ESOF 2020, Trieste

Some YEBN members had the opportunity to join ESOF’s conferences this past week! Want to know more about this initiative? Read below!

The EuroScience Open Forum (ESOF) is a biennial, pan-European, general science conference dedicated to scientific research and innovation. Each conference aims to deliver stimulating content and lively debate around the latest advancements and discoveries in the life sciences, humanities and social sciences.

Oriol Bárcenas has joined sessions related to AI and quantum technologies, as they will pave the way to the future. All the speakers gave really interesting insight about the future world that is currently being shaped thanks to all the eminent scientists and professionals that are giving their contributions to these subjects.

Regarding AI, there was a general consensus on the general risks that uncontrollable development without purpose poses. Artificial Intelligence can make our lives easier and safer, but can also fall into mistakes caused by incorrect data feeding. Incorrect or biased data-sets means biased AI, which will deliver wrong judgements.

There was also the risk of adversarial attacks like intentionally inserting noise on images or sounds to force outputting of incorrect and. This noise is imperceptible to humans, but if correctly inserted in the original source, can alter the perception of the AI.

AI usage and training was also a cause of worry: the access of piles of data have obvious privacy concerns. AI is also capable of doing things we humans couldn’t possibly do, like analyse speech and choose the speaker, for example, which could be something dangerous if used by the wrong people.

Photo by Alex Knight from Pexels

On the quantum scene, gigantic developments could be made in the following years, regarding privacy and data analysis. There was also the general opinion that big advances in technology had to be paired with reason: quantum technologies in the wrong hands could have devastating consequences, but on the right hands could mean the development of new drugs and compounds, the usage of less electricity-intensive computers and super-computers, etc.

Alexandra Nothnagel attended in addition to the AI focused session the courses linked to gender equity and inclusion regarding her focus on the sustainable development goal for YEBN to “reduce inequalities”.

Elsevier presented a 150 page report in Women careers in Research which describes that women have less publications in later career stages as men but are particularly active in publications in early career (first author publications). It seems that women quit research in a higher frequency or get less frequently higher positions.

Also the network of women with their peers seem to be different and their impact factor of their publications is slightly lower. Another observation was that men are less active in gender equity programs than women. A program in Australia adresses that issue in valuing male champions active in gender equity measures.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Alexandra has also joined other sessions on career development of researchers especially interesting for the YEBN community to check for interesting insights of the community to be taken into account for the YEBN during their support actions of career development for young professionals.

Se also did a session on participatory and citizen research. In the latter the general issue if the need of high quality data was emphasized and thus the responsibility of the design the data acquisition rules of research projects asking the participation of citizens. The participation of citizens was presented as particularly useful in the emergence as well as quality control of research evidence based policies that allow in a circular process to measure changes e.g. on environmental factors like air or water quality following the application of new policies.

We thank ESOF for this opportunity, as this project brings closer fascinating news, values and aims of the research society and it’s interaction with the public, discussion about open science and public perception of research, and developments that are currently happening and impacting the science community like the sanitary crisis with interested listeners who want to be proactive members of the research society.

If you want to be able to join these initiatives and write your testimonial, just write us at and we can work on a collaboration. Thanks for reading this and expect many more updates coming from YEBN!