The Night of ideas | Alive!

18:00 30-01-20 - 20:00 30-01-20

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Nuit des Idées - Night of ideas – Debate after dark

The Institut Français promotes French culture worldwide and works closely with the Alliance Française which promotes both the French language and the French art de vivre.

The French are well known, and lauded, for their willingness to debate and discuss ideas, often in more abstract terms than do we.

Launched by the IF in 2016 the NIGHT OF IDEAS is a project which runs simultaneously in Paris, London and worldwide and on the 30th January 2020 it’s coming to Jersey.

It has quickly become a major Franco-British event and previous participants have included Nicolas Hulot, Thomas Pesquet, Timothy Peake, Posy Simmonds, Ken Loach, Anthony Grayling or Maggie Aderin-Pocock.

For Jersey’s inaugural Nuit des Idées in 2020 the Alliance Française, in close collaboration with the Institute of Law Jersey, is organising a discussion and a debate. If, for example, you are a fan of Melvyn Bragg’s BBC Radio 4 series “In Our Time” this will be a treat for you, but also if you don’t follow that programme you will find much to enjoy.

Taking a British, French and wider European perspective the Nuit des Idées will engage audiences in discussion and debate the latest issues central to the challenge of being alive today.

What does it mean for a human being to be alive today? Some say artificial intelligence will bring our species to the brink of extinction … and then decide to dispense with it. Others look forward to building mankind anew. With the natural world seemingly under threat from all quarters and technology now all-powerful we need to discuss, openly and collectively, the frontiers of what it means to be human. We need to dare to question what has long been taken for granted and ask; where does the border lie separating humans from machines, where will it lie and where should it lie?

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Our panel of experts

Dr James Smithies

James Smithies is Director of King’s Digital Lab. He was previously Senior Lecturer in Digital Humanities and Associate Director of the UC CEISMIC Digital Archive at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. He has worked in the government and commercial IT sectors as a technical writer and editor, business analyst, and project manager. He is currently working on a monograph for Palgrave Macmillan titled Digital Humanities and the Digital Modern.

James is interested in applied and theoretical digital humanities, including big data analysis, minimal computing, digital archives, modelling and virtual worlds. He has subsidiary interests in critical and media theory, and postphenomenology. His historical work focuses on the history of ideas, technology (including but not limited to computing), and literature.

‘Life in New Times: Artificial Intelligence and Modernity’

Artificial Intelligence (AI) raises profound questions about the nature of human existence, and our relationship to technology and nature, but these are not new questions. Rather, they represent contemporary versions of questions asked since the dawn of modernity. Commentators since René Descartes (1596 - 1650) have viewed modernity as a loss as much as a gain: scientific naturalism offers the ability to reshape the material world in ways previously thought impossible but living in the “neuzeit” (‘new time’) brings disorientation and a sense of dizzying historical acceleration. AI has been positioned as a solution to that underlying experience of the world, a palliative to ease our discomfort with rapid technological change and socio-economic uncertainty, promising variously the next phase of capitalism, the end of work, or a fantastical union with machines. Recourse to notions of transhumanism and posthumanism help us assess the situation, creating fluid boundaries between humankind and the machines we use for work and play, but even advanced mathematics holds no concrete answers. In the final analysis our attitude depends on the time horizon we choose to frame our conversation: are we imagining a future 20 years, 40 years, 1000 years away? Claims for radical advances in human-machine interaction within decades should elicit deep scepticism; the possibilities over the next millennium match even the wildest modern imaginings.

Dr Austin Gibbs

Dr Austin Gibbs graduated from UCL with degrees in medicine and psychology and has worked in Emergency Medicine and on healthcare projects in a variety of settings across the world. Away from Medicine, he's spent time studying Law, living off the land in France, renovating a 120yr old house, before joining the Cardiology department in Jersey and forming The Allan Lab to develop a way of translating technology into meaningful and deliverable clinical practice. Unashamed nerd, passionate that advances in health technology can deliver better patient outcomes and experiences, yielding economic benefits.

AI in Health - Removing the bias retaining the humanity” Introduction to The Allan Lab. Where AI has power to enhance the humanity of medicine offering increased patient contact. Where AI has the power to harm by removing humanity from decision process and training using bad data leading to bad outcomes. Presenting what areas we’re examining AI -Predictive algorithms (ICU deterioration prediction), Diagnostic interpretations (stress echocardiogram/ ECG), Remote monitoring (IOT frailty).

François Chesnay

François Chesnay is a Jersey-based independent non-executive director, co-founder of an Artificial Intelligence consulting company, who is currently studying artificial intelligence at Stanford University. His research interests in Artificial Intelligence are education, financial crime detection, and intelligence processing. François has a degree in economics from Paris-Dauphine University, a Master of Science in accounting and finance from the London School of Economics, and an MBA from the University of Chicago-Booth. After beginning his career at the Bank of France as an economic researcher on financial and banking crises, he became a manager at KPMG specialising in financial engineering.

François worked for Ogier and Mourant/State Street in Jersey and also restructured an international industrial group in bankruptcy.

Introduction to AI: AI is not only machine learning Rise of AI and the previous winters of AI: are we living a hype? Successes of AI: an example of a famous research paper, which proved too good to be true Limitations of AI: data quality and unseen examples, explainable AI, bias, domain expertise, slow learning process requiring too many samples, energy costs of training models, ethical concerns Presentation of our work using AI to detect criminal activities using public companies registers.

Tom Fothergill

Tom Fothergill is a lawyer and senior policy adviser within Financial Services & Digital Economy at the Government of Jersey, where he focusses on fintech, financial crime strategy, digital asset regulation and transparency policy. Tom studied economics at the University of St Andrews before serving as an officer in the British Army and then qualifying as a corporate and regulatory lawyer. Next month he will be returning to private legal practice joining the Investment Funds and Corporate team at Walkers.

Tom is passionate about the role technology can play in augmenting the way we live, work and play. But while technologies such as AI hold great promise, the context in which they operate is one in which the essential nature of what it means to be human remains constant. While technologies, as they emerge, can bring a great deal of value, they can also create new challenges, limitations and risks which may balance the benefit they bring.

Tom will be reflecting on the legal, ethical and philosophical implications of AI and data analysis in financial and professional services. Are machines really going to take our jobs? Who is liable when AI screws up? Can AI be used to detect crime? If yes, what are the implications on justice and fairness? What does it mean to be a human in the workplace? Will AI lead to an ever-reducing workload for humans? Will computers ever be truly “intelligent” to the extent that they can replace the judgment of experienced professionals?

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