Imagination & Possibility: An Interdisciplinary Conversation

Lee Smolin
Madhur Anand
Jaron Lanier
March 22, 2016

Imaginative thinking is central to the practice of every person working in the scientific, creative and humanistic fields and disciplines—in every aspect of human endeavour. Philosopher Roberto Mangabeira Unger wrote that the “imagination is the scout of the will, anticipating how we might get to the there—or to different theres—from here.” This conversation between Lee Smolin, a theoretical physicist, Jaron Lanier, a technology pioneer and musician, and Madhur Anand, a literary writer and scientist, explores the role of the imagination in their diverse practices. How does this capacity enable them to see and to reveal new possibilities for the world?

This conversation was presented and hosted by the President’s Office of the University of Guelph.

Imagination and Possibility from Shawn Van Sluys on Vimeo.

Lee Smolin

Lee Smolin

Lee Smolin is a theoretical physicist who is a founding and senior faculty member at Perimeter Institute for Theoretical Physics. His main contributions have been to the quantum theory of gravity, to which he has been a co-inventor and major contributor to two major directions: loop quantum gravity and deformed special relativity. He also contributes to cosmology through his proposal of cosmological natural selection: a falsifiable mechanism to explain the choice of the laws of physics. He also has written four books: Life of the Cosmos, Three Roads to Quantum Gravity, The Trouble with Physics and Time Reborn. Most recently, he co-authored The Singular Universe and The Reality of Time with Roberto Mangabeira Unger. Photo Credit: Nir Baraket

Madhur Anand

Madhur Anand

Madhur Anand's poetry has appeared in literary magazines across North America. She completed her Ph.D. in theoretical ecology at Western University, and is currently University Research Chair in Sustainability Science in the School of Environmental Sciences at the University of Guelph and interim director of the Waterloo Institute for Complexity and Innovation.

Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier

Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, artist and author who writes on numerous topics, including high-technology business, the impact of technology, the philosophy of consciousness and information, internet politics and the future of humanism. Lanier’s most recent book is Who Owns the Future? A pioneer in virtual reality, Lanier founded VPL Research and led teams creating VR applications for medicine, design and numerous other fields. Lanier is also a musician and artist.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

More Content...

2015 Guelph Lecture: Lee Maracle on art & life; Jaron Lanier on technology

Lee Maracle, Toronto, Canada 
Jaron Lanier, San Francisco, United States 

The Guelph Lecture—On Being Canadian continues to broaden the scope and number of voices that promote and foster public dialogue on, and greater understanding of, ideas and issues of concern to Canadians. Each year the Guelph Lecture brings together a...

Twins of Diyakunda

Coumba Touré, Dakar, Senegal 
Inse Armah, Popenguine, Senegal 

Once upon a time, there were two twin boys. One was named Manu and the other Guju. Together, they decided to go to Diyakunda, the Happiness Land. They had heard it said that Diyakunda was the most beautiful place in...

Stand By Your Dickhead

Niki Singleton, New York City, United States 

Set in the 50’s, the framed print I found in a trash pile outside my apartment depicted a surfer in swim shorts holding a ridiculously gigantic surfboard, with two women in bikinis standing beside him like obedient Eves. I showed...

What is the Future of Artistic Practices?

Ayumi Goto, Toronto, Canada 
Andrea Fatona, Toronto, Canada 
Skawennati, Montreal, Canada 
Stefan St-Laurent, Gatineau, Canada 
Léuli Eshrāghi,  

Participants of the Primary Colours/Couleurs primaires (PC/Cp) 2017 Gathering were invited to join the roundtable to discuss a particular question that involved reflecting on their own artistic practices, personal histories and experiences, and dissect the challenges/fractures/progress within the current Canadian...