Speaker: Peter Doherty

team-prof-peter-dohertyProfessor Peter Doherty – Nobel Laureate

Doherty‘s research focuses on the immune system. His Nobel work described how the body’s immune cells protect against viruses. He and Rolf Zinkernagel, the co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, discovered how T cells recognize their target antigens in combination with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins.

Peter Charles Doherty AC (born 15 October 1940) is an Australian veterinary surgeon and researcher in the field of medicine. He received the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1995, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine jointly with Rolf M. Zinkernagel in 1996 and was named Australian of the Year in 1997.[1] In the Australia Day Honours of 1997, he was named a Companion of the Order of Australia for his work with Zinkernagel. Zinkernagel was named an honorary Companion. He is also a National Trust Australian Living Treasure. He had a younger brother named Ian and had two parents named Linda and Eric. He skipped a grade in school and entered the University of Queensland when he was 17.
360194-peter-doherty

Research

corbis_rm_photo_of_T_cell_on_dendritic_cellDoherty’s research focuses on the immune system and his Nobel work described how the body’s immune cells protect against viruses. He and Rolf Zinkernagel, the co-recipient of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine, discovered how T cells recognize their target antigens in combination with major histocompatibility complex (MHC) proteins.

Viruses infect host cells and reproduce inside them. Killer T-cells destroy those infected cells so that the viruses cannot reproduce. Zinkernagel and Doherty discovered that, in order for killer T cells to recognize infected cells, they had to recognize two molecules on the surface of the cell – not only the virus antigen, but also a molecule of the major histocompatibility complex (MHC). This recognition was done by a T-cell receptor on the surface of the T cell. The MHC was previously identified as being responsible for the rejection of incompatible tissues during transplantation. Zinkernagel and Doherty discovered that the MHC was responsible for the body fighting meningitis viruses too.

Peter Doherty – Scepticism, Denial and Ignorance: There is a Difference – Vic Skeptics 2013

Nobel Laureate Dr Peter Doherty speaks at Skeptics Victoria! http://vicskeptics.wordpress.com/ Professor Peter Doherty presents to the Victorian Skeptics on Monday 18 March 2013. The talk is titled Scepticism, Denial and Ignorance: There is a Difference.

Pandemics: What Everyone Needs to Know

Nobel Laureate Peter Doherty offers a level-headed guide to all aspects of pandemics-what they are, how they spread, and what we can do to prevent them.

Pandemics. The word conjures up images of horrific diseases sweeping the globe and killing everyone in their path. But such highly lethal illnesses almost never create pandemics. The reality is deadly serious but far more subtle.

In Pandemics, Peter Doherty, who won the Nobel Prize for his work on how the immune system recognizes virus-infected cells, offers an essential guide to one of the truly life-or-death issues of our age. In concise, question-and-answer format, he explains the causes of pandemics, how they can be counteracted with vaccines and drugs, and how we can better prepare for them in the future. Doherty notes that the term “pandemic” refers not to a disease’s severity but to its ability to spread rapidly over a wide geographical area. Extremely lethal pathogens are usually quickly identified and confined. Nevertheless, the rise of high-speed transportation networks and the globalization of trade and travel have radically accelerated the spread of diseases. A traveler from Africa arrived in New York in 1999 carrying the West Nile virus; one mosquito bite later, it was loose in the ecosystem. Doherty explains how the main threat of a pandemic comes from respiratory viruses, such as influenza and SARS, which disseminate with incredible speed through air travel. The climate disruptions of global warming, rising population density, and growing antibiotic resistance all complicate efforts to control pandemics. But Doherty stresses that pandemics can be fought effectively. Often simple health practices, especially in hospitals, can help enormously. And research into the animal reservoirs of pathogens, from SARS in bats to HIV in chimpanzees, show promise for our prevention efforts.

Calm, clear, and authoritative, Peter Doherty’s Pandemics is one of the most critically important additions to the What Everyone Needs to Know series.

Links

Peter-Doherty---Vic-Skeptics-M64A9389

Speaker: Andrew Dun

Andrew Dun, former philosophy graduate student.

Andrew’s work in the philosophy of mind is accompanied by an ongoing interest in the social and cultural impacts of emerging technologies.

Andrew’s philosophical work relates to the ontology consciousness. Andrew proposes the view that the relationship between physical and phenomenal properties is one of mutual representation, rather than supervenience. Here, neither domain is regarded as more fundamental. This relationship can be considered as analogous to wave-particle duality as described on some views of quantum mechanics, but where instead a duality is taken to obtain between the physical and phenomenal domains themselves, rather than their constituents.

Andrew argues that on this view we can factor out ontology and approach questions about consciousness from the perspective of functional materialism. This approach can inform our questions about consciousness as they relate to applications such as strong artificial intelligence and mind uploading.

Andrew previously presented at the Melbourne Singularity Summit, 2012 (See Below footage ‘Zombie Rights’).

Zombie Rights

Andrew Dun spoke at the Singularity Summit Australia 2012. Talk title : “Zombie Rights”.

A discussion of the rights of sentient entities. Drawing inspiration from quantum complementarity, defends a complementary notion of ontological dualism, countering zombie hypotheses. Sans zombie concerns, ethical discussions should therefore focus on assessing consciousness purely in terms of the physical-functional properties of any putatively conscious entity.

Slides for presentation can be found on slide-share!

Speaker: Peter Ellerton

PhD Candidate in Educational Philosophy

Peter is director of the University of Queensland Critical Thinking Project. His research focuses on the nature and teaching of critical thinking. He has worked for many years as a curriculum head of science, mathematics and philosophy in high schools and is a consultant to the International Baccalaureate Organisation in the design and implementation of science curriclua. He won the 2008 Australian Skeptics $10,000 prize for Critical Thinking for his work in developing educational resources, and he was not improved by being faith-healed on national television.

 

Just Think – It’s Important

Why is philosophy as a subject such a fizzer in schools, asks Laura Parker.

For Said Bouziane, a year 11 student, using deductive logic is as easy as stacking chairs.

“One day after class I noticed a student pick up a pile of five chairs and place them on a pile of two. I wondered how many times this student chose the bigger, heavier, more troublesome pile of chairs,” he said.

Pondering reason and logic is a normal part of Said’s day at Calamvale Community College in Brisbane, where he studies philosophy under the guidance of teacher Peter Ellerton.

A former physics teacher, Mr Ellerton introduced the philosophy and critical thinking program to Calamvale after joining a network of Queensland teachers which promotes and spreads the teaching of philosophy in high schools throughout the state.

“Some people don’t understand what we mean by philosophy – they think it’s just discussion,” Mr Ellerton said. “The truth is it’s a rigorous and analytical subject; you have to do it properly. We don’t discuss the meaning of life. As a subject, I think it’s more fundamental than maths or English.”

Read More at Sydney Morning Herald
 

Interview: Future Proof your Thinking

Part 1

[youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENZRZ9lAYAo”]

Part 2

Talk The Changing Changing Climate of Skepticism

Laureate Professor Peter Doherty in conversation with Peter Ellerton — Science, Scepticism and Society

Adam Ford

Conference Chair: Adam Ford

adam-ford-300x3001Adam A. Ford is a director on the board of Humanity+, and is founder and president of  H+ Australia. He organised the first Singularity Summit outside the USA apart from the main ones done by the Singularity Institute. He has organized numerous conferences around science and technology, aimed at shaping the likelihood of a favorable future.

The next conference ‘Science, Technology & the Future’ will be held in Melbourne, Australia on Nov 30 – Dec 1st 2013.

Adam is also a videographer directing a few different documentaries at once – one based on the Technological Singularity, another based on the Hedonistic Imperative, one on Human Enhancement and Transhumanism, and another based on Climate Change/Geoengineering (with a few other ideas).

He has a blossoming youtube channel with over 600 videos of interviews and lectures.

Adam is also owner of Quantech Solutions, an IT company based in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia.

 

Conferences:
Singularity Summit Australia 2010 Chair, Organiser
Singularity Summit Australia 2011 Chair, Organiser
Singularity Summit Australia 2012 Chair, Organiser
Humanity+ Australia 2011 Chair, Organiser
Humanity+ Australia 2012 Chair, Organiser
Humanity+ @Hong Kong 2011 Helper
Humanity+ @San Francisco 2012 Co-Chair
Humanity+ @Beijing 2013 Co-Chair

Speaker: Scott Watkins

team-scott-watkins
Dr Watkins was born in Sydney, Australia and completed a Bachelor of Science (Honours) and a Doctor of Philosophy in Chemistry at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

In December 2000, Dr Watkins moved to the United Kingdom to take up a Postdoctoral Fellowship with Dr Victor Christou at the Inorganic Chemistry Laboratory of the University of Oxford, where he worked on novel phosphorescent emitters for use in Organic Light Emitting Diodes (OLEDs).
Dr Scott Watkins is currently leading CSIRO’s research stream on Organic Photovoltaics (OPVs).

In 2001 Dr Watkins joined Opsys, a spin-out company originating from the University of Oxford, where he continued his research on OLEDs. Opsys merged with Cambridge Display Technology (CDT) – a Cambridge university spin-out company – in October 2002.

Dr Watkins continued his work on novel phosphorescent cores for both light emitting dendrimers and polymers with CDT, as a research scientist and then as a consultant, until 2004.

In September 2003 he began working with Professor Andrew Holmes at the University of Cambridge where his work centred on the synthesis of triplet emitters for use in OLEDs.

Dr Watkins joined CSIRO in October 2004 and was also appointed as an academic visitor at the Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne, where he has co-supervised a number of PhD students with Professor Andrew Holmes.

In 2007, Dr Watkins was appointed Stream Leader for Organic Photovoltaics at CSIRO.

Achievements

Main - csiro - scott watkinsDr Watkins has: published more than 40 peer-reviewed papers and is an inventor on 10 patent applications in the field of organic electronics been an invited speaker at more than 10 international conferences on organic electronics been elected as the Early Career Scientist on the National Executive of the Federation of Australian Scientific and Technological Societies (now Science and Technology Australia), 2007 been awarded CSIRO Julius Fellowship, 2007–10.

Scott Watkins work is key to CSIRO’s research on future manufacturing, specifically flexible electronics.

[heading]

Developing next generation low-cost solar cells of the future

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Dr Scott Watkins is applying CSIRO’s world-class understanding of polymer science to create new electroactive materials for the next generation of plastic electronics and energy devices.

Current activities

Dr Scott Watkins is currently leading CSIRO’s research stream on Organic Photovoltaics (OPVs). This includes scientists working across CSIRO at laboratories based in both Melbourne and Newcastle.

In the area of OPVs, CSIRO is a key member of the Victorian Organic Solar Cell Consortium (VICOSC) which includes researchers from the University of Melbourne, Monash University, and industry partners Securency, BlueScope Steel, Innovia Films and Robert Bosch SEA.

VICOSC draws together the resources of Australia’s leading research institutions and companies to develop technologies to enable the production of low-cost, printable, organic solar cells.

The aim of the consortia is to replace high-cost silicon based solar cells with low-cost, environmentally friendly, printable, thin-film, plastic solar cells.

Credit : CSIRO

Also see:
And bend and flex: Scott Watkins’ new generation of solar cells
Interview with Dr Watkins – Beyond Zero Emissions

Speaker: Lloyd Hollenberg

3038picture_lloydHollenbergProfessor Lloyd Hollenberg works on theoretical quantum computing and information (Quantum computing, quantum information, qubit system modelling and control, alogorithm, quantum error correction, single electron transistor), as well as theory and implementation of quantum technology, including: quantum computer architectures, Quantum information processing, and Quantum communications systems. He is Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology within the Department of Physics at the University of Melbourne.

(link) Abstract to Lloyd Hollenberg’s talk ‘Quantum reality bytes: the dawning age of quantum information technology – Lloyd Hollenberg’.

Professor Hollenberg has received many awards for his work in quantum sensing and quantum computing.

  • The 2013 Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research – see article ‘Shine on you tiny diamonds
  • The 2012 Walter Boas Medal for pioneering work in quantum sensing and quantum computing. In 2013, he was awarded an Australian Research Council Australian Laureate Fellowship and was part of the team that received the 2013 Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research. According to ABC’s Catalyst, his work is “a quantum leap in theoretical physics, that’s poised to make a huge impact in cell biology”.
  • The 2013 Victoria Prize for Science and Innovation in physical sciences (from VESKI – Victorian Government)

2013 Victoria Prize – Professor Lloyd Hollenberg

2013 Victoria Prize for Science & Innovation – physical sciences

id21881Imperfect diamonds could help answer fundamental questions in the life sciences, thanks to ground-breaking research by Victorian physicist, Professor Lloyd Hollenberg. In world first experiments, Professor Hollenberg and his team demonstrated nanodiamond quantum sensing technology in a living cell with sensitivity and resolution a million times greater than any conventional MRI system in the world.

The quantum sensor, a single atom defect in a diamond crystal called a nitrogen-vacancy centre, has the potential to revolutionise sensing and imaging at the atomic and molecular levels. The combination of the special properties of diamond and the quantum properties of the nitrogen-vacancy centre are one of nature’s remarkable coincidences and allows the device to detect the very small magnetic fields arising from individual atoms and molecules. With human life beginning and ending with atoms and molecules, a quantum sensor will provide us views of life at this fundamental level in a way never before experienced.

Internationally, there is huge interest in the potential of quantum technologies. Working at the convergence of quantum mechanics and biology, Professor Hollenberg is sparking a new era of nanoscale magnetic imaging with research spanning quantum physics, chemistry, bioengineering, materials science and biology. As a result, he and his team have demonstrated that sensors based on the strange rules of quantum mechanics can offer new tools to address important problems in biology.

Professor Hollenberg received the 2012 Walter Boas Medal for pioneering work in quantum sensing and quantum computing. In 2013, he was awarded an Australian Research Council Australian Laureate Fellowship and was part of the team that received the 2013 Eureka Prize for Excellence in Interdisciplinary Scientific Research. According to ABC’s Catalyst, his work is “a quantum leap in theoretical physics, that’s poised to make a huge impact in cell biology”.

imperfect diamonds - quantum sensingProfessor Hollenberg is Deputy Director of the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Quantum Computation and Communication Technology within the Department of Physics at the University of Melbourne.
– taken from Science, Technology & Innovation – section of Business Victoria


For more information see:
(Nano-) diamonds are a boy’s best friend: Professor Lloyd Hollenberg and his Eureka Prize
Catalyst (video) : Imperfect Diamonds
2013 Victoria Prize for Science & Innovation – physical sciences
Fluorescent diamond nanocrystals offer new possibilities for biosensing in living cells

Speaker: David Pearce

David Pearce

David Pearce

David Pearce will be speaking at  Science, Technology & the Future on Nov 30 – Dec 1st 2013 in Melbourne Australia  – he is a British utilitarian philosopher who believes and promotes the idea that there exists a strong ethical imperative for humans to work towards the abolition of suffering in all sentient life. His book-length internet manifesto The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how technologies such as genetic engineering, nanotechnology, pharmacology, and neurosurgery could potentially converge to eliminate all forms of unpleasant experience among human and non-human animals, replacing suffering with gradients of well-being, a project he refers to as “paradise engineering”. A transhumanist and a vegan, Pearce believes that we (or our future posthuman descendants) have a responsibility not only to avoid cruelty to animals within human society but also to alleviate the suffering of animals in the wild.

Pearce is the owner of BLTC Research, a website that was set up by Pearce in 1995. Based in Kemptown, Brighton, UK, the site publishes online texts in support of the biochemical and biotechnological methods by which its proponents believe sentient suffering could be abolished in future generations.

In 1998, Pearce co-founded the World Transhumanist Association (WTA) with Nick Bostrom, an Oxford philosopher. The association, which later changed its name to Humanity+, advocates transhumanism — an ideology and movement which has emerged to support the recognition and protection of the right of citizens either to maintain or modify their own minds and bodies so as to guarantee them the freedom of choice and informed consent of using human enhancement technologies on themselves and their children.

In 2002 Pearce co-founded the Abolitionist Society with Pablo Stafforini, Sean Henderson, and Jaime Savage, in order to help promote the idea of abolitionism of suffering and to discuss the implications involved with a wider range of audience.

Pearce sits on the board of Elsevier’s journal Medical Hypotheses and holds a position at the advisory board of Lifeboat Foundation.[10] He runs a web hosting company.

The Hedonistic Imperative

The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how genetic engineering and nanotechnology will abolish suffering in all sentient life.

pearce david interview with adam fordThe abolitionist project is hugely ambitious but technically feasible. It is also instrumentally rational and morally urgent. The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved because they served the fitness of our genes in the ancestral environment. They will be replaced by a different sort of neural architecture – a motivational system based on heritable gradients of bliss. States of sublime well-being are destined to become the genetically pre-programmed norm of mental health. It is predicted that the world’s last unpleasant experience will be a precisely dateable event.

Two hundred years ago, powerful synthetic pain-killers and surgical anesthetics were unknown. The notion that physical pain could be banished from most people’s lives would have seemed absurd. Today most of us in the technically advanced nations take its routine absence for granted. The prospect that what we describe as psychological pain, too, could ever be banished is equally counter-intuitive. The feasibility of its abolition turns its deliberate retention into an issue of social policy and ethical choice.

This manifesto combines far-fetched utopian advocacy with cold-headed scientific prediction. The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how nanotechnology and genetic engineering will eliminate aversive experience from the living world. Over the next thousand years or so, the biological substrates of suffering will be eradicated completely. “Physical” and “mental” pain alike are destined to disappear into evolutionary history. The biochemistry of everyday discontents will be genetically phased out too. Malaise will be replaced by the biochemistry of bliss. Matter and energy will be sculpted into life-loving super-beings animated by gradients of well-being. The states of mind of our descendants are likely to be incomprehensibly diverse by comparison with today. Yet all will share at least one common feature: a sublime and all-pervasive happiness.

This feeling of absolute well-being will surpass anything contemporary human neurochemistry can imagine, let alone sustain. The story gets better. Post-human states of magical joy will be biologically refined, multiplied and intensified indefinitely. Notions of what now passes for tolerably good mental health are likely to be superseded. They will be written off as mood-congruent pathologies of the primordial Darwinian psyche. Such ugly thoughts and feelings will be diagnosed as typical of the tragic lives of emotional primitives from the previous era. In time, the deliberate re-creation of today’s state-spectrum of normal waking and dreaming consciousness may be outlawed as cruel and immoral.

Such speculations may currently sound fantastical. Yet the ideas behind this manifesto may one day be regarded as intellectually trite – albeit today morally urgent. For as the genetic revolution in reproductive medicine unfolds, what might once have been the stuff of millennialist fantasy is set to become a scientifically feasible research program. Its adoption or rejection will become, ultimately, a social policy issue. Passively or actively, we will have to choose just how much unpleasantness we wish to create or conserve – if any – in eras to come. David Pearce - the Hedonistic Imperative Chapter 1 - The Naturalisation of Heaven

Prophetic Narratives: Will Humanity’s Successors Also Be Our Descendants?

David Pearce spoke at Humanity+ @San Francisco in 2012 – Accelerating technological progress leads some futurists to predict the imminent end of the transhuman era and the dawn of posthuman superintelligence. But what is superintelligence? How does intelligence relate to sentience? What are the Explanatory Gap, Moravec’s Paradox, and the Binding Problem? Will nonbiological machines ever be more than zombies? This talk explores three different narratives for the major evolutionary transition in prospect. In the first narrative, biological humans will rewrite our genetic source code, recursively self-edit our own minds, and bootstrap our way to full-spectrum superintelligence. Mastery of our reward circuitry will deliver life based on information-sensitive gradients of bliss. In the second, Kurzweilian narrative, cybernetic brain implants will enable humans to fuse our minds with artificial intelligence; and also allow humans to scan, digitize and “upload” ourselves into a less perishable substrate. In digital nirvana, the distinction between biological and nonbiological machines will effectively disappear. In the third scenario, most closely associated with mathematician I.J. Good, is a combination of Moore’s law and the advent of recursively self-improving software-based minds will culminate in an ultra-rapid Intelligence Explosion and an era of nonbiological superintelligence. Posthuman superintelligence may or may not be human-friendly. How strong is the supporting evidence for each of these prophecies?

Interviews

Alleivating Suffering & achieving Hedonic Zero / Altruism

The Naturalisation of Heaven – The Lotus Eaters – Happiness & Motivation

The Hedonistic Imperative outlines how genetic engineering and nanotechnology will abolish suffering in all sentient life. This project is ambitious but technically feasible. It is also instrumentally rational and ethically mandatory. The metabolic pathways of pain and malaise evolved only because they once served the fitness of our genes. They will be replaced by a different sort of neural architecture. States of sublime well-being are destined to become the genetically pre-programmed norm of mental health. The world’s last aversive experience will be a precisely dateable event.David Pearce
I predict we will abolish suffering throughout the living world. Our descendants will be animated by gradients of genetically pre-programmed well-being that are orders of magnitude richer than today’s peak experiences.
– p.114 Ethics Matters by Peter and Charlotte Vardy – SCM Press, 2012David Pearce
Video Interviews

For more video interviews please Subscribe to Adam Ford’s YouTube Channel

genomic-bodhisattva

Genomic Bodhisattva interview at H+ Magazine

Speaker: Marcus Hutter

Marcus Hutter (born 1967) is a German computer scientist and professor at the Australian National University. Hutter was born and educated in Munich, where he studied physics and computer science at the Technical University of Munich. In 2000 he joined Jürgen Schmidhuber’s group at the Swiss Artificial Intelligence lab IDSIA, where he developed the first mathematical theory of optimal Universal Artificial Intelligence, based on Kolmogorov complexity and Ray Solomonoff’s theory of universal inductive inference. In 2006 he also accepted a professorship at the Australian National University in Canberra.

Hutter’s notion of universal AI describes the optimal strategy of an agent that wants to maximize its future expected reward in some unknown dynamic environment, up to some fixed future horizon. This is the general reinforcement learning problem. Solomonoff/Hutter’s only assumption is that the reactions of the environment in response to the agent’s actions follow some unknown but computable probability distribution.

Read more