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The Ethics of Caring Technologies

Dr Blay Whitby

When?
Wednesday, September 17 2014 at 8:00PM

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Where?

14-17 Manchester St
Brighton
East Sussex
BN2 1TF

Who?
Dr Blay Whitby

What's the talk about?

 **This event will be at our new venue, the Latest Music Bar**

The widespread use of robots in intimate and caring roles will bring about important social changes. Dr Blay Whitby thinks we need to examine these changes now and consider them from an ethical standpoint.
 
Robotic carers and artificial companions are a technology that is likely to be available in the near to mid-­‐term future. In Japan and South Korea robots are seen as potential carers for the elderly and as babysitters. Many researchers are looking to make their products display emotion and respond to emotional displays by users. At least one writer has predicted marriage to robots will be accepted in progressive countries by 2050. This chapter examines some the implications of these -­‐ both technical and social. Do they represent socially and ethically acceptable developments? What is likely to be technically feasible and just what should we allow?
 
Dr Blay Whitby is philosopher and ethicist concerned with the social impact of new and emerging technologies. He is a leading researcher in the field and the author of many books, chapters and papers on the subject including “On Computable Morality”, “Reflections on Artificial Intelligence: The Legal, Moral and Ethical Dimensions and “Artificial Intelligence, A Beginner’s Guide”. 
 
Dr Whitby is a member of the Ethics Committee of BCS The Chartered Institute of IT and ethical advisor to the Royal Academy of Engineering. He is a regular speaker on widening public engagement in science and has participated in several science/art collaborations.
 
We will ask attendees for a donation of £2 on the night to cover expenses or you can book in advance here 
 
 

Richard Robinson

When?
Tuesday, July 8 2014 at 8:00PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Richard Robinson

What's the talk about?

Richard directs the Brighton Science Festival, and has been running a project for eight years to explore the conflicting impulses of the workplace. We already know about some of them. They have been passed to us by our near relation, the ape:  we are competitive, aggressive, critical. But is that all? Is there no room for gentler impulses of friendship, sharing or caring? The answer is yes: meet your inner ant - respectful, cooperative and empathetic.  It is the ant's instincts which have created our life - the technology and inventions, the cities, morality, culture and language. We are a mixture of both ape and ant, but normally only the ape is allowed to have a voice. That is why we get stressed. Richard hypothesises that it is likely that techniques such as "mindfulness" help us to access the gentler ant within. 

Richard's latest book, My Manager and Other Animals explores the deeply rooted instincts that we share with other animals. So as well as your inner ant, you may like to take a tour of your inner Portuguese man'o war, your inner assassin bug or even your inner brussels sprout.  Animals are more like us than we ever thought, and we are more like animals than we would ever like to think. We can learn a lot from them.

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Michael Marshall

When?
Tuesday, June 10 2014 at 8:00PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Michael Marshall

What's the talk about?

**We're back at the Caroline of Brunswick this month!** 

It’s easy to think of pseudoscience existing in a glass case at a museum – something to be examined and critiqued from a safe distance, but not something to touch and to play with. Using examples taken from his own personal experiences in skepticism, Michael Marshall will show what happens when you begin to crack the surface of the pseudosciences that surround us – revealing the surprising, sometimes-shocking and often-comic adventures that lie beneath.

Michael Marshall is the Vice President of the Merseyside Skeptics Society and Project Director of the Good Thinking Society. He regularly speaks with proponents of pseudoscience for the Be Reasonable podcast. His work with the MSS has seen him organising international homeopathy protests and co-founding the popular QED conference. He has written for the Guardian, The Times and New Scientist.

Here's his latest piece for the Guardian

Tickets available here or £2 on the door

The science behind it and the culture of developing it

Shell Grayson

When?
Tuesday, May 13 2014 at 8:00PM

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Where?

36 Trafalgar St, Brighton, East Sussex, BN1 4ED

Who?
Shell Grayson

What's the talk about?

**For this event we will be switching to THE LORD NELSON!** 

In a busy life, eating and drinking can seem to be time consuming tasks. In our quest for culinary convenience, we have developed a range of foods that appeal to as many people as possible, and satisfy our more basic instincts; the result is food that is bland, salty, fatty and/or sweet. 

We should respect what we put in our mouths. Discriminate between tastes, challenge our taste buds and explore new sensations. Part of this is understanding what our taste mechanisms are, from the tip of the tongue to the way we process tastes in the brain. What is the relationship between smell and taste? And what roles do memory and emotion play in whether we determine if we 'like' a taste or not?

Shell Grayson is the senior editor of supplements for Nature Publishing Group and a real ale connoisseur.

£2 on the door

Professor Anil Seth

When?
Tuesday, April 8 2014 at 8:00PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Professor Anil Seth

What's the talk about?

Consciousness is at once the most familiar and the most mysterious features of our existence. It fades every night when we fall into a dreamless sleep, and returns again when we wake up or dream. Without consciousness there would be no world and no self; there would be nothing at all. 

Over the last decade or two, a new science of consciousness has begun to reveal its biological basis. This new science will not only help us better understand our place in nature, but will also provide important new opportunities for the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of neurological and psychiatric disorders. For these reasons, understanding the biology of consciousness is widely recognized as a key scientific challenge for the 21st century. 

In this talk Professor Anil Seth will give a whistle-stop tour of the frontiers of consciousness science, focusing on eight ‘key’ questions driving current research, both in his lab and in the wider world.

Anil Seth is Professor of Cognitive and Computational Neuroscience and Co-Director of the Sackler Centre for Consciousness Science at Sussex University

www.anilseth.com 

www.anilkseth.wordpress.com 

www.sussex.ac.uk/sackler

@anilkseth

£2 on the door Tickets available online here: http://www.wegottickets.com/event/265751

Topical discussion for skeptics

TBA

When?
Tuesday, March 11 2014 at 8:00PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
TBA

What's the talk about?

 After a busy February with two excellent Brighton SitP events, we'll be doing something a little different in March.

Instead of hosting a solitary speaker, we will have a panel of 4 people who will field questions from the audience. It'll be pretty fast-moving and with an additional twist in that there will be opportunities for audience members to take a seat on the panel too. 

Any subject will be fair game, from local politics to the meaning of life so if there's something you'd like to contribute just come along.

Free entry for this one! Panellists to be confirmed shortly.

Special Brighton Science Fest Event

Michael Brooks

When?
Tuesday, February 25 2014 at 8:00PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Michael Brooks

What's the talk about?

 The atom. The Big Bang. DNA. Natural selection. All ideas that have revolutionised science – and that were dismissed out of hand when they first appeared.

The surprises haven’t stopped: there's a whole new wave of unexpected insights that are shaping the future of scientific discovery. There are the cosmological observations that might rewrite our history of the universe, novel biological ideas behind our will to live, the possibility that humans are quantum beings, that women and men need entirely different medicines, that the cosmos is a computer (with us as the programmers), that time is an illusion and that merging humans with other species is a good idea.

In this talk, Michael Brooks will explore all these ideas and more - which may all turn out to be wrong. That's the problem with science: you're always working at the edge of uncertainty and you never know when someone's going to push you off...

£2 on the door - tickets http://www.wegottickets.com/event/256662

Bad stats or an egalitarian bible?

Chris Snowdon

When?
Tuesday, February 11 2014 at 8:00PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Chris Snowdon

What's the talk about?

 One of the themes of the 2014 Brighton Science Festival is "fairness". As discussions about fairness in society grow longer, the probabilty of someone citing 2009's "The Spirit Level" approaches 1. 

Christopher Snowdon, author of "The Spirit Level Delusion"  will be challenging the theory asserted in the best-selling book "The Spirit Level" that 'more equal societies almost always do better'. (Here's the wikipedia entry for "The Spirit Level" )

By fact-checking the book's statistics and reviewing the scientific literature, he will argue that there is no correlation between income inequality and a country's health, happiness and well-being. The hypothesis in "The Spirit Level" is, he says, based on selective evidence and flawed reasoning.

What do you think? Everyone is very welcome to come along and join the debate.

£2 on the door or £2.20 advance http://www.wegottickets.com/event/254978

 

Jonny Scaramanga

When?
Tuesday, January 14 2014 at 8:00PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Jonny Scaramanga

What's the talk about?

 Jonny Scaramanga was raised as a Christian fundamentalist and attended a strict evangelical school in Bath in the 1990s. He appeared on BBC2's As Seen on TV and Video Nation multiple times in this time to discuss his faith. He has since discovered that everything he thought was true was wrong. He writes about his experiences at the popularLeaving Fundamentalism blog.

In his talk, Jonny will give an insight to what life is like in an Accelerated Christian Education school. There are sixty of these fundamentalist institutions in the UK, which teach Young Earth Creationism as fact. The Bible is taught as an infallible authority, and alternative viewpoints are not discussed or even considered.

Tickets £2 on the door - advance tickets £2.20 http://www.wegottickets.com/event/254977

Mark Henderson

When?
Tuesday, November 12 2013 at 8:00PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Mark Henderson

What's the talk about?

There are 650 MPs in the House of Commons. 158 have a background in business, 90 have been political advisers or organisers, and 86 are lawyers. Only one of them is a scientist. Is it any wonder that politics so often lets science down, and fails to exploit its skeptical methods to design policies that are fit for purpose?

In the Geek Manifesto, published by Bantam Press in May 2012, Mark Henderson explores this disconnect between science and politics, and charts the emergence of a new force that is promising to mend it. From the Simon Singh libel case to the sacking of David Nutt and the Science is Vital campaign, people who care about science are starting to stand up to be counted. The geeks are coming -- and our country needs us.

Tickets are available here

How to avoid bad thinking in the hi-fi world

Ben Hardwidge

When?
Tuesday, August 13 2013 at 8:00PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Ben Hardwidge

What's the talk about?

Join tech journalist and hi-fi enthusiast Ben Hardwidge as he tackles some of the pervasive myths about digital and analogue audio and video. Does vinyl really sound better than CD, and how do we define 'better'? Does oxygen-free cabling really improve sound quality, and what's the difference between a £5 cable and a £400 one? The answers are more complicated than you might imagine.

In this talk, Ben aims to go beyond the usual talk of ones and zeros, and provide a grounding in exactly how analogue and digital audio works, from the RIAA curve to the Nyquist–Shannon sampling theorem, as well as exploring the evidence for what humans can actually hear, and the need for fair testing. Forget the vague talk about open sound, warm notes and vibrant tones, this is where we focus on the hard evidence.

Ben Hardwidge is the editor of Custom PC magazine, and former reviews editor of PC Pro magazine. He's reviewed many sound cards and audio production PCs, and has also been a hi-fi enthusiast and record collector for 20 years. 

Tickets for this event are available from the venue's website.

An adventure through the history and art of the tarot

Dr Joely Black

When?
Tuesday, July 9 2013 at 8:00PM

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Where?

39 Ditchling Road
Brighton
BN1 4SB

Who?
Dr Joely Black

What's the talk about?

Dr Joely Black brings us a fascinating history of the game of tarot, how it spread through Europe from the east and how it was transformed into an oracle. She’ll also discuss the art behind the tarot, how the narrative of the Trumps evolved, and the fake history developed in the 19th century to make the tarot sexier and less mundane. As well as this, she'll cover how ordering of the cards have changed over time, how many popular franchises have used the tarot in marketing, and the reasons for the differences between tarot in Latin and Anglophone countries.

Joely Black has a PhD in Geography from Lancaster University. She writes fantasy books and short stories, enjoys archery and Dungeons and Dragons and once trained as a ninja. She says ‘I have more weapons in my living room than most people would consider strictly healthy.’  She once spent a year adventuring in the world of new age philosophy, and even has a Reiki II qualification. She set up Greater Manchester Skeptic Society’s book club, SkepLit, in 2011, and has been running it since then.

Her personal/writing website is http://joelyblack.com and she also keeps a gaming diary at http://thecharmquark.wordpress.com. Her Twitter handle is@TheCharmQuark.

Tickets for this event are now available from the venue's website.