Einstein’s Greatest Mistake (18 April 2017)

Creativity in Changing Times

There are many great minds, but Einstein is in a class above almost all others: up there with Newton, Da Vinci, Bach, and perhaps the greatest genius of all time.

In this talk the esteemed writer David Bodanis looks at how Einstein’s creativity appeared: how it was sustained by humour and religion; how much it depended on his unusual career path as well.

David explores the profound mistake Einstein made at the peak of his powers which would tear apart his life, and lead to decades of near isolation.

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Personal Data as an Asset Class (17 January 2017)

Making money and Dodging risk

Yahoo has “lost” a billion personal accounts, but today this is little more newsworthy than a slight increase in shoplifting at Tesco, big data breaches are so frequent. Yahoo is lucky that this didn’t happen under the new GDPR where they could be suffer a fine of 4% of their total global turnover. However, it certainly calls into question their purported acquisition price of $4.8bn and gives them the challenge of increased customer churn. In the UK, is the well reported TalkTalk hack a turning point for the board’s focus on the effectiveness of their cyber security solutions and response?

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When Bits Hit the Fan (18 October 2016)

The UK government’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) was built by Chris Gibson to coordinate the vast horde of suppliers, old and new technologies in critical infrastructure across government departments both high profile and deniable.

We are delighted to welcome Chris as our speaker for the second of our “Autumn of Discontent” Real Time Club dinners held in the National Liberal Club in Whitehall.

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30 Years a Hacker (20 September 2016)

What’s changed and what hasn’t

“When I was part of a hacking group in London in 1985, our main way of acquiring passwords to read Post-It notes that users had stuck to their monitors! If that didn’t work, we tried common combinations of numbers and words; in way-too-many instances we were successful. As a result, I was arrested and became the defendant in the world’s first hacking-related jury trial.”

Next year, 2017, will mark the 30th anniversary of Schifreen’s and his co-defendant Stephen Gold’s acquittal on all charges, which led to the introduction of the Computer Misuse Act 1990.

Although hacking is now illegal, and the internet has changed the way we live our lives, many things haven’t changed; people are still the weakest link. Post-It notes are still the easiest way to remember a password. Social engineering still works. Where once we lost floppy disks down the back seat of a taxi, now it’s mobile phones that contain tens of gigabytes of our employer’s data.

In this talk Robert Schifreen will discuss some more about what he did back in 1985, how he manged to do it, and what’s changed in the intervening 3 decades. As well as lots about what hasn’t.

Our Speaker: Robert J. Schifreen

Robert is a former UK-based computer hacker and magazine editor, and the founder of IT security awareness training programme SecuritySmart.co.uk. He was the first person charged with illegally accessing a computer system, but was acquitted because there was no such specific criminal offence at the time. Later in life he became a computer security consultant, speaking at many conferences on information security and training banks, large companies and universities in the UK on IT security. In 2014 he began developing the software on which SecuritySmart runs from scratch which reached completion and product launch in June 2016.

Biology is Technology (24 May 2016)

Engineering Biology and the Rise of Biological Computing

After 4 billion years of life on Earth, biology has finally entered the digital age and digital biomanufacturing is a reality.

Now that we have begun to decode the building blocks of living organisms by reading their DNA, we can convert biology into data that can be manipulated and then ‘written’. We can recombine DNA in novel ways to recreate natural materials and build complex biological systems with novel properties and capable of impressive computation.

No longer will computers be simply a tool for decoding DNA: soon, your computer itself could be made of DNA.

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Network Data Integration in Medicine (19 April 2016)

Data mining can find cancer cures

A flood of molecular and clinical data is now available describing how biomolecules interact in a cell to perform biological functions, in large, complex systems. Our challenge is how to mine the enormous data bases describing molecular systems to answer fundamental questions, gain new insight into diseases and improve therapeutics.

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Computers and the power of understanding (15 March 2016)

How computers can help us extend our individual human powers of understanding

Using computers as sophisticated tools provides us with immense resources, but does not enhance our individual capabilities. However, communicating directly with our computers as partners – symbiosis – can extend everyone’s ability to learn, understand, master complex topics, and even be more intelligent.

Could advances in neural prosthetics potentially herald Prosthetic Brains?

Our speaker: Dan Dennett

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Privacy and Security Law (16 February 2016)

There’s a lot more heat than light in the debate on security, privacy and how we form laws that actually work. Last month Adrian Kennard gave a barnstorming critique of the issues facing ISPs and so on the 16th of February, Duncan Campbell is going to put the current debate into some sort of historical context. Our ideas on privacy and the rights of the government to search based on Georgian ideas of liberty may not make sense in the mid 21st century or we might be giving up a little freedom for an illusion of security?

In essence, is there a way we can have a rational balance between competing concerns?

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