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.
The mathematician discovers how the ancient Babylonians used their bodies to count to 60 (which gave us 60 minutes in the hour), how the number zero was only discovered in the seventh century by Indian mathematicians contemplating the void, why in China going into the red meant your numbers had gone negative, and why numbers might be our best language for communicating with alien life. But for millennia, contemplating infinity has sent even the greatest minds into a spin. Then at the end of the 19th century mathematicians discovered a way to think about infinity that revealed it is a number that we can count. They also found that there are an infinite number of infinities, some bigger than others…
The statistician and data scientist offers an up-close and user-friendly look at artificial intelligence: what it is, how it works, where it came from and how to harness its power for a better world. A revolution of intelligent machines, from self-driving cars to smart digital assistants, is now remaking our world, just as the Industrial Revolution remade the world of the 19th century. Doctors use AI to diagnose and treat cancer. Banks use it to detect fraud. Power companies use it to save energy. AI is changing our lives at lightning speed. Many of these changes offer great promise, including freedom from drudgery, safer workplaces, better health care and fewer language barriers. But others elicit worry - whether about jobs, data privacy, political manipulation or the prospect of machines making biased decisions with no accountability. Scott shows how intelligent machines operating on massive data sets are changing the world around you, and how you can use this knowledge to make better decisions in your own life. Chaired by Hannah MacInnes.
Mathematics underlies everything – from how our universe holds itself together to how our cities run – and it sits at the forefront of discovery across topics such as AI, genetics and quantum mechanics. How do we make mathematics fun and inspire young people to want to pursue the world of numbers as a career? Join us at a special Spark Salon at Hay Festival for a very special alternative maths lesson. Pilcher is a science writer, maths champion and author of Bring Back the King: the New Science of De-Extinction. Steckles is a member of Matt Parker’s Think Maths team and an award-winning science communicator.