Mr Robot: will androids ever be able to convince people they’re human?

Article by SA Mathieson, Guardian Labs, (The Connected University series paid for by Staffordshire University), 29 November 2019

In his quest to build robots that can pass as human, Carl Strathearn has drawn on various fields including prosthetics, materials science, computing and animatronics – the last by talking to John Coppinger, designer of the Jabba the Hutt animatronic puppet used in the 1983 Star Wars film Return of the Jedi. “He helped me out in my master’s when I was doing research in advanced animatronics and gave me plenty of inspiration in my PhD,” says Strathearn. Continue reading “Mr Robot: will androids ever be able to convince people they’re human?”

Are you human, or are you software?

‘Artificial intelligence’ looks scary from a distance, but more limited and interesting close-up. In a recent article for Computer Weekly I explored whether AI software can be creative, such as by writing music. The answer is yes, but only with a lot of help from people – and according to those working on music-generating software, you’re going to get functional music for backing videos or lifts rather than the Goldberg Variations. Continue reading “Are you human, or are you software?”

This England: a gaunt view from Ghent

This sceptred isle, this other Eden, this England and all that. I like to imagine this speech from Richard II spoken in a Flemish accent, given it is delivered by John of Gaunt – or as we now call it, Ghent.

Ghent is a great place to spend a few days, something like a combination of Oxford and Newcastle with an ancient, well-preserved city centre, a major port and lots of students. But going round its excellent museums you get a sense of departed glory. STAM, the city history museum, uses graphics to show how Ghent’s population was comparable to Paris and Brussels in the 16th century. But Ghent is now a city of just quarter of a million people. Continue reading “This England: a gaunt view from Ghent”

Norfolk uses data in libraries’ public health drive

Norfolk County Council has won a national award for its libraries’ health education work, which involves tailoring each library’s work based on local public health data.

In September, the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals awarded Norfolk its annual Libraries Change Lives award for the county’s Healthy Libraries project. This involves activities in the county’s 47 libraries including pedal-powered smoothie bikes, hula-hoop challenges and neighbourhood lunches. Continue reading “Norfolk uses data in libraries’ public health drive”

Injured at Glastonbury? Three little words will help medics find you

New app What3Words, also used by emergency teams in a cholera outbreak in Tanzania, can help medical services locate ill festivalgoers amid a sea of tents

What3Words, which provides addressing services that work in the most desolate corners of the earth where people live in the most basic conditions, also covers the Glastonbury Festival.
Continue reading “Injured at Glastonbury? Three little words will help medics find you”