The Past, Present and Future of the Human Brain

Sir Colin Blakemore

7.30pm to 9.30pm Friday 6th March 2020

The Chase School, Geraldine Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3NZ

Professor Sir Colin Blakemore FRS, FMedSci, FRSB, FRCP is Professor of Neuroscience at City University of Hong Kong, Honorary Professorial Fellow at the Institute of Philosophy, School of Advanced Study, University of London, and Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience at the University of Oxford. He is a former Chief Executive of the British Medical Research Council (MRC). The Observer newspaper once referred to him as ‘One of the most powerful scientists in the UK’.  He has had an illustrious research career and his early work focused on vision and its adaptive changes after birth. Much of his recent work has been devoted to neuro-plasticity (the ability for the brain to adapt, change and even grow) and he has published hundreds of papers in peer reviewed journals on this subject.

In parallel with his academic career, Colin Blakemore has championed the communication of science and engagement with the public on controversial and challenging topics in medical research and treatment. In 1976, at the age of 32, he was the youngest person ever to give the BBC Reith Lectures, entitled Mechanics of the Mind. He has subsequently presented or contributed to about a thousand radio and television broadcasts. He gave the Royal Institution Christmas Lectures in 1982, and he has written and presented many other programmes about science, including a 13-part series, The Mind Machine on BBC television, a radio series about artificial intelligence, Machines with Minds, and a documentary for Channel 4 television, God and the Scientists. He writes for British and overseas newspapers, especially The Guardian, The Observer, the Daily Telegraph and The Times. He has also written or edited several popular science books, including Mechanics of the Mind, The Mind Machine. Gender and Society, Mindwaves, Images and Understanding and The Oxford Companion to the Body. From 2004-15 he was Honorary President of the Association of British Science Writers.

He has been honoured for his scientific achievements with prizes from many academies and societies, including the Royal Society, the Swiss Academy of Medical Sciences, the French Académie Nationale de Médecine, the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Ophthalmologists, the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, the Society for Neuroscience, the BioIndustry Association and the Royal College of Physicians.

 

Inspiring Futures

Dr Irene Guijt

10am to 11am Saturday 7th March 2020

The Chase School, Geraldine Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3NZ

Irene is Head of Research and Publishing at Oxfam Great Britain. The team generates and shares evidence on problems and solutions to influence economic, environmental, and social justice. Before joining Oxfam GB in 2015, Irene worked for 25 years in rural development, natural resource management, collective action and social justice. She is a keen advocate for making the less heard voices more audible and influential. Irene has been active in global evaluation capacity building through BetterEvaluation (an international collaboration to improve evaluation practice and theory) and working on how to get to scale of change on the root causes of poverty and inequality. Irene worked at the International Institute for Environment and Development from 1990 to 1998 and was a Fellow at the Australian National University and a Research Associate for the Overseas Development Institute. Her presentation on Inspiring Futures links well to the positivity focused spirit of the Festival - Big Ideas for Big New Futures.

 

Towards a Good Society

Professor Baroness Ruth Lister

11.30am to 12.30pm Saturday 7th March 2020

The Chase School, Geraldine Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3NZ

Ruth Lister is Emeritus Professor of Social Policy at Loughborough University and sits in the House of Lords as a Labour peer. There have been two main strands to her research: poverty (together with social security and the welfare state) and citizenship.  In both cases this has embraced theoretical, conceptual, empirical and policy analysis and has involved a strong gender dimension.  She is currently writing a second edition of her book on the concept of poverty. From 1971 to 1987 she worked for the Child Poverty Action Group, the last 8 years as director and was elected honorary president in December 2010. She is the President of the Social Policy Association, Chair of the board of Compass (a left of centre pressure group) and on the board of the High Pay Centre.

 

The Systems That Make and Break Us

Mr Anthony Painter

2pm to 3pm Saturday 7th March 2020

The Chase School, Geraldine Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3NZ

Anthony Painter leads the Research and Impact team at the RSA, and its social change work ranging from economy to education to the future of public services. His own work focuses on a range of policy issues including the impact of new technology on the economy and society, reform to welfare, work, learning and skills, and reform to public services and a range of public institutions. Research into Universal Basic Income was awarded the Prize for Social Policy at the Prospect Magazine Think Tank of the Year Awards. He previously directed the Independent Review of the Police Federation. He is author of three books, most recently Left without a future? Social Justice in anxious times and has written a number of very high impact policy and research reports such as “Creative citizen, creative state: the principled and pragmatic case for a Universal Basic Income”, “The New Digital Learning Age”, “The Fear and Hope Report”, and "Democratic Stress, the populist signal, and the extremist threat". He regularly appears in national and international media and presents at high profile conferences in the UK, Europe, and the US.

His Twitter feed is @anthonypainter

 

Stolen: How to Save the World from Financialisation

Ms Grace Blakeley

3.30pm to 4.30pm Saturday 7th March 2020

The Chase School, Geraldine Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3NZ

Grace Blakeley is a British author, economics commentator and a research fellow at the Institute for Public Policy Research. Grace graduated from Oxford with a First Class Honours Degree in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics, after which point she joined KPMG’s Public Sector and Healthcare Practice as a management consultant. She spent a year working on regional economic policy for IPPR North in Manchester. Her areas of expertise include Macroeconomic policy; Financial regulation; and Regional economics. She was appointed economics commentator at The New Statesman in January 2019. She is a democratic socialist and sits on the Labour party's National Policy Forum. She has appeared on UK television as a politics and economics commentator. Her first book, Stolen: How to Save the World from Financialisation, was published in September 2019

 

How Being Good Became Looking Good: The Changing Value of Beauty

Professor Heather Widdows

7.30pm  to 9.30pm Saturday 7th March 2020

The Chase School, Geraldine Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3NZ

Heather Widdows is a British Philosopher specialising in applied ethics. She is currently the John Ferguson Professor of Global Ethics in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Birmingham. She is Deputy Chair of the Philosophy sub-panel for REF 2021. She is author of four books: The Connected Self: The Ethics and Governance of the Genetic Individual (2103), Global Ethics: An Introduction (2011), The Moral Vision of Iris Murdoch (2005). She has co-edited, with Darrel Moellendorf The Routledge Handbook of Global Ethics (2014). Her most recent book is Perfect Me: Beauty as an Ethical Ideal (2018). She co-runs the Beauty Demands Network and Blog (http://beautydemands.blogspot.com/) and founded the #everydaylookism project (https://everydaylookism.bham.ac.uk/). Perfect Me has been widely acclaimed. Vogue described it as “groundbreaking”, Maclean’s as “a buzzed about book” and The Atlantic as “a scholarly work that is urgently relevant to the current cultural moment”.

In this talk Heather explores how we live in a visual and virtual culture, how the beauty ideal has changed, and how our bodies have become ourselves. She tracks the features of the contemporary beauty ideal, explains why it is different from previous beauty ideals and why this matters. She finishes with how we should respond to the increasing obsession with appearance and the rise of body image anxiety to epidemic proportions.

 

How can Intelligent Robots Help in the Operating Theatre?

Dr Subramanian Ramamoorthy

10am to 11am Sunday 8th March 2020

The Chase School, Geraldine Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3NZ

Subramanian Ramamoorthy is a Reader in Robotics within the School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh, where he has been on the faculty since 2007. He is an Executive Committee Member for the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics and at the Bayes Centre, and he is a Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute. He has been an elected Member of the Young Academy of Scotland at the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and Visiting Professor at Stanford University and the University of Rome 'La Sapienza'. He serves as Vice President - Prediction and Planning at FiveAI, a UK-based start-up company focused on developing a technology stack for autonomous vehicles. His research focus is on robot learning and decision-making under uncertainty, with particular focus on achieving safe and robust autonomy in human-centred systems.

 

Artificial Intelligence: Utopia or Dystopia, or Both?

Ms Ivana Bartoletti

11.30am to 12.30pm Sunday 8th March 2020

The Chase School, Geraldine Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3NZ

Ivana is a Privacy and Data Protection professional, and a keynote speaker and media commentator in the UK and overseas. In her day job, Ivana helps businesses with their privacy by design programmes especially in relation to Artificial Intelligence (AI) and blockchain technology. In May 2018, Ivana launched the Women Leading in AI network, an international lobby group of women advocating for responsible AI. The network’s 2018 report garnered mass interest from tech leaders, international institutions and the media. A regular contributor to media platforms, Ivana comments on privacy, data ethics and innovation for international programmes and publications, including the Victoria Derbyshire programme, BBC, the Telegraph and the Guardian. Co-editor of the Fintech Circle’s AI book, the first major publication focused on how AI is reshaping financial services, Ivana is also writing her own publication on the socio-economic consequence of AI expected to be released in 2020 by Indigo Press.

 

What next for LGBT+ rights? 

Mr Peter Tatchell

2pm to 3pmSunday 8th March 2020

The Chase School, Geraldine Road, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 3NZ

Peter Tatchell was born in Melbourne, Australia, in 1952 and has been campaigning since 1967 on issues of human rights, democracy, civil liberties, LGBT equality and global justice. His human rights inspirations include Mahatma Gandhi, Sylvia Pankhurst and Martin Luther King.

In 2009, he co-proposed a UN Global Human Rights Index, to measure and rank the human rights record of every country – with the aim of creating a human rights league table to highlight the best and worst countries and thereby incentivise governments to clean up their record and improve their human rights ranking.

He has proposed an internationally-binding UN Human Rights Convention enforceable through both national courts and the International Criminal Court; a permanent rapid-reaction UN peace-keeping force with the authority to intervene to stop genocide and war crimes; and a global agreement to cut military spending by 10 percent to fund the eradication of hunger, disease, illiteracy, unemployment and homelessness in the developing world.

Since 2011, he has been Director of the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

 

The Wishing Tree

Bernadette Russell

10am, 11.45am, 1.45pm Saturday 7th March 2020

Malvern Cube, Albert Road North, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 2YF

Bernadette Russell is an award-winning storyteller and author of short stories and creative non-fiction for adults and children, including The Little Book of Kindness and Be the Change, Make it Happen.  She has been a monthly columnist for Balance magazine since 2016, and has created work for Royal Albert Hall, National Theatre, Southbank Centre, National Trust and English Heritage amongst many others. Her new non-fiction book for adults How To Be Hopeful is out in September 2020.

Bernadette will lead three interactive story-telling and activity sessions based on her story, The Wishing Tree, at 10am, 11.45am and 1.45pm

 

How mathematics can save the whale

Professor Chris Budd

2pm Saturday 7th March 2020

Malvern Cube, Albert Road North, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 2YF

Gresham Professor of Geometry, Chris Budd OBE, is based at the University of Bath, where he is Professor of Applied Mathematics and Director of the Centre of Nonlinear Mechanics. He has a long history of engagement in the public understanding of science and mathematics through institutions such as the Royal Institution and the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications.


Saving the whales and curing cancer are two of the great challenges of the present day, and mathematics has a part to play in addressing them. This talk will use these two examples to illustrate the process of mathematical modelling to gain insights into how the world works and how we can change it.

 

How Mathematics Can Clean up Ocean Pollution 

Dr Tom Crawford

3pm Saturday 7th March 2020

Malvern Cube, Albert Road North, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 2YF

Tom Crawford is a tutor at St Hugh’s College, St Edmund Hall and St John’s College at the University of Oxford where he teaches maths to the first and second year undergraduates. He also runs his award-winning website www.tomrocksmaths.com and associated social media profiles on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Youtube @tomrocksmaths.

Tom describes his research looking at where river water goes when it enters the ocean and how we can use this knowledge to help to fight ocean pollution.

 

Eight Ways Physics Can Save Our Skins

Dr David Cross, Institute of Physics, Hereford & Worcester Branch

12noon Saturday 7th March 2020

Malvern Cube, Albert Road North, Malvern, Worcestershire WR14 2YF

We all know that we are racing towards a climate catastrophe that threatens to destroy our way of life. Even the deniers know this, they’re just too scared to admit it.

What we need to do is mobilise the full power of human ingenuity and expertise to haul our society back from the brink and put us on a different path.

The most powerful tool in our box is Science; and Physics, underlying as it does, all the other sciences, is the principal way we have of understanding our problems and identifying solutions.

I will present 8 ways in which current research offers hope of a brighter future!

Dave describes himself as 'a lapsed Physicist, a retired (software) engineer and ex-racing driver. I care about Science and the fate of the climate'. 

 

info@malvernfestivalofideas.org.uk

© 2019 Malvern Festival of Ideas

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