The full programme is available for this year’s festival, 25 May to 4 June. We very much look forward to seeing you in Hay.
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Spowers is the Chief Engineer and Founder of Riversimple, whose goal is simple – to pursue, systematically, the elimination of the environmental impact of personal transport. Spowers, Clancy and their team have created Rasa, a super-efficient, hydrogen-powered car. They are joined by Will Vaughan, CEO of Hereford Pedicabs and Cargo, who provide financially and environmentally sustainable services by bike – including parcel delivery, trade waste recycling, inner city advertising and pedicab hire.
Crop drones, precision pesticides, earthworm management, poultry software and GPS- directed tractors are just some of the new technologies that are revolutionising agriculture. The panel discusses agri-tech innovation helping farmers to become more efficient by using fewer resources. Browning is CEO of the Soil Association, Speller is an award-winning poultry farmer, Freestone a Linking Environment and Farming accredited farm manager.
Can delusional beliefs and distorted memories have redeeming features? Psychologists have consistently found that we are more optimistic than is warranted by the evidence. This form of ‘unrealistic optimism’ leads to mild distortions of reality but it has been shown to contribute to good mental health, motivation and productivity. Bortolotti is Professor of Philosophy at University of Birmingham.
What is the multiverse theory? What is Entanglement? Superposition? What is quantum computing, and how does it help? You don’t have to be a quantum physicist to understand these things if you have one who can explain them to you. And we have Linde Wester.
We all know that ’flu is bad for you. And Ebola. And Zika. Why on earth are there so many viruses that cause such terrible diseases? And what does current research teach us about the fascinating rabbit-hole that is the world of virology?
Anne-Marie Imafidon is Head Stemette and co-founder of Stemettes – an award-winning social enterprise inspiring the next generation of women into Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics careers. Come and meet one of the world’s most inspiring and brilliant mathematicians, co-founder of Outbox Incubator: the world’s first tech incubator for teenage girls.
The lead curator of the Science Museum’s blockbuster show explores this very human obsession to recreate ourselves, revealing the remarkable 500-year story of humanoid robots.
Experience the BBC’s flagship science and technology TV show live on stage. Host Spencer Kelly has spent 15 years exploring the world of technology and returns to Hay for a second year with tales of robot waiters, drones that fly underwater and cars that drive themselves.
A Click Hay Festival special will be broadcast on the BBC News Channel and on BBC World News
How and why do we survive, and what makes us unique? A conversation between a novelist and a scientist exploring the worlds they inhabit in Doctorow’s superb new speculative fiction Walkaway and Rutherford’s A Brief History of Everyone who Ever Lived: The Stories in Our Genes.
What is it that helps both scorpions and cyclists to survive? What do raw eggs and gyroscopes have in common? And why does it matter? The physicist explores the patterns and connections that illustrate the grandest theories in the smallest everyday objects and experience, linking what makes popcorn pop to Antarctic winds, coffee stains to blood tests or ketchup bottles to aliens in space. Every thread you pull in the fabric of daily life shows you something new about the intricate patterns of our world.
According to our best theories of physics, the fundamental building blocks of matter are not particles, but continuous, fluid-like substances known as ‘quantum fields’. The professor of theoretical physics explains what we know about these fields, and how they fit into our understanding of the universe.
The Director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton replays and updates his predecessor, Abraham Flexner’s classic 1939 treatise, which describes a great paradox of scientific research: the search for answers to deep questions, motivated solely by curiosity and without concern for applications, often leads not only to the greatest scientific discoveries but also to the most revolutionary technological breakthroughs.
Digital disruption and innovation are like any tools: capable of being used and abused. How are these technologies already influencing our attitudes, beliefs and behaviours and how do we ensure that these tools bring real and lasting benefits to society? Rahaf Harfoush is a digital anthropologist and best-selling author of The Decoded Company, and Yes We Did: An Insider’s Look at How Social Media Built the Obama Brand. Rahaf is the founder of Red Thread, a think-tank specialising in digital culture. She is currently working on her third book called Hustle and Float about the intersections of technology, contemporary work culture and a post-work society. Formerly, Rahaf was the Associate Director of the Technology Pioneer Programme at the World Economic Forum, and the Research Coordinator on Don Tapscott’s Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything. She was recognised by the World Economic Forum as a Young Global Shaper, and by the Women’s Forum for the Economy and Society as a Rising Talent for her thought-leadership in the fields of digital culture and technology.
The writer and tech-geek reimagines Tim Berners-Lee’s invention and asks how the mantra 'This is for Everyone' can play now in a digital sphere of social media, hacking and global connectivity. With BBC Click's Spencer Kelly.
An Englishman arrives back from Calcutta but refuses to adjust his watch. Beethoven has his symphonic wishes ignored. The timetable arrives by steam train. A woman designs a 10-hour clock and reinvents the calendar. Roger Bannister becomes stuck in the same four minutes for ever. Garfield offers a vivid and compelling exploration of the ways we have perceived, contained and saved time over the past 250 years. Chaired by Olivia Cole.
Governments, NGOs and corporations collaborate across the world on campaigns to respond to global health issues such as AIDS, Ebola, SARS and malaria. But how do you regulate these PPPs (private-public partnerships)? The Edinburgh academic and her co-author, Chelsea Clinton, analyse the accountability, effectiveness and sustainability of the biggest campaigns. Chaired by Oscar Guardiola-Rivera.
Join the superstar neuroscientist on a voyage of conscious discovery. A 1.5 kg brain tissue mass magically produces our individual view of the world, our myriad emotions, memories, associations and thoughts that make each of our lives unique. Why are neuroscientists only able to properly probe consciousness now? And what are we yet to discover? Come with an open mind...
Adam Rutherford and guests discuss some of the big ideas in science today.
Broadcast on Thursday 1 June at 4.30PM and 9.30PM on BBC Radio 4
Recent developments in Artificial Intelligence and robotics demonstrate that we are aiming towards creating something that is ‘human-like’ in various ways. What sort of experiences should these beings have? And what does the answer to that question tell us about ourselves? Anthropologist Dr Beth Singler is Research Associate on the Human Identity in an age of Nearly-Human Machines project at the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion. Chaired by Daniel Davis.
20 years ago, in May 1997, the world watched as Garry Kasparov, the greatest chess player in the world, was defeated for the first time by the IBM supercomputer Deep Blue. He talks to the Hay Festival President about a watershed moment in the history of technology: machine intelligence had arrived at the point where it could best human intellect.
It wasn’t a coincidence that Kasparov became the symbol of man’s fight against the machines. Chess has long been the fulcrum in development of machine intelligence; the hoax automaton ‘The Turk’ in the 18th century and Alan Turing’s first chess program in 1952 were two early examples of the quest for machines to think like humans a talent we measured by their ability to beat their creators at chess. As the pre-eminent chessmaster of the ’80s and ’90s, it was Kasparov’s blessing and his curse to play against each generation’s strongest computer champions, contributing to their development and advancing the field.
Like all passionate competitors, Kasparov has taken his defeat and learned from it. He has devoted much energy to devising ways in which humans can partner with machines in order to produce results better than either can achieve alone. During the 20 years since playing Deep Blue, he has played both with and against machines, learning a great deal about our vital relationship with our most remarkable creations. Ultimately, he has become convinced that by embracing the competition between human and machine intelligence, we can spend less time worrying about being replaced and more thinking of new challenges to conquer.
Kasparov tells his side of the story of Deep Blue for the first time – what it was like to strategize against an implacable, untiring opponent – the mistakes he made and the reasons the odds were against him. And he tells his story of AI more generally, and how he has evolved to embrace it, taking part in an urgent debate with philosophers worried about human values, programmers creating self-learning neural networks, and engineers of cutting-edge robotics.
His previous book was Winter is Coming: Why Vladimir Putin and the Enemies of the Free World Must Be Stopped.
A crucial guide for parents and teens to the big issues of adolescence: from physical development, sexuality and sociability to cyberbullying and sexting. Professor Winston is the author of The Human Body, Superhuman, Walking with Cavemen and The Human Mind.
A little bit of perspective now, as we catch up with what’s been happening in the universe over the past 12 months – including the discovery of a new system in February ringed with seven Earth-like planets that suggest, more hopefully than ever before, the possibility of the prospect of life. Lord Rees is the Astronomer Royal and Emeritus Professor of Cosmology and Astrophysics at the University of Cambridge.
Taylor presents the newest research into the cause and cure of the life-changing neurodegenerative diseases, Alzheimer’s and dementia. She focuses on insights arising from the relatively new field of neuro-immunology: the increasing recognition of the important role of the immune system in the brain. Chaired by Rosie Boycott.
Magdalena Zernicka-Goetz is a Professor of Mammalian Development and Stem Cell Biology. Her passion lies in understanding how cells decide their fate for the very first time and how embryos build their architecture. This passion allowed her and her team to reveal the remarkable self-organising properties of human embryos, pioneering the way for future studies of human and mouse embryogenesis. She created a technique that almost doubles the time scientists can culture human embryos in the lab so they can study the beginnings of human life. It raises ethical issues about research on embryos and when an embryo becomes a human. Chaired by Dan Davis.
A spectacular tour, from the solar system to the most distant objects that have been observed reveals the vastness of the Universe, which began with an explosion 13.7 billion years ago. Hamuy shows that the Universe is tremendously dynamic and in permanent evolution. The astronomer is from Chile, a country that has become the Earth’s window into space. He was part of the team that detected the acceleration of the universe and the existence of a new dark energy component in the 1990s. Chaired by Martin Rees.
How do satnavs find the quickest route from one town to another? What’s the most efficient way to visit the best pubs in the UK? Is it true that all living things in the world are six or fewer degrees of separation away from each other? The Cardiff mathematician shows, pictorially, how the many problems in everyday life can be modelled as networks: from the colouring of maps to the way Facebook makes friend recommendations.
Modern science has begun to understand sea birds: their epic voyages, their astonishing abilities to navigate for tens of thousands of miles on a featureless sea, their ability to smell their way towards fish and home. Only the poets in the past would have thought of seabirds as creatures riding the ripples and currents of the planet, though that is what the scientists are witnessing now, too. But a global tragedy is unfolding. The number of seabirds is in freefall: a 70% decline, a billion fewer now than there were in 1950.
Krauss takes us on a tour of science and the brilliant personalities who shaped it, often against political and religious indoctrination, enduring persecution and ostracism. He explains our current understanding of nature and the struggle to construct, and then to understand the greatest theoretical edifice ever assembled: the Standard Model of Particle Physics. Krauss is the author of the classic A Universe From Nothing and The Physics of Star Trek.
Once considered separate and independent, it is now clear that the there is an intimate, two-way connection between the two most complex body systems: the immune system and the brain. So our behaviour can affect inflammation in the body, and immune cells can alter our behaviour. Reverend Alasdair Coles, Professor of Neuroimmunology examines the implications. Chaired by Daniel Davis.
The Fourth Revolution: How the Infosphere Is Reshaping Human Reality
As the boundaries between life online and offline break down, we become seamlessly connected to each other and surrounded by smart, responsive objects. We are all becoming integrated into an ‘infosphere’. Personas we adopt on social media, for example, feed into our real lives so that we begin to live in ‘onlife’. Following those led by Copernicus, Darwin and Freud, this metaphysical shift represents nothing less than a fourth revolution. Floridi is Professor of Philosophy and Ethics of Information at the University of Oxford. Chaired by Timandra Harkness.