From robotics to Big Data: technologies that will change our world

By Giulia Basso

Robotics, Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning, supercomputers and Big Data are breakthrough technologies that will play a pivotal role in the future of humanity and our planet. They will help us monitor public health, the environment and the medical sector. They will help foresee extreme climate weather and pandemic peaks, as well as help fine-tune energy use, transportation management and the set up of new materials. Smart algorithms, however, could be also used for ethically questionable purposes, such as social and political control over the population.

Smart technologies and their ethical and social implications will sit centre stage during some events globally called "I compute therefore I am”, scheduled during ESOF2020, in Trieste. They will engage major international experts, including scientists, policymakers and journalists.

On 3 September, ESOF2020 will offer the conference “Extending the body into digital technology: an evolutionary perspective”, at 8:30. Experts will include Claudio Tuniz from ICTP, Atsushi Iriki (Laboratory for Symbolic Cognitive Development, Riken Brain Science Institute), and Emiliano Bruner (Centro Nacional de Investigación sobre la Evolución Humana, Burgos).

The event will take place a second time during the Science in the City Festival, on 4 September (18:00 CEST) at Auditorium of Museo Revoltella.

"Spiders widen their body and mind by building cobwebs. Coming to humans, since the Paleolithic era, we have been cyborgs in progress: the connection between our body and the tools and objects we use has become integrated into our evolutionary mechanisms," Claudio Tuniz says. "If we export the cognitive process inside external elements, then we transfer, for example, the historical memory carved into rock paintings and into writing to our mobile phones and to Google's Big Data".

This cyborg nature we have can also be seen in the big accomplishments of medicine. In “Will I walk again? How next-generation artificial limbs are shaping the future of medicine”, scheduled on 4 September (12:00 CEST), speakers will debate about artificial limbs. The conversation will address how experts in robotics, neuroscience, surgery and the man-machine interface are cooperating to create user-friendly prostheses, which can be managed by the owner like a real limb.

Some of the dilemmas spurred by the development of AI and Big Data will also be discussed during the event “Network user security and privacy solutions in the era of artificial intelligence and GDPR” (on 3 Sept, 18:00), where experts will address specific topics such as security and privacy. At the event “Artificial Intelligence: A blessing or a threat for society?”, on 5 September at 16:15 in Virtual Room 2, speakers will offer their thoughts on how to merge ethics and AI.

In other events, the "data revolution" and the future of neurotechnologies will take the floor, along with supercomputers and the algorithms needed to exploit computing power once never imagined.

Courtesy of Il PIccolo

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