concerned about the future of job markets and what we should be teaching the next generation.
 
How can our education sysetms prepare today's children to meet the challenges of the 21st century?  We need to profoundly rethink the skills we teach and find ways to encourage our children to re-shape their world and become actively involved in creating a better future for all.  Traditional education sysetms were not designed to encourage creativity and development of new knowledge.  Our education system must offer new ways of understanding the world and new ways of improving it.  These challenges concern all of us, as parents, learners, teachers and citizens irrespective of our countryWe need to engineer learning societies, defined as cooperative learning environments: when one individual learns something, addresses a problem or creates a new approach, others can do it more easily and therefore tackle challenges with increasing complexity.
 
Participatory science and IT can be harnessed to transform the science of learning and teaching.  In the field of education, they are underused for sharing data, problems, ideas and initiatives, and for creating networks of researchers and field actors.  It is time to develop participatory approaches for teachers, students, parents and scientists to work together, identify concrete questions and challenges, generate and analyze and develop approaches and perspectives that can be further shared, evaluated, adapted, etc.  
 
How could we all collectively gain from collaborative approaches to mutualize costs, share research findings and learn from one another?

 

The idealists: A better world through ideas

 

The Idealists -- A better world through ideas

Mareno de Kort

Abstract: 

The internet has connected all our minds and now that we share almost all of our knowledge we progress faster than ever.  
 
However our best piece of knowledge, our million dollar ideas, are not shared.
 
I have always believed that every person has one such golden idea and I've found everyone cherishes thie idea as their most prized possession.  Their ticket out of their current life.  Their own personal lottery ticket.
 
It's the one thing they never share, not even with their best friends, afraid that someone will steal it and take away their key to a better life.
 
However, because most people don't have the means, talent, drive or most importantly the guts to bring their golden idea to life as an entrepreneur these ideas are literally taken to the grave.  
 
At this very moment there are still roughly 7 billion golden ideas around.  Ideas that could change our world, our future and every year only a few million are brought to life by people who actually start up a company and this is what I am here to change.
 
We will do this by founding the first real ideas-factory.
 
A superincubator where to people can safetly send their golden idea and after we have thoroughly checked and validated it we are going to actually build a company for the idea.
 
Over the last 2 years I have perfected the blueprint for The Idealists, by reading every possible scientific paper and book on idea-selection and how to most successfully grow companies from start-up to grow-up.
 
Next to that I've joined an incubator with one of my companies and perfected every possible step in The Idealists process with experts such as a patent and IP expert, subsidy experts, design experts, etc.  And I think that the ideas and reserach you have developed at the Global Brain Institute and VUB could be the missing piece to complete the puzzle that is our blueprint and we would love to be a practical test ground for most of your ideas!
 
Short Bio:
 
I've helped set-up and run over 500 hairsalons worldwide and built a sneaker company and a rating & dating-app from scratch.
 
In the coming years I want to, next to turning Yes Salons into a global brand and turn IllUMI and Attractiv into a global hypes change the wrold for the better with The Idealists.
 
I'm just a person that is incredibly creative but at the same time extremely goal driven.  I'm an optimist that never gives up and because I'm always full of ideas find ways even when there are none.  I work extremely hard, but to me it doesn't feel like work.  It's a way of life.
 
I believe in decentralization and cell-division and am an apt believer of giving people all the tools and insights and getting out of their way in order to have them excel.
 
I want to put right what is wrong in the world and believe that ideas are the key to getting this done.  I am not against capitalism and individualism, but believe that we are currently venturing beyond the limits of both and that it's now time for an idea-revolution (where we bring all dormant ideas that make lives better and the world more fair to life and to attention and thus together make the world a better place through all of our ideas).
 

 

Art and Science: Exploring the Interface between Image and Spectator

 

Art and Science: Exploring the Interface between Image and Spectator

Jonito Aerts

Abstract:

My presentation will recount the journey that I have followed in the course of the last four years while working on my Bachelor and Master in visual art and also constantly looking into the scientific aspects related to the projects I realized. Starting from a study of resonance and its visual representation, I passed through a period where my interest in the creation of images led me to look to the zoetrope, which is a mechanism of moving images, the precursor of film. Then I engaged in an investigation of holography, and this raised my curiosity in the question that would become the principle guide of my journey: “What is the nature of the interface between image and spectator?”. An investigation from many different angles with concrete experiments of the ‘positive afterimage’ would be the project I devised to approach this question. Several of these experiments are designed to give us an insight of the experience of a ‘positive afterimage’ by the participants. As a representation of this research I created installations in which an approximation of this experience is visualized. A next investigation of this interface was inspired by an analogy between images and language.  The interface between texts and the reader-writer is a domain of study by researchers of CLEA who construct quantum mathematical models accounting for well-known and testable effects in this interface, e.g. the guppy effect within the Pet-Fish problem. I applied the techniques developed there to images and their content, and could show that a specific set of inequalities, testing for quantum-like emergence, is violated. This opens up the potential for a quantum mathematical modeling of this interface between image and spectator.

 

Steps to the Mind of Gaia

 

Steps to the Mind of Gaia

Sergio Rubin

Abstract:

The main tenet of Gaia theory states that Life is a planetary phenomenon. While Gaia has been approached in terms of homeostasis, thermodynamics optimization, self-organization and co-evolution, here we develop a biological approach in terms of (M,R)-systems and Autopoiesis equivalence. By applying a minimum set of key categories to ongoing fluxes and cycles of the Earth system that are metabolized from internal and external resources by a planetary microbial network, we obtain a congruent mapping between Gaia and a single (M,R)-Autopoietic unity. Our results suggest that biological activity not only fabricates, produce and constitute (become itself) more than co-evolve (soft hypothesis), regulate, optimize or self-organize (strong hypothesis) the Earth system, but that Gaia as any other biological unity is a cognitive system non-simulable by Turing machine. Strong implications on environmental theory and Earth's climate prediction are of interest.

 

A Memetic View of the Firm (Update)

 

A Memetic View of the Firm (Update)

Dirk Bruin

Abstract:

The question driving this research is what is invariably there in firms, what is their 'substance’ and therefore the research question is What is a firm? The research concerns the development of a theory to explain the behavior of firms in the light of the behavior of people associated with them, or rather, of their ideas. The approach is to involve cultural evolution by way of memes.

 

On the one hand this deals with the underpinning of the concept of memes in a metaphysics based on process and difference rather than individuality and objects. This involves use of the concepts such as individuation, autopoiesis and cognition. On the other hand it is concerned with how memes derive from individuals' belief systems, themselves autopoietic social systems.

 

These are the elements of culture people have come to be familiarized with, what they have come to believe and how these lend them rules for their decisions and motivate them to act. In particular it deals with the memes that exist in the Belief in Progress (aka the Market System) and how it has produced the firms that we currently have.

 

The final objective is to design a theoretical ‘laboratory’ for human organization that grounds in process metaphysics and to apply that laboratory to research the firm as a special case. This presentation is an update of the status of the research project.

 

Blockchain: A Tool to improve the Cinema and Television Industry

 

Blockchain: A Tool to improve the Cinema and Television Industry

Inês Coelho

Abstract:

Blockchain is a new technology that has become a big deal amongst society during the last few years. Bitcoin has been the most well-known format of this technology. However, there is more to blockchain than cryptocurrencies. Blockchain has as one of the main resolves to create a fair economic future.

 

There are several advantages that this technology could bring, not only regarding works’ distribution and promotion but also of profits. This technology can provide an economical, artistic and cultural improvement of the cinema and television industries, especially in countries with smaller sectors, and which are ruled mainly by government subsidies, like several cases in Europe.

 

This study centered in some of the main problems felt in the cinema and television industry of the European Union countries, some of them provoked by the law, as also as a purpose to find how the blockchain technology or even a derivation of the same, can solve most of them. So, a country with a precarious cinematographic reality was selected, Portugal. The Portuguese legislation was analyzed, along with the countries belonging to the European Union, to detect which are each law’s main flaws and what are their consequences. During this study, it was found that many problems were focused on several questions. Between them were: the chosen authors of a film being different from country to country, even in countries with the same legal system; in the law’s misappropriation to the cinematographic reality; the delegation of tasks, otherwise impractical to fulfil, to entities of collective rights management entities; legal complexity not allowing users to clearly know if they are committing an illegal act or not; the works’ excessive costs, which part of the gains don’t go to the authors nominated by law; possibility of all the work’s owners not being recognized by the law; emergence of more orphan works, and so on.

 

 

All the expropriations generated by the current legislation of Author’s Rights and Related Rights of the EU will be nominated and explained, as well as the solution which a blockchain system or platform may provide.

 

Avoidance and Struggle, our attitude towards death

 

Avoidance and Struggle, our attitude towards death

Robrecht De Schreye

Abstract:

In Belgium and other Western countries, people with life-threatening diseases, such as cancer, COPD or Alzheimer's disease are treated very aggressively. People near the end of life receive lots of burdensome treatment and little palliative care.

At the same time, success of aggressive treatments is very limited. There currently is no cure for any of these diseases. Death can be delayed at best, but in many cases even that is impossible.

As a society, we put major effort in this aggressive, often futile care.

The motivation for this seems two-fold: on the one hand, health care is a powerful industry that wants to produce and sell as much treatment and medication as possible. Doctors are paid to treat us, not to do nothing.

On the other hand, we do not like to talk about death and dying. When we talk about incurable diseases, we speak in terms of fighting and struggle. When fighting is no longer an option, we often don't speak at all.

 

We argue it would be more appropriate if in some cases, we would accept death and talk about it, rather than fighting a painful fight.

 

ArtScience

 

ArtScience

Katarina Petrovic & Francis Heylighen

Abstract:

This is an open discussion on the newly emerging domain of ArtScience in which artistic and scientific practices meet. After a short introduction to the topic by the speakers, we hope for a debate that addresses the different ways in which art and science may be able to crossfertilize or potentially even achieve some form of integration in the present day. The speakers are respectively an artist interested in science (KP), who initiated the ArtScience Forum in Leiden (see references), and a scientist interested in art (FH), who is the new director Center Leo Apostel for the transdisciplinary integration of the different sciences and humanities. As inspiration for the debate, we recommend reading some of the following short texts.

 

References

 

 

The fourth industrial revolution and health - the second biotech age


The fourth industrial revolution and health - the second biotech age

Kris Verburgh

Abstract:

Kris Verburgh will address in this lecture how the fourth industrial will impact medicine and healthcare. Some new paradigm shifts in medicine will be reviewed and what they mean for our health, bodies and brains and longevity. Verburgh coined the concept of the "Second Biotech Age". In the First Biotech Age (17th century – 2016) we discovered how the human body works and how diseases originate. In this First Biotech Age, most diseases are incurable and treatments mainly revolve around symptom-reduction and are simple and imprecise (e.g. drugs, macro-surgery, …). 
 
In the Second Biotech Age (starting from around 2016) we will have tools to actually cure various diseases and will be able to act with much more precision on the body and disease processes. In this Second Biotech Age, many diseases will be curable, life will be rewritten, medicine is precise and personalized. This Second Biotech Age is driven by recent technologies, like CRISPR-cas 9 for fast and accurate genome editing, immunotherapy for much more precise cancer treatments (previous chemotherapy targets all the cells in the body, including the healthy cells), optogenetics (which can target specific regions, organs and nerves in the body), artificial intelligence, etc. 
 
Verburgh will also briefly address the risks, issues, opportunities, and concerns of this Second Biotech Age and its consequences for society as a whole. 

 

A pragma-semiotic view on money

 

A pragma-semiotic view on money

Marta Lenartowicz

Abstract:

One of the most promising and exciting glimpses of the future that can be observed in the world today are the many initiatives to design and implement new kinds of money—and to yield a new socio-economic reality as a result. As much as I admire and support these attempts, I think that their theoretical grounds are still lacking a few key distinctions, and some sharper conceptualisation.
 
In my talk I will present an idea of how the theoretical grounds of the monetary reform movement could be potentially advanced by a conceptual transfer from pragmatic linguistics (J.L. Austin). Explaining a monetary transaction as a semiotic occurrence, which is similar but considerably simpler than a linguistic speech act, I will propose to distinguish three dimensions of money which correspond to the locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary forces of speech.
 
The proposed conceptual transposition might allow us, I believe, to better understand the relevant dimensions and constraints that need to be taken into account in new currency designs.