Last Saturday I attended the second annual Being Human 2013 conference in San Francisco's Nourse Theater. There were 1,400 people attending and we were all immersed with a dozen or so speakers and a couple terrific of performance artists. Described as "a daylong exploration of human nature in the light of cutting edge science, philosophy, and evolution," there were four main themes covered: The Biology and Psychology of Ethical Behavior, Human Emotions, Love and Sex, and The Future of Being Human.
Each of the presenters shared aspects of their research into the qualities that makes us human. Stories included: projects that quantify the brain activity during meditation, studies related to individual and global compassion, human behavior related to romantic love and sex, and efforts looking into longevity and data analysis of global communications. The presentations were also broken up by welcomes performances by hip hop dancer Marquese Scott and musician ELEW.
It seems like the explosion of recent research centers around new technologies that now allow us to peek inside the human brain. Using fMRI and other tools we are learning a tremendous amount about what areas of the brain are activated under a variety of circumstances such as meditation, feelings of love, happiness, depression, etc.
Kudos to Peter Baumann, The Baumann Foundation and Jeff Klein and their team for showcasing new advancements in understanding human behavior and giving us a glimpse of what's around the corner in innovations (some of it inspiring, some of it a bit scary...).
The entire daylong event was captured on video and can be viewed at: http://fora.tv/conference/being_human_2013/