The fourth episode of the Create the Future podcast focuses on artificial intelligence, a topic often found at the centre of modern ethical discourse, and one that frequents both the cinema screens of Hollywood, and the pages of science fiction.
Joined by experts Dame Wendy Hall, professor of computer science at the University of Southampton; and Azeem Azhar, technology entrepreneur and producer of the Exponential View newsletter and podcast, we talk about the benefits of AI, as well as its ethical issues, its future, and why we should proceed with caution in its development.
2019 Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering laureate Professor James Spilker, Jr, an American engineer renowned for his pioneering work on the Global Positioning System (GPS), has died aged 86.
With his key contributions to the development – and subsequent enhancement – of GPS, it would be hard to exaggerate the profound impact of Professor Spilker’s work. Today, over four billion people around the world benefit from his efforts, and myriad applications stemming from his work are intricately woven into the fabric of daily life. In addition to promoting GPS technologies, Spilker also focused on education and philanthropy throughout his career, donating much of his time and money to the improvement of engineering education and the fields of aeronautics and astronautics.
Lord Browne, Chairman of the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering Foundation said: “The engineering community is deeply saddened by the death of Professor James Spilker, Jr. Jim exemplified the profound impact that an engineer can have on the world and encouraged the next generation to live up to that potential.
On Wednesday 28 August, the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering exhibited a new, interactive activity at the Science Museum Lates in London. Visitors had the chance to take part in a GPS-inspired scavenger hunt around the museum, using engineering skills to navigate to hidden checkpoints and win prizes.
The key to finding the checkpoints was trilateration – the process used by GPS satellites to pinpoint locations. When finding a location on a sat nav or Google Maps, satellites send out signals to the receiving device, e.g. a phone, on Earth. If you know what time a signal left a satellite and reached the phone, the distance from the satellite to the phone can be calculated. Data from four satellites is combined to find the location of the phone. Imagine a spherical radius around each satellite – the receiver location is where the four spheres intersect.
QEPrize winners Hugo Fruehauf and Bradford Parkinson recently appeared on BBC Inside Science to discuss their incredible, world-changing innovation: the Global Positioning System. Both engineers made a crucial contribution to the development of the revolutionary system, which opened up navigation to people all around the world. In February 2019, Bradford and Hugo, along with Richard Schwartz and James Spilker, Jr, were awarded the Queen Elizabeth Prize for Engineering for their pivotal roles in creating GPS.
The third episode of the Create the Future podcast is out now! Joining us this month to discuss what our future cities might look like are Larissa Suzuki, senior product manager for automatic machine learning at ORACLE, and honorary associate professor at UCL; and Andrew Comer, director of the cities business unit at BuroHappold Engineering.
In this month’s episode, Smart Cities: all hype or a platform for change?, we look back on the technological and economic successes of the 2012 Olympic Games; debate the implications of using people’s data to improve city infrastructure; and highlight the need to ensure that smart city technology is developed to be inclusive, not a commodity. Click below to hear more!
People often associate engineering with bridges and buildings, but, in fact, engineering is all around us. From sustainable coffee cups and people-powered pavements to new medical technologies, quantum computers, and the internet of things, there is a huge range of engineering wonders that we encounter in our day-to-day. The sheer variety of these innovations never fails to amaze me, but two of my favourites are an incredible paint called Inesfly, and a videogame called MalariaSpot. Both of these – while entirely unknown to most – save thousands of lives from insect-borne diseases every year.
The future of the human race relies, in part, on water sustainability. Malthusian theorists predict water will become the most valuable commodity traded and accessible to only the highest bidders; while this might sound farfetched and dystopian, consider that freshwater scarcity affects approximately 4 billion people globally, according to the United Nations World Water Development Report 2019.
A prevalent misconception is that water shortage only truly affects resource-poor parts of the world. When you think of a water shortage in the UK, for example, you picture hosepipe bans affecting the growth of people’s lawns and flowerbeds. While this might be annoying for some, it certainly doesn’t compare with other environmental issues such as the amount of plastic in our oceans and the rising temperature of the planet.
In March 2019, water scarcity hit UK headlines when Sir James Bevan, chief executive of the Environment Agency, warned that England will run short within 25 years. There are similar estimates elsewhere in the world; according to The Guardian, 50% of the world will be living in water-stressed areas by 2025.
In conversation with Keshini Navaratnam, Anuradha TK, Geosat Programme Director at the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), discusses a breadth of topics from the key considerations for communications in space and the interplay between form and function in satellite design, to the excitement for India’s first crewed space flight in 2022, the role of AI in space exploration, and the inspiration behind her journey into engineering.
To hear more insights from high profile engineers around the world, visit the Engineering Leadership series on our website orYouTube channel.