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IBM Watson, Futurism NYC

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This summer I spoke about Artificial Intelligence at IBM Watson’s new headquarters at 51 Astor Place in Manhattan, as part of a panel with Douglas Rushkoff, Martine Rothblatt, Steve Fuller, and Michael Krasnicki. It was apparently the first time any ‘outsiders’ – other than corporate clients and press – have been permitted to enter the inner sanctum of the new IBM building.

Trying to explain to the makers of a real Artificial Intelligence what the concept of ‘intelligence’ means turned out to be not so easy, especially when the audience at the small, crazily-high-security event turned out to be more expert than the panel. NYC A-List Hari Kunzru, Lee Child, Kevin Slavin, Carla Gannis, the faculties from NYU, NYTU, Pratt, CUNY – not to mention the IBM insiders… If I’d known in advance who’d be in the audience I might have quailed.

The evening before, I gave a talk about the history of AI at Futurism NYC on Wall Street. A couple of the participants there persuaded me to shave my head so that I could have my cranium scanned, and I’m now apparently 20% of the Megadome, which is the template for the Ultracortex. No, I can’t explain. But the Open Brain-Computer Interface founders at @OpenBCI can.

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NESTA Hot Topics – Futurefest – London Tech Week

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…and back in London, finally, I spoke at the NESTA/Futurefest event Ready Player Two. It was about the future of Virtual Reality, but I tended more towards the past, talking about Ancient Egyptian belief systems that simulated an AI-like surveillance system and, to the mild consternation of the audience, what Immanuel Kant has to say about VR.

The panel consisted of Jess Bland moderating, Luciana Haill, Rob Morgan, and Zillah Watson – a really adventurous combination of journalistic, artistic, and gaming narrative competence. More panels should be this varied.

NESTA did a great job on this one, though the attendees made the day: when the audience realized that the event wasn’t being livestreamed, they simply self-organized themselves into a team using Periscope to stream it themselves! A Storify is here, and photos are on NESTA’s FB page.

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Brain Bar Budapest

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Last week I was in Budapest to talk about the history of AI at the astonishing Brain Bar Budapest. It’s only their first year, but @BrainBarBP already looks like a world-class festival. Alongside my NCH colleague Niall Ferguson (as a hologram!), Sugata Mitra, Benjamin Bratton, Philip Zimbardo, Pia Mancini, and Steve Fuller, among others, we debated the many possible futures of humanity.

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Artificial Intelligence and HowTheLightGetsIn

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Early in May, I took part in a roundtable discussion about AI and the future of work hosted by the marvellous Red and Click Software. The event was covered widely, so no need for me to describe it: Computing have an excellent article on it, as do The Inquirer and IT Pro.

Later in May I was at the amazing HowTheLightGetsIn festival in Hay-on-Wye. It’s the world’s biggest philosophy and music festival, and it looked like it. I spoke on a couple of days: one talk on the history of AI, the other on evolution and technology. The Institute for Art and Ideas will post videos shortly.

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Global Art Forum, Art Dubai 2015

Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeira ©Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi

I’m hugely excited to be speaking at the Global Art Forum at Art Dubai later today, March the 19th. I’ll be discussing the theme of Artificial Intelligence with Cécile B. Evans and Shumon Basar. Video to come later…