York Festival of Ideas will offer a glimpse of the future with robots, driverless cars and talks on the latest developments in the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Taking place on Sunday 9 June at the University of York, the Festival Focus Day, Artificial Intelligence: Looking to the future, features a day of talks from experts as well as hands-on interactive activities. The free event includes a chance to watch cars being parked without anyone at the wheel, and to chat to robots and have a go at programming them.

Expert speakers will explore whether AI will improve healthcare, the future of driverless cars, and whether we should be worried about technologies emerging from the ‘Fourth Industrial revolution’.

The Festival Focus Day is presented in partnership with the Assuring Autonomy International Programme (AAIP), which is supported by the Lloyd’s Register Foundation and the University of York.

Professor John McDermid, who leads the Assuring Autonomy International Programme, said: “From electronic personal assistants to smart thermostats that learn our behaviour, AI is already here. The technology is developing rapidly and AI and autonomous systems will come to change every part of our lives.

“This day of talks and interactive activities is a chance to look at the huge potential of robotics and autonomous systems. It’s also an opportunity to take stock and discuss the challenges of assuring their safety as we move forward into the future.”

Talks throughout the day require a free ticket, but a hands-on exhibition, which is suitable for all ages, is drop-in.

Speakers at the event include Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Wooldridge of the University of Oxford; Praminda Caleb-Solly of the University of the West of England; Claire Jepson of Sheffield Health and Social Care NHS Foundation Trust; Helen Weatherly of the University of York; Kirsty Lloyd-Jukes of Latent Logic; and Dave Baldwin of Thatcham Research.

Established and coordinated by the University of York, York Festival of Ideas runs from 4 June to 16 June and will present over 200 mostly free events under the banner of A World of Wonder.  Featuring world-class speakers, exhibitions, theatre, music, films, guided walks, family-friendly activities and more, the programme offers something for all ages and interests.

Other Festival Focus Days will explore complex issues including poverty, toleration and how to deliver a fair economy for all. Audiences will also have the chance to join in with discussions about the value of higher education to society and the relationship between creativity and science. How cultural identity in France and Britain is expressed by food, fashion and feminism will also be discussed.

Last year’s York Festival of Ideas attracted an audience of over 40,000 and was the winner of the Outstanding Cultural Festival (Large) at the York Culture Awards. It scooped the award for Best Cultural Event or Festival the previous year.

This year’s Festival begins on 4 June with an evening launch event in partnership with York Minster hosted by distinguished journalist Anne McElvoy.  She will introduce Astronomer Royal and bestselling author Martin Rees; award-winning journalist and author Misha Glenny and former Beirut hostage, humanitarian and author Terry Waite.

On the day of the launch, BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme will also be broadcast from the University of York in front of a live audience.

Find out more about York Festival of Ideas and book tickets at yorkfestivalofideas.com.

Notes to editors:

  • Throughout the Festival, a number of free Focus Days are dedicated to events on a certain theme. People can come along for one event or stay for the whole day. 
  • The Festival Focus Day Artificial Intelligence: Looking to the future is presented in partnership with the Assuring Autonomy International Programme (AAIP), a £12 million initiative funded by Lloyd’s Register Foundation and the University of York to spearhead research, training and standards in the safety of robotics and autonomous systems (RAS). Its vision is to further enable the widespread and beneficial uptake of RAS by overcoming the obstacles to achieving regulatory and public acceptance.

Media Information: Caron Lett 01904 322064
28 May 2019