Polymathic Pizza, Part II: Back to the Future

Spring 2015
Polymathic Pizza, Part II: Back to the Future

The Future—what is it, how best to predict it, whether it will feature utopic advancement or a dystopic nightmare—has long occupied our minds. Whether we’re envisioning technical advancement or prophesying our own demise, we humans are impassioned about what the future might hold and how our current actions might have an unforeseen effect on humanity. How is considering the future useful? And why are we so obsessed with the future, particularly a dystopic view of it? Can looking backwards perhaps help us better envision what is to come? Over the course of Spring 2015, students and select faculty will consider these paradoxes and what possibilities thinking about the future might hold.

Maja Mataric
January 28, 2015
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Harman Academy, DML 241

“I’m not a robot, I have feelings” – how many times have you heard that phrase uttered? We tend to define our humanity by our ability to feel complicated and intense emotions. However, what if we were able to program robots to experience and empathize with a range of human emotions? Robots are...

Josh Kun
February 4, 2015
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Harman Academy, DML 241

Sound and the sonic are vibrant parts of the richly textured worlds we inhabit – how often does a song remind you of a particular time or place in your life? Or perhaps you associate a certain type of sound or music with an emotion or culture? Many of our experiences and feelings are defined by...

Deborah Harkness
February 25, 2015
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Harman Academy, DML 241

The promise of time travel, be it forwards or backwards, has long been a compelling fantasy. What could we learn, predict, better understand, prevent, or resolve if we had the ability to move forwards or backwards in time? Historians are perhaps the closest we’ll ever get to the possibility of...

William Greg Thalmann
March 4, 2015
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Harman Academy, DML 241

Apocalypse has been handed down to us as total devastation, obliteration of all living things, the end of the world. Along this definitional line of thinking, Isaac Newton predicted the apocalypse would occur in 2060. We have trusted his theories on classical mechanics, laws of motion and...

Tok Thompson
June 25, 2015
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Harman Academy, DML 241

Traditionalism might be described as the notion of holding on to the past to pass on to the future; folklore is the transmission of traditions -- art, literature, knowledge, and practice -- through oral communication and behavioral example. In our fast paced, ever-changing, futuristic, digital...

Alexander McDowell
April 1, 2015
5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Harman Academy, DML 241

George Orwell’s 1984 described a dystopic future where privacy and individual thought had been stifled by the ever-watchful eye of Big Brother – but what might 2084 look like? Fears of dystopia – the loss of privacy, agency, and subjugation to a totalitarian regime—proliferate in popular culture...

Gary Watson
April 15, 2015
5:00 pm to 6:30 pm
Harman Academy, DML 241

“Life is never made unbearable by circumstances, but only by lack of meaning and purpose.”

These are the profound words from Holocaust survivor Viktor Frankel, who found meaning and purpose in his captivity and suffering at Auschwitz. Moving into our individual and collective futures, we...