Can computers be creative? This seems like a contradiction. Computers are very good at mechanical tasks, churning through large data, processing, calculating… And recently we’ve become used to computers doing more intelligent things. Computers have become an essential part of our lives, for example the smartphone which is ubiquitous in modern-day life. We constantly use computers to help us find out information online, guide us from A to B when we’re lost, document things we are doing at work, and so on. But isn’t a computer just a machine whereas creativity is a uniquely human concept that needs something more than mechanical ‘mindless’ processing? Actually, one area of artificial intelligence research looks at exactly the question of how a computer can be creative. In computational creativity, we study how and if computers can be creative. The goal is to model, simulate or replicate creativity computationally. In this talk, Dr Anna Jordanous from the University of Kent looks at what this all means, why we would want to study computers being creative, and what we can learn from this work.
This talk supports discussion about such issues by introducing a two-dimensional framework for categorising personal data on the web, based on who holds the data and what type of data it is. Particularly when the data holder is a "community" such as a social network (e.g.Facebook), it turns out that the level of control people have is highly variable between the categories.
Professor Louis Passfield, Head of the School of Sport and Exercise Sciences at the University of Kent, and lead scientist with the highly successful British Cycling team that prepared for the Barcelona, Atlanta and Beijing Olympic Games, discusses his research in endurance performance and the training of elite cyclists.
Professor Martin Warren, BBSRC Professorial Fellow and Professor of Biochemistry and Head of School at the University of Kent, discusses the use of advanced forensic techniques to uncover the truth of King George III’s madness. Did the King suffer with a rare inherited and incurable blood disorder called porphyria? Why did it affect him at a relatively late age, why was it so severe, and could it have been passed onto his descendants?
Creating more or better empathy is now framed as an affective ‘solution’ to a wide range of social ills and as a central component of building cross-cultural and transnational social justice. Yet empathy - understood in shorthand as the affective ability to ‘put oneself in the other’s shoes’ - can easily become a kind of end-point. Precisely because it is so widely and unquestioningly viewed as ‘good,’ its naming can represent a conceptual stoppage in conversation or analysis. Thus, the most pressing questions tend less to be ‘what is empathy?’, ‘what does it do?’, ‘what are its risks?’, and ‘what happens after empathy’, but rather the more automatic refrain of ‘how can we cultivate it?’ It is also evident that, although a number of commentators in the global North insist that empathy can play an important role in mediating relations between different social and cultural groups and across national and geo-political boundaries, relatively scant attention has been paid specifically to the transnational politics of empathy. As such, we have little insight into how empathy emerges and flows through global circuits of power, and the complex ways in which it transforms and translates as it travels between diverse contexts. In the face of these dynamics, my work has grappled with two central questions: firstly, how can we think more critically about the contemporary political workings of empathy? and secondly, how might we understand the complex links between empathy and transnational relations of power?
The famous Christmas Truce of 1914 now looms large in public perceptions of the First World War. As a moment of fraternization and reconciliation between enemies, it is portrayed as an event which shows the full futility of the Great War. However, the reality was much more complex. In this lecture, Professor Mark Connelly from the University of Kent revisits this amazing event to explore Christmas 1914 in more detail and question what it tells us about the wider history of the conflict.