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 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 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 Digital Currencies using BlockChain

Ethereum: what is it and why has the price gone parabolic? Welcome to web 3.0. Inked Pixels Paul J Ennis, University College Dublin and Donncha Kavanagh, University College Dublin The price of the world’s second largest cryptocurrency, ether, hit a new all-time high of US$1,440 (£1,050) on January 19. This breached a previous high set […]

The Conversation, on Managing Screen Time

Five ways to manage your screen time in a lockdown, according to tech experts shutterstock John McAlaney, Bournemouth University; Deniz Cemiloglu, Bournemouth University, and Raian Ali, Hamad Bin Khalifa University The average daily time spent online by adults increased by nearly an hour during the UK’s spring lockdown when compared to the previous year, according […]

The Conversation, on electricity generated from microbes

Four ways microbial fuel cells might revolutionise electricity production in the future Jackie Niam/Shutterstock Godfrey Kyazze, University of Westminster The world population is estimated to reach 9.5 billion by 2050. Given that most of our current energy is generated from fossil fuels, this creates significant challenges when it comes to providing enough sustainable electricity while […]