2023 Simons Society of Fellows Alumni Symposium: Perspectives Reimagined: Art, Science, and the Power of Creative Fusion

Date & Time

Shana Caro, Adelphi University
Carlotta Ronda, Columbia University

Meeting Goals:
The symposium “Perspectives Reimagined: Art, Science, and the Power of Creative Fusion” aims to foster an environment where participants can explore the intersection of art and science, pushing the boundaries of traditional thinking. Through thought-provoking talks and interdisciplinary collaborations, the symposium seeks to ignite new perspectives, inspire innovative approaches, and harness the transformative potential of creative fusion to solve complex scientific problems. Participants will engage in dynamic exchanges, bridging disciplines and unlocking the reciprocal power of art and science to propel our understanding of the world.

  • Agendaplus--large

    Wednesday, October 4th

    9:30 AMRobert Yang | Large Language Models are Smart, but are they Human?
    10:30 AMBREAK
    11:00 AMMarkus Buehler | Creative Fusion between Science, Art and AI through Multiscale Modeling
    12:00 PMLUNCH
    1:00 PMOshin Vartanian | Neural Correlates of Creating and Appreciating Art: Similarities and Differences
    2:00 PMBREAK
    2:30 PMEugenia Cheng | Math, Art, Social Justice
    3:30 PMBREAK
    4:00 PMJody Rasch | TBC
    5:30 PMDINNER - Portale (126 W. 18th St)
  • Abstractsplus--large

    Robert Yang

    Large Language Models are Smart, but are they Human?

    Artificial Intelligence systems, powered by Large Language Models including ChatGPT, have demonstrated remarkable intelligence, rivaling or even surpassing humans across a broad range of domains. However, the question remains: are the current AI systems sufficiently representative of humans? We explore this question using a platform populated with virtual agents, each agent’s brain powered by Large Language Models. These agents inhabit and navigate a virtual world, interact with one another, and make autonomous decisions that shape their digital existence. Despite the use of state-of-the-art language models, our findings demonstrate a substantial gap that still exists between virtual agents and humans. We will also present the steps we have taken to narrow this gap.

    Eugenia Cheng

    Math, Art, Social Justice

    Dr. Eugenia Cheng will describe her journey from “normal” apolitical mathematician, to mathematician-artist-musician. Previously shying away from discussing political and social issues, she now does the opposite and uses her math, music, and art in intertwined ways to address these topics head on.

    Oshin Vartanian
    University of Toronto

    Neural Correlates of Creating and Appreciating Art: Similarities and Differences

    Over the last two decades, there have been considerable advances in our understanding of the psychological and neurological processes that support the creation and appreciation of art. In terms of the former, a growing body of evidence suggests that creativity emerges as a function of the interplay between the default-mode network (DMN) and the frontoparietal control network (FCN). Within this framework, DMN underlies internally-oriented cognition in support of generating novel thought content, whereas FCN underlies goal-directed cognition in support of task-relevant output. In turn, aesthetic appreciation appears to emerge from the interplay between three largescale neural systems that support sensory-motor, emotion-valuation, and knowledge-meaning processes. Although the literatures on creativity and aesthetic appreciation have developed largely independently, there is growing recognition that the two activities share common underlying processes. In this presentation I will review the major frameworks that drive research in the neuroscience of creativity and aesthetic appreciation, aiming to highlight similarities and differences between the neural underpinnings of the two activities. I will close by evaluating the extent to which our current understanding of these two activities dovetails with the proposed function of art as a communicative medium.

  • Participation & Fundingplus--large

    Participation in the meeting falls into the following categories. An individual’s participation category is communicated via their letter of invitation.

    Group A –Speakers and Out-of-town Participants
    The foundation will arrange and pay for all air and train travel to the conference as well as hotel accommodations and reimbursement of local expenses.

    Group B –Local Participants
    Individuals in Group B will not receive financial support, but are encouraged to enjoy all conference-hosted meals.

    Group C – Remote Participants
    Individuals in Group C will participate in the meeting remotely. Please register at the link above and a remote participation link will be sent to you approximately two weeks prior to the meeting.

  • Travel & Hotel plus--large

    Air and Train
    For individuals in Group A the foundation will arrange and pay for round-trip travel from their home city to the conference.

    All travel and hotel arrangements must be booked through the Simons Foundation’s preferred travel agency. Travel arrangements not booked through the preferred agency must be pre-approved by the Simons Foundation and a reimbursement quote must be obtained through the foundation’s travel agency. Travel specifications can be provided by clicking the registration link above.

    Personal Car
    Personal car trips over 250 miles each way require prior approval from the Simons Foundation via email.

    The James NoMad Hotel offers valet parking. Please note there are no in-and-out privileges when using the hotel’s garage, therefore it is encouraged that participants walk or take public transportation to the Simons Foundation.

    Participants in Group A who require accommodations are hosted by the foundation for a maximum of two nights at The James NoMad Hotel. Any additional nights are at the attendee’s own expense. To arrange accommodations, please register at the link above.

    The James NoMad Hotel
    22 E 29th St
    New York, NY 10016
    (between 28th and 29th Streets)

    For driving directions to The James NoMad, please click here.

  • Attendance & Reimbursement Policies plus--large


    COVID-19 Vaccination:
    Individuals accessing Simons Foundation and Flatiron Institute buildings must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

    Entry & Building Access:
    Upon arrival, guests will be required to show their photo ID to enter the Simons Foundation and Flatiron Institute buildings. After checking-in at the meeting reception desk, guests will be able to show their meeting name badge to re-enter the building. If you forget your name badge, you will need to provide your photo ID.

    The Simons Foundation and Flatiron Institute buildings are not considered “open campuses” and meeting participants will only have access to the spaces in which the meeting will take place. All other areas are off limits without prior approval.

    If you require a private space to conduct a phone call or remote meeting, please contact your meeting manager at least 48-hours ahead of time so that they may book a space for you within the foundation’s room reservation system.

    Meeting participants are required to give 24 hour advance notice of any guests meeting them at the Simons Foundation either before or after the meeting. Outside guests are discouraged from joining meeting activities, including meals.

    Ad hoc meeting participants who did not receive a meeting invitation directly from the Simons Foundation are discouraged.

    Children under the age of 18 are not permitted to attend meetings at the Simons Foundation. Furthermore, the Simons Foundation does not provide childcare facilities or support of any kind. Special accommodations will be made for nursing parents.


    Individuals in Group A will be reimbursed for meals and local expenses including ground transportation. Expenses should be submitted through the foundation’s online expense reimbursement platform after the meeting’s conclusion.

    Below are key reimbursement takeaways; a full policy will be provided with the final logistics email circulated approximately 2 weeks prior to the meeting’s start.

    The daily meal limit is $125 and itemized receipts are required for expenses over $24 USD. The foundation DOES NOT provide a meal per diem and only reimburses actual meal expenses.

    • Meals taken on travel days are reimbursable.
    • Meals taken outside those provided by the foundation (breakfast, lunch, breaks and/or dinner) are not reimbursable.
    • If a meal was not provided on a meeting day, dinner for example, that expense is reimbursable.
    • Meals taken on days not associated with Simons Foundation-coordinated events are not reimbursable.
    • Minibar expenses are not reimbursable
    • Meal expenses for a non-foundation guest are not reimbursable.
    • Group meals consisting of fellow meeting participants paid by a single person will be reimbursed up to $65 per person per meal and the amount will count towards each individual’s $125 daily meal limit.

    Ground Transportation:
    Expenses for ground transportation will be reimbursed for travel days (i.e. traveling to/from the airport) as well as local transportation. While in NYC, individuals are encouraged to use public transportation and not use taxi, Uber or Lyft services.

  • Contactsplus--large

    Registration and Travel Assistance
    Ovation Travel Group
    [email protected]
    (917) 408-8384 (24-Hours)

    Meeting Questions and Assistance
    Emily Klein
    Assistant Manager, Events, MPS, Simons Foundation
    [email protected]
    (646) 751-1262

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