// Latest Posts

Sickle cell disease and gene editing

Before the end of 2023, I had rarely heard of sickle cell disease (or anaemia). I knew it existed, but that was all. Then, around November and December, it was suddenly in the media spotlight, because UK and US health authorities approved a new therapy and because the new therapy used the still new and …

Climate change, metaphors and me

We were sitting round the kitchen table chatting after Christmas, reminiscing about last Christmas. I nostalgically said that last year such conversations had sparked my interest in AI in the form of ChatGPT and given me ideas for blogging. I wondered what I should blog about now. We all agreed that there was always climate …

Making science public 2023: End-of-year round up of blog posts

The year 2023 began with a bang. Suddenly there was a new form of ‘artificial intelligence’, and by ‘new’ I mean a form of AI that even I could use and vaguely understand. There was, it seems, some monstrous machine (called LLM) gobbling up everything we have ever produced in science, literature and art and …

The human side of AI: Delivery robots in Milton Keynes

This post has been written in collaboration with Alan Miguel Valdez, Lecturer in Technology and Innovation Management, The Open University, Milton Keynes *** At the beginning of November 2023, an international AI Safety Summit took place at Bletchley Park, the iconic location of World War II code breaking feats. What has perhaps not been stressed …

Science and trust – the sequel

In 2018 a new ‘International Science Council’ (ICS) was established and I wrote a blog post in which I critically dissected the announcement of this launch. I tried to show that this announcement seemed to perpetuate a series of misconceptions relating to science and trust. At the end of October 2023, the ISC Centre for …

Super-intelligence and Supercomputers: When frontiers collide

This post has been written in collaboration with Alan Miguel Valdez, Lecturer in Technology and Innovation Management, The Open University, Milton Keynes (the home of Bletchley Park and of little roaming robots) *** This week the UK AI Safety Summit took place at Bletchley Park, an iconic location associated with British codebreaking feats during World …

ChatGPT and its magical metaphors

Last week, a new issue of Technoscienza, an Italian journal of Science and Technology Studies, landed in my inbox. It had a very intriguing cover, co-created between Sergio Minniti and ChatGPT — a portrait drawn by ChatGPT using ASCII. But that was the least of it. After Sergio had prompted ChatGPT to create this stunning …

Frontier AI: Tracing the origin of a concept

The UK government has convened an international AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire which will take place on 1 and 2 November, 2023. On 16 October the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology tweeted: “The agenda for the opening day of the #AISafetySummit has been published. The UK is laying out a focused plan …

What are metaphors (for)?

I have been thinking about metaphor for a long time. But I have never brought my core thoughts together in one place. Here we go… and of, of course, they are not just my thoughts…they are inspired by a myriad of thinkers from the 19th century onwards, including, of course, George Lakoff and all those …

The language of life meets large language models

Between about 2014 and 2018 I was involved in the social and communications side of ‘synthetic biology’ as part of the Synthetic Biology Research Centre (SBRC) here at the University of Nottingham, which uses engineering biology approaches to understand and then modify industrially-relevant bacteria. I wrote my last blog post on synthetic biology in 2020. …