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Press release


  • 1 May 2007

A future of robots, obesity and technological happiness


From robots to reality literature, endangered wildlife to the obesity epidemic, leading academics from the University of Sussex are exploring 'Visions of our Future' at the Brighton Fringe Festival this year.

A series of talks and debates focusing on some of the major social, technological and environmental changes we face in our lifetime is taking place at various venues in Brighton and at the University's Falmer campus during May 2007.

Dr Blay Whitby, an expert in artificial intelligence, will be discussing the role that robots could eventually play in our daily lives (14 May, Freeman Centre, University of Sussex); Professor Erik Millstone is examining the alarming rise of childhood obesity (21 May, Freeman Centre); and Professor Nicholas Royle will speculate on the future of literature (8 May, Jubilee Library, Brighton).

Other talks include international relations Professor Ronen Palan on 'The state in the era of globalisation' (23 May, Jubilee Library); Professor Peter Kaufmann exploring the relationship between innovation and happiness (23 May, Freeman Centre); and biologist Dr Mika Peck reviewing the risks faced by critically endangered primates in South America (15 May, Jubilee Library).

Dr Jenny Gristock will be discussing 'Science, our future and a tale of gay sheep,' (8 May, Jubilee Library). The talk will focus on publications - popular and scientific - describing an American research project, which is attempting to find out why some eight per cent of rams are gay, as well as probing the interdependencies between science, journalism and policy.

Organiser Maureen Winder said: "Science, technology and other kinds of research have an important role to play in shaping our future. But they cannot - and should not - do this on their own. We hope that these discussions will stimulate debate on the kind of future we want, and on how citizens can influence the practice or application of new knowledge, not just in laboratories, but in everyday life."

The talks are being held in conjunction with an exhibition of work at the Freeman Centre by two artists reflecting the connections between art and science.

Patrick Altes, an artist in residence at the Oncology Department at Royal Sussex County Hospital and the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, was inspired by the relationship between scientific approaches to treatment and the doctors as healers for his collection of pieces, entitled 'Where to draw the line'.

Heather Wilkinson's series of photographs, 'Naked Science', depicts technology and science in the raw, uncovering parts that usually remain hidden.

The free exhibition runs from 8-25 May and is open to the public between 12 noon and 5pm each weekday.

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