All Hands on Deck – Day 2


Hello, welcome, ahoy! I’m Joi Ito, I’m the Director of the Media Lab, which is the place where you are today, if you didn’t know. The Media Lab is a kind of peculiar place, if you haven’t figured it out already. It’s a lab at MIT that was started 30 years ago, and it was started as an experiment by the then president of MIT, Jerome Wiesner and Nicolas Negroponte, and some other faculty members, and the program here is called Program of Media Arts and Sciences, but sort of, it was a code for the Department of None of the Above. (audience laughing) And the role of the Media Lab, really, in our ecosystem, is to try to explore those areas between and beyond the disciplines where traditional departments can’t provide faculty slots, or have students doing research. In other places, where you just can’t get funding to do research, so when we hire faculty, we ask, if you could do your research in any other department, any other lab, don’t apply for the Media Lab. And if anybody else in the world would fund what you wanna do, you shouldn’t start here at the Media Lab. And so the Media Lab’s role is to try to fill in those places, and in particular, with the Open Oceans initiatives, we have number of initiatives, it’s not just between the disciplines, but beyond the disciplines, and so we try to go where traditional academic research and science, and just business are traditionally unable to go. And as oceans becomes more and more of an important topic these days, instead of just keeping, and this is whether we’re talking about space, or agriculture, one of our key things is also to take ideas from just the scholarship of academia, and to try to bring it to indigenous communities, to young people, to the real world. One of the key things in the founding of the Media Lab, this is a sort of the name of the way we think about learning, is called Constructionism, and it comes from Seymour Papert, who was one of the founding faculty members. And Constructionism is the idea that learning in a textbook isn’t nearly as effective as learning through doing. And learning through doing also involves learning through deploying. And one of the key phrases that the Media Lab in the early days was Demo or Die, and I modified it to Deploy or Die, and then when I was visiting with President Obama, he was saying, deploy, die. Maybe you should work on that messaging. (audience laughing)
So we just changed it to, just changed it to Deploy, and many of the, actually students who didn’t like the or die part, was like, the president tells you and you get rid of it, even though we told you? What are we?
(audience laughing) So Deploy is one of our key things, and we learn that through deploying, through going into the real world, there’s a tremendous amount of engagement in learning. And we have a group called the Lifelong Kindergarten group, and they have this thing called the four Ps: passion, peers, projects, play. So the idea is that if you have passion, you will learn to learn, and you will learn lifelong, not just in school, and working together is tremendously important, and working on projects is a really important way to learn. And it has to be done in a playful way. And a note, is Ernst here, is he here? There’s Ernst! Ernst, so the only thing I was qualified to teach before I got to the Media Lab was scuba diving. And I lived in Dubai for a while, and Ernst was my mentor, and we used to teach sometimes junior high school students, and Ernst would often tell me that the teachers would dump these students off, and we’d be teaching them, and they would always say, watch out for these two, ’cause they’re the troublemakers. And they would be the ones who would be the most passionate about learning. And so Ernst would be there saying, you know, well, we’re gonna be in the ocean in a little while, and we will be seeing these animals, and unless you learn gasses, and unless you learn Boyle’s Law, and unless you learn this, we’re not gonna be able to go in there and do this thing. And so for those kids, the idea of just getting in the water and putting this contraption on, and being able to swim and see all these, this wildlife, was enough to learn all kinds of things that in this classroom, they were so bored, that they would never learn. And so obviously kids learn in a different way, but I do think that this idea of learning through doing, the idea that exploration is something that will drive us to learn. And nothing against kids who like textbooks, but there’s already a lot of institutions for those people. So I think this is really for those people who don’t fit in to that kind of traditional system. And I apologize if there are traditionalists here. (audience laughing) You are also welcome. But the other thing, I think, that we are doing here, is that in addition to traditional scientific scholarship, I was at a conference recently that was called the Dew Fest, and we’ll meet some of the people from that conference. There’s a lot of knowledge that right now, doesn’t fit into traditional science. And as we start to learn more about natural systems, we’re learning more and more about the fact that we know less and less. And the complexity of the systems. So there’s this interdisciplinary piece, which is a lot of disciplines like to slice things in very organized ways, but when you look at climate, when you look at the environment as such a complex system, we’ve known about climate change for so long, but we haven’t been able to intervene, because it’s not a simple system. And all the things that we used to do, make more stuff, be more efficient, be more productive, those are all things that actually make climate worse. And so all of the tools that we currently have at our disposal, to try to tackle the problem of climate change, we may be able to fiddle some of the rules and do carbon capon trade, and things like that, but we actually need to fundamentally change the values of our society. So there’s a great, I love this story. So everybody knows Monopoly, right? So Monopoly is actually based on an older game from 1904 called The Landlord’s Game. And The Landlord’s Game was created by the Georgists, who were the sort of the precursors to communism. And The Landlord’s Game was designed to teach kids the perils of capitalism. The fact that rent and ownership of property would drive people to unhappiness, and it was trying to teach people how bad capitalism was. And Parker Brothers brought the game, and they didn’t change the rules, actually, very much. They just changed the goal. And they said, no, no, no, now, you are the capitalist, and you win when your friends are bankrupt. (audience laughing) And I think, the important lesson to that is that the rules are important. We can try to make all kinds of rules in order to get companies to behave in different ways, to protect our fisheries, to protect our environment, but if we don’t change the goal, which is to have more stuff, to beat your competition, and to extract resources from the environment, and make yourself rich. That’s sort of what companies are designed to do, and when we create an environment where that’s the values of the institutions, and as an individual, you measure yourself by whether you have more stuff than your friends, then you’re going to create an environment that will continue to deplete our resources, and also throw the system out of whack. And the way that we change it is we have to change the goals. How do you change the goals, you change the values. How do you change the values, you change what we believe is precious. And so to me, and this is another thing that I remember one of Ernst’s and my mutual friends who’s a scuba instructor in Singapore, and he was working with a lot of Chinese scuba divers. And once they started to see the sharks, they couldn’t eat shark fin anymore. And you don’t get people to stop eating shark fin by wagging your finger at them from the U.N. You get them to change their views on sharks by getting them to dive with sharks, and then you get the kids to convince the parents. And so I think the other really important part about engaging young people, and this is true across the world. Well, if you look at Generation Z, which is 2001 and later, they’re pretty sober. They grew up with climate change. They know it’s our fault, I’m 52. They blame us, but they feel, you know, it’s too bad, they didn’t understand, they didn’t know any better. But they, again, there’s a bunch of different theys, but in general, they have different values. They’re sort of disgusted with the system, but they’re sort of jumping into change. And I think it’s really important to bring the kids into this conversation, take them diving with us, work on projects with them, and get them to talk to their parents and convince the parents. Because I think the parents will talk to the kids, the kids will understand the science, and the kids, I think, will have different values. My generation, I think, convince people logically, that climate change is an issue, and that maybe that’s gonna, you know, their house in Malibu may wash away. But they don’t really viscerally feel disgusted when they see waste. They don’t feel disgusted when they see shark fin soup. But the kids can, and the kids will. And so I think figuring out how to engage the kids in real projects, not just a bunch of textbooks, though it’s really important. And then lastly, I think that in order to advance science so that we can actually understand these complex systems, we can’t do it using the same kind of science that we had in the past, this kind of linear approach, and this slow, expensive. I know there are people here from the government and NOAA. Those big projects are extremely important as the bedrock of the research, but we need to push that out to everyone, and involve everyone so that it’s not just some sort of elite institutional thing. The other thing, and the last part I wanna talk about, is we have completely overlooked the wisdom of the indigenous people. There’s a group here that works on trying to create a new kind of artificial intelligence, and they realize that we have these things like a, we have a physics engine in our brain. So when you’re growing up, and you see a thing that looks like a, let’s say a bag of potatoes, and you kind of sense that it’s about to fall over, what you have is you have a simulation in your head of what that bag of potatoes might do, and as a kid, you learn over time, that intuitively, you start to learn physics. It’s not that when you’re playing tennis, you’re calculating the trajectory, and you’re doing a whole bunch of math. You’re doing it because your brain has an intuitive understanding. When you talk to people who live in the Amazon, or if you talk to people who live on the sea in Polynesia, they intuitively know where they are, what’s going on, and there is a kind of physics engine-like thing that gives them a connection to nature. They can’t explain it to us in the way that scientists like to be explained to, but they understand it much more deeply, and there’s something that we can learn from them. And if you look at the history of exploration and anthropology, we sort of just dismissed that what that we can’t explain, as either noise, or placebo, in the case of medicine, or just kind of, you know, just ignored it. And what we’re realizing recently, and there was a great talk by Wade Davis at this last conference I was at, about the fact that we completely misunderstood, and didn’t understand Polynesian wayfaring, because it was impossible. How could a bunch of people with no instruments, without a sextant, navigate the open ocean? It’s impossible. Well, it turns out, it’s not impossible. It’s really hard. You have to have an intuitive understanding, as well as a mental map of all the stars, of all of the islands, to be able to see the waves. And that ability, that ancient knowledge, had almost disappeared. And then, we will be hearing from Nainoa, who is the President of the Polynesian Wayfaring Society next, and he, to me, is kind of the embodiment of that which is essential for us to learn, because Nainoa and his team have revived the art of Polynesian wayfaring. And I guess, I won’t tell the whole story, because then you won’t have anything to say, but I urge you to connect with him, because he is both able to do, and teach people this amazing ancient art. But also, he is willing to come to a place like MIT, which is sort of the opposite of that, and to talk to us, and try to connect. And to me, that connection, that intuitive understanding of the natural systems, as well as the sort of spirit of, I remember, we were in a meeting with Nainoa, and one of our dear friends was talking about this idea of natural capital. We just have to put all the fish and all the trees on the balance sheets of the companies, understand the cost, and that it’s all calculated into the economy, and so that these guys can’t do bad things anymore. And Nainoa at the end was like, natural capital. That sounds like an oxymoron to me. And so that voice, the idea that yes, we can try to fiddle with the economy in order to make it more conscious of the environment, that’s really important. But I think even more important, is we have to look at capitalism itself, and say, is this the right way for us to be setting our goals, distributing resources, thinking about the future. Or is there a better way to think about the future, to inspire ourselves about what we wanna be? What is our purpose? Why are we here learning all those things? Is it to make more money, and be more efficient? Or is it actually to be making the world more of a flourishing place? Is happiness more important, how do we measure happiness, and is happiness about having more stuff, or living in a vibrant ecosystem with a diverse set of friends that are inspiring each other, and so to me, Nainoa is really a grand teacher of all of these things. And so, I’m very excited to introduce one of my heroes, Nainoa. (audience applauding) (greeting in foreign language) My name is Nainoa Thompson, and I’m from the Hawaiian Islands. And Joi, thank you for that amazing introduction. I mean, I didn’t just come here. I came here with the belief that the challenges before us, we have to connect, we have to build relationships. We can’t solve the problem for ourself. So Katy, thank you for allowing me the privilege to be in this room. And I say that, because yesterday I was here, and you guys are amazing. Everyone of you in here that are gonna collectively make change on your own, but when you add it all together, it’s the movement we need. And so I’ve got a lot of slides and not much time. The assumption is nobody in this room knows anything about Polynesian voyaging, so it’s kind of a history lesson. You gotta imagine, though. Imagine the Pacific, that 7,000 years ago, maybe the first craft was built in the South China Sea area. And then this technology moves south along the coastlines to the Melanesian area. And then it went west, Austronesian-speaking people, all the way to Madagascar. And then it went east, at least to the West coast of the Americas. Maybe the Caribbean, with genetics. And so essentially, this people of common ancestry, and common language-type, would travel almost 14 time zones on the earth. And about 3,000 years ago, some genius in the Western Polynesian area, in Tonga or Fiji, Samoa area, we don’t know, built the vehicle, the deep sea voyaging canoe, the capacity to go long. And in that 3,000 years ago, there was some other genius that figured out how to use nature to find your way, and navigational system. And then here, this is my home. This oil painting of the first canoe that would come about 2,000 years ago to Hawaii. And then, make a long story short, that was one part of the genius of these people. How do they navigate, use nature, travel, over 2400 miles of open ocean? Find the single-most isolated island archipelago on the planet, and then be there for over 1400 years, they would go back and forth to their homeland called Kahikinui, it really is, Tahiti and Marquesas area in the South Pacific. And then, so that was really the age of exploration, but around that time in the 14th century, three things happened. One was, there was probably overcrowding. That population outgrew the limits of the natural resources. There would be population crash, there would be the institution of what they call the couple system. A very, very strict, serious system of rules that you need to live by, so that you can survive within the limits of an island. And then at the same time, around the 14th century, that’s when voyaging stopped. So we don’t know really why, but I think it’s interrelated between the need to find sustainability on these small islands. And then 1778, Captain Cook would come, and he would do the first census. He’d talk about the genius and the strength of these people. But what happened was, that was the beginning of the long, same chronic native story. Next 28 years, 75% of Native Hawaiians would die. About 600,000. And the list goes on and on, it’s not about that story, but what the story talks about is loss of land, culture, and all those issues, which really is a pathway to extinction. 1926, public schools would outlaw Hawaiian language and cultural practices in our schools. 1924, my father, nearly pure Hawaiian, would not be taught genealogy. Maybe he’s 100th generation. Not, not language, not culture, ’cause his loving parents felt that if he tried to become who he was, he’d get hurt. That is the age of extinction. When everything’s falling apart. Next slide, (coughs) next slide. Then another miracle. This story’s not about me. I mean, Joi, thank you, but it isn’t. This is an old story, 1958, this man, a surfer from Santa Barbara, was studying anthropology, would go to University of Hawaii. A woman professor there, you can probably count them on one hand back then, would give him two books, Kon-Tiki, and the other was this Voyage of, The Pacific Voyages by guy by the name Andrew Sharp. Thor Heyerdahl believed that the Polynesians came from the Americas, on driftwood logs. Andrew Sharp believe, no, they had canoes, they came from the West, from Melanesia, but they didn’t have the intelligence to navigate more than 100 miles. Her name was Katharine Luomala. Gives him the two books. Says, read these books, they’re wrong, change it. Takes a decade to make a phone call to this man. Herb Kawainui Kane, a painter, an artist, a historian that could see. He was in Chicago, he’s from Hawaii. The phone call went to Chicago, not to Hawaii, ’cause you’ve been talk about voyaging, and building voyaging canoes. We were so ignorant in there, ’cause we weren’t trained because of schools. We wouldn’t know what you’re talking about. But these two men came together, made a dream, and built a vehicle, next slide. And they talked about the Pacific quickly. We need to go really fast. Polynesia, common people, common blood type, all that. Triangle, ten million square miles, three times the size of the continental United States, and yet, if you exclude the land mass of Aotearoa, add up all the tiny islands in there, you can fit them all into 1/3 the state of New York. 600 times more water than land, this is an ocean, people. And we’re trying to figure out the ocean puzzle. How did they do it, next slide. The vehicle, hokule’a. Hoku, star, le’a means gladness. It’s a name that comes out of our creation chant. And we don’t know anything. And I’d like to go in these stories, the first day of sailing was just a disaster. But this canoe was on the beach, and I was there. It was Hawaiian, it was powerful, it was elegant. It was beautiful, and it was challenged. Next slide. Who’s in the navigator? No navigators in Polynesia, extinct, they’re gone. Micronesia. There were six masters, he’s the youngest. So long story, but leadership found him. Asked him to consider sailing a canoe, wasn’t constructed, on a crew that wasn’t selected, go on a voyage six times longer than he ever has been in on a canoe, eight times bigger, cross the equator onto southern stars he’s never seen, and lose the North Star. And he said yes. (audience laughing) Could barely speak English, and his name is Pius Mau Piailug. Youngest and greatest navigator ever. Next slide. That’s his island, Satawal. Sea level rising matters in Micronesia. This is our school, our island, where they kept the navigation alive for 3,000 years. He is the last, that’s extinction, next. This would be his challenge. Hawaii in the top, Tahiti in the bottom, Stand on Waikiki beach. Imagine you can see the East side of Hawaii, the west side of, I’m sorry, Tahiti, and the west side of Tahiti, 2400 miles ago. That’s less than one degree, and find it with the wave and the star and the sea bird. Next slide. That’s the imaginary sail plan he needed to do. Winds, world’s two biggest wind systems, most consistent colliding equatorial area called the doldrums, high evaporation rates, lift warm moist air aloft, cloudiest and rainiest space on Earth. Hard to see the stars, next slide. That’s them, first voyage in 600 years. A lot of fear, a lot of challenge, but there was purpose, next slide. Arrival. Papeete, I was there, not on the canoe. Flown down, had to climb the monkeypod tree to see the canoe, true story. (audience laughing) Had to ask children, get off the stern of the canoe in English, because they were kind of sinking it. There was so much just innate connection of a culture that maintains their language and their orators. This canoe was theirs, and Mau Piailug and that crew, in a single voyage, would change everything. I know the power of the one, that this would change the books, it would change the movies, but it would change the heart and soul of Pacific people, knowing that they’re part of the largest nation on Earth. That they come from great navigators. Everything that we know now, is what drove self-esteem, self-worth, and I think that depression that comes with the absence of that, is the greatest chronic disease we have in this country that’s never really recognized. Next slide. And then, the other miracle. He had come back for three decades to train us. Don’t have time to go into it, but so it was not just the navigator, but it was the teacher that changes the world by teaching you something else that society denies. Next slide. Yep, he would give our dreams back. He would show us the way, he would stay with us. And do know, there’s a thousand other teachers, too, that helped us find our way. Next slide. Yeah, and we would sail far. Next slide, I’m going fast. We would do all of Polynesia, and as far up to the West Coast, as far west as Japan, as far north as Alaska, and as far south as Aotearoa, New Zealand, for about 13 voyages over about 35 years. Next slide. How am I doing on time, you gonna kick me off yet? Okay. You have, five minutes. That’s how much time I got left, yeah? Okay. Best friend, (speaking foreign language), he’s from the dirt of Hawaii. He’s Hawaii’s second astronaut into space, fighter pilot. He’s a lead pilot in the Thunderbirds. Best in the world. Lieutenant Colonel Lacy Veach. Long, long story, but he was my mentor, my teacher, my inspiration about, Katy, exploration, and why it’s so important. Next slide. He loved hokule’a. He just believed this is the essence of exploration. Next slide. But he was a shuttle pilot, and he was a mission specialist. He flew. He’s crazy, next slide. (audience laughing) Yeah, just by coincidence, we’re come up around, by coincidence, long story, but we’re coming up from around Tonga, from the Pacific Arts festival. Just by coincidence, he’s in Columbia, 1992. We’re going four miles an hour, he’s going six miles a second. Then he conjures up, gets his engineers to hook up communications to us in the canoe, next slide, ’cause he believed in helping children want to learn and explore. So here he is in there, in Columbia, FCS 52, talking to about 35,000 school kids, from a canoe, and from Columbia, next slide. And he was kinda crazy guy. That is cockpit window, edge of the earth in the top. This is the island of Hawaii. If you want a place to test how to be sustainable, it’s here. Lacy knew that. That’s kinda a little red dot on the edge of the Mauna Kea, a place called Keanakakoi. That stone that you see floating in heavy, stone-sharp zero gravity, he smuggled on board, put it in the picture, took the picture, Nainoa, I have a present for you, I’ll bring it back from space. And it was about this way to solve the problems on the earth. Who solves it? In Lacy’s mind, it’s everybody. And he said, this adds, it came from Keanakakoi, 12,500-foot elevation, it was the best stone next to the green stone of New Zealand, because 35,000 years ago, when there was a glacier on Mauna Kea, eruptions, super cold, the rock was very dense, but that is a tool to build voyaging canoes. And he said, you need to marry it and couple it with the power of technology, but what navigates technology? Good, kind, compassionate human values. Bring them together, solve the problem, next slide. Now, we would take one date, cross it off on our calendar books that drive our lives, and say this day is coupled, this day, nobody touches this day, meet you in Hilo, rent a car, illegally drive up to the slopes of Mauna Loa, onto the black lava, absorbs all light, bring the stars close, let’s dream about how can we bring ancient wisdom, science, and technology together. Change education, change education, change education. It was amazing times, and then except, next slide. When we talk about the island, and you talk about what’s happening. You talk about that there’s so many issues, and we can’t figure it out, and then he was like the most optimistic person, Katy, I know, that would just physically get so upset about what we’re doing to the island. He would talk about it’s the only one we got, and that he would talk about, you wanna go Alpha Centauri, the closest star system outside the solar system. Would take you 200,000 years with a shuttle, you gotta have enough power to stop it, turn around, and 200,000 years back. And so he says, this is the only one we got. Why don’t we take care of it? But when he talked about not having the solution, he’d physically get so upset, I would have to hold him on the lava rock, and settle him down, next slide. Yeah, he just said, you know, we’re changing the earth. It’s changing us, and he said, and we don’t even know. How do you navigate to a place you don’t know? Next slide. He loved his home, he believed that here is the place. Long story. It’s a laboratory for figuring out every challenge, have energy, food sovereignty, all the myriad of things we can. We can solve it here, Native Hawaiian’s already solved the food issue in the past. And this is the school, he said, Hawaii needs to become laboratory, the school, to learn how to live well in our islands. Then you have the best gift for humanity. It’s called peace, verbatim, from my friend. Next slide. Then we would lose him. Lympho melanoma, 1995. He should be here, not me. But I’m here for him. Next slide. He planted the seed of an idea, the power of the idea. He says, you can’t protect what you don’t understand. You won’t if you don’t care. And you can’t do it by yourself. You need to build relationships, that’s why I’m here. Take hokule’a around the world. You need to learn about the earth, to be able to be knowledgeable to make good decisions. Go around the world, meet humanity, and find out if its culture is still kind and compassionate. His definition of the global culture is not about race, is not about the boundaries of geography, or nationalism. It’s about values. And I’ve heard that over and over again yesterday. What are the values, do we care enough about taking care of the earth? And then he said, and then he just said, you can’t do it by yourself, meet people. And 1992, next slide. 1992, he plants the seed. For 16 years, we would get together, leadership, every year annually, and the voyaging community. We would talk about the power of the vision, the idea, the power of the idea. But then when we went to, let’s talk about danger. Hurricane, or pirate, or the mosquito, or human violence, or the rogue wave with South Africa. This whole long, long list about why it’s so dangerous. Every time we would vote no, we’re not gonna go. It’s too dangerous, except Lacy told us, you need to listen to the new language on the earth. Climate change. Being unsustainable. And the ocean’s hypoxia, dead zones, acidifications. All this language you don’t know, Nainoa, but you need to listen. We lose him in ’95. April 1st, 2008, we had a meeting with leadership in Hawaii. The question, listening to the language and changing our thoughts about what are we responsible, really responsible for. What we really need to be is good parents. We need take care of our children, protect them. That meeting was not about whether we should go around the world or not. The question was, what’s more dangerous? The pirate, hurricane, the rogue wave, or staying tied to the dock? Be knowledgeable and do nothing, and tell your kids that you knew, but didn’t act. So we voted four times, was unanimous, ’cause we had to be. If we’re not together on this, we’re not gonna make it. Next slide. But we would prepare a hokule’a. 18 months, 32,000 man hours of volunteer time. Young people, next. We’d train the young. This is not my world, it’s theirs. And so we trained new captains, new navigators. In a way that they are an investment down the road. What if we change the schools tomorrow? In 20 years from p20, where would we be, if schools were about protecting the earth. Next slide. Built a second canoe called Hikianalia. It was launched on September 15, 2012. It’s bigger than hokule’a. It’s our escrow boat, it’s our medical platform, it’s our safety platform, it’s our documentation, education platform. She’s powered by the wind and the sun. Two sails, we have 240 square feet of solar panel, and six big lithium batteries, and two electric engines. So we tried to go around the world with no carbon footprint. Didn’t work. We did about half of it with this canoe. Next. Sail plan, those are the dates. Summary, 37 months, 42,000 miles, 18 countries, 232 ports, and 222 crew members, which are all volunteers. Over that time period, it was a long trip. Extraordinary trip, next slide. Yeah, 11 Pacific Island nations, but we had crew members from Japan, we had crew members from India, we had crew members from many of the other countries in the world, next slide. And we left. Head west, until you come home. What’s more dangerous? Staying tied to the dock. Yep, it’s way more dangerous. Next slide. 50% of the trip, we navigated without instruments. We gave it to the young. Next slide. First port of call was Tahiti for permission from our elders. Next. We’d be in Samoa, and the Secretary General would join us for a sail, and, Ban Ki-moon. In that bottle, he had a personal note saying that he would commit 227 countries United Nations to support focusing on the oceans. I mean, back then, there was no focus on the oceans. It’s unbelievable to even imagine that, and yet, so we committed to bringing the bottle back, and collect support from the countries we see. So next slide. Aotearoa, New Zealand, next. New Zealand, Manaiakalani, the ports of all the communities in New Zealand. Cluster 11 schools, 2,400 students. They all came down, chanted. Manaiakalani is not Maori, it’s Hawaiian. It’s a starline in the sky. They borrowed that starline and said, let’s study the heavens and study navigation, but let’s teach it through technology. So it’s bringing together the power of them being grounded and knowing who they are and where they come from, being proud, and being involved in the rest of the world. These children are being taught to navigate, go anywhere in the world, but they know where home is. Next slide. Australia, next. Reef Guardian Schools, 300 of them. So Katy, optimism. It’s here. 300 schools today, Reef Guardian Schools. 275,000 students, 776 teachers. I mean, 7,760 teachers. They are clear about what’s important. What’s the purpose of schools? Why do we send our children to school? Their purpose is clear. Protect the largest and oldest single-ecological living system on the earth called the Great Barrier Reef. You go there, they got your finger, a little kid and you’re gonna, kinda holding your hand, and take you to where they’re replanting corals, and in their labs and their algaes, and fish stocks, and wounded sea birds and turtles. Wow. That’s optimistic. Next slide. And then we would go, we’d go to the islands that are, you know, Pacific Islands have 1% of the population there. Not even that, and nothing to do with climate change, but suffering the most first. We know, been there. Wanna be optimistic, but we gotta be real, next slide. But we dove, you know. And understand, if this is the top of the food chain, wow, that’s a healthy place. Next slide. And then we would be there in Indonesia, where you could walk on the floating rubbish. It’s so bad! And yet, Hawaii and Indonesia, because of the voyage, is now trying to work on this issue of waste to power. So I don’t know, plant seeds. We try, next. Africa, problem. How do you get around it, there’s no Panama Canal. There’s a Suez, but you gotta go past Yemen, and Somalia, the Red Sea, and it’s the times when they have the refugees from Syria, it was really rough time up there. So the human and violence issue is one issue. Or, go around the south side of Africa, and you end up in some of the most dangerous oceans in the world. We’re three feet off the water, rogue wave, you die. We did the research, you die, there’s no way out of it. And so, next. Start in Mauritius, came around Madagascar, would like to tell you these stories, we’re out of time. Mozambique, next slide. Yeah, it was a rough trip, next slide. Yep, it was an awesome trip. It was the longest voyage. It took 61 days to go 900 miles, ’cause we had to hide from cold fronts every three days, next slide. Yeah, this picture is just about this Agulhas Current issue, western boundary current, and strong southeast winds, southwest winds, rogue wave. That’s one issue, but on the other, Katy, about optimism. We came around Agulhas Point at night, and the National Geographic actually has, I mean, I’m sorry, NOAA actually has a photograph from space on a satellite, of this gyre that was 1,000 miles across, that is clockwise-rotating, and it’s all plankton. So bright and so brilliant, it shows up from space. And we went through that place, and then the next day, went up round to Cape Town. Just is super pods of whales, unbelievable. There are these sanctuaries on the earth that where life is still intact and powerful. That is one of them, next slide. Cape Town. Next slide. I wish I had time to tell stories, I don’t. Yep. Came to Hawaii in 2013, Archbishop Desmond Tutu prayed for the canoe. And if we made it in 2015, he would be there. He couldn’t walk that day. It’s a long story. But when the children from Africa played music, he jumped up and danced with them in the streets. Next slide. And with our Hawaiian children. It was the most beautiful day. That day, I knew this voyage was worth the risk. Next slide. We chose the everglades over Miami to take the first photograph when we come back into our country. Next slide. Went to the home of my friend where we trained, next. Saw many people came and talk to me about what an amazing man this was, next. New York, next. Gave the bottle back. (audience laughing) 18 countries signed on to a pledge, collectively, to protect the oceans, next slide. Panama, next slide. The first time we would touch the Pacific again, over two years. We’re heading to a special first island in the Pacific, next slide, the Galapagos. Humanity has 1% of the land, permission in 1% of the oceans. Nature has 99%. Next. It was just amazing being there, next. And we navigate. Not me, I’m too old, young people. Next. To Rapa Nui, be the first island we would enter in back into our home called Polynesia. Next. Then we would come home to Hawaii. The news guys called me up, and said, hey, you need to know, there’s two statistics. One, doesn’t really matter. By far, this is the largest viewed event in Hawaiian history. Secondly, the statistics are that the vast majority of the viewership wasn’t from Hawaii. We’re getting there, next. Oh, I still got two minutes. Let me tell you a story. My teacher trained me, I navigated down to Tahiti back in 1980, 6,000 miles. And luckily, we bumped into islands and we found our way home. He sits down with me. The day he’s gonna go home. He stayed with me for over two years, and we trained every day in the ocean. Every day, it was a rule. We touch salt water every day. And he goes, okay, Nainoa, you did okay. You bumped into these islands, good job. And you did okay, then he said, I give you everything. And the ocean, the ocean show you everything, but it’ll be 20 years before you see. If you want someone to know navigation in Hawaii, send your son, you’re too old. He’s right, I can’t be him, and that’s why, this is not a statement of humility. I know, I mean, the education school of, I’m in second grade, compared to him who is a master. He said, my grandfather choose me when I was one. And he put me in tide pool to play, to hear the sea bird, to touch the wind. Smell your island, smell the oceans. And at an old age of five, he was voyaging already. His grandfather put him on the voyaging canoe. He said, yeah, Nainoa, when the wave make the canoe go up and down, I’d get sick. And so my grandfather tie my hands, throw me overboard, five years old, and drag me behind the canoe. Try do that in your public school system over here. (audience laughing) But he spoke of great love for his grandfather, and the point was, he says, Nainoa, my grandfather throw me in the ocean, so I can go in the wave. When I go in the wave, I become the wave. When I become the wave, then I’m navigator. The world needs navigators that know nature, to protect it. And you gotta start young. A whole ‘nother generation, but you gotta change schools. Next slide. We’re gonna go, a longer voyage. It’s from the Arctic, to the Equator, to the Antarctic. We’re gonna start with really good friends. This is a star compass, the starlines that we hold, that houses all our stars, rising and setting, and we put it on the middle of the Pacific. We raise ourselves through Google Earth, up to sea. When can we see Chile, along with China, and Antarctica, and Alaska. You gotta go 40,000, not feet, miles up. 1/5 of the distance to the moon, to see the edges of the Pacific. It’s big, and so we are gonna do a voyage with our friends from Alaska, and go clockwise around the Pacific. It’ll be 44,000 miles, 38 months, 47 countries and archipelagos. Just to do one thing, collect stories. Educate the world, remove ignorance. Build relationships. And so, it’s to protect the oceans, because we believe that the oceans, if you look at the consequences, if you don’t. The chemistry of the atmosphere, the biology of the earth, and life on earth, what’s gonna happen to culture, and climate, and ecology. So we’re focusing on that, doing what we can. Next slide. It’s my last slide, and I know I’m late. Katy, you talked about the importance of exploration, and you talked about speaking about the oceans. And you talked about the importance of teaching the young. But you talked about the issue of optimism. I get scared. I got two twin nine-year-olds at home, that I hate to leave my house. But I do that fundamentally for them. But there are days when I’m not optimistic. When you look at the raw data, if you look at the raw data, and how we behaved yesterday, it’s not gonna work. The arithmetic is not gonna work. Change is required. And it’s those chronic days where I get so depressed, I can’t even function. I don’t believe I can be optimistic, unless I know what depression is. That I can measure it against that. And it’s when I look at what makes things optimistic, is because our whole world has changed. These conferences would not even exist 10 years ago. This room would be empty. We wouldn’t even have come together. 20 years ago, the ocean wasn’t even an environmental factor. Nobody cared. We went to sail to San Francisco, to the Global Climate Change in San Francisco with Governor Brown, and others, and they made the comment, it’s the first time we ever put the oceans on the agenda. And it’s barely made it to the United Nations, but look at where it is now. That we’re one, we’re so much more knowledgeable now, that we have the ability to make better choices. That what we’re teaching to the many, the scales across the world, there’s very different, there’s a whole ‘nother language of renewal that’s coming from extinction. That’s optimistic. And the fact that this little blue island, just my humble perspective, is just infinitely, extraordinarily beautiful when you value life, and you see it in its best. The other thing that makes it optimistic for me, and there’s many, many things. Activism, it’s happening, is it enough? If you add up today, probably not. But don’t add up today, add up tomorrow. ‘Cause it’s growing exponentially. We went around the world to find out if humanity is still kind, ’cause if it’s not, it’s over. And what we found is thousands of strangers everywhere. I don’t know you folks, but in some ways, I don’t need to know you. On a worldwide voyage, we met strangers, making, doing, being, working, giving everything to the worst of the slums they live in, to the places that have the most degraded environments, to places that have the most beautiful environments, and watersheds, and coral reefs, and streams. I mean, look at the new maps, even on this East Coast United States. We were just so blown away coming up here in 2015, about what everybody’s doing here. So, what I see is a second renaissance for us. The first was cultural. Bring back pride and dignity. The second is go take care of the earth. And what I’ve seen is around the world, that makes it so optimistic that I can get up and function, is when the growing community, this culture of thousands of strangers I don’t know, that are doing things every time some individual does some act of kindness and goodness, and care and love for something in their place, they’re doing it for all of us. I believe that humanity is on the greatest movement, collectively ever. Even though they’re strangers, even though it’s not organized, even though it’s disorganized, and you should never try to institute kindness. But believe that every time someone does some act of kindness, they’re not just doing it for themselves. They’re doing it for all of us. So essentially says, be a part of the movement. It’s the greatest voyage ever. And so to Katy, thank you. I’m not just honored to be here, I need to be here. On behalf of my children. I think this room, even though you’re strangers, are just the epitome, and the microcosm of the movement. I heard it yesterday, powerful ideas. Courage, strengths. Everybody doing their part, and when you add it up, it’s the greatest voyage ever. So to all of you in this room, thank you. (audience applauding)
For everything you do. We’ve got props, so just a minute. (laughs) Geoff’s is.
Is Hansi? What?
Hansi. Oh, hi! Good morning, everybody, and welcome to the Create panel. My name’s Alexis Hope. I’m a designer and researcher here at the Media Lab. My research group is called the Center for Civic Media, and we focus on technology for social change, and social purpose. One of our main missions is to broaden participation in technology design, so to kind of open up the walls of this place. So I’m really thrilled to be here as part of this conversation we’re all having about how to also broaden participation in scientific discovery and exploration. And I think one powerful way to open up a conversation is with our hands, and through making things, and through the arts. So we have a panel of four amazing artists of all stripes, who work across many different mediums, and we’ve all brought some fun things to share with us today. So I’m gonna introduce everyone first, and then we’ll get right into it. Hansi Singh, to my left, is a knitter of undersea oddities. She makes hyperrealistic, and beautiful, creatures. Aww!
Very awesome. She’s also a scientist. She researches Earth’s climate systems, and she uses her art as a vehicle for pushing people towards action and conversation. We have Geoff Shelton, who’s a filmmaker, and documentarian. He serves as the primary documentarian for the band, OK Go, who you may be familiar with their fantastical and complex music videos. He also runs, he produces, directs, and edits, and shoots all of their educational content on OK Go Sandbox, so that will involve taking a four-second shot from one of the music videos, and blowing it up into a four-minute clip that explains the math and physics that went behind making that particular part of the video, so it’s super cool. We have Whitney Cornforth, who is coming to us from here at MIT. Whitney studied naval engineering, and marine engineering here at MIT. And while he was here, he discovered glassblowing, and then after graduating, decided to kind of switch gears, and pursue his passion as a full-time glassblower, which anytime somebody switches gears in that way, it’s super inspiring to me, and these are some of his pieces here. So let’s hear more about, he also teaches at the MIT Glass Lab here. And then we have Daniel Kohn, whose work is at the Crossroads of Art and Science. And he served as a artist in residence at the Broad Institute, which is a biomedical and genomic research institute around here. And his work currently centers on the ocean, and is exploring the question of whether or not the ocean has memories. It’s a very good question. So I think we’re gonna start with Daniel, who has an additional prop that will be coming up here. Then we’re gonna go to you after him. Oh, I’m after him?
Yeah. Okay. Hi, everyone. So I’m gonna try and read and talk and draw at the same time, which is what we do. We make meanings with stories, and I wanna tell you a story about our senses, and what kind of questions artists bring to research, like does the ocean have memory? (chalk scraping) One of the tools we use to measure the world is this. We stand on a ball of earth, massive enough to exert gravitation, in a universe, where gravitation exists. So this means, I’m standing on the earth. Our view of the world is intensely connected to our biological history. We stand on our feet, but also in our minds. We’re oriented towards the sun, and think in enlightenment and dark ages. We stand on the earth, and think in ups and downs. We walk on surfaces, see surfaces, and handle objects with our opposable thumbs. And we’ve built a world made of objects. This has actually enabled the wonders of science, but also led us to see the world as largely inanimate, therefore as to dispose of as we please. But we’re beginning to understand that the world is one, (chalk scraping) and that we are part of it, and it of us. And that this world is actually made up in a large part, of ocean. And we’re all here to talk about that water. Yet, is it enough to look, in order to see? Most people know intellectually that the ocean lies below the surface. It’s not surface, but actually, volume. In fact, it’s mostly in between. That’s not normal for us. And this between (chalk scraping) quickly becomes very dark and pressurized, blinding our primary sense, sight, and crushing our bodies. So in order to see the ocean, we may have to shift our point of view. Not just shed light on it, but perhaps even leave light behind, and find other ways to hear, touch, sense, smell. We may have to retune. Many of us think of water as without content. A place a erasure, a solvent to wash away our dirt, our sins. We have so few words for water, so little sense of it. But to a marine organism, water must be so rich with meaning, so full of structure, information, like pressure, chemical makeup, salinity. And all of these things are continuous life flow, they’re experience. So I colead a project called the Ocean Memory Project, which seeks to leverage this kind of space of meaning by bringing people together from across many different disciplines and points of view. And we see memory as a dynamic and predictive process. The learning from past events, to understand future outcomes, to predict them. We see memory as a core component of life. An ocean memory encourages us to think of the ocean as made up of living elements, both biotic and abiotic, in gene and geology, in stasis and flow. At the surface, in the column, and even below the crust. Stories are being made and told. So to finish my own story here, we need as a culture to walk back to the water’s edge, to dive in. And imagine and research what happens to our senses. How does one perceive in the dark? Can sound help you? What about chemoreception, magnetorecption, lateral lines? And how do these senses cohere into meaning? So I’d like to say it again. Memory is a predictive process. The learning from past events to predict future outcomes. So we think, we need to hear the memories of life in the ocean, in the hope that they will help us move into our own uncertain future. So the group we’re a part of is currently 25 people, and there are five of them in the room with us today, so I’d love them to stand up. Lisa D’Amour is a playwright. Julie Huber is a benthic microbiologist. Jonathon Berger is a composer. Rebecca Rutstein is an artist, and Tim Weaver is a biomedia artist. If ocean memory speaks to you in any way, please talk to them, or you could visit us at oceanmemoryproject.org, and you can contact us that way. And I look forward to the discussion afterwards. Thank you all. (audience applauding) Wonderful, we’re gonna go with Hansi next. Do you have slides? I do.
Yeah, great. I do. Okay. This is on? Awesome, thank you for having me. I feel really honored to be here. So I’m gonna talk a little bit today about sort of my own, sort of approach to exploring the ocean through art. And so this is about knitting the ocean, which is kind of strange, but (laughs) it works. The ocean has this ability to awe us, to make us feel wonder. This is my son when he was five, running about the Seattle Aquarium with his little digital camera, feeling this awe. In fact, we used to spend so much time at the Seattle Aquarium, that we were also featured in their annual newsletter, as in, the family that never leaves the aquarium. (audience laughing)
Like, are they really octopuses, did they just transfigure or something, what’s going on, why are they always here every time I turn around? So the aquarium has always been a big thing for us, and it’s been a big part of my life in how I connect with the ocean. This is the Seattle Aquarium. But it was also a really good way to really in depth, look at ocean life. And so it was sort of that that inspired me to say, well, if I can look at it, and it’s so cool, and it has all of these amazing shapes, then why can’t I knit it? So I did, I did. So this was a period of time in my life. I had just had my first child, and I sort of didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. This was sort of my pre-science life. And so I was like, I’m just gonna see what yarn and needles, and some fiberfill can do, and it can do a lot of neat things. I’m really, I like anatomical accuracy, so I like my creatures to kind of really look like what the actual creatures look like. But at the same time, I like to be able to see the stitches. I don’t want the stitches to just disappear, I want it to be really clear that like, this is a cuttlefish, but this is not a cuttlefish, right? So (laughing), I like to sort of emphasize the medium as well, and so I think it’s kind of a really fun medium in which to sort of explore how shape and form give rise to these amazing lifeforms that we can capture in other media. So when I initially started this, I just sort of thought, oh, I’m just gonna follow a normal artist’s model, right, which is like, you make things, and you show them in galleries, and then people buy them from you, and then maybe you get some acclaim or whatever. But even as I started showing things online, and having art shows, people were always at me to like, please, can I have the pattern for this? Can I have the knitting pattern? Can you write me the directions? The, essentially, the knitting codes that I can now look at and, you know, remake what you’ve made with my own hands. And so actually, that became the focus of Hansigurumi, which was the little arts company that I had, which was to make knitting patterns for people, of ocean life, so they could craft the ocean for themselves. So it was through that that I wrote this book, and shared my patterns. So it’s not easy to make an octopus, so (laughing) here are some of the steps. And these are just the pictorial steps. There’s lots of lines and numbers and things, right? It’s kind of like computing code, where you kind of wish you had a compiler, but really, the compiler are the people that are knitting your pattern, so it’s kinda hard to tell what will happen until they knit them, right? But you know, you can see that with some ability to follow directions, yarn and needles, and some persistence and patience, you, too, can knit an octopus. So yeah, that’s exciting. Or a nautilus, like this one. Or, and you can see over here, so these are some of Katy’s works from my patterns. And so one really cool thing is, right, as soon as I started publishing these patterns, suddenly online, there would be like, you know, hundreds of blogs that would show up with people knitting stuff, like from my patterns. And yeah, right! An angler fish, right? And not only that, but the angler fish has a little light, and I’m not sure how to turn it on, Katy.
Squeeze the pectoral fins. Oh, well then!
(audience laughing) That is, can you do it? I don’t know, I’m not squeezing them right. At the same time. Oh!
Oh, oh! At the same time! Oh, there it goes, okay. (audience gasping)
(Hansi laughing) (audience applauding)
Very good. (Hansi laughing) And that’s the thing, right? I never, oh, oh, and she even put a parasitic male on it. (audience laughing)
Which is pretty awesome. So the thing is about this, is that I (laughing), I know, some people love that, right? So I never had this idea of like, oh, why can’t I put a light in it, right? I mean, this is kind of the thing that people just come up with. You give them directions for something, and they just go wild, so that’s pretty awesome, and so I think that really, in terms of my knitting, like that is the way that it has really, you know, helped bring art into people’s homes, and bring the ocean into people’s homes. It’s through their own experience crafting the ocean, and their own take on it. So this is a nautilus in my living. It’s this sort of beautiful spring day in Seattle, the window’s open there, it’s kind of late afternoon, and it’s kind of getting a little dark, the shadows are longer. And there’s a nautilus hovering over the dining room table, and the big question that this brings up, is like, how can we bring the ocean so deeply into our lives, into our metaphorical living rooms? And one way is through art. I think art is really powerful here. So I actually work as a scientist. I usually talk to scientists, I present at big conferences and things. But I don’t think science is really the way to do this. Like I think really art has a big part to play in how people really feel and get close to, you know, the ocean and what it means to them. So yeah, I just wanna end with that question, how do we bring the ocean into our lives in a central way? Thank you. (audience applauding) You have whatever to. Geoff’s up next. Hey, everybody. My name is Geoff Shelton. I’m a filmmaker, I make films related to everything from documentaries, feature films, promos, music videos. But today, I’m gonna talk mostly about the work that I do with the rock band, OK Go. I didn’t have the privilege of being here yesterday, unfortunately, but I was told that they came up in relation to Two Bit Circus, and the work that they did with their music video using cause-effect machines, or Rube Golberg machines. So I started working with OK Go in 2012. I was hired to record their process recording their album, and we all became very close friends, because the studio was in the middle of nowhere in upstate New York. You had to cook, sleep, and make music, all in one enclosed place, so it was basically sink or swim, to use a ocean joke or pun. (audience laughing) That’s all I got. (audience laughing)
(laughs) As you see here, if you aren’t familiar with OK Go, they are known, very much, for making these insane, elaborate music videos. Pictured here is a music video that they did on a parabolic flight. The music video, if you watch it, appears to be happening entirely in microgravity. If you pay close attention, or watch some of the videos that I made to show the process, you’ll see that there is actually a up and down in different sections of the music video. So as a result of working with them, we did a music video all around optical illusions, and we did this music video, Upside Down & Inside Out. And through working with them, we kind of got into a pattern of making a whole bunch of supplementary behind the scenes videos that explain a lot of the processes that go into making their music videos. So of course, their music videos being as elaborate as they are, something like working in microgravity, something like using Rube Golberg machines, and as she explained, we have a music video that they did that was shot in about a little over four seconds, but was shot with high-speed cameras, so it folds out into four minutes. These music videos have been used in classrooms, and maybe there’s people in here that have used them. Teachers were coming up to the band a lot, and saying, you know, I’m using your music videos in classrooms. How can we build on this? And so fortunately, a professor at the University of St. Thomas in Saint Paul, Minnesota, has a organization called the Playful Learning Lab. Her name is Dr. AnnMarie Thomas, and she spoke with Damian, who is kind of the lead of the band, lead singer, and they came up with the idea of creating OK Go Sandbox. So OK Go Sandbox, right now, is a platform online, it’s free for everybody. It’s geared mostly toward teachers, and it’s for teachers to use the music videos as entry points into teaching. So they use the music videos to teach everything from how frame rates work in cameras, what is the physics of falling objects, how do you make flip books? Creating your own cause-effect machine, but using the arts in a way to incorporate that learning process. So next slide, or I just do that, cool. So this is a little still from the The One Moment music video, which is all shot with high-speed cameras. And just to give you a little sense of what OK Go Sandbox is, I have a video here. This will have sound, just so you know. Or maybe not. (audience laughing) We can skip it if it’s not working, okay. (laughs)
(“The One Moment” by OK Go) Okay Go Sandbox is a website where teachers can engage with the content of OK Go’s music videos, and use them in their classrooms for challenges, and to start discussions about things like art, and math, and science. Right now, we know that there are teachers out there who are using our art to actually do something really good in the world, and that’s such a rare and wonderful thing, that we just want to help it. We want to do anything we can to be part of that process. It’s an honor to have teachers continue on with the videos and the artwork that we make. I think the real life application of science is what our kids need to see. Far too often, they see what happens within four walls, and don’t see the relevance of the science, technology, engineering, mathematics in the real world. This is a project done with teachers. Teachers have been part of it at every step. I can’t go out and produce these amazing videos, but I, as a teacher, know what to do with them when you give them to me. We’re trying to write tools for teachers, so they can bring some joy and some wonder into their classroom. I’ve never had lessons so engaging before, you know, all the way through. It broadens the spectrum of people who would otherwise be less interested in science. I don’t have kids that aren’t into it. To take math and science off the page and into the world, in a way that kids can see that, it’s fun, and it’s creative, and it’s worth engaging in. I think by having this sort of content, that comes from the place that students really care about, and turn that into fun, educational activities that the teachers find useful, and for us, that’s a perfect blend. These things we’ve made, the world is actually using them for good! Let’s keep it going! (rock music) So what does that have to do with the ocean? Nothing directly, (audience laughing)
but basically, I think that the reason I was invited here is because what we’re doing is specializing in teaching complex things in math and science, making them entertaining and engaging for young people, as well as adults. So hopefully we’ll continue to do that, and we’ll do our best to try and eventually get the band to do a music video in the ocean. (audience laughing) (audience applauding) Are you ready? Good morning, I need to start with an apology. I don’t have beautiful slides and videos. That’s mostly because I wanted to share with you some of my newest work, which I’ve literally just been completing this week. So this morning, I set up some glass outside, while people were eating breakfast. Those pieces will be up throughout the day. There’s a couple pieces out there, all of my work is very ocean-influenced. It’s all blown glass. There’s a couple pieces out there that are reminiscent of kelp moving in the sea currents. There’s a couple pieces that have a shell-like design and shape. And then a few others that are just more inspired by the colors of the ocean, and they do a little bit to try to capture some of the movement. As a little bit as why I ended up here today, as my mom loves to tell people, I spent my childhood messing about in boats on the coast of Maine. I spent my summers on Deer Isle in Penobscot Bay, and in addition to tons of rowing and sailing, I spent countless hours exploring tide pools, and you know, usually sandy and damp, and kind of disgusting, you know, looking for sea creatures, and climbing over barnacle-covered rocks. And all that time spent doing those activities, and listening to the birds, and the waves, and looking out at the colors of the light on the water, was extremely formative to me. So it was kind of no wonder I ended up here at MIT, studying Ocean Engineering. What was really shocking, though, was discovering glassblowing while I was here. Something about the heat, and the fire, and the intensity, and the power of working with molten glass just totally hooked me. So when I finished my master’s degree in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, I decided to become a full-time glassblower. (audience laughing) And then, so for about the last nearly 20 years now, I’ve spent that time in Boston, working at shops, and working here at MIT teaching glassblowing, and helping other artists make their glasswork. Throughout all that time, I’ve been making my own work, and working on my own skillset, and my own, sort of glass vocabulary, if you will. At the time I made that decision to become a glassblower, it seemed fairly insane. I’ve never been particularly artistic, and I’d just spent all this time in engineering school. But now looking back on it, I recognize that there were some very strong connections to working with glass, and all that time I spent looking out at the water over the years. To me, glass has a million similarities to the ocean. They both have this amazing ability to be both transparent and opaque, and they do such amazing things with the light, constantly bending it and filtering it, refracting it, reflecting it. It’s just so mind-boggling to me. Recently, I had a glass mentor who was watching me shape a piece, and commented, the piece wasn’t ocean-related at all, but he commented as the shape was developing, that the ocean is in everything that you make. I didn’t really think about it too much at the time, but reflecting back on it later, I realized just how true that actually is for me. And it sort of started to define a direction that I’ve been taking my work a little bit more ever since. For me, the ocean is just an endless source of ideas and inspiration from colors, to the patterns and textures. People don’t often think of texture in glass, but for me, I think that’s something that’s incredibly important. It’s not just something to be looked at, it’s something to be experienced and touched and felt. I’ve got a couple pieces here that I just finished, that are obviously very reminiscent of seashells, but they’re largely about the texture, not just the patterns and the designs, but it’s the textures within that are so interesting to me. You know, so I’m always looking at the ocean, and getting ideas, whether it’s from the plants and animals, and their structures and forms. Like I said, the colors, or even just the water itself, and the way it moves, and trying to capture some of that movement. I could never, as I’ve tried to sort of make work that’s from the ocean, I can’t try to replicate it and do justice to what nature does, but I constantly borrow ideas, and try to use glass in ways that captures some of that feeling that the ocean evokes. In addition to being an engineer-turned-artist, I am also the father of twin seven-year olds. And I see in my kids, when they get the opportunity to mess around in the water, and explore the water, I just see them totally come alive. There’s clearly this instinctual connection that we all have with the ocean. And it just satisfies us in a way that nothing else can. With the work I make, I feel like adults often see the influence of the ocean in it. But when the kids see that, I feel like that’s when my work is really successful, and I’ve somehow been able to tie into that connection that we have, that fundamental connection we have with the water. So I try to make objects that people like to look at, like to look at and wonder about, and to see and experience, and like I said, to touch and feel the textures. But that all starts with myself, and I need my work to satisfy that for me. And the work that does that the best is the work that has that connection with the water. So thanks very much for your time. These pieces will be back outside with the rest of the work for the rest of the day, if you guys wanna look at stuff a little more carefully. And please, like I said, feel free to touch them. They’re not off-limits. Enjoy, thanks. (audience applauding) Great, I just have one question for you all before I’ll turn it over to the rest of the room. It seems like you’re all sort of forging very new models for being artists, kind of different from this model Hansi was talking about, where you just put something in a gallery, and then hope to sell it, and that’s it. But it struck me that you all have sort of very participatory approaches, where you’re incorporating teaching, and building communities around your work. So I’m just curious about how does that public engagement change or deepen your practice, or make you think differently? And any one of you can take that one. What I do is an incredibly hands-on experience, and I think what connected with me so strongly was that hands-on experience, and the power. I mean, I work in front of a 2,000-degree furnace all the time, so it’s hard for that to not be engaging, and it just, it draws people in, and it opens the door to those conversations, and getting people to work together, and invest in one another. So I think it sort of just naturally fosters community. So it’s an easy one to just ride those coattails. Maybe with the work, specifically, that we’re doing with OK Go, in terms of the community, it’s been great to be a part of a community. I mean, on their music videos, it’s not just the film crew, and the band making a music video. There is engineers, there’s mathematicians, sometimes. There’s Russian cosmonaut trainers. (Alexis laughing)
You know, so you already, every time you go onto the set, you’re already in a new community. And now, with the work that we’re doing with OK Go Sandbox, when I do these original videos for the website, we are always bringing on a teacher. Sometimes we’re bringing in different professionals related to that, to whatever that lesson is. So in the sense of building media projects, it’s just a great experience to always have a community around, creating whatever that end product is. And then of course, the interaction with the people here, and anybody else that views it and wants to talk to me about what they’re doing, and how it relates, so it’s great. Sure. Yeah, the knitting community is just very big and decentralized, which is kind of cool, because, I mean, it’s just, it’s all over the world. So yeah, initially, when I first started putting work out there and then having people be like, well where’s the pattern? (laughing) I was a little bit like, you know. I don’t know, I don’t know. I just, I was not used to this model, right, of everyone making their own work from sort of your directions. But yeah, but now I think, I mean, it’s amazing, because I think that’s what has really just helped propagate this, and if we have this question of like, well, how do you get someone in the Midwest interested in the ocean? Let me tell you, they love octopuses. I don’t know why they love octopuses. I don’t know if they eat them, I mean, yeah, I don’t know. But they love octopuses, so I think, yeah. There’s that way in which when you create a community, you can bring together lots of different type of people that maybe only have one thing in common. Sure, I’ll jump into that, too. So my world kind of opened up when I met a geneticist, and we started talking about art and science, and I realized that my frustration with the art world, and when you meet someone who’s in your domain, you end up talking about your gallery, your paints, you know. If you’re a scientist, maybe your reagents. But if you meet someone with whom you don’t have that common set of concerns, then you talk about the metastructures that join you, so you start talking about the world, and why the world is the way it is, and you start to realize that actually, it’s the same world that you and they live in. And so it really brought me to a real pleasure of encounter, and surprise. And then, thinking about it, really realizing that we’re, we’re in a particular period in history, where we’re starting to see the world as multiple and connected. Whereas in the Newtonian space, we thought that the world existed, and then we just observed it. Now we’re thinking more and more that the world is made up of all of the observations that we can make, and so all of the points of view are relevant, and so when you work, when you meet people, and hear their point of view, it actually enriches the whole world, and yours as well. And so there’s something fundamentally different from just working by yourself. It’s a place where you’re making, you’re walking the road together, and the road becomes, you know, what you can do. It’s very nourishing. Do we have time for, no time for audience questions? I’m sorry you guys (laughing). Thank you all, that was fascinating. And yeah, everyone make sure to check out the glass pieces, and talk to these folks over the break and at lunch. Thank you guys.
(audience applauding) (crowd conversing) Yeah, go ahead. Go announce the group.
Go ahead. Here, let me jump up.
Yeah? Alright, we’re on to a Lightning Talk session, so any Day Two Lightning Talkers, please head over in this direction. We’ll kick it off with Leigh Marsh. Could Luis, Margot, Alexis, Aria, Shana, Zoleka, Harpreet, Sebastian, Anastasia, Andrew, Ernst, Kaitlin, and Mara, please come over here, and we’ll get Lightning Talk started. P.S. I’ve made a Hansi creature for about every friends’ baby I know for the last 10 years. (audience laughing) Okay, yep, yep. Alright, hi everybody. So quickly, I’m gonna talk to you a little bit about some of my research that I’ve been undertaking. Many of you will know that most discovery, origination, exploration are totally unplanned. They result from observing the ocean in a new way, or not using a hypothesis to test for the planned outcome. And that’s exactly what happened here. So this area here on the map is the Clarion-Clipperton zone in the Pacific Ocean, which is an area that’s designated for seafloor mining of polymetallic nodules. Now, because this area is so vast and so deep, the only way we survey this area is by using AUVs, and that’s what that piece of equipment is in the middle. So to look at the seafloor, we can use acoustic sonars, like side-scan sonar. And what that does, it looks at the texture of the seafloor, whether it’s hard or soft, and whether there are any holes or any objects on the seafloor. As you can see, we usually fly at 15 meters altitude, and what that gives us is a relatively uniform seafloor. We can’t really see anything of real interest there. But when we use our camera surveys, we fly the AUV at three meters off the seafloor, and that allows us to look at the nodules itself, look at the animals that are on the nodules, and we can start getting a baseline assessment of what animals are actually there. But one day, what if someone says, well, why do we always put our sonar on at 15 meters? Why don’t we turn it on when it’s at three meters? Maybe we’ll see something different, and everybody on the ship’s like, well, we never usually do that, why would we do it today? But we did! (laughs) So we put the sonar on while we were flying three meters off the seafloor, and because of the low instance angle of the side-scan sonar on the seafloor, we actually started to reveal these holes in the seafloor which from tracks. Now, I counted all these tracks, over 20 kilometers squared of the areas we surveyed within a couple of the licensed areas, and there were over 3,500 of them, and they formed these curvy linear features that kinda look like tracks, like footprints, almost. And they were up to a depth of four and a half thousand meters, which is incredible. And they resembled other marks that had been seen on the seafloor in the Mediterranean, which had been attributed to beaked whales, so like this. No one’s actually directly observed them, but looking at the morphology and the structure of them, that’s our best estimate of what kind of large vertebrate can be causing these marks on the seafloor. Now, to put this all into context, the deepest known whale is a Cuvier’s beaked whale, and it’s tagged to dive down to 2,993 meters. We were observing these at over four and a half thousand meters, which is incredible. So we’re not entirely sure which species of the deep-diving whale could be causing these marks on the seafloor, although this observation is pretty cool. For me, it’s really cool as well, because I think it’s thrown a bit of a spunner in the works, for the mining industry within the Clarion-Clipperton zone. So yeah, keep exploring, ’cause we’ll never know what we’ll find. Thank you.
(audience applauding) Good morning, everyone. I’m geologist, botanologist with the Chilean Geological Survey, now in charge of a new program of Marine Geology and Geophysics. So you know, Chile has a long coastline, more than 8,000 kilometers, and about half of the national territory is under seawater. As part of recent national policy of the oceans, marine protected areas were expanded, and now, about 40% of the exclusive economic zone is under some kind of protection. This is a big, big area. It’s more than California and Texas’s states together. But this protected areas are mostly volcanic in origin, but the knowledge, the basic knowledge about them is still poor. So our recent findings in some of this place, this is the O’Higgins guyot in Juan Fernandez Ridge, opens avenues for ocean explorations, and public engagement with the oceans. Chile as a country, which economy is based on the natural resource, mostly the mining commodities, the link with the earth sciences seems to be more evident, and our strategy is perhaps so from the seafloor, the best knowledge of the seafloor to the surface. Of course, we have small budgets for that, so small budget for science, or technology, or outreach. But we think that there are many things to do, and the good news is that the most of them probably require more creativity than money. So I’m happy to be here and learn about your amazing experiences, and interesting stories about it. So thank you very much. (audience applauding) Good morning, I’m Margot Phillippy, I’m a fluid dynamicist, and today, I want to present to you trajectories of traditional fishermen who sail from Australian coral atolls, to the Timorese Islands. So this dataset I collected when our team did fieldwork in Scott Reef, an atoll system offshore Western Australia. And I was able to go on the cruise, thanks to Joi Ito, so thank you for that, and thank you to the MIT Media Lab for having us here today. So the goal of our work was to look at small-scale sea surface dispersion, and we release drifters, they were made of a PVC pipe that contain a GPS tracker, and attached to a conic sea anchor that is submerged for drag and stabilization. So we deployed this drifters, and shortly after, several of them got picked up by these Indonesian and Timorese fisherman. So at first, I was quite upset, because, well, that was some of my PhD work. But, (laughs) I quickly realized that A, at least these drifters would be reused and repurposed, so that was good. And B, things as simple as a PVC pipe, a plastic sea anchor and GPS trackers were actually of huge values for these fishermen. They live on these traditional sailboats, for month and month at a time, about 12 men per boat. And thanks to GPS trackers they stole, I was able to track them for up to 11 month. (audience laughing) The whole office actually tracked them for 11 month, so all my lab mates were really stoked about that. So they sail from Scott Reef, which is on the Southwestern part, up to the Indonesian Island of Timor and East Timor. East Timor is a country where half the population is illiterate, and half the population live on a dollar a day. So this is a prime example of how coral reef is beautiful ecosystem, but they’re also habitat that provide fish for millions and millions of people around the planet, and these people survive on the fish that they can find in atolls-like Scott Reef. Well, Scott Reef, when I was there two years ago, over 90% of the coral is dead, because of rising temperatures and subsequent bleaching. And sadly, it’s a trend that we see globally. But back to the theme of a bright and optimistic future. Let’s this be motivation to keep working together to find solutions to protect this ecosystems, but also, ensure we have sustainable fisheries for people around the world. Thank you.
(audience applauding) Hi, I am Alexis Weinig, and I’m a PhD student at Temple University. A lot of the work in our lab focuses on how humans are impacting the deep sea. And I was going to stand up here and kind of give you some results from experiments that we ran, but after all this conversation about ocean optimism, and the stereotypical scientist coming to the table with the doom and gloom, I realized that that was generally me, and I didn’t want to share those stories with you right now. So I’m gonna focus on a new project we have called Deep Search, which is off the Southeast coast of the U.S., and the purpose of it is to go out and explore and understand a lot of these ecosystems that are out there. And that’s what this video is from. This is a cruise back in August, where we had a chance to go out, and survey mussel beds, and cold water coral mounds, and canyon habitats. And what we found was incredibly high diversity, and abundance in all of these habitats, many of which were outside of what our predictive habitat models had showed us. So these were in areas that we had not even thought we were gonna find these types of organisms. And this leads us to the idea of exploration before exploitation. So the Southeast U.S. coast is under extreme interest for potential oil and gas exploration, and so it’s incredibly important for us to get out there and explore, before we actually end up exploiting what we didn’t even know was there. So, thank you, and if you wanna talk about experiments, just find me after. (audience applauding) Hi everyone, my name’s Aria. I’m a doctoral student here at MIT in Urban Studies and Planning, and a guest student at the Marine Policy Center at Wood’s Hole. And in my fields, well, I’m studying the ongoing U.N. negotiations that are seeking to develop illegal framework for how we manage our uses of the high seas. And in my field planning, fundamentally, we’re concerned with how to translate knowledge into action. Borrowing from Aristotle, we can talk about three kinds of knowledge. Episteme, which is knowledge of what things are, Techne, which is knowledge of how to do things, and Phronesis, which is knowledge of what should be done. And often, this last one, Phronesis, is the trickiest, because it relies not only on the first two, but also on people’s politics, their values, their desires, and often, these are in tension, or even in conflict with each other. So planning theory would suggest that negotiation can help us resolve these tensions and come to shared agreements, but for negotiations to work, people need some kind of shared language of which to communicate about existing conditions, and about possible futures. That’s why marine plants have been communicated primarily through two-dimensional, Planometric images, and I would argue that this two-dimensional thinking is inadequate in any environment, but it’s an especially obvious lacuna, or a gap in visual storytelling in oceanic spaces. As I’m sure many of you know, the Gaia hypothesis, says that the earth’s system is a sort of body, and that its systems work wholistically to regulate its health. This metaphor is controversial, so I bring it here with a grain, or even a sea, of salt. But I use it, or offer it next to this series of MRIs, which happen to be of this body, to illustrate the disciplines other than planning have much more developed visually, or much more developed ways of visualizing complex systems, than the ones that are currently being used in marine spatial planning. And representations like these allow us to conceive of volumes more fully, to better comprehend three-dimensional, and even four-dimensional relationships, and to intervene in these systems more precisely. So one strain of questions that I’m asking are, how do current approaches to mapping within marine spatial planning, expand or constrain decision-making processes? Can we adapt tools from other fields to develop a common visual language for marine planning? And how can different representations help marine planners make better use of scientific knowledge and research, facilitate collaboration more effectively, and end up with better policy outcomes. Thank you. (audience applauding) Hi. I had planned to talk, and I was going to go into the marine spatial planning, Seychelles Blue Economy, the Blue Bonds, the Aldabra Clean Up Project, and Nekton, all of which are amazing projects happening in the Seychelles right now. But instead, I’m going to talk about little Breanna, an exercise that we did yesterday. (audience laughing) So, little Breanna, that’s not a name that’s common in the Seychelles, is from a small island nation, often not even featured on a map. She fell in love with a picture of a fish. It was a strange fish. In fact, to a five-year-old, it was a very strange fish, because it lacked a tail. Her mommy and daddy told her that it was a sun fish. She’s all grown up now, well sort of, and she studied marine ecosystems, and you guessed it, fish. But she often feels helpless, because her small island nation is at the mercy of decisions being made by bigger ones. These decisions affect global climate change, sea level rise, overfishing, pollution, the list goes on. Today, she’s here, at a forum, listening to all the amazing stories of how people care about the ocean, and how they get other people to care, too. She’s an optimist, and therefore, is hopeful that with networks and collaboration, we can make the ocean a better place. Thank you. (audience applauding) Good morning, everyone. I am Zoleka Filander, and I’m an offshore scientist with the national Department of Environmental Affairs. I’m also a part-time PhD student with Nelson Mandela University in South Africa, and my project there entails assigning names to coral faces, evaluating the health and protection status of these ecosystems in South Africa, and the idea is really to develop some sort of conservation, or management plan, that can assist us in identifying our next 5%. But today, I’m really gonna talk about the work that I’ve been doing within the department for the past four years, and how it not only advanced deep sea research in the country, but also assisted us in increasing our protection status from 0.4 to 5%. The process really started over a decade ago, before my time, and basically, a group of scientists came together under the leadership of Dr. Cary Sing, a mentor and a co-supervisor of mine, and the idea here, was really to identify areas of high conservation interest, with the best available data at the time. But what became apparent throughout our negotiations was that it was difficult for us to strengthen the protection case when we ourselves as scientists had not seen, or ever seen some of these ecosystems. So for the past four to five years, we came together as deep sea researchers in the country, and we decided to revisit these areas, and collect quite valuable data, and refining not just the boundaries, but also ensuring that the areas meet the objectives. So like I’ve already mentioned, these provide the first visuals, and alongside other datasets that’s assisted us with actually refining our national habitat classification map, which is our basis for planning and management. The process itself really enhance, not just relationships within scientists, but also across different stakeholders. And although there were a lot of disagreements, but it was the first time where we had different stakeholders sitting at a table, and discussing what to do with our ocean space, which I think was quite an awesome thing to be part of. One of the challenges was really trying to convince people that we actually need to protect an area that is relatively unknown. More so, because 80% of South African population live below the bread line, and so how do we tell people that they need to protect for the next generation, when today is sort of unbearable for them? So the department decided to invest a lot in a roadshow where they communicated the importance of MPAs, and although these MPAs, well, the recently approved MPAs are offshore, there are some areas that are actually expansions. So the lesson learned, I guess we’ve been hearing this a lot, the importance, really, of communicating our science beyond the scientific community, and I just wanna echo that. And one of the results, or outputs, or outcomes from the entire process was having this interactive map that sort of like walks you through the different MPAs, the objectives of the different platforms used, and the contributing projects. Yeah, okay, thank you. (audience applauding) Hello everyone. My name is Harpreet. I’m an assistant professor at Parson’s School of Design. Also used to be a student here at the Media Lab. I do interaction design, but beyond digital traditional tools that we usually use. I design new hybrid bioelectronic plants, and these allow me to do new interactions with devices that are not digital. Plants have electronic signals inside them, and we usually look at these signals by change of light, change of gravity, change of environmental conditions, but we designed interfaces where you click on a plant, and it’s to know if you’re listening to signals, you send signals to a plant. And when you click on a leaf, the plant’s leaves start closing like a display. There are plants that now can act as antennas, plants with electronic wires inside them. A new plant that I’m designing, actually derives that inspiration from the oceans, the Australian beaches. The pigment is called chlorophyll f that absorbs beyond the visible light spectrum as we know. And this plant allows me to do sensing, and create a plant that can sense the water quality, and the pollution analytes. The oceans are like a new design space that are displaced phytoplanktons. There are sensors, aquatic plant life. How we use them, and how do we utilize that design space is something that I look in my current practice. That’s all I have to say, but if you are interested in the experiments, please come talk to me, thank you so much. (audience applauding) Hi everyone, my name is Sebastian, and I’m part of the Sculpting Evolution group here at the Media Lab, and we’re a group that studies evolved systems. And my colleague and I, Ashton, we’re hoping to engage in a collaborative brainstorming session, partly with relation to what we’re proposing. So we are, we come from different backgrounds. My background is primarily in environmental contamination, and I have a special interest in the structures, the physical structures, both built and natural, that create habitats for our ocean communities. She is also a biologist, and has interest in microbiology, and population dynamics. So we started thinking, and started talking about the different relationships that drive evolution in oceans. Here are examples of vibrio species, which, as you can see through this rather complex map, have various kinds of relationships between different members, and a lot of these relationships are mediated in part by a need for the use of iron, which is often one of the limiting resources in ocean environments. At the same time, as humans have, as people have talked about today, have deteriorated a lot of the naturally-occurring reef structures, there have been movements to create artificial reefs. In many instances, these look like just building materials that no longer have use, or just decommissioned vessels, many of which are rich sources of iron. So we’re interested in understanding how these new, artificial reef environments interact with the current population environment, sorry, current population dynamics in the oceans, and engage in work that revolves around this practice. Thank you. (audience applauding) There it is. I don’t think that means I get four minutes, though. (audience laughing) So I’m a deep sea ecologist, and I study human impacts on that last great wilderness. But I’m also a science communicator, and I recognize the inherent contradiction of working in places that almost no one in the world will ever see, but still trying to help people fall in love with that abyss. I’m also a toy maker! And my toys are underwater robots and ocean sensors. My toys are platforms like the OpenROV, an underwater robot that allows anyone to become an ocean explorer. And over the last few years, I’ve held ROV Building Workshops in places like Papua New Guinea, and Saipan, where we were actually invited to use one of the voyaging canoes as a research vessel for our students. And we donate the ROVs so that the students don’t just gain the skills necessary to explore the ocean, but they also get the tools, the hardware, to take ownership over their research. And it was through my work with OpenROV that I was inspired to advance my own open-source development project, the OpenCTD. The OpenCTD is a low-cost sensor system for measuring the basic parameters of ocean health. You can build it from accessible parts. And something really magical happens when people build their own ocean sensors, and take measurements, and take ownership over the science that happens in their own backyard. They trust the data. When people understand how data is produced, and how that data comes to exist, they trust it. So I wanna kind of end with a vision. There’s this hydrothermal vent in Papua New Guinea called Solwara 1, and it’s only a few kilometers from shore. And in the very near future, Solwara 1 is going to be mined. And I want to, I want someone who lives there, someone who cares about their local waters, to have the capacity to paddle out to a hydrothermal vent, to deploy an ROV, to take water quality measurements, and to understand what’s happening in their own oceans 1600 meters below, without big research grants, without the support of major universities, with just that drive of curiosity. And we’re not quite there yet, but every year, these tools, they get a little bit better, and they go a little bit deeper, and they get a little bit cheaper. So with a little bit of luck, and a lot of creativity, we’ll get there. Thank you. (audience applauding) Hi, my name is Ernst. I’m from South Africa, but I live in Costa Rica. I grew up on the East coast of Africa, Southeast coast of Africa, in a place called Po-ray-dwet, and one of my math classes was looking out the window when I was about 10 years old, and I saw a whale came right in front of the school, and she was giving birth to a baby whale. These dolphins kind of made a massive circle around it. My teacher was very frustrated, ’cause I wasn’t paying attention to any of the math problems over there, but she then came over to me, and she says, you know what, Ernst, nature’s everywhere, we learn from nature. And she says, you know what? Everything that you’re gonna learn in this classroom, you’ll probably forget for the rest of your life, okay, and everything that you learn outside the classroom, you’ll remember for the rest of your life. Fast forward, in Dubai, I was teaching a bunch of kids scuba diving, and we’re sitting around and I say, where do you guys like to hang out? They say, indoors, because that’s where their electrical outlets are. There’s also the Internet, and everything like that, and I realized we live in a day and age where kids are disconnected from nature. Which kind of also gives way to a much bigger problem over there. We came up with a program that uses place-based education, that takes scientists and people like yourselves that are mentors, and get them in a position where they can actually mentor kids. Now, place-based education means you learn hands-on, okay, you’re not inside the classroom. The common denominator over years, that all of these things are based around five different marine ecosystems, and what we do is we teach kids through citizen science, how to collect data, and we upload it onto a GIS database, creating very comprehensial spatial analysis of what’s happening. So what we’re hoping to do next week as we have a meeting with PADI, the largest dive organization in the world that’s certified 25 million divers. Every year, they certify a million dive certifications, and we’re hoping to make this mainstream, to create a stem education program that will be available in schools worldwide, as a way, as an extracurricular activity, or an opportunity for kids just to learn. And that’s what it’s all about, you know. We believe that passion is gonna be the long-distance fuel that will change our planets, and is delivered through people like yourself. So go out and make your passion, and connect the young people with it. Thank you very much. (audience applauding) Good morning, everybody. My name is Kaitlin Noyes, and I am the Director of Ocean Academy at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences. So I thought I’d just take a second just to take you to Bermuda, very, just a second. 600 nautical miles off the East coast of the United States. What you can see is, as you come over that volcanic platform, just how much reef tract is there. 600 square kilometers of coral reefs. One of the reasons that BIOS, the institute that I work for, is stationed there, is access to the deep ocean, as well as the subtropical habitats. One of my jobs within Ocean Academy is to create programs that connect Bermudian students to the ocean and to the research that we do there. And we try to do this through a three-pronged attack. The first is immerse. Get students in masks and snorkels, and wetsuits sometimes, and get them out, exploring their marine environment, and taking measurements about the ocean. Our second prong of attack is to promote innovation. I’m conscious of always trying to find different literacy access points for students there. And we do this through an underwater robotics competition that we host annually. Students have to build and create and market their robots to do different scientific tasks related to the research that we do at BIOS. And third one, very near and dear to my heart, is mentorship. I feel that supporting students that are interested in STEM careers, by using our faculty at BIOS, that we can continue to promote their development in these fields. I truly believe that by pushing innovation within the Bermuda community, and continuing to connect students to the ocean, we can continue to improve ocean literacy, and develop lifelong learning and connection to the ocean. Thank you very much.
(audience applauding) Hi. I’m Mara, I’m a graduate student in the MIT Woods Hole Joint Program in Oceanography. I study ocean currents and ocean microbes, and I really love doing that, and I love talking about that. So feel free to come talk to me about that anytime. But what I wanted to bring to All Hands on Deck, is an organization that I find really inspiring, called Science for the People. And so in my field, oceanography, climate science, we often talk about people who don’t trust science, don’t believe science, from their perspective of climate denial. And that’s true, it’s real, it’s a problem, but there also other reasons that people don’t trust science, don’t feel that they could have access to science, and don’t feel that science is something that believes them and their stories. So examples of that include, science built the atomic bomb. Science conducted the Tuskegee Syphilis experiment. Science brought us biological determinism. And I think it’s the role of scientists to organize themselves politically, to address these harms that science has done to society, but also to work with movements that are working for social justice today, and to envision a world that’s more just, and the role that science plays in a more just world. And so that’s what Science for the People does. So on the right, or on your left, the harms that science has done, we work to fight against those, but we also work to build a more just future today by using science. So we have sent a brigade to Puerto Rico, to build ties with community activists in Puerto Rico, to do ongoing science with Puerto Ricans recovering from Hurricane Maria. We work with movements for reproductive justice, to forefront people suffering from the harms done both by science and politics, that prevent their access to reproductive justice. We’ve also, in Boston, organized tech workers to pressure their employers, like Microsoft, to cut their ties with ICE. So bringing these perspective of political organizing that come from outside of academia, outside of science and technology, to the science and technology realm, to build a better and more just science. As I mentioned, we do this through political organizing, we do this through education. We have teachers, we do this through organizing workers, and we do this by producting STEM intellectuals who do stand up from attacks that come to them when they stand up and speak out politically. Yes, this is an invitation to join us. (audience applauding) Okay! Good morning everybody, thank you for joining us for the panel on Explore, Empowering, what is it? Empowering a Global Community of Ocean Explorers. So before I introduce you to our phenomenal panel here, I’m gonna set the scene a bit for you. So my name is Diva Amon, and I’m a deep see biologist from Trinidad and Tobago, but I’m currently based at the Natural History Museum in London. And we all know that the ocean is critical to life. It’s the largest ecosystem on our planet. It takes up about 99% of all habitable space on Earth, but only about 15% of it has been mapped using modern methods, and only about 5% of it has been imaged by human eyes, or seen by human eyes. We tend to think of exploration as this Indiana Jones-type activity, but in reality, we are all explorers. To explore is to travel in or through an unfamiliar country or area in order to learn about, or familiarize oneself with it. Straight from Wikipedia, everybody, FYI. (audience laughing) It’s something that is powered by curiosity, and that is something that is innate to all of us. We have it almost from birth, and we continue this process throughout our lives. But when it comes to ocean exploration, that global community shrinks drastically. And when you think about deep ocean exploration, it shrinks even further. We have all the necessary skills, so how do we broaden that participation past the incredibly elite privileged model of sticking a handful of experts on a ship in the middle of the ocean? Let me get this right. If seven billion people depend on ocean resources, then all seven billion should have the opportunity to engage in ocean exploration, ocean issues, and ocean discovery, right? So here to answer that question, no pressure, the question of democratizing our oceans, we have this incredible panel. First up, we have Alan Leonardi, Dr. Alan Leonardi. He’s currently the Director of NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. And this is the only federal program that is dedicated to systematic telepresence-based exploration of the world’s oceans. He is also a meteorologist and oceanographer. Next up, we have Antonella Wilby. She’s a PhD student, and National Science Foundation graduate research fellow at the Contextual Robotics Institute at University of California San Diego. She’s also a National Geographic Explorer. And incredibly, she develops autonomous underwater vehicles, or autonomous robots, to explore extreme environments, such as those we find in the ocean. Next, we have Dr. Allan Adams. He leads the Future Oceans Lab here at MIT, where his team develops not only low-cost, low-power tools for ocean exploration, but also, high-end custom cameras to document the world’s changing oceans. And finally, we have Elizabeth Tyson. She’s a fellow with National Geographic Society in their Citizen Explorer Labs. Her goal there is refining strategic programming around participatory scientific research and innovation. So each of these people represents a different facet of exploration, but all work towards empowering that global community of explorers. So, Alan, do you wanna take it away? Thank you. (audience applauding) So as Diva said, I’m Alan Leonardi, and I am, although you said currently the Director of NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, I don’t know what’s coming next for me, or if you know something I don’t!
(audience applauding) But I’m happy to be here today,
I’m so sorry! either way. And really, this is about empowerment, so I’m gonna try to keep this brief, and the main message I want to take away is, in our office, while we do at sea research and exploration, we also like to instigate it as well, in many different facets. So, we conduct our work in several ways. One, we, of course, have a ship, and a deep-diving ROV system. We enter into strategic partnerships, and we conduct a very vigorous contracts and grants program, so we fund work as well in the community as a whole. In all cases, we’re striving to have data that are collected, and that’s shared, and made accessible to everybody, as fast as humanly possible, so that everybody can get the benefit of this information. Now, we’re also, as I had noted yesterday, the instigator in a national program on ocean exploration, which then convenes on an annual basis, forums, such as these. We look for calls for proposals, either through our office that we fund directly, or we instigate other federal agencies to fund things that are relevant to what we’re interested in. And we also conduct regional workshops with members of the ocean community to understand what people want when people are going to sea. What kind of data information they want us to collect and deliver for them to be able to use. Through this process, we often partner with people to do technology development. Some of that takes place on our ship, some of that takes place through grants programs, some of that takes place on partner vessels. We are constantly looking to find people who are working in the technology space, and make them with people who are working in the at sea space, and figure out how to test those things together in a leveraged way. We also, of course, have data management. We collect a lot of data, a lot of video data. The middle panel here shows you just the body of work that we conducted with just our ship from the years 2014 to 2017. If you don’t understand what that looks like, that is a huge swath of the Pacific Ocean, where for three years running, we visited all of the U.S. managed marine protected areas, sanctuaries, and monuments, and systematically collected data and information so that those communities of resource managers can understand what they need to manage. Before we went there, in many cases, they had no idea what was in these deep sea zones that they had to manage. We also very actively support education and training. We have a fellowship program where people can come out and learn how to do systematic survey techniques and mapping onboard our ship. We provide lesson plans, and conduct teacher professional development training, so that teachers across, at least the U.S., and broader, can use those lessons plans within their classrooms, to encourage not only better knowledge of the ocean space, but a community of practitioners some day that may join us either as technologists, as oceanographers, as scientists in general, as communicators, as artists, or as teachers themselves. We, of course, also have some strategic partnerships in the process. We work with the Octonauts, we’ve been working with them on some of their activities, and some of their materials that they’re developing. And of course, we’re working with a community of explorers, not just in our own spaces and on our own ship, but we’re working with faculty members who are actually using our activities and their classes to help develop dives for what we actually do at sea. So they’re working with their students to understand what we should be doing, and that is directly influencing what we do at sea. So the future for NOAA, from my perspective, is that we’re looking for continuous input. Forums like this are one manner of that. Partnerships that we enter into is another manner of that. We’re also looking for a more active national program. This isn’t just about NOAA and NOAA’s program, it’s about a national program. It’s about getting the broad community together to explore this relatively unexplored place. We, of course, are also trying to look for new partnerships. Maybe they’re partnerships directly with us. Maybe they’re partnerships that are gonna happen with some of you together with others of you here that we’re not gonna be involved with. That’s all a win in my book if we’re looking at exploring and understanding the ocean. And of course, we’re always looking for better access to ocean data, and when I say access, access isn’t sufficient. The data is there, but it also needs to be usable, and usable by a broad community of people, so the things that we look at doing as trying to empower people to work in those spaces, so that everybody can work in those spaces as well. So I appreciate your time, and I’ll yield a little bit of my time to the rest of the panel, and hopefully to your questions. (audience applauding) Hello, everyone. I’m really excited to be here today. It’s been an incredible experience thus far, learning from all of you on the transformative ways we’re working to change the future of ocean exploration. So my name is Antonella. I’m a PhD student at the UC San Diego Contextual Robotics Institute, and a National Geographic Explorer, and today, I’m gonna talk about how we can use robots to push the limits of our current understanding of ocean exploration. So my PhD work is on developing a swarm of underwater robots to map ocean environments like coral reefs. I’m collaborating with a project at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography called the 100 Island Challenge. And the goal of this challenge is to create ultra-high resolution, large scale maps of coral reefs at 100 different islands all across the world, as one tool for understanding reef resilience in the face of ongoing problems like pollution, ocean acidification, and climate change. So right now, we have teams of divers surveying coral reefs with a large stereo camera system. They collect two-dimensional imagery, and post-process it into 3D models like these. And what this gives us is a snapshot, which is usually a 10 meter by 10 meter 3D model, which, it takes about an hour of diving to create this. And that gives us ultra-high resolution imagery on that particular portion of the reef. These are incredibly detailed, up to a millimeter resolution, but it’s still just a snapshot. Now imagine, if we can get this type of data, but across a really large area, we won’t need a way to both automate the data collection and the annotation process, so that we can not only fill in the gaps here, but also annotate this data at scale. And to do this, I’m working on developing robots with this goal of scaling up our ability to create these high resolution maps of coral environments. Now, in case anyone is worried, the goal here is not to replace humans in the field with robots. I wanna go into the field and dive, so I don’t wanna do that. But the goal is to augment our human capacity to do science in the field. Robots are really good at swimming back and forth, and collecting data in an automated way. And ideally what we’ll do with this project is free up the humans to do more interesting experiments in the field, rather than just swimming back and forth with a camera. This is still a pretty significant technical challenge. And, let’s see, is it forward? I’m not going to go into a huge amount of technical detail, but the main portion of this work is on vision-based simultaneous localization and mapping. And that’s an algorithm that a robot can use to take a camera, or a pair of stereo cameras, and localize itself within an environment, and create, concurrently build a map of this previously unknown environment, and use that to navigate and make decisions. And this is really challenging underwater for a lot of reasons, but in particular, one of the assumptions that we make is that we can find static landmarks to localize. So if you see in this video here, all these green dots are landmarks that the algorithm is tracking from frame to frame, with the assumption that they’re static. Now, if they’re not static, this totally fails, and the robot basically gets lost. So one of the things we’re working on is making these algorithms far more robust to the particular environments that we deal with underwater that we don’t have to deal with in terrestrial robotics. One of the other things we’re working on is building these algorithms around low-cost vehicles, in order to not only make this technology more accessible to researchers working in the marine space, which is typically incredibly expensive, but also make it more accessible to ecologists working in remote areas, or who don’t have the support of a really large research vessel. So we wanna be able to deploy these robots with a couple of people working on a small boat, or in a really remote area. And this, something you might notice, this platform is a highly customized BlueROV2, what we’re currently working on building, a new low-cost vehicle that’s more geared towards autonomy, rather than the remote operation. And the other goal of this system, is that we eventually wanna scale this up. We wanna have not just one robot, we wanna have multiple robots, a whole swarm working together, so that we can really scale up the data that we’re able to create from, say, tens of square meters, to eventually square kilometers. And once we’re able to do that, we have a problem of scale. We actually already do. So right now, the coral reef ecologists that we work with are annotating these point clouds by going in and hand painting them in visualization software. This takes an incredible amount of time, and with the day that we’re able to create with scuba divers, this is already interactable. So one of the things we’re looking towards for the future, is annotating this data using machine learning in real time, so that when the robot gets out of the water, we’re handing scientists data that they can already use to do interesting things and draw conclusions, instead of just a pretty model. Let’s see, mm-hmm. So I’m gonna conclude by trying to contextualize some of this work in the greater space of ocean exploration as we look towards the future. So earlier this year, over the summer, I was fortunate to be on EV Nautilus as an ROV pilot. And this was my first time working with a system of this scale. I don’t know how many thousands of hours that this system has been underwater making discoveries. And so that got me thinking about the ways that we could potentially bring the newer advancements in robotic technology from new sensors, algorithms, high-level autonomy, machine learning, and merge it with these proven systems that are already in the ocean making these discoveries every day. This could take the form of an automated classification system, running on the data, the video stream coming up from a deep sea ROV. It could be higher level autonomy algorithms and decision-making and adaptive sampling on an AUV, or it could be vehicles that we haven’t even imagined yet. So my personal vision is that one day, we’ll have millions of robots of all shapes and sizes, working alongside humans to explore the ocean. And I’m so excited to see what we’re going to learn. Thank you.
(audience applauding) Hi, I’m gonna cheat and use technology for a crutch. So I really love this photo. It was taken with a Nikon in a big, bulky, underwater housing by a first year MIT undergrad who had never before used a camera that wasn’t also a phone, right?
(audience laughing) So this image tells a conservation story about competition on the coral reef. It also tells a technology story about the gulf between bulky, expensive underwater tools, and the super computers that we carry around in our pockets. That disconnects between the tech that’s in your pocket, and the tech that’s available on the reef, has very serious implications, not least to which is cost. So for example, a CTD, the workhorse sensor of ocean exploration, if you wanna go out and just buy a nice one, it’s $15,000. You go out and you buy a camera that’ll go 6,000 meters, and it’s $50,000, and that thing doesn’t take a photo as good as my iPhone. You wanna buy an acoustic modem, communications underwater, and a modem, even the inexpensive one, costs 8,000 bucks. And you know, if you’re an oil rig, or the Navy, peanuts. But if you’re not an oil rig or the Navy, that’s a problem. In our world, what that cost does, is it makes lots of the core domains of ocean exploration, unobtainable and out of reach to lots of people, whether that’s conservationists, or researchers, or fishing communities, or me, right? And I really want to be able to go out and explore, so the fact that everything’s too expensive is profoundly frustrating to me. The cost also makes exploring the vast bulk of the ocean, the volume, incredibly difficult. Look, if your sensors costs tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars, you can look at a patch on the bottom, or a patch on the top, but you can’t study the volume. In order to understand the bulk of the ocean, where most of life lives, we need to radically decrease the cost of the tools we use to explore and sense. So the mission of my lab here at MIT is to create low-cost, low power, high value sensors and cameras for ocean exploration. That means, sensors and cameras that can tackle key bottlenecks that are barrier to the data flow out of the ocean. So our approach starts with sort of two key ideas. First, commodity electronics and manufacturing at scale can just dramatically bring down the cost of things. If you build one, it costs you the cost of a postdoc for two years. If you build 10,000, it costs you the cost of a postdoc for two years. So when you think about building things at scale, it’s a very different calculus, and the cost and the price point comes down dramatically. Can come down dramatically, doesn’t always. Second, you don’t need four decimal places for most of the things we care about. You got out and you buy a $32,000 SeaCat, and the reason it’s that expensive, well, there are many reasons, but among others, is that it’s breathtakingly accurate and reliable over extremely long time series. For a lot of our purposes, we need the first two, not the last two significant digits. And when you don’t have to fight against those kinds of tolerances, you can make economies in your design, in your manufacturing, that dramatically change the price point. They change what’s possible. Going to scale and taking the first two significant digits. So let me flesh that out in a couple of examples. So, suppose you’ve got a camera deployed on a reef. It’s 30 meters down at, whoa, I’m going slow. (laughing) So it’s 30 meters down, and you wanna change a setting. You can’t run wires to it, ’cause you’re in a protected area. You can’t use wireless, because it’s salt water, and that’s opaque to radio and Wi-Fi. So you’ve basically got two options. You can shout at it, and hope it hears you, or you can send your grad student down, and they sometimes like it, and eventually gets really boring, to dive, bring it back up, change the setting, dive back down. This is particularly difficult if your grad student’s in Cambridge and the sensor’s in Fiji. (audience laughing)
So on the other hand, if you go out, and I’m serious about the shouting. In principle, shouting, or more precisely, using acoustic waves in the water to communicate data, right, a modem, in principle, shouting is way more effective, it’s way easier, you don’t have to send anyone down. But on the other hand, if you got out, and you try to buy an acoustic modem right now, the really nice ones, like WHOI’s micromodem. It’s a brilliant, wonderful piece of equipment, it’s 8,000 bucks. It costs me less to fly a student to Fiji and send them down for a dive, (audience laughing)
right? So meanwhile, you need two. Right, one on top, one on bottom. So that’s crazy. And, look, to be sure that micromodem, that $8,000 modem, it’s amazing. If you hit it with a hammer, it doesn’t break. It can communicate for miles and miles and miles, and it can send 50,000 bits per second. But I want a TV remote underwater. If it goes 50 meters, fine. If it’s 50 bits a second, fine, it does what I need. First two decimal places. So we built one. This is Nathan, he’s the grad student who took point on this. And that’s his first hydrophone. That was great fun. Our initial goal was a 50-meter range, and 50 bits per second, and as low-cost and low power as we could possibly get away with. Our first prototype that worked on the lab, and in the water, hit those specs, and the total bill of parts was $36. Wow. So we’re now working on a second version, and there’s a second version of the graduate student, Charlene, who’s also amazing. (audience laughing)
And, we’re working with manufacturing partners who are gonna work with us in designing for manufacturing at scale, to put them in the market, so you can buy them for a lot less. And our hope, is that that will dramatically change what’s possible, when you can communicate with your device without having to worry about how much it costs. Just as a side note, we’re also making all of the designs, and all of the code, and everything available purely on open-source. Second project, and so I’m running out of time, so I’ll run though, so this is Nathan at the lab bench the first time it worked. It was awesome. Second project, cave mapping, it’s hard, it’s expensive. If you use a diver, they run lines, and use dead reckoning, and that’s what you get after two weeks of six people, or after a week of six people, it’s not the best mapping system in the world. If you were to do this in this room, you’d use lidar. Unfortunately, lidar system underwater costs a quarter of a million dollars. Why does it? You just, you know, it’s a post-stock, right? So the price points are just very different. Also, the people who buy them are oil and military. So instead, we’re using chips that are only available in the past couple of years. They’re totally awesome, they’re low power, and we have to develop all the electronics ourselves, and there are real hurdles in that, which is great fun. This is Project Prometheus, which was funded by Here Be Dragons. And the goal, okay, we’re not gonna, we’re gonna be in order of magnitude and a half, less accurate than lidar. But at two decimal places fewer dollars, too, right? And that matters. It means things are possible that you wouldn’t have thought possible before, and scale is possible. We took a prototype to a test site. I mean, everyone has to have a test site. There’s Jake, the postdoc, who’s taking point on it with the first prototype at the test site. That was quite an adventure. So to close, we really need massively deployable open-source tools for ocean exploration. The bottlenecks are not the availability of the technology. The bottlenecks are bringing commercial, at-scale, already commoditized technology into the ocean. In particular, communication, biofouling, navigation, optical sensing, 3D mapping, and one that really doesn’t get enough love is data storage and distribution. You know, you have a ship, it’s bringing in data. You have AUVs that are bringing out data. You’ve got little tiny deployable sensors that are gonna have an SD card, that’s bringing back data. You’ve got fish, archival tags, that’s bringing back data. They’re all coming over different channels at different times with different formats, and someone has to put them in one database, and that’s a nightmare. And so making that better, deeply needs to be done, right? So people are working on this, but it needs to be loved. And there’s a beautiful story behind this, but I’ll leave it at that. (woman laughing)
Thanks! (audience applauding) Oh!
(women laughing) Well, I’m gonna cheat and sit. First off, I would like to thank Katy and the organizers of this conference for bringing together a diverse and amazing group of people. There’s a lot of careful thought behind this, and I really, really appreciate it. So I was invited here to talk about citizen science, in the legal and administrative barriers influencing the practice of the phenomenon. Green? Mm-hmm.
(Elizabeth laughing) Sure. (laughing) So I don’t know if any of you read The Week. It’s like a meta-summary of news. There’s this one small column that’s boring, but important, and it reviews Supreme Court rulings, and stuff like that. That’s kind of what this is about, a little bit. It’s boring, but it’s important. So I’ll start with definitions of the practice. Ironically, I actually wrote this up wrong. It’s a form of mass collaboration to advance scientific research, not science research, but that’s okay. I prefer loose definitions of the practice, because I believe that transdisciplinarity requires this. I also believe, furthermore, intersectionality requires this, and these are two very important words for this decade. And so, why is citizen science occurring? These guys are pretty easy answer. It existed for before science became professionalized, but these have enabled mass communication. But more critically, why is it important? There’s three kind of areas that you can summarize on why citizen science is important. I’m probably preaching to the choir right now, but addresses societal needs, so collaborative natural resource management, highlighting air quality concerns. Number two, hands on STEM education that advances science research. Enough said, pretty awesome, two birds with one stone. And three, advancing scientific research at scales and costs that were previously unimaginable, especially for this group with ocean, and the scale that we’re talking about. Citizen science, I see, is the only answer to get out there and explore. So I don’t have time to go into some of these projects, but I’d just like to draw your attention to the photo in the left hand corner. So Ella was talking about the comedy of your work. I think this is also the absurdity of the work. I asked the Community Manager of iNaturalist to give me a weird observation, and he pointed me towards this, which is an Alaskan fisherman reported this, and it’s a lingcod that ate a yelloweyed rock fish, that was in the process of eating an octopus. (man laughing)
(laughing) Like, that’s just absurd, and we wouldn’t be able to see that if it wasn’t for iNaturalist existing for this platform. (everyone laughing) So, now that that’s out of the way, boring, but important. So I’m gonna talk briefly about my work as a program associate in Science and Tech Innovation Program at the Woodrow Wilson Center for International Scholars in Washington, D.C. Our goal was to, and is, maximize the risks, and (laughing) maximize the benefits and reduce the risk (audience laughing)
of citizen science. (man laughing)
(gasping) I love this group! So, into the volcano? Yes. For researchers, volunteers, and project managers. What we are doing, was we were defining the legal and administrative gray areas that academics and government practitioners encountered when they were going up to use citizen science, these major gray areas that create barriers. A lot of these reports actually helped in, along with an army of citizen science volunteers in D.C., helped with creating and passing the Citizen Science and Crowdsourcing Act in 2016, which further defined and codified some of these legal and administrative gray areas so government employees can use citizen science more. I’m gonna go really briefly through each report, but I just wanna note that all of these are free and available online that you can download, and just come grab me, and I can point you to where the resource is. One of the first reports written by Teresa Scassa and Haewon Chung, was on intellectual property rights of researchers and volunteers who participate in projects. They created a typology for understanding what types of issues might arise when you’re doing citizen science. Four broad categories for consideration, the type and consent of data, IP issues surrounding the choice of platform or IT structure, establishing terms and conditions for contributions at the beginning of writing your grant, and lastly, copyrights and dissemination issues. She also touches on researchers who are interesting in patenting their work, but also using volunteers. And at the end, it concludes with an IP checklist that you can give to your volunteers so they’re aware of the discussion that’s going on. Another report that we worked on that I directed the research for, I was with collaboration with the Environmental Law Institute. It was written by James McElfish, John Pendergrass, and Talia Fox. And the goal of this report was kind of to review U.S. laws that invite the public into discourse about making decisions about our environment. So it defined the roles, and identify who makes resource decisions at the local, state, tribal, and federal level. And then it identifies when, and at what government scale citizen science projects might be able to interact with these public decision makers. And it outlines the legal and administrative constraints that public decision makers face, and how you might be able to creatively work with them on those constraints, such as court timing, and procedurals, and when you can and can’t admit data into a court proceeding. So the last report. This is your Bible, if you’re a government employee. I really, and you want to do citizen science, I really recommend you check it out. It is on the legal issues affecting federal agencies, written by Robert Gellman, and he does a deep dive into the precedent and the history of specific federal laws. Like the Paperwork Reduction Act, I never thought I’d know so much about it, (laughs) but I do, that prevent or slowdown leveraging citizen science practice. So a lot to unpack, again, free and available for download. I think I have one minute. (laughs) Talk about, or something that I’m very, very excited about. So I wanna wrap up by sharing a really exciting global initiative, led by the Wilson Center, the state department, Earth Day Network, and in partnership with National Geographic, I’m the liaison for this initiative. It’s called Earth Challenge 2020, and our goal is one billion data points by one million citizen scientists on the 50th anniversary of Earth Day in 2020. So this initiative is being co-designed as an attempt to address a lot of well-known issues in citizen science. Silo data collection, a global, lack of global coordination, what you described as I just heard, as undifferentiated, heavy lifting. It means you’ve got all this awesome data, and then 80% of the work is, you know, collating it, and making it available, and digestible to the public. Not to scientists and policy makers, although we think that’s important, but to the public as well. So all of these challenges in the citizen science ecosystem, we took them, and then we designed this awesome project. It’s going to be, it has an invigorating and exciting timeline. We currently, we’ve got a year and some change to work with, and we just put out the public call for research questions. So we’re asking the public, what are you interested in, and we’re gonna build the database and the low-cost tools to explore this. We’re also gonna have software development kits, and APIs for the database, so anyone can get in there and muck around with the data. We’ll be hosting satellite hackathons and CORE hackathons, to kind of refine a lot of the technology that you talked about out there, is really awesome, and could be a potential for this. So we need your help. Come speak to me after this. Submit a research question, @earthchallenge, amplify and spread your word via your networks. We really need ocean people. We’ve gotten seven continents, but not a lot of ocean questions, so get on board. And you could host a satellite hackathon. So thank you for the minute and a half that you gave me that I probably went over,
(woman laughing) but (laughing), all time. Okay, join me in thanking all of our amazing panel members.
(audience applauding) And so we have just about seven minutes for questions. That is probably not gonna end well for you, but. (woman laughing) Hi, my name is Anna Madlena, and I study robotics as a graduate student in Stockholm right now. I’m also really passion about ocean. You’re basically my hero. (laughs) (Antonella laughing) And I’ve done some work in the past year about how to, yeah, try to find out how we can use technology to make normal society more connected with the oceans, which is just what we are for, obviously. But recently, as I was telling my professors why I’m missing this week of school, because I’m going to a conference at MIT about ocean, they were like, oh, greet this professor. And I said, no, it’s actually at the MIT Media Lab, and it’s about how to connect people through art and culture with the ocean, and they said, oh, why? (laughing) So that’s not so normal. (Antonella laughing)
So I’m really curious to ask you, do you feel that outside of this room of very specific interest of people, there’s actually a will in the robotics engineering community to make these resources very available, and understood for society? Yeah, if that is actually something that you think is being, yeah, communicated more outside of the normal engineering box, (laughing) as you might say. Yeah, so I think there is. There’s certainly a movement to open-source a lot of the technology, and that’s been very common in the robotics field, and it’s less common in the marine field. And so I think open-sourcing, I’ll talk about the technology first. Open-sourcing the technology itself can help make it more accessible so that people can do these sorts of things. And then in terms of bringing in other people like artists, a lot of the places we’re going, a lot of the things we’re getting back, are new, and no one has seen them before. Or sometimes, they’ve been seen before, but they’re being seen in different ways. A lot of the things we do at Qualcomm Institute, which Dominique mentioned yesterday, is visualization. So we’re going out, it’s kind of emerging of not only robotics and scientific data, but getting data that sort of can also be used to bring in the public. Like I personally think the coral reef models are really cool. I’ve been lucky enough to dive on a coral reef, but a lot of people haven’t. And so if you can use what you’re getting with technology, and bridge that gap to art, and public communication, and use some of these incredible things that we’re able to get through technology, these visualizations, and this data, I think that’s a really cool way to bring people in. So I hope that answers your question. Anybody else wanna contribute before we move on? Yeah, could I just have one. It’s been amazing to me how common the falling scenario happens. You’re working on a project, you got an email from someone saying, you know, I’m an engineer at this fancy company, and I do this stuff, and I love it, and I think it’s great, but I wanna do it for the ocean, so can I give you spare-time advice? Can we just help? And it’s amazing how in informal ways, the bulk of people who are serious professional roboticist engineers of various different stripes, want to give their expertise. Maybe the canonical channels don’t lend themselves to that gift, but informal routes really do. And so if you go around, there’s this emerging market, emerging circle of companies targeting citizen science in the ocean, right? And if every single one of them is backed by, you know, a list of ridiculously skilled engineers in academia, in industry, who’d give their time. So I don’t know if it’d say it’s super well supported within academia proper, but academics support it. And so making that fit together better is certainly something we should be working on. But there’s a huge will to do it. Great.
You’ll find people to play with. Thanks, any other questions? Oh, god. Thank you very much. My name’s Jack Whitaker, I’m from UMass Boston. I was kind of curious, a lot of you are working with data. Someone with one billion pieces of data. Almost.
Yes. Do you have any recommendations for thinking about the right mindset to have when approaching large datasets? Are there Sci-Fi books or movies that have stuck out to you, (woman laughing)
because, Google just released this thing called searchable datasets, and now you can just search the weather in Wisconsin, for the last whatever, how many years. How do we start to approach datasets in productive ways, and not them have overwhelm? Thank you. Thanks. So I was just at the U.N. World Data Forum, and there’s lots of talk about this there. And someone briefly brought up an academic I’ve never heard of, but he got the point across, which was, we’re entering into the fourth paradigm. The third paradigm was big data, don’t ask me what the first and second paradigm were. (women laughing) But what’s critical now is how you ask questions of the data. So yes, data’s important, data quality, all those things, but the really, we’re in the age of targeted, important, creative questions. Don’t know if that helps. Alan?
Yeah, and if I might add, I mean, I think big data, any data, is important. But quite frankly, if it’s not accessible or usable, it’s not important at all. So one key is making it accessible. The other one is making it nimble, and light, and agile, and usable to as many different user communities as possible. That’s not a trivial problem, but that is a key, Absolutely.
right, because you can, look, I love the state of Wisconsin. I grew up in the state of Wisconsin, I love the weather in Wisconsin. (woman laughing)
But if I go to that website, and I can’t use that data and information, it’s useless to me if I’m wanting to ask those curious questions. Alright, one last question? Oh, this is never gonna happen! (man laughing)
It will. (panel members laughing)
Woo-hoo, yeah! Excellent, so I was connecting the dots over here, because this is very interesting. Allan, okay, you guys are making these accessible and affordable ocean exploration tools, Yeah.
you know, and how are you guys planning, you know then, with Elizabeth, getting into the hands, because I’m grassroots on the floor guy, getting things going. I’d like to get my hands on those tools, you know. Is there a plan Awesome.
for, you know, rolling that out?
Yeah, totally. So we’re in early days, so just a little background. I grew up as a theoretical physicist, and did string theory for 20 years. My goodness!
And then had my coming to Jesus moment, and here I am.
(woman laughing) So we’ve been ramping up, just over the past few years, getting these projects going. And so the projects that, as we put projects out, we’re putting them, repositories are on GitHub, instructions on Instructable, and a website for each project that will be coming for the lab. And the goal will be to be, and you know, gods, we should be using Open Explorer as we go out in the field, which we haven’t been doing. But the goal is definitely to do that, and to partner with as many people as we can. Look, let me just talk about the modem as an example. It’s not like people haven’t built low-cost, low power modems before. It’s been done a hundred times. The point of doing that is not to do it. The point is to never have it done again. That development effort should never be done again. It’s a waste of time. So we will have failed if it doesn’t go out and get used, both in the citizen science community, because there are schematics in an Instructable, it’ll be a failure if it doesn’t get manufactured so it’s buyable. So this is something we’re struggling with a lot, and it’s a key thing we’re thinking about. Let’s talk afterwards. Any final comments, if not, please join me in thanking our amazing Explorer panel again.
(audience applauding) ‘Kay, we’re done. (audience murmuring) It’s gonna take me five minutes to put on. Hello everyone, how you doing? Good, how are you?
It’s a pleasure to be with you today. My name is Danielle Wood, and we’re going to invite some amazing panelists. Please join me. Thank you, hello.
Thank you, hi. Thank you so much. Hi, hi there. How are you?
Wonderful. Before I introduce our panelists, if you don’t mind, I’m going to start by reading a brief quote from a poem, ’cause I find that poetry helps us connect better as we start, and our theme now is connection. This is written by George Moses Horton. I’ll just read the first stanza, he says, “I feel myself in need “of the inspiring strains “of ancient lore. “My heart, to lift, “my empty mind to feed, “and all the world to explore.” Now, clearly, he’s an explorer, but he was also born a slave, and lived, and was able to write, and work, and as a poet, but, it’s obviously, he was able to think beyond his circumstance to explore. We are here for discussions with some who are going to think about with us, how we help people connect, even when their circumstances may make it seem like it’s difficult. If you’ll just hand me that clicker, that would be amazing. This one, thank you so much! I’m going to start by just highlighting a few points about my background, since I have a new organization here, and then I’ll introduce our other panelists. So we can have the slides, I’ll go next to the first slide. So I lead a research team here at the Media Lab called Space Enabled, and our work, it really lines closely with Open Oceans’ in the sense that just as oceans asks us, how can we bring together everyone to be an explorer, and a steward of the ocean? Our work also says we want to ensure everyone has access to technology from space, is part of their local and national development activity. So we see this as advancing justice in Earth’s complex systems, using designs enabled by space. And for us, we measure our success, along with many other people around the world, by asking, are we helping use technology from space as part of the global effort towards sustainable development goals? How many of you, in some ways, us the sustainable development goals as an inspiration, or as part of your daily work? It’s amazing that, the more I ask this question, the more I see the hands go up, which is very exciting. We are coming, at least to have common languages to describe where we’re trying to head by 2030, and hopefully, beyond. So in our work, we see that there are six technologies from space that already help us use, technology as part of the long-term effort toward development. This includes satellites to observe the environment, satellites for positioning and communication systems, which are often particularly useful when you’re on the ocean. But also, and you go to sea, or you go to space, we create special technology to help the human survive. So that technology’s often useful, both of the technology transfer, and because in space, we also take away the impact of gravity, and think about how that influences us, and that knowledge is very useful. And finally, both in space, and in the ocean, we’d ask, how are countries around the world investing in basic research as part of their development process? So a lot of my work is interacting with organizations at the international level, but also national and local, to ask how they are pursuing these activities. And we bring a team of people who are artists and designers, social scientists, modelers, and complex systems thinkers, as well as satellite engineers and data scientists, and all those are asking how our skills together can help make technology, such as space, or other related skills, more effective. I just wanna give one example as I show my team here. We have 10 amazing graduate students, and we’re forming a team now, and learning to work together across these boundaries. And I wanna highlight some work we were doing recently in Benin, and to welcome a guest. If I can have Genevieve stand up. This is Genevieve Yehounme, so let’s give her a hand. (audience applauding) She’s one of our research collaborators. Thank you so much to the host, and to the conference for allowing her to be here. ‘Cause we’re working together to think about the healths of coastal communities, and particularly, we’re asking how invasive plants are affecting her native area, as fellows asking what’s happening in mangrove areas. This is a view of the ocean, looking at the Atlantic Coast from Benin. I wanna highlight another scientist as well. Her name is Dr. Lola Fatoyinbo. She teaches me about the importance of mangroves as this place where the ocean and the land come together. And with her, I’ve been able to travel around through Benin and see both the beauty, but also the cost. Because it is an area where deforestation is a major concern, and so we are asking, what kind of options, as people become both explorers, but also stewards, and of course, people who need to figure out how to meet daily needs in this environment. How can fishing and access to firewood or some kind of fuel, also be sustainable, even as people are working toward their daily needs. So that’s a opportunity that kind of links to some of people who are here on the panel. So I’d like to jump into introducing them as well. So just here next to me, which is exciting, is an old friend, and somebody that we’ve known for a while here at the Media Lab. We shouldn’t introduce you freshly, to make sure people know your latest work. So I’m happy to introduce Margarita Mora, who many of you may have known as the Managing Director of the Conservation Stewards Program for Conservation International. But today, we’re introducing you when your role in Nia Tero. And there, you’re focusing on building partnerships with indigenous peoples, and local communities, so we look forward to hearing about that when you present. Thank you.
Thanks for being here. I also wanna talk, thank you so much, Tierney Thys, for being here as well. Tierney is a National Geographic Explorer, as well a biologist and filmmaker, and research associate at the California Academy of Science. So we look forward to your discussion. Next, go to Mark Pierce, thank you for being here. I think we’ll hear a lot about volunteerism from you, especially in your role as City Year Boston’s Senior Management of Student Engagement. And on the far side, we have Madeleine Foote, and she’s Associate Director at National Geographic, focused on science and exploration, and building this community of Open Explorer. So a few minutes for each person to discuss more, to asking the question, how do we connect people to the ocean, but also to each other? And so, I look forward to each of you taking about six minutes to discuss that. And we’ll start on this side with Margarita. Thank you. Thank you. Good morning, everyone. I have a confession. I come from the mountains. (audience laughing) I was born and raised surrounding by the Andes in Ecuador, and it is so wonderful to be here surrounded by people that love the ocean. Most of what remains of nature is in the hands of indigenous peoples. These are the areas with the highest diversity of plants and animals, the largest carbon stalks, areas that are important for us for fresh water cycles, and for food security. Actually, these are also the areas that have the highest cultural value to humanity. Where 95% of all languages are spoken. People living in these areas deserve the same opportunities as us. However, we have to be very, very mindful that it is not for us to decide, but it is for them to accomplish their vision on how determine their culture, and maintain their culture, and their territories in the future. Last century, and actually, in some places, nowadays, protected areas were established by pushing people out of their lands, by fencing them. In many cases, there was a lot of miscommunication and manipulation of the people, and it caused changing the lives and the ways of being of people. This created a lot of resentment, and for a good reason, actually. And it has not been good for the people living in those areas. It has not been good for us, and it has not been good for the entire planet. Our future, and actually, the future of some of the planet’s healthiest ecosystems is in the hands of indigenous peoples. And they need to defend those territories in order for all of us to survive. And how can that happen? If you start thinking a bit about the planet, you realize that indigenous peoples have their own knowledge systems that have been tested over hundreds of years, in some places, thousands of years. They have placed anchor technologies, and that has led them to be what we call the guardians, and to accomplish guardianship of those lands, which is having the rights, accepting the responsibility, and having the capacity to sustain vital ecosystems within collective territories. This is not an easy task. However, if you look at the entire world, you will find out that more than 25% of the land is managed by indigenous peoples, of what is actually registered, right? There is much more that is not registered. And of the waters, we actually don’t know. But if we go to the Pacific Islands, you will find 17 indigenous island nations that manage 10% of the planet’s surface. And actually, more than 60% of all of the tuna catch. As Nainoa mentioned this morning, they are voyagers, they descend from voyagers. They have known how to get from island A to island B by knowing their stars, by knowing the water currents, by knowing the waves, by knowing the animals. And they are still committed nowadays to maintaining that ocean. Examples include the Cook Islands, and their Marae Moana Initiative. If we go to the other side of the world, to the northern Amazonian region, which is one of the most remote regions in the Amazon Basin, you will have find more than 300 indigenous groups managing an area that is six times the state of California. They have been there despite of being wiped out by colonization. They know their forests, they know their animals, they know their water cycles, they know their rivers. And if you leave them alone, they can actually thrive in those areas. Indigenous peoples are actually facing a lot of pressures. And what they need, and what they want, it is recognition, it is support, and it is partnership. And what means to be a partner, right? When you start thinking about it, it means not imposing our knowledge systems, not imposing our ways of learning, not imposing what our ways of thinking. It ends up meaning being able to listen. Listen attentively to what this people that have been living in those places have to share with us. And it also means acknowledging that it doesn’t matter how long you spend in a place, you might not ever came to understand it so profoundly as the people that have been born there. I have a four-year-old son. He’s beautiful, and he makes me smile every single day. And constantly, I am thinking whether he is going to be able to experience and learn from people that see the world in a very different way. Because that is magic. And it makes me ask one question to myself on a regular basis. Which is, what kind of ancestor will I be? What kind of ancestor will we collectively be? And this is not a new question. This is a question that indigenous peoples have been asking themselves for generations. For hundreds of years, for thousands of years, in many places. And this leads me also to think that if we have the capacity to start thinking about well-being, not in terms of what we take, but thinking about what we can leave behind. Maybe, maybe, we will be able to manage the identity crisis that we have as a society, and face some most pressing environmental challenges of the century. Thank you very much. (audience applauding) Think I’ll call on Mark next. Yeah, thanks so much.
Thank you so much. Thank you. Gonna stand, I think, as well. So I didn’t bring any slides, so it’s a little less fun. I brought just a still. But I’m gonna set this here. This still describes a lot. So I’m, my name’s Mark Pierce, here from City Year Boston. City Year, first I have to describe a little bit of what City Year is. City Year is an organization. We are funded largely in part by AmeriCorps, we are derived from AmeriCorps. So we are thinking a lot about every day, how we can put volunteers into classrooms in urban public schools, and create additional opportunities, and give additional, I heard it described yesterday, as an additional set of eyes, additional set of ears, and then an additional heart in that classroom. So we’re in 29 Boston public schools this year. Constantly expanding, last year, we were in 23, to give a little bit of a scope of that. We’re in about, I’m gonna misquote it, so you know, check cityyear.org later, and you’ll get the real number. I think we’re in about 28 cities as of this year in the United States, and then also, interestingly enough, we have some across the Atlantic. We have a few sites in the U.K., and a site in South Africa as well. But it actually all started here in Boston 30 years ago. 30 years and two months ago, 1988. So what we do, and what we’re doing this year, especially. We put AmeriCorps members, young volunteers, we usually say around the ages of 17 to 24. Some of them are just out of high school, and some of them are coming right out of college, post-undergrad, they’re looking for something to do, something to engage with before they enter the workforce in a different capacity. We put those young volunteers into classrooms alongside teachers. They don’t serve as the primary teacher in the classroom, they’re along the teacher who has been with those kids for years and years. We work in third through 10th grade across 29 different schools in Boston. What these AmeriCorps members do, is we have these very flashy red jackets as well, if you don’t know the branding of City Year can be pretty explosive sometimes. So here’s an example of one of our AmeriCorps members, just a shot, a moment, of working with a student in a classroom. We see these, these are happening, actually, in many cases, right now. We have almost 300 AmeriCorps members in classrooms right now, as we speak, or as I speak, I should say. Their goal is to just be that additional set of eyes, ears, and heart in the classroom, to be there for a student, and to create opportunities, and to be able to differentiate instruction in ways that students don’t always get when you have one teacher in front of 30 students. Just by having one additional adult in that classroom, we’re reducing that ratio, and in the educational realm, that adult to student ratio is very important, because it creates more meaningful experiences for students. My role at City Year Boston, I did a service here as well. I was a bit of a traitor, I did it in Chicago, but Chicago’s a great city as well. (laughs) My role at City Year Boston for the past three years, I’ve been really helping organize and promote our after school programs. Some are before school programs, so we call it extended day internally, but I’ll just call it after school here, ’cause it’s probably what most people know about it. Our goal with our after school programs is to extend the school day. So our AmeriCorps members are there before the beginning of the first class, and they’re there through the end of the school day after doing after school programs. It’s very rigorous year, that’s why it’s a sprint, they’re volunteering for a year. We call it a sprint. They’re there, they are engaging with the students all day, by them in the classroom. And then at the end of the school day, they’re taking a break for 10 seconds to catch their breath, and then they’re out there putting on a program. What we can do in those, what we have the privilege of doing in those after school programs, is delivering curriculum packages, delivering instruction, delivering opportunities, really, to students, that they don’t get in their every day classroom experience, with math, and ELA, being huge focuses for our U.S. education system. That’s obviously a huge priority for increasing likeliness of graduating from high school. And that’s important, that’s one of our mission, one of our goals. What we can do with our after school programs is give them that extra stuff, that extra fun engagement opportunity. And I heard a lot of kinda of passion and philosophy around the idea that we need to support young people, and give them opportunities to explore, and I think that’s what everyone here is really trying to figure out how to capture in their own way. And what one thing we have the opportunity to do this year, we’ve committed to working with the, our heroes over here at MIT, who are developing the Lego program, the Lego robotics program. We’ve committed to bringing that program to a couple of our schools. At least a couple, we’re figuring it out still, as we speak. But how we can get that opportunity into our classroom, for students who live just, in many cases, a mile or less from the ocean, but don’t necessarily get to explore it. How we can give them the opportunity to do that, both in the classroom, at the end of the school day, with maybe an aquarium, building some Legos. I mean, I think about how awesome that would have been when I was young, (laughs) building some Legos and being told, hey, you’re gonna be able to take these over to the ocean, and explore the ocean floor, possibly with some camera, maybe collect some data, and getting into those new opportunities is really invigorating and inspiring to me. So when the question was asked, when the partnership came to our door, essentially, it was very easy to say yes, absolutely, we want to bring this program to some of our students in our Boston public schools, that’s what we’re looking forward to do. That’s it for me, thank you. (audience applauding)
Thank you so much, Mark. I don’t know if it’s Madeleine, or if it’s me. I wanna invite Tierney Oh, it’s me!
to go next, if you don’t mind, and just to highlight, I appreciated the notes you gave me at the beginning of the fresh way to help us to find connections, so I look forward to you sharing. Oh, yes. Well, so first, a big thank you to Katy for gathering this amazingly diverse group of people, and it’s exciting to be here at my dad’s alma mater, actually. First time speaking here. I think most of us would love looking at scenes like this. Incidentally, this was just taken from one of Sven Lindblad’s ships, just a couple days ago, before, in the Channel Islands, and we love looking at images like this. But I think most of us look at more images like this, and we sit in traffic for many of hours of the day. Now, we are officially an urban species, metrosapiens as some anthropologists have come to call us. And we, you know, more of us live in cities than don’t, and we spend 90% of our time indoors, clicking away at our computers, and perhaps, this is having some influence on our mental health, and our rising mental health issues. So now, I think, intuitively, we all know that being outside is good for us, but recently, there’s been a slew of evidence-based research that is giving hard science behind why it feels so good to be a tree hugger. (laughs) (audience laughing) There’s hard science behind that. There’s everything from boosting your microbiome, to bolstering your immune system, to cognitively restoring you, and bringing back your, you know, helping your creativity, to reducing ADD in schools. And it’s good for the planet, people understanding these these natural benefits. There’s just a slew of information out there now that’s supporting this. And yet, we are careening into being a fully urban species. So the research I’m gonna share with you today are a series of research projects that I’ve been working on that are working to boost our knowledge of and accessibility to nature’s benefits. And one of these is working with severely nature-deprived populations, specifically within incarcerated populations. And this is a project that I’ve, with my wonderful colleague, Nalini Nadkarni, where we’ve been placing nature imagery into solitary confinement prisons, to lower stress and violence. And we’ve had tremendous success with this after a year of deployment. 26% reduction in discipline referrals. And I just talked to the prisons a couple days ago, and they’re like, we don’t have just one of these rooms now, we have nine. And so great news from that. One prison we were working in, and then we’ve had prisons and jails around the country wanting to adopt these Blue Rooms, is what they call them. So exciting stuff there. Did the time, am I out of time? Got two more minutes. Oh. Oh, huh, and so now, we’re putting… What?
You have two minutes, and 50.
Two, oh, okay, (laughing) ’cause my timer said zero. So we’re now testing sound scapes,
(birds chirping) both songbird, and waves, and wind, and we’re testing those to put in prisons as well. So that research got me more interested in how do we actually process nature imagery, and why does it have these benefits? Advertisers know how important imagery is. When we read a website, we know through eye-tracking studies, that we use this F pattern of reading a website. And we know that when we look, we’re drawn to faces. And when we look at faces, we’ll just look at the face, and we won’t look at the text next to it, but we can change the direction of the face, and what the face is looking at, that will direct our attention more to the text. These are things that advertisers know, of course. We also know that we have a left-gaze bias, that we tend to look more in the left, our left field of a person’s right side, and we look there for emotional information. So all this information that marketers have, we need this as conservation biologists. And so I’ve partnered now, after a Blue Mine conference where I met Nic Sauve at Stanford, I’m now involved in a neuroscience project with Nic at Stanford, where we’ve taken 900 of National Geographic’s top Instagram images, National Geographic has the largest Instagram account in the world, and we are looking at how the brain responds to the nature imagery, as we run people through an fMRI scanner. And we also, so we see what’s going on in their brains when they like the image, and also when we ask them to protect that. So we can see correlative brain pattern, brain activity patterns, predictive brain activity patterns that overlap is where we can have behavioral change, and where we can optimize our messaging platforms. And we’re also, so what we’re also doing with these images, is trying to get into the nitty gritty of the components of the imagery, whether it has ocean in it, or greenery, or fractal dimensionality, or spatial frequency, all those things that you can use to categorize and quantify visual imagery, and we tag those. We’ve hand tagged those with RAs at Stanford. Lots of them, we’ve also partnered with the University of Chicago, to get algorithmic tags, and in doing this, we’ve been able to then map this with some amazing complex visualization mapping software that’s all available on GitHub, compliments of Vibrant Data. My friend Eric Berlow started that. And, oh, I’m running out of time. But we can see that mapping these images, they cluster into different fields, and we can start to see what parts of those images are most powerful, optimize those, and then have that enter into our messaging for environmental campaigning. I think that as we careen into being a a fully urban species, we need to be able to navigate the, not only navigate our way into this fast-moving future, but also figure out how to navigate the dark waters of our cerebral seas, that reside inside our bony skull caps. And we need to be able to wayfind, without leaving the blue, and the green, and our humanity, and our sanity behind. So thank you. Thank you, Tierney.
(audience applauding) Thank you. Next, we welcome Madeleine to share about Ocean Explorer, the community, thank you so much. Yes, we do have the largest Instagram following of any brand, I’m really glad you mentioned that, ’cause it’s a point of pride, it’s one of those vanity things, that’s great. (audience laughing) So I work for National Geographic, and one of the things that I think a lot about is how we engage people in conservation science and exploration topics. And it’s been, I only have two slides, because every time I do one of these, and I listen to all these amazing speakers, I end up rewriting my talk three or four times, and like, oh, I should include that, or I should mention this. And so I only had two, but I really wanted to go back to the transmedia workshop that we did yesterday when we talked about, you know, wade, swim, and dive into topics. A lot of science journalism and science communication does a really good job of the wade and the swim, but how do we create an accessible way for the public to dive deep into topics that they care about? Someone who’s mesmerized by a video of a swimming feather star, or you know, filled with wonder when they see a playful seal, or in awe of, you know, the amazing and weird and beautiful things that we find in the deep ocean. How do we take those viral moments, whether they be funny or profound, and get someone to engage more deeply in some of the more complicated, nuanced, and sophisticated science conservation exploration narratives that don’t span the 39 seconds of the Facebook video, but actually often spanned years, and are filled with failure and successes, and changes in direction. Really, the scientific process, how it really works out. One of the things that I have encountered a lot in thinking about this is, you know, in science journalism, we often cover discoveries and successes, but no one walks into a forest, or into a tidal pool, and picks up an animal, and is like, new species! But it appears that way from sometimes how we write about these things. Usually, it was years of returning to that field site. Lots of work, lots of mistakes. Maybe they weren’t even looking for it in the first place. And there’s amazing stories on that path, that this, the public very rarely hears from the pages, or from the Instagram places like National Geographic. So how can we provide that? We ended up building, helping build a community called Open Explorer, which we envisioned as a community for science, conservation, and exploration, and really is like a digital field journal, where people can follow scientists and their work, and their teams, or their labs, or their projects, over the course of weeks, months, even years of research being done. And we continue to build digital tools on this platform, to try to connect people directly to scientists, but also to try to get people, not just observing, but actually potentially participating more and more in science and conservation. One of the things that we observe about how people dive into new things, is they observe initially, and then often, what they do, is they imitate, and off imitation, they end up iterating, and that’s only after that, that we get into innovation. But it’s really hard for them to get to innovation, or really engaging, if they can’t actually see how these processes evolve. And besides just making science more transparent and engaging people in this process, we also wanted to create a community where we could actually, literally empower people. Like it’s great to be like, oh, great stories, that’s very important. But one of the things that I’ve always really wanted to do is actually get people tools, and actually get them exploring the ocean. And they’re, if you want people to do something, you have to make it easy. And that’s actually really hard to do in design, and in community building and stuff. But we have partnered with a ROV company, named OpenROV, which has actually gotten a couple mentions from the stage, and with funding from Rolex, from the Moore Foundation, from the Avatar Alliance, OceanX, and the Schmidt Marine Technology Partners. Through Open Explorer, we’re actually gonna be giving away 1,000 underwater ROVs to scientists, to students, to NGOs, to local communities, to indigenous groups, people who have questions and want to see what’s below the surface, but either don’t have access for logistical and infrastructure reasons, or, even if they do have access, it’s limited by the amount of time they can spend underwater, by a brief field season. Our goal in doing this was really to get people excited about exploring, and then documenting what they were doing, how were they modifying their ROVs, what are they finding? And actually expand the community of people who can do ocean exploration in a really literal, profound, immediate way. And I’m really excited it, so this is why I wanted to talk about it today. And so I actually have three things that I wanted to come out of this talk. One is, I would love for you to consider this an invitation to contribute or participate in Open Explorer. We have a ton of people here who I’m gonna embarrass and call out, who are already involved, including Katy, and Diva, and Andrew Saller, and Carlos, who talked about the manta rays yesterday, documented how they were doing that project on our platform. It’s become a really vibrant place where people are documenting how they’re building tools, protocols, and how they’re working with local groups to do innovation in ocean exploration. The second thing is that I’m fairly new to this space. I’ve only been working at National Geographic for about 18 months. And we launched Open Explorer in April, and we launched the S.E.E. Initiative less than three weeks ago. So my network is primarily through the National Geographic realm, and that means it is predominantly Western, English speaking, and is not super diverse, but there’s amazing people here doing work with local groups all over the world. And if you have people whose work or research, or communities would benefit from tools like these, I would love to talk to you. And then lastly, what’s the third thing, yeah, nope, I think I’ll just end it there, and say (laughing), that I really wanna get tools to more people, and I wanna then get their stories out to the National Geographic audience, on Instagram, across our magazine, across our online presence. And if that is something that sounds likes something you would like to do, I would really like to talk to you. (audience applauding)
Thank you so much. Thank you all for sharing so passionately. I wanna go to questions very soon, but before I do, I really like how you ended your piece with a call to action and invitation. I wanna allow all the other panelists to take just about 30 seconds each, and answer two ideas. One is basically, what do you feel is so urgent about your work right now? And what do you want people in the audience to do in response to this urgency? What action can they take, or can they encourage other people to take, based on the urgent issues we see now. So I’ll start with you, Margarita. Yeah, for me, it is urgent for more and more people to understand and recognize the role of indigenous peoples in actually protecting all of us. And I urge you to read some amazing books about it, so that you can get to be so passionate about it as I am. One of the amazing books is The Wayfinders by Wade Davis. It is a really good introduction that can open a lot of ideas for action. That’s great, so read The Wayfinders, thank you. Go ahead, Tierney.
Oh, and he also has a series of lectures online, if you don’t wanna read (laughing). (audience laughing)
‘Cause nobody seems to read these days!
Oh, so there are options for everyone! (everyone laughing) If you wanna be more visually oriented (laughing). I would just say, it is so important to culture a love of the natural world as youngsters, and if you have access to kids, get your kids outside. Get them comfortable being outside. The thing I worry about most is as we put more and more walls between ourselves and the natural world, especially when we’re youngsters, we’re not gonna have that deep bond that we need in order to protect our natural resources as adults, and that bond has to be made repeatedly, and it has to be made deeply, and it has to be made when we’re young. So get your kids outside, and keep them outside, even when it’s raining. (everyone laughing) Alright, please.
Sure. I think one of the most urgent things about, that keeps me just kind of focused on why I do what I do, is the idea that there’s not always enough opportunity to make a connection that’s genuine, through the curriculum that’s being given in the U.S. at this point. I can’t speak for other countries, but there’s just such a limited scope as we focus in on what is really important to get students to graduation of high school. And that doesn’t necessarily include all the time, the arts and the sciences, and different, and in those more explorative capacities, right? So I think what’s urgent, is giving students those empirical experiences to enjoy something, and to be engaged in something, and for some spark of inspiration to occur when they realize how accessible the outside world is. And also, you know, you get to play with Legos in this program. That’s amazing! Nowadays, building is through Minecraft, and through Fortenite, and that’s tough, and I would love to see students make connections building with their hands again, like I once did. (audience laughing) Madeleine, you get one more chance to give us a call to action. Oh, I think the call to action, to me, for me, oh, I’m sorry. Sorry.
You were trying to pass it. You can!
No! If you really feel like you need one.
No, no, I shouldn’t. I was sitting back, you were sitting forward, it was convenient.
Yeah. Yeah, I guess, on a metalevel, I really care that, I think, sometimes we think that if we lower the barriers to science and exploration, it means we’re lowering the bar, and I think, you know, Allan hit on the head with, we need more tools that people can use that don’t need the fourth and fifth decimal places on them. What we’re doing is trying to bring the first of those tools out there. I would love, it’s been up three weeks, we’ve gotten hundreds of applications for these from all over the world, so many interesting organizations. But I’m already ready to do the next one, like what’s the next tool that we can make available to our community, be it terrestrial or ocean-based. And my other call to action would be, if you guys have ideas for tools, or what we should be addressing next, and how to empower ocean exploration, or terrestrial exploration, please come talk to me, because I’m ready for the next thing already. Thank you, I think this is when I get to stand up, and I’m going to ask for help. If it’s really far away, I’m going to ask for multiple throws. Alright, I see someone in the back. Do you wanna ask a question? So please do, I’m gonna ask for team throwing. Can I get someone to help me get it all the way to the back row. Alright, green shirt, can you help me out? There you go, keep going, pass until it’s in the back. Keep, raise your hand. She’s going back to her, keep going one more time, and good team, thank you! (clapping) (audience applauding)
Thank you very much! So first of all, thanks a lot, that was a really interesting session. But I have a question. I’m constantly exhausted and somewhat depressed by how indigenous people are treated by our own. So by those of us that travel, whether it’s conservation, whether it’s the adventure, or whether it’s the academics. And I just wanted to know, because I’m constantly hitting a brick wall on how to communicate on this topic, how to, the concept of, you know, treating people as equals. How do you deal with this? How are you getting the message out to people that, you know, we’re doing this wrong? Yeah, that is a really good questions, and a challenging answer, right, because it all depends who are you talking with. There is a very heavy bias to science. And what people sometimes don’t understand that might be part of the traditions on the way of knowledge of indigenous people is seen as like ah, that is really something not useful, right. And what is interesting nowadays is that more and more people are recognizing that the fate of our planet, and ourselves, in the hands of indigenous peoples, worldwide, if you look at how nature is doing, and you compare protected ares with indigenous territories, indigenous territories are way better managed than protected areas, right? So there are numbers for the people that need numbers, to show that this is a path that we need to follow, because otherwise, we are not going to move in the way that we want to move in order to address the social and environmental challenges that we are facing. Thank you, that was very clear. If you have another hand, if so, can we get a team toss all the way to the lady here in the red sweater. (audience talking)
Alright team! (audience laughing)
We’ll have to coordinate to you a bit more. One more throw, I think will get it there. Thank you so much.
And maybe, if I can ask, it is also message of hope. It is also message of hope, because despite all of the challenges that indigenous peoples have faced, they are still there. Thank.
And they will be there. Thank you, Margarit, please, go ahead. Alright, thank you all. I was wondering what advice you might have for how we can encourage minority students here in the U.S., or, I mean, abroad, wherever, to find their own personal, kind of connection to, and stake in science, that not only uses their own identity, but leverages that and celebrates it? That might be a good one for City Year to speak of. Yeah, I think incredibly challenging. I think the best thing we can do is create opportunities to explore something new, right, which is another, just an example of how we’re seeing kind of the genesis of City Year and MIT working together, creating this experience to make a unique opportunity, to allow a student to engage in something that’s outside of their technology, and outside of their block, their neighborhood, right? I don’t know if I could possibly be even qualified to answer the question at broad, but I think it’s really about creating those experiences, and one of the things that we are aiming to do in City Year is put another person there to ask those questions of students. So I think mentorship plays a huge role in it, and that’s something that we find really important in our work, and in our service, and it’s creating, is giving opportunities for students to have a mentor to talk to, just to ask, to receive questions from, and to be asked, you know, what is it that you’re interested in? Or, what is it that I could get you interested in, to see that there’s different possibilities that can create that spark, to really create this empirical experience that says that you can do something different from what you’re experiencing now. And I think that that’s really important. And then I think from ocean, from Open Explorer, there’s a piece of this as well, right? Yeah, absolutely. I, in stories, I think people really connect with stories on a really fundamental level. And we talk about that Nat Geo border being a portal to other worlds. In order to, if we can get someone to walk through that door, we can get them to walk out of another door, as like a slightly different person. That’s the power of storytelling. And especially when we talk about science and academia. There is a real anxiety people have about talking about failure, and about fear, and about the emotional, and the personal aspects of their work, and that’s actually something that I really actively encourage, that we create an inclusive community that celebrates failure, as well as victories. And those stories are more relatable, and more emotionally potent, and ultimately, I think, more representative of what it’s like to be a human, and to be a scientist, and I think that’s gonna be really important in making scientific career seem accessible to people who are not seeing the daily struggles of academics, who will all volunteer that they are struggling with their work, and there’s failure, and they have to make changes and shift direction. And so I think the way people talk about themselves and present themselves is gonna be an important way to make science more accessible to people who don’t have access to it. Thank you all so much. We’ve come to the end of our time. I’ll just highlight one angle to your answers, also asking how we make the policies that makes systems for education, and opportunities for career advancement more available to everyone, which is something we’re still working on in space and oceans. Thank you all so much for discussions, I really
Thanks. appreciate your work.
(audience applauding) Alrighty, so I’m the last thing that is between you and the lunch. So I’ll keep it brief. I wanted to introduce a project, and here’s the clicker, that was started just over six months ago. And really, one of the first reasons that I came here to the Media Lab was to bring the lab, and National Geographic closer together, because as Joi was talking about, Deploy, or Die, Deploy, there are a whole lot of people at National Geographic who are deploying all the time, but don’t always necessarily have technologies they need to explore any number of different types of extreme environments. So, we held an event here in this room called Here Be Dragons, and we brought something like 15 National Geographic explorers, and ocean, other ocean explorers of all different kinds, to really talk about the gaps that exist in exploration and storytelling and technology, and the end goal of the event was for people to form teams, and to come up with project ideas that then would move forward afterward. And so we ended up with 13 proposals for these rapid field deployments. And the goals of all of them were to better understand the ocean, and to connect people to it in some way. They also had to be uniquely suited to the combination of both the national Geographic and MIT communities, and we used a number of criteria to select them, including that they had to be innovative, impactful, compelling, and achievable. So outside, during lunch, you’ll see demos from the eight projects that were selected in February. So there’s still some of them, very in sort of beta prototype-y mode, a lot of them still in progress. But we’re very excited that we’ve made progress in such a very short period of time. And they range, I’m not gonna go into detail on all of them, but they range from using machine learning, to automatically track and classify underwater imagery, to working with neurodivergent youth here in Boston, to bring them in to the inner title zone, to creating immersive experiences to make you feel like you’re a microbe on a slide. One of them, we don’t have here today, is the connected coral project, by Emily Salvador, who moderated the Imagine panel yesterday, sorry, Immerse panel. Because that one is on display at the MIT Museum right now, so you’ll all have a chance to see it tonight during the reception this evening. We also have Dominique Rissolo and Antonella Wilby, excuse me, have a table out there to talk more about their 100 Islands Project, so please, definitely take a look at their table. And yes, please have conversations. Everybody is super excited to share their work with you, and to get feedback on what we could do next with all of these projects. One final note is that we’re not coming back here before breaking up into workshops, so please keep an eye on the time. Workshops will start at 1:30, and just, after lunch, disperse to wherever you need to be. Again, it’s on the back of your name tag. And Telepresence, rather than going to the fifth floor, we’re gonna start in the lecture hall, which is just across the little hallway here. So if you are in either Telepresence section, please start there, and then you’ll move down to the fifth floor after the live connection with a ship. So that’s all for me. Thank you so much, and enjoy lunch! (audience applauding)
We’re gonna do our workshop reportbacks right now, and then wrap it up. So I’d like to invite John up to the stage for the Ocean and Transformation. Thank you, Katy. Ocean and Transformation is a project that we are developing as a long-term research project, together with TBA21-Academy, Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Academy, which is represented here by Markus Reymann. I’m John Palmesino from Territorial Agency, which is a group of architects working on the ocean. And we are try to understand how cohabitation and conviviality can be rethought in the age of Anthropocene. What we did today were two sessions. Each one more or less with 70 or 80 participants. Looking at two complex datasets. One in the Pacific, and one, the Atlantic, overlaying multiple open access datasets on the ocean. In order to create this rather complex image of the ocean in transformation, that range from, say, the Caribbean, all the way to the Philippines, or from the Caribbean, all the way to the Arctic, following the Gulf Stream. Each one of the sessions had the groups looking at these images. Some of the participants mistook Novaya Zemlya in the Arctic for the Florida coast, others knew exactly what was going on in the Neanders of the fjords of Norway, and they could recognize it immediately. So it was a moment of disorientation at the beginning, but that disorientation was, for us, very important, because it allowed us to engage with the key element of the workshop, which was to start think in the ocean as a set of interrelations, as a set of entities that are completely self-organized, and relating to other entities that are equally organized, without ever having an overview. And so that initial misconception by members of the workshop allowed us to enter that. We had two very different sessions. The first one was probably more energetic. It was a larger group. Out of ten groups, we had 10 different stories. The second session was quieter, but engaging in a completely different dynamic. And we had many more overlaps across the stories that were told. The method that we followed was in four steps. We asked the participants to identify an entity. That could be sustained in space and time, either in short periods, or in very long periods in space of time. So we went from identifying little species inhabiting the reef, all the way to identifying El Nino, or the Gulf Stream transforming its dynamics. And then we asked, once we started identifying the entities, to look at how it is they’re affecting their immediate surroundings. So we started seeing the entities operating as a transformative agency, and we started looking at the agencies of these entities in the ocean being distributed. That was the first step. The second step was to look at it backwards. We started looking at how the immediate surroundings of those entities that we identified were affected. The entity that we looked at. And we started finding couplings, and both positive and negative feedbacks. And then came the most difficult part, and that was to tell the story of cycles, of entities that were now circular relations in respect to what they are affecting. So a cycle affecting other cycles. And this was probably the most difficult part in terms of story telling around datasets, where dataset became really engaging, and we had people talking about nuclear tests, or the relationship between whales and fish, and deep sea mining. We had people talking about moratorium, and the exploration in the deep sea. Other people talking about the relationship between the long history of slave trade and exploitation of labor at sea, and contemporary forms of engagement with international trade, and the sea routes that are changing because of global warming. So the number of stories that we are bringing home today with us are multiplied. We thought that we had too much on the table, and we got back with far more. And this is exactly where in the project for us is interesting, because we start thinking that the ocean is the location of contemporary forms of knowledge production, and that allows us to think the Anthropocene in a completely different way. When we are on land, we still think that we are disconnected. We still think that we are stable, that the land beneath our feet is only to be owned. When we start thinking the disconnection in the ocean, and we start thinking the Anthropocene a far more interesting way. And the question that we are really bringing up back home with us, is a number of conditions through which the groups at the table somehow facilitated the description of the ocean, in a way that was non-human. It was a mixture between human non-human agencies that allowed, then, maybe for possible future diplomatic encounters, and hopefully, a climate peace to be in the future. So thank you very much for everyone who participated in the workshop. We really appreciated your time, and in particular, your phenomenal intelligence. And thank you, Katy, Dan, Jenny, and all the people here at the MIT lab, and at NOAA, for allowing us to be here and do this experiment with you. Thank you very much. (audience applauding) We’re gonna tag team this one. So Telepresence Across Scales. We had two very different sets of conversations, and Brian and I have spent a little bit of time trying to figure out what we can tease out of both of them that’s actionable. And one of the things we did, is because it’s about telepresence, we had remote participation from the Okeanos Explorer, and the Nautilus, and we very much appreciate you, if you’re watching this video at some point, thank you, and to all of the participants, thanks very much for your thoughtful, and in many cases, heartfelt and energetic contributions to the discussion. So one of the things that we were really pushing the participants to think about, is that circumstances are changing. And so we were not just looking for incremental improvements over current practice, but rather, we were saying, you know, if you go to the consumer electronics show, and you see there were three different brands of consumer undersea drones for sale there, and you realize that there are millions of people every day who sit around and watch other people play video games, there is clearly a whole lot of untapped potential in the telepresence space, and in the space of watching and creating additional value with regard to the huge volumes of videos that are already being generated and streamed and stored. And I think part of that was building the critical mass of number of vehicles out there. Like right now, where you’ve got Nautilus, Okeanos, and Falkor, you know, diving maybe six months or eight months total out of the year, but once we start having all these consumer electronic drones, posting information in the cloud, you can hit this critical mass of enough people interested in it, where people might be watching for their subsection, but you can draw from all these different sources, and one or two people may be watching all the time when something cool happens, it’ll snowball, and the influences will pull together, and people will start creating their own content based on this raw input, and from an outreach and engagement standpoint, you get this massive amount of data coming out to the community that is kind of being self curated and will allow a much larger group of people to interface with the data from all around the world. Now, in conjunction with that, there were a couple of dimensions that people seem to agree needed a lot more work, and these included, how do you create a sense of community among the people who are doing that? And second, how do you do loop closing? You know, this is no longer just broadcast, but in fact, if lots of people are looking at your stuff, how can you benefit from all of the care that they’ve put into watching the stuff you didn’t have time to watch, and you know, look up information about. And so thinking about how you create an incentive for that content, not just being used for a bunch of middle schoolers to get excited about the ocean, but actually, for you to think about what is your next cruise going to do based up on what these people found of value in your previous one. Yeah, and as part of that, and looking at it not from just the engagement outreach side, but looking at it from the scientific side, of with this probably preceptive drop in bandwidth and equipment cost that’s coming between the drones, the access, the bandwidth, getting that information out there, making sure that information is collected and uploaded in such a way that it’s scientifically useful as well, so it can go out and capture the hearts and minds of people, but as well, the higher-end users, the scientists, and the serious citizen scientists can still use that data in such a way that is scientifically relevant. Alright, so there was another set of discussions regarding how much context is appropriate in order to give people a proper sense of what it is they’re actually looking at. You know, the discussion of the previous workshop brought in that notion a little bit, that do you just want to show video, do you have other pieces of curated information that allow people to get a better sense of what it is that they’re working with. Anything else to add? I have to check my notes. (man laughing)
Too many people talking too often. (audience laughing) I can’t keep track of that. I was trying to reread our great note taker, Susan Haynes’s notes before I came up here, and I didn’t have time to even finish them all. It was quite a lively, Crew in there.
It was, it was great. You’re absolutely right. I think that was pretty much it. Now we’ve gotta get up.
I think that was it as well. (audience laughing)
So thank you all, and if you’d like to talk to us about what do we do about it, I think we’re both going to be trying to do something about it, and looking for other people to join in with us. Absolutely, thank you all.
So thank you. (audience applauding) Hello everyone, I’m gonna keep this short and sweet. So I’m Clarice Sullivan, and I participated in the workshop on designing a pop-up Discovery Lab this afternoon, and when, during the workshop, when they asked what our thoughts were, our definitions of a pop-up Discovery Lab, a few words and concepts came to mind. A lot of people said that it should be something that is low-cost, something that can easily be replicable, and especially, accessible to more people, especially those that are in areas that are hard to reach. Like in our country, most of our aquariums and museums are mainly found in the city. It’s harder to build a museum in the provinces. So having a pop-up lab for sure would be something that is easily to carry to an area would be great. It is also a sort of tangible media that can mainly teach children, and even adults, different scientific concepts using hands-on activities as well. And during the workshop, they also talked about having a framework or a structure that teachers, researchers, and scientists can use, so that they can design their own pop-up Discovery Lab. And the main bullet points of that is, you need to identify a question that you’re trying to ask. What is your area of interest? What do you want to teach these children or the adults? Who is your audience? Will it be children, will it middle schoolers, will it be high schoolers? And what are the constraints, and physical and financial considerations that you will need to address if you are gonna build a Discovery Lab that you will be taking to different places. You can’t, essentially, log around an Illumina sequencer to, I don’t know, a remote island easily, so maybe you could try a nanapore sequencer. Or you could try bringing, if you wanna talk about microbes, maybe a very small compound microscope, instead of the big other microscopes. And then the other (laughing).
(audience laughing) I know, and then, when they also asked us to do some hands-on creation of our own labs, a couple of ideas that they had was to build remotely operated mini tank that essentially rides along the bottom of the reef, or of the benthic area, to explore the splash zone, because you don’t wanna send in little children or other students into a break zone, and there’s a wave that’s about to just essentially wipe them out. Other ideas that they had was having a float cam in the middle of the water column. Somebody mentioned an augmented reality tool, and also a motion camera for the water. And all of these ideas that they had, mainly focused on citizen science and essentially making science accessible to all. So thank you! (audience applauding) Hi, I’m Neil. So in this workshop, we talked about how do you design crowdsourcing or crowd computing system. We started with the science of crowd computing. We talked about strengths and limitations of artificial intelligence algorithms. We looked at how data is growing, and what kind of techniques that will help us to get labor data, so that we can train AI algorithms in better way. When doing crowd computing, we don’t realize the risks associated with it. A lot of time, being as with the crowd, like, oh, they’re gonna label the data. But can we make crowd as a partner? Can we build the platform for them to succeed? Why should they contribute? So we discussed those topics. We briefly talked about previous platforms that are successful. We looked at the success stories and failures, and we concluded with ethical discussions, like what it means to kind of involve the crowd, but not to misuse them in the scientific exploration process. In the end, we had two different projects we asked people to engage into. And people then break into two groups, and both of those groups discussed more problems, which often arise in this kind of ecosystems. So one of the problems, Ben will talk, and other, Jeremy, Rebecca, and Max will talk about. So the problem that I was talking about in generally was dealing with the vast amounts of video and imagery data that exist in across scales in ocean exploration. So in the theme of crowdsourcing, and crowd computing, it was interesting that the two sessions kinda broke across different. In the first session, there was a lot of talk around engagement, and talking about the logistical challenges in getting people involved, and determining what the right questions to ask people are, and what the level of expertise and error you might want to get to get people engaged in that. And in the second session, it was a lot more around a common theme that we’re hearing of, how do you solve the underlying challenge of accessibility, and there is no place for you to go and upload everyone’s underwater data on the Internet so that they can be accessible to everyone in one of these platforms. So you know, it kind of highlighted the two, the technical and the logistical challenges around building some of these systems. So I introduced some case studies of these, so that actually satellite imagery and satellite data for ocean exploration, and people discussed those case studies in a couple different ways. First, how you can engage a wider audience using that data, because it is undeniable that data, such as sea surface temperature, or even just imagery, is much harder to relate to for a wider audience than, you know, personal video of an encounter with an octopus on the seafloor. So in terms of using, or leveraging a crowd repeating for science, people talked about perhaps using ground truth in situ like verification of data collector for all these satellites, you can contact local communities to actually go out and study and collect samples of their coastal ecosystems, to verify the data you’re getting from these satellites. Another aspect we talked about were ethical considerations. So as one example, you can track fishing data from fishing ships all around the world, and you could theoretically source out so people can identify illegal fishing activity, but that might enable a whole fleet of kind of like vigilante people who are going out and trying to prosecute illegal fishing activity. And that might be what we want, it might be not what we want. So it was an interesting discussion, I think people had different thoughts on that topic. You wanna share other thoughts?
Yeah, sure. So Jeremy, Max, and I all working on the same project, largely focusing on how we can use the satellite data that’s already available to solve different problems around the oceans. So one of the big things that I took away from this is while a lot of this data from NASA, and NOAA, and other international organizations is technically available online. It’s not necessarily usable. So while NASA and NOAA have all these great datasets, how can we make those more usable for people who are interested in trying to solve ocean problems, to try to use that data in a better way. And I think all that I would add is it gave me a sense of truly the magnitude of the problem, just how much data is out there, and how much is used for a specific purpose, and then the challenge of accessing that data for other purposes, and bringing that from wherever it was stored into use for another purpose. There’s actually one.
(audience applauding) Oh! So before we conclude, there’s one thing which kind of came out in both of the workshops, that most of the time, we are so fascinated with having access to big data, but we often forget, like what kind of problem that we are trying to solve. So it’s really important to kind of spend at least few months figuring out what’s the research question, or exploration question that as a stakeholder, we want to solve, and how to kind of decompose that problem so that citizen science community can understand it. So I think focus needs to shift from lot of data, to what are the challenging problems out there and how to break them down, so that people from high school to senior citizens can participate, and solve them collectively. (audience applauding) Those certainly could, at the last minute. Hi everyone. Okay, so I’m Randy Rogin, I’m from Boston University, and it was a pleasure to run this workshop with many other people, all of whom are still in the room, and about 80 of you who came. We covered a lot of ground, and I know it’s late, so I’ll try to briefly sum up here. My Deep Sea, My Backyard was a project that was born from the Dragons workshop that happened here in the MIT Media Lab in February. And what it’s really about is democratizing the oceans. It’s really about broadening ocean access, and making anybody an explorer, and an explorer on your terms, where you get to explore your own backyard, for the purposes that you want, for the reasons that you would like on your time scale, and on, you know, at your convenience. In order to operationalize that, we had the pleasure of putting out two pilot experiments, that were still going on, two pilot programs using Nat Geo DropCams, the OpenROV Trident, and a custom-made reel cam, that Brandon Phillips, wherever you are in this room, built as part of our team. We are midway through those projects, and we’ve actually been both to Trinidad and Tobago, and to Kirabis, to bring this technology, teach people how to use it, train them on the finer points of troubleshooting things when they go wrong, or how to tweak things, and how to access the data, try to figure out what they might be looking at, and then have left the tech in country for everyone to be able to explore, again, on their own terms. This is part of building a distributed model of exploration where anybody can contribute. And so at our workshop, what we did, is we tried to take that example, and open it up to everybody, to try to figure out how everyone in the room, regardless of where you’re from, or where you work, or where you think you might want to work, or even in a virtual space, might be able to embrace My Deep Sea, My Backyard, to be able to bring exploration to anyone. And a huge thank you to NOAA, and Katy, and the MIT Media Lab for hosting a workshop that was able to take something that was developed in a pilot project, and really turn it into something that we could have a really important visioning conversation about, for everyone. So our workshop was broken into three pieces. We talked about technology, culture, and capacity, and the next generation. And (laughing) from the tech point of view, we really came to a few conclusions, both as a team, and as a workshop, that it has to be easy to use in this kind of model, and it has to be low-maintenance, and logistically simple. And one of the other things that came out of both sessions of our workshop was the desire for increased capacity of this technology. Things like adding sound, or adding extra sensors, or even the ability to potentially stream live to some extent, or stream quickly afterwards, so that more and more people could access what people were seeing. It’s the kind of idea where you’re excited about it, and so your parents are gonna be excited about it, and your neighbors are gonna be excited about it, and whatever community you have, you would like to be able have the ability to engage, even with small tech. From a culture perspective, there was a lot of conversation about how this works in landlocked parts of the United States, or other parts of the world. And the workshops came to a couple of general thoughts and conclusions, for example, using lakes or rivers as proxies for ocean exploration. Just any way to engage. And taking a watershed approach through that, so understanding how all of these freshwater ecosystems relate to the ocean, because of course, everything does, and really, just exciting and igniting this culture of exploration, with whatever body of water you have. One of the other really important cultural pieces that came out, was the importance of having a key person as a project champion. Without the one person who is going to take this, embrace it, be passionate about it, and run with it, it would never have the traction that it needs. And it was really exciting to see 80 people in the room over two workshops, each one of which could have been that one person, and who knew a lot more, so I think those people exist and are out there. We also talked about culture in terms of even the coastal parts of the United States, but there’s so much urbanization, so what does exploration in an urban context look like, versus a rural on, and how can we use some of those concentrations of geography and space and people, and what opportunities that opens up, right, to have exploration, and engage a larger body. And we also talked about engaging community leaders, both in a traditional sense, or not, and what that might mean in differens parts of the country, or the world. From a capacity perspective, I mean, there was a lot of talk about increasing capacity from an educational standpoint, engaging students, engaging citizen scientists, engaging recreational fishers. But there were some also really creative ideas that came out of these workshops. For example, one of the best things about My Deep Sea, My Backyard, is that you can take low-cost, small, easily accessible tech, and deploy it off of any boat, even a kayak. But at that point, the explorer is limited to one or two people, or if you have a small ship, maybe three or four, or a larger ship, or boat, ship, you know. But if you really wanna reach a lot of people, and you still have small tech, how can you augment that? And one of the creative ideas that came out of our workshop was maybe having a drone fly overhead, so that you can have a shore-based audience while you’re actually putting something in the water. And about creating physical spaces for students where this becomes a gathering point, and I think there was just a lot of really creative and energetic ideas that came from the concept of capacity and culture by using this technology. In the end, My Deep Sea, My Backyard really is about inspiring, and contributing to a community-based program for ocean exploration wherever your community is, and I think that we had a lot of excitement in the room about what’s possible, the tech that exists, the tech that’s yet to be, and all of the explorers who are out there. So thank you. (audience applauding) Took up the clicker, and I’ve also got little toys to play with, it’s really great. Okay, so yesterday, I was the last speaker before the reception, and today, I’m the second to last speaker, so things are moving up for me, which is great (laughing).
(audience laughing) And my talk is shorter, so that’s even better for you. I think we can all agree, we’ve had a great time here, and it’s been a very impressive event in every possible way. As someone who’s been involved with the Ocean Exploration forum since the first one in 2013 where I collaborated very closely with Jerry Schubel, it’s really gratifying for me to see them evolve and change and take advantage of the venues, invite more diversity, in all different ways you want to define that. Discipline diversity, age, gender, everything. We’ve really, I think, come a long way from the first one, however important that was. So really appreciate Katy and the team here working with us, and Carlie Wiener, and others too, to pull this one off. So the question, I think we’re all energized. We’ve also all been to workshop where we can’t really remember what we said or did in about two weeks. Okay, so what do we do about that? So what we’ve done, and I’d like to explain a little bit about our process, which is a bit of an experiment for us, is a couple of things. First of all, all this material, the transcripts, the video, we hope the presenters will allow the presentations to be archived and used. Will be collated and shipped off to a group called Human Design in Boulder. So Human Design is a very important part of the XPRIZE workshops, and some of you may have talked to John or Reed, who just had to dash off to catch their flight back to Boulder, but they’re a design agency, a messaging agency, a marketing company, and they’re very passionate personally about the ocean. So they’re gonna help us structure this report to be a bit different than, maybe we shouldn’t call it a report, maybe we should call it something else, but a document, a book, that will help to capture the spirit, and the great ideas that we’ve come up with here. So we’re pretty excited about that because quite frankly, those of us involved in production of these before, have other jobs, and they take a while. So the document that you I hope picked up on the table back there was from October 2017, and it was printed last week so that you could have it here. We’d like to do better than that next time, okay. So that’s one thing. The second thing is, we had repeteurs in each of the workshops, so repeteurs, if you’re here, please stand up. Okay, these are mostly NOAA people, also Allison Fundis and some others, Carlie. Wanna get big round of applause for these people who worked very hard. (audience applauding) So if you forgot what you did in two weeks, they remembered, because they took notes. So we’ll also use those, but we need more help. And in the spirit of creating community, and promoting community, and not forgetting what we did here in two weeks, after Thanksgiving, you’re going to get a survey on Tuesday, Katy, right? Yep.
Okay. (people laughing) So in addition to resources page on the website, that we’ll have things like the XPRIZE presentation, an-jo-ti-cus paper, and perhaps the other presentations and other material. We’re going to rely on you to take this survey, quickly, within a week. I think a week’s reasonable. Otherwise, you’ll forget, right? And it’s going to have three simple questions, because ultimately, we need to capture your ideas and your energy, and your perspective. I don’t wanna sit here with Katy and kinda try and put together what happened here, and then produce something that may not be very interesting in a few months. You can help prevent that from happening, so this is why you have to take the survey. So who knew. That’s a question about what was unexpected, or what was interesting about this event? And it doesn’t have to be, I mean, plenty of stuff in the presentations or the workshops, no question, but in the spirit of community, we also all had sidebars. I might have had more sidebars than actual workshop experience, but nevermind. What happened in those sidebars that was unexpected or new to you, changed your thinking, or opened up a new vista. Okay, so we’re giving you these questions now as kind of cheating, so you’re not getting this cold, but we want you to be thinking about these so that you can quickly answer and respond, because we wanna capture this stuff. So the second thing is, and I’m famous on my team for this question, (laughs), also provided to my undergraduate professor who would write on my papers, “so what” at the end of them. So, big deal, you learn something, what are you gonna do about, why is this significant, why does it matter? Why does it matter to you, but also, why does it matter to the community, and why does it matter in terms of how we engage the public on ocean issues? Okay, so that’s ultimately, you know, we can all have a good time and feel really warm and fuzzy about our experiences here, but if you don’t start to translate it into this so what question, all we’ve done is have a great time. Not insignificant, certainly, but it doesn’t have the impact I think we all want to have. Okay, and then the final thing is, the Let’s Go question, is two parts. One is, what are we gonna do about that? Okay, we all have skills and talents. We all have passion. I’m a little bit famous for also saying this, perhaps regrettably, but, great, you’re passionate, what can you do? Okay, passion isn’t enough. It’s necessary, but not sufficient. So what everyone in this room has a skill, or something they know how to do, that can make this equation different in six months, a year, five years. Okay, so what is that? It could be data science. You could be a media person, you could make films. You could be developing the low-cost innovative technologies that we’ve talked a lot about, which are fascinating to me. There are lots of skillsets in this room that need to be applied to these problems that we’ve identified, or these opportunities that we have identified. So what can you do, and how can you contribute, are the questions of Let’s Go. So I would like us all to think about this in a year, and realize that we were different, our work is different, the world is different, in some tiny way, probably not gonna change the entire world, but maybe a corner of it, because we were here, and because we were energized by each other, and by this ocean exploration community. Okay, so we’re providing other resources for you as well. They’ll be at the All Hands on Deck Hashtag will be active, so you’ll be hear, you’ll monitor that, you’ll be seeing things on social media, inviting you to build and add to the community. As I mentioned, the resources page will be available, and we’ll definitely be in touch. So thank you very much. It was a pleasure getting to know many of you. Got some more time with the reception. And with that, I’m going to turn it over to Katy, after she’s got her kid squared away there. Uh-huh.
Okay? (audience applauding) Can we bring water up? You wanna bring the water? Does she want to help you? Yeah. I think she should help you. Here, I’ll carry the water. No, I want lots of water! (audience laughing) We can have lots of water after. No. Alright, do you wanna go with your mom? (whimpering) Lay down. Okay. Somebody wanted to help me.
Mama. I wanna to go up, too. Have some water, and then come up. (laughing) Alright, sorry, moving on. Awesome (laughing). First, I would like to thank our organizing committee for all hands on deck, David and Adrienne, from the NOAA office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Carlie from the Schmidt Ocean Institute, and our Media Lab team, that really were the core team that put all of this together. Also, our amazing speakers, especially those who said I don’t do anything in the ocean, so I don’t know why you’re inviting me. Thank you (laughing) for trusting me in being here, and I really thought it brought a huge new different dimension to what we’re doing here. Also, all of our workshop leads, our repeteurs, and all of our demos. They’ve put a ton of work into all of these projects for the last six to nine months, and I couldn’t be more excited about everything that happened here. And thanks to all of you for being here, so please, give yourselves. (audience applauding) ‘Cause we can book caterers, we can book an awesome production team, but the energy, the magic, everything that happened here is really because you all were here and made it possible. So I’ve dedicated, oh, and, what really made it possible, was (laughing) all of our sponsors, of course. Particularly, the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration, and everyone else who was able to contribute, and help us financially to make it possible for our ocean discovery fellows to be here, for us to eat amazing food, and really, for all of this to happen. So I’ve spent my entire career, about half my life now, to ocean exploration. And I’m still amazed by the new perspectives that come to light by events like this, by serendipitous encounters, hi, bug. And all the conversations that I’ve been hearing. Wanna sit with me? There we go! (laughing) Nainoa, this morning, said that the movement is the ultimate voyage. And that movement is starting here today, right here in this room, and I’m gonna get all weepy again. (Katy laughs)
(audience laughing) And I think there are an incredible number of reasons to be optimistic, I truly do. So what we’ve started here, really feels like something new, and I’m not just saying that. So many people have come up to me and said the exact same thing. And as Alan Leonardi said in his remarks yesterday, and has been the theme throughout both of these days, is that this gathering is about opening the ocean to everyone. New ideas, new approaches, ancient voices, new voices, all joining in conversation together. The planet doesn’t have time, we don’t have time to keep doing things the way we have been. We need to accelerate how we’re learning about the ocean, and how we’re communicating and engaging the entire planet in the conversation. And to do that, we really need to do things differently. In her lightning talk today, Leigh Marsh said, well, we’ve never turned on that instrument at that depth, so why would we do it now, but we did, and they discovered something new. So we need to keep doing the unexpected. Keep pushing ourselves to do things that break the cycles of how we’ve always done things. We’ve seen some awesome examples of how to do things differently, from Lego, and comedy, and knitting, and volunteerism, and by bringing all of these ideas together, collectively, I think we truly can make a difference. No one organization, no one person can navigate the solution to the challenges that face us alone. It’s really the connections that we made here today, and beyond, that will help us get there. The MIT Media Lab is about convening these groups in crazy ways, and really harnessing their power, and deploying results, and I’m sorry, Rhys isn’t here, but I am stoked that we had the opportunity to host the National Ocean Exploration Forum this year, and to explore these ideas over the last two days. I hope that the connections made here can help us find this new path forward to a discovered open ocean. Thanks guys! (audience applauding) Yay! Thanks, everybody! So we have our final reception at the MIT Museum. The address is up here, if you’d like to take a picture of it or write it down, and take a walk, it’s about a 10 minute walk, or we also have shuttles. I think, we’re actually running a little bit early, so we won’t wait until 6:15, whenever shuttles get packed up, please jump in them, head over. Again, the Connected Coral Exhibit will be there on the first floor, that’s Emily Salvador’s work, and I hope we’re all able to check it out, and enjoy the new Herreshoff Exhibit, which is a big naval architecture exhibit that just opened a couple weeks ago at the museum, which should be stunning. So we’re looking forward to it, and enjoying the last evening with you all. And tomorrow, at the IMAX theater at the New England Aquarium, please join us. All sorts of really fun events that are open and free to the public. So please join us and tell your friends. Thanks guys! (audience applauding)
Oh, wait! Bev has a question, or something! Well, we just wanna give a huge thank you to Katy! (Katy laughing)
(audience cheering) Thanks!

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