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Faraday Institute Newsletter No. 124 - June 2016

June 2016 Newsletter No. 124
FARADAY SHORT COURSE
16 -18 September, Cambridge

 
Can machines express emotions? What would happen if robots replaced human beings? What is the future of artificial intelligence? Where do science fiction and reality overlap? Come and explore these and other questions about artificial intelligence and robotics at the next Faraday weekend Course:
 
Reality, Robots and Religion: Human Identity in an Age of Machines
16-18 September 2016, Robinson College, Cambridge.

 
Speakers include: Prof. Lord Martin Rees, Prof. Susan Eastman, Prof. John Wyatt, Dr Michael Burdett.
For more details and to book see the Faraday Website: Reality, Robots and Religion
 Update from our Research Projects
Guest Blog Beth Singler

“Human Identity in an Age of Nearly-Human Machines”

Our research project considers the issues that emerge from recent developments in robotics and artificial intelligence. In particular, we are considering how technological advances and the ways in which humans interact with intelligent machines are changing our understanding of what it means to be human.
 
Or… think of it this way: recently a very clever piece of deep learning software was fed a few hundred science fiction scripts and a given some prompts that led it to produce an entirely new science fiction short film script (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LY7x2Ihqjmc). Watching it, you may think that Hollywood shouldn’t be concerned about the replacement of hundreds hard working and expensive writers by one very smart computer program.
 
Our project is more interested in what this experiment tells us about human-machine interactions, the nature of human creativity, and the automation of human endeavour. First, humans invented this technology – someone thought that this approach to writing might just work! Second, human creativity cannot yet be entirely replicated (this film wouldn’t convince anyone that it was written by a human). Third, it may not be possible to automate some human skills and doomsday predictions (or hopes) about the end of human endeavour might be premature.
 
If you are interested in considering these ideas or want to keep up to date with our project, please come to our short course in September (http://www.faraday.st-edmunds.cam.ac.uk/Short_course.php?CourseID=72),  or ‘like’ the Facebook page for the project: https://www.facebook.com/FaradayAI or follow us on twitter at @Faraday_AI.
Upcoming Courses

September 
16-18 September 
Short Course 36
Reality, Robots and Religion 
(Robinson College, Cambridge)

Deadline for applications: August 1, 2016
Deadline for Bursary applications: June 27, 2016


November 
12 November 
Day Course (Norwich) 
Exploring Science and Religion
Research Seminar Series 
 
A variety of subjects were covered during our spring seminar series, with speakers from all corners of the United Kingdom and beyond. The series began with Prof. Doug Kindschi (visiting scholar at St Edmund’s College from Grand Valley State University for this term) asking “Is there a place at the Science-Religion Table for Mathematics?”  
Dr Shaun Henson from Oxford spoke on “God and the Order of Nature: Unity and Plurality” and  
Dr David Glass from Ulster University gave a lecture on “Science, God and Ockham’s Razor: Can Science Explain God Away?” to over 80 people

 All our seminars are available to watch on our multimedia section of the website

The series concluded with a seminar that was organized jointly with the Divinity Faculty and was held on a Wednesday afternoon. Prof. Alan Torrance from St Andrews University spoke on “Is it appropriate to Endorse Methodological Naturalism from a Christian Epistemic base?”; a paper that he had prepared with his son Andrew. There was a lively Q&A discussion that continued over tea and biscuits and we look forward to future collaborations with the Divinity Faculty.

The Autumn seminar series will commence on 11th October. 
Held at 1.00 p.m. in the Garden Room, Library Building, St. Edmund’s College. A free light buffet lunch and drinks are served from 12.30 p.m. onwards. All are welcome
 
Faraday 'out and about' in June and July

June
20 June Keith Fox will give a talk on Has science killed God?” as part of the King Edward VI School Science and Technology festival in Southampton.
20 June marks the 50th anniversary of the death of Georges Lemaître, ‘Father of the Big Bang theory’, Rodney Holder has been interviewed by John Farrell at Forbes for this will be available on our website once published.
21 June Hilary Marlow will be part of an international cross disciplinary team  of scientists, faith leaders and theologians who are calling for greater cooperation between science and religion in addressing environmental challenges. The International seminar on interfaith dialogue and the environment will take place at the Shrine of Torreciudad, Spain and will conclude with a declaration at a press conference in Madrid.
29 June Beth Singler will be the key-note speaker at the Generation Google School conference. She will talk on “Digital Identity” to 200 young delegates, hosted by The Grey Coat Hospital School, London.

July
11-12 July Beth Singler will give a sample lecture on “AI and Religion” for the faculty of Divinity School visit week.
19 July Hilary Marlow has been invited to give a paper entitlted “Greening Texts: Ecological Hermeneutics in Inter-disciplinary Perspective” as part of the ecological hermeneutics stream of the  European Association of Biblical Studies conference in Belgium.
22 July Beth Singler will give a sample lecture on “AI and Religion” for the University of Cambridge Experience for State School Students.
27-30 July Beth Singler, Caroline Tee and Amy Unsworth will all be presenting papers at the Ian Ramsey Centre Conference A Postsecular Age? New Narratives of Religion, Science, and Society”
May/June Update

6th Zing Bionanomaterials conference On 8 to 11 May Dorothée Petit travelled to Varna, Bulgaria to present on low dimensional nanostructures.

Christian Resources Exhibition International 2016 Eleanor Puttock represented The Faraday Institute at this annual 4 day exhibition, which was held at the ExCeL between 17-20 May. Over 8000 visitors and 277 exhibitors interacted, presented a wide range of resources and engaged in exciting conversations relating to Christianity. The ever-popular seminar series included two Faraday speakers, Lizzie Coyle and Ruth Bancewicz, and conversations relating to their seminars continued long after the talks had finished. The stand offered a variety of Faraday resources and a ‘specialist’ travelled daily from the Institute to sit and talk through the ‘theme of the day’ or other questions with the visitors. Fantastic conversations were had covering genetics, evolution and the bible, God in natural disasters, biology and belief and much more. In addition we were lucky enough to have two interviews on CRE TVLizzie Coyle had a conversation with Creation Ministries and Roger Abbott spoke about his work on natural disasters. Click on the links above to watch the videos.

Several of the Faraday team were proud to be present for the collaborative launch of the new Lausanne Library title "Creation Care  and the Gospel" in the city of London on 6 June.  The book was edited by our own Colin Bell and Bob White and is available on our website.

Prof. White & Prof. Greenberg published “Religious faith as a motivation in using geosciences to develop a sustainable future” in the Geological Society of America Special Papers 520, 23-34. A limited number of free electronic reprints are available on a first come first served basis - please go to http://bit.ly/1rrYk3E

Research Associate Dr Amy Unsworth has recently returned to The Faraday Institute after spending three months as a Visiting Scholar at Rice University in Houston, where she worked with renowned sociologist Dr Elaine Ecklund. More updates about her trip and project will be available in a guest blog in September.

Beth Singler and Denis Alexander attended the invitation only Rustat Conference “Artificial Intelligence – the Future Impact of Machine Intelligence” on the 2 June at Jesus College, Cambridge. 

We were delighted to have  a student from from Kings Ely School spend a week with us as part of their Work Experience Week. She experienced many different aspects about working in a research institute and while she was here she produced a podcast interview about what it is like to attend courses and seminars at the Faraday Institute and the impact of our work. It was a delight to have her here with us in the office. Her podcast will be released soon. Watch this space!
The 4th International Congress on Evolution Under Scrutiny was held at Acibadem University in Istanbul. Denis Alexander gave a talk entitled ‘Is There Purpose in Biology’ This Congress started four years ago with an emphasis on Creationism and Intelligent Design. Since that time, largely though the encouragement and support of Muslim scholars, all the speakers except one at this Congress were theistic evolutionists. While Denis was there, he was filmed by the Istanbul Anglican Church, speaking on science and faith. 

The photo shows Alper Bilgili, a Faraday Course alumnus presenting a gift to Denis Alexander following his lecture. 
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