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Making machines: Mary Shelley and Ada Lovelace

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Duration: 1:06:18 | Added: 21 Jun 2022
Join our experts in conversation as they consider the thinking of two great 19th century women writers exploring the boundary between human and machine

Using the notebooks of Sir Humphry Davy, an influence on Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, and the surviving manuscripts of the novel itself, Professor Sharon Ruston will consider Shelley’s thought-process in writing and how far the Creature might be thought of as crossing a boundary between automaton and man.

Professor Ursula Martin will reflect on Ada Lovelace’s work exploring algorithms finding patterns in nature and her conjecture on the capabilities ‘beyond number’ of Charles Babbage’s unbuilt Analytical Engine. She will discuss Lovelace’s letter speculating on how a ‘calculus of the nervous system’ would aid understanding of the human mind.

The event is part of ‘Imagining AI’, which celebrates objects in the Bodleian's collections that explore the boundary between human and machine.

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