H + Summit: Rise of the Citizen Scientist @ Harvard University LIVE in Russian, June 12-13, 2010

    imageThis weekend, June 12-13, through the efforts of enthusiasts from the Russian transhumanist movement, an event held at Harvard University called H + Summit: Rise of the Citizen Scientist will be broadcast live and in Russian .

    I think, on a habr it is no longer necessary to remind what transhumanism and H + are; Those who wish can familiarize themselves with this on the RTD website. Let's get right to the point. The theme of the current summit - “The Appearance of a Scientist Citizen” - reflects a phenomenon that, in general, was historically inherent in science at the early stages of its formation in a modern form. A citizen-scientist is any person who uses the scientific method to study himself or his environment in order to answer a specific question or to satisfy curiosity. Persons such as Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Edward Jenner made their discoveries and inventions, not being employees of academies and universities with expensive laboratories, but acting directly “in the field”. Over time, science became much more complicated, turned into a huge bureaucratic institute and became the destiny of professionals, in a sense "estranged from the people." They even started talking about some kind of “crisis of science”, about her loss of its original purpose. But, as they say, a holy place does not happen empty. Today, the banner of civilian scientific research is being picked up by enthusiasts who are using ever-cheaper computer and biological equipment, manufacturing the necessary devices themselves and, most importantly for this renaissance, sharing knowledge via the Internet and social networks. We have already read the news about "garage genome hackers ”, about projects such as OpenWetWare , BioBricks , about Freeman Dyson ’s forecasts about“ home biotechnology ” , etc., and today more than 600 transhumanists - scientists, entrepreneurs, writers - are gathering at the summit to exchange ideas on the further development of this the trend and the prospects that it opens up.

    What does all this have to do with IT and with us? The most direct.

    Actually, the forerunners of the new generation of “citizen-scientists” can be considered computer hackers of the 1970s. Steven Levy wrote well about the evolution of geeks ( translation in Xakepe) Theorists will call both those and others a sub-culture of a post-industrial type, based not on formal structures built by someone with their hierarchy, but on the network principle, free open cooperation, the priority of talents, abilities, and living human curiosity over any external factors, such as age, race, gender, degree or position.

    Of course, at the moment this “civilian” science does not set itself the task of replacing traditional academic science with its LHC and other expensive high-tech equipment, and this is not necessary. It is important that this movement is able to fill the growing gap between the "academies" and society, to turn the scientific method and the drive of "wonderful discoveries" from the destiny of a few professionals or early enthusiasts into the pursuit of millions, as familiar as programming and computer research today. Is it possible to imagine the Internet without the whole community of hackers, in the real sense of the word, who created it and continue to create it? And even if some of them settle down, build a tower of ivory like Microsoft, sooner or later an open free alternative appears in the form of Linux. This is the movement, this is the development.

    In the same way, when we talk about the world of the future, about the problems that face the citizens of the Earth, and about the new opportunities that open up for them, one should take into account not only the classical industrial sector with industrialized science and citizens passively consuming its achievements; but first of all, the role in this future science of the growing community of info-, bio-, robo- ... hackers, geeks, DIY enthusiasts and generally everyone who wants to take an active part in this future. Now we are talking about web startups that use the capabilities of mobile devices and penetrate into all new areas of RL - there will be much more tomorrow, new tools will appear for collaboration, rapid response, security and mutual assistance. In the spread of IT and civilian scientific activity - with the possibility of further registration of promising developments in business and / or big science - the key to solving many problems: economic, environmental, social. Roughly speaking, those results that for some reason are not achieved in traditional organizational forms can well be implemented in new ones, which are now being created in the form of Internet resources and social networks. Ahead is the era of closer human integration with the Internet, biological feedback, neural interfaces and digital telepathy; so far we can only guess what opportunities for interaction this will give to those who know how and strive to look for new opportunities - to scientists, inventors and entrepreneurs, including in one person.

    Today, such people include transhumanists - those who are set by the prospects of applying new technologies not only to the world around them, but also to themselves. For example, in order to increase the efficiency of one’s own activity, increase intellectual, creative and other abilities, optimize health and prolong life, and in the long term, eradicate aging, death and other forms of senseless suffering, endow a person with fundamentally new abilities for self-upgrade and self-modification. Transhumanists pose philosophical and practical questions of possible and desirable directions for such a modification, the further evolution of the relationship between people and potential new forms of intelligent creatures, possible risks that arise or become apparent as technology develops, and ways to protect against them.

    So, the live broadcast of the summit with the Russian translation will be conducted for two days (for us evenings) on June 12 and 13, starting from 15:00 Moscow time.

    The original broadcast in English at the same time will be carried out here from 16:00 Moscow time (the Russian version opens an hour earlier with the RTD introductory material).

    Become a part of the future!

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