AI: Where Science meets Science Fiction

  • On Monday 6 November The Alan Turing Institute and the British Library host a data debate exploring the blurred lines between science and science fiction
  • Featuring journalist and author Laurie Penny, internet pioneer Jon Crowcroft, curator Patrick Gyger, expert in robotics and AI Kathleen Richardson and philosopher and ethicist of new technologies, Blay Whitby
  • Chaired by journalist and broadcaster Timandra Harkness

From Blade Runner, Siri and sexbots, to the writings of Jules Verne, HG Wells and Asimov’s I, Robot, it can feel like the lines between science and science fiction are becoming increasingly blurred.

Photo by Andy Kelly on Unsplash

How far away is modern tech from catching up with visions of the future previously only imagined in science fiction? What are the real and imagined implications of artificial intelligence on society and our everyday lives? Is science fiction a useful lens to view the advances in artificial intelligence through? And are we too prone to view the AI future in dystopian terms?

On 6 November the British Library and The Alan Turing Institute bring together a panel – comprising experts in technology and robots, together with philosophy, science fiction and ethics – to debate the lines between science and science fiction. The event will be suitable for any lovers of science or science fiction, and you don’t need any prior knowledge to attend.

About the panel:

Timandra Harkness (chair) is a science journalist specialising in data. She presents the BBC Radio 4 series, FutureProofing and Bloomsbury published her book, Big Data: Does Size Matter? in June 2016.

Laurie Penny is an award-winning journalist, essayist, public speaker, writer, activist, internet nanocelebrity and author of six books. Laurie writes essays, columns, features and gonzo journalism about politics, social justice, pop culture, feminism, technology and mental health. When she gets time, she also writes creepy political science fiction.

Jon Crowcroft is a pioneer in network technology, having developed the theory and practice of routing data across interconnecting computers. He has made pivotal contributions throughout the course of the Internet’s development as a means of mass communication. He is a Fellow at The Alan Turing Institute and Marconi Professor of Networked Systems at the University of Cambridge.

Patrick Gyger is a Swiss historian, writer and curator. From 1999 to 2010, he was the director of Maison d’Ailleurs in Switzerland, a museum housing one of the world’s largest collections of Utopia and Science Fiction. Earlier this year, Gyger curated “Into the Unknown: a Journey through Science Fiction” a major travelling exhibition about science fiction, produced by the Barbican Centre in London.

Kathleen Richardson is a Professor of Ethics and Culture of Robots and AI at De Montfort University. In 2015 she, along with her colleague launched the Campaign Against Sex Robots to draw attention to problematic effects on new technologies on human relations, and their potential impact to create new layers of inequalities between men and women and adults and children.

Dr Blay Whitby is a philosopher and ethicist concerned with the social impact of new and emerging technologies. He is currently a lecturer at The University of Sussex, leading a number of courses including: “Ethical Issues in Computing”, and “Introduction to Cognitive Science”.

The Data Debate event series is a collaboration between the AHRC, The Alan Turing Institute, the British Library, and the ESRC and aims to stimulate discussion on issues surrounding big data, its potential uses, and its implications for society.


Event details

Date:       6 November 2017

Time:       18:30 -20:00 (Doors from 18:00)

Venue:     The British Library Knowledge Centre  

Full Price: £5.00, concessions available

To book a ticket visit the British Library webpage.

For more information contact:

Sophie McIvor

Head of Communications, The Alan Turing Institute