Seeing Sparks!: CERN’s first serendipity forum on future intelligence

The upcoming first edition of Sparks!,  which will be held 17-18 September, adopts the theme of future intelligence, and paves the way for two more pilot events in the lead up towards CERN’s new Science Gateway, opening in 2023.

The public event on 18 September will be available to watch through the live webstream from 16:00 - 20:00 CET. Visit the Sparks! event website for more information.

Sparks! the serendipity forum is a two-day multidisciplinary science innovation event organised by CERN. Sparks! aims to create a platform to drive innovation on topics relating to science, technology, engineering and maths, reflecting on their relevance in society and how to collaborate to address them.

The event consists of a forum and a public event. The forum will bring together 50 global experts, from scientists and ethicists, to philosophers and psychologists, to provoke discussions around the future of artificial intelligence, and what this means for society. The engagement in the forum will form the content of the public day, which will include short talks and discussions on the topic of future intelligence. Sparks! will also share information and generate debate through various platforms such as the podcasts and videos of the launch already published, in addition to articles and other academic materials. The public event will be accessible for everyone to watch through the live webstream.

The impact of AI, now and in the future, is experienced on a global scale. The theme of future intelligence demonstrates the benefits AI has for CERN, but also highlights the wider impact on global society and the challenges that it brings.

Charlotte Warakaulle, Director for International Relations, explains the idea behind Sparks!:

“We want to bring CERN’s spirit of intellectual and practical innovation to the cutting edge themes in science, technology, engineering and maths. The idea is to focus on areas that are important for CERN as a research laboratory and to everyone as citizens - and artificial intelligence is an example of this. It is an opportunity for us as a scientific community to learn and also engage with society on the challenges we face globally. We believe that pooling ideas and working across boundaries is essential to finding good solutions.  ”

The Sparks! public event will hear from some of the most prominent names in artificial intelligence. The lineup includes Daniel Kahneman, discussing the psychology of decision making, deep-learning expert and director of machine learning at NVIDIA, Anima Anandkumar, Koray Kavukcuoglu from DeepMind, Hiroaki Kitano, CEO of Sony AI Inc., and Jaan Tallinn, founding engineer of Skype and founder of the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, among many others.

Sparks! is part of the CERN & Society programme. CERN & Society activities are only possible thanks to support received from partners, in particular Rolex and its long-standing association with the organisation. The 2020-2021 Sparks! event is also supported by Edmond de Rothschild, with support from the Didier et Martine Primat Foundation.