Building on the success of our previous events that explore the role of creativity in science, this time we focussed on how exciting developments we are seeing in genomics, data science and other technology areas are also raising new questions on diversity and ethics which are important to address to protect the most important role of science as a great force for good. Please see the full video of the event here (at the end of the video are interviews with speakers too).
Five experts presented their research and views for 5 minutes each and then Dr John Collins, our Chair, involved the audience to ask their questions using a ‘Question Time’ format. Our experts were:
Dr Becky Inkster, Academic Advisor; Turing Institute; Columbia University; National University Singapore; Cambridge University; Wysa AI healthcare; Advisory Board Member Lancet Digital Health; Co-founder Hip Hop Psych
A neuroscientist passionate about everything from cells to phones, genes to jewellery, hip-hop to hippocampi... Becky researches artificial intelligence, mental healthcare, ethics and governance, digital/clinical/music-based interventions, social media data, molecular biology, neuroimaging, epidemiology, psychiatry, psychology, ultra-audible watermarking, financial health, space health, statistics, policy, public engagement and other areas to improve our understanding of mental health. She loves engaging with youth culture, the arts and society.
Julie A. McCann, Professor in Computer Systems at Imperial College
Julie’s research centres on highly decentralized and self-organising scalable algorithms for spatial computing systems e.g. wireless sensing networks. She leads both the Adaptive Embedded Systems Engineering Research Group and the Intel Collaborative Research Institute for Sustainable Cities, and is currently working with NEC and others on substantive smart city projects. She has received significant funding though bodies such as the UK’s EPSRC, TSB and NERC as well as various international funds, and is an elected peer for the EPSRC. She has actively served on, and chaired, many conference committees and is currently Associative Editor for the ACM Transactions on Autonomous and Adaptive Systems. She is a Fellow of the BCS.
Dr Jordana Bell, Head of the epigenomics research group at the Department of Twin Research at King’s College London
Jordana’s research focuses on understanding the processes shaping epigenetic variation in human populations, and its biomedical significance. Jordana completed her doctoral studies on genetic interactions in complex traits at the University of Oxford, and was subsequently a Wellcome Trust funded fellow at the Universities of Chicago and Oxford, where her work shifted to epigenomics. Since joining King’s in 2012 Jordana has established a research program in human population epigenomics, focusing on twins, and is currently leading research efforts across UK-based and international cohorts, including within ESSN, GoDMC, CHARGE, and DIMENSION collaborative consortia.
Carl Miller, Research Director, DEMOS
Carl is a pioneering technology researcher and award-winning author who has thrown himself into some of the weirdest, least familiar parts of the digital age. His first book, The Death of the Gods: The New Global Power Grab won the Transmission Prize 2019. It describes his journey to understand the new centres of power and powerlessness in the digital age, from politics and media, to business and warfare. It was published in August 2018 by Penguin RandomHouse. In 2012 he co-founded the first UK think tank institute dedicated to studying the digital world at Demos, and has written for the Economist, Wired, New Scientist, the Sunday Times, the Telegraph and the BBC. He’s also a Visiting Research Fellow at King’s College London.
Dr Nickolai Vysokov, Neuroscientist, Entrepreneur, CEO, co-founder, BrainPatch
Our chair was Dr John Collins, Disruptive Technologist, Commercial Director, SynbiCITE, Imperial College
John is Commercial Director of the UK National Centre for commercialising Engineering Biology based at Imperial College London, SynbiCITE. SynbiCITE is tasked with growing industry based on using the engineering of biology to ‘do useful things and make useful stuff to heal us, feed us and fuels us’. John helps turn ‘upstarts into start-ups and start-ups to become grown ups’ through business incubation and acceleration programmes designed specifi cally for SynbiCITE. Prior to this John has had a varied portfolio career including R&D, product development, technical sales, business development, international development for a trade association, innovation and digital creativity growth and in educational services. Throughout his careers John has run his own ‘Disruptive Technologies and Innovations Management’.
As in previous years, Sir Paul Nurse, Director of the Francis Crick Institute, Winner of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2001, supports Science Question Time and sends this message.
I am delighted to support Science Question Time.
Young people sometimes think of science as a lot of facts that need to be learned to do well in exams, but actually scientific discovery is a creative pursuit, that starts with asking questions and challenging prevailing wisdom. Many new types of jobs and careers will be created by science, through the curiosity of individuals inventing new ways of solving problems.
The great strides we are seeing in data science, artificial intelligence, genomics and other technologies like quantum computing are just some of the things exciting scientists, engineers and designers today- but new questions around ethics, diversity and humanity are just as important, addressing how science is a force for good. We need to inspire young people to see themselves as the inventors of the future world one they are happy to live in.