Why are UFOs still blurry? A conversation with David Brin

Why are UFOs still blurry? A conversation with David Brin

The UFOs are back In recent years there has been a surge in reported sightings of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs). There are perhaps more now than at any time since the 1950s. But there are also many millions more cameras active on the earth than there were in the 1950s, and the cameras are far better, so why are the UFOs still blurry? One man who has some answers is the scientist and science fiction author David Brin, whose books have won the Hugo, Locus, Campbell, and Nebula Awards. He is a writer of 'hard science fiction', meaning that his...
IBM and the grand challenges of AI and quantum computing

IBM and the grand challenges of AI and quantum computing

AI is firmly back in the news OpenAI's ChatGPT and picture generating AI systems like MidJourney and Stable Diffusion have got a lot more people interested in advanced AI and talking about it. Which is a good thing. It will not be pretty if the transformative changes that will happen in the next two or three decades take most of us by surprise. One company that has been pioneering advanced AI for longer than most is IBM. One of IBM’s most senior executives, Alessandro Curioni, joined the London Futurists Podcast to discuss IBM’s current projects in AI, quantum computing, and...
The Fermi Paradox: Where is everyone? With Anders Sandberg

The Fermi Paradox: Where is everyone? With Anders Sandberg

The paradox In the summer of 1950, the physicist Enrico Fermi and some colleagues at the Los Alamos Lab in New Mexico were walking to lunch, and casually discussing flying saucers - as you do - when Fermi blurted out “But where is everybody?” He was not the first to pose the question, and the precise phrasing is disputed, but the mystery he was referring to remains compelling. We appear to live in a vast universe, with billions of galaxies, each with billions of stars, mostly surrounded by planets, including many like Earth. The universe appears to be 13.7 billion...
Forecasts for AI in 2023

Forecasts for AI in 2023

Big Bangs This year was the tenth anniversary of the Big Bang in AI, when Geoff Hinton and some colleagues introduced deep learning, a relaunch of neural networks. Deep learning enabled the Big Tech firms in the US and China to build products and services which generated enormous amounts of money – the first time that AI was lucrative. This year was also the fifth anniversary of a second big bang in AI – the advent of Transformer models, like GPT-3 and Dall-E. These are AI systems which achieve remarkable results by predicting what token (a piece of text or...
Saudi Arabia is becoming a leading AI nation – without most people noticing

Saudi Arabia is becoming a leading AI nation – without most people noticing

Vision 2030 Vision 2030 is Saudi Arabia’s radical and ambitious plan to transform its economy, and the lives of its people. Its leaders have identified artificial intelligence as a vital tool to enable this transformation, so they have set themselves the goal of becoming one of the world’s top ten developers of AI systems within a decade. They are making remarkable progress with both AI and the overall transformation, but at least in the West, this is going largely unnoticed. For reasons we will explore in a moment, the global AI summit held in Riyadh this week received little coverage...