Imagining AI: a view from the archives

A black and white drawing of a probability machine with a partly opaque red stripe across the bottom of the image


Imagining AI: A view from the archives

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 Friday 9 September 2022


  Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre, Weston Library

  Free event, booking required

This event is now fully booked.

About the event 

This one-day workshop hosted by the Bodleian Library considers modern artificial intelligence (AI) as part of a long narrative of the boundaries between human and machine. The event will be chaired by Professor Ursula Martin of Wadham College and Oxford Mathematics.

Speakers include:

  • Troy Astarte (Swansea) on Christoper Strachey's 1950s experiments with computer poetry and chess
  • David Brock (Computer History Museum, Mountain View) on curating AI experiments
  • Kanta Dihal (Cambridge) author of AI Narratives (OUP)
  • David Dunning (Pennsylvania) on Jevons's 1850s 'reasoning piano'
  • Sharon Ruston (Lancaster), author of The science of life and death in Frankenstein (Bodleian Publishing)
  • Máté Szabó (Oxford, Greenwich) on Max Newman's influence on Alan Turing

A panel discussion from 4pm to 5.30 pm, chaired by Professor Rob Iliffe (Oxford), will explore how the history and philosophy of AI and computing can enrich contemporary conversations about the use of these transformative technologies.

The workshop accompanies a display at the Weston Library of items from Oxford’s collections, including manuscripts of Ada Lovelace, Mary Shelley and Christopher Strachey, and a nineteenth-century “reasoning piano”.

Reception to follow in Blackwell Hall, Weston Library.


Speakers include Dr Troy Astarte (Lecturer in Computer Science, Swansea); David Brock (Computer History Museum), Kanta Dihal (Cambridge), David Dunning (Pennsylvania), Professor Sharon Ruston (Lancaster) and Máté Szabo (Oxford).

 Booking information

Registration is essential for attending in person at the Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre, Weston Library. When you have booked your place the ticketing system will send you an automated confirmation.


Sir Victor Blank Lecture Theatre, Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford, OX1 3BG

 Wheelchair access

The Weston Library is wheelchair accessible.


We are grateful to the UKRI Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, Commission for the History and Philosophy of Computing and the Mathematical Institute, University of Oxford, for their support of this event.

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