Hi-tech trek – Digital intelligence (2008)

Chris Bishop

Chris Bishop explores what it takes to create computer intelligence.

Watch time: 37:23
A still from the 2008 CHRISTMAS LECTURE
Credit: Royal Institution

Lecture 5 – Digital intelligence

In the last of his CHRISTMAS LECTURES, Chris Bishop looks at one of the great frontiers of computer science, Artificial Intelligence.

Find out how some of the toughest computational problems are now being tackled. Giving computers the ability to learn solutions for themselves, in much the same way as people learn by example, has led to impressive progress with problems such as recognising handwriting and finding information on the web.

However, Chris reveals how we are only beginning to explore the power of computation and the many challenges ahead in our quest for the ultimate computer.


In this series of CHRISTMAS LECTURES, Chris Bishop invites us on a journey into the high-tech world of computer technology.

From the origin of the microprocessor to the development of the internet, the field of computer science has literally changed the way in which we live our lives.

But the world of computers is vast and complicated, ranging from the architecture of microchips to the use of quantum mechanics for data encryption – it's not always easy to know what exactly is going on inside the box.

So how do computers work? How is so much information stored within a single hard-drive and how do computers communicate with each other over the internet?

Across five lectures, Chris Bishop sheds light on some of these questions by tracing the evolution of the modern computer.

Along the way he explores the many technologies which have developed as a result of the computer revolution; including the interconnected world of the internet, the use of software to control hardware and the challenges involved in creating artificial intelligence.