The Conversation, on Data Sovereignty

Tim Berners-Lee’s plan to save the internet: give us back control of our data Pieter Verdegem, University of Westminster Releasing his creation for free 30 years ago, the inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, famously declared: “this is for everyone”. Today, his invention is used by billions – but it also hosts the […]

The Conversation, on Ransomware

Ransomware gangs are running riot – paying them off doesn’t help Jaruwan Jaiyangyuen/Shutterstock Jan Lemnitzer, Copenhagen Business School In the past five years, ransomware attacks have evolved from rare misfortunes into common and disruptive threats. Hijacking the IT systems of organisations and forcing them to pay a ransom in order to reclaim them, cybercriminals are […]

The Conversation, on robot personality

Will robots make good friends? Scientists are already starting to find out Gennady Danilkin/Shutterstock Tony Prescott, University of Sheffield In the 2012 film “Robot and Frank”, the protagonist, a retired cat burglar named Frank, is suffering the early symptoms of dementia. Concerned and guilty, his son buys him a “home robot” that can talk, do […]

The Conversation, on Toddlers and Tablets

Touchscreens may make toddlers more distractible – new three-year study riggleton/Shutterstock Ana Maria Portugal, Karolinska Institutet; Rachael Bedford, University of Bath, and Tim J. Smith, Birkbeck, University of London Working from home as a parent, a touchscreen device can be a marvellous tool. Pass one to your child, and they’ll be quietly occupied for your […]

The Conversation, on Machine Learning and Failure

Artificial intelligence must not be allowed to replace the imperfection of human empathy Arshin Adib-Moghaddam, SOAS, University of London At the heart of the development of AI appears to be a search for perfection. And it could be just as dangerous to humanity as the one that came from philosophical and pseudoscientific ideas of the […]

The Conversation, on Robot Evolution

We’re teaching robots to evolve autonomously – so they can adapt to life alone on distant planets  In the future, robots we’ve programmed may evolve and multiply on distant planets. SquareMotion/Shutterstock Emma Hart, Edinburgh Napier University It’s been suggested that an advance party of robots will be needed if humans are ever to settle on […]

The Conversation, on Open Source hardware

Making hardware ‘open source’ can help us fight future pandemics – here’s how we get there elenabsl/Shutterstock Richard Bowman, University of Bath and Julian Stirling, University of Bath In factories and industrial estates across the world, exceptional efforts are being made to ensure hospitals have ventilators, and logistics firms have freezers and refrigerators. Behind the […]

The Conversation, on Robot Communication

An army of sewer robots could keep our pipes clean, but they’ll need to learn to communicate Pipebots will inspect the walls for cracks. Human Studio, Author provided Viktor Doychinov, University of Leeds Hidden from sight, under the UK’s roads, buildings and parks, lies about one million kilometres of pipes. Maintaining and repairing these pipes […]

The Conversation, on Artificial Intelligence and Space Exploration

Five ways artificial intelligence can help space exploration Various types of astronaut assistant are in development. Michal Bednarek/shutterstock.com Deep Bandivadekar, University of Strathclyde and Audrey Berquand, University of Strathclyde Artificial intelligence has been making waves in recent years, enabling us to solve problems faster than traditional computing could ever allow. Recently, for example, Google’s artificial […]

The Conversation, on Fearing Robots

Robots were dreamt up 100 years ago – why haven’t our fears about them changed since? Pavel Chagochkin/Shutterstock.com Michael Szollosy, University of Sheffield This is a story you will have heard before. A genius but completely mad scientist – with the backing of a ruthlessly greedy corporation – creates a sentient robot. The scientist’s intentions […]