At the end of September, I was able to visit New Scientist Live – one of the biggest science events in the UK, aimed at enthusiasts of all ages. Being a regular reader of their weekly magazine, I was instantly excited about going in person. The list of talks on the website (here) blew my mind: from Artificial Intelligence by a research scientist at Google DeepMind (read more here) to DIY DNA; there were over 100 specialist speakers to be inspired by in just four days, covering almost all aspects of science and emerging technologies.
As soon as I walked in, I was astounded by the vast, open space, packed full with crowds engaged in activities: Virtual Reality; games – including Peak, from which I won a year’s premium subscription for the mobile app; university stands and shops; competitions; and many more crazy distractions. It was a struggle to see and learn about everything that was there!
I was lucky enough to see a VIP talk by Dara Ó Briain on the creativity of computers. Naturally, this talk was humorous, but it did give me some insight into what researchers are trying to achieve. Within the next decade or so, our digital devices that we use today might be able to draw a picture of us in a unique style that it has been developing, or write a poem that expresses its mood and emotions, or compose a jazz melody to play in our next gig. Perhaps next year’s top-rated film will be written and directly completely by an algorithm. Who knows?
This year’s New Scientist Live was the very first. There were technical issues – such as microphone problems and faults with the slides – but overall it was fantastic. Every talk shared incredible research that surprised me how ingenious they were, yet so simple. I cannot wait to find out what will be on show next year!