Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series

In 2008, the School of Computer Science began an annual lecture series to present Computer Science research to the wider public. The lectures are named the "Gibbons Lectures" in memory of Associate Professor Peter Gibbons.

Associate Professor Peter Gibbons (1949-2008)
Associate Professor Peter Gibbons (1949-2008)

About Associate Professor Peter Gibbons

Peter Gibbons was a member of the University of Auckland's Department of Computer Science from its earliest days in 1980 until his retirement in 2004.

His began his academic career at Massey University, where he completed a Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Statistics with First-class Honours in 1970. This was followed in 1972 by a Master of Science in Computer Science with Distinction – the first degree in Computer Science awarded in New Zealand.

He completed his PhD in Toronto then returned to New Zealand to lecture at Massey, before moving to the University of Auckland. His tenure included a three year stint as Head of Department.

After retirement, Peter continued his association with the University under an honorary appointment.

The Gibbons Lectures fund

The prestige of these lectures and their permanence depends on funding. Click the link below to support the Gibbons Memorial Lecture series by gifting a one off or regular contribution.

2020 series

AI and Society

Artificial Intelligence (AI) promises to make improvements to our lives in so many ways, including enhancing efficiencies in the workplace, generating productivity gains and having a positive impact on our wellbeing.

It also promises to help with even bigger issues like uncovering criminal activity and solving crimes, dramatically influencing healthcare, addressing global challenges, and reducing global inequities and extreme poverty.

AI promises to have a far-reaching beneficial impact in our society. This evokes not only excitement but also fear. There are fears around privacy, trust, freedom of speech and the usage of AI and its regulation.

The 2020 Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series will discuss the fears and excitement of AI today and in the future, and the impacts it could have both on and in our society.

Lecture 1 | 30 September 2020

Our future with AI

There’s been dramatic progress in learning skills, such as object recognition, translation and speech, and in difficult but uncomplicated tasks like playing chess, Go and video games. Traditional AI focused on improving complex tasks, using knowledge and reasoning, that have driven human success. 

In this talk, Professor Michael Witbrock from the School of Computer Science at the University of Auckland will discuss these paths to broad AI and explore Aotearoa’s potential to make sure of a positive outcome.

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Lecture 2 | 7 October 2020

Big data: Transparency and reliability

There is near consensus in the emerging field of data ethics that processes and systems must be transparent and explainable to a wide range of stakeholders. 

In this talk, Professor Tim Dare from the Faculty of Arts at the University of Auckland will discuss why transparency and explainability have become central to data ethics and the reasons there are to question that centrality. Professor Dare will also discuss why we should be more concerned with reliability and with how automated systems compare, ethically, and with alternative ways of doing the tasks which might be done by automated systems.

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Lecture 3 | 14 October 2020

Learning to adapt to changes in this dynamic world 

Much of scientific research involves the generation and testing of hypotheses that can facilitate the development of accurate models for a system. In machine learning the automated building of accurate models is desired, however traditional machine learning often assumes that the underlying systems are static and unchanging over time.

In this talk, Dr Yun Sing Koh from the School of Computer Science at the University of Auckland will discuss research in the area of data streams and how we adapt to changes in the data.

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Lecture 4 | 21 October 2020

Social media, AI, and society: Some psychological insights

As advanced digital technologies become an indispensable part of nearly all aspects of everyday living, it is essential to consider the downstream effects on society.

In this talk, Associate Professor Kumar Yogeeswaran from the College of Science at the University of Canterbury will consider social scientific evidence on how these indispensable technologies shape people’s attitudes, beliefs, and behaviours. 

This event was not recorded.

2019 series

2019 Gibbons Lecture series

Quantum computing

Quantum computers are remarkably complex machines that challenge almost everything we know about computing. Given their complexity, it difficult for us to understand their limits.

Experts believe quantum computers can crack all modern security algorithms and do immediate pattern recognition. If this is the case, what are the implications for not only computing but also wider society?

The 2019 Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series delves into this fascinating topic.

Our thanks to IT Professionals New Zealand, Auckland ICT Graduate School, and our generous donors for supporting the 2019 Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series.

Quantum computing: What it is, and how we do it?

Dr Michael Dinneen gives an explanation (for novices) of what quantum computing is, and compares it to traditional digital/classical computing.

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Cryptography after quantum computers

Quantum computers will be able to break some of the most famous and widely deployed cryptosystems. Will our private information be secure in a post-quantum world?

Professor Steven Galbraith surveys modern cryptography and indicates which current systems are potentially vulnerable to quantum computers.

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Searching for the quantum frontier

Professor Michael Bremner from the Centre for Quantum Software and Information at the University of Technology Sydney discusses the quantum frontier.

Michael asks how quantum advantage emerges from the subtle characteristics of problems where quantum interference can best be utilised, and why this makes building and developing applications for quantum computers such a difficult task.

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Panel discussion: The future of quantum computing

In this panel discussion, Professor Howard J Carmichael and Professor Cristian S Calude discuss what the future holds for quantum computing. 

Professor Gill Dobbie moderates the discussion.

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2018 series

2018 Gibbons Lecture series

Robots everywhere - Robotics in industry and at home

Experts tell us that robotic technology will soon dramatically change our lives. It is true that, in recent years robots, machine learning and automation has become more cost-effective and reliable.

The 2018 Gibbons Memorial Lecture Series discusses the present and future of robotic technology.

Robotics research in New Zealand

In recent years, farms, factories, homes and offices have felt a strong need to automate some tasks that are currently done manually. As well as machinery, this may involve measurement and monitoring, helping humans make decisions or taking over some parts of decision-making.

Professor Bruce MacDonald from the University of Canterbury describes international trends and some of the ongoing work and future directions for robotics research in New Zealand.

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Robotics in industry

Mike Shatford, the Managing Director of Design Energy Limited, tries to close the loop between academia and industry with this talk on robotic production in New Zealand.

He presents the successes – where, and how, robotics serve the current market. He also discusses the gaps and opportunities, for both the originators of new technology and the end-users.

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Will robotic vision ever fully replace human vision?

Robotic, or computer, vision, studies the extraction of useful information from images. Many consider it one of the most promising investment sectors for the future.

Associate Professor Patrice Delmas discusses the topic of computer vision, its current status and challenges, and the parallels between human vision and computer vision.

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Can we be friends with robots?

Social robots are now being made to assist us in our daily lives, in our homes and workplaces. These robots typically look humanoid and are designed to display signs of attention, cognition and emotion.

Associate Professor Elizabeth Broadbent from the Department of Psychological Medicine discusses how people feel about living with such robots, and the potential benefits and harm robots may bring.

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2017 series

Gibbons 2017

Steps towards the singularity - Artificial intelligence and its impact

Machines that mimic human cognitive functions, such as learning and problem solving, are said to exhibit artificial intelligence or AI.

As the use of such smart technology grows, some believe that we are rapidly approaching The Singularity - the hypothesis that artificial super-intelligence will trigger runaway technological growth and result in unfathomable changes to human civilisation.

The 2017 Gibbons Memorial lectures series aimed to highlight the important role that artificial intelligence plays in our lives.

AI: from Aristotle to deep learning machines

Professor Nikola Kasabov, Director of the KEDRI Research Institute at Auckland University of Technology discusses the main principles used in AI.

Starting with Aristotle’s true/false logic he traverses the history of the field through fuzzy logic, evolutionary computation and neural networks, to arrive at the current state-of-the-art in AI – the deep learning machines.

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Home smart home

As our population ages, the demand for supervised care rises with increasing rates of diseases such as Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s.  Unfortunately, this is a demand that society finds more and more difficult to satisfy.

Professor Hans Guesgen from Massey University discusses how artificial intelligence may offer a solution to this problem.

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Deep learning - what's missing?

There have certainly been some spectacular improvements in machine learning over the last couple of years, and one has to wonder, what comes next?

Associate Professor Marcus Frean from Massey University discusses recent breakthroughs in the field and their intrinsic limitations. Finally, he makes some guesses about where the frontiers might lie.

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The ethics of AI

As AI becomes more widespread, in the home, workplace and battlefield, with the deployed systems increasingly becoming autonomous, society needs to consider the ethics underpinning and supporting these systems.

Associate Professor Ian Watson considers the ethical issues surrounding AI. He looks at the global initiatives that are currently underway and explores the wider role that society as a whole may need to take.

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