Lockdown Lectures

A series of lectures delivered from the homes of the Department of Computing staff during lockdown.

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Allow our academics to introduce to their worlds, with short lectures on everything from artificial intelligence to emojis. Take a look at the world through the lens of technology, no previous knowledge needed. 

Lockdown lectures for the academic year 2019/20 are now finished, you can watch them all again on YouTube using the links below. 

Previous Lectures

You can rewatch any of our previous live lectures via YouTube using the links below. 

Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence 

Dr Marco Gillies, Wednesday 6 May, 2pm

Virtual Reality is an amazing new medium for the 21st century. It makes it possible to immerse yourself in new worlds and do things you could never do in the real world. In this talk I will show how Artificial Intelligence technologies can be used to create even more immersive VR experiences by generating complex worlds, sensing the subtleties of our body movements, and, in particular, allowing us to interact with realistic, human-like characters. 

Why does pizza mean “I love you” - how do we use and mis-use emoji?

Dr Sarah Wiseman, Wednesday 13 May, 2pm

Emoji help to make our text conversations more colourful and can help up express things that would be difficult in words. But with a limited number of emoji, users often have to attribute secondary meanings to otherwise straight-forward emoji - take the peach emoji for example (if you don’t understand the reference, don’t worry we’ll cover it in the talk!). In this lecture, I’ll present the way that emoji have infiltrated our online communication, and will explore how we as users repurpose and adapt emoji to better suit our needs. At the end of the session, you might understand how Pizza can mean “I love you”.

The uncharted map of games 

Federico Fasce, Wednesday 20 May, 2pm

How are games constantly escaping definitions? Why should we define what a game is? Is it important in the everyday game design practice? And if so, how?

This lecture explores the nature of games as an uncharted territory with some insights on how understanding that nature is essential in order to establish your style as a game designer.

Creative Practice for Urban Sensing

Dr Helen Pritchard, Wednesday June 3, 2pm

From sensors used for air quality monitoring to collaborations with eels and algae to understand climate change, Helen will discuss participatory research work with Citizen Sense and how computational artist-designers are making amazing actual and speculative proposals for sustainable and creative cities.

Helen Pritchard is the head of Digital Arts Computing and a lecturer in Computational Art. Helen’s work brings together the fields of Computational Aesthetics, more-than-human geographies, and Trans*FeministTechnoScience to consider the impact of computational practices on environmental justice.

Helen is a member of Citizen Sense and The Institute for Technology in the Public Interest.  She is the co-editor of “Data Browser 06: Executing Practices”, published by Open Humanities Press (2018). 

Digital privacy: what is it and who needs it anyway?

Dr James Ohene-Djan, Wednesday 10 June, 2pm

The declaration of human rights act of 1948 was seen as a landmark statement on what our right to privacy and how it should be protected. Today it seems like an irrelevant and outdated declaration not fit for the online world within which we all live.

Our understanding of privacy online has changed radically in the last 20 years. Today we give away everything, where we live, what we are doing, what we say, and why we say it. Oh and we buy products and services to ensure that we give this privacy away to governments and companies with little effort.

This lecture looks at the nature of digital privacy and surveillance and what the ramifications of us giving it away so freely holds for the future.

Dr James Ohene-Djan is the Programme Lead Business Computing & Entrepreneurship. 

Quantum Computing: The Science Behind ‘Devs’

Dr Matty Hoban, Wednesday 24 June 2020, 2pm

Between Google’s remarkable experiments and the TV show ‘Devs’, quantum computing is moving into the public consciousness. However, quantum computing can still seem pretty inaccessible, mostly because the quantum world is itself quite abstract and riddled with conceptual challenges and paradoxes; indeed ‘Devs’ used these as material for its narrative. I will delve into some of the concepts behind quantum computing and describe how some of its oddities can be turned into technology. No background in maths, computer science or physics will be assumed.

The laboratory of theatre: what science can learn from live performance

Dr Jamie A Ward, Wednesday 1 July, 2pm 

Humans are social creatures; we function best in the company of others, when we work together, and when we play together. The Covid19-induced lockdown has considerably challenged our ability to function socially. Despite the advent of technology that lets us see and hear one another over a video link, something vital about the social connection is missing. But what exactly is this missing link? What is it about being in the same room as others that is so important to us? 

In this lecture I will talk about some of the research that my colleagues and I have been working on which tries to understand live social interactions; from the non-verbal signals we use during one-on-one conversation, to the bonds we form when gathered together as a group. As part of this work, I draw inspiration from  perhaps our oldest method for exploring social interaction: the theatre. 

Theatre is an environment where crucial moments from real life might be played out in a safe and repeatable way. In many ways, theatre provides the perfect environment for science to study social interaction and during this time when we are most in need of social connection, I will try to ask what we can learn from this to better prepare us for the times ahead.