Progressive Ethics Project – Launched!

The Project for a Progressive Ethics is now a thing. At least, it’s a Meetup, we’ve had an exciting first meeting, and we have a supportive home.

The prospect we have in mind is this. A well-respected, public place (OK a website), which you can use as a sounding board for ethical considerations of any sort – from a personal dilemma, to something in the news, to a debate in the pub, to a Phd thesis. A place where you will find a richly interconnected network of ethical propositions, easy to navigate, designed so that you can easily home in on the issues that concern you, or zoom out to get a wider view – where you can ask simple, quick questions and get simple, straightforward answers – but where you can also dive deep and wide to explore things to your satisfaction. Somewhere you can engage with – where, if you get an answer you think is wrong, or misguided, you can understand where that answer came from, and challenge it – knowing that there is a community of humans who will respond – that the underlying wish of the framework is to be deeply congruent with a reasoned, progressive viewpoint.

simpleNetwork

I had no idea what to expect from the first public discussion of this possibly insanely over-ambitious project. As I’ve written before, this is something I didn’t plan to start, which somehow came upon me, from a short forum comment after a London Futurists event.

I had no way of knowing what the people who would actually turn up might be expecting, or whether there would be much overlap between a group of strangers’ views on ethics. Truthfully, it could easily have been something of a trainwreck…

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New Scientist Artificial Intelligence day – Session Two; Embodiment Perspectives – Pentti Haikonen

PenttiHaikonenPentti Haikonen is adjunct professor in the philosophy department at the University of Illinois at Springfield. An electronics engineer by training, he has constructed the experimental robot XCR-1, designed to exhibit conscious-like behaviour, and has written several books on approaches to developing conscious robots.

Despite his strong Finnish accent, the fourth presentation of this event by Pentti Haikonen achieved easily the most engaged response from the audience during the day with videos of his XCR-1 robot.

xczr-1a

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New Scientist Artificial Intelligence day – Session One; the Mainstream – Irina Higgins

irinahiggins

Irina Higgins is a senior research scientist at DeepMind, and has a background in neuroscience.

The second presentation at this event largely focused on telling a story about DeepMind’s development of AlphaGo – using this as a vehicle to explain DeepMind’s approach and give insights into its culture.

She told us that DeepMind now has 300 scientists, and was keen to emphasise the high-minded aspirations of the organisation – from its mission statement;

Solve intelligence. Use it to make the world a better place.

to its ‘intentionally designed culture’, which aims to mesh the best aspects of industry and academia; the intense focus and resources of the former with the curiosity driven open-ended approach of the latter.

DeepMind’s operating definition of general intelligence is apparently; Continue reading “New Scientist Artificial Intelligence day – Session One; the Mainstream – Irina Higgins”

Wearable data business models re-imagined

I’ve been thinking about this, off-and-on, over the last few weeks, ever since I had a conversation with a chap hoping to build up a large database of Type 2 diabetes related stats, analysis of which would allow his firm to develop a tool to help sufferers self-manage their own care.

In the context of our own interest in getting hold of large amounts of data from wearable devices with movement information related to exercises, I began to think about the differences, wondering what they might suggest.

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Startup Productivity Tools event 28th Nov

This event was put on by Tech Meetups, an international setup with events all over the world – the first of theirs I’ve attended.

I was unfortunately late, so I missed the presentation from HootSuite, who aim to allow management of multiple social media campaigns. My loss.

PRESENTATIONS

ProdPad: As I arrived, Janna Bastow was presenting a tour through the set of tools offered by ProdPad, the startup she founded with her partner, and which they have successfully bootstrapped. ProdPad offers a suite of services clustered around the earlier stages of product development for teams – starting with ideas, offering tools for capture and management, for gathering comment and feedback on them, all recorded and transparent to all stakeholders – specific permissions can be given to users outside the organisation.

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Co-Founder Speed Dating & Pitching #4

Another thought provoking evening out.

Two in-depth presentations, followed by a dizzying parade of 30 second pitches. Event details here.

Mobify

First presentation up was from one of the founders of Canadian tech outfit Mobify, Peter McLachlan. I didn’t know them, but it seems they have provided tools and support for many major brands to translate their web offering to mobile formats. We were treated to a compressed history of the outfit, a classic tech startup of three Computer Science graduates having some insight and then plugging away making clever things happen one after another – by their own admission, many of them blind alleys.

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London OpenCoffee 31Oct’13

A straightforward social / networking event  in the cafe of UCL’s Roberts Engineering Building. I’d been warned that this can be a hit/miss event with small turnouts, but today’s was great for me. I would guess there were 15 or so people, most of whom I didn’t get around to speaking to, so no complaints from me.

I ended up having a good chat with a guy called Kishan who wasn’t intentionally attending – just happened to be working on his laptop in the corner where we congregated. Turned out he works with the UCL Advances team, which supports startups from UCL staff and students, but also works with external entrepreneurs.

He showed me a UX application he was working on that allows sample users to work naturally, in their own time, rather than coming in to an artificial ‘lab’ setting. They use the camera on a smart device or laptop and record the user’s voice as well as recording all screen interactions. Back-end number crunching gives analytics.

As it happened, I had arranged to meet Liz from tanktop.tv there, and they are looking for some UX testing and stats, so things worked out rather neatly.

A lighter weight commitment than the evening events I’ve attended, but none the worse for that.

EVENT RATING: Good – go again.