Curiosity Retreat participants have the opportunity to dive deep in stimulating lectures presented by eight fascinating thinkers of our time.
The Future of the Brain
Neuroscientist David Eagleman is working on the cutting edge of technology, as it is poised to change what it means to be human. His groundbreaking research is revealing new ideas about the inner workings and behaviors of our own minds. What would the world be like if we could expand our senses beyond our given capacities? To explore the possibility, Eagleman’s laboratory feeds sensory signals into the brain through atypical sensory pathways. For example, solving the limitations of deafness by turning auditory information into a series of vibrating patterns on the torso. It’s done via the VEST – the versatile extra-sensory transducer – a garment worn under clothing. But the VEST isn’t just for deafness: Eagleman’s lab is using it to feed in other streams of information, including weather, stock market, and twitter data. Using this approach of sensory substitution, can we can translate and feed almost any kind of data through the skin right to the brain? It’s a high tech twist on the human sensory experience… with the potential to change our relationship to technology and our minds.
To Pluto and Beyond
NASA’s New Horizon’s mission to Pluto gave us the world’s most famous fly-by and some of history’s most exciting space data. Planetary scientist Alan Stern is the mastermind behind the plan to bring the dwarf planet into focus. The historic mission took almost 10 years to reach the very edge of the solar system, the farthest worlds ever visited. And it has revolutionized our knowledge of Pluto and its five moons. Stern will thrill us with the history of this mission and the science behind it, with an in depth look at our encounter with Pluto, and all the major scientific discoveries made by it. And there will be stories about the political intrigue and determination it took to get the mission off the drawing board and on to the launch site. But the story doesn’t end there. New Horizons continues to send back data from the outer edges and Stern will take us all on the journey of exploration with it.
The Human Journey: A Genetic Odyssey
Balancing Work, Love and Play: Lessons from the Presidents
After spending more than four decades studying U.S. presidents, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Doris Kearns Goodwin concludes that the best and most successful leaders achieved what renowned psychologist Erik Erikson called an inner balance between work, love and play. Drawing from her extensive scholarship and bestselling biographies, master storyteller Goodwin brings to life Presidents Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson through rich illustrations of how they found meaning and fulfillment in their work, created emotional connections with family, friends and colleagues, and engaged in playful activities to replenish their energies and renew their psyches. Taking time away from the frenetic pace of daily work, our country’s leaders carved out time to think, foster their imaginations and arrive at fresh ideas—crucial but still difficult to achieve—all the while serving in the Oval Office. Through her unique understanding of some of our greatest presidents, Goodwin provides leadership lessons we all can learn from in our never-ending pursuit to live our fullest and most successful lives.
Our Virtual Reality
2016 is shaping up to be a breakthrough year for virtual reality, inching closer than ever to mainstream. And VR pioneer and journalist Nonny de la Peña is on the leading edge. As the ability to blur the physical and digital worlds becomes a global phenomenon, de la Peña is harnessing that transformative ability to tell stories like never before. She’ll demonstrate how she uses the immersive power of VR to help people connect to important issues they might otherwise choose to ignore. And as VR stands on the cusp of wider acceptance—beyond gaming and entertainment–de la Peña will look to the future of VR and the other industries watching this emerging technology very closely.
Our Mathematical Universe
Renown cosmologist Max Tegmark will take us on a journey through some of the greatest mysteries of our existence, and through the physics, astronomy and mathematics that are the foundation of his work. Tegmark explores how we humans have repeatedly underestimated not only the size of the cosmos, but also the power of our own minds to understand it using mathematical equations. Why has mathematics allowed us to predict Neptune, radio waves, and the Higgs boson? Is nature, in some sense, mathematical? What about phenomena that have, so far, defied mathematical description, for example consciousness? Tegmark will lead us through these questions, perhaps changing the way we view our universe, and the possible countless, unseen universes… maybe even changing our understanding of reality itself.
The Humane Economy
It’s a revolution where human ingenuity meets human virtue, and the world is a better place because of it. Join Wayne Pacelle, President of the Humane Society of the United States, and a CuriosityStream advisory board member, to explore the concept of a humane economy and get his front line perspective on the economics of animal exploitation. Pacelle draws a practical roadmap for how we can use the marketplace to promote the welfare of all living creatures, and how industries, innovators and consumers are coming together in this powerful social movement.
The Big Picture
Award-winning physicist Sean Carroll is known for his keen observations on the relationship between humanity and the laws of nature, and finding where human purpose and meaning fit into a scientific world view. Human beings do not stand outside nature; we are a part of it. Ultimately we are made of particles, evolving and interacting according to the laws of physics. And we know what those laws are — the progress of modern science has reached a point where the laws underlying everyday life are completely understood. This understanding lets us draw strong conclusions about the milieu in which we live. There is no telekinesis, astrology, or life after death. What does this mean for our understanding of consciousness, free will, and the meaning of life? Carroll argues that taking the laws of nature seriously opens a vista of possibility, freeing us from outmoded ideas about what it means to be human.
Andreasen conducted a seminal study in the 1960’s, and she is doing it again, now armed with today’s brain imaging technology. She explains her research, as she studies the brains of several prominent artists and scientists… and uncovers key patterns in the minds of creative geniuses. And she’ll share her inspiring vision for a future where everyone can fulfill his or her own creative capacity.
Dr. Nancy Andreasen is the Andrew H. Woods Chair of Psychiatry at the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine. A recipient of the President’s National Medal of Science, Dr. Andreasen pioneered the use of MRI’s to identify brain mechanisms of normal cognitive processes such as memory and creativity, as well as mental illnesses. She also developed the first widely used scales for rating symptoms of schizophrenia. She has authored several highly acclaimed books on the brain, published more than 600 scientific articles, and was editor-in-chief of The American Journal of Psychiatry for 13 years.
Dr. Allen shares the personal stories that led to her own “metamorphosis” – asking what democracy actually means and what it asks of us. Dr. Allen challenges so much of our conventional political wisdom, and makes the case that we cannot have freedom as individuals without equality among us as a people.
Dr. Danielle Allen is a professor of social science at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. She is a political philosopher widely known for her work on justice and citizenship in both ancient Athens and modern America. She is the author of The World of Prometheus: The Politics of Punishing in Democratic Athens (2000), Talking to Strangers: Anxieties of Citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education (2004), Why Plato Wrote (2010), and Our Declaration (2014). In 2002, she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship for her ability to combine “the classicist’s careful attention to texts and language with the political theorist’s sophisticated and informed engagement.”
Dr. Sylvia Earle is an oceanographer with a deep commitment to research through personal exploration. She is currently an explorer-in-residence at the National Geographic Society. Dr. Earle has led more than 50 expeditions worldwide, including one with the first all-female team to live underwater. In 1979, Earle walked untethered on the sea floor at a lower depth than any other woman before or since. She founded the companies Deep Ocean Engineering and Deep Ocean Technologies to design and build undersea vehicles that let scientists work at previously inaccessible depths. Dr. Earle was formerly the chief scientist at the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration.
So Dr. Sisodia asks: How do you create a higher value and let your workers flourish? How do you still create value and profits at the same time? What different kinds of leadership are required to create this new ecosystem of values? How do you reduce stress and fear and replace it with love and respect in the workplace? Is our current economy in peril if we continue focusing on just simply profits? Dr. Sisodia will focus on a number of companies around the globe, both large and small, which are leading this new vanguard of change.
Dr. Raj Sisodia is the Franklin Olin Distinguished Professor of Global Business and Whole Foods Market Research Scholar in Conscious Capitalism at Babson College. He is also Co-Founder and Co-Chairman of Conscious Capitalism, Inc. Dr. Sisodia has been cited as one of “50 Leading Marketing Thinkers” by the Chartered Institute of Marketing, and twice named one of the “Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business Behavior” by Trust Across America. Dr. Sisodia has taught executive programs for several high profile companies, including AT&T, Kraft Foods, Volvo, and Walmart.
Silva examines the next revolutions in science and technology, and lays out how we can build new construction kits for our reality – a world where biotech doesn’t stop at the limits of biology, and nanotechnology has an exponential growth curve. Silva will do more than show us his vision of the future. He’ll grab us all by the hand and lead us there, and won’t let go until he convinces us that the future is now.
Jason Silva is a self-professed wonder-junkie. He is the creator of the web series “Shots of Awe,” a micro-documentaries exploring creativity, innovation, technology, futurism, metaphysics, existentialism and the human condition. The videos have spread like wildfire across the Internet, viewed more than 13 million times. Some have described him as “a modern performance philosopher, a digital DJ, a revitalizer and remixer of optimism, and above all, a curator: of ideas, of inspiration, and of awe.”Mr. Silva has spoken around the world, and is also the Emmy-nominated host of National Geographic Channel’s Brain Games.
David McCullough is twice a winner of the Pulitzer Prize, twice a winner of the National Book Award, and has received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the nation’s highest civilian award. Mr. McCullough’s other books include The Johnstown Flood, The Great Bridge, The Path between the Seas, Mornings on Horseback, Brave Companions, and Truman. Mr. McCullough has lectured around the world as well as at the White House. He is also one of the few private citizens to speak before a joint session of Congress.
Einstein envisioned a grand synthesis of all of nature’s forces. How do string theorists interpret Einstein’s theories? And with the large Hadron Collider now back on line, researchers will be looking for anything that doesn’t fit what Dr. Greene calls the “battled tested standard model of particle physics.”
Dr. Brian Greene is widely recognized for a number of groundbreaking discoveries in his field of superstring theory, including the co-discovery of mirror symmetry, which launched a vibrant field of research in physics and mathematics. He is the co-founder and director of Columbia University’s Institute for Strings, Cosmology, and Astroparticle Physics, a research center seeking string theory’s implications for theories of cosmology. Dr. Greene has written several best-selling and non-technical books including The Elegant Universe, a Pulitzer finalist, The Fabric of the Cosmos, and his latest work, The Hidden Reality.The Washington Post called him “the single best explainer of abstruse concepts in the world today.”
He likens it to the mid-1950s, when an infant consumer economy began to emerge – like then, events today will shape the economic landscape for decades to come. What does success look like in a creator economy? The answer will be maddening uncertainty for some. But for innovators who keep their head up, this shift could mean limitless opportunities. Saffo will dive into why Silicon Valley companies like Google and Twitter provide a new model that engages a global audience in almost friction-free transactions that contribute to this new emerging creator economy.
Paul Saffo is a forecaster with over two decades experience exploring the dynamics of large-scale, long-term change. He teaches at Stanford University, and leads the Forecasting/Future Studies Track at Singularity University. He is a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Atlantic Council, and a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. Mr. Saffo’s essays have appeared in The Harvard Business Review, Fortune, Wired, The Los Angeles Times, Newsweek, and The New York Times, among others.He sits on the board of the Long Now Foundation, as well as the Curiosity Project board.
Rick Smolan, is a former Time, Life, and National Geographic photographer. Now, as CEO of Against All Odds Productions, Smolan produces large-scale global photography projects which combine story-telling with state of the art technology. Widely known as the creator of the best-selling “Day in the Life” series, every 18 months Smolan engages hundreds of international journalists to focus on emerging topics including Big Data, the global water crisis, and how the human race is learning to heal itself. Against All Odds Productions was named by Fortune Magazine as one of the “25 Coolest Companies in America,” and its projects have been featured on the covers of Fortune, Time, Newsweek, and US News & World Reports.
Imagining the not-so-distant future, Dr. Kaku offers his projections for advancements in humanity’s understanding of and technological interaction with the brain and consciousness over the next century. Dr. Kaku envisions a world in which progress in neuroscience and biotechnology will demystify the human mind – as the telescope once exposed the science of the heavens.
Dr. Michio Kaku is a theoretical physicist, NYTimes best selling author, and a prominent futurist who currently holds the Henry Semat Professorship in Theoretical Physics at the City College of New York. In 1974, Dr. Kaku co-authored the first papers describing string theory in field theory form. He has since authored numerous textbooks on string theory and quantum field theory. He is widely recognized for his efforts to popularize science, writing multiple books, appearing in films, and hosting numerous TV science specials and a national weekly science radio show heard in 130 cities. A science policy advocate, Dr. Kaku has publicly discussed issues related to the anthropogenic causes of global warming, nuclear proliferation, and the misuse of science.
As the “Founding Father of Nanotechnology,” Dr. Eric Drexler was among the first to champion the radical possibilities of just such a method of production: atomically precise manufacturing. As an entrepreneur, innovator, and business leader, NanoMech Chairman and CEO Jim Phillips’ trailblazing vision has contributed to the rise of an industry – with the potential, and intention, to fundamentally revolutionize the way humans create our material world. Together, they’ll discuss the potential applications and implications of nanotechnology and atomically precise manufacturing for the future of technology, global governance, the environment, and human survival.
Dr. K. Eric Drexler, often described as “the founding father of nanotechnology,” introduced the concept of nanotechnology to the scientific community through a seminal 1981 paper and a book-length, physics-based analysis, Nanosystems: Molecular Machinery, Manufacturing, and Computation. His 1986 book, Engines of Creation, introduced prospects for advanced nanotechnologies to a global audience, setting in motion a shift in both scientific research directions and popular visions of the future.
Jim Phillips, Chairman and CEO of NanoMech, is an entrepreneur and inventor whose innovations are used by millions worldwide. He is renowned for driving the invention and development of satellite paging, instant messaging, fixed cellular, M2M machine to machine wireless telemetry, smart phones (PDAs and PCS), immersive 360° imaging, the VeinViewer – a Time Magazine “Invention of the Year” – and the cable modem, which provided for the broadband expansion of the Internet worldwide.
Ms. Sheryl WuDunn, the first Asian-American reporter to win a Pulitzer Prize, is a business executive and best-selling author. Currently, she works with entrepreneurs in new media, media technology, and social enterprise at a small investment-banking boutique in NYC. She also runs TripleEdge, which focuses on socially driven investing.
Dr. Nancy Etcoff is among the leading medical researchers conducting trail blazing research in the field of positive psychology, specifically the study of happiness. She reveals why it is just as critical to understand exactly how our mental and physical health is benefitted by emotions like happiness and joy as it is critical to comprehend how our health is devastated by emotions like anxiety and depression. Dr. Etcoff surveys the most recent technologies being implemented by medical researchers to study, measure and answer seemingly subjective questions, long considered the purview of philosophers and artists.
Dr. Nancy Etcoff is a faculty member in the Harvard Medical School and Harvard University’s Mind-Brain-Behavior Initiative who conducts ground breaking and highly cited scientific investigations in the psychology and neuroscience of emotion, and the psychology and biology of beauty.
Exploring the properties of matter, the intricacies and implications of dimensions beyond the three we can presently observe, Dr. Randall challenges the limits of what is known and what is knowable. This Harvard professor is one of the most cited and influential physicists working in theoretical particle physics today. She is also a vocal advocate for the importance of scientific literacy in modern society and the author of several notable books explaining scientific ideas to the public.
Dr. Lisa Randall is an American theoretical physicist and a leading expert on particle physics and cosmology. Her research connects theoretical insights to puzzles in our current understanding of the properties and interactions of matter. Dr. Randall’s studies have made her among the most cited and influential theoretical physicists of all time and she has received numerous awards and honors for her scientific endeavors. Randall has also pursued art-science connections, writing a libretto for Hypermusic: A Projective Opera in Seven Planes; in 2012, she was the recipient of the Andrew Gemant Award from the American Institute of Physics, which is given annually for significant contributions to the cultural, artistic, or humanistic dimension of physics. Her books Warped Passages and Knocking on Heaven’s Door were both chosen as NYTimes 100 Notable books. Her latest book is entitled Higgs Discovery.
Today, Dr. Cerf, now serving as Google’s Chief Internet Evangelist, will discuss what the future may hold for one of modern society’s greatest technological advancements: from the pressing challenges of privacy, security, and open access to the radical possibilities of world-wide internet access and, perhaps, interplanetary connectivity.
Dr. Vint Cerf is Vice President and Chief Internet Evangelist for Google. He is responsible for identifying new enabling technologies and applications on the Internet and other platforms for Google. Widely known as one of the “Fathers of the Internet,” Cerf is the co-designer of the TCP/IP protocols and the architecture of the Internet. He currently serves as President of the Association for Computing Machinery, chairman of the American Registry for Internet Numbers (ARIN), and chairman of StopBadWare.
A 24-year veteran of the CIA’s Clandestine Service and former U.S. Coordinator for Counterterrorism, Ambassador Henry Crumpton retired from the USG in 2007 and founded a strategic advisory firm that helps corporate leaders mitigate risk and maximize opportunity. With projects in more than 120 countries during the last six years, Ambassador Crumpton and his team inform private-sector decisions in some of the world’s most dynamic and complex markets. An entrepreneur, he has helped launch companies in renewable energy, aerospace, education/training, security, and TV/film production.
Best-selling author and physician Dr. Deepak Chopra joins Dr. Rudy Tanzi, one of the world’s leading experts on Alzheimer’s disease, to discuss persistent myths about the human brain and to illuminate the role we play in shaping our minds’ potential. Together, they explore groundbreaking insights challenging what we know about the brain and its capabilities in order to consider the possibilities for enhancing this vital organ, one of the most challenging and least understood structures in our known universe.
Dr. Deepak Chopra is the Founder of the Chopra Foundation, and Cofounder and Chairman of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing in Carlsbad, California. He is a columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle and Washington Post On Faith and contributes regularly to Oprah.com, Intent.com, and the Huffington Post. Chopra is known as a prolific author of more than seventy-five books with twenty-one New York Times best sellers in both fiction and non-fiction.
Dr. Rudolph Tanzi is a Professor of Neurology and holder of the Joseph P. and Rose F. Kennedy Endowed Chair in Neurology at Harvard Medical School. At the Massachusetts General Hospital, Dr. Tanzi serves as the Vice-Chair of Neurology and Director of the Genetics and Aging Research Unit, which consists of five laboratories investigating the causes of Alzheimer’s disease and novel therapies.
Dr. Robbert Dijkgraaf is a mathematical physicist and string theorist currently serving as the Director and Leon Levy Professor of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, N.J. Dr. Dijkgraaf served as president of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences; he also remains a distinguished professor of mathematical physics at the University of Amsterdam. Dr. Dijkgraaf’s mathematical contributions to string theory earned him the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research’s Spinoza Prize, the highest scientific award in the Netherlands.