Empowering the Future of Science, Technology and Society
Empowering the Future of Science, Technology and Society
This August will be the 11th annual STeLA forum, hosted at none other than the oldest university in the Netherlands. The University of Leiden, founded in 1575, has played a leading role in the development of the scientific community of the Netherlands, educating 16 Nobel Prize winners and receiving resident lecturers as renowned as Einstein himself.
The theme of this year’s forum is Technology, Responsibility, Society. In recent years, the exponential speed at which technological innovations are developed has given rise to many questions on security and ethics, as society and lawmakers have difficulty keeping up the pace. We have the means for self-driving cars, surgical robots and much more, how do we ensure these are correctly used by and for society? And how can we prepare ourselves for technologies to come?
From the 6th to the 13th of August STeLA will receive students from top universities all over Japan, China, Middle-East, United States, Europe and many more places to discuss technological innovations and leadership. Participants will be taught leadership according to the distributed leadership model developed at MIT Sloan School of Management, learning to work together across disciplines and cultures. Through intense cooperation you will form a tight network of future leaders in science and technology, with the ability to see global issues from a global perspective.
The applications for the 2017 Forum are now open. Click here to learn more.
We have arranged annual fora in the U.S, Europe, Japan and China since 2007 at some of the worlds best universities like MIT, Stanford, Peking University, TU Delft and the Natural Institution for Youth Education in Japan.
Apart from the annual forum, we arrange several other events and workshops around the world.
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The Future of Science and Technology
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology
The Future of Science and Technology
Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology
This year’s forum was held in Okinawa’s Institute of Science and Technology (OIST). The forum involved 40 participants from varied academic and cultural backgrounds. The group of participants consisted of the best undergraduate, master’s and Ph.D. students from some of the best universities from countries like Netherlands, China, Japan, Australia, United Arab Emirates and more. The students were from fields such as Engineering, Biology, Finance & Economics, Medicine, Social sciences, Law, and many more. This diversity resulted in interesting interactions between the participants which, in turn, developed their ability to connect with people from the cultures represented in the forum. Also, this variety created a unique working environment for the participants which is an important factor of the forum.
This year’s keynote speakers included Dr. Jonathan Dorfan, CEO and President of OIST, Dr. Machi Dilworth, Vice President for Gender Equality and Human Resource Development at OIST, and Dr. Hiroaki Kitano, Professor at OIST. Prior to joining OIST, the keynote speakers held esteemed positions at world-renowned research organizations. Dr. Dorfan was a Professor of Physics, Associate Director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) and Dean of the Executive Cabinet at Stanford. Dr. Dilworth worked for 24 years at the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF), during which she held a number of positions including Director of the division of Biological Infrastructure, Deputy Assistant Director for Mathematical and Physical Sciences, and Director of the Office of International Science and Engineering amongst others. Dr. Kitano is a President & CEO at Sony Computer Science Laboratories Inc., Corporate Executive at Sony Corporation, a President at The Systems Biology Institute, and a group director for Laboratory for Disease Systems Modeling at RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences. Also, Dr. Kitano is known for founding RoboCup, a global grand challenge program on robotics & AI, for creating Sony’s AIBO robot, as well as pioneering Systems Biology.
The theme of this year’s forum was “The future of Science and technology”. Every year the theme is realized through the Thematic Sessions. These sessions allow the participants to practice the core concepts taught during the forum within a certain scope. Also, these sessions offer the participants a chance to learn about and discuss topics related to the theme. This year’s thematic sessions are described in this section.
A New Community for Science and Technology Development
Information technology (IT) has changed the ways in which we share information, both in our private life and in the world of science and technology research. IT also has the potential to provide these communities with more efficiency and innovation in their research, and might help in avoiding research misconducts by sharing information amongst scientists.
In this session, each team was tasked to propose a new platform to organize the scientific community, using technology to contribute to solving issues such as unreliable peer reviews or overworked PhD students. This was done by analyzing the current available platforms and forecasting the trend of the future science community.
Medical Innovation in Okinawa
Being an island hundreds of kilometres away from the mainland of Japan, Okinawa is not able to offer the full range of healthcare services that is available within the Japanese community. This session was focused on a roleplay concerning one of the latest innovations in medical science: The Da Vinci surgeon machine.
Playing the roles of a surgeon doctor, a hospital chief, government officials and inhabitants of Okinawa, participants are tasked to discuss the introduction of this surgery technology into the medical environment of Okinawa by 2025. All stakeholders have widely varying merits and demerits, which made the task of reaching common grounds challenging. The end goal was to create a medical plan detailing the rules and regulations for the medical environment of Okinawa up to the year 2025.
The Ethics of Automation
When asked about the future of technology and society, many people will start talking about robots and automation. This field has many concerns, as technologies such as self-driving cars are on the brink of becoming commonplace in modern communities. Concerns that arise with this development are understandable, but can be interesting when compared to technology that is widely accepted in our society: aircraft autopilots.
This session encouraged discussion amongst participants about the ethics of automated technology. What should and shouldn’t technology be allowed to do? And who would be to blame if things go wrong?
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” - Dr. Hiroaki Kitano
Based on the inspiring talk given by Dr. Hiroaki Kitano, professor at OIST and founder of RoboCup, this session on Think Extreme aimed to put his lecture into practice. The essence of his lesson: be creative, be ambitious, and above all, be courageous.
For this session, participants had to create a concept for an “extreme” product. This process involved collaborative brainstorming and the concept was presented using an A4 sized poster. Following that, the participants evaluated each other’s ideas and based on the feedback obtained, they could reflect on what makes a good “extreme” product. Also, this session allowed the participants to practice selling their ideas to large crowds.
Site Visits: OIST Campus Open Energy System & Labs tour
During the site visit for the 2016 STeLA forum, participants and staff were shown around inside and outside the Okinawa Institute for Science and Technology. The lab tour covered the Open Energy System and the OIST laboratories.
The Direct Current-based Open Energy System (DCOES)tour showed us a whole new type of energy grid, built from the bottom up. The DCOES is an alternative way of exchanging energy inbetween energy subsystems in order to manage energy fluctuations within the community. OIST is testing DCOES concepts and implementation at the platform in Okinawa where 19 inhabited houses are equipped with individual microgrids and interconnected using DC power bus. Supply and demand are balanced autonomously without impacting the utility grid and thus energy autonomy is increased with minimal infrastructure costs. The concept and feasibility of an OES have been demonstrated in this decentralized, peer-to-peer system in Okinawa. On 2-3 February 2015, the project members held the 2nd International Symposium of Open Energy System where they first demonstrated the autonomous power exchange on the full-scale system. A visualization for monitoring the power flows and the power exchanges in real time has been implemented.
Additionally, the tour included a visit to several research labs in OIST. The OIST research program aims to be at the leading edge of science and technology, encompassing the life sciences, the physical sciences, the environmental sciences, and mathematics.
OIST’s mandate of collaborative, boundary-free research is built into every element of the campus design and layout. Flexible workspaces and shared equipment keep disciplines from clustering, while grouping major research instruments helps maintain equal access. The laboratory units of the following professors have been visited during the site visit:
Era of Information
Peking University, Tsinghua University, BIT
Era of Information
Peking University, Tsinghua University, BIT
In August 2015, 40 students from around the world gathered at Peking University Stanford Center. Participants are originally from Germany, US, Netherlands, Japan, China, India, Syria, UAE, Pakistan, Switzerland and the list goes on forever. During the forum, they were in undergraduates, masters or Ph.D program at their home university. Thus, STeLA Leadership Forum 2015 was diverse in not only national and cultural aspects, but also in terms of the academic experiences. Selected participants were very interactive with each other and they talked about their countries, culture, academics and history. It was also interesting for us to see them discussing about future careers and some very personal topics. Every year, students gather mainly from the US, Europe, China and Japan, which leads to very diverse, international and sometimes chaotic environements that people ususallly don't experience in their academic life. This is what makes STeLA unique.
The theme of 2015 forum was "Era of Information." For our keynote speaker, we invited Jeremy Chau, who is very well known for one of the first Chinese employees in Google, angel investor and the founder of Jide. He initiated and conducted the AdWords, RPC, Google Talk, and many other projects in Google. After he left Google in 2008, he cofounded Jide in 2014, and has been CEO of Jide.
As the representative of outstanding young generation in IT industry, Jermy has very unique insight and experience in many relevant areas, and showed extraordinary leadership in his career. We invited him to give this keynote speech with the ambitious topic "The Era of Information Technology: Mistakes made by Google and Jide."
The theme of the Forum was split into four sub-themes: Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, and Cybersecurity. During the thematic sessions each of these fields were briefly introduced before we got the opportunity to experience the problems and practice the leadership theories while solving them.
Internet of Things
”I will answer very simply that the internet will disappear. There will be so many IP addresses … so many devices, sensors, things that you are wearing, things that you are interacting with that you won’t even sense it. It will be part of your presence all the time. Imagine you walk into a room, and the room is dynamic. And with your permission and all of that, you are interacting with the things going on in the room.”- Eric Schmidt, Google ex-CEO
What Eric Schmidt has commented on the world economics forum has actually started to arise. The information technology has developed rapidly, and the internet has become familiar as never before. IT is used not only in PCs and smartphones, but also in infrastructure, agriculture, and economics. Nothing is unrelated to IT nowadays. Internet has invaded even into the legacy industries. Predictions made by Eric, where IT will become indispensable as air, is in the not so-distant future.
In the IoT sessions, we learned the basics of IoT and its applications through lectures. Workshop had been held afterwards, involving idea brainstorming and multiple prototyping in a limited time. The participants had experienced the topic through learning.
Although AI has become a buzz word in the recent years, the research itself dates back to the mid 20th century. The invention of computers has stimulated researchers of philosophy, mathmatics, logic and psychology into "imitation of human intellect". The predecessors include C.Shannon and A. Turing for the chess program; M. Minsky and D. Edmonds for artificial neurons. In the recent years, commercial use of AI is a popular topic. It is said that the rediscovery of back propagation (supervised learning of neural network) in 1980s was the whole starter. The greatest minds of the world, starting Stephen Hawking and Masayoshi Son, has mentioned that the second paradigm shift, "the singularity", will be granted with AI.
In this session, we have invited Ying Huang, the VP of Lenovo and a member of IBM Watson laboratory. We had lectures on machine learning and R&D at Lenovo. It was quite intriguing to hear that "AI is still an infant. There are still lot to be researched, but its potential in the future is just astonishing." We really had a great time with Mr. Huang.
Big data is, as the words themselves describe, innovative in terms of the massive amounts of the information that could be used to lead the useful knowledge, which might disrupt multiple industries to shift our socirty. Big data is unique as it also emphasizes on how data is structured and what kind of characterisitics exist in it. The most essential side of big data is how people can collect tremendous amounts of data, and then analyze them to find results that people never reached before. Big data is already used in multiple webservices such as Amazon; purchase history and accessed item logs are used to meet customers' precise demands. In the near future, various data from location, transportation access and CRM system are expected to be used to prosper big data in multilateral ways.
During the session, STeLA China members created a strategic board game to understand approaches to the use of big data and considerable data risks, along with other competing groups in the workshop.
"Why is cyber security important?" -"Because there are risks in the cyber space." Cybersecurity implies the protection against the cyber attacks that are becoming more complex and advanced everyday. The target includes from private information in one's laptop to classified information of the states, and it is essential to protect them as it could potentially damage the society. Cybersecurity is clearly a realm that we must be aware of in today's information society.
For this session, STeLA invited the CTO/CPO of 360, Mr. Xiaosheng Tan. 360 produces one of the most popular anti-virus software in China. He is the former CTO of myspace, and was the technical director and CTO of Yahoo China, R&D director of Alibaba-Yahoo China. Participants learned about the basic knowledge of data security, and had interactive Q&A sessions with Mr. Tan afterwards.
Site Visits: Lenovo HQ & Microsoft Research Asia
Lenovo, the cutting-edge technology company, is the world's largest personal computer vendor by unit sales. From the past 10 years to now, it has leading global shares in PC, smartphones and x86 servers. Lenovo is also well known for successful M&A cases such as IBM. After the successful M&As, Lenovo has been continuously challenging in the IT industry to become the most innovative personal technology company in the world.
Microsoft Research Asia is the third research institute founded by Microsoft in 1999. There are about 220 researchers, which is the 2nd biggest institute following the one in the US. MSRA focuses on 5 realms: natural user interface, data intensive computing, data multimedia, computer science, search. The institute has published over 3000 research papers, and 20 of them got the best awards for execellent works. MSRA has already started over 110 projects with the university research institutes.
Health and Bioethics
Health and Bioethics
2014's forum was held at Stanford University in the United States. 50 students from around the world were chosen to participate. We had students at Bachelor's, Master's, and PhD level. There were people from Nigeria, The United Arab Emirates, The Netherlands, Norway, The United States, France, Switzerland, England, China, Japan, Indonesia, and many more - just to mention some. It was a rich multicultural experience where the students shared a lot about their countries, culture, what kind of music they liked and their countries' history. The students were divided into groups where each branch (U.S, Europe, China and Japan) was represented. It was a different experience for many, to work with people from different cultures, and we all learned so much from it.
At Stanford we had, among others, the wonderful Manu Prakash as one of our key note speakers, as well as Hank Greely. Mr. Prakash talked about foldscope, a microscope that costs less than 1 USD to make, and how important education is in developing countries. Hank Greely talked about bioethics and challenged our point of view on biotechnology, and the impact it might have on our lives. We had several lectures about leadership, teamwork and also relations, in order to be more understanding and respectful of another person's point of view. There was also a final group project where the students had to design an educational board game about a topic related to the forum's theme like personal genomics, vaccinations, health and nutrition, and medical drugs.
The theme of the Forum was split into four sub-themes: modifying organisms, health informatics, personal genomics and frugal innovation. During the thematic sessions each of these fields were briefly introduced before we got the opportunity to experience the problems and practice the leadership theories while solving them.
"I not only think that we will tamper with Mother Nature, I think Mother wants us to" - Willard Gaylin, American psychiatrist and bio-ethicist
As you read this, organisms are being manipulated in labs all over the world for industrial, agricultural and commercial purposes. Microbes are being engineered to make bio-fuels, mice for medical studies and potatoes that are resistant to pests. There has even been research in engineering humans in the field of trans-humanism. Even with the advantages and contributions to technology and society that modified organisms can provide, there are many ethical issues associated or barriers imposed by public policy. For example, genetically modified foods can be the solution to world hunger but strains are hardly ever approved for commercial production.
The purpose of this session was to bridge the lack of understanding of what exists on the lab bench and what is the situation in the real world. We discussed questions such as, 'What are the ethical implications of this technology? Nature provided us the tools to engineer but how far can we take it?'
An important factor to healthcare improvement involves health informatics. Currently medical records are kept in a mixture of paper and computer technology. The communication between clinics, private practices, hospitals and other healthcare institutions use different systems to store and send data. Many software companies have an interest to streamline this process. The vision that biomedical engineers have is to create a global system that stores medical and environmental data, which can be accessed and delivered accurately and efficiently. This can improve the care of individual patients, help address public health emergencies including global pandemics, and help better prepare against chemical and biological warfare.
In this session, participants experienced a simulated chaos of a special case of providing healthcare to a patient. It is key that the participants apply what they learned during the leadership workshops in order to successfully finish this session.
Personal genomics is a field of rapidly developing technology that will soon empower modern society with the ability to analyze individual genomes accurately and cheaply. Understanding genetics can help engineers design personalized medicines, which would be more effective than giving medicine that has a broad range of effects for different patients. Already within the last ten years, the cost of sequencing some 40,000 human genes has dropped dramatically, costing approximately $100 million in the early 2000s and with a target goal of $1000 in 2014. Extensively sequencing the genome may lead to a better understanding of genetically rooted diseases, such as poly-cystic kidney disorder or cystic fibrosis, and how to prevent them. However, some commercial sequencing companies interpret genetic results in different ways, leading to conflicting conclusions about the probabilities of diseases. Increasing knowledge may also lead to further manipulation of the human condition.
This session was designed to help participants think about questions such as: Should parents have children with knowledge of their potential health statistics? Does raising a family have the potential of becoming a design process rather than random combinations of parents' chromosomes? Should we base how we live our lives on our genes?
The term frugal innovation means inventing what is needed by utilizing what is available. For example, Africa has replaced barley with sorghum to produce cheaper beer and in the Philippines bottles with water and bleach in a roof can provide light as a light bulb. While an important and revolutionary concept for developing countries, frugal innovation can be practiced anywhere to introduce sustainable technologies for anybody.
In this session we focused on how this practice can help the healthcare industry and we encouraged participants to use their creativity to dream up new, crazy, innovative technologies that can be used all over the world.
Genentech Inc., is a biotechnology corporation, founded in 1976 by venture capitalist Rober A. Swanson and biochemist Dr. Herbert Boyer. Boyer is considered to be a pioneer in the field of recombinant DNA technology. In 1973, Boyer and his colleague Stanley Norman Cohen demonstrated that restriction enzymes could be used as ''scissors'' to cut DNA fragments of interest from one source, to be ligated into a similarly cut plasmid vector. While Cohen returned to the laboratory in academia, Swanson contacted Boyer to found the company. After a meeting in 1976, the two decided to start a biotechnology company, Genentech. Boyer and the colleagues first successfully expressed a human gene in bacteria when they produced the hormone somastostatin in 1977. The group then succeeded to generate synthetic human insulin in 1978. Today, Genentech is among the world's leading biotech companies, with multiple products on the market and a promising development pipeline.
Genentech became a member of the Roche Group, a Swiss global health-care company, in 2009. As part of their merger agreement, Roche and Genentech combined their pharmaceutical operations in the United States. Genentech's South San Francisco campus now serves as the headquarters for Roche pharmaceutical operations in the United States. The site visit tour walked participants through the end-to-end process of making a drug product at Genentech, including the cell culture and purification area.