Blog : Technology

The rise of artificial intelligence: all in the mind?

The rise of artificial intelligence: all in the mind?

Margaret tells me that she will be away this summer – making her annual trip to a remote Pacific island – out of touch from phones and email.

Now over 80 years old and a Research Professor of Cognitive Science at the Department of Informatics at The University of Sussex, Margaret Boden isn’t how you’d picture an expert on artificial intelligence.  The walls of her living room are covered in collections of computer generated art from the 1960s, alongside Balinese puppets and a collection of glass from early history.

Studying medical sciences and later philosophy and psychology, she worked to develop the world’s first academic programme in cognitive science in the 1960s. Though she talks lucidly about technology,  her interest and authority on AI comes from understanding the impact and relationship of AI to people.

In science fiction, robots reflect our deepest desires, needs and fears – they are our slaves, entertainment and our personal assistants – caring for the elderly, serving as companions for the lonely but at the same time threatening to outsmart, outperform and overthrow us.

According to Margaret, far away from the realms of science-fiction, AI is already transforming what it means to be human. Behind every internet search, bank transaction or online movie recommendation, AI is influencing the very fabric of the societies we live in.

Acknowledging AI’s conflicting and complex influence on people, she sees major developments on the horizon: from disrupting work and the jobs we do, to tackling currently incurable diseases and enabling “the generation of previously impossible ideas.”
Watch Margaret’s interview to hear her hopes for the future.

 

Watch Margaret’s interview

 

Have your say and follow the conversation using the hashtags #its2097 and #expertinterview

 

What does 2097 look like?

What does 2097 look like?

What does 2097 look like?

Take a look at some of the images scriptwriter Matt has been drawing inspiration from to create the world of the five sci-fi films. Can you imagine these buildings, objects and people being part of your city in 80 years time?

Objects

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Neri Oxman mask, credit: Dezeen

Thinking about what ceremonial objects may look like 80 years from now, we came across these beautiful 3D printed death masks by Neri Oxman on Dezeen. The bruise-colours and the crystalline quality of the material have a sci-fi edge, almost like the object is alive, “I love the idea that in the future 3D printers will create objects of high cultural value”.

And speaking of 3D printers…

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In January Matt, Ju and Nick were in South Korea and drove past these on the way to Incheon. Machines will undoubtedly change in the next 80 years but cranes from 1937 wouldn’t look that far out of place today.

Buildings

Matt’s been looking at a lot of brutalist architecture from the 50s and 60s because “brutalism was perhaps the last architectural movement that set out to transform everything. It was so radical. You had buildings with almost no windows, entire districts moved onto a different level. And the thing about brutalism is that the designs immediately raise questions as to the building’s purpose. I’m not even sure if the central bank in Baghdad strictly qualifies as brutalism but this photo is shocking. Not just for the US troops guarding it and the damage visible on the bank itself (it was looted by Saddam Hussein’s sons) but for the sense of power emanating from the building.”

US troops guard the Central Bank of Iraq. The building was looted during the war. USAIDS is providing a "ministry in a box" which includes desks, chairs, telephones and computers to help get the misintry get back to business.

This photo of the recently opened Qatar Foundation in Doha, designed by OMA is striking in a different way. From the inside it has this fantastic panoramic view of the city framed between the concrete. It seems remote from the ground below.

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People

Umbrellas, skirts, cardigans and patterns. Artist Nick has been looking to the past for inspiration on future clothes. After all things often come back into fashion.

FLASHBACK HDM ARCHIVE LIBRARY IMAGES weekly daily Images of Freetown Way in Hull. Dated 22nd August 1986 - pedestrians and motorists alike get used to Hull's newest road. keywords - roads traffic access 1980's car cars wet weather rain umbrella umbrellas rainy pouring generic brolly brollie

 

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Over the next few weeks we’ll be posting more snippets of inspiration that have influenced the film scripts form Aarhus, Hull and beyond.


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How can technology rebuild trust and create social value?

How can technology rebuild trust and create social value?

We’re sitting around the table and someone asks: ‘Do Facebook friends really count as friends?’

For everyone at the table – a group of over 60’s from around Hull – the consensus is that communities depend on something inherent in meeting people in person: on finding ways for people to participate, to contribute and to trust one another. Technology seems fraught with problems when it comes to building trust. While our increasing dependence on the internet  raises concerns about privacy and disrupts traditional forms of work.

For Dave Shepherdson, the internet has the potential to create new forms of sharing economies and the revolutionary technology which is set to enable this is Blockchain. Blockchain is the technology underlying the digital currency – Bitcoin – but it’s shown potential for everything from building de-centralised systems which allow people to control their own data to helping refugees verify their identity.

I’m introduced to Dave Shepherdson by chance one rainy Friday afternoon in a busy cafe on Newland Avenue in Hull. Dave is one of the masterminds behind a new digital currency based on this technology called HullCoin. For a good five minutes, he enthuses about how HullCoin will transform our relationships with each other: encouraging participation and giving value to the social contributions we make to communities.

To find out what he had to say, watch his interview here.

 

Watch Dave’s interview

 

What if we turn the world into data?

What if we turn the world into data?

Our taxi-driver, Mr Chang, pointed out the car window: “That city will be finished in about five years time”

Amid vast stretches of reclaimed land rows of cranes punctuate a sea of giant new apartment buildings. This is Songdo – a new ‘smart’ city being built from the ground up in South Korea. Now that more than half the world’s population now live in urban areas, our cities are responsible for generating 80% of CO2 emissions worldwide.

When we met Dr. Mirko Presser at the Alexandra Institute in Aarhus – an expert on the internet of things – he coyly flashed his smart watch and explained that he ‘liked’ technology but didn’t love it. For Mirko, learning to harness data is a key to living sustainably in cities in the coming century. In the complex web of infrastucture that supports our daily lives in modern day cities, the promise of smart systems which gather real world data, and that connect users and services in new ways is to allow us to use limited resources more efficiently.

But, what are the challenges that await if we ‘turn the world into data’?

 

Watch Mirko’s interview

 

Mirko is one of the authors of one of the most widely read publications on smart cities and the internet of things – a comic. Mirko’s eyes twinkled when he talked about his dreams as a child of travelling to other planets, however, he remained cautious about the promise of smart technologies.

Whereas the the architects behind Songdo are working from a blank slate, smart systems in most cities will need to work with the idiosyncrasies of existing cites and their communities. Uber is just one example among many of how connected services are disrupting existing economies, raising questions of who actually benefits from smart cities, while the system outage at Amazon’s datacenter last week – which caused users with smart home lighting systems to be left in the dark – flags some of the potential risks for our growing dependency on smart systems.