2017 Christmas Lectures – Part 1 (The Reality of Robots)

For the past few years I’ve posted up three lectures over the Christmas period that I think provide an interesting commentary on key issues of our time.  The tradition is inspired by the Royal Society Christmas lectures that began with Michael Faraday in 1825.

Last year the three lectures all looked at change and complexity to reflect the 4th industrial revolution and the complex world we live in today.

It’s been hard to get away from automation during 2017, and there has been sufficient hype surrounding the potential impact of it on jobs that the EUs Carlos Moedas accused the media of peddling fake news recently.

“If you do any research on artificial intelligence these days, the results are astonishingly pessimistic. Nine articles out of ten on AI are negative,” he said recently.  “Not just negative. Alarmist and panicked, sometimes even hysterical. For me, a techno-optimist, it’s shocking. And very disappointing,”

Rethink Robotic’s Rodney Brooks has been one of the more sober voices on the topic during the past year (and his article on the ‘7 deadly sins of AI predictions‘ is well worth a read), and so I’d like to begin with his discussion at TechCrunch Disrupt this summer.