Report on the Academia Europaea symposium: “Science of the Future and the Future of Science”#

Brussels, March 4-5, 2015#

H. Maurer#


Kurt Zatloukal, MAE and I decided to organize this symposium after President Sierd Cloetingh had encouraged us to do so, had promised an opening talk and a dinner speech, and Academia Europeae had agreed to contribute Euro 5.000.- . The budget was to be used towards organization and a dinner for the all speakers and a number of invited guests, mainly member of the EU Parliament and the EU Commission. When the CEO of Maxeler Computers (Dr. Oskar Mencer) also pledged Euro 2.500.- support we considered this as sufficient basis to go ahead.

The idea of the meeting was to show to EU officials the academic power of AE and to point out interesting developments, all as a first step to strengthen ties with the EU parliament and the commission. In addition to talks, a number of “bilateral” meetings between an “AE delegation” (consisting of the president, Zatloukal, myself and Mencer as guest) and EU officials were to take place.

The title of the symposium was based on two premises: (a) Some project that may sound like science fiction are already actively pursued with huge investments: a selection will be presented; (b) research as such will change due to technology by interconnecting disciplines and the effect of Big Data.

The meeting started with a dinner on March 3, attended by Zatloukal, MAE; Balke, MAE; Dr. Mencer, Maxeller; Dr. Kulathuramaiyer from UNIMAS; myself and Declan Kirrane, local organizer, who briefed us on what was going to happen on the next two days.

We had informal meetings morning of March 4 and a first bilateral meeting between the AE delegation and MEP Dr. Paul Rübig and his staff. Dr. Rübig is among other duties Chair of the Scientific Technology Options Assessment (STOA) with its own unit for scientific foresight.

We then had the first session of the conference on Energy and Computers.

Sierd Cloetingh, President of AE started with an interesting presentation on "Geothermal energy and the underlying geoscience base". This was followed by a talk on “Fusion Energy - base load electricity for the second half of the century” by Professor Sibylle Guenter, Director, Max Planck Institute for Plasmaphysics, Garching/Greifswald. The third talk by Oskar Mencer, CEO, Maxeler Supercomputer Technologies, UK spoke on new computing paradigms and “How reduce the enormous energy consumption of future computers” . The Session was concluded by a talk by professor Rainer Blatt from the Institute of Quantum Optics and Quantum Computers on “The Quantum computing way of doing things.”

The second session this day on “Future of Medicine” consisted of six talks as follows:

The first talk “Big data driven medicine: Next generation sequencing and genome engineering” was held by George Church. The second talk “The virtual patient” was presented by Hans Lehrach. Claudio Luchinat followed with the talk “Metabolomics for preventive and personalized medicine”. “The microbiome ecosystem” was presented by Christine Moissl-Eichinger. The next talk “Life Sciences Research Infrastructures” was held by Jan-Eric Litton, Professor at Karolinska Institute and Director Genaral of DG BBMRI-ERIC. Finally, the session was concluded by a talk by Kurt Zatloukal, MAE, Professor for Medicine, Graz Medical University on “Disruptive innovation in health care”.

After this we hurried to the by invitation only AE dinner. In addition to the speaker and other famous guests we had the pleasure to welcome ten members of the parliament and the commission. After a dinner speech by Sierd Cloetingh Dr. Zsolt Pataki, Head of Service of the European Parliamentary Research Service brought the wishes and congratulations of the EU Parliament. Dr. Mencer also gave as short speech. There were some interesting other general discussion in groups of various sizes. It got quite late considering that the next session on “The Future of Science” would start quite early next day (March 5).

The four talks in this session were "Big Data and how it changes research" by Professor Viktor Mayer-Schönberger from Oxford , “The Future of Research” by Hans Sünkel, MAE, by Tilo Balke, MAE, on "Crowdsourcing, societal and research implications" and by Nara Kulathuramaiyer "How social networks will change research".

Since the AE delegation had a very important meeting with the cabinet of Commissioner Carlos Moedas (Research, Science and Innovation) we had to hurry after this session, again going through extreme security measures. Head of Cabinet Antonio Vicente and his team welcomed us. Sierd Cloetingh presented Academia Europaea. The discussion was interesting and lively: it is rare that such meeeting go beyond one hour, as this one did. AE was also invited for a follow up meeting later in spring with Commissioner Carlos Moedas.

In the afternoon, Sierd Cloetingh still had a press meeting and we met up with the 100YSS Team from the USA, lead by Mae Jemison. Although this was not part of our symposium as such, some AE members are quite interested in this project and hence after presenting the speakers of our conference and their talks/abstracts of talks I have also included in the attached PDF file a bit on the 100YSS project and the moderators of all sessions.

In the attached files speakers and their talks or abstracts are presented in the order given. Note that some of the short files will be replaced by May 30, 2015 by longer ones that will make up a final report that also goes to a number of MEPs and the Commission.

Papers or abstracts of papers of all speakers and short CVs of speakers and moderators, about 70 pages(info)

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