On Public Communication of Science and Technology with Professor Bruce Lewenstein

From the museums of the fifteenth century, to the public lectures of Michael Faraday in the nineteenth century, and to various science fairs & festivals of the twenty-first century, public engagement of science has evolved immensely. Public engagement of science in this age of hyper connectivity is “a multidimensional and multi-directional activity”. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps I speak with professor Bruce Lewenstien, a widely-known authority on public communication of science and technology.

Bruce Lewenstein is a professor of science communication at Cornell University. He has done extensive work on how science and technology are reported to the public and how the public understands complex and sometimes contested scientific issues. He studies and documents the ways that public communication of science is fundamental to the process of producing reliable knowledge about the natural world.

We begin by discussing the “multidimensional” and “multidirectional” nature of science communication. We then focus on the evolution of science communication from the early days of science to present time. We touch upon the huge impact on the public understanding of science that few books published in the mid-twentieth century had. We discuss in detail documentaries such as “The Ascent of Man” and “Cosmos” and the emergence of the phenomenon of “celebrity scientists”. The effectiveness of science communication in the age of information overload and in the age of misinformation and disinformation is an important topic that we discuss. We then discuss the challenges faced by the process of science communication and the societal challenges that effective science communication can help us to deal with.

Complement this discussion with A Passion for Ignorance” and for Denials and Negations with Professor Renata Salecl and then listen to “Philosophy of Information” and “Ethics of Information”.

By |February 12th, 2022|History, Information, Knowledge, Podcasts, Research, Technology|

Quantum Computers: Building and Harnessing the Power of Quantum Machines with Professor Andrea Morello

Quantum computers store data and perform computations by utilizing properties of quantum physics. Quantum computations are performed by these machines by utilizing quantum state features such as superposition and entanglement. Traditional computers store data in binary “bits,” which can be either 0s or 1s. A quantum bit, or qubit, is the fundamental memory unit in a quantum computer. Quantum states such as the spin of an electron or the direction of a photon, are used to create qubits. This could be very useful for specific problems where quantum computers could considerably outperform even the most powerful supercomputers. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps I speak with professor Andrea Morello and we discuss fascinating science & engineering of conceptualizing and building quantum computers. Professor Andrea Morello helps us to unpack and tackle questions such as what a quantum computer is and how we build a quantum computer.

Andrea Morello is the professor of Quantum Engineering in the School of Electrical Engineering and Telecommunications at the University of New South Wales Sydney, Australia.

I begin our conversation by asking professor Morello what a quantum computer is, and how it differs from classical and conventional computers. The no-cloning theorem’s implications in the field of quantum computers are next discussed. The no-cloning theorem states that it is impossible to create an independent and identical copy of an unknown quantum state. Professor Morello’s team uses single-spin in silicon to construct quantum computers, and we go over their approach in depth. The true value of quantum computers can only be realised if we develop creative algorithms that make effective use of quantum computers’ exponentially huge information space and processing capability. We discuss this in detail. We also touch upon the concept of quantum chaos and discuss research in this area. This has been a fascinating discussion.

Complement this with “2062: The World That AI Made” with Professor Toby Walsh and then listen to “Artificial Intelligence: Fascinating Opportunities and Emerging Challenges with Professor Bart Selman.

History of Information with Professor Paul Duguid

Over centuries “information has shaped and been shaped by human society”, writes professor Paul Duguid at the start of the book “Information: A Historical Companion”. Duguid is one of the editors of this book that reconstructs the rise of human approaches to creating, managing, and sharing facts and knowledge. The book is organised in thirteen long-form chapters and more than hundred short-form entries in a list of thematic objects, tools and concepts that are critical for our understanding of information. Each long-form chapter discusses the role of information at an important point in time in the history, at a particular geographical setting. Written by an international team of experts, “Information: A Historical Companion” is a wide-ranging, deeply immersive and a large publication. In this episode of Bridging the Gaps I speak with Paul Duguid, a professor in the School of Information at the University of California, Berkeley and one of the editors of this book.

We start our discussion by exploring the concept of “information age” and addressing the question: has every age been an information age or is this title unique to this present time. We then discuss the significance of viewing history through the lens of information and viewing information through the lens of history. We also discuss our over reliance on information in the present time and the impact of increased volume and velocity of misinformation and disinformation on society. Professor Paul Duguid then discusses few entries in the list of thematic objects, concepts and tools. This has been a fascinating discussion, particularly for those who are keen to study our obsession with an informed existence.

Complement this podcast with the fascinating discussion with Professor Luciano Floridi on the Philosophy of Information and then listen to Professor Jürgen Renn on the Evolution of Knowledge and Rethinking Science for The Anthropocene.

By |April 19th, 2021|History, Information, Knowledge, Podcasts|