Curious Minds in Berlin and Los Angeles

The curious minds of Berlin and Los Angeles

A blog article from STATE’s Lindsay Petley-Ragan on her experience working on our program as part of the celebrations for the sister city anniversary between Los Angeles and Berlin


Paint the palettes white! Paint the palettes white! Setting the scene was an ever-expanding task culminating in the creation of a chic palette-walled conversation space within Los Angeles grungy downtown. Sharing the floor with a virtual reality rollercoaster, a mysterious body scanner and the world’s largest available 3D printer, our networking station felt distinctly rustic. This analogue appearance emphasized the human connection that would take place among the slick palettes as I set up the short game for the Berlin Lab participants. Opening with silly questions soothed any nervousness that embarking on a journey into the hypothetical future may elicit between colleagues, old friends or strangers. Soon, questions about socks morphed into questions about robots, immortality and artificial intelligence in 100 years.

Prompted by scientific findings from Berlin’s most cutting-edge researchers, participants quickly found themselves discussing whether robots would distinguish between race, whether emotions would eventually be controlled and even triggered on demand and generally embarking on a quest into the technological future together with their new partner. Some pairs were naturally utopic, others dystopic, however it was amusing to watch them keep each other’s futures as realistic as possible, an indicator of the seriousness to which they were taking this short mind game. Also interesting to watch was the depth of the international connections being fostered at this simple white table, somehow creating a potential future was bringing out more than each person’s skills and knowledge, but highlighting their dreams and fears and some participants spent most of the night returning to the station to check in on current topics being discussed

As the lucky facilitator of these conversations, I enjoyed provoking and encouraging their creativity and ultimately jumped in when I felt they had reached the pinnacle of their journey. Summarizing their discussion into one simple question posed to the creative scientific community, they took pride in joining the Curious Minds Network by pinning their question according to STATE Festival’s themes on the white palette wall ultimately contributing to the international scientific dialogue as well as stimulating the continuation of these conversations wherever these questions should travel with STATE Festival’s Curious Minds Network.

By Lindsay-Petley Ragan


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