Tag Archives: Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC)

Canadian Science Policy Centre: a 2024 Canadian federal budget event and a call for 2024 conference proposals *(deadline extension)*

2024 Canadian federal budget event

Canada’s 2024 federal budget will be presented on April 16, 2024, according to this March 4, 2024 Government of Canada media advisory. About two weeks later the Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) will host their annual budget symposium (Decoding Budget 2024 for Science and Innovation). Here’s more from the March 28, 2024 CSPC announcement (received via email),

The CSPC Budget Symposium will be held on Wednesday May 1, 2024 starting at 12pm. The Symposium will feature a detailed budget analysis presented by David Watters and Omer Kaya from Global Advantage Consulting Group followed by panel discussions with leaders from across the country, representing academic, business, and non-profit sectors.

Details

Date: May 1 [2024]
Time: 12:00 pm – 5:00 pm EDT
Event Category: Virtual Session
Registration Page: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_Zu0_hqZaRZuADWwT7y5rIw

Venue

Zoom

Organizer

Canadian Science Policy Centre
Email info@sciencepolicy.ca

Mark your calendar to be part of insightful discussions around the Federal Budget 2024!

Register Now

Kaya and Watters were both scheduled to speak at last year’s (2023) federal budget symposium and both have been guest speakers in years previous to 2023. Presumably more speakers and specific topics will be identified as the May 1, 2024 budget symposium draws nearer.

2024 Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC): call for proposals

I gather the conference organizers (the Canadian Science Policy Centre) are short of ‘panel proposals’ but have enough ‘short talk proposals’ as the the March 28, 2024 CSPC announcement (received via email) highlights the panels only,

Call for Panel Proposals, Three Weeks
Left to the Deadline: April 19, 2024 *(extended to April 26, 2024)*

The call for proposals is open with only 3 weeks left until the submission deadline of Friday, April 19, 2024. We invite you to submit proposals that revolve around any of the conference’s six tracks. The theme and topics can be viewed by clicking here, and the submission criteria and panel formats on our website at the link below.

CSPC 2024 Panel Proposal Submission

I have a few details about the 2024 conference, from the CSPC 2024 webpage,

16th Canadian Science Policy Conference

November 20th-22nd, 2024, at the Westin Ottawa hotel

CSPC 2024 Theme:

Empowering Society: The Transformative Value of Science, Knowledge, and Innovation

The 16th Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC 2024), will be held in person on November 20th – 22nd, 2024. The conference expects 1000+ participants, more than 300 speakers, in 60 panel sessions. CSPC 2024 will also include a spectacular Gala dinner featuring its award ceremony which has become a signature annual event to celebrate Canadian science and innovation policy achievements.

We invite you to submit proposals in a variety of presentation formats that revolve around any of the conference topics. …

Track One: Science, Knowledge, and Policy

*The national STI ecosystem: Strategy for the next ten years; building on strengths and opportunities; addressing weaknesses
*Managing the evolving/changing research landscape: AI, Open Science
*Evidence for policy
*Science policy futures

Track Two: Science, Knowledge, and Society


*Systemic racism, otherism

*Science, Knowledge, and Truth and Reconciliation
*Ethics of emerging technologies

*Citizen Scientist

Track Three: Innovation Policy and Economic Development

*Emerging economic opportunities
*Emerging and disruptive technologies

*Scale up and commercialization

Track Four: Science, International Affairs and Security


*Science diplomacy, research security and geopolitics
*Scientists on the move

Track Five: Science and the Next Generation


*Enabling the next generation of researchers with non-research skills
*Trainees’ well-being
*Grassroots science policy networks, opportunities and lessons learned

Track Six: Grand Challenges – Adaptation, Resilience, Canada’s Role

*Climate change
*The North
*Food, agriculture, water

For details about proposal submissions for either a short talk or a panel, go to the 2024 CSPC proposal webpage. If you’re curious about previous conferences, you can find the proceedings for the 2023 CSPC here.

*Deadline for 2024 CSPC conference proposals extended to April 26, 2024.*

Canadian Science Policy Centre appeals to BC scientists: please apply for 2024 Science Meets ‘Parliament/Legislative Assembly’

A January 11, 2024 Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) notice (also received via email) makes a special announcement,

Science Meets Parliament BC Applications [in BC, it’s not a provincial Parliament, it’s the Legislative Assembly]
Deadline Extended to Jan 19th, 2024!

The SMP-BC application deadline has been extended to Friday, January 19th, 2024, with expanded eligibility!

SMP-BC is an invaluable opportunity for scientists in BC to engage with the legislative process. The non-advocacy program provides researchers with the opportunity to interact with MLAs, attend committee meetings, and delve into political decision-making. The program will be open to three groups of researchers who are working in an academic institution in BC:

  • Faculty members within their first 10 years of appointment
  • Indigenous researchers 
  • Postdoctoral fellows and have been directly awarded either a Banting Postdoctoral Fellowship or a CIHR [Canadian Institutes of Health Research] / NSERC [Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada] / SSHRC [Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada] Tri-agency Postdoctoral Fellowship 

For more information on the program, eligibility, and how to apply, please click the [on the link] below

Read More and Apply Here

According to the SMP program webpage, applications for the standard SMP program in Ottawa, which will take place May 6-7, 2024 (see 2024 program brochure, PDF), are closed.

Here’s a little more about this special version of Science Meets Parliament (Legislative Assembly), from the SMP-BC 2024 webpage,

The Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC), with the honourary patronage of the Lieutenant Governor, the Honourable Janet Austin, and made possible with the support of the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, the Honourable Raj Chouhan, are pleased to announce that registration is now open for the first edition of Science Meets Parliament – British Columbia! This program is scheduled to take place in Victoria in April 22-23, 2024.

Apply now! Deadline Extended: January 19, 2024
Eligibility expanded!

Apply Now

There’s more, from the SMP-BC 2024 webpage,

The objective of the Science Meets Parliament (SMP) – British Columbia program is that scientists in BC learn about the process of policy making at the provincial legislature and become familiar with the provincial parliamentary process. In addition, it serves as an opportunity for BC MLAs [Members of the Legislative Assembly] to explore the application of scientific evidence in policy making.

The program helps to strengthen the connections between Canada’s scientific and political communities, enable a two-way dialogue, and promote mutual understanding. Delegates will gain practical knowledge of the inner workings of political policy making, broaden their professional networks to include influential members of the science and policy communities, enhance their communication skills for new contexts and audiences, and carry their experiences back to share with their home institutions. The program is NOT an advocacy exercise for science or for the scientific community.

The program has been a great success, receiving positive feedback from both Science Meets Parliament delegates and participating Parliamentarians. We are delighted to expand our program to the provincial level with Science Meets Parliament – British Columbia.

This program is funded only through registration fees and sponsorship. We invite interested organizations to consider sponsorship opportunities – please contact sciencemeetsparliament@sciencepolicy.ca for more information.

Good luck!

Last call for Science and Innovation in a Time of Transformation—the Canadian Science Policy Conference (November 13 – 15, 2023)

Unless something really exciting happens, this will be my last post about the upcoming 2023 (and 15th annual) Canadian Science Policy Conference. I will be highlighting a few of the sessions but, first, there’s this from an October 26, 2023 Canadian Science Policy Centre announcement (received via email),

Only Two Weeks Left to Register for CSPC [Canadian Science Policy Conference] 2023!

Only two weeks left to register for CSPC 2023! The deadline to register is Friday, November 10th! With the overarching theme of ‘Science and Innovation in a Time of Transformation’ CSPC 2023 expects more than 1000 participants, 300+ speakers in 50+ panel sessions, and will include a spectacular Gala Dinner featuring its award ceremony which has become a signature annual event to celebrate Canadian science and innovation policy achievements. 

CSPC 2023 will feature more than 300 amazing speakers. To view the list of speakers, click here, and here are some of the international speakers: 

Multiple ticket discounts are also available. CSPC offers a 5% discount on groups of 5-9 registrations and a 10% discount for 10 registrations or more. Please note GROUP REGISTRATION DISCOUNTS are available until Friday, November 10th. Please contact conference@sciencepolicy.ca for more information.

Register now by clicking the button below!
Register Now

View the CSPC 2023 Program and Speakers List!

The biggest and most comprehensive annual Science and Innovation Policy Conference, CSPC 2023, is fast approaching! Explore more than 60 concurrent and plenary panel sessions. Navigate the CSPC 2023 Program: the Interactive Agenda is available here, and the Agenda at a Glance can be viewed here.

There are four sessions that seem particularly interesting to me. First, from the session webpage,

804 – Discussion between Dr. Mona Nemer and Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan, moderated by Dr. Alejandro Adem

Monday, November 13, 20231:00 PM – 2:00 PM

This year’s CSPC opening panel will bring together two of North America’s most recognized science leaders for a discussion about their experience in the Canadian and U.S research landscape. Panelists will discuss the importance of societally-relevant science, broadening participation in science, the increasing need for open science, and science & technology in green economic development, as well as their vision for the role of science in international relations.

Organized by: Canada Research Coordinating Committee

Speakers

Dr. Alejandro Adem
President of the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC)

Dr. Mona Nemer
Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, Government of Canada

Dr. Sethuraman Panchanathan
Computer Scientist and Engineer
15th Director of the U.S. National Science Foundation (NSF)

Second, from the session webpage,

901 – The new challenges of information in parliaments

Monday, November 13, 20232:30 PM – 4:00 PM

In a democratic environment, members of parliament work with information gathered from parliamentary staff, media, lobbies and experts. With the aim of maintaining a strong democracy, parliaments around the world have developed mechanisms to facilitate access to high-quality information for elected representatives, with variations according to continent, language and culture. This panel proposes an overview of these mechanisms including a discussion on emerging issues impacting them, such as the integration of artificial intelligence and the risks of digital interference in democratic processes.

Organized by: Fonds de recherche du Quebec

Speakers

Interestingly, the Canadian Science Policy Centre recently published a research report titled “Survey of Parliamentarians; Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Use of Science in Policy Making,” you can my comments about it in my October 13, 2023 posting.

Third, from the session webpage,

277 – Science for Social Justice: Advancing the agenda set by the 2022 Cape Town World Science Forum

Tuesday, November 14, 202310:30 AM – 12:00 PM

South Africa had hosted the 10th World Science Forum (WSF), a platform for global science policy dialogue, in Cape Town in December 2022. The WSF is co-organised by a partnership involving global science organisations including UNESCO, the AAAS and the International Science Council, and Hungarian Academy of Science. The theme of the 2022 WSF was “Science for Social Justice.” During a week of intense debate more than 3000 participants from across the world debated the role of science in advancing social justice. This session will review the outcomes of the Forum, including the WSF Declaration on Science for Social Justice.

Organized by: South African Department of Science and Innovation

Speakers

The fourth and final session to be mentioned here, from the session webpage,

910 – Canada’s Quantum potential : critical partnerships and public policy to advance Canada’s leadership in Quantum science and technology.

Tuesday, November 14, 202310:30 AM – 12:00 PM

Canada’s early commitment to invest in Quantum research and technology has made our nation one of the global leaders in that field, and the $360 million earmarked over a seven-year period to foster the National Quantum Strategy (NQS) is a testament to Canada’s leadership ambition in the future. This panel discussion will address the ever-evolving field of quantum science and technology and offer a unique opportunity to explore its policy dimensions including the current state of the field, its advancements and potential applications, and the overall impact of quantum innovations across various sectors. It will explore the transformative impact of quantum science and technologies, and the quantum revolution 2.0 on society, from diverse expert perspectives, using examples such as the impact of quantum computing on drug discovery or financial modelling, as well as discussing the ethical considerations and potential for misuse in surveillance or disinformation campaigns. This panel will examine a variety of policy and social implications of Quantum technologies, including the impact of foundational research and training, approaches to support Quantum industries at their development stages, risks, obstacles to commercialization, and opportunities for better inclusion.

Organized by: University of Ottawa

Speakers

Dr. Khabat Heshami
Research Officer at the National Research Council Canada [NRC]

Jeff Kinder
Project Director
Council of Canadian Academies

Professor Ebrahim Karimi
Co-Director the Nexus for Quantum Technologies Research Institute
University of Ottawa

Professor Ghassan Jabbour
Canada Research Chair in Engineered Advanced Materials and Devices
University of Ottawa – Faculty of Engineering

Rafal Janik
Chief Operating Officer
Xanadu

Tina Dekker
Research Fellow of the University of Ottawa Research Chair in Technology and Society

A few comments

I have highlighted speakers from two of the sessions as I’m going to make a few comments. Dr. Mona Nemer who’s part of the opening panel discussion and Canada’s Chief Science Advisor and Dr. Mehrdad Hariri, the founder and current Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Canadian Science Policy Centre, which organizes the conference, are both from a region that is experiencing war.

I imagine this is a particularly difficult time for many people in Canada whose family and friends are from the various communities in that region. Along with many others, I hope one day there is peace for everyone. For anyone who might want a little insight into the issues, there’s an October 15, 2023 CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) radio programme segement on ‘The Sunday Magazine with Piya Chattopadhyay’,

How to maintain solidarity in Canadian Jewish and Palestinian communities

The events in Israel and Gaza in the last week have sparked high levels of grief, pain and outrage, deepening long-simmering divides in the region and closer to home. For years, Raja Khouri and Jeffrey Wilkinson have embarked on a joint project to bring North American Palestinian and Jewish communities together. They join Piya Chattopadhyay to discuss how the events of the last week are challenging that ongoing mission in Canada… and how to strive for solidarity in a time of grief and trauma.

You can find the almost 22 mins. programme here. Khouri’s and Wilkinson’s book, “The Wall Between: What Jews and Palestinians Don’t Want to Know about Each Other” was published on October 3, 2023 just days before the initial Hamas attacks,

The Wall Between is a book about the wall that exists between Jewish and Palestinian communities in the Diaspora. Distrust, enmity, and hate are common currencies. They manifest at university campuses, schools and school boards, at political events, on social media, and in academic circles. For Jews, Israel must exist; for Palestinians, the historic injustice being committed since 1948 must be reversed. Neither wants to know why the Other cannot budge on these issues. The wall is up.

These responses emanate, primarily, from the two “metanarratives” of Jews and Palestinians: the Holocaust and the Nakba. Virtually every response to the struggle, from a member of either community, can be traced back to issues of identity, trauma, and victimhood as they relate to their respective metanarrative. This book examines the role that propaganda and disinformation play in cementing trauma-induced fears for the purpose of making the task of humanizing and acknowledging the Other not just difficult, but almost inconceivable. The authors utilize recent cognitive research on the psychological and social barriers that keep Jews and Palestinians in their camps, walled off from each other. They present a clear way through, one that is justice-centered, rather than trauma-and propaganda-driven.

The authors have lived these principles and traveled this journey, away from their tribal traumas, through embracing the principles of justice. They insist that commitment to the Other means grappling with seemingly incompatible narratives until shared values are decided and acted upon. This book is a call to justice that challenges the status quo of Zionism while at the same time dealing directly with the complex histories that have created the situation today. The book is both realistic and hopeful—a guide for anyone who is open to new possibilities within the Israel-Palestine discourse in the West.

From the publisher’s author descriptions, “Jeffrey J. Wilkinson, PhD, is an American Jew who lives in Canada.” From his Wikipedia entry, “Raja G. Khouri is a Lebanese born Arab-Canadian..”

Also, thank you to Dr. Nemer and Dr. Hariri for the science policy work they’ve done here in Canada and their efforts to expand our discussions.

On a much lighter note, the ‘quantum session’ panel is dominated by academics from the University of Ottawa, a policy wonk from Ottawa, and a representative from a company based in Toronto (approximately 450 km from Ottawa by road). Couldn’t the panel organizers have made some effort to widen geographical representation? This seems particularly odd since the policy wonk (Jeff Kinder) is currently working with the Canadian Council of Academies’ Expert Panel on the Responsible Adoption of Quantum Technologies, which does have wider geographical representation.

This CSPC 2023 panel also seems to be another example of what appears to be a kind of rivalry between D-Wave Systems (based in the Vancouver area) and Xanadu Quantum Technologies (Toronto-based) or perhaps another east-west Canada rivalry. See my May 4, 2021 posting (scroll down to the ‘National Quantum Strategy’ subhead) for an overview of sorts of the seeming rivalry; there’s my July 26, 2022 posting for speculation about Canada’s quantum scene and what appears to be an east/west divide; and for a very brief comment in my April 17, 2023 posting (scroll down to the ‘The quantum crew’ subhead.)

As for the conference itself, there’s been a significant increase in conference registration fees this year (see my July 28, 203 posting) and, for the insatiable, there’s my March 29, 2023 posting featuring the call for submissions and topic streams.

Canadian Science Policy Centre does some funky research, hosts October 2023 events, and more

I’m going to start with the ‘more’.

Deadline extended

From an October 12, 2023 Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) announcement received via email,

Science Meets Parliament 2024
Application Deadline is Nov 9th!

You still have some time, the deadline to submit your applications for Science Meets Parliament 2024, is Thursday, Nov 9th [2023]! To apply, click here..

Science Meets Parliament (SMP) is a program that works to strengthen the connections between the science and policy communities. This program is open to Tier II Canada Research Chairs, Indigenous Principal Investigators, and Banting Postdoctoral Fellows.

Two events: October 13, 2023 and October 24, 2023

From an October 12, 2023 Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) announcement,

Upcoming Virtual Panel [Canada-Brazil Cooperation and Collaboration in STI [Science, Technology, and Innovation]]

This virtual panel aims to discuss the ongoing Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) cooperation between Brazil and Canada, along with the potential for furthering this relationship. The focus will encompass strategic areas of contact, ongoing projects, and scholarship opportunities. It is pertinent to reflect on the science diplomacy efforts of each country and their reciprocal influence. Additionally, the panel aims to explore how Canada engages with developing countries in terms of STI.

Please note the panel date has been changed to October 13th at 12pm EST. Click the button below to register for the upcoming virtual panel!
Register Here

An event to mark a CSPC research report,

Report Launch on The Hill!
CSPC Survey of Parlimentarians!

CSPC has organized a panel discussion on Oct 24th [2023] at 8 AM [EST] on Parliament Hill to launch the results of the project: “Survey of Parliamentarians on the Impact of the Pandemic on the Use of Science in Policy Making”.

This project was conducted by the CSPC’s Evaluation and Reports Committee, which began the dissemination of the survey to parliamentarians in 2021. The objective was to gather information on the impact of the pandemic on the use of science in policy-making. Survey responses were analyzed and a full report is going to be presented and publicized.

More information about the survey and the Final Report on the Survey of Parliamentarians can be found HERE.

To attend this in-person event, please click the button below.
Register Here


Funky or not? Final Report on the Survey of Parliamentarians

[downloaded from https://sciencepolicy.ca/survey-of-parliamentarians/]

Wouldn’t it have been surprising if the survey results had shown that parliamentarians weren’t interested in getting science information when developing science policies? Especially surprising given that the survey was developed, conducted, and written up by the Canadian Science Policy Centre.

While there is a lot of interesting material, I really wish the authors had addressed the self-serving nature of this survey in their report. To their credit they do acknowledge some of the shortcomings, from the report (PDF), here’s the conclusion, Note: All emphases are mine,

There was near unanimous agreement by parliamentarians that there is a need for scientific knowledge in an accessible and policy-ready format. Building upon that, and taking into account the difficulties that parliamentarians identified in acquiring scientific knowledge to support policy- making, there were two main facilitators suggested by participants that may improve timely and understandable scientific knowledge in parliamentarian work. Firstly, the provision of scientific knowledge in a policy-ready format through a non-partisan science advice mechanism such as a non-partisan science advisor for the House of Commons and Senate. Secondly, research
summaries in an accessible format and/or briefing of hot scientific topics provided by experts. As parliamentarians revealed in this survey, there is a clear desire to use scientific knowledge more frequently as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, the scientific community has an opportunity to support parliamentarians in this regard through mechanisms such as those indicated here.

Notwithstanding, the findings above come with some limitations within this study. First, the committee acknowledges that due to the small sample size of survey participants – particularly for MPs – the results presented in this report may not be representative of the parliamentarians of the 43rd Canadian Parliament. The committee also acknowledges that this limitation is further compounded by incomplete demographic representation. Although the committee made great efforts to achieve a survey demographic across gender, party affiliation, geographical location, and language that was representative of the 43rd Canadian Parliament, there were certain demographics that were ultimately under-represented. For these reasons, trends highlighted in this report and comparisons between MPs and senators should be interpreted with these limitations in mind. Finally, the committee acknowledged the possibility that the data presented in this report may be biased towards more positive perceptions of scientific knowledge, since this survey was more likely to have been completed by parliamentarians who have an interest in science. Even with these limitations, this study provides a critical step forward in understanding parliamentarians’ needs regarding acquisition of scientific knowledge in their work and proposing possible mechanisms to support these needs.

In conclusion, the current report reveals that parliamentarians’ inclination to use science in policy-making has increased in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Moreover, parliamentarians are more aware than ever of the necessity for accurate and accessible scientific knowledge in their work. There are clear challenges facing the use of scientific knowledge in policy-making, namely misinformation and disinformation, but participants highlighted different key proposed mechanisms that can better integrate science and research into the framework of public policy. [p. 34]

Self-selection (“more likely to have been completed by parliamentarians who have an interest in science”) is always a problem. As for geographical representation, no one from BC, Saskatchewan, the Yukon, Nunavut, or the Northwest Territories responded.

Intriguingly, there were 18 Senators and 8 MP (members of Parliament) for a total of 26 respondents (see pp. 15-16 in the report [PDF] for more about the demographics).

As the authors note, it’s a small number of respondents. which seems even smaller when you realize there are supposed to be 338 MPs (House of Commons of Canada Wikipedia entry) and 105 Senators (List of current senators of Canada Wikipedia entry).

I wish they had asked how long someone had served in Parliament. (Yes, a bit tricky when an MP is concerned but perhaps asking for a combined total would solve the problem.)

While I was concerned about the focus on COVID-19 and the generic sounding references to ‘scientific knowledge’, my concerns were somewhat appeased with this, from the report (PDF),

Need for different types of scientific knowledge

The committee found that across all participants, there was an increased need for all listed types of scientific knowledge by the majority of participants. One parliamentarian elaborated on this, highlighting that several Bills have touched on these areas over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic and that in their research work, parliamentarians have had to refer to these areas of scientific knowledge regularly.

Unsurprisingly, the type of scientific knowledge reported to have the largest increase in need was health sciences (85%). Notably, 4% or less of participants indicated a lesser need for all types of scientific knowledge, with health science, social science and humanities, and natural sciences and engineering seeing no decline in need by participants. Both MP and senator participants reported a greater need for research and evidence in health sciences (e.g., public health, vaccine research , cancer treatment etc.), social sciences and humanities (e.g., psychology, sociology, law, ethics), and environmental sciences (e.g., climate, environment, earth studies) as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Particularly, one parliamentarian reflected that there is an increased need among policy- makers to be objective and listen to scientists, as well as scientific data and evidence in areas such as public health and climate change. However, the relative increase in need for each subject between groups was different. For instance, senator participants reported the largest increase in need for health sciences (89%), followed by environmental science (78%) and social sciences and humanities (73%); whereas MP participants reported the largest increase in need for social sciences and humanities (88%), followed by health sciences (75%) and environmental science (63%).

Economics, Indigenous Knowledge, and natural sciences and engineering (e.g., biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, engineering) had smaller increases in need for both MPs and senators. For both groups, natural sciences and engineering saw 50% of participants indicate an increase in need. In the case of economics and Indigenous Knowledge, senators noted a larger increase in need for these fields compared to MPs. In particular, in the case of Indigenous Knowledge only 37% of MPs
reported an increased need for this type of scientific knowledge compared to 61% of senators.

Finally, one parliamentarian noted that climate change and Indigenous issues have gained a greater prominence since the pandemic, but not necessarily as a result of it. Therefore, in addition to putting these responses in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, these responses should also be considered in the context of other global and Canadian issues that arose over the course of this survey (Question 4, Annex A [Cannot find any annexes]). [pp. 21-22]

Interesting to read (although I seem to have stumbled onto the report early as it’s no longer available as of October 13, 2023 at 10:10 am PT) from the “Survey of Parliamentarians: Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the use of science in policymaking” CSPC webpage.

As for funky, I think you need to be really clear that you’re aware your report can readily be seen as self-serving and note what steps you’ve taken to address the issue.

Register for Science Meets (Canadian) Parliament by October 11, 2023—Virtual information session on September 19, 2023

A September 14, 2023 announcement (received via email) from the Canadian Science Policy Centre includes an invitation to sign up for the 2024 edition of their Science Meets Parliament (SMP) programme, here’s more about the programme from the announcement,

Science Meets Parliament (SMP) is a program that works to strengthen the connections between the science and policy communities. This program is open to Tier II Canada Research Chairs, Indigenous Principal Investigators, and Banting Postdoctoral Fellows. …

This seems a little underwhelming as a description; thankfully, there’s a little more on the Canadian Science Policy Centre’s SMP webpage,

The Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) and the Office of the Chief Science Advisor (OCSA) are pleased to announce that registration is open for the 2024 edition of Science Meets Parliament!

This program is scheduled to take place in Ottawa on May 6th and 7th 2024, subject to Parliament being in session and in person.

The objective of this initiative is to strengthen the connections between Canada’s scientific and political communities, enable a two-way dialogue, and promote mutual understanding. This initiative aims to help scientists become familiar with policy making at the political level, and for parliamentarians to explore using scientific evidence in policy making. This initiative is not meant to be an advocacy exercise, and will not include any discussion of science funding or other forms of advocacy.

The Science Meets Parliament model is adapted from the successful Australian program held annually since 1999. Similar initiatives exist in the EU, the UK and Spain.

CSPC’s program aims to benefit the parliamentarians, the scientific community and, indirectly, the Canadian public.

For anyone who likes to ‘kick the tires before buying’, there’s an information session (from the announcement),

A virtual information session will be held for all interested parties on September 19th [2023], from 11:30-12:30 pm ET [8:30 – 9:30 am PT]. To register for the SMP 2024 Virtual Information Session, click here. 

Finally (from the announcement),

The deadline to apply for this program is October 11, 2023. To apply, click here.

Good luck!

Canadian Science Policy Centre panel on Sept. 6, 2023 [date changed to October 4, 2023]: Science, technology and innovation (STI) between Brazil and Canada plus a quantum panel on Sept. 13, 2023

In an August 17, 2023 Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) newsletter (received via email), they’ve announced a panel about science and technology opportunities with a country we don’t usually talk about much in that context (nice to see a broader, not the US and not a European or Commonwealth country, approach being taken),

Canada-Brazil Cooperation and Collaboration in STI [Science, Technology, and Innovation]

This virtual panel aims to discuss the ongoing Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) cooperation between Brazil and Canada, along with the potential for furthering this relationship. The focus will encompass strategic areas of contact, ongoing projects, and scholarship opportunities. It is pertinent to reflect on the science diplomacy efforts of each country and their reciprocal influence. Additionally, the panel aims to explore how Canada engages with developing countries in terms of STI.

Click the button below to register for the upcoming virtual panel!

Register Here

Date: Sept. 6 [2023] October 4, 2023
Time: 1:00 pm EDT

Here are the speakers (from the CSPC’s Canada-Brazil Cooperation and Collaboration in STI event page),

Fernanda de Negri
Moderator
Director of Studies and Sectoral Policies of Innovation, Regulation and Infrastructure at the Institute for Applied Economic Research (IPEA), Brazil
See Bio

Alejandro Adem
President of Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada – NSERC
See Bio

Ambassador Emmanuel Kamarianakis
Canadian Embassy in Canada
See Bio

Ambassador Ademar Seabra da Cruz Jr.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Brazil
See Bio

If you haven’t gotten your fill of virtual science policy panels yet, there’s this one on quantum technologies, from the August 17, 2023 Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) newsletter,

Canada’s Quantum Strategy and International Collaboration

Countries are investing heavily in quantum computing and other quantum technologies. As Canada has recently released its Quantum Strategy [Note: There is also report on Quantum Technologies expected from the Canadian Council of Academies, no release date yet], this is an opportunity to foster further international collaborations. Panelists will discuss the opportunities and challenges Canada will be facing and what this could mean for Canada’s leadership in quantum research and the development of quantum technologies.

Click the button below to register for the upcoming virtual panel!

Register Here

Date: Sep 13 [2023]
Time: 1:00 pm EDT

Here’s some information about the panel participants, from the CSPC’s Canada’s Quantum Strategy and International Collaboration event page,

Dr. Sarah Burke
Associate Professor, University of British Columbia
See Bio

Dr. Aimee K. Gunther
Deputy Director, Quantum Sensors Challenge Program, National Research Council Canada
See Bio

Prof. Andrea Damascelli
Scientific Director, Stewart Blusson Quantum Matter Institute | Professor, Physics and Astronomy | Canada Research Chair in the Electronic Structure of Quantum Materials
See Bio

Nick Werstiuk
CEO, Quantum Valley Ideas Lab
See Bio

Eric Miller
Fellow, Canadian Global Affairs Institute
See Bio

Ms. Alexandra Daoud
Moderator
Vice President, Intellectual Property at Anyon Systems
See Bio

Interestingly, the moderator, Alexandra Daoud, is a patent agent.

As for the Council of Canadian Academies, you can find out about the proposed report on Quantum Technologies here.

Science and Innovation in a Time of Transformation—the Canadian Science Policy Conference (November 13 – 15, 2023)

Happy 15th anniversary to the Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC). Jaw dropping increase in price for SuperSaver rates!

Before getting to the prices, here’s more in English and French from a Canadian Science Policy Centre newsletter (received June 19, 2023 via email), Note: They don’t have a programme yet,

Registration for the eagerly awaited 15th Canadian Science Policy Conference is now available! Check the CSPC Conference Website for more information.

Register now at the SuperSaver rate which offers significant savings and is valid until September 3rd, 2023. By taking advantage of the SuperSaver rate, registration will include Five Symposia for free (a value of up to $300). 

CSPC 2023 will feature:

  • 8 Pre-Conference Zoom Sessions between Nov 1-10th, 2023
  • 5 Symposiums with 20 sessions on Nov 13th, 2023 on the following themes:
    1. Innovation Policy
    2. Health Policy
    3. Indigenous and North
    4. Equity Diversity Inclusion
    5. Resilient Communities
  • 50+ Concurrent Panel Sessions
  • 5 Plenary Sessions
  • Breakfast Sessions
  • Luncheons Talks
  • Fireside Discussions
  • Gala Dinner

With the overarching theme of ‘Science and Innovation in a Time of Transformation’ CSPC 2023 expects more than 1000 participants, 300+ speakers in 50+ panel sessions, and will include a spectacular Gala Dinner featuring its award ceremony which has become a signature annual event to celebrate Canadian science and innovation policy achievements. 

Don’t miss out on the SuperSaver rate and register now!

Register Here

Vous attendiez ce moment avec impatience! Vous pouvez maintenant vous inscrire à la 15e Conférence sur les politiques scientifiques canadiennes! Pour plus de détails, veuillez consulter le site Web de la CPSC.

En vous inscrivant d’ici le 3 septembre 2023, vous pouvez bénéficier du tarif super escompte qui vous permet de profiter d’économies importantes. Ceux qui s’inscriront au cours de la période du tarif super escompte auront accès (sans frais additionnels) à 5 symposiums (une valeur de plus de 300 $). 

La CPSC 2023 comprendra :

  • 8 séances Zoom pré-conférence entre le 1er et le 10 novembre 2023
  • 5 symposiums avec 20 séances le 13 novembre 2023 portant sur les thèmes suivants :
    1. Politique d’innovation
    2. Politique en santé
    3. Autochtones et région du Nord
    4. Équité, diversité et inclusion
    5. Communautés résilientes
  • Plus de 50 panels simultanés
  • Cinq séances plénières
  • Déjeuners-causeries
  • Dîners-causeries
  • Discussions informelles
  • Souper gala

Sous le thème général Science et innovation en période de transformation, on s’attend à ce que la CPSC 2023 accueille plus de 1000 participants, et plus de 300 conférenciers qui participeront à plus de 50 panels. La conférence comprendra également un souper gala avec cérémonie de remise de prix; un événement annuel prestigieux pour souligner les réalisations dans le domaine de la politique scientifique et d’innovation au Canada. 

Inscrivez-vous maintenant pour profiter du tarif super escompte!

S’inscrire maintenant

Pricing (now and then)

Here are the prices for the 2023 CSPC conference from the registration page,

Registration Rates

All rates are subject to 13% HST tax.

Conference and Symposiums: 3 Lunches, 3 breakfasts, refreshment breaks, and one reception. Gala Dinner is included in the Standard registration category.

All registrations categories include Zoom Pre Conference Sessions (Nov 1-10 [2023])

SuperSaver
All summer – Sept 3rd
Conference OnlyConference + Symposiums
Special SuperSaver Deal:
Symposium is Free up to $300 savings
Standard (Gala dinner included)$1200
Academic/Non-Profit/Diplomat/Retired$700
Student/Post Doctoral$250
Early Bird
Sept 4th – Oct. 2nd
Conference OnlyConference + Symposiums
$200 savings
Standard (Gala dinner included)$1200$1300
Academic/Non-Profit/Diplomat/Retired$725$825
Student/Post Doctoral$275$325
Regular Rate
Oct 3rd – Nov 10th
Conference OnlyConference + Symposiums
$200 savings
Standard (Gala dinner included)$1400$1500
Academic/Non-Profit/Diplomat/Retired$825$925
Student/Post Doctoral$325$375
Other (Conference Only)Cost
Panelist/Panel Organizer One Day (Day of presentation)$300
Panelist/Panel Organizer Speaker full conference$600
Exhibitor Booth Staff$800
Gala Dinner Tickets OnlyCost
Conference Delegates (Students)$99
Conference Delegates (Non-profits)$150
Other (not registered for conference)$300
Table (10)$2800
Symposiums Only (Monday, Nov 13, 8 am – 12 pm)Cost
Standard$300
Academic/Non-Profit/Diplomat/Retired$200
Student/Post Doctoral$100
Zoom Pre-Conference Sessions Only (Nov 1 – Nov 10)Cost
Standard$100
Academic/Non-Profit/Diplomat/Retired$100
Student/Post Doctoral$50

Then

Let’s compare with the 2022 conference prices (from my August 31, 2022 posting),

Registration includes 3 Lunches, 3 breakfasts, refreshment breaks, and one reception, and zoom pre-conference sessions.

Gala Dinner is included in the Standard registration category. Gala dinner for students and non-profit pricing is $99

Registration Label Name

SuperSaver Rate
All summer – Sept 3rd


Early Bird Rate
Sept. 4th – Oct 1st

Regular Rate
From Oct 5th
Standard (Gala dinner included)$990$1100$1250
Academic / Non-Profit / Retired / Diplomat$550$650$750
Student / Postdoctoral Fellow / Trainee$200$250$300

The SuperSaver rate for a standard registration has jumped from $990 in 2022 to $1200.—an increase of approximately 20%.

The price jump for “Academic / Non-Profit / Retired / Diplomat” from $550 to $700 is about 27% while the “Student/Post Doctoral” price jump from $200 to $250 is 25%.

Getting back to the conference, which as usual will be held in Ottawa, here are some details from the accommodation page,

Canadian Science Policy Conference (CSPC) 2023 Conference will be held at the Westin Ottawa Hotel from Monday, November 13 to Wednesday, November 15, 2023.  To view the hotel please visit this link to Westin Ottawa.

CSPC has arranged for a block of guest rooms at the Westin Ottawa starting at $272.00 per night plus applicable taxes. The deadline for booking is Monday, October 16, 2023. Room availability is limited.

The programme (outline)

This year’s theme is: Science and Innovation in a Time of Transformation—the Canadian Science Policy Conference (November 13 – 15, 2023). The What to Expect page gives you a sense of what the programme could be like,

CSPC 2023 tracks are:

Science and Policy

Science and Society

Innovation, and Economic Development

Science, International Affairs and Security

Science and the Next Generation

Grand Challenges

Speakers

There’s a preliminary list of speakers available according to my July 20, 2023 announcement received via email. At this point the list is heavily tilted to speakers from health and agriculture/food agencies.

There are a few international speakers, one from the UK (she’s from the University of Sheffield and their Food Standards Agency) and two from France (ambassador to Canada, Michel Miraillet) and a representative from the French Ministry of Higher Education and Research.

Familiar face, Dr. Mona Nemer, Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, can be expected too.

Hopefully, I can get an email interview with Dr. Mehrdad Hariri, Founder, CEO & President, Canadian Science Policy Centre for his perspective on the last 15 years of Canadian science policy, a preview of this year’s programme, and, perhaps, some insight into a reason or two for the price jumps.

Global dialogue on the ethics of neurotechnology on July 13, 2023 led by UNESCO

While there’s a great deal of attention and hyperbole attached to artificial intelligence (AI) these days, it seems that neurotechnology may be quietly gaining much needed attention. (For those who are interested, at the end of this posting, there’ll be a bit more information to round out what you’re seeing in the UNESCO material.)

Now, here’s news of an upcoming UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) meeting on neurotechnology, from a June 6, 2023 UNESCO press release (also received via email), Note: Links have been removed,

The Member States of the Executive Board of UNESCO
have approved the proposal of the Director General to hold a global
dialogue to develop an ethical framework for the growing and largely
unregulated Neurotechnology sector, which may threaten human rights and
fundamental freedoms. A first international conference will be held at
UNESCO Headquarters on 13 July 2023.

“Neurotechnology could help solve many health issues, but it could
also access and manipulate people’s brains, and produce information
about our identities, and our emotions. It could threaten our rights to
human dignity, freedom of thought and privacy. There is an urgent need
to establish a common ethical framework at the international level, as
UNESCO has done for artificial intelligence,” said UNESCO
Director-General Audrey Azoulay.

UNESCO’s international conference, taking place on 13 July [2023], will start
exploring the immense potential of neurotechnology to solve neurological
problems and mental disorders, while identifying the actions needed to
address the threats it poses to human rights and fundamental freedoms.
The dialogue will involve senior officials, policymakers, civil society
organizations, academics and representatives of the private sector from
all regions of the world.

Lay the foundations for a global ethical framework

The dialogue will also be informed by a report by UNESCO’s
International Bioethics Committee (IBC) on the “Ethical Issues of
Neurotechnology”, and a UNESCO study proposing first time evidence on
the neurotechnology landscape, innovations, key actors worldwide and
major trends.

The ultimate goal of the dialogue is to advance a better understanding
of the ethical issues related to the governance of neurotechnology,
informing the development of the ethical framework to be approved by 193
member states of UNESCO – similar to the way in which UNESCO
established the global ethical frameworks on the human genome (1997),
human genetic data (2003) and artificial intelligence (2021).

UNESCO’s global standard on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence has
been particularly effective and timely, given the latest developments
related to Generative AI, the pervasiveness of AI technologies and the
risks they pose to people, democracies, and jobs. The convergence of
neural data and artificial intelligence poses particular challenges, as
already recognized in UNESCO’s AI standard.

Neurotech could reduce the burden of disease…

Neurotechnology covers any kind of device or procedure which is designed
to “access, monitor, investigate, assess, manipulate, and/or emulate
the structure and function of neural systems”. [1] Neurotechnological
devices range from “wearables”, to non-invasive brain computer
interfaces such as robotic limbs, to brain implants currently being
developed [2] with the goal of treating disabilities such as paralysis.

One in eight people worldwide live with a mental or neurological
disorder, triggering care-related costs that account for up to a third
of total health expenses in developed countries. These burdens are
growing in low- and middle-income countries too. Globally these expenses
are expected to grow – the number of people aged over 60 is projected
to double by 2050 to 2.1 billion (WHO 2022). Neurotechnology has the
vast potential to reduce the number of deaths and disabilities caused by
neurological disorders, such as Epilepsy, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s
and Stroke.

… but also threaten Human Rights

Without ethical guardrails, these technologies can pose serious risks, as
brain information can be accessed and manipulated, threatening
fundamental rights and fundamental freedoms, which are central to the
notion of human identity, freedom of thought, privacy, and memory. In
its report published in 2021 [3], UNESCO’s IBC documents these risks
and proposes concrete actions to address them.

Neural data – which capture the individual’s reactions and basic
emotions – is in high demand in consumer markets. Unlike the data
gathered on us by social media platforms, most neural data is generated
unconsciously, therefore we cannot give our consent for its use. If
sensitive data is extracted, and then falls into the wrong hands, the
individual may suffer harmful consequences.

Brain-Computer-Interfaces (BCIs) implanted at a time during which a
child or teenager is still undergoing neurodevelopment may disrupt the
‘normal’ maturation of the brain. It may be able to transform young
minds, shaping their future identity with long-lasting, perhaps
permanent, effects.

Memory modification techniques (MMT) may enable scientists to alter the
content of a memory, reconstructing past events. For now, MMT relies on
the use of drugs, but in the future it may be possible to insert chips
into the brain. While this could be beneficial in the case of
traumatised people, such practices can also distort an individual’s
sense of personal identity.

Risk of exacerbating global inequalities and generating new ones

Currently 50% of Neurotech Companies are in the US, and 35% in Europe
and the UK. Because neurotechnology could usher in a new generation of
‘super-humans’, this would further widen the education, skills, wealth
and opportunities’ gap within and between countries, giving those with
the most advanced technology an unfair advantage.

UNESCO’s Ethics of neurotechnology webpage can be found here. As for the July 13, 2023 dialogue/conference, here are some of the details from UNESCO’s International Conference on the Ethics of Neurotechnology webpage,

UNESCO will organize an International Conference on the Ethics of Neurotechnology on the theme “Building a framework to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms” at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, on 13 July 2023, from 9:00 [CET; Central European Time] in Room I.

The Conference will explore the immense potential of neurotechnology and address the ethical challenges it poses to human rights and fundamental freedoms. It will bring together policymakers and experts, representatives of civil society and UN organizations, academia, media, and private sector companies, to prepare a solid foundation for an ethical framework on the governance of neurotechnology.

UNESCO International Conference on Ethics of Neurotechnology: Building a framework to protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms
13 July 2023 – 9:30 am – 13 July 2023 – 6:30 pm [CET; Central European Time]
Location UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, France
Rooms : Room
I Type : Cat II – Intergovernmental meeting, other than international conference of States
Arrangement type : Hybrid
Language(s) : French Spanish English Arabic
Contact : Rajarajeswari Pajany

Registration

Click here to register

A high-level session with ministers and policy makers focusing on policy actions and international cooperation will be featured in the Conference. Renowned experts will also be invited to discuss technological advancements in Neurotechnology and ethical challenges and human rights Implications. Two fireside chats will be organized to enrich the discussions focusing on the private sector, public awareness raising and public engagement. The Conference will also feature a new study of UNESCO’s Social and Human Sciences Sector shedding light on innovations in neurotechnology, key actors worldwide and key areas of development.

As one of the most promising technologies of our time, neurotechnology is providing new treatments and improving preventative and therapeutic options for millions of individuals suffering from neurological and mental illness. Neurotechnology is also transforming other aspects of our lives, from student learning and cognition to virtual and augmented reality systems and entertainment. While we celebrate these unprecedented opportunities, we must be vigilant against new challenges arising from the rapid and unregulated development and deployment of this innovative technology, including among others the risks to mental integrity, human dignity, personal identity, autonomy, fairness and equity, and mental privacy. 

UNESCO has been at the forefront of promoting an ethical approach to neurotechnology. UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee (IBC) has examined the benefits and drawbacks from an ethical perspective in a report published in December 2021. The Organization has also led UN-wide efforts on this topic, collaborating with other agencies and academic institutions to organize expert roundtables, raise public awareness and produce publications. With a global mandate on bioethics and ethics of science and technology, UNESCO has been asked by the IBC, its expert advisory body, to consider developing a global standard on this topic.

A July 13, 2023 agenda and a little Canadian content

I have a link to the ‘provisional programme‘ for “Towards an Ethical Framework in the Protection and Promotion of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms,” the July 13, 2023 UNESCO International Conference on Ethics of Neurotechnology. Keeping in mind that this could (and likely will) change,

13 July 2023, Room I,
UNESCO HQ Paris, France,

9:00 –9:15 Welcoming Remarks (TBC)
•António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations•
•Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO

9:15 –10:00 Keynote Addresses (TBC)
•Gabriel Boric, President of Chile
•Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
•PedroSánchez Pérez-Castejón, Prime Minister of Spain
•Volker Turk, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
•Amandeep Singh Gill, UN Secretary-General’sEnvoyon Technology

10:15 –11:00 Scene-Setting Address

1:00 –13:00 High-Level Session: Regulations and policy actions

14:30 –15:30 Expert Session: Technological advancement and opportunities

15:45 –16:30 Fireside Chat: Launch of the UNESCO publication “Unveiling the neurotechnology landscape: scientific advancements, innovationsand major trends”

16:30 –17:30 Expert Session: Ethical challenges and human rights implications

17:30 –18:15 Fireside Chat: “Why neurotechnology matters for all

18:15 –18:30 Closing Remarks

While I haven’t included the speakers’ names (for the most part), I do want to note some Canadian participation in the person of Dr. Judy Iles from the University of British Columbia. She’s a Professor of Neurology, Distinguished University Scholar in Neuroethics, andDirector, Neuroethics Canada, and President of the International Brain Initiative (IBI)

Iles is in the “Expert Session: Ethical challenges and human rights implications.”

If you have time do look at the provisional programme just to get a sense of the range of speakers and their involvement in an astonishing array of organizations. E.g., there’s the IBI (in Judy Iles’s bio), which at this point is largely (and surprisingly) supported by (from About Us) “Fonds de recherche du Québec, and the Institute of Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. Operational support for the IBI is also provided by the Japan Brain/MINDS Beyond and WorldView Studios“.

More food for thought

Neither the UNESCO July 2023 meeting, which tilts, understandably, to social justice issues vis-à-vis neurotechnology nor the Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) May 2023 meeting (see my May 12, 2023 posting: Virtual panel discussion: Canadian Strategies for Responsible Neurotechnology Innovation on May 16, 2023), based on the publicly available agendas, seem to mention practical matters such as an implant company going out of business. Still, it’s possible it will be mentioned at the UNESCO conference. Unfortunately, the May 2023 CSPC panel has not been posted online.

(See my April 5, 2022 posting “Going blind when your neural implant company flirts with bankruptcy [long read].” Even skimming it will give you some pause.) The 2019 OECD Recommendation on Responsible Innovation in Neurotechnology doesn’t cover/mention the issue ob business bankruptcy either.

Taking a look at business practices seems particularly urgent given this news from a May 25, 2023 article by Rachael Levy, Marisa Taylor, and Akriti Sharma for Reuters, Note: A link has been removed,

Elon Musk’s Neuralink received U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for its first-in-human clinical trial, a critical milestone for the brain-implant startup as it faces U.S. probes over its handling of animal experiments.

The FDA approval “represents an important first step that will one day allow our technology to help many people,” Neuralink said in a tweet on Thursday, without disclosing details of the planned study. It added it is not recruiting for the trial yet and said more details would be available soon.

The FDA acknowledged in a statement that the agency cleared Neuralink to use its brain implant and surgical robot for trials on patients but declined to provide more details.

Neuralink and Musk did not respond to Reuters requests for comment.

The critical milestone comes as Neuralink faces federal scrutiny [emphasis mine] following Reuters reports about the company’s animal experiments.

Neuralink employees told Reuters last year that the company was rushing and botching surgeries on monkeys, pigs and sheep, resulting in more animal deaths [emphasis mine] than necessary, as Musk pressured staff to receive FDA approval. The animal experiments produced data intended to support the company’s application for human trials, the sources said.

If you have time, it’s well worth reading the article in its entirety. Neuralink is being investigated for a number of alleged violations.

Slightly more detail has been added by a May 26, 2023 Associated Press (AP article on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s news online website,

Elon Musk’s brain implant company, Neuralink, says it’s gotten permission from U.S. regulators to begin testing its device in people.

The company made the announcement on Twitter Thursday evening but has provided no details about a potential study, which was not listed on the U.S. government database of clinical trials.

Officials with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) wouldn’t confirm or deny whether it had granted the approval, but press officer Carly Kempler said in an email that the agency “acknowledges and understands” that Musk’s company made the announcement. [emphases mine]

The AP article offers additional context on the international race to develop brain-computer interfaces.

Update: It seems the FDA gave its approval later on May 26, 2023. (See the May 26, 2023 updated Reuters article by Rachael Levy, Marisa Taylor and Akriti Sharma and/or Paul Tuffley’s (lecturer at Griffith University) May 29, 2023 essay on The Conversation.)

For anyone who’s curious about previous efforts to examine ethics and social implications with regard to implants, prosthetics (Note: Increasingly, prosthetics include a neural component), and the brain, I have a couple of older posts: “Prosthetics and the human brain,” a March 8, 2013 and “The ultimate DIY: ‘How to build a robotic man’ on BBC 4,” a January 30, 2013 posting.)

Virtual panel discussion: Canadian Strategies for Responsible Neurotechnology Innovation on May 16, 2023

The Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) sent a May 11, 2023 notice (via email) about an upcoming event but first, congratulations (Bravo!) are in order,

The Science Meets Parliament [SMP] Program 2023 is now complete and was a huge success. 43 Delegates from across Canada met with 62 Parliamentarians from across the political spectrum on the Hill on May 1-2, 2023.

The SMP Program is championed by CSPC and Canada’s Chief Science Advisor, Dr. Mona Nemer [through the Office of the Chief Science Advisor {OCSA}].

This Program would not have been possible without the generous support of our sponsors: The Royal Military College of Canada, The Stem Cell Network, and the University of British Columbia.

There are 443 seats in Canada’s Parliament with 338 in the House of Commons and 105 in the Senate and 2023 is the third time the SMP programme has been offered. (It was previously held in 2018 and 2022 according to the SMP program page.)

The Canadian programme is relatively new compared to Australia where they’ve had a Science Meets Parliament programme since 1999 (according to a March 20, 2017 essay by Ken Baldwin, Director of Energy Change Institute at Australian National University for The Conversation). The Scottish have had a Science and the Parliament programme since 2000 (according to this 2022 event notice on the Royal Society of Chemistry’s website).

By comparison to the other two, the Canadian programme is a toddler. (We tend not to recognize walking for the major achievement it is.) So, bravo to the CSPC and OCSA on getting 62 Parliamentarians to make time in their schedules to meet a scientist.

Responsible neurotechnology innovation?

From the Canadian Strategies for Responsible Neurotechnology Innovation event page on the CSPC website,

Advances in neurotechnology are redefining the possibilities of improving neurologic health and mental wellbeing, but related ethical, legal, and societal concerns such as privacy of brain data, manipulation of personal autonomy and agency, and non-medical and dual uses are increasingly pressing concerns [emphasis mine]. In this regard, neurotechnology presents challenges not only to Canada’s federal and provincial health care systems, but to existing laws and regulations that govern responsible innovation. In December 2019, just before the pandemic, the OECD [Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development] Council adopted a Recommendation on Responsible Innovation in Neurotechnology. It is now urging that member states develop right-fit implementation strategies.

What should these strategies look like for Canada? We will propose and discuss opportunities that balance and leverage different professional and governance approaches towards the goal of achieving responsible innovation for the current state of the art, science, engineering, and policy, and in anticipation of the rapid and vast capabilities expected for neurotechnology in the future by and for this country.

Link to the full OECD Recommendation on Responsible Innovation in Neurotechnology

Date: May 16 [2023]

Time: 12:00 pm – 1:30 pm EDT

Event Category: Virtual Session [on Zoom]

Registration Page: https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_-g8d1qubRhumPSCQi6WUtA

The panelists are:

Dr. Graeme Moffat
Neurotechnology entrepreneur & Senior Fellow, Munk School of Global Affairs & Public Policy [University of Toronto]

Dr. Graeme Moffat is a co-founder and scientist with System2 Neurotechnology. He previously was Chief Scientist and VP of Regulatory Affairs at Interaxon, Chief Scientist with ScienceScape (later Chan-Zuckerberg Meta), and a research engineer at Neurelec (a division of Oticon Medical). He served as Managing Editor of Frontiers in Neuroscience, the largest open access scholarly journal series in the field of neuroscience. Dr. Moffat is a Senior Fellow at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy and an advisor to the OECD’s neurotechnology policy initiative.

Professor Jennifer Chandler
Professor of Law at the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, University of Ottawa

Jennifer Chandler is Professor of Law at the Centre for Health Law, Policy and Ethics, University of Ottawa. She leads the “Neuroethics Law and Society” Research Pillar for the Brain Mind Research Institute and sits on its Scientific Advisory Council. Her research focuses on the ethical, legal and policy issues in brain sciences and the law. She teaches mental health law and neuroethics, tort law, and medico-legal issues. She is a member of the advisory board for CIHR’s Institute for Neurosciences, Mental Health and Addiction (IMNA) and serves on international editorial boards in the field of law, ethics and neuroscience, including Neuroethics, the Springer Book Series Advances in Neuroethics, and the Palgrave-MacMillan Book Series Law, Neuroscience and Human Behavior. She has published widely in legal, bioethical and health sciences journals and is the co-editor of the book Law and Mind: Mental Health Law and Policy in Canada (2016). Dr. Chandler brings a unique perspective to this panel as her research focuses on the ethical, legal and policy issues at the intersection of the brain sciences and the law. She is active in Canadian neuroscience research funding policy, and regularly contributes to Canadian governmental policy on contentious matters of biomedicine.

Ian Burkhart
Neurotech Advocate and Founder of BCI [brain-computer interface] Pioneers Coalition

Ian is a C5 tetraplegic [also known as quadriplegic] from a diving accident in 2010. He participated in a ground-breaking clinical trial using a brain-computer interface to control muscle stimulation. He is the founder of the BCI Pioneers Coalition, which works to establish ethics, guidelines and best practices for future patients, clinicians, and commercial entities engaging with BCI research. Ian serves as Vice President of the North American Spinal Cord Injury Consortium and chairs their project review committee. He has also worked with Unite2Fight Paralysis to advocate for $9 million of SCI research in his home state of Ohio. Ian has been a Reeve peer mentor since 2015 and helps lead two local SCI networking groups. As the president of the Ian Burkhart Foundation, he raises funds for accessible equipment for the independence of others with SCI. Ian is also a full-time consultant working with multiple medical device companies.

Andrew Atkinson
Manager, Emerging Science Policy, Health Canada

Andrew Atkinson is the Manager of the Emerging Sciences Policy Unit under the Strategic Policy Branch of Health Canada. He oversees coordination of science policy issues across the various regulatory and research programs under the mandate of Health Canada. Prior to Health Canada, he was a manager under Environment Canada’s CEPA new chemicals program, where he oversaw chemical and nanomaterial risk assessments, and the development of risk assessment methodologies. In parallel to domestic work, he has been actively engaged in ISO [International Organization for Standardization and OECD nanotechnology efforts.

Andrew is currently a member of the Canadian delegation to the OECD Working Party on Biotechnology, Nanotechnology and Converging Technologies (BNCT). BNCT aims to contribute original policy analysis on emerging science and technologies, such as gene editing and neurotechnology, including messaging to the global community, convening key stakeholders in the field, and making ground-breaking proposals to policy makers.

Professor Judy Illes
Professor, Division of Neurology, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, UBC [University of British Columbia]

Dr. Illes is Professor of Neurology and Distinguished Scholar in Neuroethics at the University of British Columbia. She is the Director of Neuroethics Canada, and among her many leadership positions in Canada, she is Vice Chair of the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) Advisory Board of the Institute on Neuroscience, Mental Health and Addiction (INMHA), and chair of the International Brain Initiative (www.internationalbraininitiative.org; www.canadianbrain.ca), Director at Large of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences, and a member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Canadian Academies.

Dr. Illes is a world-renown expert whose research, teaching and outreach are devoted to ethical, legal, social and policy challenges at the intersection of the brain sciences and biomedical ethics. She has made ground breaking contributions to neuroethical thinking for neuroscience discovery and clinical translation across the life span, including in entrepreneurship and in the commercialization of health care. Dr. Illes has a unique and comprehensive overview of the field of neurotechnology and the relevant sectors in Canada.

One concern I don’t see mentioned is bankruptcy (in other words, what happens if the company that made your neural implant goes bankrupt?) either in the panel description or in the OECD recommendation. My April 5, 2022 posting “Going blind when your neural implant company flirts with bankruptcy (long read)” explored that topic and while many of the excerpted materials present a US perspective, it’s easy to see how it could also apply in Canada and elsewhere.

For those of us on the West Coast, this session starts at 9 am. Enjoy!

*June 20, 2023: This sentence changed (We tend not to recognize that walking for the major achievement it is.) to We tend not to recognize walking for the major achievement it is.

Decoding the (Canadian) Federal Budget 2023 for Science and Innovation; a Tuesday, April 11, 2023 symposium, 1 – 5 pm ET

The Canadian federal budget was unveiled on Tuesday, March 28, 2023 and the Canadian Science Policy Centre (CSPC) is holding another five hour extravaganza (symposium) on it. Presumably this will be online as no location has been announced. (BTW, I have a few comments about the 2023 budget, which should be posted in the near future.)

Here are more details about the 2023 CSPC budget symposium, from a March 30, 2023 CSPC announcement (received via email),

The federal government released the 2023-24 budget on Tuesday, March 28th. CSPC is once again hosting a Symposium for a comprehensive analysis of the Federal Budget, and the reactions of various sectors.

The CSPC Budget Symposium will be held on Tuesday, April 11th [2023] and will feature numerous speakers from different sectors across the country. A detailed budget analysis will be presented by Dave Watters and Omer Kaya from Global Advantage Consulting Group, followed by panel discussions of various speakers. 

Confirmed Speakers include:

  • Aminah Robinson Fayek – Vice-President of Research and Innovation, University of Alberta           
  • David Watters – President, Global Advantage Consulting Group
  • Jeanette Jackson – CEO, Foresight Canada
  • Karimah Es Sabar – CEO, Quark Venture
  • Malcolm Campbell – Vice-President of Research, University of Guelph
  • Matthew Foss – Vice-President of Research and Public Policy, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business (CCAB)
  • Namir Anani – President/ CEO, Information and Communications Technology Council (ICTC)
  • Omer Kaya – CEO, Global Advantage Consulting Group
  • Padmapriya Muralidharan – Chair, Canadian Association of Postdoctoral Scholars [CAPS-ACSP]
  • Steven Liss – Vice-President of Research, Toronto Metropolitan University [TMU]
  • Wes Jickling – Chief Executive, Canada’s Oil Sands Innovation Alliance (COSIA)

Mark your calendar and don’t miss this session and all insightful discussions of the Federal Budget 2023!

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For the curious, the CSPC held an April 21, 2022 symposium: Decoding Budget 2022 for Science and Innovation (for details see my April 19, 2022 posting; scroll down to the 2022 budget symposium subhead).

David Watters who was supposed to be their ‘keynote’ speaker last year is listed as a 2023 co-keynote presenter and Omer Kaya who filled in as the ‘keynote’ for the 2022 symposium is back as a featured 2023 co-keynote presenter. There are two other returnees to the symposium, Karimah Es Sabar and Malcolm Campbell.