This year's Cambridge Festival of Ideas, will run from the 19 October to 1 November and is set to tackle issues ranging from artificial intelligence to privacy in a digital age and human-interaction with machines.
Researchers from the Psychometrics Centre at the University of Cambridge will discuss technology, ethics and our future in artificial intelligence. The aim is to agree on safeguards that are necessary to ensure artificial intelligence develops to benefit humankind.
Professor John Rust from the Psychometrics Centre said, “We have already demonstrated that computers can carry out psychological assessment in real time and that they can be better at this than humans. However, the psychometric analysis of online digital traces, such as Facebook ‘likes', could hold dangers if we dash into it too quickly."
Issues of privacy in today's technology-dependent society are also high on the agenda, and will be examined by Dr Natasa Milic-Frayling, a principal researcher at Microsoft Research, who believes the answers to these issues is to create a ‘digital estate'. She suggests privacy protection through personalisation, user profiling, optimisation, and socialisation will require a legal and societal framework "that empowers rather than enslaves individuals”.
Speaking on human–machine interaction, Dr Rachel Jones is set to discuss how interactive design empowers or disempowers our relationship with technology and our ability to handle everyday things, such as driverless cars and drones.
Dr Jones said: “Machines are gaining greater autonomy. Machine learning is being applied extensively to online data, and so personal decisions such as what book we might read next are being made on our behalf. Many welcome this as the ultimate ease of use, but others have concerns. Will driverless cars really be safer? Will we become locked into a certain worldview? We need to ensure that people retain the control they want and need.”
Established in 2008, Cambridge Festival of Ideas aims to fuel the public's interest in arts, humanities and social sciences. The events, ranging from talks, debates and film screenings to exhibitions and comedy nights, are held in lecture halls, theatres, museums and galleries around Cambridge. Of the over 250 events at the Festival, most are free.