Driving the Digital Age: The Rise and Rise of Neurodiverse Talent in the Workplace (19th July 2018)

Time: Thursday, 19 July 2018 from 1:00 pm to 8:00 pm Please note the change of date
Location: Lecture Theatre 1, Kings College London, New Hunt’s House, SE1 1UL, London

Today we present how if we drive the digital age by empowering it with new employees who are autistic, we can provide employment, careers and life changing opportunities; we will show how early interventions can lead to lifelong opportunities for all, particularly those focused with skills in IT.

There is a huge un-tapped potential in the 700,000+ people in Britain on the autistic spectrum.

Only 16 per cent of those on the Autistic Spectral Disorder spectrum have full-time jobs, according to National Autistic Society. Yet Steve Silberman, author of ‘NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity’, says that many, if given the right help, could find employment and develop successful careers.

It’s time to match the potential talent these people have to jobs and employment opportunities where characteristics such as attention to detail, adherence to patterns, the ability to repeat tasks and loyalty are prized; our digital age has created both an ideal workplace and can now offer jobs in IT and other industries or sectors for this potentially highly-talented group.

In the UK forward-looking companies such as Auticon, Microsoft, Procter & Gamble, Deutsche Bank Harry Spectres Chocolates and Specialisterne have seen and are acting on the great potential offered by autistic workers; there are growing opportunities for employment – but this can be best driven by early-years provision of services, therapies and financing that are at presently woeful in the school system and as they reach adulthood it often becomes non-existent.

We’re on the road to making a difference – we’re calling on you all to help make that difference and to empower the digital age with IT skilled people who are more capable because they’re on the spectrum and in our sights.


13:00 – 13:30 Registration and Networking. Refreshments will be served
13:30 – 13:35 Alex Cairns, COO, Ace Children’s Occupational Therapy: Chief Instigator and your host today
13:35 – 13:45 John Collins, Chair, Real Time Club: “Challenging Modern Employment Practices: Diversity in the Digital Age”
13:45 – 14:20 Ray Coyle, Auticon CEO: “Delivering Promise for the Digital Age”
14:20 – 14:55 Arran Linton-Smith, Autism Employment Advocate, The NAS: “Changing the World of Autism and Work”
14:55 – 15:30 Annelise Thornton, Regional HR Director – Europe, FieldCore: “Diversity Driven from the Top”
15:30 – 16:00 Fireside Chat: John Collins in discussion with Arran Linton-Smith: “Is Autism a disability?”
16:00 – 17:15 Alison Cairns: MD, Ace Children’s Occupational Therapy
Diana Pierags: Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust
Hester Velthius: Senior Researcher, King’s College London: Neurodevelopmental disorders and their treatment
“Autistic Spectrum Disorder: A Journey Through Life in the Digital Age”
17:15 – 17:35 Dominic Cairns, University Student; and how this has helped him become a university student: “Growing up with Autism: The Amazing Benefits of Early Years Intervention”
17:35 – 18:00 Speakers’ Panel: Chair, Alex Cairns: “So, what’s next?”
18:00 – 18:10 John Collins, Chair, Real Time Club: “Call to action: We WILL move forwards, here’s how we’ll start”
18:10 – 20:00 Networking drinks and nibbles

About our speakers and presenters

Ray Coyle: CEO, Auticon

A seasoned businessman who joined Auticon in 2016 to grow the Business across Europe and develop a global footprint. He has 150 staff across Europe, of whom all 120 consultants are on the Autistic Spectrum delivering complex consulting assignments primarily into FTSE 250 businesses.

Ray will present the CEO keynote this afternoon.

Annelise Thornton: HR Director, FieldCore

Annelise is an experienced HR professional who actively manages ‘diversity’ across businesses in all its forms. She actively encourages business to recognise the opportunity professionals on the Spectrum can bring to complementary winning teams.

Annelise will present HR stakeholder keynote this afternoon and demonstrate why diversity policy can only work when driven from the top of businesses.

Arran Linton-Smith: Autism Employment Advocate, The National Autistic Society, NAS National Forum Member and Guinness World Record Holder

Arran has experienced the most varied career of all our speakers. He always knew he was ‘different’ but he only received his autistic diagnosis in 2012. He is now a successful senior consultant with Interserve Construction and has appeared on radio, television, in the media and spoken in the House of Parliament for the National Autistic Society, championing the opportunities which autistic people bring to business. Arran is frequently asked to speak at major events such as the Autism Professionals Conference in March this year.

Dominic Cairns: Student and early-interventions success story

Dominic is the son of Alex and Alison, who is himself on the Autistic Spectrum. He volunteered to present his own story and the benefits of early intervention with his diagnosis which has enabled him to achieve academically and mature socially. Dominic is currently a student at the University of Winchester.

Alison Cairns: Specialist Neurodiversity Paediatrics Occupational Therapist and MD, Ace Children’s Occupational Therapy

Alison has been an Occupational Therapist her entire career, specialising in paediatrics for the last 20 years. She left the NHS in 2013 to start Ace Children’s OT enabling her to focus on both assessment and treatment of children with: ASD, Dyspraxia and Sensory Integration difficulties, also congenital disorders such as Downs. She is also an accredited tutor for Hampshire County Council Education, Hampshire’s teaching school alliance and has delivered training across the South of England for other organisations. Since Alex joined the Practice full time in 2017, it has grown sufficiently enabling her to take more high-profile training events.

Alison, Diana and Hester will jointly present the clinical keynote this afternoon.

Diana Pierags: Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist, Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust

Diana specialised in paediatrics during her BSc Honours degree and consequent Masters in advancing practice in Occupational Therapy. She currently divides her time between the NHS and Ace Childrens OT. Diana is an advanced practitioner in sensory integration and specialises in working with children with ASD and regulation difficulties as well as using the SCERTS framework for children with ASD, their families and educational settings. She joins Alison presenting training courses and was also a keynote speaker for the NHS at the Occupational Therapy Show, NEC in 2017 and spoke at the Royal College of Occupational Therapy annual conference in 2016.

Hester Velthius: Medical doctor and senior researcher, King’s College London: Neurodevelopmental Disorders and their treatment

Hester is active as a medical doctor and researcher in Neurodevelopmental Disorders (such as Autism Spectrum Disorders and Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorders) at King’s College London and the Maudsley Hospital. She is currently running a research study on the brain’s neurotransmitter balance of its main excitatory and inhibitory neurotransmitter, using Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) and electroencephalography (EEG).

Alex Cairns: COO, Ace Children’s Occupational Therapy

Formerly a global IT executive, Alex took a career break after a number of board-level interim roles and decided to join Ace Children’s OT full time to grow the Practice, enabling treatment of more children and creating events such as the one you are attending today.

Alex will host the event this afternoon, ensuring continuity between each of our speakers and audience participation.

Dr John Collins: Disruptive Technologist at Innovation Foundry & Chair, Real Time Club

John, among many other things, is Commercial Director of the UK National Centre for commercialising Engineering Biology based at Imperial College London, SynbiCITE (www.synbicite.com). SynbiCITE is tasked with growing industry based on using the engineering of biology to ‘do useful things and make useful stuff to heal us, feed us and fuels us’. John helps turn ‘upstarts into start-ups and start-ups to become grown ups’ through business incubation and acceleration programmes designed specifically for SynbiCITE.

Prior to this John has had a varied portfolio career including R&D, product development, technical sales, business development, international development for a trade association, innovation and digital creativity growth and in educational services. Throughout his careers John has run his own ‘Disruptive Technologies and Innovations Management’ consultancy – Innovation Foundry Ltd. – and continues to work with a diverse spread of technologies.

John will open and close this afternoon’s proceedings and also interview Arran Linton-Smith at our ‘fireside chat’ this afternoon.

The People vs Tech: How the internet is killing democracy and how we save it (22nd May 2018)

The internet was meant to set us free; it seems to have done the opposite.

Tech has radically changed the way we live our lives. But have we unwittingly handed too much away to shadowy powers behind a wall of code, all manipulated by a handful of Silicon Valley utopians, ad men, and venture capitalists?

And, in light of recent data breach scandals around companies like Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, what does that mean for democracy, our delicately balanced system of government that was created long before big data, total information and artificial intelligence?

In this urgent polemic, Jamie Bartlett argues that through our unquestioning embrace of big tech, the building blocks of democracy are slowly being removed. The middle class is being eroded, sovereign authority and civil society is weakened, and we citizens are losing our critical faculties, maybe even our free will.

The People Vs Tech is an enthralling account of how our fragile political system is being threatened by the digital revolution. Bartlett explains that by upholding six key pillars of democracy, we can save it before it is too late. We need to become active citizens; uphold a shared democratic culture; protect free elections; promote equality; safeguard competitive and civic freedoms; and trust in a sovereign authority.

Jamie will present his (essential) book and show that the stakes couldn’t be higher and that, unless we radically alter our course, democracy will join feudalism, supreme monarchies and communism as just another political experiment that quietly disappeared.

Join the discussion and debate with our speaker as he describes how our fragile political system is being threatened by the digital revolution. The ticket price includes a copy of the book – this will be signed on the evening by Jamie.

Jamie Bartlett

Jamie Bartlett is the author of The People Vs Tech, which examines the tensions between technology and democracy. He is also author of Radicals (2017) about political outsiders and The Dark Net (2014) about internet subcultures. He is director of the Centre for the Analysis of Social Media at the think-tank Demos, where and is also a regular commentator on national and international media outlets. He presented the two-part BBC documentary series ‘The Secrets of Silicon Valley’.

AI, Robots and Humanity: What it Means to be a Robot in the Age of Humans (20th March 2018)

A Panel Discussion and Debate Around Developing our Moral Code and Societal Ethical Understanding

We are bombarded with an oft-dystopian description of humanity’s future driven by the dangers of artificial intelligence. From sci-fi old-and-new to our most eminent scientists and entrepreneurs we have been brainwashed towards a modern-day Luddite mentality around all-things-automated and digitally controlled rushing us to mankind’s downfall.

Whether it be the so-called “ethics of AI” relating to transparency, privacy, personal data, communications, news and myriad more, AI technologies are already being used in applications from call centres to self-driving and autonomous vehicles, robotic surgeons, automated hedge funds, infrastructure control and weapons systems involving life-or-death decisions normally made by humans.

AI and machine learning is right now impacting on people; there are inherent legal or ethical consequences when it is used to automate decisions in areas such as healthcare, insurance, borrowing money, recruitment, news feed, political persuasion and policing to name a few areas where it’s being used on a minute-by-minute basis.

Political, business, education and social leaders are only now considering the very complex challenges of using AI in a way that is ethical and sustainable; our understanding of this is only just being developed and a critical challenge in considering what “ethical AI” is needs a definition of ethics as a whole, understanding our humanity and Developing our Moral code and Societal Ethical Understanding so we better understand what it means to be a human in an age of AI.

Perhaps in our ethics development we should also consider a time when we need to ask what it means to be an AI-driven robot in the human age?

About our Expert Panellists:

Prof Maja Pantic

Maja Pantic is a Professor of Affective and Behavioural Computing and leader of the i·BUG group, working on machine analysis of human non-verbal behaviour and its applications to human-computer, human-robot, and computer-mediated human-human interaction at Imperial College London and the University of Twente, Netherlands.
Prof. Pantic has published more than 250 technical papers in the areas of machine analysis of facial expressions, machine analysis of human body gestures, audio-visual analysis of emotions and social signals, and human-centred machine interfaces. She has more than 20,000 citations to her work, and has served as the Key Note Speaker, Chair and Co-Chair, and an organization / programme committee member at numerous conferences in her areas of expertise.

Catalina Butnaru

Cat is an IEEE Committee Member for Ethics in Actions, whose work is focused on raising awareness around the Ethically Aligned Design framework, and contributed to re-defining Wellbeing in the future of work. She is a City AI London Ambassador, democratising and sharing knowledge about applications of AI, and a Women in AI Ambassador for London. and an IEEE working groups. She is currently developing an ethical-by-design process for integrating AI in software development.
She studied Change Management at European Technology Centre, Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Stanford ‘Ignite’, Psychology at Al.I.Cuza, and Marketing Strategy at Chartered Institute of Marketing.

Kriti Sharma

Kriti is an Artificial Intelligence technologist and a leading global voice on AI ethics and its impact on society. In addition to advising global software companies on AI, she focuses on AI for Social Good. She built her first robot at the age of 15 in India and has been building AI technologies to solve global issues ever since, from productivity to education to domestic violence. Kriti was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list for advancements in AI and was included in the Recode 100 list of key influencers in technology in 2017 alongside Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg. She was elected as a Civic Leader by the Obama Foundation for her work in ethical technology. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Google Grace Hopper Scholar and recently advised the UK Parliament in the House of Lords on AI Policy. Kriti frequently writes about her views on the ethics of AI in global media such as Fortune, BBC, Harvard Business Review, The Times, Financial Times and TechCrunch.

Will Heaven (Chair)

Will Douglas Heaven is a freelance writer and editor. He is a consultant for New Scientist and editor of the New Scientist Instant Expert book on artificial intelligence. He was previously chief technology editor at New Scientist and founding editor of the BBC’s tech-meets-geopolitics website Future Now. He has a PhD in computer science from Imperial College London and knows what it’s like to work with robots. You can find him on Twitter: @strwbilly.

Cybersecurity: What’s Real, What’s Not and What’s Next? (20th Feburary 2018)

Over the past decade or so we have become increasingly dependent on technology in our daily lives; this has opened us up to a much foreseen and somewhat dystopian threat – that of ‘cybersecurity’.

While in the late 1990s and early 2000s cybersecurity only seemed an issue for your company’s IT team, today it’s a multi-billion pound global industry that is expected to top £1 trillion by 2022.

Whether it’s an email scam targeted at individuals, a corporate data theft affecting millions of people at one time or a DDoS attack, the rise in cyberattacks and their increasing reach has made cybersecurity a focus of everyone’s attention to the point where we’re no longer so worried about someone stealing our wallet but stealing our entire digitised life.

Every day one hears of moral panics in business and outrage in society about ‘cybersecurity’. This talk will describe in outline what the real issues are – and why they’re real – and address some of the persistent myths around the subject.

Our Speaker will speculate on likely developments in the field – in terms of emergent technologies and their accompanying risks – and on the likely evolution of organisations, from commercial enterprises to national governments and individual consumers, as they move to mitigate these new risks.

Book here to hear our speaker – Henrik Kiertzner – give examples of cybersecurity developments, realities, truths and myths and shed some light on the evolution, challenges and solutions that will arise.

About our Speaker: Henrik Kiertzner

Henrik Kiertzner served in the British Army worldwide for many years, as a linguist and intelligence specialist.

Since leaving the Army in 2000, he has been, variously, IT Director of an international engineering consultancy, a security and risk consultant in both real-world and cyber domains and now makes a living discussing and delivering analytics and big data solutions to cybersecurity challenges throughout EMEA.

Among his proudest achievements are co-authorship of the security strategy for the London Olympic Park, authorship of a national border security strategy for the last-but-two government of a now failed state and the specification and delivery of a security architecture supporting a NATO nation’s newly-deployed battlefield management system.

Henrik prides himself on using his linguistic skills to interpret between suit and t-shirt. He is a Fellow of the British Computer Society, a Chartered Information Technology Professional, a Member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology and holds a valid Cycling Proficiency Certificate.

Beyond the AI Hype: Or is that just a Chatbot winding us up? (21 November 2017)

Globally-renowned scientists and entrepreneurs have warned of the immensity and immediacy of threat from AI. Prof Stephen Hawking said in 2014 “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” But is this a real concern or hyperbole?

Since that first alarming statement, Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and dozens of artificial intelligence experts signed an open letter on artificial intelligence calling for research on the societal impacts of AI. The letter affirmed that “society can reap great potential benefits from artificial intelligence, but called for concrete research on how to prevent certain potential ‘pitfalls’: artificial intelligence has the potential to eradicate disease and poverty, but researchers must not create something which cannot be controlled.”

Read more