A glimpse of the future in the beautiful Wye Valley

Guest piece by Ilan Goodman, Science Programme Producer of HowTheLightGetsIn Festival

The Institute of Art and Ideas presents HowTheLightGetsIn, the world’s largest philosophy and music festival, which takes place annually in May in Hay-on-Wye. The festival is the centrepiece of the IAI’s mission to rescue philosophy from impenetrable language games and return it to its rightful place as a guiding light for a wider culture, in rigorous dialogue with science, technology and politics.

Science Programme

Many assume science to be a neutral zone in which indisputable truths are hammered out through empiricism alone, safe from the ideological adulterants of politics and culture. At HowTheLightGetsIn, we seek to illuminate the forces of orthodoxy that influence scientific practice, while turning a predictive eye to the power that scientific and technological developments can wield over people’s lives and livelihoods. Our programme this year explores everything from the implications of AI to the gaps in our understanding of astronomy, pairing scientists with philosophers and other figures from across the cultural landscape in discussions that cross disciplines and meld diverse perspectives on the deepest, most urgent questions of our time.

Science Programme - HTLGI festivalThe Science Programme lineup at this year's HowTheLightGetsIn

The deepest question of all - why is there something rather than nothing - is tackled by physicist George Ellis alongside philosopher and metaphysician Amie Thomasson, while in ‘The Stuff of the Universe’ debate, physicist John Ellis will argue about the ultimate constituents of matter with Susan Blackmore, the psychologist and author of Consciousness.

In ‘The End of the Theory of Everything’, a physicist, a philosopher of physics and a novelist consider whether a cohesive theory of all existence is a pipe dream or an inevitability. Meanwhile, ‘The Dark Universe’ sees physicists wrangling over the most mysterious components of the universe – dark matter and dark energy.

Further to the left field, feminist computer scientist Kate Devlin goes head to head with internet theorist Nigel Shadbolt about the threat posed by AI and former government drugs czar David Nutt talks about the therapeutic potential of psychedelics.

Always directly looking to the future, we’re hosting the Wellcome Trust’s Ed Whiting and medical anthropologist Clare Chandler in a landmark discussion on how to cope fairly and effectively with the looming crisis of antimicrobial resistance.

Finally, we’re proud to present the return of the IAI Academy. Running for several years now, IAI Academy gives festival-goers the chance to get up close with the world’s leading thinkers and get familiar with their biggest ideas via two intimate lectures and a Q&A.

HTLGI - festival posterClick here to find out more about the festival

In our 2018 Academy programme, physicist and popular blogger Sabine Hossenfelder leads a course on how the search for beautiful theories is holding back progress in fundamental physics. Cognitive scientist and philosopher Andy Clark explores the dramatic societal repercussions contained in his theory of the Predictive Mind. Other highlights will include Susan Blackmore, who teaches on the neuroscience of out-of-body experiences.

No other event this Summer will facilitate conversations quite so bold and heterodox as HowTheLightGetsIn, a festival that shatters the boundaries between schools of thought in a celebration of transformative ideas.

HowTheLightGetsIn takes place in Hay-On-Wye from May 25-28. Find out more about the line-up, and how to get tickets here.