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Popular Science: Has innovation caught up with imagination?

January 21, 2015 — 

The award-winning Visionary Conversations speaker series continues in 2015 with a discussion that will spark your imagination. UM Today caught up with our expert panelists this week and asked them to respond to the question posed in the title: Popular Science: Has innovation caught up with imagination?

Here are their answers:

Dr. Jayanne English – Associate Professor, Physics & Astronomy, Faculty of Science

“Has innovation caught up with imagination? Rather, “Will popular imagination catch up with science and engineering innovation?” The science that appeals to the public is populated with regular space travel and black holes that act like cosmic vacuum cleaners – impossible gizmos and inaccurate ideas that have been around for half a century. Aligning the popular imagination with current explorations, discoveries and the creative imagination of researchers is critical. Without the public’s support, genuine innovation risks being stifled in a political environment that dismisses its relevance to society.”

Dr. Pourang Irani – Professor, Computer Science and Canada Research Chair in Ubiquitous Analytics, Faculty of Science

“I think that the question we should be asking ourselves is: “How to foster innovations that in turn will lead to a flood of imaginative ideas aimed at our collective good.” Many innovations were inspired by imagination. Some of them have been realized. Even others have surpassed in function and form those seeds of imagination. What is now needed is to hone innovation skills in the next generations so that great innovations, the ones that will lead to a slew of imaginative ideas, will be possible. We need to consider that innovation will be at the grasp of the public at large, and therefore, how do we raise generations of those who become masters in the art of innovating.”

Scott Young (alumnus) – Manager, Science Communications and Visitor Experiences, The Manitoba Museum

“A failure of imagination is what is slowing down the culture of innovation humanity has built over the past century. This is linked to many things: a mentality of immediate gratification, the “sound byte” information system, and an education and entertainment culture than creates rigid definitions of “fun” and “play” in early childhood.  Innovation has not caught up to imagination, but is being funneled into specific, short-term financially-viable products which can be fulfilled on the time-scale of the fiscal year or (at best) the election term. The Universe has no obligation to give up her mysteries on time-scales convenient to us.”

Join us January 21 at 6:30 p.m. for a reception, with the panel discussion beginning at 7:00 p.m. in Robert B. Schultz Theatre, 92 Dysart Road, St. John’s College, Fort Garry Campus, University of Manitoba.

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