All the talks of the first day of the TOTAL RECALL – Symposium are collected here.
TOTAL RECALL – Symposium – Panel 1 – EN
Following opening remarks by Ars Electronica artistic director Gerfried Stocker, the first session will begin with a look at and inside the site of human memory: our brain. Neuroscientist John-Dylan Haynes will provide an introduction to the latest research on cognition and the brain. He’ll screen selected scenes from some classic science-fiction films—including “Total Recall,” of course—to portray the current state of research in neuroscience and future prospects in this field.
From Remembering to Forgetting
Mapping the network of nerves in the human brain will be the subject of a speech by neuroscientist Alfred Anwander of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences. He’ll report on diffusion tensor imaging and connectome research, methods scientists are now using to better understand human memory.
In light of these insights into the latest research into the brain, the symposium will turn to the selective character of remembrance and the various forms of forgetting.
Aleida Assmann, a scholar in the fields of literary studies, will analyze the omnipresence of the past, which, thanks to new media and virtually unlimited data storage capabilities, can be accessed anytime, anywhere.
Arno Villringer, likewise a staff neuroscientist at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences, will then discuss the loss of memory and go into dementia from neurological and clinical perspectives, and author/interpreter Helga Rohra, a woman suffering from Lewy Body Dementia, will give an account of daily life with this condition.
TOTAL RECALL – Symposium – Panel 2 – EN
The second session begins with a consideration of nature’s memory, DNA. Biochemist Barbara Hohn will discuss the genetic and epigenetic memory of animals and plants, and particularly elaborate on how they pass on what they remember—from leaf to leaf, for instance, or from parent to offspring.
Mathematician and zoologist Nick Goldman teams up with artist Charlotte Jarvis to consider the prospects of someday using DNA as the perfect data storage medium. And nobody’s better qualified than Goldman, who was a member of a research group that succeeded in converting an mp3 file into DNA and back again.
Another view of the future of memory focuses on the vision of someday being able to computer model human memory. The Synapse Project in the US and the Human Brain Project in Europe are at the forefront. Can a computer learn how a human being thinks? Dharmendra S. Modha, a cognitive computing specialist at IBM, is convinced of this. Via teleconference, he’ll report on his work on computer systems modeled on the human brain.
To conclude the first day of the symposium, we’ll return to the neurosciences as well as to art. Rodrigo Quian Quiroga, head of the University of Leicester’s Neuro Engineering Lab, will talk about his research on so-called concept cells—often referred to as Jennifer Aniston neurons—and tell about how his research brought him to the works of the great Argentine author Jorge Luis Borges.