School of Informatics

Informatics events at the Edinburgh International Science Festival

School of Informatics staff are involved in numerous events at the Edinburgh International Science Festival.

The events cater for all ages and tastes; there are drop-ins and demos, as well as talks and discussions. The festival’s programme also includes a great deal of events that can be of interest to Informatics students and staff.

Blockchain technology: A Secure Solution

Link to the event

A blockchain, or distributed ledger is a technology that transformed the way that digital currency transactions are recorded and checked by using a publicly accessible and reliable ledger of transactions. Blockchain systems manage relations between stakeholders in the form of “smart contracts”.  Can blockchains be put to use in many other capacities? These complex systems are based on a simple idea – an encrypted database running on millions of devices and open to anyone, that can be moved and stored securely and privately. A number of applications are being explored in health data processing, identity management, land ownership registries, and energy management just to name a few applications.

Prof Aggelos Kiayias and BBC presenter and social psychologist Dr Aleks Krotoski will be discussing possibilities blockchain technology might offer us.

Prof Aggelos Kiayias, Chair in Cyber Security and Privacy, is a head of newly open Blockchain Technology Laboratory at the University of Edinburgh.

About Prof Aggelos Kiayias

Game On!

Link to the event

Areti Manataki’s ‘Game On’ workshop is coming back to EISF for the third year running. It is part of the Code Yourself public engagement programme, initiated by the creation of the highly popular Code Yourself MOOC.

Link to MOOC on Coursera

The workshop is aimed at 8+ -year-olds but is perfect for ages 10-14. It will explore the exciting world of video games and teach the basics of coding in Scratch, a visual programming language. It offers a hands-on and playful taster session in computer programming.

About Dr Areti Manataki 


Robot Lab

Link to the event

This event is a repeat of the "Robot Lab" demos from last year, with some changes. The organisers (James Garforth is co-ordinating) will introduce the Baxter robot stacking coloured blocks and allow kids to move its arm, along with some demonstrations of using motion control armbands to control it. Same as last year, there will be Nao robots running around chasing a ball or dancing. In addition, ECR members from Heriot Watt will be bringing along Pepper, who is more a social interaction robot and will actually be talking to visitors, giving them information about the museum!

About James Garforth

Marty: Activate!

Link to the event

This event is new for this year. It’s a robot programming workshop called "Marty: Activate!" done in conjunction with Robotical, a recent Informatics spinout. This is aimed at slightly older kids, as it requires a little bit of previous knowledge of the Scratch programming language, which many schools in Scotland teach (people who go to Game on! workshop can follow up with this one).

About Robotical Ltd

About James Garforth

Wearables That Snitch on Us

Link to the event

Wearable devices are increasingly improving our daily lives, but how much of our private lives do they reveal to others? Over 250 million activity tracking wristbands, smart watches, and personal health monitors will be shipped by 2020. Without doubt, early adopters of wearable technology are becoming increasingly aware of their habits and surrounding environment, already manage their daily lives more effectively, and expect to detect health disorders well in advance of developing life threatening conditions. Given the rapid pace at which new wearables are launched into the market and the predominantly wireless communications with their users, privacy concerns naturally arise. Dr Paul Patras will discuss surveillance risks to which wearables are exposed, the challenges of preserving user privacy, and simple steps that could be taken to avoid tracking.

About Dr Paul Patras

Shared Autonomy: The Future of Interactive Robotics

Link to the event

Prof Sethu Vijayakumar will explores the role of informatics, digitisation, automation and robotics both off planet and closer to home. Dr Simon Gage Science Festival Director will host the discussion that discussion will tackle questions of pushing boundaries of space exploration, ethics of AI and new technologies, as well as inspiring new thinking for the benefit of life on Earth.

About Prof Sethu Vijayakumar

Test Tube to YouTube

Link to the event

Dr Walid Magdy  will take part in a panel discussion exploring the people, programs and psychology behind social media feeds . The discussion will be hosted by author and broadcaster Zoe Cormier, and also include Dr Sharon Coen, Senior Lecturer in Media Psychology at the University of Salford and video creator Brady Haran –the creator of science video channels Periodic Videos and Numberphile.

About Dr Walid Magdy

Of Interest

About Prof Ewan Klein