HAY FESTIVAL 2018 PROGRAMME

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Technology

Event 8

Rachel Lowe and Gemma Modinos

The Royal Society Platform: The Next Big Things

Venue: Starlight Stage

From planetary exploration and micro-sensors to tropical disease and psychosis, two Royal Society Research Fellows discuss their work at the forefront of science. Lowe’s research at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine involves understanding how environmental and socio-economic factors interact to determine the risk of disease transmission. Modinos’ work at King’s College London attempts to understand the neural mechanisms of emotion and stress response in schizophrenia. Chaired by Hannah Critchlow.

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Event 17

Helena Sanson, Bill Byrne and Marcus Tomalin

Cambridge Series 1: Lost in Translation?

Venue: Starlight Stage

How does automatic translation work and will machines ever be able to replace a ‘human’ translator? A panel of experts from University of Cambridge discuss latest developments. Sanson is a Reader in Italian Language, Literature and Culture, Byrne is Professor of Information Engineering and Tomalin is Research Associate in the Speech Research Group of the University Engineering Department.

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Event 54

Ferdia Gallagher

Cambridge Series 5: The Future of MRI

Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage

Dr Gallagher from the Department of Radiology at the University of Cambridge discusses the basis of MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), how it is currently used to image cancer and what the future of oncological imaging may entail.

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Ferdia Gallagher

Event 65

Timandra Harkness, Harriet Kingaby, Peter Lacy, Rohit Talwar

Can Artificial Intelligence Be Ethical?

Venue: Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

AI is going to transform society over the next couple of decades, and we can’t wish it away. But can we ride the robot tiger and make it serve, rather than enslave, us? Can AI be a tool of liberation and sustainability, not just a scarily efficient way of making rich corporations richer, while robbing us of all our privacy? Do we need an ethical code for computers – a Hippocratic Oath for the algorithms? And if so, how do we go about creating one – and getting it adopted? Chaired by Writer and Green Futurist, Martin Wright.

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Event 83

Christopher J Preston

The Synthetic Age

Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage

Imagine a future in which humans fundamentally reshape the natural world using nanotechnology, synthetic biology, de-extinction and climate engineering. Emerging technologies promise to give us the power to take over some of nature’s most basic operations. It is not just that we are exiting the Holocene and entering the Anthropocene; it is that we are leaving behind the time in which planetary change is just the unintended consequence of unbridled industrialism. The philosophy professor argues that a world designed by engineers and technicians means the birth of the planet’s first Synthetic Age. Chaired by Gabrielle Walker.

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Christopher J Preston

Event 93

Philip Ball

Beyond Weird: Why Everything You Thought You Knew About Quantum Physics is Different

Venue: Oxfam Moot

“Anyone who is not shocked by quantum theory has not understood it.” Since Niels Bohr said this many years ago, quantum mechanics has only been getting more shocking. We now realise that it’s not really telling us that “weird” things happen out of sight, on the tiniest level, in the atomic world. Rather, we can now see that everything is quantum: our everyday world is simply what quantum becomes at the human scale. But if quantum mechanics is right, what seems obvious and right in our everyday world is built on foundations that don’t seems obvious or right – or even possible. The writer Philip Ball was formerly an editor at Nature.

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Philip Ball

Event 98

Trevor Cox talks to Adam Rutherford

Now You’re Talking: Human Conversation from the Neanderthals to Artificial Intelligence

Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage

If you’ve ever felt the shock of listening to a recording of your own voice, you realise how important your voice is to your personal identity. We judge others not just by their words but by the way they talk: their intonation, their pitch, their accent. The Professor of Acoustic Engineering explores the full range of our voice – how we speak and how we sing; how our vocal anatomy works; what happens when things go wrong and how technology enables us to imitate and manipulate the human voice.

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Event 130

Jamie Bartlett and Damian Tambini talk to Matt Stadlen

The Internet: This is for Everyone? Really?

Venue: Oxfam Moot

Tambini’s book Digital Dominance: The Power of Google, Amazon, Facebook and Apple shows how these corporations have accumulated power in ways that existing regulatory and intellectual frameworks struggle to comprehend. A consensus is emerging that the power of these new digital monopolies is unprecedented, and that it has important implications for journalism, politics and society. Bartlett’s The People vs. Tech: How the Internet Is Killing Democracy (And How We Save It) asks what does that mean for democracy, our delicately balanced system of government that was created long before big data, total information and artificial intelligence? The author of The Dark Net and Radicals argues that through our unquestioning embrace of big tech, the building blocks of democracy are slowly being removed. The middle class is being eroded, sovereign authority and civil society are weakened, and we citizens are losing our critical faculties, maybe even our free will. Chaired by Matt Stadlen of LBC.

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Jamie Bartlett and Damian Tambini talk to Matt Stadlen

Event 132

Gavin Francis

Shapeshifters: On Medicine and Human Change

Venue: Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

The writer and doctor considers the transformations in mind and body that continue across the arc of human life. Some of these changes we have little choice about. We can’t avoid puberty, the menopause or our hair turning grey. Others may be welcome milestones along our path – a much-wanted pregnancy, a cancer cured or a long-awaited transition to another gender. We may find ourselves turning down dark paths, towards the cruel distortions of anorexia, or the shifting sands of memory loss. New technologies and medicine have unprecedented power to alter our lives, but that power has limitations.

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Gavin Francis

Event 148

Nigel Shadbolt

The Digital Ape: How to Live (in Peace) With Smart Machines

Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage

The smart-machines revolution is re-shaping our lives and our societies. Shadbolt dispels terror, confusion and misconception. We are not about to be elbowed aside by a rebel army of super-intelligent robots of our own creation. We were using tools before we became homo sapiens, and will continue to control them. How we exercise that control – in our private lives, in employment, in politics – and make the best of the wonderful opportunities, will determine our collective future well-being. Shadbolt is one of the UK’s foremost computer scientists. He is a leading researcher in artificial intelligence, a Professor of Computer Science at the University of Oxford, and chairman of the Open Data Institute, which he co-founded with Tim Berners-Lee.

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Nigel Shadbolt

Event 166

Aardman’s Dan Binns and Ally Lewis talk to Andy Fryers

Trans.MISSION 2: Clean Air

Venue: Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

What happens when you bring together two people at the top of their game but from different spheres? Ally Lewis is an atmospheric chemist and works for the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the University of York. His main research focus is air pollution and how to detect chemicals in the atmosphere. Dan Binns is a Commercials director at Aardman, the multi-award-winning studio, creators of Wallace & Gromit. They have collaborated to create an original piece of work that will explore the issues around air pollution. Chaired by Andy Fryers

The Trans.MISSION project was created to bring science and culture together with the aim of communicating cutting-edge science to new audiences through new methods. 
More information about the Trans.MISSION project can be found here.

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Event 208

Ed Hawkins and Nicola Davies talk to Andy Fryers

Trans.MISSION 3: Extreme Weather Events

Venue: Cube

What happens when you bring together two people at the top of their game but from different spheres? Ed Hawkins is a climate scientist and works for the National Centre for Atmospheric Science (NCAS) and the University of Reading. Ed focuses on improving predictions of climate change and its impacts. Nicola Davies is the author of more than 50 books for children: fiction, non-fiction and poetry. They have collaborated to create an original piece of work that will explore the issues around extreme weather events.
The Trans.MISSION project was created to bring science and culture together with the aim of communicating cutting-edge science to new audiences through new methods.
More information about the Trans.MISSION project can be found here.

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Event 225

Elisa Passini

Computational Biology

Venue: Llwyfan Cymru – Wales Stage

A journey into the Virtual Heart, to understand how human-based computer models and simulations can be used to predict risk of cardiac side effects in patients taking drugs. This technology shows high accuracy and has the potential to play a major role in the reduction and replacement of animal testing in the early stages of drug development.

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Elisa Passini

Event 230

Ursula Martin

Ada Lovelace: The Making of a Computer Scientist

Venue: Baillie Gifford Stage

Ada, Countess of Lovelace, daughter of romantic poet Lord Byron and his highly educated wife, Anne Isabella, is sometimes called the world’s first computer programmer and has become an icon for women in technology. But how did a young woman in the 19th century, without access to formal school or university education, acquire the knowledge and expertise to become a pioneer of computer science? Ursula Martin is a professor at the University of Oxford whose research interests span mathematics, computer science and the humanities.

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Ursula Martin

Event 269

Rita Carter

The Brain in Minutes

Venue: Oxfam Moot

The distinguished science writer explains why the human brain became so clever; how it controls everything from breathing, sleeping and seeing to identity, imagination, pleasure and pain; and what will happen when the brain integrates with computers or the latest genetic discoveries.

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Rita Carter

Event 270

Horatio Morpurgo

The Paradoxal Compass: Drake’s Dilemma

Venue: Good Energy Stage

Morpurgo dramatises an episode in Francis Drake's circumnavigation during which the Golden Hind was stranded on a rock off Celebes, Indonesia. What altercation occurred between Drake and the ship's chaplain, Francis Fletcher, during those terrifying 20 hours? Morpurgo makes a compelling argument for what was really at the heart of that disagreement, and its present-day repercussions. He argues that the Tudor navigators and their stories may hold the key to how we should approach the current environmental crisis. Chaired by Daisy Leitch.

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Event 300

Mark Lynas talks to Andy Fryers

Seeds of Science – Why we got it so wrong on GMOs

Venue: Starlight Stage

Mark Lynas was one of the original GM field wreckers. Back in the 1990s – working undercover with his colleagues in the environmental movement – he would descend on trial sites of genetically modified crops at night and hack them to pieces. Two decades later, most people around the world – from New York to China – still think that GMO foods are bad for their health or likely to damage the environment. But Mark has changed his mind. He lifts the lid on the anti-GMO craze and shows how science was left by the wayside as a wave of public hysteria swept the world.

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Mark Lynas talks to Andy Fryers

Event 325

James Williams

Stand out of our Light: Freedom and Resistance in the Attention Economy

Venue: Good Energy Stage
The former Google advertising executive, now Oxford-trained philosopher James Williams, launches a plea to society and to the tech industry to help ensure that the technology we all carry with us every day does not distract us from pursuing our true goals in life. (At the time of going to press the Cambridge Analytica data mining scandal has been a top story for 72 hours.) As information becomes ever more plentiful, the resource that is becoming scarcer is our attention. Williams is the inaugural winner of the Nine Dots Prize, a new award for creative thinking that tackles contemporary social issues.
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Event 337

Hatice Gunes

Cambridge Series 16: Demsytifying the Social Robot

Venue: Starlight Stage

Sensationalist media coverage and sci-fi films often give a skewed impression of human-like and social robots, and this has left a major gap between the public perception of what they can do and their actual capabilities. The Senior Lecturer at University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory will give a more balanced view and outline how social robots can contribute to the public good.

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Hatice Gunes

Event 350

Rory Hyde and Tristram Hunt

The V&A Lecture 2: The Future Starts Here

Venue: Good Energy Stage

The new blockbuster show at the V&A begins to imagine where our society might be headed. Cute but intelligent robots, massive unmanned aircraft that deliver internet access, crowdfunded buildings, tools printed in space, mysterious black boxes that understand human genetic codes – how can these objects affect the way we live, learn and love? And how are they challenging our understanding of what it means to be an individual, a citizen, a crowd or a species? Hunt is the Director and Hyde is the Curator of Contemporary Architecture and Urbanism at the Victoria and Albert Museum.

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Rory Hyde and Tristram Hunt