16 October 2018

AI and Robotics Conference

I went down to London for the AI and Robotics/CXTech double conference on Friday as a guest of the organisers having been a speaker at least year's conference.

The event opened with three good big picture talks on the wider AI scene, from Daniel Hulme (Satalia), Dr Chris Brauer (Goldsmiths) and Calum Chace (author of the Surviving AI and The Economic Singularity). All recognised the difference between machine learning type implementations of AI and the bigger SF/AGI version of AI. A few key points:

  • Very few people had heard of Ray Kurzweil!
  • Calum thought that achieving AGI would immediately lead to the singularity - can't say I'm so sure
  • Calum had a nice graphic (from NPR) that showed the change in the most dominant US occupation by state, and how just from 1978 to 2014 it had basically shifted from farm wroker to truck driver - and so what might the impact of autonomous trucks be!
  • Calum has created The Economic Singularity Club with a book of “Stories from 2045” coming out shortly.

The other presentations were interesting, but nobody showing anything earth shattering. If anything it was interesting how little customer AI type chatbots had evolved over the last decade.

Not a bad day though, and some good chats over coffee, and the chance to try out a telepresence VR rig (very nausea inducing!)

One thing I didn't realise from Amazon though was that in their warehouses it is the shelves that move, not the people!

9 October 2018

World Space Day at The Hive

(photo - Worcester News)

David and Nash took Fieldscapes along to the World Space Day event being held at the Hive in Worcester on the 6th October. This is now the largest free space event in the UK, with over 40 stands covering everything from the Institute of Physics and local Astronomical Societies to Matt Irvin's wonderful TV space and SF models (including the original K9) and bits of Britain's only space rocket - the Blue Arrow.

Jupiter from Io

For the event we created two space experiences - standing on Phobos and seeing Mars, and standing on Io and seeing Jupiter. We chose these as we though the sheer size of each planet hanging above you would give a real "wow" moment, and the two moons have a very different look and feel.

A visitor exploring Phobos with a good view of Mars

We weren't disappointed in the reaction. As people turned and saw the planets (particularly Mars which fills about 1/3rd - 1/2th of your vision) there were audible gasps. Indeed one young user instantly flinched, looked away and refused to look behind her again! Another young VR-naut kept playing peek-a-boo with his parents and loved the fact that with the headset on he was on his own out in outer-space, but when he lifted the headset off his parents were standing right in front of him.

We were in constant demand from opening time til after closing time, and often has a queue of 2 or 3 families waiting. We also had several people come back for multiple goes and to take the time to walk around each moon's surface a bit more.

All in all a great day to educate people about VR and give parents the chance to think about what this might mean for education and training and their jobs.

The star attraction for many people of a certain age!

We'll post the environments up onto Fieldscapes so that anyone can give them a try.

1 October 2018

British Quebec Business Council AI Conference at McGill University, Montreal

Daden MD David Burden headed off to Montreal last week to present at the British Quebec Business Council's AI Conference at McGill University, Montreal. David spoke both on the current approach to AI Governance in the UK and about Daden's work on virtual tutors, mentors and persona's, and trying to help the audience to understand the different ways that people are using the term "AI" in the first place!

There were some great presentations from McGill academics on various AI projects there (mostly machine learning) and also from companies using AI in everything from medical image processing (machine learning) to financial auditing (machine learning). Also a particularly thought provoking presentation on AI and the built environment from Francesca Birks, Lead Foresight at Arup.

David was also invited to speak to a group of training professionals in Montreal about our work on Trainingscapes and in immersive 3D and VR,  meet with an official at the British Consulate and take in a couple of business meetings, so all in all a busy week!

Nice wall art of Leonard Cohen on the side of a Montreal tower block!