Science for the public good or a dystopian future where artificial intelligence goes on the rampage?

Ground-breaking research into human thought and a vision of rogue robots and replicants hungry for more life will collide at a major event in Howland Street this week as part of Fitzrovia Festival.

Front of wobbly building on Howland Street.

In Howland Street, no-one can hear you scream.

Georgina Ferry introduces Neural Architects, her behind-the-scenes account of a unique collaboration between a leading architectural practice, Ian Ritchie Architects Ltd, and a community of scientists seeking to understand how we think, feel, understand and remember. The outcome of this collaboration is the evening’s host building, the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre.

Stephen Oram launches his new collection, Eating Robots and Other Stories, featuring interconnected and dangerously discarded ‘things’, a punishment loop for unethical AIs and an errant robot. Many of the stories were inspired by his collaboration with scientists and artists, in particular a project with the Bristol Robotics Laboratory and social scientists at Kings College London.

While Ferry proposes a world of science for human good and advancement, Oram paints a dystopia vision where things at The Corporation go horribly wrong.

As Alan Winfield, Professor of Robot Ethics at Bristol Robotics Laboratory, said, “This collection offers an insightful, often worrying, set of thought experiments on the possible unintended consequences of near future AI.”

Christine Aicardi (Senior Research Fellow, King’s College London) will read her own short fiction, Tablet Stroker, and respond to stories from Eating Robots.
Danbee Kim (Researcher at the Sainsbury Wellcome Centre and Scientist-in-Residence at the Brighton Sea Life Centre) is collaborating with Stephen on a new story especially for the event.

Following the audience Q&A there will be plenty of time to chat over a glass of wine and get signed copies of Neural Architects and Eating Robots, and wonder how many replicants there are in the room.

Collaboration Works — a Fitzrovia Festival literature event: 6.30pm Thursday 22 June at Sainsbury Wellcome Centre, 25 Howland Street, London W1T 4JG. Admission free. Register here.

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