The Dynamics of Social Wishes…

From the Korea Institute for Science and Technology at a Japan-US-Korea co-sponsored workshop on convergent technologies, an interesting idea has been put forward by Professor Tanaka from Japan that there is a dichotomy between scientists who observe (and test hypotheses) and those who design (and create new artifacts). Both types work together to answer the “social wishes” of society.

But how do we determine those social wishes? And crucially, aren’t those social wishes disperate across different societies?

Of course they are. Although there certainly commonalities: we all, I think, want a sustainable biosphere that can support life on the planet. We all want that brain-created thing we call “happiness” (although that means such different things to different individuals).

My plenary is coming up in about an hour. I will be focusing on how dynamics the social wishes of society actually are–two decades ago, the personal computer was a central social wish for those of us involved in data analysis. The emphasis then was autonomy and general purpose computation.

These days, a smart phone and the Net represent quite a different social wish–one that emphasizes mobility, connectivity, and knowledge dissemination. Interestingly, our smart phones are far “smarter” than those early PC’s–but we take the computation for granted and we don’t particularly care about either autonomy….but that connectivity, that’s really critical.

Convergent technologies in Leuven….

This morning I’m giving a talk on convergent technologies within the context of brain sciences here at the imec facility in Leuven. I just went through my slides and came to the late conclusion that convergence means quite different things to various scientific consituencies…in the neuroengineering field, it might mean deploying nanomaterial electrodes to make electrophysiological measurements. In the signal transduction world, it might mean the cross-talk between the cyclic AMP and Protein Kinase C pathways. So context is all important.

In the meantime, I note from afar, that the Nationals split a double-header with the Los Angeles Dodgers–their magic number for a wildcard spot is now down to one game.