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Brain Bar: Where Dangerous Ideas are Welcome

On May 30 and 31, the Corvinus Campus in Budapest will host the annual Brain Bar, celebrated by internationally respected American hi-tech bible Wired as an event where “dangerous ideas” are welcome.

This year’s dangerous ideas include whether we’re getting addicted to information, if we have any reason to be optimistic in these times of turmoil and whether philosophy can save business.

The people behind Brain Bar call themselves “The world’s first Futuretainment company”. Futuretainment is apparently a “new media concept uniting elements from education, focusing on the future.”

Brain Bar is big on the future. It sees itself as a global partner for those who shape the future, uniting young innovators, students, educators and big business in one place where they can learn from each other. The event gathers “the most interesting ideas from different fields and brings them together.”

Speakers this year include the currently controversial Canadian clinical psychologist Jordan Peterson, described as a “life-changing professor of psychology” and Sherin Khankan, the first female imam in Scandinavia. On the face of it, the worldviews of Khankan and Peterson are poles apart so it’s definitely an achievement to have these two at the same event.

Not as controversial but no less intriguing, other speakers include Sára Fábián, founder of Amigos for Children, the non-profit dedicated to preventing child abuse; Lajos Antal, Hungarian master of cyber-security; and bohemian soul diva Antonia Vai.

Crime writer, writing coach and journalist Adam LeBor (see “Talking Roma Cops and High Level Intrigue With Adam LeBor” on page 22 in this issue of Budapest Business Journal) is also speaking. He told me, “As so much of the world clamps down on free speech, Brain Bar is an ever more important arena for the exchange of ideas. I’m very pleased to be part of it.”

More than Friends?

Sophia the Robot is also appearing and will reveal whether she would sacrifice herself for a human and whether we could be more than friends.

Brands involved with Brain Bar include Google, BMW, KPMG, BlackRock, Bosch, T-Mobile, Red Bull and Vodafone. According to the organizers, the idea is to connect brands to creative people and hope the connection will change the world.

Apart from presentations by the speakers, Brain Bar incorporates sessions that are designed to be audience-centric and encourage healthy dissent. Since the Brain Bar literature states that, in previous years, the youngest visitor was four years old and the oldest was 71, this should be interesting.

Mythburn invites Brain Bar masterminds to debunk myths and send them up in flames. Battle of Minds is billed as “a frantic battle over the edgiest and most controversial issues of the future”, intended to encourage audience members to step outside their comfort zones.

The Turning Point and Future Jobs sessions are probably the most important for young Hungarians. Turning Point offers audience members who were chosen from 60-second videos two minutes on stage to grill and challenge a mastermind. Future Jobs is described as a “next-generation job fair and a unique employer branding event where companies offer specially selected jobs.”

Among the quotes on the Brain Bar publicity literature, is this one from Chris Hadfield, perhaps the world’s best-known living astronaut: “To think about the future and technology differently, that’s what Brain Bar does.” That’s probably enough.

Find out more and get your tickets at www.brainbar.com.