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.”

Our speaker, Kriti Sharma, will discuss ‘Beyond the AI hype’ – how organisations and consumers are already using AI, giving some of the best examples of AI in action and – according to Kriti – it’s not as ‘sexy’ as you might want to think and believe! But you won’t be bored by her examples and you’ll probably want to consider how you behave with the Chatbot next time you ask a question or make an online request.

She will also answer the question ‘But does AI actually work?’, give advice on how to handle the classic scenario “Sorry, I didn’t understand that”, discuss the design of AI, and how we can create user experiences and designs for robots and AI assistants.

Kriti will consider some of the ethical considerations: humans are biased and so are the algorithms and datasets we’ve created. Can this be fixed and if so, how? How will AI actually affect the future of work? Is it possible for us to create a world where humans and AI work together and augment each other’s strengths?

Our Speaker: Kriti Sharma, VP of Artificial Intelligence, Sage and CEO, Staysafe.ai

Kriti is the VP of Artificial Intelligence at Sage and co-founder and CEO of Staysafe.ai, a stealth mode start-up building the AI brain, on a mission to give AI superpowers to every business.

Kriti was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 for advancements in AI. She was also elected as a Civic Leader by President Obama for her work in ethical technology. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, Google Grace Hopper Scholar and Government of India’s Young Leader in Science.

She lives with a 4 feet tall humanoid robot and loves fixing the bias in AI.

Blockchain: Transparency Vs Privacy – Can we have both? (17 October 2017)

There is no doubt that Blockchain is a powerful technology: it can change classic business models and add to them the vision of a new economy – in fact, it’s already done that.

Blockchain platforms allow us to build fully transparent and distributed applications. They also eliminate business and political risks associated with centrally managed entities by reducing the need for trust between counterparties.

However, when Blockchain products are discussed two primary issues are always mentioned: scalability and privacy.

Scalability because 20 – 30 transactions per minute is not acceptable in the modern world. Fortunately, performance is not critical for many current use cases and solutions for this issue are in development.

Privacy because solutions for privacy concerns are not yet as available though it has become clear that this will be the focus of discussion in the Blockchain community in the coming months: privacy becomes a major concern as soon as we add personal or sensitive data into chains.

How can we add privacy into one of the most transparent networks in the world? If we do add privacy is the system still a Blockchain?

Our speaker – Denis Baranov – give examples of developing real-world Blockchain projects and shed some light on the challenges and solutions surrounding scalability, transparency and privacy.

Denis Baranov

Denis Baranov is a Principal Consultant at DataArt. He has over ten years’ experience in the IT industry, as a developer, technical architect, solution architect and IT leader.

He specialises in designing and building business solutions in financial services, capital markets, and fintech.

Denis is passionate about technology innovation, and is currently focused on leading the development of market solutions underpinned by distributed ledger technologies such as Blockchain, and AI technologies such as machine learning.

He participates in projects and communities both inside and outside DataArt, and is a regular speaker and contributor of various communities and conferences.

Denis holds a PhD in computer science from Lomonosov Moscow State University, and has an MS in Applied Mathematics, Informatics & Mechanics.

Art and Digital Culture: Will AI and blockchain bust the art price boom but save the art world? (19 September 2017)

In the 1990s, the advent of online price databases for works of art sold at auction changed the industry forever; art buyers could search online for the price history and purported provenance of their desired masterpiece prior to purchase, disrupting the entire value chain that had existed for more than 250 years.

As a result of this new-found transparency in pricing, art as an investment has boomed: art funds have been established, contemporary art market prices soared and the auction market almost tripled from $17.2bn in 2005 to $45bn in 2017. Recently, a Jean Michel Basquiat painting – ‘Untitled’ – sold for $110.5m – until May this year it had been in the same private collection since it was bought at auction in 1984 for $19,000, a rise of nearly x6000 in 33 years!

Auction price databases only provide one facet of cultural value of art, and as such there are whispers within the industry that this growth in value is in fact a bubble. What databases would need to be developed, and what technology exploited, to really understand the value of art today and in the future?

And what will happen if AI systems and machine learning are tasked with valuing creativity, tracking provenance and linking works of art to the stories that make them valuable, rather than solely relying on what a collector is willing to pay for artworks based on (vested) market forces and its supposed investability? Will the systems rebalance the current prices with valuations based on finding art with similar characteristics or ‘attractiveness’, or will other data sets become important? Will the art bubble be burst or reinforced by technology?

By using blockchain technology to publicly record ownership, track movements and verification of authenticity of each piece, will many of the challenges that the art market faces be alleviated? Can the art market be saved by technology? And, zooming out further, as the art market grapples with supply chain and self-regulation, can lessons be learned for the Artificial Intelligence and data community as a whole?

This talk, presented from the leading edge of disruptive technologies in the art world by Bernadine Brocker Wieder, will explore what technology can do to truly track the value of culture and create a more ethical art market.

Bernadine Brocker Wieder

Bernadine is the CEO and Co-Founder of Vastari Group, an online platform securely connecting private collectors of art, exhibition producers, venues and museums for exhibition loans and tours.

She is a founding member of the team at Trinity House gallery on Maddox Street in London with experience including working at Traffic Creative Management – New York’s premiere creative artist management and advertising agency – and Ralph Appelbaum Associates, New York – the world’s largest museum exhibition design firm.

Bernadine is a member of the Professional Advisors to the International Art Market and the Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars, holds a Master’s degree in History of Art and Art-World Practice from Christie’s Education/University of Glasgow and a Bachelors from Parsons School of Design, New York.

She frequently gives talks on transparency and valuing art and using blockchain and other technologies in the art world.

Real Time Computing: 50 Years On and 50 Years Hence (27 June 2017)

In 1967 an American entrepreneur with experience in the emerging field of ‘real time’ data processing arrived in the UK, intending to set up a software house. He was keen to plug into the local network of people who shared a common interest in the applications of this new technology, and organised a dinner for that purpose.

The evening was a huge success. Held on the 27th June 1967 in the Bourbon Room of the Institute of Directors’ headquarters on Belgrave Square, it was attended by twelve leading entrepreneurs and academics in the fledgling British computing industry. After dinner, each person described his interest in real time data processing and the group agreed to a subsequent meeting to discuss particular problems over a good meal.

From this unassuming start, the Real Time Club was born. The first speaker was a young, energetic genius who is our esteemed speaker this evening.

Was the Club a product of its time, or could it have emerged and thrived in any commercial environment? Will it be able to survive the continued changes in both the industry and its user communities, as real time computing becomes increasingly ubiquitous around the globe? These were the questions in 1967; they’re just as pertinent 50 years on and can be asked of the next 50 years.

Our speaker Iann Barron CBE will look back over the past 50 years of Real Time Computing and share a vision for the next 50 years.

Over the evening ex-Chairs of the Real Time Club from the past 50 years will give a very brief overview of their time in the hot seat, spanning five decades of the Real Time Club.

Iann Barron, CBE

Before he was 21 Iann Barron had designed a real computer, the Elliott 803. That was in 1956.

In 1965 Iann started Computer Technology Ltd – the first mini-computer company in the UK, long before the term minicomputer had been coined – and designed the Modular One, the most successful UK minicomputer in its time.

1978 saw the beginning of inMOS International PLC, the UK semiconductor company – where Iann and his team designed the Transputer, a device which should have revolutionised the world, but even now, no one understands the ideas behind it. inMOS International PLC ‘would have been a great success if it were not for Mrs Thatcher’ was sold in 1984 to Thorn EMI when inMOS needed a public offering to provide the funding to capitalise on the products it had created and before it had a chance to thrive and grow. It could have been the UK’s first £bn company.

He has gone on to start Division PLC, the company which created and has exploited virtual reality and continues to suffer from a persistent problem: his ideas are too far ahead of the market.

A copy of Iann Barron’s speech is held by the Archives of IT website in their Futurescope section.

The Many Faces of Intelligence (23 May 2017)

Presentations & Panel Discussion

Intelligence manifests itself in a variety of ways. This panel will discuss the many faces of intelligence – whether natural or artificial – from both scientific and philosophical points of view.

Connections will be explored between intelligence, information, language, the emotions, and creativity amongst other things, and an attempt will be made to sketch, however roughly and incompletely, some of the features of the landscape of intelligence.

Our Speakers & Panel

Philosophies of the mind and language: Dr Brian Ball is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy, and Head of Research, at the New College of the Humanities. He studied Philosophy and Linguistics at McGill University. He then completed his graduate studies at the University of Oxford, where he was subsequently a Lecturer in Philosophy at St Anne’s College, and then Balliol. He conducts research primarily in the philosophies of mind and language, epistemology, and metaphysics.

Philosophy of action, emotions and motivation: Dr Naomi Goulder is Head of Faculty and Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the New College of the Humanities. She received a double first in philosophy from the University of Cambridge, studied with a Henry Fellowship at Harvard, completed her doctoral degree at Birkbeck, and was then a Teaching Fellow at the University of Bristol, where she received a Students’ Union teaching award. She works in the philosophy of action and is interested in, amongst other things, the emotions and the theory of motivation.

Machine learning: Dr Fintan Nagle is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience at University College London, as well as a Lecturer in Psychology at New College of the Humanities. He is currently applying machine learning to model the attentional demands of task switching in automated vehicles. A computer scientist by training, he has spent some time in systems biology (MSc & MRes) and experimental psychology (PhD).

Philosophy of science and Artificial Intelligence: Dr Ioannis Votsis is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at the New College of the Humanities and a Fellow in the Department of Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics. He was previously Assistant Director and Research Fellow at the Centre for Logic and Philosophy of Science at the University of Düsseldorf, as well as Visiting Research Fellow in the Centre for Philosophy of Science at the University of Pittsburgh, and holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley and the London School of Economics. His main area of research is the philosophy of science, and he has an active interest in the philosophy of artificial intelligence.

Get a heads-up on intelligence, hear from leading lights in their field and better understand the many faces of intelligence at the Real Time Club.

Creativity in Changing Times: Einstein’s Greatest Mistake (18 April 2017)

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.

Einstein was the greatest genius of our time – perhaps of all time – but he was also a human being, and his mistake was not a scientific but a very human one, something that could happen to us all.

This fascinating story encompasses Einstein’s theory of relativity – made accessible to the general reader – as well as exploring the numerous facets of the great man’s life, and holds many lessons for those keen to learn from the mistakes of a genius.

There are insights for all of us on how to rev up, and how to know when you’re in the right field; notes on what happens when we get stuck and how hard it is even for great minds to get away from such mistakes.

He’ll also touch on what it’s like writing a book about such a man and be signing hardback 1st edition copies for you each to take away.

David Bodanis

David Bodanis is a polymath US national now living in London. He studied mathematics, physics and history at the University of Chicago, then conceived and taught the “Intellectual Tool-Kit: A Survey of Social Science” series at Oxford University for most of the 1990s.

David has worked in the Shell Scenarios team between 2000-2003; since 2004 he has been a freelance writer, foreign correspondent, broadcaster, consultant (most recently preparing a report on the future of High Frequency Trading for the UK Treasury) and futurist.

His several books have done well, with ‘E=mc2’ selling over a million copies and is published in 24 languages; it has been written into a PBS drama-documentary and into a ballet at Sadler’s Wells theatre winning the award for ‘Best Dance of the Year’ 2010.

Most recently ‘Einstein’s Greatest Mistake’ – David’s book from last year has been named ‘Science Book of the Year’ by the Sunday Times, and is set to be translated for global exposure.

A regular and high-profile speaker, businesses have been especially interested in spin-offs from his books dealing with issues of creativity, learning, and effective team operation. Very recently David has been a regular speaker at Goldman Sachs in New York, an invited speaker at Google HQs in both the UK and US, at Adobe, Microsoft, WPP, Mishcon de Reya, and General Dynamics.

Please note: The ticket price includes a signed 1st edition hardback copy of David’s book ‘Einstein’s Greatest Mistake; The Life of a Flawed Genius’

Personal Data as an Asset Class: Making money and Dodging risk (17 January 2017)

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?

The devil’s contract with data is that it is just so valuable, Microsoft bought LinkedIn for $26.2 billion a staggering 91 times earnings (M&S is about 10) arguably to get access to our personal data. So lustrous is this fairy gold that many startups have as the official core of their business strategy to get bought by Google with only vague ideas on actually charging customers for their service. However as Ashley Winton will explain, looming new laws in Europe will bring into sharp focus the strategies that will be needed in the future to protect the value of your data, and to continue to exploit it in the creative way that has driven such high valuations for social media and telecoms companies. For data to be valuable it must be yours to sell, be consistent, be in a rational structure and navigate the increasingly tangled web of privacy laws for the web.

Even before Brexit you couldn’t move around Brussels without meeting expert lobbying from the Californian giants. Post Brexit, will UK plc rise to the challenge and create a business friendly environment for processing and profiling data in the UK? Will the governments new superpowers in the Investigatory Powers Act help or hinder this objective? With President Trump in office, what will happen to data sharing agreements between the UK/EU and the US.

Ashley Winton

Ashley is a partner in the corporate practice at law firm Paul Hastings. Formerly a microelectronics engineer, he advises technology and IT companies, global financial institutions, large utility companies, multinational corporations and government and non-government agencies on technology, telecommunications, cyber security, intellectual property and antitrust matters with particular emphasis on European regulatory issues such as electronic money, virtual currencies, encryption, authentication, cyber security and export control, data protection and privacy, technology transfer and e-commerce.

Ashley has particular expertise in relation to the outsourcing of technology and business processes, including the establishment of electronic market places, e-commerce portals and negotiating Mobile Virtual Network Operator arrangements. He also advises companies in the public sector in relation to outsourcing and strategic partnerships.

The Origins of Our Digital Age (22 November 2016)

Seven decades of computing progress have brought us from room-sized computers to wearable computing. At The National Museum of Computing on Bletchley Park this transformation can be seen in operational computers from each decade and proves a highly educational and entertaining resource.

Dr Andrew Herbert will focus on one particular computer: the 1949 EDSAC and show how one of key artefacts of the museum has come into being; over the past five years the project has researched and undertaken construction of a working reconstruction of EDSAC, the world’s first practical electronic digital computer.

The original, which no longer exists, was built at Cambridge University by a team led by M.V. Wilkes. Using circuits and technologies taken from Wilkes’ wartime experience with radar, EDSAC represents a transition from analogue to digital design.

Andrew will talk about how his team reconstructed the circuits from surviving documents and photographs, the challenges in recreating 70-year old technology, the benefits of doing so with modern electronics, and the impact the reconstruction has on visitors and the Museum’s educational programme.

Dr Andrew Herbert OBE FREng

Andrew Herbert is a trustee of The National Museum of Computing and project manager of the EDSAC Replica Project. Now retired, he spent his working life engaged in computer systems engineering research in both academia and industry. His last position was as chairman of Microsoft’s research laboratories in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region.

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.

As Rudyard Kipling might say today, “If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster And treat those two impostors just the same, then you’ll be the Director of CERT my son”, Chris has devoted his time to mixing a cocktail of boredom laced with fear, because although we really don’t want excitement in systems that cost lives when they fail, he’s worked to ensure that stakeholders in both government and important private sector industries are taking the threats seriously… and dealing with the consequences when they haven’t.

Before CERT, Chris was on the board of FIRST.org, the global Forum for Incident Response and Security Teams which ran in parallel with 12 years at Citi being a Director with responsibility of protecting a large financial institution in a rapidly evolving threat landscape.

Real Time Club Dinners are held under the Chatham House Rule to encourage free and frank conversation.

30 Years a Hacker: What’s changed and what hasn’t (20 September 2016)

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.

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.