7.20pm to 8.45pm, Friday 30 November
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Would you trust an algorithm to send someone to jail? Or to diagnose someone with cancer? How about an algorithm that analysed your friendships to calculate if you were reliable enough to take out a loan? These aren’t hypothetical questions about our distant future. We’re already living in the age of the algorithm. A world where machines rule supreme – making the important decisions in healthcare, transport, finance and security. They’re telling us what to watch, where to go even who to send to prison. So how much should we rely on them to know what’s best? And can we trust them over our own judgement? In this talk, Hannah Fry will take you on a tour of the good, the bad and the downright ugly of the algorithms that surround us. She will lift the lid on their inner workings, demonstrate their power, expose their limitations, and examine whether they really are an improvement on the humans they are replacing.
Please note there was an error in our printed What's on guide, incorrectly stating the date of this event as Monday 26 November.
Hannah Fry is an Associate Professor in the mathematics of cities from University College London. In her day job she uses mathematical models to study patterns in human behaviour, and has worked with governments, police forces, health analysts and supermarkets. Her TED talks have amassed millions of views and she has fronted television documentaries for the BBC and PBS; she also hosts the long-running science podcast, ‘The Curious Cases of Rutherford & Fry’ with the BBC.
Discourses are one of the Ri’s oldest and most prestigious series of talks. Since 1825, audiences in the theatre have witnessed countless mind-expanding moments, including the first public liquefaction of air by James Dewar, the announcement of the electron by J.J. Thomson and over 100 lectures by Michael Faraday. In more recent times, we have had Nobel laureates, Fields medal winners, scientists, authors and artists – all from the cutting-edge of their field. Discourses are an opportunity for the best and brightest to share their work with the world.
Steeped in nearly two centuries of tradition, a Discourse is more than just a lecture. To keep the focus on the topic, presenters begin sharply at 7:30pm without introduction and we lock the speaker into a room ten minutes ahead of the start (legend has it that a speaker once tried to escape!) We also ask guests to dress smartly to add to the sense of occasion.
Find out more about the history of the Friday Evening Discourses on our blog.
There will also be a cash bar on the Mezzanine before the Discourse, where you can relax, meet likeminded people with an interest in science, and have a drink.
The dress code for this event is smart (ties optional, no jeans or trainers). Please note, if you are not dressed smartly you may be asked to sit in the gallery.
Please be aware that this Discourse starts at 7.30pm, but all attendees must be seated in the theatre by 7.20pm.
The doors will open at approximately 6.45pm.
Benefit from free and better than half-price tickets, special offers and access to the CHRISTMAS LECTURES ticket ballot.