Being Yvan Petillot


There I was, sitting across from a senior manager from Thales and two Professors, one each from Cambridge and Robert Gordon's Universities, discussing the precise definition of the term “emergent behaviour”...




Thanks to my current uncharacteristically basy schedule, I arrived late to the Forum on Unmanned Systems and Artificial Intelligence, an event designed to facilitate a high level discussion of these areas, and create the beginnings of a coherent plan for their future. In order to do this it brought together the foremost expects in the relevant fields, from both industry and academia.

And me.

Ah. No. See, there's a serious failure in continuity and a complete lack of explanation here. I am a terrible narrator (and worse still, I'm stealing Shane Black's material). Rewind again.

Actually invited to this forum were exhibits A, B and C. Namely: Doctors Yvan Petillot (Head of the Vision and Robotics course at Heriot-Watt University and SeeByte Chief Technical Officer) and Jonathan Evans (Former Head of Research a the Ocean Systems Laboratory and SeeByte Head of Engineering), and Professor David Lane (Head of Ocean Systems Laboratory and SeeByte Chief Executive Officer and Board Chairman).

Enter stage left: Exhibit D, yon plucky PhD student and sometime SeeByte “Development Engineer”, myself. Exhibits A, B and C were unable to attend for various reasons, and so Exhibit A (that's Dr Petillot for those of you not keeping track) asked me to attend in his stead, get a feel for what was going on, and fly the respective SeeByte and OSL flags. This suggestion was redoubled by Exhibit B, but never actually discussed with Exhibit C, who's inclusion in the program suggests the organisers were in some doubt regarding his attendance, or the lack thereof. This is not unusual.

And so, a mere 12 hours after arriving back in my beloved Edinburgh, fresh from my jaunt to Iceland (which I will write about in due course, once I can trust myself not to gush too unabashedly), I caught a plane to Bristol (it has a very impressive bridge, you know) and subsequently found myself in a room surrounded by people considerably more qualified and important than I. I'll leave it to you to make a judgement as to where on the scale between “high opinion of me” and “low opinion of this forum” the exact mark which led to this eventuality lies.

But what of it? I strongly suspect that I shouldn't go into much (or indeed any) detail yet, and the detail might in fact be supremely boring to the vast majority of readers. Suffice to say that it was an interesting experience, if frustrating reminiscent of the episode of The Simpsons in which the MENSA members take control of Springfield for much of its second day.

I found Bristol quite depressing, but for the reasoning behind that you'll have to wait until I've talked about Iceland some. For context, you see.