26 Jan 2017

Former spy joins line-up for Digital Dystopias film festival

MI5 spy turned whistleblower Annie Machon to speak at University of Hull event.

Should governments use social media to spy on the public? How ethical is artificial intelligence?

These questions (and plenty of others) will be asked at the University of Hull’s Digital Dystopias film festival, from Friday 10 February to Tuesday 14 February.

Hoping to answer some of these questions, former MI5 spy Annie Machon will join the festival on 12 February to share her insights into cyber security in an age where terrorism, hacked elections and digital privacy are regularly in the headlines.

Annie was an intelligence officer for the UK’s security service, MI5, in the 1990s, before resigning to become a whistleblower, writer and campaigner.

She said: “There is a huge appetite for insight into the area of cyber intelligence and I am looking forward to sharing my experiences in an open and public discussion as part of Hull’s City of Culture year.

“The programme for Digital Dystopias looks fascinating and will be of interest to anyone with an enquiring mind.”

The Digital Dystopias film festival combines film screenings with live events. Six spectacular films (including two Hull premieres) will be shown in the university’s auditorium, Middleton Hall.

Simon Willmetts, University of Hull lecturer and organiser of Digital Dystopias, said: “With recent headlines about how hacking may have swung the US elections and concerns over governments using social media to spy on the public, our Digital Dystopias season couldn’t come at a more relevant time.

“We will use films like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Snowden to spark discussion about how technology is changing our lives, and have invited experts from a broad range of fields to share their special insight.”

Find out more about the Digital Dystopias festival and book tickets here.

What’s On

Friday 10 February: Screening of Ex Machina, preceded by panel discussion Dystopias Today: Imagining Our Virtual Futures in a Post-Orwellian World, including acclaimed novelists Louise Welsh and Martin Goodman. Doors at 5pm.

 Saturday 11 February: Screening of 2001: A Space Odyssey. See this masterpiece in full projection at one of Hull’s largest cinema auditoriums. Doors at 1pm.

 Sunday 12 February: Screening of A Good American. See the Hull premiere of this docu-thriller about NSA whistleblower Bill Binney. Followed by panel discussion including Annie Machon (as above). Doors at 1pm.

 Also on 12 Feb: Screening of Snowden by Oliver Stone. Doors at 5pm.

 Monday 13 February: Hull premiere screening of Lo And Behold: Reveries Of The Connected World, followed by panel discussion on The Future of Privacy In A Digital Age including security experts like Professor Richard Aldrich, author of GCHQ: The Uncensored Story of Britain’s Most Secret Intelligence Agency, and Professor James Connelly, principal investigator of the ESRC Ethics And Rights Of Cyber-Security project. Doors at 5pm.

 Tuesday 14 February: Love in a Digital Age: An Alternative Valentine’s Day Programme including screening of Her, preceded by discussion on Rise Of The Machines: The Future Of Artificial Intelligence And How It Is Redefining What it Means To Be Human. Doors at 5pm.

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