Prof. Jon Timmis @ The Edinburgh International Science Festival: Can robots evolve?

A video conversation between Jon Timmis and Alan Winfield – can robots evolve?

Edinburgh International Science Festival

Introduced by Prof. Alan Winfield (UWE)

Sunday 12 April at 8pm in the Main Hall at Summerhall, Edinburgh

As robots increasingly are becoming more embedded within everyday life, they are also cooperating and adapting to each other, similar to the ‘swarming’ behaviour seen in ants, birds and fish. Professor Jon Timmis, Director of the York Robotics Laboratory and Co-Director of York Computational Immunology Lab at the University of York will explain how biology is now influencing robotics research in a wide variety of ways. Through understanding biological systems, it is possible to unlock a number of key concepts to understand how robots will be designed and operate in future. Bio-inspired design looks to nature, for example, how insects or birds can navigate with minimal input and yet perform complex interactions or how the immune system repairs itself or how evolution comes up with innovative solutions to very complex problems. Prof Timmis will discuss how such bio-inspired robotics provide significant implications for a range of human activities in the home, in transport, medicine, industry and defense and will consist of a number of interactive demonstrations.

Jon Timmis

Jon Timmis
Professor of Intelligent and Adaptive Systems, in the Department of Electronics, University of York. His work cuts across many disciplines, including engineering, computing and immunology. He works in the area of computer modelling of the immune system to understand how the body responds to disease and the development of swarm robotic systems where there are many robots working together to solve certain problems. He has a degree in Computer Science, and a PhD in Artificial Intelligence and is currently a Royal Society-Wolfson Research Merit Award Holder and a Royal Academy of Engineering Enterprise Fellow and has recently set up a company to sell computer software for understanding the effects of therapeutic drugs on disease. He is committed to the public engagement of science and engineering and frequently talks at schools and public events.

Alan Winfield
Engineer and academic at UWE Bristol, where he conducts research in mobile robotics within the Bristol Robotics Lab. He is deeply interested in mobile robots for two reasons: (1), they are complex and potentially useful machines that embody just about every design challenge and discipline there is and (2), robots allow us to address some deep questions about life, emergence, culture and intelligence in a radically new way, that is by building models. Thus, robotics is for me both engineering and experimental philosophy. He’s committed to the widest possible dissemination of research and ideas in science, engineering and technology and he believes that robots provide us with a wonderful vehicle for public engagement. Actually he would go a stage further and argue that intelligent robots will become ubiquitous in the near future and we therefore need to start a dialogue now about the ethical and moral questions that will arise.

In association with:
Edinburgh Napier University