31st October 2010

October 31, 2010

Other Worlds

October 28, 2010

Alex Davies has asked me to post this on my blog as a reminder, so here it is…

Upcoming events: Tor UK and Alt.Fiction present

Other Worlds, Nov 6th: http://www.derbyquad.co.uk/other-worlds

And here’s my schedule:

11am-12pm SF Workshop with Tony Ballantyne (Meeting Room)
1pm-1:45pm Opening Panel: Other Worlds – The Landscape of Science-Fiction and Fantasy with Peter F Hamilton, Adrian Tchaikovsky, Mark Charan Newton and Tony Ballantyne (Cinema 2)
1:45-2pm BREAK
2pm-2:45pm SF discussion with Peter F Hamilton and Tony Ballantyne (Cinema 2)
2pm-2:45pm Fantasy discussion with Mark Charan Newton and Adrian Tchaikovsky (The Box)
2:45pm-3pm BREAK
3pm-4pm Signing with Peter F Hamilton, Mark Charan Newton, Adrian Tchaikovsky and Tony Ballantyne (The Box)

Hope to see you there!

Rise of the Machines

October 21, 2010

I’ve never spoken at an event before where they were turning people away at the door… however, I strongly suspect that this enthusiasm was more down to a wish to see Dr Kerstin Dautenhahn‘s robots than anything to do with me.

What an interesting event, too.  Organised by Sci-Fi London, and taking place in the Royal Society, the evening began with Dr Dautenhahn giving a twenty minute talk about her own research.  Afterwards, Tom Hunter led a discussion contrasting real world and science fictional robots.  Dr Dautenhahn was keen to stress that robots were neither he nor she but quite definitely it.  Whatever human traits people saw in a robots were those they brought themselves.  Contrast this with the general Science Fictional robot which is a human clad in metal.  There are exceptions, of course.  Asimov made great play of blurring the distinction, and, as Tom Hunter kindly pointed out, I did the same in my own short story “Teaching the War Robot to Dance”.

But back to the real robots…

One of the stars of the show was KASPAR, designed to study human robot interaction. (I had an interesting discussion with a roboticist before the event about the importance of studying how people approach each other.  If robots are to be accepted, they can’t simply zoom up behind people)  KASPAR has been used to work with children with autism: apparently, the children can find it easier to interact with than real people.  The plans for KASPAR are available for anyone to view, you can build a copy for around £1000.  I’ve put some pictures of the other robots on my Facebook page.

Oh, and did you know that one of the staircases in the Royal Society was designed by Albert Speer?  Honestly.  Nazis, autism, robots and Tom Hunter.  You don’t get this breadth of coverage on other blogs.