Science, Technology & the Future was held on Nov 30 – Dec 1 2013, Melbourne Australia
What will the future be like?
Right now, the technologies that we use to understand the world are in the process of a major transformation. Almost every field of knowledge is generating vast quantities of data, requiring unprecedented computing power and intelligent algorithms to aid in interpretation. The era of Big Data has well and truly commenced. From predicting future climate, to mapping brain activity, to exploring the universe or simply searching the internet — Big Data, as the name implies, holds massive potential for future research and it’s already here. With immense promise comes great challenges — one of the foremost being how to sift through the deluge of data to garner meaningful insights and translate them into practical innovations. Working out how to advance into personalised medicine from the human genome project, or create massive simulations of the cosmos from satellite and telescope data will occupy many. We live in extraordinarily exciting times!
Peter Doherty (Nobel Laureate) – Immunologist; named Australian of the Year in 1997 and is listed as an Australian National Treasure,
David Pearce – Philosopher and Founder of the World Transhumanist Association who promotes the idea that there exists a strong ethical imperative for humans to work towards the ultimate goal of removing suffering in all sentient life
Marcus Hutter – mathematical formalization of Universal Intelligence – known for ‘Universal Intelligence’ a mathematical formalization of general intelligence
Scott Watkins – Team Lead of the Organic Photovoltaics project at CSIRO – developing cheaper and faster ways to manufacture flexible solar coatings for many substrates
Tim van Gelder – CEO & Founder of Austhink Consulting – worked on augmenting human rationality though refining computer aided design tools like Argument Mapping
Drew Berry – 3D Digital Biomedical Visualization at WEHI – has won numerous awards for his amazing biomedical animations
Peter Ellerton – director of the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project
With leading scientists and technologists from various disciplines gathered to speak about the future of science and technology, the conference was a battleground for the science that matters to anyone with a stake in the future. Our society continues to grapple with the ethical implications of developments in science and technology — we aim to bring clarity. At the conference we discussed the promise and perils of machine intelligence, materials science, the future of augmented reality and medicine, and much more.
The Nov 30 – Dec 1 conference took place in a time of great change, and unprecedented risks to global safety and prosperity. Some of these changes may threaten our survival — but let us take solace that great change brings great opportunities. We have the societal framework to deal with increasingly complex problems, harnessing the accumulated weight of thousands of individuals in fields as narrow as a nanotube and as overlapping as the world wide web. Let us take the opportunity to future-proof our efforts and find sustainable and resilient ways forward.