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Forthcoming events

We run a number of Rustat Conference events by invitation throughout the year. For more information on any of the events listed below please email our Forum Coordinator

We are eager to develop our forthcoming agenda in conjunction with Members and Sponsors, and our Director, Dr Julian Huppert, would delight in discussing any partnerships with those interested in becoming Rustat Conference Members or organisations and individuals interested in sponsoring events, reports or programmes.

Rustat Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Big Data & Healthcare

31 January 2019, West Court, Jesus College, Cambridge, attendance by invitation only.

The use of artificial intelligence in healthcare is still very much in its early stages, but will expand and have profound consequences. Dr Bertalan Meskó, ‘The Medical Futurist’, described AI as ‘the stethoscope of the 21st Century'. Machine learning can lead to diagnoses that are faster and more accurate than any clinician could achieve, and AI-enabled robots can perform complex surgeries swiftly and reliably. More broadly, extensive use of AI could result in higher quality care, greater health system sustainability, and reduced error. However, it also brings significant challenges.

We will not just consider the impact of AI on medical practice but also on the healthcare workforce itself. Not only will how we deliver healthcare be transformed in coming decades, but also who we employ and what they do. Both in terms of displacement, or more broadly in terms of changing the nature of jobs, AI may be transformative. How might AI impact on workforce size? What will it mean in terms of training needs? Will it allow doctors to focus more on care and the people side of medicine, rather than biomedical expertise? Will the role of specialist medical researchers change? What will it mean for the skill mixture we expect from doctors? How will training programmes be rethought? Will the status of clinicians as trusted experts change? Will the public perception of doctors shift?

Rustat Conference on China in the World

27 March 2019, West Court, Jesus College, Cambridge, attendance by invitation only.

The Belt and Road initiative is probably the biggest global infrastructure ever undertaken. To some, it is a massive investment in international commerce, and one to be firmly welcomed. To others, it is a worrying part of a global domination strategy. To others, it is some of both.

China is also making great changes domestically. In 2015, the Chinese government announced “Made in China 2025", a plan to enhance innovation and production efficiency. By 2049, Chinese leaders want it to be the world’s top manufacturer. The core goals are to move from a mass-producer to a quality-master.

However, China's role in the world has not been without debate and contention. Donald Trump, for example, implicated Chinese exports as the source of many of America's domestic issues (whether rightly or wrongly). At the sme time domestic demand in China is slumping. Innovation and research are emerging as necessary not just aspirational goals.

We ask: how might China's role in the world reshape across the next decade and half century? What will this mean for us in the UK? How should we manage the interaction of two sets of very different world-views? Will the rise of China mean a lowering for Europe or the US, or can all benefit?

Rustat Conference on Blockchain: Myths and Realities

13 June 2019, West Court, Jesus College, Cambridge, attendance by invitation only.

Blockchain has been held up as one of the greatest innovations of this century. Many automatically associate it with  cryptocurrencies, specifically bitcoin, but blockchain and other distributed ledger technologies (DLT)s could have many other roles. Blockchain technology has the potential to shake multiple industries, both through decentralisation and transparancy. For example, Walmart teamed up with IBM to incorporate blockchains in their food management system, claiming that this would enable full knowledge of where food came from, providing health, safety, environmental and human rights benefits.

However,others point out that although there are many examples cited of people considering using blockchain or DLTs, many of them go no further, with the hype significantly exceeding the reality of use. Is bitcoin a real currency or a ponzi scheme? Is blockchain and DLT the underpining of a new wave of technology, or a buzzword in search of a purpose? Does the promise of ultra-efficient decentralised processing have any prospect of being realised? What would it mean for society and for businesses if it were realised?

In this Rustat Conference we will try to explore the myths and realities, and ask: what role does blockchain have in our daily lives? How might it help improve the human condition in decades to come?  How might it change our concepts of trust in other humans and in machines? What role does it have in security? How might blockchain impact democracy, including voting? Is it as innovative as many puport?

Rustat Conference on the Future of Homes, Housing, and Urbanisation

27 September 2019, West Court, Jesus College, Cambridge, attendance by invitation only.

The Institute of Civil Engineers have suggested that we are outgrowing many of our cities. Not only are populations increasing, but also what we expect from cities is changing. Like much of the world, the UK continues to debate how to provide sufficient good quality housing and the necessary transport links. At the same time, we need to ensure the provision of green space and create a true sense of community. In addition, we face the challenges of pollution, air quality, climate change and resource depletion.

In this Rustat Conference we ask: what should cities look like in light of changing housing needs, workplaces and lifestyles? How can we build community as density increases? How can we balance demands to build more houses against green space and environmental concerns? Are tiny houses, micro-apartments or communal facilities the future of urban homes? What should interurban transport look like in the future? What role does technology have? What do smart cities look like in 10, 25, 50 years? Will solutions that work in the UK apply overseas, and vice versa?

If you are interested in attending or sponsoring one of these Conferences, please contact us to explore your involvement. A report will follow each of the events, made available on our Reports page.

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