Jordan Zlatev
Presentation title: The Semiotic Hierarchy Revised: From Life to Language

Jordan Zlatev is a prominent figure in the robust cognitive semiotic movement of Northern Europe. He has served as president for Scandinavian Association for Language and Cognition and for the International Association for Cognitive Semiotics, and is also on the board of the International Cognitive Linguistics Association. He has published over forty articles on a variety of topics, but his main interests have to do with language acquisition from the evolutionary and developmental perspective, comparative inter-linguistics, and mimetic schemas, or in other words the non-arbitrary grounds of verbal language. For him, semiotics brings to cognitive science a qualitative edge that is indispensible to a deep understanding of mind. In an article from 2011 titled "What is Cognitive Semiotics?" he notes, "in a nutshell, cognitive science has from its onset in the 1950s adopted an explicitly physicalist (computational and/or neuroscientific) take on mind, connecting to the humanities quite selectively, and above all to philosophy of mind with a distinctly reductionist bent (e.g. Dennett 1991). CS is considerably more pluralist in its ontological and methodological commitments, and thus, with a firmer foot in the humanities." Currently he serves as professor of cognitive semiotics at the Center for Languages and Literature at Lund University.


Mihai Nadin
Presentation title: Anticipation and Semiotics. One Cannot Not Interact

Romanian polymath Mihai Nadin took a masters degree in science, a masters in arts, a doctorate in aesthetics, and a post-doctorate in philosophy, logic, and the theory of science. The breadth of his research is not unlike that of Charles Peirce himself, who served as lodestone for Nadin's early work and Dissertation, "The Semiotic Foundation of Value Theory". Nadin has worked at the University of Wuppertal, Ohio State University, Stanford University, Rhode Island School of Design, and SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology. His most recent book is titled Are You Stupid? A Second Revolution Might Save America From Herself (2013), where he writes, "Taking the rewards of change for granted, Americans—like the Soviets at their time—do not understand what change entails. Gazing into the rear-view mirror (of religion, history, politics, economy) in the hope of seeing where change might take them, they get the illusion that they are in the driver’s seat." In a 2005 review of the current state of semiotics, Nadin leaves us on an optimistic note, granting that "the day when scholars and students of semiotics become the hottest commodity in the labor market and are traded like neurosurgeons, high-performance programmers, footballs players, movie stars, or animators, we will all know that semiotics finally made it. I am convinced that this can happen." Nadin is currently professor and director of the Institute for Research in Anticipatory Systems at the University of Texas at Dallas.


Stuart Kauffman
Presentation title: On Enablement and Unprestatability of Living

Stuart Kauffman's Reinventing the Sacred (2008), not to mention his previous work in theoretical biology and the origins of life, is a singular contribution to the development of biosemiotics. His insistence on non-reductive explanations of living processes and evolution stand as lasting defenses of some of the most key principles of theoretical biology. Among his most important concepts are the emergence of collectively auto-catalytic sets, cell types as attractors of dynamically critical far from equilibrium networks, the adjacent possible, and the unprestatability of the evolution of the biosphere, some of which hypotheses of unpredictability at the foundation of even the simplest instances of life have even found experimental verification. Kauffman has authored four books and numerous articles and has held positions at the University of Chicago, the University of Pennsylvania, the Santa Fe Institute, the University of Calgary, Harvard Divinity School, Tampere University, and the University of Vermont. He currently works at the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Washington.


Ilya Utekhin
Presentation title: How Humans Deal with their Future: Towards an anthroposemiotic Account

In an interview with a Wikimedia Foundation Storyteller, Ilya Utekhin is said to have "lived the ethos of community and sharing all his life," and this description is apt not only because of his work on the topic of communal living, but also because of his active contribution to Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia. Having earned his PhD in Anthropology at the Russian Academy of Sciences, a major focus of Utekhin's publication has been the deconstruction of the idea of agricultural and residential communes in Soviet Russia, but his work has spanned topics such as multi-media culture, disability and impairment, and semiotics. Utekhin has held positions at the American University at Prague, the University of St. Quentin-en-Yveline, the Sorbonne, the Institutum Studiorum Humanitatis at Ljubljana, the University of Helsinki, and St. Petersberg State University. He currently teaches at the European University at St. Petersberg where, when asked what students should write about in class, he tells them they should write whatever they would write about if they were to make a Wikipedia entry because, "to some extent, the ability to create a Wikipedia entry is a criterion of knowledge, of a successful education."