School of Computer Science

Friday 9th Nov 2018
20 min video included below.
Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science, University of Birmingham


For more on Eastside Birmingham UK see
Birmingham Mail, Midlands-news, EastSide Gallery Changing Face

Installed: 16 Nov 2018
Last updated: 10 Jan 2019; 30 Oct 2019; 1 Sep 2020 (format)
This document is

A partial index of discussion notes in this directory is in

My Second Eastside visit

I was originally invited to talk about consciousness at Eastside Gallery (as it was then called) in 2011. Gavin Wade, the director, invited me to talk again on 9th November 2018. I was an "interruption" in this two day event on 9-10 Nov:
Friday 9-Saturday 10 November, 2018
Artist Run Multiverse Summit with Kunsthal Gent, Pallas Projects, Rabbits Road Press/Oomk, Transmission, White Pube. A gathering of artist run organisations from across the UK and Europe to celebrate, share ideas, eat and sleep together and make plans for the future.

My "interruption", on day 1, in the middle of all that, was on this (unadvertised) topic

Toddler space scientists
Empty space includes billions of potential curved paths through which a wasp or a ball could move. Mathematicians have studied space for centuries, but it is also partially understood by many animals that see things in space, move through space, and manipulate things, including nest-building birds, animals that hunt for, peel, or tear open their food and pre-verbal human toddlers.
Note 1: Despite appearances in many impressive demos, current AI systems and robots do not share this deep spatial understanding, as pointed out in the talk.
Note 2: "billions" is an understatement!

The talk was subsequently reported on Twitter

Rubber bands, squirrels, nuts, impossible problems, toddlers, pencils in holes, and artificial intelligence. Mathematician(??!?) @aaronsloman on what is missing with computers and AI. #MultiverseSummit #evolution

Comment by Kerry Harker:

The talk was unscripted and did not use a projected presentation, apart from a few rubber bands in my pocket.

Video recording of the first day.

After the event, I learnt from twitter reports that the whole two-day event was streamed live and recorded (video below).

A 20 minute extract with my presentation is here:

Short recording (20 minute space talk)

Also available here:

I apologise for being inaudible when I had to put the microphone down for a short time, to show how it is possible to link rubber bands into a chain, though linking the ends of the chain is impossible. The rubber band problem is summarised, and discussed, briefly, here, with pictures:
     Impossible rubber banditry (Also pdf)

My talk also mentioned a toddler with a pencil, exploring 3D topology. A short (4.5min) video with commentary is here (not included in the presentation):

Full recording of Day 1 (7 hours 19 minutes)
Also available here:
My session starts at 3:05:58 (Introduction), and ends at 3:23:00. There was no time for discussion.

After the event

After the event, there were some pictures and kind comments posted on Twitter, for which many thanks:

Eastside Projects (@eprjcts)
"Rubber bands, squirrels, nuts, impossible problems, toddlers, pencils in holes, and artificial intelligence. Mathematician @aaronsloman on what is missing with computers and AI. #MultiverseSummit #evolution"
Kelly Large (@large_kelly)
Space exploration via spinning #squirrels, elastic bands & the spatial reasoning of neurons amongst other mind bending things from @aaronsloman @#MultiversSummit yesterday @eprjcts

I don't know how to embed more of the comments that followed the above two here.

References and links

A random subset of additional links relevant to understanding spatial possibilities and impossibilities:
I apologise to all who like web pages to be full of eye-catching images and moving distractors (lost on blind users of the internet).
This work, and everything else on my website, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.
If you use or comment on my ideas please include a URL if possible, so that readers can see the original, or the latest version.

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Maintained by Aaron Sloman
School of Computer Science
The University of Birmingham