Thursday, December 24, 2020

Blog Closing Down


I'm closing this blog and this will be the last post. I started it with the first post on April 5th 2010 to support the writing of my book, The Universal Machine, on the history of computing. Over the years it's by and large kept to that topic. It's had 585,622 page views over the decade or so which sounds quite respectable. The blog will remain in place as a record, but I will not be adding new posts as I'm retiring at New Years. Thanks for your support.

Ian Watson

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Enigma machine found in Baltic to be restored


Divers who found a WWII Enigma coding machine in the Baltic will have their find restored in a German museum, the process will take about a year. The enigma machine is a German Naval Enigma with three coding rotors, not the more complex four-rotor machine used by the U-boat service. The Enigma machines were used throughout WWII but had been cracked by Alan Turing's team working at Bletchley Park in England. As a consequence, the British could read all the German navy's communications from 1941.

Friday, October 16, 2020

Final 2020 Gibbons lecture - 21st October

 The fourth and final 2020 Gibbons Lecture is on Wednesday 21st October 2020 from 6-7pm in Room B10, The General Library, 5 Alfred St. Refreshments and networking from 7pm.  

Please register here to attend in person, if you have not already done so.   This lecture will not be live-streamed nor available later as a podcast.


Social media, AI, and society: Some psychological insights

As advanced digital technologies become an indispensable part of nearly all aspects of everyday living, it is essential to consider the downstream effects on society.

In this talk, Associate Professor

Kumar Yogeeswaran from the College of Science at the University of Canterbury will consider social scientific evidence on how these indispensable technologies shape people’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. 

This lecture is run in association with the Auckland ICT Graduate School, IT Professionals NZ, and Dr Beryl Plimmer.

See here for more details on the Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series.  

Monday, October 12, 2020

Third 2020 Gibbons lecture - 14th October

The third 2020 Gibbons lecture is on the 14th October 2020 from 6-7pm in Room B10, The General Library, 5 Alfred St. Refreshments and networking are after the lecture at 7pm.  

Much of scientific research involves the generation and testing of hypotheses that can facilitate the development of accurate models for a system. In machine learning the automated building of accurate models is desired, however, traditional machine learning often assumes that the underlying systems are static and unchanging over time. In this talk, Dr Yun Sing Koh from the School of Computer Science at The University of Auckland will discuss research in the area of data streams and how we adapt to changes in the data.

Please register here to attend in person. The lecture will be streamed live and later available as a podcast.  

Monday, October 5, 2020

Gibbons Lecture Series - Big data: Transparency and reliability

The second 2020 Gibbons Lecture will be live-streamed only on 7 October 2020 at 6pm, due to alert level restrictions.

It will also be available later as a podcast.


There is near consensus in the emerging field of data ethics that processes and systems must be transparent and explainable to a wide range of stakeholders. 

In this talk, Professor Tim Dare from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland will discuss why transparency and explainability have become central to data ethics and the reasons there are to question that centrality. Professor Dare will also discuss why we should be more concerned with reliability and with how automated systems compare, ethically, and with alternative ways of doing the tasks which might be done by automated systems.

See here for more details on the Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series. 

Thursday, September 24, 2020

Gibbons Lecture - Our future with AI


There’s been dramatic progress in learning skills, such as object recognition, translation and speech, and in difficult but uncomplicated tasks like playing chess, Go and video games. Traditional AI focused on improving complex tasks, using knowledge and reasoning, that have driven human success. 

In this first talk, Professor Michael Witbrock from the School of Computer Science at the University of Auckland will discuss these paths to broad AI and explore Aotearoa’s potential to make sure of a positive outcome.

Location | This lecture will be live-streamed on Wed Oct 30 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM NZDT

Register now 

Monday, September 14, 2020

Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series 2020 - AI and Society

Earlier in the year we postponed the Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series due to Covid 19. Now, we are delighted to tell you we are on schedule to deliver the first of the 2020 series on 30 September 2020. Register here to attend in person this very exciting 2020 series that starts with each lecture at 6pm with networking refreshments after the lecture at 7pm. This year we are holding the series in Room B10 in the General Library, 5 Alfred Street. Live streaming links will be available and I will send these out a week before each lecture and they will be available on the website above. 
Prof. Michael Witbrock kicks the series off with Our future with AI and as per tradition, the first session will be chaired by the John Hosking, Dean of Science.