Monthly Archives: September 2020

Ronin Institute Working Groups vs Interest Groups: What’s the Difference?

Working Groups (WG) focus on key elements of the Ronin Institute. They are an important part of the Governance structure for our Institute, because they offer one way (but not the only way!) for Ronin Research Scholars to participate in the running of the Institute (part of our “Everybody drives a truck” philosophy). Each WG has a lead, who also participates in the Ronin Institute Advisory Board. WGs meet once a month, and are open to all Ronin Institute Research Scholars. 

Our WGs and the current leads: 

Interest Groups (IG) are self-organized groups of Scholars that focus on specific topics. Their goal is to stimulate discussion and enhance collaboration. The general idea behind IGs is to convene Scholars in organized groups–much like departments in a conventional university, but much more fluid and community-based. Sub-groups within IGs could also form around specific projects and goals (e.g., leading a seminar or writing a paper). In particular, we welcome IGs that address cross-disciplinary topics (e.g., storms, sustainability). Currently, our IGs have a presence on our Slack workspace through specific channels (using the prefix “IG-” in the channel name), and are only open to Ronin Institute Research Scholars. Some IGs also meet weekly on Remo, which is a platform that allows participants to easily move around to different discussions. 

These are our current IGs, their scope, and the contact/lead: 

[Illustration by Karolin Schnoor]

Ronin Public Seminar: COVID19 and Cutting Edge Technologies You Can Deploy from Home Yourself!

This seminar is part of the Ronin Institute Public Seminar Series, featuring our Research Scholars. We welcome members of the public, but please register ahead of time to get the meeting link.

Presenter: Vesselin Gueorguiev

Hosted by: Jon F Wilkins, Ronin Institute Research Scholar
Date/time: September 25 at 1:00 pm US ET/ 5:00 PM GMT (local time)(add to your calendar)

Summary: Have you considered using a Natural Language Processing (NLP) tools to understand COVID19? How about a chatbot that can answer some of your friends’ questions about COVID19? Do you think that applications for a Quantum Computer are too far in the future? You can access and play with all these cutting edge technology tools today! In this talk, freely available resources will be used to demonstrate the utilization of all these cutting edge technologies to understand and inform the public about COVID19. The speaker will demo a Slack and Facebook integrated ChatBot that can answer questions about COVID19, a focused NLP and NLU COVID19 based search collection, and finally a quantum computer GDP-sick people optimization for informed reopening decisions.

Ronin Public Seminar: Foundations & Examples for how to tackle (Geo)ethical Dilemmas

This seminar is part of the Ronin Institute Public Seminar Series, featuring our Research Scholars. We welcome members of the public, but please register ahead of time to get the meeting link.

PresenterMartin Bohle, Ronin Institute Research Scholar

Hosted by: Arika Virapongse, Ronin Institute Research Scholar
Date/time: September 16 at 10:00 AM US ET / 2:00 PM GMT (in your local time) (add event to your calendar)

Summary: This essay is about less-than-satisfying circumstances, and imperfect solutions. To that end it presents some theory, experiences and examples for how to tackle ‘geoethical dilemmas’. Geosciences co-shape the human niche, that is, the planetary network of twinned natural and cultural landscapes. Bundled by global supply chains, humans restlessly alter it through engineering, production and consumption. In turn, human agents face counter-intuitive system-behaviour, irreversible path-dependency, and multi-facet values and interests, including ‘ethical dilemmas’. 

Facing such premises, geoethics explores cultural substrates to nurture the skills of agents when facing suchlike ‘wicked’ system-features. Initially, geoethics was conceived for geoscientists, that is, their professional functions in various societal contexts. Subsequently, geoethics evolved into an epistemic, moral hybrid for citizens interacting with the Earth system. Geoethics amended by Kohlberg’s hierarchy of moral adequacy and Jonas’s imperative of responsibility results in a ‘geoethical rational’, namely, to act: ‘actor-centric, virtue-ethics focused, responsibility focused, knowledge-based, all-actor-inclusive, and universal-rights based’. Less-than-perfect guidance, such as the geoethical rational offers, can support agents to navigate the human niche, that is coping with ‘ethical dilemmas’.

Here is the recorded webinar:

Re-visiting Our Goals at the Ronin Institute

At the Ronin Institute, we’ve been thinking a lot about our institutional purpose, and how we can make sure that we stay on track. Here are some things that we try to keep in mind: 

Our Vision

The Ronin Institute is reinventing academia, but without the academy.

The key word there is “reinventing”. It’s actually harder than you might think to try to stay out of the same rut that the conventional academy has taught us is the norm. We remind ourselves constantly that “that’s how others do it” is not good enough. 

Our Mission

To create a new model for scholarly research that recognizes that the world outside of traditional academia is filled with smart, educated, passionate people who have a lot to offer to the world of scholarship. We want anyone who is interested in pursuing high-quality scholarly research to be able to do so. Moreover, we want these people to be able to pursue their research in a way that is consistent with all of their life’s priorities.

Our mission highlights equity in scholarship (for more on this, read Jon’s blog post from 2012). This is where it gets tricky in regards to “staying on track”. There are no easy solutions here–not least of all because so many sectors in our society fail tremendously at this. Some specific ways that we’ve been trying to tackle this at Ronin include our: Code of Conduct, volunteer leadership approach, membership model, and virtual infrastructure plan. The equity question really does permeate every major decision we make at Ronin. Rather than aiming for equity as a destination, we seek to embed it within the Institute. Ronin Research Scholars can help us all stay the course by sharing their diverse perspectives and challenging our (own) world views.