Surveillance and AI (24 November 2015)

Future near, Future far: Surveillance and AI

The future will be different. A trivial truism, that conceals our inability to successfully predict much about the times to come.

Our speaker, Dr Stuart Armstrong will look at two futures:

Firstly, the very likely and near term rise of universal surveillance, and the great changes (and the great similarities) it could cause.

Secondly the very uncertain impact of artificial intelligence, and the far greater transformations it would trail in it’s wake, either starkly terrible or wondrous.

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Can Computers Be Creative? (26 October 2015)

What is creativity? Historically, human creativity has been a neglected topic in psychology in general and intelligence testing in particular. Despite this, creativity is considered by most to be an essential component of human intelligence and of thinking.

Consequently, in attempting to answer the question of whether computers can be creative we must first ask if they can think and then it is only natural to ask whether computers can think creatively.

Many feel, in fact, that whereas computers can excel in well-structured areas of problem solving – e.g. logic, algebra, etc. – they have little hope of ever producing truly creative work. For a work to be creative it must be novel and useful – this represents an enormous challenge.

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The Future of Artificial Intelligence (29 September 2015)

Artificial intelligence – is it an existential threat to humanity? Is it all hype? Or is it the shape of things to come?

Artificial Intelligence is currently a hot topic. In the past year or so it has been the subject of a number of films, and has received substantial industrial investment.

At the same time, a number of prominent thinkers have issued grave warnings of its existential threat to humanity. Is artificial intelligence all hype? Or is it really a transformative technology? And should we be afraid?

In this talk Prof Shanahan will go beyond the media soundbites and discuss some of the real technological and philosophical challenges of AI.

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3D Printing Revolution (2 June 2015)


The New Industrial Revolution Goes Back to School: 3D printing in Education

With the recent disclosure that the Airbus A350 XWB aircraft uses more than 1000 3D printed flight parts, 3D printing technology has truly come of age, is no longer a hobbyist fad and enters the new industrial revolution with gusto.

The promise that 3D printing will change our lives in areas is coming to fruition with applications as a new digital manufacturing technology with uses in every industry; it is possible to design, build and test 3D structures that are un-makeable by any other technique.

However, with a current huge shortfall in recruits into engineering and a deeper decline in recruitment into Design and Technology who is going to become the Engineer 2.0 to create the future using this technology? And how will we encourage the creative spark needed?

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Government IT – Doomed to Eternal Disaster? (28 April 2015)

Government is too often associated with bad news stories of expensive IT disasters. However the period since 2010 has seen serious and deep reform of how technology is used in government, and for public services. Tariq will take us through the diagnosis of the problems that plagued technology in 2010, explain the strategies to remedy these, and give an honest appraisal of success and lessons learned, as well as propose ideas for further reform. Topics as wide as digital by default, agile development, contract disaggregation, firm spend controls, skills gaps, intellectual property, modernising security, the primacy of information over technology, transparency and incentivising change in a sector without competitive threats, will no doubt fuel a lively debate!

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Daniel Dennett on information & evolution (hosted by BMF, RTC and RI, 25 March 2015)

Information, evolution, and intelligent design

The Brain Mind Forum, one of the Real Time Club’s successful special-interest spin-offs, organises a talk by Prof. Daniel Dennett at the Royal Institution on 25th March.

Dan is a philosopher, writer, and cognitive scientist and one of the highest profile speakers in cognitive neuroscience. His writings bring together cognitive science, neuroscience, linguistics, artificial intelligence, computer science, psychology and philosophy. (The New Statesman referred to him as on of the “Four Horsemen of New Atheism” together with  Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris.) Usually based in the US, this a great chance to see Dan here in the UK. He will talk on the Convergence of Biogenetics, Cognitive Neuroscience and Computing.

Full details and tickets are available on the Royal Institution’s website.

As this talk is co-hosted by the Royal Institution and the Brain Mind Forum/Real Time Club, we are arranging a small meet-up with Dan from 6 pm before his talk at 7 pm. If you want to come along, please e-mail me when you have booked your ticket and I will send you more details.

RTC debate on computer education (3 February 2015)

Let IT Be?

A Real Time Club dinner in collaboration with the WCIT Education & Training Committee.

Debate: Computer Education — The new school curriculum misses the mark. Again.

Join the great debate of 2015 – After all the intense battling to bring real computer science back into the classroom, is the newly launched Computing Curriculum still not fit for purpose? Have we missed THE golden opportunity or are we now on the road to creating a generation of world beating computer experts?

With a future set to be increasingly defined by technological advancement are we going about educating our children in the right way? Are we giving them the right tools to ensure the UK can compete with the likes of China and India in the 21st Century?

We must continue to discuss and influence the direction of computing education in our schools because it will inevitably impact us all.

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RTC Dinner on Managing Catastrophes (16 December 2014)

A Computer Platform for Managing Catastrophes

We live on a planet prone to catastrophes. Natural hazards such as earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, floods and volcanic eruptions are a persistent threat to the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe. Beyond the force of Nature, other catastrophic events such as pandemics, acts of political violence, and industrial disasters blight the human environment. The massive scale of catastrophes, both natural and man-made, made risk management very difficult before the computer desktop revolution. Since then, quantitative catastrophe models have been constructed to assist insurers and government agencies in managing the extreme risks to which they are exposed. A quarter of a century after catastrophe risk modelling began, a new revolution beckons with the development of an integrated cloud-based computer platform for running all catastrophe models.

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