University experts inform and inspire at Hay Festival 2023

Join us at this year’s Hay Festival from Thursday 25 May to Sunday 4 June
Join us at this year’s Hay Festival from Thursday 25 May to Sunday 4 June 2023. Image courtesy of Elisabeth Broekaert

Experts from Cardiff University will spotlight scientific discoveries, advances in technology and questions of nationhood before audiences at a world-famous literature festival.

The latest developments in artificial intelligence (AI) and breakthroughs that came from unlikely research will be on the agenda as part of The Cardiff Series of talks at this year’s Hay Festival.

The festival, which runs in the mid-Wales booktown of Hay-on-Wye from 25 May to 4 June, welcomes Nobel Prize-winners and novelists, scientists and politicians, historians, environmentalists and musicians to share the latest thinking in the arts and sciences with curious audiences.

In the first of two Cardiff University-led talks at this year’s festival, Matthew Hopkins, a PhD candidate in the School of Computer Science and Informatics, will give a whistle-stop tour of the current state-of-the-art technologies in AI.

From ChatGPT to deepfakes and self-driving cars, Matthew will explore how AI technologies work, why they work, what they do, and where they are currently flawed.

Matthew, who is in his 2nd year of his PhD studying methods towards Robust and Explainable AI, said: "It’s our responsibility to craft AI that is fair, unbiased and safe as a minimum requirement. We are still understanding how to do that.

"Thankfully, a focus on this type of research has pushed this field forward in giant leaps recently. I’m looking forward to talking about all things AI with the audiences at Hay."

Book tickets for the talk, Trusted and transparent AI for a safe and secure future, which takes place on Sunday 28 May at 13:00 on the Wales stage.

Elsewhere, in her role as co-chair of the Independent Commission on the Constitutional Future of Wales, Professor Laura McAllister of Cardiff University will take part in an Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) event.

Together with co-chair and Former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, commission member Miguela Gonzalez and IWA Director Auriol Miller, Professor McAllister will discuss the existential challenges facing the UK, the work of the commission and options to secure Wales’ future.

She said: "This Commission is a unique opportunity for Wales to show constitutional leadership and ensure it’s on the front foot when dealing with a rapidly changing UK.

"It’s been clear from our conversations with the people of Wales that the status quo isn’t working for us and we’re now looking at three constitutional options that could."

Book tickets for their debate, Wales: Independence and other options, which takes place on Tuesday 30 May at 19:00 in The Hive.

For the second talk in The Cardiff Series, Gianluca Bianchi, a PhD candidate at the School of Earth and Environmental Sciences, will reflect on research ideas which seem obscure or even useless but are in fact significant.

In his explanation of why research itself is a worthwhile pursuit, Gianluca will share various studies including an investigation into mini black hole explosions which incredibly led to the creation of Wi-Fi.

Gianluca, who is currently in the first year of his PhD studying the stability of Antarctic ice shelves, said: "In academia, research varies from immediately applicable to incredibly obscure and abstract. It’s often hard to tell if strange sounding research has practical societal applications.

"In my talk at Hay, I’ll highlight that successful research is not governed by the subject area or immediate use, and that all research finds a use in one way or another."

Book tickets for the talk, Useless research and its uses, which takes place on Saturday 3 June 2023 at 11:30 in The Hive.