The Future of Science International Conferences
THE FUTURE OF SCIENCE is a cycle of annual international conferences jointly organised by the Fondazione Umberto Veronesi, the Fondazione Silvio Tronchetti Provera, and the Fondazione Giorgio Cini. The aim of the Conferences is to examine the importance of scientific development as a means of improving the quality of our lives, and to delineate a new role for science in the society of the third millennium.
The idea of these conferences springs from an awareness that the problems and dilemmas generated by unrelenting scientific and technological progress are not being adequately discussed in society as a whole. As science exerts an ever more pervasive influence on our lives, society seems ill-informed about the short and long term implications of scientific advance, and in particular is unaware of the social, economic and cultural consequences of the continuous technological revolution. Experts of international renown from various spheres and disciplines have been invited to give their points of view on these issues − which are crucial to the destiny of our society − addressing a public of scientists, philosophers, theologians, industrialists, politicians, economists, journalists, students and others interested in the social, economic and political consequences of constant scientific development.
20 September - Morning Session
It is a well-known fact that the interaction of genetic and environmental factors affects the lifespan of an individual. But it still unclear how this process takes place.
Studies in evolution have shed some light on it. Why and how did the selection of lifespan regulating genes occur? Are longevity genes the same for body and mind? Gene-environment interaction opens another major question, that is how to control environmental risk by acting on people's lifestyles, in order to slow down the ageing process and prevent common diseases, including cancer.
20 September – Afternoon Session
The brain allows animals to adapt to changeable environments, and is subject to environmental influences affecting its development. There is a correlation, especially in mammals, between life expectancy and the brain-to-body mass ratio. Species with larger brain size develop more slowly, reach maturity later, and have a longer life expectancy. In addition, it is now apparent that, unlike body cells, neurons do not suffer from ageing. In the absence of pathological conditions, the lifespan of neurons is limited only by that of their host's body. This session will focus on molecular mechanisms for the storage of information in the brain, particularly in relation to the capability of neurons to adjust their function according to past experiences and environmental influences.
20 September – Afternoon Session
Over the past two decades, research in medicine and neuroscience has highlighted a significant increase in life expectancy. We need to rethink longevity as a phase of life requiring a new approach. Our focus must switch from preventing cognitive decay to ensuring the well-being and quality of living for the elderly, promoting social initiatives that may enhance their cognitive resources and "healthy" habits, by expanding their areas of interests, values, ideals and desires, with subsequently lower costs for the health sector.
21 September – Morning Session
In the past 30 years, life expectancy in industrialised countries has increased by six hours per day. This phenomenon poses a number of relevant issues about how to predict the future of human longevity and which strategies may guarantee a longer and better life. In this context, it is essential to address the economic consequences on the retirement systems, the international capital flows generated by heterogeneous demographic structures among different countries, and the management of systemic risk arising from individuals living a longer life. This interdisciplinary session will present the contributions of biodemography and economics to answering such topical questions.