CRISPR gene drives allow scientists to change sequences of DNA and guarantee that the resulting edited genetic trait is inherited by future generations, opening up the possibility of altering entire species forever. More than anything, the technology has led to questions: How will this new power affect humanity? What are we going to use it to change? Are we gods now? Join journalist Jennifer Kahn as she ponders these questions and shares a potentially powerful application of gene drives: the development of disease-resistant mosquitoes that could knock out malaria and Zika.
"I want you to reimagine how life is organized on earth," says global strategist Parag Khanna. As our expanding cities grow ever more connected through transportation, energy and communications networks, we evolve from geography to what he calls "connectography." This emerging global network civilization holds the promise of reducing pollution and inequality — and even overcoming geopolitical rivalries. In this talk, Khanna asks us to embrace a new maxim for the future: "Connectivity is destiny."
As the development of the Internet of Things is taking up speed, connected devices are producing staggering amounts of data. Estimates say that by 2020, there will be 26 times more connected things than people – devices which will produce 400 zettabytes of data per year (one zettabyte is a trillion gigabytes). Managing this flood of data is one of the biggest challenges facing policy, industry and civilian societies. The task of scientists is to test and propose rules, frameworks and technologies to support this process, reveal opportunities and prevent risks and abuse. Dirk Helbing is a physicist and professor of computational social science with a particular interest in modelling and simulating complex socio-economic systems and scenarios. With his team at ETH Zurich, he is researching how big data from connected devices can be fed into a so-called Planetary Nervous System, a transparent, open-access information system which can support real-time measurements of the world. A system like this could revolutionise many sectors, from urban planning and traffic control to the early detection of epidemics and earthquake prediction. In the wrong hands, however, big data can pose enormous risks to privacy and personal freedom. As opposed to corporate or state-owned data mining tools, Dirk proposes a citizen-owned participatory platform, with extensive features to protect users’ privacy and the ultimate goal to treat big data – and the information extracted from it – largely as public goods. At Falling Walls, he presents this model of a democratic data ecosystem as an alternative to gloomier “Big Brother” scenarios.
BREAKING THE WALL TO DIGITAL DEMOCRACY How Socio-Physics Shapes the Future of Smart Societies Dirk Helbing Professor of Computational Social Science, ETH Zurich
For four billion years, what lived and died on Earth depended on two principles: natural selection and random mutation. Then humans came along and changed everything — hybridizing plants, breeding animals, altering the environment and even purposefully evolving ourselves. Juan Enriquez provides five guidelines for a future where this ability to program life rapidly accelerates. "This is the single most exciting adventure human beings have been on," Enriquez says. "This is the single greatest superpower humans have ever had."
Why is Al Gore optimistic about climate change? In this spirited talk, Gore asks three powerful questions about the man-made forces threatening to destroy our planet -- and the solutions we're designing to combat them.
Does collecting more data lead to better decision-making? Competitive, data-savvy companies like Amazon, Google and Netflix have learned that data analysis alone doesn't always produce optimum results. In this talk, data scientist Sebastian Wernicke breaks down what goes wrong when we make decisions based purely on data -- and suggests a brainier way to use it.
Challenges and problems can derail your creative process ... or they can make you more creative than ever. In the surprising story behind the best-selling solo piano album of all time, Tim Harford may just convince you of the advantages of having to work with a little mess.
Complexity Digest's insight:
"Just because you don't like it, it does not mean that it is not helpful"
Ever wondered why kids say they’re bored at school, or why they stop trying when the work gets harder? Educationalist Carol Dweck explains how the wrong kind of praise actually *harms* young people. This short video is essential viewing for EVERYONE – from teachers and education workers to relatives and friends - and will totally revolutionise the way you interact with children.
Today complex systems science is rapidly growing as a discipline, with relevance to many areas of science and as an approach to addressing a wide range of real world problems. Understanding the fundamental mathematical origins of complex systems science reveals its conceptual richness and ability to advance science and expand its application. I will review these origins, describe some current applications, and point to the opportunities of the future.
Complex Systems Science: Where Does It Come From and Where is It Going To? Yaneer Bar-Yam
Opening plenary address at the Conference on Complex Systems 2015, at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona.
Can we end hunger and poverty, halt climate change and achieve gender equality in the next 15 years? The governments of the world think we can. Meeting at the UN in September 2015, they agreed to a new set of Global Goals for the development of the world to 2030. Social progress expert Michael Green invites us to imagine how these goals and their vision for a better world can be achieved.
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