BBC In Our Time: Artificial Intelligence with Melvyn Bragg

Artificial Intelligence

“Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss artificial intelligence. Can we create a machine that creates? Some argue so. And is consciousness, as we are, with headaches and tiffs and moods and small pleasures and sore feet – often all at the same time – capable of taking place in a machine? Artificial intelligence machines have been growing much more intelligent since Alan Turing’s pioneering days at Bletchley in World War Two. Its claims are now very grand indeed. It is 31 years since Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C Clarke gave us HAL – the archetypal thinking computer of the film 2001: A Space Odyssey. But are we any nearer to achieving the thinking, feeling computer? Or is it just a dream – and should it remain as one?With Igor Aleksander, Professor, Imperial College London and inventor of Magnus – a neural computer which he says is an artificially conscious machine; John Searle, Professor of Philosophy, University of California and one of only two people in the world to invent an argument, the Chinese Room Argument, which destroys the plausibility of the idea of conscious machines.”

This Turing machine should run forever – Science Alert

This Turing machine should run forever, unless our understanding of maths is flawed

by Fiona MacDonald, Science Alert

“Mathematicians have just designed a computer program that could prove the last 150 years of maths wrong if it ever stops running. That’s not likely to happen any time soon, but the very creation of the program is testing the limits of some of the fundamental problems upon which modern mathematics is built. It’s also an incredibly cool demonstration of how a machine Alan Turing came up with in 1936 continues to push the boundaries of maths.”

How Does a Quantum Computer Work? – Veritasium

“A quantum computer works in a totally different way from a classical computer. Quantum bits or ‘qubits’ can exist in a superposition state of both zero and one simultaneously. This means that a set of two qubits can be in a superposition of four states, which therefore require four numbers to uniquely identify the state. So the amount of information stored in N qubits is two to the power of N classical bits.”

Big Data’s Mathematical Mysteries – Ingrid Daubechies in Quanta magazine

Machine learning works spectacularly well, but mathematicians aren’t quite sure why.

” A pure mathematician, when stuck on the problem under study, often decides to narrow the problem further and so avoid the obstruction. An applied mathematician interprets being stuck as an indication that it is time to learn more mathematics and find better tools.”

P v NP


In Our Time: P v NP

Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss the problem of P versus NP, which has a bearing on online security. At its heart is the question “are there problems for which the answers can be checked by computers, but not found in a reasonable time?” 


Colva Roney-Dougal, Reader in Pure Mathematics at the University of St Andrews

Timothy Gowers, Royal Society Research Professor in Mathematics at the University of Cambridge

Leslie Ann Goldberg
Professor of Computer Science and Fellow of St Edmund Hall, University of Oxford