bcs-logoThe Bristol Branch of the BCS, the Chartered Institue of Technology has launched a calendar of free tech talks for 2017, and they’ve got some impressive speakers lined up in the fields of AI, robotics, VR and other cutting-edge subjects already.

The BCS has 2,200 members across the South West (with over 1000 in Bristol and a further 400 in Bath), so it’s great that the organisation is recognising that by bringing these tech talks and networking events to Bristol.

“The planning of the talks themselves has reignited my long-standing intrigue with all things technology!”


To find out more on who the talks are for, and what attendees can expect, we caught up with BCS organiser Lloyd Skinner:

TechSPARK: What is the BCS and what does it do?

lloyd-skinner-bcs Lloyd Skinner (pictured left): The BCS is committed to making IT good for society. It uses the power of its network to bring about positive, tangible change. BCS champions the global IT profession and the interests of individuals, engaged in that profession, for the benefit of all.

TS: How did you come to be involved with it?

LS: Following many years of successful completion of large scale project delivery at the BBC, in December 2015 I took a 6-month self-imposed sabbatical. This allowed me time to pursue my own interests and as a veteran BCS member I volunteered to co-ordinate the series of 2017 talks. The planning of the talks themselves has reignited my long-standing intrigue with all things technology!

TS: Who are the talks for?

LS: The talks are free of charge and are open to the general public and are booked on a first-come first-served basis. Obviously, there will be a tendency toward attracting those operating within or having a certain interest in technology.

It is hoped the talks will appeal to existing and new members, young and old, and people who are both technical and non-technical. Current scheduled topics include Machine Learning & AI, Robotic Ethics, Internet of Things, Driverless Vehicles and not forgetting VR!

“The talks have an underlying theme to examine whether technology allows for human ‘freedom and efficiency'”


TS: What will the talks be focusing on?

LS: The talks are about “of now” technology subject matters and have an underlying theme to examine whether technology allows for human “freedom and/or efficiency”.

TS: You’ve got some big names signed up for future talks – who are you really looking forward to seeing?

LS: Although there are undoubtedly some fantastic talks in the pipeline the one that I am most intrigued to hear is the one scheduled for 3 May on the ethics of Robotics and AI.

prof-alan-winfieldFor me, this talk is at the heart of our chosen theme and we have been lucky enough to secure Professor Alan Winfield from the Bristol Robotics Lab (pictured right) and Chris Holder a Partner lawyer at Bristows LLP who both leading global specialists in this discipline.

TS: Were you surprised by the response when you made the first event live?
LS: I have been absolutely amazed. We publicised in a limited fashion on the Friday and by the following Tuesday we had 100 people booked on. We are now holding a waiting list but I will obviously need to consider a larger venue if the demand prevails.

TS: How can people get involved with BCS/the events?
LS: You can connect to the Bristol branch of the BCS and volunteer or please feel free to contact me directly at Lloyd.skinner@greyfly.co.uk for an informal chat.

Thanks to Lloyd for talking to us. The first event will be held at Bristol’s Engine Shed on 1 March and will be on Machine Learning & AI. You can sign up for it here at the BCS Bristol Branch website.

You can also keep up to date with BCS events by following the hashtag #bcsevent or the @BCSBristol account on Twitter.

Jamie Middleton