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Liv Sala

Travelers or tourists?

By ecology

Traveling opens the mind, enriches; it’s adventure, amazement.

For many tourists, though, it’s a collection of likes or a photo for Facebook. Every day, millions of people set out. What do they take and what do they learn in the places they visit? What do they leave?

It’s useful to ask ourselves these questions in light of the projections of the United Nations World Tourism Organization: estimates that in 2020 the continent with the greatest influx of tourists will be Europe, to the extent of 717 million people. Confirmed numbers: in 2018 tourists arriving in Europe increased by 6% reaching 713 million.

The energy consumption of a hotel, compared to a house, is on average 10 times higher, and water consumption is double. However, if the structure is designed for energy saving, it self-produces from renewable sources and recycles white water, it can accommodate creating wealth for the territory.

In 1995, an important step was taken during the World Conference on Sustainable Tourism in Lanzarote, Spain.

The economies cultivated the myth of low cost, and for many the dream of flying becomes reality, but the democratic journey must be managed.

Recognizing the objective of developing tourism that creates economic and environmental value, respecting the places and peoples that inhabit them, the participants had drawn up a concrete document of collaboration aimed at the main players in the sector – companies, government administrations, associations. 24 years later, that document is more relevant than ever, but its degree of application is inversely proportional to its importance. Tourism touches the highest and deepest aspirations of people, resources are limited, demand is growing, and climate change is lurking.

The Forum for the Future has developed 4 scenarios for tourism in 2023 – expensive oil, population growth and pollution will keep us closer to home, so the quality of our reception and related services is intended not only to attract tourists but to preserve our beauties. We will be the first to reap what we sow. No sector can better bring together all the interest of tourism with a single purpose: to build collective well-being.

We are at a loss in comparison with other countries that have less than us but value it better. Our excellences must be valued with gratitude and a sense of responsibility!

Traveling is therapeutic, it opens the heart and the mind, free from the anguish of time, makin it more humble and serene. The vision of life can change in an instant.

Italy is a very rich mosaic of arts, crafts, flavors, nature, talents, and the associations that create sharing networks grow, far from the clamor of the maximum systems: AITR – Italian Association for Responsible Tourism – aggregates, informs and proposes.

Borghiautenticiditalia.it: 170 municipalities in which tourists become temporary citizens, a network of territories and administrators committed to solidarity development.

Literary Nobel prize winner John Steinbeck said:
“People don't take trips - trips take people”.

Federico Faggin, the science of consciousness

By features, technology

He made an important contribution to humanity by developing the first microprocessors and simplifying computer architecture. He invented the touchscreen and now, through the Federico and Elvia Faggin Foundation, he studies the nature of consciousness.

Federico Faggin, Italian physicist, inventor and entrepreneur, was born in Vicenza on December 1, 1941. He graduated in physics summa cum laude in 1965 at the University of Padova. Since 1968 Faggin resides in the United States.
At Intel he was responsible for developing various microprocessors, some still in use today. He develops MOS technology with silicon gate, which allows the first microprocessors and EPROM and RAM memories to be manufactured. They are essential for the digitization of information.
In 1986 Faggin co-founded and directed Synaptics, which developed the first touchpads and touchscreens.
On October 19, 2010 Faggin receives from President Barack Obama the National Medal for Technology and Innovation for the invention of the microprocessor.
In 2011 he founded the Federico and Elvia Faggin Foundation, dedicated to the scientific study of consciousness through the sponsorship of theoretical and experimental research programs at US universities and research institutes.

FEDERICO FAGGIN FOR THE GOOD LIFE ITALIA 

We meet Federico and Elvia Faggin in Piazza dei Signori in Vicenza. The background of the Palladian Basilica could not be more fitting. The harmony of shapes, the regular intervals of arches and openings, the span of variable widths, create a whole that is more powerful than a sum of parts. Faggin’s career is also a sum of parts, the result of teamwork that the Vicenza physicist directed with the natural virtue of a leader. Thus  Intel 4004 was born, the first microprocessor in the history of computer science, which has a harmony of its own. Integrated circuits create a pattern, a play of light and shadow, and the placement of each piece manifests in the whole function. The parts, by working together, create something powerful.

In 1986 he founded Synaptics, with the aim of developing computers capable of self-learning through structures of neural networks. An intuition that anticipated today’s research by 30 years. As a physicist, he had learned that there is only an objective world made of matter, energy, space and time. “If consciousness is a property of the brain, I said to myself, I should be able to make a computer that is aware,” he says with the intense gaze of a man who will never cease to investigate. “I had a very valid scientific committee of neuroscientists and I asked them: “What is the difference between awareness and the brain?” And they answered “clearly awareness is a phenomenon of the brain”.

Faggin is determined to understand and undertakes a long, passionate journey. He compares and harmonizes his educated scientific mind with intuition and his inner dialogue with the phenomenology of the external world. An indivisible whole like the union with Elvia, his wife and life partner.

In 1992 comes another invention that will change the way we interface with technologies. The touchpad. “It came from something inconsequential,” he says. “A small inconvenience. I was on the board of directors of Logitech – they made trackballs, and I had one of the first laptops with a trackball and I constantly had to open it and clean it because the oil from my hands lubricated the ball and it no longer worked. At that time I had a small research group and launched a proposal to look for an alternative to trackballs with solid-state electronics. In a couple of months, we invented the touchpad which replaced the trackball and the touchscreen, for which there was no platform yet.”

Will Faggin revolutionize the world of science the way he did with computing? “My goal is to understand, not revolutionize”, he replies with humble firmness. “After years of investigation, I experienced an episode that turned my prospects upside down. It was 1990. I was almost 50 years old and I had a spontaneous experience, not induced and very short, in which I felt I was both the world and the observer of the world. An event which was alien to the ordinary ones where we feel separated from others. Something profound changed in me. I realized that the only way was to explore my awareness firsthand. I don’t know if you’re aware, nor do you know if I am. We cannot prove it scientifically and this is part of the problem.” Faggin relies on a transpersonal psychologist, not to remove traumas but to understand the process and expose himself to new ideas. He studies, deepens, lives other experiences. “After that first time, I had so many, in response to what I was looking for. And it continues to be so. I have a dream and I wake up with an idea. I know I’m guided. How could it be otherwise? There is no way you can get there alone. We are guided. “

His candor is illuminating. A summa cum laude student, a scientist who made history, decides to apply the principle of repetition and verification to his new research. He finds the right school for him in the Diamond Approach. It investigates the multiple dimensions of human potential through an integrated path of psychology and spirituality. Faggin participates in retreats for lessons and meditations, study and practice for 10 years. Until, in 2008, he understands how to bring into the world what, up to that point, had been a personal process.

He sells his latest company, Foveon, which produces sensors for image acquisition to the Japanese. He leaves numerous boards of directors and in 2009 understands that, to have an impact, research on awareness must be funded. He knows good people who can’t find funds. The premise is that awareness is only a function of the brain. So, in 2011, the Federico and Elvia Faggin Foundation was born.

“Federico was the one who put my name on the Foundation. I have no role in originating ideas but I am always close to them,” Elvia says enthusiastically. “He works continuously with thought and imagination and when he wakes up at night with ideas, I wake up with him and talk about it. In this sense I am very involved.”

Federico: “My wife is an integral part of my journey and declaring her by my side in this new adventure represents the essence of our union.”

Elvia: “Space and time are two obsessions of Federico and during nocturnal conversations he tries to understand how to fit the pieces of the puzzle into his philosophical-scientific model.”

Federico: “It is beautiful because our Yin Yang dynamic reflects the polarities at the origin of life itself. Who knows why everything that is phenomenological must be an expression of a truth instead of being open. We need to combine the intuitive, feminine, with the rational, masculine. Science and spirituality must find a harmony that does not exist today. They are two separate fields that coexist but do not recognize each other, and it is time to stop, otherwise we reduce our humanity to a machine on the one hand, and on the other, we cultivate a sense of superiority. This dualism causes fundamentalism and dystopia. Let’s go further to understand how the nature of reality works.”

Unity of awareness

His is another way of seeing. He explains: “I cannot directly observe your inner world, I must try to understand it by interpreting symbols: your words, how you behave, your entire physical appearance. Awareness, however, which exists before space – time, perceives the entirety of the other, not only the symbols but all the fields by which it is created. It sees them together, simultaneously. We are the other and we are ourselves. It is that kind of contradiction that exists in quantum physics. The qbit is both zero and one. True and false. This apparent contradiction comes from the fact that reality, even before the universe, is holistic. There is no distinguishable part. In holism of classical physics, parts are separable and identifiable. In quantum mechanics we speak of holism where there are identifiable parts that cannot be called parts. I call them whole parts, units of awareness. Each has its identifiable yet inseparable identity. If the parts were not identifiable there would be no self. In my model, the symbolic aspect is irreducible from the semantic one, and I call it nus which means “mind” in Greek. That becomes nusym, a new name to indicate something from which everything emerges: space, time, matter and energy. Two indivisible aspects, matter and spirit. Like the two sides of a coin, the external one we see and the inner one, which is the inner experience of that coin.”

If you wondered what happened to the conscious computer, after years of studies, Faggin came to the conclusion that it is impossible to design: “how do I translate what I feel into electrical or biochemical signals, and vice versa. We perceive reality within us through sensations and feelings, emotions and thoughts. That has nothing to do with electrical signals,” he concludes.

The computer to be explored is within us.

The water we eat

By ecology, sdg 13, sdg 14, sdg 15, sdg 2, sdg 3

Have you ever thought about the amount of water you consume in a day? Not just the water you drink, or use at home. Even the food we eat has a water footprint, it’s called virtual water and often represents more than half of our daily water consumption.
During Broken Nature at La Triennale di Milano, there will be a Wonderwater Café with a menu translated entirely in terms of water footprint for each dish!

Cristina: Many of us are good at not wasting water at home, but we rarely know how much we consume indirectly. For example, the water needed to produce our food.
Wonderwater Cafè is a traveling project that reaches the Triennale restaurant in Milan for the duration of the Broken Nature exhibition. It stems from a collaboration between scientists and designers and is translated in a menu which illustrates the water footprint of each dish.

Jane Withers: We have no idea about the quantities of water that go into making food. So we wanted to point out the differences between beans grown in Kenya, where they may be draining water resources from local communities, and seasonal, rainfed greens that are locally sourced. We saw the effects, during the drought in California two years ago, when almond prices shot up, it was proof of these invisible water systems.

Cristina: Do you find that scientific facts have to be adapted to reach a large audience?

Jane Withers: I think so, yes. I mean, they’re doing the hard work, the heavy lifting, but we’re trying to put facts in a language that people can understand. I think that a menu that represents the water footprint when you’re choosing what to eat that makes a difference. Maybe looking through it and assessing whether we want a pizza with tomatoes that is equivalent to 290 litres or one with the chili sausage at 960 litres has an impact on our choices. They’re staggering numbers.

Cristina: The first WonderWater café dates back to 2011. In just a few years, awareness of the problem has grown alongside the project.

Jane Withers: At King’s College in London, our academic partners worked to understand where each ingredient comes from, is sourced and so on. So there’s more transparency, but I think the really interesting thing also is that then, it seemed really abstract but now there’s a sense of urgency about it. We’re probably all becoming aware that the single most important thing we can do is to shift from a meat to a vegetarian diet or a flexitarian diet. And the differences are between over 5,000 litres per day for a meat diet to 2,600. They’re palpable. I think there’s a lot more interest and awareness.

Cristina: The information is there, people are more and more willing to be informed about their choices and what impact they have. So if you’re a restaurateur, if you bring food to the world in any way, share this knowledge because it’s very important. Occhio al futuro

On air May 4, 2019

Stefano Mancuso – how intelligent are plants?

By ecology, sdg 15, technology

Prof. Stefano Mancuso, author and Director of the LINV – International Laboratory of Plant Neurobiology, talks about intelligence in the plant kingdom – based on a network model. The Internet is an example!

Cristina: We often think that in order to succeed we have to climb a peak or become a leader of something to have influence, but the plant world teaches us much more. Does it teach us that intelligence can spread like wildfire and why? How?

Stefano Mancuso: Everything you said is true, because we are inspired by the animal model, which runs on a central brain that governs organs, and it’s the model we replicate in our organizations. There is a leader and a hierarchy underneath, a bureaucracy that serves the purpose of transmitting orders. The plant model, paradoxically, is much more modern than the animal model because it is a widespread network. In other words, the plant distributes functions throughout the body that animals concentrate in their organs. Imagine an organization of this kind, these very modern organizations, the internet itself is made this way, it does not have a central command, or the cryptocurrencies that are such a topic today. Bitcoin and all the cryptocurrencies run on decentralized systems and, as such, they work very well.

Cristina: What strategic developments would benefit from this model?

Stefano Mancuso: We could build any type of organization inspired by the plant world. There is an American multinational company called Morningstar that works this way, it has no manager. It is fully distributed and works great. The way we have approached society in our history is not the only one. 99% of the life of this planet uses a different system.

Cristina: Why does it make sense to imitate living creatures that apparently don’t move?

Stefano Mancuso: Plants see, plants hear, plants sleep, plants are able to communicate, and have social relationships.

Cristina: How can we imitate their behavior?

Stefano Mancuso: Plants produce resources, animals consume them, therefore we imitate plants when we produce and consume the least amount of resources possible. We can transform our organizations, it’s not written anywhere that they must necessarily be pyramidal. Let’s make them distributed – we would reap the benefits in no time.

Cristina: It’s up to us to decide whether we want to behave like animals or plants. Occhio al futuro

On air April 27, 2019

Broken Nature – Paola Antonelli’s Triennial

By ecology

Paola Antonelli is the biggest source of inspiration as we try to narrow the gap between what we know and how we live. Broken Nature presents a wealth of ideas and solutions to become regenerative citizens of a beautiful Planet. If you weren’t able to visit the Triennale again and again, brokennature.org is a source to go too (even for those who did visit the exhibit!). Thank you Paola for your vision and your tenacity.

Cristina: We are at the Triennale di Milano. Broken Nature is an international and interdisciplinary exhibition on show until September 1, which investigates our relationship with natural systems, human society, our way of living, producing and consuming. Curated by a great Italian, Paola Antonelli, who for the occasion is on loan from MoMA in New York. What is the essence of Broken Nature, what do you want viewers to take home?

Paola Antonelli: I would like them to take home the fact that in order to be responsible, live sustainably, activate a restorative attitude, one must not sacrifice aesthetics or pleasure, sensuality or elegance.

Cristina: People often feel too small to have an impact. What do you think?

Paola Antonelli: I don’t see it that way, because we can’t just rely on governments or institutions and surrender our destiny. We have enormous power that also comes from social media, a person then becomes a group, a tribe, a community, after which if governments want to have any effectiveness, they must also follow what the public wants.

Cristina: What is the ideal amount of time to spend in this exhibition to leave with lasting impressions and learnings?

Paola Antonelli: I’d say at least three quarters of an hour. I hope that children will come and be inspired because in the end, in forty years, design will become like physics, there will be theoretical and applied design and knowledge will flow between them.

Cristina: How did you define the social aspect?

Paola Antonelli: For example Fernando Laposse thought about the recovery of corn species that had been lost and then used the beards and the outside of the cob to make an inlay. Even with such a simple action, design can recover material culture that has been lost, it’s also a great example of how the community can be engaged.

Cristina: How do you define the 21st century designer?

Paola Antonelli: There are lots of possibilities for expression. To start, there is furniture, obviously there are cars, there are also materials. There are designers who design scenarios or try to show us what the future consequences of our choices today might be. There are interface designers, who program the screen and the interaction with an ATM. There are bio-designers who deal with living organisms or design with them. Neri Oxman and Mediated Matter Group are inspiring a generation of designers who learn to work with nature to make objects and buildings that grow instead of being made in traditional ways. Skylar Tibbits is working with the Maldivian government to stop beach erosion. They are all very active and are having a big impact. I’m very proud of everyone.

Cristina: Thanks Paola. Don’t miss Broken Nature.

Investigating e-waste

By ecology, sdg 12, sdg 13, sdg 15, sdg 9, technology

Precious metals in electronics present three problems: damage to the environment during extraction, the short life span of the devices themselves and not being properly recycled at the end of their life cycle. It’s estimated that by 2080, the largest mineral reserves will no longer be underground, but on the surface – in the form of ingots or as parts of building materials, appliances, furniture and devices.
Simone Farresin and Andrea Trimarchi of Studio Formafantasma conducted an ambitious survey on the recycling of electronic waste with their Ore Streams project – on display during Broken Nature at the Milan Triennale.

Cristina: This drawer is made with an old computer case. Did you know that electrical and electronic waste are the fastest-growing sector and only 30% of it is recycled. Working on the remaining 70% is very complex because the objects we are talking about are complex, as are their supply chains.

Simone Farresin: Dismantling the objects is fundamental, therefore a universal screw system would be very useful. Then, the color black, used for electrical cables, can’t be detected by the optical readers used to separate them. Simply changing the color would help identify them and recover the copper. It would also be fundamental to establish a labeling system that tells the user, when they buy electronics, how long the product will last. These objects are recycled but in a slightly more sophisticated way in our countries, while developing countries need color codes to help them detect the dangerous components so they don’t dismantle them manually and they’re recycled properly.

Cristina: Have you met keyplayers for your project along the entire supply chain? Where have you encountered the greatest resistance?

Andrea Trimarchi: I must say that one of the most complex things was actually getting in touch with the electronics manufacturers. We spoke with universities, producers, recycling companies, even people who deal with laws. They were available and welcomed us, while the manufacturers didn’t.

Cristina: Why aren’t they willing to be part of the solution?

Simone Farresin: Probably because right now it’s very complex to invest economic resources and really change things. They take baby steps which are used symbolically as an advertising strategy instead of showing real interest in recycling these products.

Cristina: You have a solution for the problem at hand, what is it?

Andrea Trimarchi: One of the most likely solutions would be to organize tables where the various players in the production chain, from electronics manufacturers to recyclers and also designers, meet to discuss these issues.

Cristina: It seems absurd, isn’t this already happening?

Andrea Trimarchi: Unfortunately not, even in the legislative sphere recyclers and producers are often brought together, but most of the time us designers, people who actually transform raw materials into objects, are not part of the conversation.

Cristina: Design can and, in this case, does have a political role, let’s be inspired. Occhio al futuro

On air 30-3-2019

Mirrorable, the motor rehabilitation platform for kids

By sdg 10, sdg 3, sdg 4, technology

Almost 17 million children worldwide have been diagnosed with childhood cerebral palsy, caused by an injury to the central nervous system. By combining scientific research and technology, Francesca and Roberto created Mirrorable, a motor rehabilitation platform that helps young patients move the damaged parts of the body and stimulate the residual potential.

Cristina: This is the story of a family that was able to transform a devastating experience into an opportunity for millions of children around the world. Francesca and Roberto, only a few days after the birth of their son Mario, discovered that he had suffered a stroke in utero or shortly after birth and that it had affected the right side of his brain.

Francesca Fedeli: In the beginning it was difficult for us to accept the diagnosis and we started looking for doctors, looking for solutions around the world, but above all we studied. In our research, we discovered the mechanism of mirror neurons, the cells that activate both when we make a gesture or grab an object and when we see another person making the same gesture. That’s where we started to find a winning solution for Mario. In fact, he managed to train the left side of his brain to compensate for the right side.

Cristina: Today Francesca and Roberto, these two extraordinary people, help many families improve their quality of life. About 17 million children worldwide have been diagnosed with childhood cerebral palsy, caused by an early injury to the central nervous system. By combining scientific research and technology Francesca and Roberto created a motor rehabilitation platform called Mirrorable, which helps young patients move the damaged parts of their bodies and stimulate the residual potential.

Roberto D’Angelo:Everything changed for us when we understood one very simple thing: that the best way to help our son was to help all the children in the world like him. We had the children develop a rehabilitation process for themselves and the only really important thing for these kids was playing and the ability to learn new motor skills thanks to another child like them with the same conditions. A few years ago it would have been impossible but today, thanks to technology, we can do this directly in their homes. Thanks to artificial intelligence, we were able to create a highly personalized process for the emotions of each individual child so that they can maximize the benefits. To give you an idea, during a month-long course of magic tricks, these children improved their bi-manual skills by an average of 26%. An extraordinary result.

Francesca Fedeli: The results of our summer-long Mirrorable Camp, in the process of being published, were exciting for us because we managed to demonstrate that these children improve not only their bi-manual skills, but also their learning skills, increasing the indicators of overall well-being, both the children’s and their whole family’s.

Cristina: When a problem touches us closely, more than ever we can become part of the solution.

On air February 23, 2019

Tools for future-proof development

By ecology

Witnessing the stages of development of Broken Nature has been exciting and enriching. Paola Antonelli has created an ecosystem of scientists, researchers, designers, thinkers, innovators and doers that interconnect to “promote the importance of creative practices in surveying our species’ bonds with the complex systems in the world, and designing reparations when necessary, through objects, concepts, and new systems”.

I attended the 2 symposiums that set the tone for the 6 month exhibit at Triennale in Milano starting March 1, and I have taken great pleasure in reading the essays published on brokennature.org, where I often find what’s missing in most investigations and discussions about our relations with nature (in all its forms): a holistic, integrative approach. So, when I was invited to have a conversation with the young, dynamic journalist and researcher Sara D’Agati, for the website, I felt deeply grateful and gratified.

Sara and I hit it off so well that after a 3 hour meeting we set another. The experience reassured me. By engaging in an open dialogue and delving into the abundance of ideas and practices, there is a common thread that can successfully foster a worldwide collaboration to help humanity evolve towards the Age of Knowledge. We have all the information we need, it just has to be organized and exposed in an organic way.

Design is about communication – to this effect Age of Entaglement by Neri Oxman is a must-read – and if we can deliver widely accessible facts, offer choices through stories, experiences and things that come from the desire to restore, we might stand a chance. I am honored to have a voice in this arena, and look forward to learning from the awesome cast of characters that Paola is orchestrating. Thank you! We’re in and ready to roll.

 

To read the conversation on brokennature.org, click here.

Ramuntcho Matta, Terra e Cielo for A Passo Leggero, 2014.

Running the Numbers by Chris Jordan

By ecology, features, sdg 12

Escaping the vortex of comfortable yet damaging habits is a great challenge, but change is harder to think about than to face. Chris Jordan knows this well. At 40 he chooses to leave a law career and the culture of consumerism that he used to defend becomes the subject of his art.

Inspired by the works of Andreas Gursky and Richard Misrach, he studies large format photography, attracted by the superior quality of detail.
As a post-modern archaeologist, he explores ports, industrial areas, landfills, on location and in studio. The more he sees, the more he perceives the contradictions, confusion and absurdity of what he calls “a slow-motion apocalypse”.

In front of his photographs, it’s impossible to remain oblivious. Choreographed and interpreted with great artistic sensitivity, Jordan’s works denounce a growing degradation. From a distance, his images seduce the eye, while up close they spark the mind and engage the heart.

“I belong to a community of thinkers, artists, poets and scientists who are aware of how unsustainable our present model of consumption has become – but we’re on the margins of society: at the center there is an immensely powerful machine controlled by industry, oil companies and politicians, people who live in total denial and just don’t see how devastating the effects of consumerism are, not only for nature but also for the human psyche” says Jordan.

Running the Numbers and Running the Numbers II, ongoing series from 2006, look at contemporary American culture through the austere lens of statistics. A collective voracity that nobody wants to be responsible for. “People enjoy discovering the multiple layers of my images”, says Chris.
“During exhibits they ask questions, get passionate and upset, but their motivation is like the stroke of an oar: it creates a whirlpool that slowly expands and disappears in the current.”

We know we’re destroying the planet yet collectively nothing seems to change. The cumulative effects of mass consumption are not sustainable. Only our conscience can evaluate the damage, choosing to care and to believe that our daily actions matter.