Professor Alex Shenfield Inaugural Lecture - Promise or peril? AI and its history

08 May 2024 18:00 - 20:30

Professor Alex Shenfield’s talk will answer the fundamental question – will AI be a force for good or plunge humanity into peril?

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has exploded in popularity over the last decade. From enhancing our selfies to generating video game content, AI is everywhere. Even washing machines claim they are ‘optimising with AI’ (spoiler – they’re not!).

AI has developed in fits and starts since the 1950s, but recent developments have finally made it mainstream. It’s a hot topic. The technology has the potential to improve quality of life, but we don’t fully understand the reasoning behind its decisions nor large models’ environmental impacts. Professor Alex will take us on a journey through the history of Artificial Intelligence and why, over the last few years, the technology has developed at such a fast pace.

He will end his talk by discussing how the brave new world of AI could go horribly wrong… Alex's bio Alex Shenfield is Professor of Machine Learning in the Department of Engineering at Sheffield Hallam University. He has worked in UK higher education for more than 15 years across a range of engineering and computer science disciplines and is both a Senior Member of the IEEE (SMIEEE) and a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (FHEA).

Professor Shenfield has extensive experience in applying AI technologies to solve real-world problems in collaboration with industrial partners. He is also the Research Theme Lead for Digital Connectivity and Technology at the National Centre for Excellence in Food Engineering (NCEFE), where his research drives the adoption of digitalisation and intelligent processes within food and drink manufacturing. Food and drink is the largest UK manufacturing sector – accounting for 19% of UK manufacturing and directly contributing £33bn to the UK economy.


  • 18:00 - Guests arrive
  • 18:30 - Professorial lecture and Q&A
  • 19:30 - Drinks reception
  • 20:30 - Event close