I have attended three conferences during this project, one at Huddersfield, "Transitions2 - New Materials" and two at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence in Cambridge, "Varieties of Mind" and "Creativity in Art, Science and Mind".
These have all provided a chance to experience other types and areas of research and methodologies, discuss work and make contacts in a very stimulating environment. Please click on pictures to link through to the conference websites.
Transitions2 provided an opportunity to hear about innovations in textiles technological processes specifically with ecological and environmental issues in mind. It was a conference that was really integrated industry representatives with academics, demonstrating how research then moved different companies policy and technologies forward.
I particularly noted how the focus of many papers was towards examining how environmental concerns and finding solutions to those, making the consumers experience with a company more fulfilling and valuable rather than pursuing short term profit driven models. The ability of technology to enhance humans well-being is an aim often assumed but to date not actually always fulfilled.
As part of the conference, we were able to present the research posters of our team projects for term 2. My team had investigated the possibilities of creating digital garment toiles in VR, using physical draping techniques - eliminating fabric waste and allowing digital patterns to be downloaded immediately. The feedback was very positive and allowed me to think further about the development of my major projects integration of digital and physical.
Varieties of Mind 5-8 June 2018 Cambridge focused on how the study of Artificial Intelligence could be improved by examining other branches of cognitive science, looking at different theories of mind and how they may or may not be unified in the future. It included the inaugural Margaret Boden Lecture, given by Margaret Boden herself, which was particularly exciting for me as her work on creativity and cognition has been a key text on my Major Project.
Professor Boden explored the importance of caring as a human trait of consciousness, stressing that that human goals are related to human needs and without those physical and emotional needs an AI system cannot have real goals. She is of the opinion that human/AI collaboration is in fact impossible, which I shall explore in one of my final written works.
Other Speakers presented their work on hive-minds, animal sentience, swarm engineering in insects and robots, the notion of embodied learning, suggested frameworks for tests of consciousness, the differences between specific and general intelligences and many other fascinating topics.
There was lots of friendly debate and conversation between presentations and I found it particularly useful to see how different speakers structured their lectures, noticing a recurring set of terms and terminology specific to the philosophical study of scientific matters, which I had not been previously aware of but am finding very useful to explain specific concepts relating to my own work.
Creativity in Art, Science and Mind 26-27th July 2018, Cambridge
This conference was also organised by the Leverhume Center for Future Intelligence, and focused on the part Creativity plays in the lives of humans, animals and also potentially Artificial Intelligence. Questions were posed about the nature of creativity, ways of analysing and quantifying creativity in various forms were suggested.
Very interesting papers on group creativity and forms of collaboration were given by Berys Gaut and Claire Anscomb, also discussed was why creativity has been important historically and why it will continue to be of fundamental importance in the future as the world becomes more automated.
I had met a few delegates at the previous conference so it was very interesting to listen to presentations of work we had briefly discussed before. I was once more convinced by the importance of looking at technological developments with a philosophical and artistic filter as well as a scientific one.