John Robb was born in Blackpool, fired by the punk rock DIY ethic he put together his legendary cult band the Membranes. At the same time he started his own fanzine before moving onto the music press and writing for Sounds where he coined the phrase Britpop and was the first person to interview Nirvana, the Stone Roses and the whole of the emerging Manchester scene. From this platform he went onto be regular radio and TV pundit and presenter and author of best selling music culture books including ‘Stone Roses and the Resurrection of British pop’ and ‘the oral History Of Punk rock. He is currently the boss of one of the UK’s main music culture website www.louderthanwar.com, fronts a reformed Membranes whose critically acclaimed Dark Matter/Dark Energy album combined the Universe into life and death an a post punk trip.
Sabine Hauert is Assistant Professor in Robotics at the University of Bristol in the UK. Her research focusses on engineering swarms across scales, from trillions of nanoparticles for cancer treatment to thousands of robots. Profoundly cross-disciplinary, Sabine works between Engineering Mathematics, the Bristol Robotics Laboratory, and Life Sciences. Before joining the University of Bristol, she engineered nanoparticles for cancer treatment at MIT, and deployed swarms of flying robots at EPFL.
Sabine is also President and Co-founder of Robohub.org, a non-profit dedicated to connecting the robotics community to the world. As an expert in science communication with 10 years of experience, Sabine is often invited to discuss the future of robotics and AI, including in the journals Nature and Science, at the European Parliament, and at the Royal Society.
Her work has been featured in mainstream media including BBC, CNN, The Guardian, The Economist, TEDx, WIRED, and New Scientist.
Simon Johnson is a game designer who specialises in enabling people to play in real, social spaces. He designs experiences to amaze, exhilarate, activate and promote understanding. Simon currently runs a startup called Free Ice Cream dedicated to making complex subjects playable.
In 2008 Simon co-founded Slingshot and was a company director for 7 years. Slingshot was a real world games company. They delivered real world gaming experiences to over 60,000 players worldwide. Slingshot was about offering a proposition that was simultaneously ridiculous and appealing. They were known primarily for 2.8 Hours Later. The original city-wide zombie chase game. It has inspired many others to take up gaming as a form. Along the way they also won several media innovation awards.
Way back in 2008 Simon set up iglab, the world’s first pervasive testing games lab. It was a means to popularise pervasive gaming as a form and to introduce new artists and designers to the possibilities offered by play, games and the city .
2008 also saw the inception of igfest; an international festival of street games and playful experiences. Simon directed and curated the festival for six years bringing in some of the finest games designers from around the world and working closely with the community of international peers.
Simon was a founder resident here a the Pervasive Media Studio. With the work and research Simon did here then he helped shape the agenda of the pervasive media studio toward the use of play as a strategic goal for urban development.
In 2016 Simon set up a new game studio Free Ice Cream. They are focused on making games that enable people to play with subjects that are in one way or another very complex. The first major commission saw us develop a game called 2030 Hive Mind. It is a real time policy simulation that sat at the core of The Global Festival of Ideas for Sustainable Development AKA The Playable Conference.
Simon keep a poorly updated ludography of old games at s-j.io
Raia Hadsell is a research scientist on the Deep Learning team at DeepMind. She moved to London to join DeepMind in early 2014, feeling that her fundamental research interests in robotics, neural networks, and real world learning systems were well-aligned with the agenda of Demis, Shane, Koray, and other members of the original team.
Raia came to AI research obliquely. After an undergraduate degree in religion and philosophy from Reed College, she veered off-course (on-course?) and became a computer scientist. Raia’s PhD with Yann LeCun, at NYU, focused on machine learning using Siamese neural nets (often called a ‘triplet loss’ today) and on deep learning for mobile robots in the wild. Her thesis, ‘Learning Long-range vision for offroad robots’, was awarded the Outstanding Dissertation award in 2009. Raia spent a post-doc at CMU Robotics Institute, working with Drew Bagnell and Martial Hebert, and then became a research scientist at SRI International, at the Vision and Robotics group in Princeton, NJ.
Raia’s research at DeepMind focuses on a number of fundamental challenges in AGI, including continual and transfer learning, deep reinforcement learning, and neural models of navigation.
Neil Lawrence leads Amazon Research Cambridge where he is a Director of Machine Learning. He is on leave of absence from the University of Sheffield where he is a Professor in Computational Biology and Machine Learning in the Department of Computer Science.
He received his bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Southampton in 1994. Following a period as an field engineer on oil rigs in the North Sea he returned to academia to complete his PhD in 2000 at the Computer Lab in Cambridge University. He spent a year at Microsoft Research in Cambridge before leaving to take up a Lectureship at the University of Sheffield, where he was subsequently appointed Senior Lecturer in 2005. In January 2007 he took up a post as a Senior Research Fellow at the School of Computer Science in the University of Manchester where he worked in the Machine Learning and Optimisation research group. In August 2010 he returned to Sheffield to take up a collaborative Chair in Neuroscience and Computer Science.
Neil’s main research interest is machine learning through probabilistic models. He focuses on both the algorithmic side of these models and their application. He has a particular focus on applications in personalized health and computational biology, but happily dabbles in other areas such as speech, vision and graphics.
Neil was Associate Editor in Chief for IEEE Transactions on Pattern Analysis and Machine Intelligence (from 2011-2013) and is an Action Editor for the Journal of Machine Learning Research. He was the founding editor of the Proceedings of Machine Learning Research (2006) and is currently series editor. He was an area chair for the NIPS conference in 2005, 2006, 2012 and 2013, Workshops Chair in 2010 and Tutorials Chair in 2013. He was General Chair of AISTATS in 2010 and AISTATS Programme Chair in 2012. He was Program Chair of NIPS in 2014 and was General Chair for 2015. He is one of the founders of the DALI Meeting and Data Science Africa.
Alasdair Allan is a scientist, author, hacker, and journalist. In the past he has mesh networked the Moscone Center, caused a U.S. Senate hearing, and contributed to the detection of what was — at the time —the most distant object yet discovered.