Future 50: Computing legend brought back to life by Orbital

AI avatar of Tommy Flowers created by VirtTuri

Computing pioneer Tommy Flowers was brought back to life as an AI avatar - Credit: VirtTuri

When Future 50 company Orbital Global joined with BT to stage its inaugural AI Festival, speakers from Facebook, Google, NASA, AstraZenica and more were joined by the man to whom many of them arguably owed their careers: Tommy Flowers. 

Except, of course, the Bletchley Park genius who designed and built Colossus – the world’s first programmable electronic computer – to crack the German Enigma codes in World War Two had actually passed away in 1998. 

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The Future 50 programme is supported by the partner businesses - Credit: Archant

He appeared as a hyper-realistic avatar, which said, “Never did I imagine that my work would ultimately lead to silicon chips, quantum computing, artificial intelligence, and me being recreated as an AI-generated avatar. However, my work lives on in your smartphones, iPads, and desktop computers.”

The avatar showcased the power of the AI underpinning the VirtTuri healthcare assistant created by Orbital. CEO Peter Brady said, "The AI Festival was able to bring together an amazing array of world leading speakers to address the impact of AI across a range of sectors. It clearly highlighted the amazing depth of commercial and research activity taking place in the East of England, marking the region out as a global AI hub."

Lisa Perkins, BT Director of Research Realisation and Adastral Park, comments, "The AI Festival was everything we hoped it would be, bringing together industry leaders and fantastic companies from the region in a fun, engaging and interactive event, which really enabled the audience to understand how AI can truly be applied now and in the future."

The AI Festival was sponsored by  usinesses and organisations including Eastern Academic Health Science Network (EAHSN), New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, Suffolk County Council, University of Essex, University of East Anglia, University of Suffolk, and VirtTuri.

For more information see www.aiglobalfestival.com

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