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YorkTalks Session Three 2018

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Spring Lane building auditorium

University of York

Heslington

York

YO10 5DD

United Kingdom

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SESSION THREE

Facing up to the security challenge – Mike Burton, Department of Psychology.

From the Australian Passport Authority to the Metropolitan Police, security and anti-fraud agencies around the world are working with Professor Mike Burton and his team to better understand how the human brain recognises faces. In his interactive talk he will show just how poor we are at recognising unfamiliar faces, and why even specially trained police officers and border control officials have a worryingly high failure rate when it comes to checking photo-ID. Research at York is helping law enforcement agencies develop ways of improving their success rate, but with criminals and terrorists being able to access the same technologies as the security services, there is no room for complacency.

Voice cloning – a new threat to secure banking and identify theft – Dominic Watt, Department of Language and Linguistic Science.

With digital technology moving ever closer to recreating authentic-sounding human speech, the potential for identity theft is increasing. Forensic voice researcher, Dr Dominic Watt, whose expertise has played a crucial role in a number of high profile criminal cases, argues that with 500 million people worldwide expected to use telephone banking by 2050, the security issues cannot be ignored. He argues that audio technology is now at a tipping point, with us getting close to being able to use small samples of speech to convincingly recreate the voices of others. While this could have huge benefits to the entertainment industry – bringing the voice of dead actors back to life – or in medicine by giving Motor Neurone Disease sufferers their voice back, it poses ethical, legal and security issues that legislators have been slow to recognise.

The deadly drone of war – James Rogers, Department of Politics

The face of warfare is changing. From automated drones capable of carrying deadly payloads vast distances, to intelligent drone swarms flying pilotless missions, the distinction between violent video games and the real world of modern aerial combat is becoming dangerously blurred. Dr James Rogers explodes the myth that pilotless drones are a cost-and-casualty-free alternative to more conventional warfare. He shows how China and the United States are now leading a deadly arms race that will see most states in the world – and many terrorist groups – having access to this technology within the next 20 years. While technology races ahead, arms control and other global agencies have failed to keep pace. As a result, drones are being deployed widely in areas of conflict, with terrifying results on innocent civilians.

Big data driving the development of disease resistant crops – Katherine Denby, Department of Biology

Adequately feeding the global population with nutritious and safe food, while using the Earth’s resources sustainably, is a major scientific challenge. A key part of this is reducing waste including on-farm waste due to plant disease. Climate change is also driving the geographical spread of plant pathogens and hence the search for resilient crops has never been more vital. Professor Katherine Denby and her team are exploring the components and complex pathways a plant deploys in the fight against pathogens. She explains how they are using big data to build predictive mathematical models, together with data from a wide range of crop cultivars and wild relatives, to speed up breeding of disease resistance.

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Date and Time

Location

Spring Lane building auditorium

University of York

Heslington

York

YO10 5DD

United Kingdom

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