From 3D-printed food to ‘sentient’ chatbots – five highlights of Big Ideas Live | Scientific and technical news
From Britain’s role in the space race and the future of warfare, to 3D-printed burgers and robots delivering pretzels, Big Ideas Live certainly ran the gamut when it came to how the science and technology affect our world.
Visitors had the opportunity to try out some of the innovations they can welcome home, including online shopping in the metaversewhile flagship panels dove deep into big tech, social media and more.
One such panel produced a revelation about Facebook’s History in the Fight Against Election Interference Contentwhile The future of Twitter under Elon Musk was a recurring theme.
We don’t blame you if you couldn’t keep up – here are five highlights you may have missed.
Great ideas live as they happen
Ex-Google engineer insists chatbot AI is sensitive
Former Google engineer Blake Lemoine spoke to Sky News data and forensics correspondent Tom Cheshire to work with artificial intelligence, after his dismissal this year for claiming his new chatbot was sentient.
He used his appearance on the show to double down on his claim, saying it gave him “the most sophisticated conversation about sensibility I’ve ever had.”
“He understood what he was, what his relationship was to the rest of the world, that he was not human and that he had very sophisticated ideas and opinions that I had never encountered before on these topics,” he added.
We are testing the new Google chatbot
3D printing gives you food – and fashion
One of the technological innovations presented was 3D printed meat – yes, really.
Edwin Bark, senior vice president of Redefine Meat, explained that the process could “reproduce the very complex structure of meat” in a way that most plant-based options do not.
Elements such as fat, blood and muscle can be taken into account, allowing the creation of different “cuts” of meat.
And if that wasn’t enough, 3D printing has also been touted as a way to improve fashion.
Ofer Libo of Stratasys explained how a process called polyjets produces smooth, precise pieces that can be added to fabric, giving designers a “whole new set of tools to work with”.
“It allows you to create very elaborate designs in terms of geometry, light and texture,” he added.
More highlights from our live blog:
Mirror, mirror, on the wall… how are my squats?
Look for! The robots serve chocolate pretzels!
UK’s first rocket launch is fast approaching
It’s been a big week for space – Historic launch of Artemis 1 by NASA took place in the early hours of Wednesday, and just a little later the UK gave Spaceport Cornwall the green light to host rocket launches.
Cosmic Girl, a reworked Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747, will take off from the port near Newquay, and drop a rocket capable of carrying satellites into orbit.
Melissa Thorpe, the head of Spaceport Cornwall, told Sky News science correspondent Thomas Moore that years of work was finally “coming to fruition”.
“We’re really proud of what this is going to do for the UK,” she said – with the launch due this month.
Can the UK become a scientific superpower?
Work that jumps off the wall
One of the most eye-catching exhibits was a painting with a difference by artist Tim Fowler.
Visitors were invited to scan a nearby QR code, which opened a snippet of the Adobe Aero augmented reality app on your phone – promising to display its piece in 3D via a recreation of Mohamad Aaqib.
Once you scan your surroundings with your phone’s camera, the art appears, now in 3D and on your device’s screen and scaled to the surroundings – meaning anyone who can take this beautiful work of art home as a souvenir.
“We are far from killer robots”
Technology can be as scary as it is exciting, and science fiction has certainly done the perception of AI a disservice over the years.
But Nigel Inkster, a former director of operations at MI6, has reassuringly asserted that we won’t have to worry about Terminator-style “killer robots” anytime soon.
Catch up on the panels:
Social media moderation
Can “clusters” unlock future technologies?
Speaking more broadly on the deployment of cyber capabilities in modern warfare, Mr Inkster said the conflict in Ukraine was proof that 20th century tactics remained the most effective.
“Russia decided that instead of destroying infrastructure by cybernetic means, it was easier to destroy it physically,” noted the former spy chief.
As for the Ukrainian troops, they “defeated a much larger and at first glance better prepared force thanks to the skills of individual commanders on the ground”.