Press and Media
- An exclusive Interview for MECOnet, Tim Hunt, the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine 2001, Keynote Speaker at MECO'2018.
Interview led by Prof. Veljko Milutinovic
-- Where you see biological research today, was there serious progress in the last 20 years?
There have been a number of important advances in biology in the last 20 years. To my mind, the discovery that somatic cells can be reprogrammed as stem cells by a rather simple protocol involving the expression of just 4 genes is the most remarkable, and the application of this approach to human disease is already well advanced. Another example comes from the technical advances in DNA sequencing that led to working out not only the human genome but also many other animals, plants and microorganisms from all branches of the evolutionary tree. The unity of life, and the ecological relationships between, for example, humans and their gut microflora are giving us surprising new insights. Meanwhile, cellular processes of all kinds are becoming better and better understood so all in all, the last 20 years have been a golden age of biological research. We understand life processes better than ever!
-- What are the possibilities within the European Research Council for scientists from all areas of Montenegro?
The ERC is always hoping to find excellent grant proposals from small countries, but there is a tendency for outstanding scientists to flock together in centres such as Oxford, Cambridge, New York and San Francisco to name but a few, leaving their places of birth behind. This is nothing new, nor is it confined to scientific research. Outstanding artists, actors, financial wizards - they all tend to congregate in places where they find kindred spirits.
-- How much molecular and genetic research can help countries such as Montenegro?
I was very impressed by a recent visit to Cyprus to find that the incidence of haematological diseases like thalassemia has been much reduced by a vigorous program of genetic screening and counselling. This represents something of a triumph, I would say, and means a great reduction in the sum of human misery. Since I have not visited Montenegro I don’t know anything about your particular problems, if any, that might be helped by molecular and genetic research. As another example of what can be achieved, I have been impressed by Japanese advances in the cultivation of both fish and seaweed, both made possible by a combination of basic and applied research.
-- How important it is for scientists to connect and get to know each other better?
It’s tremendously important for people with related interests to get together and learn about each other’s work.
-- Any pearls of wisdom for the science of Montenegro?
Let me come and take a look first!
-- Any comments and forecasts about the global science?
People are always wanting to know about the future, but I’m afraid scientists are no more clairvoyant than anyone else. Very few people seem to understand that the business of discovery is by its very nature uncertain: we simply do not know what we do not know! I like this quotation from JBS Haldane, a famous British scientist and brilliant communicator of scientific ideas:-
“In forecasting the future of scientific research there is one quite general law to be noted.
The unexpected always happens.
So one can be quite sure that the future will make any detailed predictions look rather silly.”
Tim Hunt April 2nd, 2018
All rights reserved by MECOnet
Howard Moskowitz, PhD
Mind Genomics Advisors
White Plains, NY USA
914 572 1673
Dear Keynote Speaker of the IEEE-sponsored MECO-2018 conference:
By this email I like to ask you to answer the following questions.
Your answers will be placed on the web site of the conference, to be taken away and re-published by all major daily newspapers of Montenegro (MNE).
- About your life path, and events that had a major impact on your research path?
The most important parts of my life can best be described as ‘moments of directed insight.’
- My father saying ‘put it between hard covers,’ i.e., publish. Dad’s friend was a somewhat older gentleman, Dr. Maurice Grozin, a 1915 immigrant from the Russian Pale of Settlement, what is now Beylorussia. We all know of the Schick Test for the dread disease, diphtheria. It should have been the Grozin Test, but Bela Shick, not Maurice Grozin, published first. Publications, first, fast, many, when one was reasonably certain was the hallmark of my father’s exhortations….and. NOT waiting until the last ‘I’ was dotted, the last ‘t’ crossed.
- My first serious teacher, the late Professor Louis M. Herman, instructor of psychology at Queens College in New York City told me .. ‘Howard, study mathematics. Here is a book by a fellow named George Miller. Watch him..some day he will be the President of the American Psychological Association.’ Well, I studied mathematics, majoring in both psychology and mathematics. Two years later, I received a letter of acceptance from Harvard University, Department of Psychology, chaired by this Professor George A Miller, welcoming me should I wish to attend Harvard! The answer was yes.
- My first serious assignment by Professor Miller as Chairman of the Psychology Department at Harvard was as a graduate student in the Laboratory of Psychophysics. In Professor Miller’s words ‘Howie, you are resilient. I’m putting you in Smitty’s laboratory.’ That was the moment when my mind was truly formed, when I began to think in a critical way. Smitty, S.S. Stevens, was an intellectual blowtorch, searing away with his questions all the irrelevancies of research, until only the core was presented, and that core written in what would become ‘felicitous prose,’ a good writing style.
- There are more, but these are the moments which I must truly confess as being important, so important in fact that they formed my mind, shaped my soul, and utterly determined my intellectual and thus professional path.
- What are your major inventions that you are proud of?
- The first is the method for optimizing products, using experimental design, modeling, and a testing method that everyone used to call ‘Moskowitzing’ the product. Actually, the method was simply a variation of what I had done in graduate school for my PhD.
- The second is sensory segmentation, identifying new to the world segments. I developed this as a stage in my growth intellectually and in business. Intellectually, my education at Harvard had led me to consider only the general, the so-called ‘nomothetic.’ But when I studied liking, whether or sugar solutions or odorants, perfumes, or foods, I found that people differed, seemingly randomly. It was then that I created the method of sensory segmentation, to show that these individual differences were simply the result of a limited number of ‘preference’ groups, such as those who like strong flavors (versus disliking weak flavors), those who wanted clearly perceptible textures, and so forth.
- The third is Mind Genomics, which is the experimental design of ideas. Through this invention I was able to investigate topics and write articles and books in a variety of disciplines, ranging from the acceptance of food to the morality of the Internet, the understanding of the law, the underpinnings of a good education, the analysis of corruption, and the delights of perfumes. Mind Genomics afforded me the opportunity to explore, rapidly, powerfully, and with sheer joy, topics of interest to me, and of course allowed me to write. Writing emerged from being a bete-noir, something to be feared, evolving into a sheer joy experienced each time I sat down to type the results of my scientific studies.
- The fourth is BimiLeap, the creation of an APP, embodying Mind Genomics. BimiLeap, Big Mind Learning App, is my gift to the future, making available the power of Mind Genomics virtually free to anyone in the world. I was given the knowledge and the gift of reason. BimiLeap moves that knowledge into the realm of soul and spirit, allowing anyone in the world to become an accomplished researcher quickly, inexpensively, with technology and science that can withstand even the harshest of critics, scientific and non-scientific alike.
- What are the practical implications of these inventions?
- Product optimization and sensory segmentation have led to billions of dollars of food products, ranging from Vlasic Pickles (Zesty®,the biggest selling pickle in history) to Prego® (4bn USD in sales in 30 years), to Tropicana Grovestand Orange Juice® (changed the world of orange juice), to Diet Dr. Pepper Vanilla® (biggest selling soft drink for a two-year period), and so forth.
- Mind Genomics led to innovative products such as Oral B’s revolutionary mechanical toothbrush in the early 1990’s, now considered a commodity product.
- BimiLeap is leading to a revolution in education, where everyone is able to become a researcher, with publishable, even world-class results. When 2 billion people, those without hope of ever having a better life, are given the BimiLeap technology, in effect we have introduced a ‘Mac of the Mind.’ Imagine the world in 1950 being introduced to the Mac computer by Apple, and what could have been accomplished. BimiLeap will, with G-d’s help, be equivalent to that Mac introduced in the year 1950 rather than 34 years later.
- What are the major factors that induce creativity among researchers in general?
- In my experience creativity is induced by conversations among peers, and open opportunity to publish new ideas. Much of today’s science is ‘rote,’ ‘owned’ by a limited cadre of individuals who publish what can be considered to be orthodox research, research which fills small, often-irrelevant holes in the literature. When publication is open, when publication of new ideas, not orthodox ideas, is the norm, we will have creativity. If, however, when what is published is orthodox, then we end up having technicians with advanced degrees, incapable of real thinking, except perhaps by ‘accident.’
- An over-focus on the literature, fitting in one’s research in to the history of the field, is not necessarily a good thing. Sometimes researcher feel that they have to ‘fit’ into the path of research laid out by previous researchers. Often the journals, and especially reviewers in a blind review, judge the quality of the research by how it answers minute questions, and how it fits into the path of science. Too much literature review poisons creativity, despite what some orthodox professionals might aver.
- The above being said, creativity does not mean doing ‘crazy things’ which are clearly not relevant, UNLESS one has a strong conviction that these crazy things are the real truth.
- What is that small countries like MNE should do, to induce creativity among their youth, both is science and in general?
- About three years ago I saw to my dismay that the young people of this world, those with money and those without money, all liked to waste their youth on ‘fun.’ Whether rich or poor, many young people had no concept of the value of time and education. I realized that young people liked social media like Facebook, and liked to play games on the Internet, especially the males, but an increasing number of females. I also realized that the young people were wasting their time, but they were too young and inexperienced to realize what they were missing.
- My sister, Dr. Judith Moskowitz Kundstadt, and my sons, Daniel and David Moskowitz, suggested that perhaps I should modify Mind Genomics to become an APP, that anyone in the world could use. They could do research.
- I also realized that the research had to be easy to do. I had to develop something ‘concrete’ which would have ‘currency’ and ‘value’ in the world.
- Mind Genomics became BimiLeap, Big Mind Learning APP. Any student could be given a topic, instructed to ‘ask’ four questions which told a story, and then ‘provide’ four simple answers to each question. The computer would mix and match the simple answers (16 of them), presenting combinations or vignettes to respondents on the Web. The respondents would rate the combinations, never knowing that the ‘researcher’ was a student. The data would be powerful.
- The outcome would be a PowerPoint, ready for presentation, emailed in 2 minutes from the end of the study. The study could be run with as few as 4-5 people. So here was a tool to help students learn, by research and by creating new knowledge. We could now transform FaceBook energy to research, thinking and learning energy.
- Imagine Montenegro’s hundreds of thousands of students doing these studies, creating intellectually interesting PowerPoints of their results, and being known and paid for their effort. In a sense, we could make our young people super-stars, both intellectually, and financially. A whole nation of young people doing research on topics, ranging from the medical experience to the law to social issues to helping people eat better. All powerful research, done by students ages 8-25. All producing new-to-the-world knowledge, of interest to experts and governments, as well as to the students, their parents, their friends. What a way to create a nation of productive, motivated scholars, having fun, while changing the world in a meaningful way.
- What other country you like to mention as a good example to follow and why?
- I have found a great receptivity in Hungary, working with Professor Attila Gere of St. Istvan University. They are interested in applying BimiLeap to the university itself, to improve its image, and the attractiveness of the university to Hungarian and to foreign students, who have many other university from which to choose, Those in St. Istvan University are interested in using BimiLeap to help researchers in the university do work with consumers. And finally, they are interested in giving BimiLeap to the students as a research and knowledge-building tool, in the same spirit of Apple, which gave students a free computer, that powerful, winning Apple strategy. With students able to do research quickly and show results, it becomes the students who are the ‘treasure’ of the university, and the university which benefits from having these productive, and innovative students. Thus, this first university in Hungary is leading the way.
- There is also an interest in Hungary about funding the university through new efforts, so that the university does not depend upon the government. St. Istvan University is now considering ‘spin-off’ products from the BimiLeap APP, such as ‘sequencing the preferences of consumers around Hungary, and later around the world.’ Sequencing the preferences of people using the BimiLeap APP creates a vector of numbers showing the mind-sets of consumers in a topic area, such as food preferences (food and health), hospital experiences, financial services, education practices, and so forth. The sequencing becomes a service which is scalable, bringing in revenue to the university from around the world, specifically from companies and health maintenance organizations which want to sell their products to the consumer (e.g., foods, or even health care as a product.)
- What recent inventions in your general field have impressed you most?
In my field of consumer research, the most important recent developments have focused on experimentation in terms of consumer preferences, and the recognition that people are different from each other in the patterns of these preferences. For many years professionals in consumer research, whether for products or services (including medical) have struggled with dealing with these individual differences. The growing recognition of individual differences as systematic, and worthy of study, is the most important topic. The inventions all focus around trying to understand the nature of this variation. Some of the inventions are physical, such as electronic measures of brain function. Others are analytic and conceptual, such as modeling systems for understanding the mind.
- What would be your message for the attendees of MECO-2018, that come from 32 different countries of all five continents?
My message is that the world is evolving, ever in flux. It is no longer ‘business as usual.’ Your world is changing, and the only future you can predict is increasingly rapid, technology-driven change. The students in your country are your future, the only real wealth you have. Truly educate them and let them build your country. Tear down the barriers to education, the ones your society has erected and defends as the approved ‘status quo.’ And, in a statement more likely to cause anger than inspire, make sure your focus remains on your students and THEIR development. Manage their future and opportunities, rather than you managing each other.
- What would be your message for researchers of MNE?
Take a chance. You have nothing to lose. If you maintain the status quo, then you will be the past. If you take a risk, with your eyes open, and try new things, then there is a chance that you will succeed, and perhaps even succeed beyond your wildest dreams. Hold onto the past and you might just as well plan for your demise. It may come sooner than you think.
- What is the major pearl of wisdom that you typically share with your students or collaborators?
Keep experimenting, keep writing, keep publishing. There is no perfect study, no perfect paper, no perfect presentation. The future will judge you by the quality of what you have done, and by the amount of what you have done. Your future is the product of Quality x Amount. Keep that in mind, as you move forward with your career. No one will remember the small errors when you become great. But if you produce very little or nothing, no one will remember you at all.
Prof. V. Milutinovic, MECO Research Chair
More about Prof. dr Howard Moskowitz
1. What is the state-of-the-art in your research field?
Theory of Transforming Wellbeing (TTW) is emerging as an inevitable response to the ever-growing imbalance in our lives across the globe. Over the decades, we have been advancing technologies to make our lives better. The fundamental question still remains: with all the evolving innovations, are we gaining decent success in achieving happier and more sustainable societies? All the crucial domains of our lives continuously provide evidence of things getting disbalanced despite us making huge progress in building increasingly capable technological innovations, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, and drones, just to name a few.
2. What is the most promissing research direction in your field?
Theory of Transforming Wellbeing (TTW) advances scientific knowledge and its practical applications to transform lives. The theory unifies knowledge about designing transforming technologies for wellbeing. It explains how technological innovations can go beyond limitations of traditional behavioral design and change management. Due to its strong fundament that blends technological innovations with human nature, TTW is applicable in many essential life contexts, including health, education, sustainability, equality, governance, safety, emergency, ecology, and economy.
3. What are your impressions about the conference MECO 2018?
I didn’t see much due to some unexpected difficulties with my transportation. However, from the part that I had a chance to experience, I was positively impressed by the number of participants and the organizational diligence.
4. What are your impressions about Montenegro and what specific impressions would you like to underline?
Montenegro is very welcoming place, rich with natural beauty and hearty people. Technological innovations help the country to make great advancements in some areas, while others carefully preserve national heritage and customs.
--- See you next year at MECO 2019, if not earlier!
1. What is the state-of-the-art in your research field?
Moore's law is about to end, and we need to find solutions for performance scaling.
Accelerators seem to be the most promising solution, but they create additional complexity in the software.
We need more and smarter tools to help humans in programming systems containing accelerators.
2. What is the most promissing research direction in your field?
Accelerators for artificial intelligence.
3. What are your impressions about the conference MECO 2018?
Nice little conference. I did not expect to meet so many people from Russia.
4. What are your impressions about Montenegro, and what specific impressions would you like to underline?
MECOnet is open for open minds and fresh ideas. Contact us by firstname.lastname@example.org or social networks.