HSE Spotlights Present and Future Scientific Developments at Geek Picnic 2019
This July, St. Petersburg and Moscow hosted Geek Picnic, the popular science festival for lovers of science and cutting-edge technology. This year HSE University became an official partner of the event. Festival guests got to see the recent projects of HSE professors, students, and graduates as well as attend lectures by leading HSE experts.
There year’s festival theme was ‘IMMORTALITY / Live Forever’. The event’s main speakers included experts on innovation, contemporary technology, robotics, artificial intelligence, and even immortality. The festival was broken up into a few tracks where guests could attend lectures and see the newest prototypes and tech developments that are either already in use or soon to be in the near future.
From Students to Space Engineers
In the Outer Space track, guests got to see a model of planet Earth with a diameter of 130 cm., a ‘sun simulator’ (a light source that mimics the sun), as well as a model of a small spacecraft. These devices and contraptions, which allowed guests to simulate outer space and learn how real satellites work in orbit, were designed and provided by the HSE Tikhonov Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM).
‘The visitors are interested in space technology, and they ask us who assembled these small spacecraft models,’ said Alexander Andreev, Leading Engineer of the Laboratory of Space Vehicles and Systems’ Functional Safety at MIEM. ‘They were assembled by high school students, grades 9-11, at our Summer School. The students learn about sensors, how a power supply system works, assemble a working prototype of a small spacecraft, and write a programme for it with the help of a special designer. The prototype is key for training future space engineers.’
The model is designed for remote sensing of the earth and consists of a central on-board computer, a power supply system, a power management unit, a command transmission system, and a camera with which you can take pictures of certain parts of the earth.
The Future of World Cities
This year, HSE served as the general content-partner of the Habitat track, where lectures were given by faculty and instructors of HSE’s Vysokovsky Graduate School of Urbanism, the Faculty of Urban and Regional Development, and the Shkukhov Lab — Laboratory for Experimental Urban Design. Vicente Guallart, Nadezhda Khort, Alexander Ostrogorsky, Andrey Elbaev, and others spoke about issues related to ecology, urbanism, the anthropology of cities, and transport infrastructure.
Lecturer and Junior Research Fellow at HSE’s Faculty of Urban and Regional Development, Ksenia Maiorova, gave a lecture entitled, ‘I Listen and Obey: The City and Sound Violence’, about the toxic sound environments of large cities—a problem that residents of large cities get so used to that they eventually stop noticing it.
An installation featuring a wooden ‘tunnel’ containing small speakers that broadcasted sounds recorded in different parts of Moscow served as a kind of continuation of this topic. The installation was designed by students of the Shukhov Summer School Lab on Parametric Design, Modeling, and Production of Urban Projects. Students of the Summer School Lab not only got to present their installation but received their diplomas at the event as well.
In the Expo Zone, students and graduates of the Master’s Programme ‘Prototyping Future Cities’ presented projects and gave TED Talk-style lectures.
Neural Networks and Your Wallet
Dmitry Babaev, a research group head of the Sberbank Artificial Intelligence Laboratory, gave a lecture on the limitation of deep neural networks, which was organized with the support of HSE’s Faculty of Computer Science. He spoke about areas in the banking sector that now widely employ artificial intelligence and neural networks. For example, in credit scoring, information about a client’s credit history is not even used. Instead, the algorithm uses purchases the client has made with his or her card. These data are complex and heterogeneous, but if neural networks are used to process them, banks can predict how person will use his/her credit.
Help for Parents
Another track of the festival was for moms and dads. Lectures were held on pedagogy and approaches to education by staff of HSE’s Master’s Programme ‘Systemic Family Therapy’. Professor Anna Varga discussed the role of pets in the modern family, and Professor Grazhina Budinaite gave advice on how to deal with procrastination in children and adults.
The only way to avoid raising an Oblomov* and a procrastinator is to work together with your child
Professor Budinaite also noted that if parents keep their distance and wait for their child to take action on their own, so that they (the parents) can guide, criticize, or correct the child, this will not work. ‘Do you want your child to have meaningful goals, get involved in the process, and get satisfaction from it? Then you must work together with your child—and enjoy it,’ she said.
*Oblomov is the eponymous protagonist of the nineteenth-century Russian novel by Ivan Goncharov (1859). Famous for his slothfulness—in the novel, Oblomov is incapable of making any decisions or doing anything—the character’s name functions as a short-hand term in Russian for a lazy person.