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Public events


Cambridge Science Festival 2016

 Science festival 2016


A selection of language-related talks and events at this year's Festival

Thursday 10 March

Turing's imitation game


Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, 8 Mill Lane, CB2 1RW


Turing’s imitation game (also known as the Turing test) involves trying to tell the difference, in conversation, between a human and a machine. Professor Kevin Warwick from Coventry University discusses results from practical Turing Tests involving both machines and hidden humans which show how some of the top philosophers and computer scientists have made misidentifications when acting as interrogators. Actual examples will be given of machines performing very well and fooling interrogators. In the presentation there will be the opportunity to try the test for yourself and see if you can spot the difference.

But there is a lot more to the Turing Test than meets the eye. In terms of communication, it’s not just about how well machines can perform, it also shows how humans are sometimes not as good as we may think. Often humans are quirky or difficult and can themselves be identified as being machines. If you don’t know much about the Turing Test then all will be explained here. If you think you ‘understand’ all about it then hopefully this will make you think again by bringing you up to date with the very latest in machine performance.

Attendance Warning: Machines that think are preferred to humans with closed minds.
Presented with Cambridge University Press.

From Monday 14 March - Friday 18 March, 10.00am - 4.00pm

Baby-mum brain interaction: hands-on brains-on experience

Dept. of Experimental Psychology, Downing St. Cambridge CB2 3EB


How much do you think you are in sync with your baby? Looking at behaviour and brain waves interaction between mum and baby we will find out more about how we think together, or how our brains dance.

Stanimira Georgieva and Dr Vicky Leong open the Baby Lab for a baby-mum brain connection experience. A bookable event and with the greatest of impact at the personal level.

Tuesday 15 March

Now you see it, now you don't: the hidden messages in manuscripts


Milstein Seminar Room, Cambridge University Library, West Rd. CB3 9DR

Cambridge University Library contains many rare items – but there is often more to them than meets the eye! Join us to discover how specialist techniques can shed new light on ancient manuscripts and see what the treasures of the Library are hiding.

Intelligence and learning in brains and machines


Mill Lane Lecture Rooms, Mill Lane, CB2 1RW


What is intelligence? What is learning? Can we build computers and robots that learn? How much information does the brain store? How does mathematics help us answer these questions? Professor Zoubin Ghahramani takes us on a journey exploring these questions and leading us to the field of machine learning: the invisible algorithms underlying many of the tools we now use everyday.

Professor Ghahramani highlights some current areas of research at the frontiers of machine learning, including our project on developing an Automatic Statistician, and speculate on some of the future applications of computers that learn.

Zoubin Ghahramani is Professor of Information Engineering at the University of Cambridge, and the Cambridge Liaison Director of the Alan Turing Institute.


Sunday 20 March

A tour round your ear and hearing brain

Noon -12.45 pm

Lecture Theatre Two, Clinical School, Cambridge Biomedical Campus, CB2 0SP


Dr David Baguley takes us on the journey of sound from ear to brain (and back again) and many of the issues that can arise when things go wrong.


Talks from the Festival of Ideas


Professor Usha Goswami (Centre for Neuroscience in Education) presents research on dyslexia (starts 26 minutes in).



Dr Claire Dembry of Cambridge University Press and Robbie Love (Lancaster University) present fascinating insights from a new project to compile a publicly-accessible database of spoken British English. How has British English changed since the last time a similar project was carried out in the 1990s?  Find out how you can get involved by contributing recordings to the project.




For more audio recordings from this year's Festival, visit 


Now Hear This!

Cambridge Science Centre, March 2014

Dr Matt Davis and Professor Sarah Hawkins were among the researchers taking part in this public event at the Cambridge Science Centre on the science of hearing.