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Leiden to stage Brave New World symposium

How will future technological developments influence our everyday lives? This is the key question during the Brave New World symposium on 2 and 3 November.

Technology start-ups, scientific innovations and industrial developments are hot topics for public debate. Unsurprisingly, since 'minor' innovations can have major social and ethical consequences. Just think of Twitter, Tesla, 3D printers or Airbnb, for instance.

Looking to the future

‘Developments are happening so fast that in many cases it is not until afterwards that we consider whether a technological innovation is desirable or not,' says Alexander Mouret, Director of the Leiden International Film Festival and Director of Public Relations at Luris. He is one of the organisers of Brave New World. ‘During this conference we are bringing together different professional groups so that we can look at the future from different perspectives. What developments are in the pipeline and what can or should mankind do with these developments?’

Is privacy becoming a rare luxury?

Scientists, artists, policymakers, entrepreneurs and managers will be discussing these questions on 2 and 3 November in Leiden's stadsgehoorzaal. Do artificial intelligences have rights? Can we use technology to advance mankind? Do we want to continue to live in the real world if we can create our own perfect world online? 

17-legged chicken

Several of the speakers are also from Leiden University. One of these is Rob Zwijnenberg, professor in the field of the interactions between science and art. Zwijnenberg works with international artists who experiment in a lab environment. With their bizarre creations, such as a chicken with 17 legs, the artists explore what is possible within the confines of the law. Their aim with their work is to show the direction that biotechnology can take. It is a good way of holding a mirror up to society so that people have to ask themselves: is this what we want?  Leiden scientists Bernhard Hommel and Christine Mummery (LUMC) will also be speaking at the symposium.


The symposium will not present technological innovations purely as a threat: quite the opposite. Mouret: ‘You can see that from our list of speakers. One of our guests is Mark Stevenson, author of the book An Optimist’s Tour of the Future. Another, Nathaniel Raymond uses technology to improve human rights in Africa. Rachel Armstrong looks at integrating nature and architecture, and artist-philosopher Koert van Mensvoort advocates that technology is an integral part of human evolution.' 

Film script

Brave New World will close every day with a workshop at which speakers and participants will write a film script based on the themes that have been discussed. This will give three film scripts every day, encompassing the visions and advice for the future as put forward by the participants. These scripts will be produced within 48 hours and will then be put online on the website of the Leiden International Film Festival.

Order your tickets

See the website of Brave New World for more information and to order your tickets.

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