School of Informatics

Edinburgh Science: from MENACE to Deepfakes – how computers and AI are changing our future

Computers and AI permeate our lives: recent artificial intelligence developments particularly hit the news with some experts sounding alarm bells. Can synthetic media help or hinder the future of news? Are sentient robots friends or monsters? Can robots care? How did AI end up here – and where is it going? As we celebrate 60 years of computer science and AI research in Edinburgh, join the Edinburgh Science events that explore the history and discuss the future of intelligent machines.

Edinburgh Science: Making and Deepfaking the News

Making and Deepfaking the News

Tuesday, 04 April 2023

Dr Bronwyn Jones [Design Informatics/ECA] and her BBC collaborators invite you to the 2-hour interactive event in which you will explore opportunities to make synthetic media work in the public interest. You’ll get to hone your journalistic instincts and flex your creative muscles while helping shape the future of news. 

Event details

Edinburgh Science: Sentient Robots - Friends or Monsters

Sentient Robots - Friends or Monsters 

Tuesday, 11 April 2023

Moderator Professor Michael Herrmann [ECR] will be joined by writer Rupert Robson (“The sentient robot”, 2022) and online guests: Elisabeth Hildt (Philosophy), Robin Murphy (Robotics), Eva Jablonka (Psychology), and Anil Seth (Neuroscience) to discuss the meaning and the implications of sentience in the context of the most recent developments in artificial intelligence. Are we going to accept sentience in machines eventually as a fact? Will we share experiences with machines that become like family to us in future? Will quasi-sentient machines be used to manipulate our decisions and behaviour? Can they make our lives not only easier, but also more happy and fulfilling? What can machines teach us about ourselves? 

Event details

Edinburgh Science: Can Robots Care?

Can Robots Care? 

Wednesday, 12 April 2023

How could a robot help you or your family in your home? Would you let a robot care for your elderly and infirm relative? 

The session will hear from people designing robots and health and social care professionals and invite members of the public to discuss how technology and society are developing together. The event will alternate panel provocations with audience engagement (assisted by mentimeter polls); contrasting developer conceptions of robotic/assistive technologies/services with public imaginaries and critical appraisals. The aim will be to consider plausible concrete instances for using care robot. 

Join the Knowledge Café prior to the discussion - an informal event, coordinated by Cian O’Donovan from University College London. Small group discussions over coffee and cake will explore the latest developments in assistive and care robots and discuss what's at stake for people working in and relying on health and care services.  

Event details

Edinburgh Science: Experimental Life - MENACE

Experimental Life - MENACE 

Thursday, 13 April 2023

In the 1960s, Donald Michie built MENACE: the matchbox educable noughts and crosses engine. MENACE was built from 304 matchboxes and is one of the earliest examples of a machine learning algorithm: initially, MENACE is a very bad noughts and crosses player but over a number of games it learns better ways to play. 

Dr Matthew Scroggs, a postdoctoral researcher at University College London and a keen recreational mathematician built a copy of MENACE. His recreation of MENACE will be available to see and interact with in the Grand Gallery of the National Museum of Scotland. 

Event details

Edinburgh Science: Games Robots Play

Games Robots Play 

Thursday, 13 April 2023

Human-competitive game playing agents have been an important part of the development of the field of Artificial Intelligence. How do they now help us address the challenges of robot learning in a human-centred world? Join Prof Ram Ramamoorthy to discuss autonomy, interaction and emerging questions around how to make these safe and trustworthy. The event will include Professor Ramamoorthy’s talk followed by a discussion. 

The talk is complimentary to the demonstration of MENACE that will take place earlier that day in the National Museum of Scotland.

Event details

Edinburgh Science: Bayes Centre Tour - Meet the Robots

Bayes Centre Tour - Meet the Robots 

Friday, 14 April 2023

The Statistical Machine Learning and Motor Control Lab (SLMC) at the Edinburgh Centre for Robotics will be opening their laboratories located at the School of Informatics to the public to showcase some of the cutting-edge research platforms to inform and engage the visitors about the best ways to deliver human-centric assistance and effective human robot collaborations. Come and meet the robots! 

Event details



The Edinburgh Science Festival is an annual science festival taking place across the Easter school holidays in Edinburgh. Each year it delivers the UK's largest Science Festival with almost 270 events for families and adults over the course of two weeks. Its programmes include family days out, hands-on activities, talks and discussions. The Festival was first held in 1989.

Related links

60 Years of Computer Science & AI at Edinburgh - Programme of events open to the general public 

Link to Edinburgh Science Festival website