SNF Nostos 2021 – What We Know So Far

February 15, 2021

ATHENS — 2020 left us with both an indelible sense of the need for flexibility in laying plans, and a persistent commitment to strive for a brighter future. While we have all felt disconnected from our daily habits and social distancing took its toll on human interaction, we all share the same anticipation for a better tomorrow. Creativity, arts, and dialogue have proven more valuable than ever and have helped us find new ways to connect with one another.

In this spirit, the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) is planning to hold our much-loved SNF Nostos celebration in person and free to all from June 23 to 27, 2021, at the Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC). We are doing this by being flexible and committed to investigating, if needed, alternative format options in order to be ready for whatever June may bring. We are getting in touch to share with you what we have been working on, who we have invited to participate, and what kind of SNF Nostos we have been putting together for you to enjoy.

SNF Nostos Conference: Humanity and AI

The theme of this year’s SNF Nostos Conference is Humanity and Artificial Intelligence, a theme which will resonate throughout the full range of SNF Nostos events. These dueling topics feel more relevant than ever, at a time when so much of what we took for granted has changed and artificial intelligence continues to shape our world. AI has the potential to touch every facet of human existence—from how and where we live, what we eat, and how we work, play, and create, to how we get well when we’re sick, and how we make war and peace. AI is challenging, and perhaps already even redefining, our perception of what it means to be human. At the SNF Nostos Conference, a diverse group of leaders, experts, visionaries, and artists from around the world will explore the technologies that are shaping our future, as well as the ideas, principles, and questions that will determine how they will do so. They will look ahead to the many possible ways in which AI and our humanity will be intertwined in the decades to come.

SNF Nostos Conference speakers include: Blaise Aguera y Arcas, software architect and designer at Google AI; Refik Anadol, media artist; Yoshua Bengio, founder of the Quebec Institute of Artificial Intelligence and a pioneer in deep learning; Stephen Cave, Director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence at Cambridge University; Sougwen Chung, artist; Ted Chiang, science fiction author; Barry Coller, Vice President for Medical Affairs at The Rockefeller University; Lucas Joppa, Chief Environmental Officer at Microsoft; Garry Kasparov, former world chess champion, author, and human rights defender; Tenzin Priyadarshi, President of the Dalai Lama Center for Ethics and Transformative Values at MIT; Elisabeth Reynolds, lecturer in MIT’s Department of Urban Studies; Κevin Rudd, former Prime Minister of Australia and President of the Asia Society Policy Institute; Krista Tippett, founder of the On Being Project and Peabody Award-winning broadcaster; Liam Young, cofounder of the “Tomorrows Thoughts Today” think tank; Xiaowei Wang, creative director of Logic Magazine; and others.

SNF Dialogues

The SNF DIALOGUES, a series of events held through journalism nonprofit iMEdD (incubator for Media Education and Development), will host, as they do every year, an open discussion on Humanity and Artificial Intelligence as part of the SNF Nostos Conference. The discussion will be held in collaboration with SNF Agora Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

Continuing a run of online DIALOGUES discussions that began in April 2020, and which have audience participation at their core, this event will focus on the new dynamics that arise from the relationship between humans and machines, and on the challenges artificial intelligence poses for human connection, creativity, and democracy.

The DIALOGUES are curated and moderated by Anna-Kynthia Bousdoukou.

Line-Up, Arts, and Experiences

SNF Nostos Education will include a mathematical Escape Room created in collaboration with the Laboratory of Theoretical Mathematics at the University of Crete. Gamers and coders of all ages will be challenged to activate their creativity, ignite their team spirit, and solve problems using Minecraft as a playground and through a coding challenge, the first SNF Nostos festival Hackathon!

The SNF Nostos stages will be ready, if conditions allow, to welcome major talents from Greece and abroad. Artistic events and participatory programs will come to life in the spaces of the SNFCC, in line with the latest public safety requirements. Invited artists, who will perform for a live audience if circumstances allow, include: Burna BoyWilliam KentridgeBill T. JonesPaul Simonon (The Clash) and Dan Donovan (Big Audio Dynamite, Dreadzone) as Casbah Club, the Ergon Ensemble, Fotini VelesiotouΜΕΛΙSSES, and Good Job Nicky! Incredible shows featuring world-class acrobats: the Chipolatas from the United Kingdom and Circus Abyssinia from Ethiopia, will entertain kids and adults alike.

SNF Nostos will also present commissioned original works from artists such as choreographer Beth Corning, composer and sound artist Stavros Gasparatos in collaboration with artist Lars Jan, and director and artist Smriti Keshari. Audiences will be able to enjoy a number of interactive visual and technological installations as well, inspired by the theme of Humanity and Artificial Intelligence.*

(*The artistic program could be subject to change due to the pandemic)

SNF Nostos Run

The limitations of the pandemic have prompted us all to try new things. The virtual version of the SNF Nostos Run that debuted last year will continue to unite runners from all over Greece and around the globe to run together—individually. At the same time, we hope to also be able to hold an in-person version of the race so that we can run, sweat, and celebrate side by side. As every year, organizational supervision of the race is provided by the nonprofit Regeneration & Progress and medical supervision by the First Orthopedic Clinic of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (NKUA).

Aware of the uncertainties of the present and the future, we will continue to adapt to new conditions as they arise, and we will remain vigilant, so that we are ready to offer a festival that fits the moment. Whatever the format, we aim to offer an experience that provides food for thought, catalyzes dialogue, evokes emotion—and brings joy.

Please stay tuned for further details. The SNF will announce a final format of the 2021 SNF Nostos events by April 1.

We look forward to returning, together, to a new beginning.

. . . . . . . . .


NOUN (from ancient Greek)

A homecoming, especially after a long, difficult journey, such as the return of Odysseus and other Greeks after the Trojan War.



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