Tech Talks

The CTS offers a series of engaging one-hour presentations broadly related to the interplay of technology and society. If you're interested in having us present one of these exciting talks at your event, please contact us.

Note: We offer deeply discounted special rates for all nonprofit organizations (e.g., schools, churches, art groups).

The following is a list of talks currently available:
  • Star Trek at 50: This year marks the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek television series. When it debuted in 1966, many of Star Trek’s exciting new concepts were purely fictional: alien life forms, anti-matter power sources, energy weapons, faster-than-light travel, intelligent robots, portable communicators, and transporters all sprang from the fertile imaginations of the show’s writers. But as with all good science fiction, the stories were grounded in science fact. Now, a half-century later, technology has made many of Star Trek’s fictional concepts a reality. Come to this exciting lecture by Scott Tilley to hear more about the science, technology, and engineering of Star Trek. Find out what is fact and what is fiction!

  • Robots, AI, and Society: Will robots take your job? Will they take over the world? Robots are hardware constructs that can automatically perform a series of tasks under control of a computer program. Artificial intelligence (AI) is the software that can change a robot from a simple machine into an autonomous agent. When put together, robots and AI may represent the next great leap for mankind. The question is, a leap to where? Intelligent robots are already among us. As they evolve, how will they affect society? Will they be servants like Rosie? Will they be killers like the Terminator? Or will they be something entirely new, like Ava? Come to this exciting lecture by Scott Tilley to hear more about how thinking machines will change your future. There’s a storm coming; are you ready?

  • Big Data — A Systems Perspective: Forget about gigabytes - we’ve entered the “big data” era of yottabytes: 10^24 bytes, or 1 trillion terabytes. The technical term used to describe this much data is “ginormous.” The world is producing data at an amazing rate. The question is: what do to with it? Predictive analytics at scale are a very real concern for systems engineers already, and in the coming years the challenge will only grow. This talk describes the current big data landscape, provides an overview of some of the tools available to manage massive datasets, and discusses some of the possible impacts of big data on complex systems in the near future.

  • The STEM of FRINGE: The popular TV show FRINGE featured fantastical stories that included time travel, parallel universes, quantum entanglement, genetic engineering, immersive man-machine interfaces, and artificial evolution. Are any of these things real? Is the science sound? Will we ever have the engineering knowledge to build the technology that could turn science fiction into science fact? And if we did, how would these new developments affect society in terms of individual freedom, ethical behavior, and self-determination? Come to this exciting lecture by Scott Tilley to hear more about how you can help shape our shared future.

  • Integrating Computing in STEM Education: Today’s STEM educators need a modicum of computing literacy and historical perspective to place current developments in computational and data science in pedagogical context. Computing techniques such as modeling and simulation have become the third pillar of scientific progress, joining theory and experiments as the means of advancing STEM research, practice, and teaching. This talk summarizes an approach to integrating computing within the context of one of nine UTeach courses: Perspectives on Science and Mathematics. The talk summarizes the course’s overall vision and themes, assignment structure and goals, and lectures that can be used to advance the narrative of computational science knowledge for the educators of tomorrow.

  • Quantum Computing: Einstein called it spooky. He was referring to entanglement, when two particles share the same properties, even while separated by long distances. Quantum computers make use of entanglement to work their magic. They also rely on superposition to give them their parallel processing capabilities. Traditional computers manipulate bits, which are either on (‘1’) or off (‘0’). In a quantum computer, information is encoded in qubits, which exist in both states simultaneously. This means certain problems can be solved exponentially faster than with a regular computer. Problems like cryptography, which are at the heart of secret communications and credit card transactions, are currently “unbreakable” but become solvable in real time. Quantum computing represents the biggest change in information technology since the introduction of vacuum tubes. I call it amazing.