As we noted a couple of weeks ago with our announcement post, we’re fast approaching the date for Ars Frontiers, our inaugural single-day conference. The event will be held next week, on May 12, in Washington, DC.
We’re going to be exploring the interconnectedness of innovation—looking at how the things that change our world are interlinked. As we peer into our crystal balls, we’re also going to try to answer a very pressing question: Can we still drive explosive growth in these fields while prioritizing ethical technology and sustainability?
Because conversation emboldens innovation, we’ve assembled a room full of subject matter experts in areas like human space flight, machine learning, information security, and bioscience to help us prognosticate. At Frontiers, Ars Technica editors will sit down and interact with those experts, and we’d love to have you on board for the ride. More details on how to request an invite to join us in person can be found at the end of this announcement.
Here’s an updated list of who’s coming and what’s happening.
The road to Ars Frontiers
The week of the event, we’ll be kicking things off with a series of virtual streaming chats that take place from May 9 through May 11. These streams will be free for anyone to watch online, and we’ll be sure to promote them here and on social media as they approach.
One of our Road to Frontiers virtual streams will be about cryptography and privacy, featuring Lesley Carhart, director of incident response for North America at Dragos. Carhart’s stream will set the table for the conference and help walk us all through the challenges of keeping things secure in an increasingly connected world.
We’ll also spend some time with iFixit founder Kyle Wiens, who will sit down with Ars senior product expert Scharon Harding to talk about the importance of the right to repair for electronics that we own. “Right to repair” is a key freedom in the digital age, and ensuring that equipment owners continue to have the right to tinker with the things they own is crucial for ensuring consumer freedom.
The main event
Our in-person conference will take place in Washington, DC, on Thursday, May 12, and will feature a series of panel discussions moderated by Ars Technica editors. Each panel will bring together a set of recognized industry experts to discuss a topic in a fireside chat or panel-style format, and audience participation will be encouraged.
Cryptography and privacy
We’ll have two different infosec-focused panels, both moderated by Ars security editor emeritus Sean Gallagher. The first is titled “Redefining Privacy in a Transparent World” and will examine how society should balance the desire of companies to monetize private information against the privacy needs of individuals and institutions. This panel will feature EFF General Counsel Kurt Opsahl, security researcher Runa Sandvik, and ACLU Senior Policy Analyst Jay Stanley.
Security and cyber warfare
Our second infosec panel, also moderated by Gallagher, is titled “Making Information Security Personal” and will examine what “information security” means in a world where everyone carries a pocket-size supercomputer around at all times. This panel of industry experts will include Cisco Head of Advisory CISOs Wendy Nather, security researcher Vineetha Paruchuri, and SCYTHE VP of Operations Liz Wharton.
I’ll be sitting down for a fireside chat with data scientist Dr. Nashlie Sephus, who specializes in bias identification in AI/ML, to discuss what’s next for machine learning and some of the most consequential considerations as ML grows. We’ll be focusing primarily on examining the steps necessary to expand access to machine learning—the digital divide is very real, and we need to take care to ensure that AL/ML remains affordable and usable by all.
After a brief break for refreshments, we’ll be back with a pair of panels moderated by Ars Senior Space Editor Eric Berger. First, he’ll sit down with former NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver to discuss the role commercial space will play in the next few decades—not just in exploring space, but also in protecting Earth. In public surveys, studying our changing planet consistently ranks among Americans’ top priorities for NASA, and the agency spends more than $2 billion annually on Earth science. This scientific enterprise seeks to pinpoint changes to the planet’s climate and surface to better inform policymakers. In recent years, the rise of commercial space companies has greatly augmented the remote sensing work done by NASA.
Next, Berger will tackle the topic of protecting low Earth orbit from space debris. This problem has become increasingly acute with the combination of ever-increasing numbers of satellites and recent anti-satellite demonstration tests. Today, there is more debris, and more satellites than ever are seeking to avoid it in the precious space above the Earth’s atmosphere. This panel will discuss the problem of debris, the solutions that the US government can implement, and how there is an urgent need to work internationally to preserve this space commons. The discussion will feature Quality Analytics Senior Analyst Caleb Henry, the Satellite Industry Association Senior Director of Policy Therese Jones, and Astroscale US VP of Global Space Policy and Government Relations Charity Weeden.
Ars Senior Writer Jennifer Ouellette will chair our climate panel. Set against a somewhat precarious backdrop, Ouellette will chat with climatologist Michael Mann and Ars Senior Science Editor Dr. John Timmer about the world that we’re making for ourselves and what state we’re going to leave it in for the next generation. We know the rough outlines of how to handle climate change: lower emissions and increase efficiency—and our panel will discuss some of the difficult details of that transition.
One of the biggest challenges will be the speed with which we need to act to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. But that speed will need to be balanced against our ability to ensure that efficient and renewable tech is built sustainably and that its benefits spread to the underprivileged and those in developing economies.
Hope to see you there
It’s going to be a programming-packed afternoon, and attendance space is limited. In light of COVID, in-person attendance will be limited to 150 people, which affords us a fairly intimate affair. (COVID restrictions will be in effect.) There’s still time to request an invitation, so if you’re interested, please fill out the form below. We’ll reach out to as many folks on the list as possible with invites.