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The Conversation is an independent source of news and views, sourced from the academic and research community and delivered direct to the public.

The Conversation launched in Australia in March 2011. Since then it has grown to become one of Australia’s largest independent news and commentary sites. Now we’ve launched in the UK to bring our brand of trusted, evidence-based journalism to a new audience. The Conversation UK will be a distinct site, focused on issues of relevance to a local audience.

Our newsroom is based in London, but our team is part of a global newsroom able to share content across sites and around the world. The Conversation UK is owned by The Conversation Trust (UK) Limited and is a not for profit educational entity.



by   -   May 12, 2019

By Edmund Hunt, University of Bristol

From flocks of birds to fish schools in the sea, or towering termite mounds, many social groups in nature exist together to survive and thrive. This cooperative behaviour can be used by engineers as “bio-inspiration” to solve practical human problems, and by computer scientists studying swarm intelligence.

by   -   April 28, 2019

Two small figures guard the table holding the Buddha’s relics. Are they spearmen, or robots? British Museum, CC BY-NC-SA

By Adrienne Mayor

As early as Homer, more than 2,500 years ago, Greek mythology explored the idea of automatons and self-moving devices. By the third century B.C., engineers in Hellenistic Alexandria, in Egypt, were building real mechanical robots and machines. And such science fictions and historical technologies were not unique to Greco-Roman culture.

by   -   January 25, 2019

Developing countries must begin seriously considering how technological changes will impact labour trends. KC Jan/Shutterstock

By Asit K. Biswas, University of Glasgow and Kris Hartley, The Education University of Hong Kong

In the 21st century, governments cannot ignore how changes in technology will affect employment and political stability.

The automation of work – principally through robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of things (IoT), collectively known as the Fourth Industrial Revolution – will provide an unprecedented boost to productivity and profit. It will also threaten the stability of low- and mid-skilled jobs in many developing and middle-income countries.

by   -   January 7, 2019
Remote presence technology enables a medic to perform an ultrasound at the scene of accident.
(University of Saskatchewan), Author provided

Ivar Mendez, University of Saskatchewan

It is the middle of the winter and a six-month-old child is brought with acute respiratory distress to a nursing station in a remote community in the Canadian North.

by   -   December 9, 2018

Yoshua Bengio, Université de Montréal

I have been doing research on intelligence for 30 years. Like most of my colleagues, I did not get involved in the field with the aim of producing technological objects, but because I have an interest in the the abstract nature of the notion of intelligence. I wanted to understand intelligence. That’s what science is: Understanding.

by   -   November 10, 2018

Eleni Vasilaki, Professor of Computational Neuroscience, University of Sheffield

File 20180923 117383 1d2tv74.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1

Phonlamai Photo/Shutterstock

Should we be afraid of artificial intelligence? For me, this is a simple question with an even simpler, two letter answer: no. But not everyone agrees – many people, including the late physicist Stephen Hawking, have raised concerns that the rise of powerful AI systems could spell the end for humanity.

by   -   July 31, 2018

‘Seeing’ through robot eyes.
Shutterstock/TrifonenkoIvan

By Michael Milford, Queensland University of Technology and Jonathan Roberts, Queensland University of Technology

Vision is one of nature’s amazing creations that has been with us for hundreds of millions of years. It’s a key sense for humans, but one we often take for granted: that is, until we start losing it or we try and recreate it for a robot.

by   -   February 22, 2018


By Ian Haydon, University of Washington

Robotic movement can be awkward.

For us humans, a healthy brain handles all the minute details of bodily motion without demanding conscious attention. Not so for brainless robots – in fact, calculating robotic movement is its own scientific subfield.

My colleagues here at the University of Washington’s Institute for Protein Design have figured out how to apply an algorithm originally designed to help robots move to an entirely different problem: drug discovery. The algorithm has helped unlock a class of molecules known as peptide macrocycles, which have appealing pharmaceutical properties.

by   -   December 29, 2017

The Mount Agung volcano spews smoke, as seen from Karangasem, Bali. EPA-EFE/MADE NAGI

By Adam Fish

The eruption of the Agung volcano in Bali, Indonesia has been devastating, particularly for the 55,000 local people who have had to leave their homes and move into shelters. It has also played havoc with the flights in and out of the island, leaving people stranded while the experts try to work out what the volcano will do next.

by   -   December 19, 2017

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BB-8 is an “astromech droid” who first appeared in The Force Awakens.
Lucasfilm/IMDB

By Paul Salmon, University of the Sunshine Coast

Millions of fans all over the world eagerly anticipated this week’s release of Star Wars: The Last Jedi, the eighth in the series. At last we will get some answers to questions that have been vexing us since 2015’s The Force Awakens.

Throughout the franchise, the core characters have been accompanied by a number of much-loved robots, including C-3PO, R2-D2 and more recently, BB-8 and K2-SO. While often fulfilling the role of wise-cracking sidekicks, these and other robots also play an integral role in events.

by   -   November 24, 2017
Credit: Trinity College Dublin

By Conor McGinn, Trinity College Dublin

Not all robots will take over human jobs. My colleagues and I have just unveiled a prototype care robot that we hope could take on some of the more mundane work of looking after elderly and disabled people and those with conditions such as dementia. This would leave human carers free to focus on the more personal parts of the job. The robot could also do things humans don’t have time to do now, like keeping a constant check on whether someone is safe and well, while allowing them to keep their privacy.

by and   -   November 2, 2017
Citizen Sophia. Flickr/AI for GOOD Global Summit, CC BY

I was surprised to hear that a robot named Sophia was granted citizenship by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

File 20170830 24267 1w1z0fj

Future robots will work side by side with humans, just as they do today.
Credit: AP Photo/John Minchillo

by Thomas Kochan, MIT Sloan School of Management and Lee Dyer, Cornell University

The technologies driving artificial intelligence are expanding exponentially, leading many technology experts and futurists to predict machines will soon be doing many of the jobs that humans do today. Some even predict humans could lose control over their future.

By Jeff Morgan, Trinity College Dublin

Robots have been taking our jobs since the 1960s. So why are politicians and business leaders only now becoming so worried about robots causing mass unemployment?

By Christoph Salge, Marie Curie Global Fellow, University of Hertfordshire

How do you stop a robot from hurting people? Many existing robots, such as those assembling cars in factories, shut down immediately when a human comes near. But this quick fix wouldn’t work for something like a self-driving car that might have to move to avoid a collision, or a care robot that might need to catch an old person if they fall. With robots set to become our servants, companions and co-workers, we need to deal with the increasingly complex situations this will create and the ethical and safety questions this will raise.