TechFest and the University of Aberdeen to co-host live-stream of world famous Christmas lecture series

Professor Mike Wooldridge will explore the big questions facing AI research

SCIENCE lovers, and anyone who’s just curious about the world around them, will be able to experience first-hand the magic of the world’s longest-running science lecture series when TechFest, in partnership with the University of Aberdeen, hosts the live streaming of this year’s world-famous Royal Institution (Ri) Christmas lectures. 

Filmed in front of an audience at the Ri’s famous Farady Theatre, the livestreams will take place in the university’s Kings College Conference Centre on three dates – December 12, 14 and 16.  

This year’s lectures will explore the highly topical subject of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the most rapidly evolving field of science today.  

Delivered by Professor Mike Wooldridge, the lecture will explore how AI works, what we can expect in years to come and how it will affect our lives. 

Throughout the three lectures, he will explore the big questions facing AI research and unravel the myths about how this ground-breaking technology really works. How can a machine be taught to play a game or translate from one language to another? 

He will show how computer programmes inspired by the human brain can be taught and even teach themselves. And he will tell the story of how tools like the latest chatbots work and illustrate the mind-boggling scale of modern AI systems – that can be used in everything from gaming to moviemaking to designing drugs. 

Across the series, Mike will be joined by some major figures from the AI world, including scientists from the world’s leading AI companies. He will also introduce a range of robot friends, who will demonstrate what robots today can do – and what they can’t.  

The audience might also be in for some surprises when he also introduces them to some Deep Fake guests who are not quite what they seem. 

Suitable for ages 11 upwards, the lectures will be preceded by an exhibition which will showcase the work of researchers from the University of Aberdeen, who will display AI linked research. 

“We are very pleased to be partnering with the University of Aberdeen to present this prestigious and much-loved lecture series this year,” said Dr Yashka Smith, education manager at TechFest.  

“Exploring the science behind what shapes our world and where that will take us in the future is at the heart of what we do. This is an exciting way to share the knowledge and expertise of some of the leading names in the field of AI. 

“These lectures are recommended for audiences aged 11 and upwards, and by attending the livestreams, participants will have the opportunity to get involved in hands-on opportunities and to find out more about how AI research is developing in the North-east.” 

Professor Georgios Leontidis, Interdisciplinary Director for Data & AI at the University of Aberdeen, added: “As an AI researcher and academic, I am excited that the University is joining forces with TechFest for the Royal Institution Christmas lectures, that will help people better understand the benefits and risks of this fast-moving area of science. 

“Whether it’s identifying new applications for AI, developing cutting-edge technologies, or addressing ethical concerns, the University is at the leading edge of AI research and I am looking forward to our audience hearing more about our work. 

“I believe that AI has the potential to make a significant positive impact on society and I am excited to be a part of this event which promises to educate, inform, and entertain.” 

Running for almost 200 years, the Christmas lectures were started by Michael Faraday to inspire and engage young people with science, and millions of viewers are expected to tune in to BBC Four and iPlayer, joining participants from livestream partners across the country for this year’s series. 

Registration for the Christmas Lectures is via Eventbrite at the following links. The cost is £2 plus booking fee per lecture, which includes light refreshments. 

TechFest is an Aberdeen-based charity which aims to engage young people in the four main STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) and encourage them to go on to follow a career which utilises these skills by demonstrating that they are both fun and relevant in day-to-day life.  

For more information on TechFest, visit www.techfest.org.uk  

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