• The Shape Of Things

    Innovations in Social Technology

  • Join us for a full-day symposium at the Shape of Things: Innovations in Social Technology, exploring how new technologies will shape our society, including the shape of the home, of the family and even the self.


    How should we prepare for a world in which the notion of employment is reinvented, in which we feel love for machines, where sentience itself is no longer the exclusive domain of the biological? Should care robots be humanoid? Can we abdicate morality to machines and still discern ethics? How do we define ‘human’ once we've upgraded the brain?


    Scrutinise these topics and more with speakers and delegates from diverse multidisciplinary fields at the inaugural conference of the London Social Technologies Forum.




  • Speakers & THEMES

    Professor Praminda


    Professor in Intelligent Assistive Technologies, Bristol Robotics Lab, University of West of England

    We live in a world which hypes the humanoid robot when in fact most robots will never be humanoid. Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly will explore the differences between robots that offer social and physical assistance and what humanity has to do with any of it.

    Nathalie Christmann-Cooper​

    Co-founder, TreatOut

    Some say it's too big and too complex to execute. But Nathalie Christmann-Cooper is already radically changing how people eat and take control of our health through ingredient and menu transparency – it's only data after all.

    Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino​

    Industrial designer and entrepreneur, Designswarm Industries Ltd

    Design-lead entrepreneur and author Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino will share how we can responsibly forecast developments in home robotics to prepare realistically for what's to come. During lunch, she will also be signing her new book Smarter Homes: how technology will change your home life.

    Kevin McCullagh​

    Design strategist and Founder of Plan

    To explore one of the biggest questions in this domain, Kevin McCullagh will explore what automation of jobs means for human occupation, income and lifestyle, and argue that most jobs are best tackled with a mix of machine and human strengths.

    Lavie Tidhar


    To sum up the first half of the day, renowned science fiction author Lavie Tidhar will speculate on human society chaperoned by artificial superintelligences and executed by ubiquitous robots, with examples from cutting-edge science-fiction. Stay for his book signing!

    Shu Ting Huang

    UX Designer, Kano Computing

    Will humans and robots ever truly understand each other? Well, seeing as we are designing the interface anyway, isn't that up to us? Shu Ting Huang will share robot interaction design secrets and explore how our senses and emotions will define these relationships.

    Tre Azam

    Founder/CEO, MyndPlay

    With mind control technology already on the market, will humans have more or less control over our lives? Is mind control a trojan horse or the holy grail of technology? Entrepreneur Tre Azam is already selling mind control – where does he think this is going?

    Professor Andy Miah​

    Chair in Science Communication & Future Media, University of Salford

    We close the day on a philosophical tone. Futurist and science commentator Professor Andy Miah will pull together the threads of the day's topics and pose some challenging questions for you; what does it mean to be human when we no longer have a monopoly on intelligence, agency and perhaps even consciousness?

    Host: Jobeda Ali

    MC: Dr Steve Cross

  • Programme for The Day

    9–9:30am Registration and breakfast


    9:30–10:50am Early morning session

    9:30–9:45: Welcome by Jobeda Ali
    9:50–10:10: The Shape of Assistive Robots: Humanoid or not?Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly, Bristol Robotics Lab
    10:10–10:30: It’s just data Nathalie Christmann-Cooper, TreatOut

    10:30–10.50: Smarter Homes: How technology has changed your home life Alexandra Deschamps-Sonsino, Designswarm Industries Ltd


    10:50–11:20am Break (tea and coffee)


    11:20–12:30pm Late morning session

    11:20–11:40: The Human-Machine Interface Kevin McCullagh, Plan
    11:40–12:00: Robots and Empire Lavie Tidhar, Novelist
    12:00–12:30: Speakers Debate and Q&A chaired by Dr Steve Cross

    12.30–1:40pm Lunch and networking


    1:40–2.20pm Afternoon session

    1:40–2:00: Pride and prejudice: relationships with robots Shu Ting Huang, Kano Computing
    2:00–2:20: The Importance of Mynd Tre Azam, MyndPlay

    2:20–2:50pm Break (tea and coffee)


    2:50–4:15pm Concluding session

    2:50–3:20: Human identity in an age of sentient machines Professor Andy Miah, University of Salford
    3:20–4:00: Speakers Debate and Q&A chaired by Nico Macdonald
    4:00–4:15: Closing remarks


    4:15–6pm Reception

  • Venue

    Town Hall Hotel, Bethnal Green


    Registration opens at 9am. For earlybirds there will be breakfast before the talks and discussions kick off at 9:30am


    The opportunity to catch up with colleagues and discuss topics with speakers over a sit-down buffet lunch in the Town Hall Hotel's fanciest room. And don't forget, some of our speakers will be doing book-signings and tech demos

    Networking drinks

    When the day's talks have drawn to a close at 4:30pm, join us for an hour-and-a-half of unlimited drinks and canapes to carry on the conversations and network with colleagues and speakers

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