Friends, Facts and FaceTime: Which Bits Can We Trust?

People are social creatures; from the moment we’re born, we begin to recognise faces and voices - who is this person? Have I met them before? Are they friendly? Can I trust them? Human interaction is informed by a rich vocabulary of body language, vocal inflections, and subconscious behaviour; it’s how we can tell when somebody is upset, or distracted; maybe even tell whether somebody is telling the truth or not. These concepts - identity, integrity, honesty - are the fundamental building blocks of the communities and societies which empower us to communicate and collaborate. But, as more and more human interaction moves online, we find ourselves communicating across a bewildering array of different channels and platforms: email, instant messages, video calls. The coronavirus pandemic has caused a revolution in remote working, but even before the pandemic, we were increasingly using digital services as an alternative to in-person contact. And yes, most of the time, doing things online is faster, easier, more convenient… right up until something goes wrong.

In this talk, Dylan Beattie will explore the history of digital identity, the evolution of remote working, and the future of online collaboration. We’ll look at social engineering, biometric authentication, blockchains, Slack chats, and internet poker. We’ll talk about neurodiversity and inclusivity, and how communication protocols can apply to humans as well as hardware. And we’ll discuss the fundamental challenges of digital communication: how do we know who we’re talking to? How do we know if they’re telling the truth? And if they’re not - what can we do about it?

Other talks by Dylan Beattie