NISTH ThinkOut Series

Deliberation is essential for the development of new knowledge. The process of unpacking the causes and consequences of an issue lead to active learning and well-thought-out decision making. NISTH seeks to provide a platform for active discussion on dual perspectives, by leading researchers from across disciplines, to explore global challenges outside the box! Join our expert speakers as they discuss and deliberate on the subject contention.

Microplastics and Human Health: Do we know enough?

Panelists: Prof Shane Snyder and Assoc Prof Sunny Wong

The inaugural Medical ThinkOut, seeks to delve into the field of Microplastics and how it is affecting our health, directly or indirectly and what kind of technology is being developed to help with the adverse effects. Prof Shane Snyder, Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering and is the Executive Director of the Nanyang Environment & Water Research Institute (NEWRI) will bring the technological aspect to the conversation while Prof Sunny Wong, clinician-scientist and an Associate Professor at the Lee Kong Chian School of Medicine (LKCM), NTU, will highlight the medical impacts of microplastics on human health. The session will be moderated by Prof Lim Kah Leong, Professor and Vice Dean (Research) and President’s Chair in Translational Neuroscience at LKCM, NTU and Prof Vanessa Evers, Professor of Computer Science at NTU and the Director of NISTH.

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Communicating Climate Science: the impact on Young people

Panelists: Asst Prof Yong MingLee and Prof Benjamin Horton

What is Climate Science? Why is it important? How do we effectively communicate it to future generations? The future citizens and leaders, the young people, are to be included in conversations and action plans concerning climate change. This group will be the ones who bear the consequences of our current actions in dealing with this global issue. To be effective in passing this message forward, It is best to primarily understand how the younger generation relates to and communicates climate change in various scenarios and contexts. How to effectively communicate sustainability without ‘freaking’ them out. What does psychological science tell us about helping people through adversities and influencing young people toward positive actions?. Join our panellists as they discuss, these questions and more on the topic

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Metaverse: for better or worse?

Panelists: Assoc Prof Vivian Chen and Assoc Prof Cai Yiyu

Is the Metaverse a big game room? Will it be a passing fancy, a new form of entertainment or will it change the world of communication and interaction? The Metaverse will provide for alternate reality spaces where you can shop, play games, meet people, own places and pets. This digital escape, with enhanced brain-computer interface (BCI) technology, will enrich our social media experience into a 360 degree one, provide new avenues for businesses, create a valuable virtual economy, and slowly but steadily replace most human experiences. While it sounds like a utopia of sorts, it also comes with its own baggage. The impact it will have on emotional, mental, and physical health of individuals, value of human relations and society, the privacy and security issues that evolve and the disconnect from real-life experience are of paramount concern. So, will the Metaverse change our lives for the better or make it worse?

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Genomics and the New Inequalities

Panelists: Assoc Prof Joanne Ngeow and Asst Prof Ian McGonigle

Lineage, race, ethnicity and socioeconomic status have always incited disparities in health care. With the increased application of technology in healthcare, is Genomics the new perpetrator? Just as AI bias in facial recognition highlights the unregulated autonomy exerted by new technologies, is the genetic clustering of populations to identify disease-linked biomarkers benefiting only the focus group represented in the databases? There is no doubt that the application of genomic testing has helped further precision and personalized treatment of patients. It has provided avenues to innovative approaches to achieve clinical efficacy. However has there been enough emphasis put on inclusive representation when databases are built? Join our panelists as they discuss, the many implications of ‘Genomics and the New Inequalities’.

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Algorithms and Social Harm

Panelists: Prof Boh Wai Fong and Assoc Prof Andres Carlos Luco

With the extensive use of social media platforms, most if not all of our online activity/content is subject to algorithms managed by a few key players. Algorithms are shaped based on our search results and browsing history. It has been found that online content has caused offline harm in many occasions. From the Myanmar coup to the riot at the US Capitol, from Frances Haugen’s testimony to tic-like behavior by tic-toc users, amplification algorithms and engagement based ranking affects human behavior and encourages destructive content. Are these harms outweighed by the benefits we gain from them? Is it really algorithms that are the problem, or is it the way they are being used or something else? What should we be doing about this? Is the answer regulation? Join us to find answers to these questions.

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Covid-19: Emerging designs for resilient homes, offices, cities

Panelists: Assoc Prof George Christopoulos & Asst Prof Felicity Chan

Pandemics have pushed societies to change and adapt to ‘new normals,’ reshaping the use of existing spaces and in (re-)creating new ones. For example, after the cholera outbreak in the 19th century, London cleaned up the Thames and built sewer networks and outdoor public spaces. Unfortunately, COVID-19 is unlikely to be the last pandemic. What can we learn from the present pandemic about how to make our living and working spaces more resilient to future pandemics?

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Misinformation and Vaccine Attitudes

Panelists: Dr David Lye (NCID) & Dr Edson Tandoc (WKWSCI)

Attitudes towards vaccinations are a function of the information available on the vaccine's attributes: efficacy, the incidence of side effects, manufacturers' reputation, and government approval, policy interventions and finally, the sheer willingness to be vaccinated. With information playing a vital role in this decision process, it is imperative to keep it accurate and factual. This panel will discuss how peoples attitudes toward vaccines are affected by misinformation.  Dr David Lye (National Center for Infectious Diseases) will give us the medical perspective to the issue while Dr Edson Tandoc (Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information) will bring forth the social impact this has on the attitudes toward vaccines.

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Citizen Participation for Smart City Governance

Panelists: Dr Peter-Paul Verbeek (UT), Dr Sabine E. Wildevuur (UT), Dr Natalie Pang (NUS) and Dr Hallam Stevens (NTU)

Governments base many of their decisions on scientific advice and scientific research. This does not always result in an adequate representation of the concerns of citizens, as the protests against COVID-19 policies in some countries have shown. To engage citizens more explicitly in policy-making, therefore, citizen science could play an important role. This ‘bottom up’ type of research, in which citizens are actively involved in scientific research, makes sure that citizens are not only represented in the politicians they elect, but also in the research on which politicians base their decisions. This panel will investigate how citizen science and policy-making could come together. How to develop such ecosystems? What are conditions and enablers? And how to learn from intercultural differences? This debate is jointly organised by NISTH and the DesignLab from the University of Twente (UT), Netherlands. The panel will be moderated by NISTH Director, Prof Vanessa Evers.

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Digital Assistants in Healthcare

Panelists: Dr Josip Car (LKC, NTU) and Dr May O Lwin (WKWSCI, NTU)

Digital technology has dominated all aspects of human activity. Healthcare is no exception. Technologies that allows effective health management, disease diagnosis, timely monitoring, formulating policies on population health, digital technologies for health, or digital health, are having a profound effects on how health services are delivered and how health systems are run. In this debate, our panelists will discuss the drawbacks as well as potential areas of concern as digital technology in healthcare advances. Subject contention: What is the role of digital assistants in promoting health and healthcare?

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Responding to Climate Change

Panelists: Dr Sonny Rosenthal (WKWSCI) and Dr Perrine Hamel (ASE)

Climate change is now an inevitable result of human activities. The effects of planetary warning are already beginning to be experienced across the globe. Changes and intensifications in weather patterns and rising sea levels are causing wildfires, flooding, and other disasters. Future effects are likely to include crop failure or displacement, mass migration, and catastrophic damage to ecosystems. One of the most significant questions facing humanity is: what should be done? What are going to be the most effective ways to respond to this planetary-scale and complex challenge? Is it possible to mitigate against some of the worst effects of climate change? Or, should we instead focus on ways of adapting ourselves to the inevitable changes that are now sweeping across the earth? Should we expect technology to save us from climate change? What other approaches to the problem are possible? And, perhaps most importantly, how are we going to be able to mobilize the required resources to take any steps at all?

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Regulation

Panelists: Dr Hannah YeeFen Lim and Dr Bo An

The world of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is evolving at exponential speed. As companies and businesses begin to invest big money into AI and machine learning, governments are quickly assessing the need to put in regulations and frameworks to suit their country’s principles. While some experts stress the need to regulate AI, especially in its impact on critical issues like privacy, security, human rights, crime, and finance, some argue that regulating it could hamper the development of AI to its full potential. In this inaugural debate, we will feature two of our NISTH Societal Impact Fellows – Associate Professor Bo An and Associate Professor Hannah YeeFen Lim.

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