Ehab Sayed


Ehab, Founder and Director of Innovation at Biohm and PhD Candidate at Northumbria University, is a sustainable designer, engineer, circular economy strategist and built environment innovator with a passion for creating a biomimetic (nature-inspired) future that meets our environmental, economic and human needs.

A Biomimetic Future

Rapid population growth in cities across the globe is resulting in an equally fast-growing built environment. Unfortunately, conventional construction systems and materials, which currently dominate global building practices are highly damaging to the environment and inhabitants’ health. The Architecture, Engineering and Construction (AEC) industry has failed to adequately respond to climate change and global energy insecurities in time, consuming over half of the earth’s natural resources and contributing around 50% of the global environmental impact. Governments, however, are starting to support a transition in the industry towards healthier and more sustainable building methods and materials, such as off-site manufacturing (OSM) and the use of bio-based materials. Systems in nature which have been developed and optimised over billions of years may help us identify new approaches to building and manufacturing. Biomimetics or the abstraction of formations, structures, functions and processes in biological systems to synthesise man-made products and systems that solve a problem is a field which is growing in popularity in architecture. Combined with the growing circular economy, which maximises product and material value and champions end-of-life considerations, biomimetic approaches are capable of transforming the industry to adequately and more efficiently meet our Environmental, Social and Economic (ESE) needs..

Ted Shepherd


Ted is Grantham Professor of Climate Science at the University of Reading, where he leads a research group focused on the role of atmospheric circulation in climate variability and change. He received his PhD at MIT, was a post-doctoral fellow at Cambridge University, and worked at the University of Toronto for 24 years before moving to Reading in 2012. In the past he has been heavily involved in the WMO/UNEP Ozone Assessment, an international assessment concerning the science of ozone depletion, and was recognized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change for his significant contribution to the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. His interests are increasingly turning to communication of climate science, causal inference, Bayesian statistics, and risk and uncertainty.

Ethics and climate change

Climate change raises a host of ethical issues. For example, current generations, especially in the Global North, have benefitted from fossil-fuel usage and created the problem of climate change, but future generations, especially in the Global South, will mostly pay the consequences. However, there are many other less obvious ethical issues, including how scientists develop, construct and present information about climate change. In this talk, I will briefly review the key scientific aspects of climate change and discuss a number of ethical issues that touch on how climate scientists conduct their research and communicate their findings.

Helen O'Neill


Helen is a researcher and Lecturer in Reproductive and Molecular Genetics in University College London (UCL) at the Institute for Women’s Health. Helen's research in the Embryology, IVF and Reproductive Genetics Group assesses embryo morphokinetics and the employment of CRISPR genome editing for the treatment of sex chromosome and neuromuscular disorders. She is the Programme Director of the MSc in Reproductive Science and Woman’s Health at UCL.

Genome editing: Better, Faster, CRISPR, Stronger?

A genetic revolution has taken place in the mere 16 years since the human genome has been sequenced. This has shaped our understanding of evolution, treatment of disease and our interpretation of identity. We no longer look just to our mother, but to our molecules for reasons why we are the way we are. We can rely on deciphering our genetic code through mistakes; when a mutation occurs, we mine the molecules for a cause. But what if we could correct that mistake? A new method of genome editing, called CRISPR, not only acts to target specific areas of a genome, but can also function as a “find and replace” mechanism; the newest spell check of our genetic language. Will future genomes be edited to be better, faster, CRISPR, stronger?.

Henry Shevlin


Henry is a Research Associate at the Leverhulme Center or the Future of Intelligence at the University of Cambridge and a Teaching Fellow at Downing College, Cambridge. His main area of research is philosophy of cognitive and biological science, with special interests in consciousness, animal cognition, and artificial intelligence. He has a BPhil in Philosophy from Oxford (2009) and a PhD in Philosophy from the CUNY Graduate Center (2016). .

Animals, humans, and machines: towards a unified picture of the mind

Recent years have seen an explosion of scientific and philosophical interest in human consciousness, animal cognition, and artificial intelligence. All of these fields can be broadly understood as exploring different aspects of minds and intelligence, and hold great potential for interdisciplinary collaboration. In this talk, I discuss three areas where such collaboration may be particularly valuable. The first concerns consciousness. A unifying question here is why consciousness evolved and what function it serves. Does consciousness play some vital role in intelligence and, if so, should this motivate the goal of machine consciousness? A second area for collaboration concerns general intelligence. AIs excel in high-level logical and computational tasks, but mostly lack the kinds of rapid learning and robust sensorimotor capabilities common even among simple animals (a problem known as Moravec's paradox). I will consider ways in which more biological machines could become more generally intelligent. Third, I consider the question of motivation. Animals and humans have to balance multiple competing goals - feeding, survival, reproduction, etc. - while most machine intelligences have a narrowly defined notion of reward. I suggest ways in which these differences could both inform models of biological minds and lead to more effective machines. Finally, I close with some brief reflections on the prospects of a 'grand unified theory' of the mind, that would allow us to make comparisons across intelligences as diverse as human infants, neural networks, and octopuses.

Winfried Hensinger


Prof Winfried Hensinger heads the Sussex Ion Quantum Technology Group and he is the director of the Sussex Centre for Quantum Technologies. Hensinger’s group works on constructing a practical trapped-ion quantum computer as well developing portable quantum sensors. Hensinger produced the first ion trap microchip in the world and more recently, his group developed a new generation of quantum microchips featuring world record specifications. In 2016, Hensinger and his group invented a ground-breaking new approach to quantum computing with trapped ions where voltages applied to a quantum computer microchip can replace billions of laser beams which would have been required in previous proposals on how to build a quantum computer. Hensinger recently announced the first practical blueprint for building a quantum computer in a paper published in Science Advances (http://advances.sciencemag.org/content/3/2/e1601540.full) giving rise to the assertion that is now possible to construct a large scale quantum computer.

The emergence of quantum computers and its societal implications

Computers built with quantum technology (a quantum computer) may fundamentally change what a computer may be able to accomplish. Many problems are so complicated that even the fastest supercomputer would currently take millions of years to provide an answer. Optimising financial transactions, machine learning, creating new medicines, understand protein folding and breaking codes are just some of the problems where the existence of a quantum computer could change everything. At the University of Sussex we are in the process of constructing a practical quantum computer utilizing ultracold trapped charged atoms. I will give an overview of our work and I will also explain the phenomena that give rise to such a massive increase in computational power. The abilities of quantum computing will have significant societal implications. I will discuss foreseeable societal implications, speculate on unforeseen ones and I will discuss what ethical considerations should be taken and how one could imagine addressing these.