Posts Tagged ‘Public lecture’

Of public lectures

April 16, 2016

Last Thursday, I gave a public lecture entitled The incredible shrinking computer: computer hardware from relays to 14 nanometre transistors, part of a series of public lectures in my Department. This series has been running for a few years now, and this was the third time I’d contributed. In 2014, I did one on sound, Hear here: from the ear to the brain, and in 2013 one on artificial intelligence, Artificial Intelligence: is it finally arriving?

These lectures attract an audience of between about 40 and 60, depending on whether it’s nice night, what else is going on, and so on. And it’s actually a lot of work creating these lectures (for example, for the one I just did, I managed to borrow old computer components, and that’s quite apart from the research of putting together something rather better than my average student lecture, with more and better images, for example). So now I (and I suspect, my co-presenters) are interested in where else we might present these talks. Yes, we understand that each talk will need more work, to make it just right for the particular audience, but even then, we’re interested in other possibilities for presenting these again.

I should add that the talks are well received by their audiences, and that the audiences we have had range in age from about 12 upwards – a long way upwards! Is anyone listening out there in www-land? Any suggestions?

(I have two ideas in mind: one is science festivals, and the other is secondary (i.e. high) schools: I just need to get out there and organise them.)


A Public Lecture

May 15, 2014

This evening, I gave a public lecture at my University, entitled “Hear here: from the ear to the brain”. And last year, in the same series,  I gave a talk about Artificial Intelligence. Both went well: but I’d really like to give these talks elsewhere as well. And I don’t know quite how to organise this – I’m not really quite up to pushing myself on to a science festival (and often they go for professional science publicists, rather than plain old professors!). Is there another career for waiting for me there?

Today’s talk was interesting from my viewpoint too. the audience age ranged from about 11 to about 75! Some were retired academics, some were locals, and some were the children of academics. I think I managed to target it well, but it’s a tricky business: not losing (or boring) the younger, less experienced part of the audience, yet attempting to keep the interest of the older ones. But judging from the questions at the end I managed OK. Interestingly, it felt more like a performance than a lecture: more like I had played a gig on the piano, than stood up and spoken for a while: not really like a standard lecture at all.

And yet: what I’d really like to do would be to mix together the various skills I have and give an illustrated public lecture illustrated with music, played on the piano. Perhaps that would be a bit hard though I did manage to give a musically accompanied speech at my late father’s 80’th birthday, more than 20 years ago. What sorts of music might illustrate artificial intelligence? The musical accompaniment to the sound and hearing talk might be easier, however.

And now? Quietly sitting, writing, having quaffed a few beers, just to relax. Back to the everyday grind tomorrow!

Artificial Intelligence: are we nearly there yet?

May 2, 2013

Last night I gave a public lecture, at my University, with the title above. It went well: there were about 50 people, between about 11 and 75 in age, with some academics, some teachers, and quite a few whom I simply didn’t know. I spoke to my slides for about 45 minutes, then opened the floor to questions: and there really were a lot. I’m happy with the talk, I had been worried about it, for it’s a very different thing to be talking to a audience that’s come out in the evening, from lecturing to students. But this went well. Pitching it was an issue: how can one present material about artificial intelligence which fits all these people. I tried, and I think I succeeded. I had a very interesting discussion with a 17 year old lad at the end: I’d been saying that the concept of the AI Singularity was predicated in the concept of abstract intelligence – which is something I really don’t believe in. But he pointed out that there was nothing in  my argument to stop an embodied intelligence from building a more intelligent embodied intelligence, and that this could still be at the root of a positive-feedback intelligence loop. I couldn’t fault his logic. So now I’m not sure whether to worry about the singularity or not! Actually, Jurgen Schmidhuber thinks I should stop worrying and look at what’s already been done!

It took me a little while to work out why I was so pleased to have given the talk: then I remembered going to some public lectures in Glasgow University in the mid-1960’s, as a teenager, and really enjoying them. It is good to give something back!

Note: I’ve now written a 1000 word extract on AI, possibly for a newspaper – though it doesn’t mention the singularity. And now the Deccan Herald has published it!