Delve into danger
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What we don’t understand often looks dangerous, and the barriers of our own anxieties are hard to get over. The incomprehensible power of new and complex technologies see us pull back in fear. What seem like the freakish sexual and social mores of others generate moral panic. Both of these reactions stop us from thinking – so maybe if we want to be able to deal with change, we need to dive into what seems dangerous, from algorithms and quantum computing to sexy selfies.
This talk is part of the UNSW Grand Challenge program.
Chaired by Rob Brooks, UNSW Professor of Evolution, Director of the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre.
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Haris Aziz is a Scientia fellow and senior lecturer in computer science at UNSW Sydney. His research interests lie at the intersection of artificial intelligence and game theory. A central research theme of his research is to design algorithms that make fairer decisions. Haris was a recipient of the Chris Wallace Research Excellence Award, the CSIRO Julius Career Award, and the Oxford University Noon Scholarship. In 2016, he was selected by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) as one of the top ten rising stars in AI.
Khandis Blake is an social psychologist who marries gender studies with evolutionary thinking. She completed undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate degrees at the University of Melbourne (2008; 2011; 2013) and a PhD at UNSW Sydney (2016). Her research examines how gendered issues such as intimate partner violence and female sexualization result from both sociocultural and biological forces, and ultimately aims to reduce gendered conflict. She has won three international and numerous domestic awards for her work and is a postdoctoral research associate at UNSW Sydney.
Rob Brooks is Professor of Evolution, Director of the Evolution & Ecology Research Centre, and Academic Lead of the Grand Challenges Program at UNSW Sydney. He studies sexual reproduction and how it shapes the behaviour, diet, lifespan and ageing of animals, including human animals. He has won prizes both for his research and his popular writing, including the Eureka Prize and, for his first book – Sex, Genes & Rock ‘n’ Roll: How Evolution has Shaped the Modern World (2011, NewSouth Books), the 2012 Queensland Literary Prize for Science Writing. He is currently fascinated by how interactions between evolutionary history and contemporary economics and culture shape human lives, societies and ideological beliefs.
Lee Rollins is a Scientia Fellow in Evolution & Ecology Research Centre and the School of Biological, Earth and Environmental Science at UNSW Sydney. She was awarded a PhD from UNSW in Conservation Genetics in 2009 and was awarded fellowships from Deakin University (2012) and from the Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Researcher scheme (2015). Her research investigates genetic and epigenetic drivers of evolution during exotic species invasion using species like cane toads and starlings. She is keen to understand how environmental factors affect gene expression across generations, a topic that likely impacts all organisms on our planet.
Martina Stenzel studied chemistry at the University of Bayreuth, Germany, before completing her PhD in 1999 at the Institute of Applied Macromolecular Chemistry, University of Stuttgart, Germany. She started as a postdoctoral fellow at UNSW in 1999 and is now a full Professor in the school of chemistry as well as co-director of the Centre for Advanced Macromolecular Design (CAMD) She is scientific editor of Materials Horizons and serves currently on a range of editorial boards. She received a range of awards including the 2011 Le Fèvre Memorial Prize of the Australian Academy of Science and the H.G.Smith Medal. She is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science and currently the chair of the National Chemistry Committee of the Australian Academy of Science. Her research interest is focused on the synthesis of plastic nanoparticles for nanomedicine. She is particularly fascinated by viruses and her team tried to mimic their structure using smart polymers that fold themselves into functional particles that are as big as viruses.