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March 2023 Meeting: AI Talk

Updated: May 21, 2023

The March meeting was an absolutely fascinating presentation and discussion around AI. Ruth was really worried about managing to talk coherently about this in an hour, given it's something she'd normally be running a 12 week course on, but she needed have worried, it was mind stretching and intriguing and I personally want to find out much more about it.

As ever, Celia has written us a masterful (mistressful?) meeting summary:

In the end the RMT probably did us all a favour by striking: it was a horrible wet night, Leila was down with a lurgy (get well soon!) and we got the chance to listen to our lovely new-ish member Dr Ruth Stalker-Firth talk to us about "The Ghost of AI".

A small but engaged number of members (Catherine even joined in on her way into work!) plus a visitor (Hi Trish) heard how Computers were originally the female workforce who supported male astronomers by doing the calculations necessary for their work. The film "Hidden Figures" gives us an insight into this world, and Ruth also introduced us to other women who had been forgotten once the PC was launched and marketed towards boys and men.

Deftly taking us through various concepts of artificial intelligence - and usually how it cost vast sums of money and then didn't actually work, or was very limited - Ruth explained how the fear of being overtaken by 'AI' reflects that society's (the US) fear of 'other', be that the Russians in the cold war or the Japanese in technology, and that actually despite what we read in the news, we shouldn't all fear for our jobs. (I will, however, continue to be very nice to any and all printers and photocopiers, as you just don't know....)

The talk lead to an interesting Q&A session lasting till nearly 10.30 and close down. We have recorded the talk (the first 70 minutes) and a large part of the Q&A for members, and here it is:

There's also an interesting article from the Guardian on the fundamental stupidity of AI here:

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