Damilola Ogunbiyi on driving an equitable energy transition
In episode 139 of Berkeley Talks, Damilola Ogunbiyi, CEO and Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary General for Sustainable Energy for All, gives the UC Berkeley Energy and Resources Group's 28th Annual Lecture on Energy and Environment. In the March 31, 2022 talk, Ogunbiyi discusses how to drive a just, inclusive and equitable transition to affordable and sustainable energy for all, and how the Russia-Ukraine war is affecting energy markets around the world.
Listen to the episode and read a transcript on Berkeley News.
Follow Berkeley Talks and review us on Apple Podcasts.
Saturday, June 3, 2023
Climate grief: Embracing loss as a catalyst for collective action
Journalist and climate activist Naomi Klein joins Indigenous scholar Yuria Celidwen and posthumanist thinker Bayo Akomolafe, both senior fellows at UC Berkeley's Othering and Belonging Institute, to discuss climate grief and why they see it not as a reason for apathy, but as an invitation to feel the loss deeply — together — and to use it as fuel for collective action."The moments that we face loss, and we really embody the grieving process, is the total moment of surrendering," said Celidwen at the May 4 event, hosted by the Othering and Belonging Institute. "Realizing that arrogance that keeps humans in a hierarchical organization, feeling that they are somehow exceptional from and different from all others, that arrogance dissolves the moment that we realize we are powerless really to the process of life, to the process of spirit, the process of nature."That idea of bringing not only the possibilities of the mysterious, the possibilities of the stories, that not everything can be measured as Western sciences, but rather as how Indigenous sciences speaks about what we don't know, what we can't know, and how we can make meaning of precisely that unknowing, and resting in that unknowing by finding the right insight to the action that we need to do as a collective.""I was really struck, Yuria, that you said that grief is surrender," Klein said in response. "Because, right before, I was making a couple of notes, thinking about why so many people I know in the climate justice movement are afraid of grief. And I wrote down just now, 'It's because they equate grief with surrender.'"But, what I meant was political surrender. I think there's a fear that if we fall down, we'll never get up. And that, if we let ourselves feel the depths of the loss, the depths of the fear, that we'll just somehow never be able to be galvanized again. And it's the opposite, really. That grief is uncontainable, including that surrender."I work with these students I mentioned, it's not a course on climate anxiety or climate grief. It's a course on climate feelings. And that's the first thing I say is, 'It can be rage, it can be just loss, it can be hope, it can be homesickness. There are so many emotions, and why do we prescribe just this one?''But the main thing I want is just feel anything, feel it a lot, because I feel like what is the source of the hopelessness or despair — those are legitimate emotions — but it's a deadeningness, really, that is what I'm most afraid of in myself and in the people I work with."Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News (news.berkeley.edu).Photo of Naomi Klein by Kourosh Keshiri via Flickr. Photos of Yuria Celidwen and Bayo Akomolafe courtesy of the Othering and Belonging Institute.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
Tuesday, May 30, 2023
Pulitzer-winner Natalie Wolchover: 'Knowledge of physics is a superpower'
In this Berkeley Talks episode, Natalie Wolchover, a senior editor at Quanta Magazine and winner of the 2022 Pulitzer Prize in Explanatory Reporting, gives the keynote commencement speech to the Class of 2023 at Berkeley Physics"'Knowledge is power,' my grandpa always used to tell me," said Wolchover at the May 14 ceremony. "Well, I think knowledge of physics is a superpower. We tend to forget, when we're in a bubble of people who've studied physics, as we are in this auditorium, just how unusual it is to understand the laws of nature. Galileo wrote that 'the universe is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles and other geometric figures without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it. Without these, one is wandering about in a dark labyrinth.' You all understand the language of nature. You are not wandering about in a dark labyrinth. You have a headlamp on."Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News (news.berkeley.edu).Photo by Sarah Wittmer.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
Friday, May 26, 2023
Sociology Ph.D. graduates on the power of family and deep inquiry
In this episode, two Ph.D. graduates in sociology — Kristen Nelson and Mario Castillo — give the graduate student address at the UC Berkeley Department of Sociology's spring commencement ceremony."Like many of you, I was raised by a single mother," said Castillo at the May 19 event. "Her name is Mariana Leticia Castillo, and she was 17 when I was born. Now, I have tried to imagine what a 16-year-old mother-to-be must have felt as she prepared to bring a new life into this world, how she had hope for my wellness, happiness and success, coupled with an overwhelming sense of worry, anxiety and fear about the uncertain journey ahead."My mother's story, as a young working-class woman of color, finding her way as a single parent, combined with my own unique experiences as a queer person of color, propelled me towards deeper inquiry, self-discovery, and ultimately, the fascinating field of sociology."For Nelson, growing up in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the most segregated metro area in the U.S., opened her eyes to the stark inequality in the country and caused her to ask, "Why is it like this?""When issues ... go unspoken, that is a politics of silence that perpetuates exclusion," Nelson said. "This motivates me to practice a politics of articulation, where we choose to say out loud what has been overlooked, because we cannot change what we cover with silence. So, fellow graduates, as we step into the next chapter, one way that we might apply our sociological training is to ask ourselves: What needs to be spoken?"Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News (news.berkeley.edu).Photo courtesy of Kristen Nelson.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
Friday, May 19, 2023
Tennessee Rep. Justin Jones to graduates: 'The world needs your imagination'
In an impassioned keynote address to graduates of UC Berkeley's Goldman School of Public Policy, Tennessee state Rep. Justin Jones urged them to do three things: disrupt, dismantle, discover."We are here to disrupt, not just in word, but with our very presence," he said at the May 14 ceremony. "I come standing with my ancestry. I come in a building as a first non-white member to represent my district. I come as the youngest member. I come as somebody who they said, 'You cannot come with long hair and hoop earrings." But you can see I'm my full self because we have to disrupt these systems of white supremacy and of patriarchy and of plantation capitalism that have hijacked our nation and that for too long have been the dominant voice."Last month, Jones and fellow lawmaker, Justin Pearson, were expelled from the House by the chamber's Republican majority after leading a group of students in a protest demanding gun reform. It was in response to a recent elementary school shooting in Nashville that left six dead, three of them 9-year-olds."A lot of people said, 'What were you thinking when you were expelled from the legislature? What was going through your mind?' I said, 'Well, this was just another day at the Tennessee General Assembly.'"Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News.Photo by Catharyn Hayne/KLC Fotos. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
Friday, May 5, 2023
How a lie from medieval Europe spread antisemitism across the world
Magda Teter, professor of history and the Shvidler Chair of Judaic Studies at Fordham University and author of the 2020 book, Blood Libel: On the Trail of an Antisemitic Myth, discusses how an anti-Jewish lie that originated in medieval Europe has persisted throughout history and spread antisemitism across the world.Known as blood libel, the superstitious accusation — that Jews ritually sacrifice Christian children at Passover to obtain blood for unleavened bread — first emerged in 12th century Europe, but became a dominant narrative in the 15th century."Why in the 15th century do we have this sudden shift in quantity, in quality of these accusations?" asks Teter, during the Center for Jewish Studies' Annual Pell Lecture on March 15. "The answer is Simon of Trent, the story of Simon of Trent."Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News.Photo courtesy of Magda Teter.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
Monday, April 24, 2023
ChatGPT developer John Schulman on making AI more truthful
UC Berkeley alumnus John Schulman, the lead developer of ChatGPT, talks about how AI language models sometimes make things up — often convincingly — and offers solutions on how to fix this problem. Schulman's talk, which took place on April 19, was part of a series of public lectures at Berkeley this spring by the world’s leading experts on artificial intelligence.Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News.Read a Berkeley News Q&A with Schulman in which he discusses why he chose Berkeley for graduate school, the allure of towel-folding robots and what he sees for the future of artificial general intelligence.UC Berkeley photo by Jim Block.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
Friday, April 7, 2023
International journalists on women's rights in Iran and Afghanistan
Award-winning journalists — Arezou Rezvani, Jane Ferguson, Zahra Joya and Berkeley Journalism Dean Geeta Anand — discuss women’s rights in Iran and Afghanistan, and the challenges of reporting as women and about women in these countries.“I was last in Afghanistan in November of 2021, so the Taliban had been in control for several months,” says Ferguson, a PBS NewsHour correspondent. "Obviously, you’re there, you’re able to make connections with the women — you can talk to them on encrypted services, you can go and meet with them in places. But since then, I’ve been reporting from afar and you have to make connection with young women. And then, you have to try to do it as responsibly as you can. So, we’ll be interviewing them, hiding their faces, in some cases warping their voices, and you can really just take testimony from them on what life is like. It’s hugely challenging."This March 23 event was organized by the Pulitzer Center and UC Berkeley’s Graduate School of Journalism. Support comes from the PIMCO Foundation.Learn more about the speakers on Berkeley Journalism's website.Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News.Photo by Alisdare Hickson via Flickr.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
Friday, March 24, 2023
Jitendra Malik on the sensorimotor road to artificial intelligence
Jitendra Malik, a professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at UC Berkeley, gives the 2023 Martin Meyerson Berkeley Faculty Research Lecture called, "The sensorimotor road to artificial intelligence.""It's my pleasure to talk on this very, very hot topic today," Malik begins. "But I'm going to talk about natural intelligence first because we can't talk about artificial intelligence without knowing something about the natural variety."We could talk about intelligence as having started about 550 million years ago in the Cambrian era, when we had our first multicellular animals that could move about," he continues. "So, these were the first animals that could move, and that gave them an advantage because they could find food in different places. But if you want to move and find food in different places, you need to perceive, you need to know where to go to, which means that you need to have some kind of a vision system or a perception system. And that's why we have this slogan, which is from Gibson, "We see in order to move and we move in order to see."For a robot to have the ability to navigate specific terrain, like stepping stones or stairs, Malik says, it needs some kind of vision system."But how do we train the vision system?" he asks. "We wanted it to learn in the wild. So, here was our intuition: If you think of a robot on stairs, its proprioception, its senses, its joint angles can let it compute the depth of its left leg and right leg and so on. It has that geometry from its joint angles, from its internal state. So, can we use it for training? The idea was the proprioception predicts the depth of every leg and the vision system gets an image. What we asked the vision system to do is to predict what the depth will be 1.5 seconds later."That was the idea — that you just shift what signal it will know 1.5 seconds later and use that to do this advanced prediction. So, we have this robot, which is learning day by day. In the first day, it's clumsy. The second day, it goes up further. And then, finally, on the third day, you will see that it ... makes it all the way."Malik's lecture, which took place on March 20, was the first in a series of public lectures at Berkeley this spring by the world's leading experts on artificial intelligence. Other speakers in the series will include Berkeley Ph.D. recipient John Schulman, a co-founder of OpenAI and the primary architect of ChatGPT; a professor emeritus at MIT and a leading expert in robotics, and four other leading Berkeley AI faculty members who will discuss recent advances in the fields of computer vision, machine learning and robotics.Listen to the episode and read the transcript on Berkeley News.UC Berkeley photo. Music by Blue Dot Sessions.
Friday, March 10, 2023
The rise and destruction of the Jewish fashion industry
Uwe Westphal, author of the 2019 book, Fashion Metropolis Berlin 1836-1939: The Story of the Rise and Destruction of the Jewish Fashion Industry, discusses Berlin's once-thriving Jewish fashion industry and how the Nazi confiscations of Jewish-owned companies in the years before World War II led to the industry's demise."The destruction of the entire fashion industry meant forced labor, government-organized theft and the murder and the deportation of Jews," Westphal says. "Today, 78 years after the end of World War II, unlike most other industries in Germany, fashion producers small and large have not yet taken on responsibility for what happened. … A younger generation needs to understand the connection between the Holocaust and the destruction of the Berlin fashion industry.”This Feb. 15, 2023, lecture was sponsored by the UC Berkeley Center for Jewish Studies, The Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life, Goethe-Institut San Francisco and the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany San Francisco.Read a transcript and listen to the episode on Berkeley News.Music by Blue Dot Sessions.Photo © Ullstein-Bild/Zander&Labisch.