Media & Events

Adam Michnik: The threat of authoritarian regimes in Eastern Europe and the decline of the region's political culture















In the wake of the Crimea crisis, Adam Michnik, 2006 laureate, warns that "This is the real end of history – the history of dreams about a world governed by democratic values and the market economy. Unless the democratic world understands that now is not the time for faith in diplomatic compromise, and that it must respond strongly enough to stop ... imperial designs, events could follow a logic that is too dreadful to contemplate. 

... we must recognize that the best quarter-century in the last 400 years of Polish history is about to end before our very eyes. A time of tectonic shifts has begun. We must appreciate what we have managed to achieve – and learn to protect it."

Read the article: Project Syndicate, March 20, 2014, 'The Russian Godfather'


"We lack a political culture, a culture of compromise. We inPoland, as well as the Hungarians, have never learned this sort of thing. Although there is a strong desire for freedom in the countries of Eastern Europe, there is no democratic tradition, so that the risk of anarchy and chaos continues to exist. Demagoguery and populism are rampant. We are the illegitimate children, the bastards of communism. It shaped our mentality.

A part of society in our countries would still prefer an authoritarian regime today. 

The democratic institutions in the West are more deeply embedded in the West than in Eastern Europe. Democracy can defend itself there. Everything is still fragile in our countries, even two decades after the end of communism."

Read the article: Spiegel Online, July 31, 2013



Bionics, Transhumanism, and the end of Evolution

 by paraghostmen

'Transhumanists' are planning to upload your mind to a memory stick…

"Transhumanists include life extensionists, techno-optimists, Singularitons, bio-hackers, roboticists, Artificial Intelligence proponents and futurists who embrace radical science and technology to improve the human condition

If we can upgrade ourselves with technology, why not replace the body entirely? Plenty of Transhumanists plan to do exactly that. Ideas range from life-extension genetics to moving beyond our fleshy constraints entirely. Many think the big win is "mind uploading", which is sometimes called "Whole Brain Emulation". It is what it sounds like: mapping out all your brain’s neural pathways and putting them all on a memory stick that you can carry about with you.

The whole project throws up very difficult ethical and philosophical challenges. Is an uploaded mind still human? Should we give "human rights" to an artificial intelligence with a superior intellect to a human? Then there’s the bread-and-butter social problems. Presumably, human enhancement technologies would be disproportionately available to those with greater financial resources, creating a genetic divide. And if you lived forever, are you taking up the place of another generation? What about the more mundane things: what would be a fair prison sentence for murder if we could all live for 200 years? Or the right retirement age. I’m guessing it won’t be 70 if we can all make thirty score and ten. Above all: are we happy about all of this, and can we stop it?

Marvin Minsky, 2014 laureate, is considered the inventor of artificial intelligence, and is a prominent Transhumanist."

Read the article in The Telegraph, April 3rd 2014


Dieter Zinnbauer, 2003 scholarship recipient, tackles corruption. It's doable.









Dieter Zinnbauer works on emerging policy issues and innovation for the International Secretariat of Transparency International (TI) in Berlin. The questions he seeks to answer include: Can we architect and design for accountability and integrity? What does urbanization mean for corruption and corruption mean for urbanization? How can professional value systems be harnessed to foster integrity? Can we capture policy capture? 

He runs a blog on ambient accountability, the systematic use of physical space and the built environment to empower people to more effectively hold officials and service providers to account while engaging architects, city planners, public space designers, signage experts, as well as urban activists and artists.

Ambient accountability aims to help citizens better understand ‘what ought to happen’ (their rights, entitlements), what is actually happening (the performance of the official, institution etc.) and what to do, if things go wrong (who is responsible, how to complain effectively). 

See Dieter Zinnbauer's Ambient Accountability BLOG


Meet the Humanoid Robot 'Roboy'... He's cute


One of the most famous robotic projects in the EU was the development of the ECCE robot led by Professor Owen Holland of Sussex University. ECCE was modeled after the human anatomy and how the body moves. This was to show how robots will be designed in the future to best interact with human beings. With ECCE as its starting point, Roboy was conceived in 2011 via project coordination between internationally leading research institutions and industry partners who are at the forefront of development in mechanics and electronics. One of their first breakthroughs was the anthropomorphic tendon-driven arm (ANTHROB).

Read more

The Renowned Philosopher and the Schlemiel: Michel Serres, Noise, Space and Comedy.







"...the schlemiel’s comedy is “existential.”  Bad things happen to the shlimazel by way of this or that odd circumstance or situation.  Nothing in his/her “nature” would warrant such bad luck.  In contrast the schlemiel creates bad luck by virtue of his very existence."

"...the schlemiel lives by way of language.  Speech, they argue, is his substitute for sovereignty. But, as Serres seems to suggest, it isn’t a substitute for power; rather, it is power itself. It may not be history, but it overflows all spaces and competes with all narratives by turning to space (of the page, of the stage, etc) rather than time.  And that space explodes with meaning and possibility; but not in a tragic so much as in a comic sense.

Read the following by Menachem Feuer, PhD in Comparative Literature, teaches Jewish Studies at York University, Toronto, Canada:

Reflections on “My Schlemiel Universe” 

It’s Not “All” in the Timing: Noise, Space, and Comedy

Comic Impositions: The Comedian as Imposter and Parasite



'Vicarious' intends to build computers that see, control the body, understand language and do math.








The Staff of Vicarious


This is the ambitious goal of Vicarious, the pioneering artificial intelligence company. Investers in the company ($40 million) include Elon Musk, Product Architect and CEO of Tesla Moters, maker of the first highway-capable all-electric car; Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook; and Ashton Kutcher who portrayed Apple founder Steve Jobs in the movie Jobs.

Will Vicarious’s computers learn how to cure diseases, create cheap, renewable energy, and perform the jobs that employ most human beings? Will Vicarious come to define the entire industry?

Read the Wall Street Journal article, March 21, 2014