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CHIPS Articles: SSC Pacific machine learning and neuroscience takes center stage at TEDxSan Diego conference

SSC Pacific machine learning and neuroscience takes center stage at TEDxSan Diego conference
By Patric Petrie, SSC Pacific Public Affairs - October-December 2017
Dr. Ben Migliori, an interdisciplinary physicist/neuroscientist currently working in SSC Pacific’s I/O Data and Cognitive Sciences Branch, was one of 12 featured speakers selected from San Diego at large during the eighth annual TEDxSanDiego conference, held Oct. 14 at Symphony Hall in downtown San Diego.

The theme of the event was “Created Future(s),” which highlighted the power of the individual to actively create their future as well as the power that exists when people collectively seek to engage in activities that shape humanity. Speaking before a packed house, Migliori focused on his work with biologically inspired systems — that is, using an understanding of computational neuroscience to help machines perceive the world, and using an understanding of machines to help us understand the brain. Migliori is currently contributing this unique outlook at SSC Pacific as a principal investigator in machine learning and computational neuroscience.

Migliori said working with a professional story telling coach was especially valuable to him professionally.

“Being coached on telling my story from a top-down and bottom-up perspective was really enlightening,” Migliori said. “It’s a very unusual presentation from a technical side, but it allows you to communicate the material in a very clear way and it has direct applications to the kind of work I want to do, whether it’s proposing for new efforts or communicating our efforts to our local research groups here.

“I thought I was a good at presentations, but that experience made me better, and made it so I can reach a wider audience.”

Migliori was joined on the program by artists, musicians and speakers from University California, San Diego, the Salk Institute for Biological Studies, the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, as well as private industry, including the head of augmented reality technology company DAQRI.

Mark Lovett, organizer and chief architect for the San Diego event, visited the Center in February after being contacted about SSC Pacific’s wide-range of emerging technologies and its large pool of subject matter experts. Researchers competed for the opportunity to speak at TEDxSan Diego before a panel of judges.

TEDxSanDiego, an independently organized extension of the annual TED Conference held in Vancouver, British Columbia, brings together a collection of doers, thinkers, innovators, creatives, explorers, visionaries, teachers and learners. TEDxSanDiego seeks to illuminate, inspire and activate those individuals as a way to expand horizons, change perceptions, incite action and foster new connections.

Migliori’s presentation was filmed by KPBS, and will be available on the TEDx YouTube channel by mid-November.

SSC Pacific's mission: To conduct research, development, engineering, and support of integrated command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, cyber, and space systems across all warfighting domains, and to rapidly prototype, conduct test and evaluation, and provide acquisition, installation, and in-service engineering support.

Dr. Ben Migliori
Dr. Ben Migliori
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