Cambridge Street Aid fund raises nearly £25,000 to help rough sleepers

Cambridge Council Feed - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 10:38

GENEROUS residents and visitors to Cambridge have donated nearly £25,000 to a fund to help rough sleepers in just over a year since its launch.

So far Cambridge Street Aid has paid out more than £17,000 in small grants to 65 vulnerable people to help them get off or stay off the streets.

Examples of how the grants have been used include:

Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Opinion: We're hardwired to look away when we see someone in trouble. Psychologist Dr Philippe Gilchrist on how to retrain yourself to speak up and step in

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 09:00

It has become impossible to ignore the alarming extent of sexual harassment and violence in our communities, particularly against women

For example, 25% of female students report having been sexually assaulted (NUS, 2011).

In response to this widespread issue, the bystander Intervention Initiative was developed by the University of the West of England upon receipt of a grant from Public Health England, a telling indicator that the scale of sexual violence is now being seen as a public health issue.

Now being trialled in seven Cambridge Colleges, the initiative is an eight-session course designed to train those who may witness a problem situation (i.e., ‘bystanders’) to act as prosocial citizens and to help prevent harassment.

The program addresses our culture’s common attitudes and norms that are part of the problem (such as victim blaming and gender stereotypes). One of the key objectives of the course is to identify and challenge our common barriers to intervening when we witness a problem situation arising.

What stops us from stepping in?

While many people acknowledge the problem of sexual harassment and violence, we often do not intervene, despite our core belief that it is wrong. Understanding barriers to action is the first step to overcoming them.

In one scenario I discuss as a facilitator for the programme, we imagine a first-year undergraduate student.  She is bright and sociable.  Her first class is in physics, and the lecturer is very difficult to understand.  During the lecture she begins to panic, thinking to herself: “What have I got myself into?!  I don’t belong here in University! I’m going to fail!”

She notices that most people appear to understand the material very well, nodding their heads, and seldom asking questions.  After the lecture, she approaches several students for help.  To her surprise, they confess that they, too, understood nothing.

The same applies to many situations, including sexual harassment; we might all register an act of harassment taking place, but group inaction reinforces a false social norm for the perpetrator’s action, which becomes increasingly difficult to challenge.  

The example with the student also illustrates an effective way to combat a pluralistic ignorance that leads a bystander to wrongly conclude that they are in the minority when thinking something is wrong. First identify the problem; then reach out to another person and, finally, ask questions (which you may have incorrectly thought were ‘stupid’).  

Now imagine a girl at a party when a man aggressively puts his arm around her waist – she cries out, ‘Leave me alone!’  What do you do?  The situation may seem confusing.  You might think to yourself that maybe they are dating and just having a tiff – but that’s irrelevant to whether or not it’s OK, right? It happens again before you have a chance to do anything.

Now fear of retaliation is not always imagined – sometimes it’s better to leave and report it, or ask friends for help in stepping in.

Be the first to speak up

But there are several barriers to even taking that step. Diffusion of responsibility is a tendency for people to feel less responsible when others are present. Breaking the norm is difficult. Inaction can be justified: ‘There are so many people here, I’m only one person, why should it be my job to intervene?’  The trouble is that most people tend to feel this way when in large groups. One consequence of this diffusion of responsibility is the ‘Bystander Effect’ – the decreased likelihood of someone intervening when more people are watching. 

And when a perpetrator witnesses no one in a room of 50 people saying anything about what they are doing, false consensus can encourage them to believe that the majority agree their actions are acceptable.

Say something.  Anything.  Simply ask what is going on, or state that something makes you feel uncomfortable. Or just ask a question to disrupt the situation.

When you step in, you’ll find others who feel and think the same as you do. Step up and you can encourage others to do the same. Do this enough times, and you begin to challenge a destructive norm and create a new culture of zero tolerance.

Join this week's Breaking the Silence campaigning to increase bystander interventions to stop sexual harassment as part of National Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2018. Download materials here or at

Psychologist Dr Philippe Gilchrist outlines three simple steps to overcoming 'bystander syndrome'

While many people acknowledge the problem of sexual harassment and violence, we often do not intervene, despite our core belief that it is wrong. Understanding barriers to action is the first step to overcoming them

The text in this work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. For image use please see separate credits above.

Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Newly-developed image guidelines will improve mobile shopping experience worldwide

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 02:53

The concept, known as ‘mobile ready hero images’, was designed to make shopping for grocery products faster, by making it easier to quickly spot key information about a product, such as size, type or flavour.

For example, searching for ‘soap’ on Amazon or other retail websites will bring up hundreds of images, and most customers will scroll quickly through the list on their phone in order to find the particular item they want. However, based on product images alone, it can be difficult to quickly spot the differences between items: whether an item contains one, three or ten individual bars of soap, for instance.

“While traditional pack photographs can be effective on desktop screens, different flavours and sizes of products can look identical when these photographs are displayed on mobiles, reduced to the size of a postage stamp,” said Dr Sam Waller from Cambridge’s Engineering Design Centre, who led the project. “This is especially problematic for older consumers with age-related long-sightedness.”

To date, mobile ready hero images have been adopted by over 80 retailers in more than 40 countries. India – where 65% of all online shopping transactions take place on mobiles – has been one of the fastest countries to adopt these images.

In addition to making the mobile shopping experience easier for customers, mobile ready hero images have also been shown to have a positive impact on sales. “Magnum ice cream is one of our billion dollar global brands that has adopted hero images,” said Oliver Bradley, e-commerce director at Unilever. “During an eight-week A/B split test with a retailer, Magnum’s hero images led to a sales increase of 24%.”

In order to meet retailers’ demands for consistent product images across all brands, Unilever commissioned Cambridge to develop a website for hero image guidelines, with freely available templates to help brands create improved product images.

To date, some brands have created mobile ready hero images using the Cambridge templates, while others have developed hero images in a different way. Some retailers have chosen to accept all kinds of hero images, while others will only accept some kinds of hero images, resulting in an inconsistent experience for consumers.

GS1, a global non-profit organisation which sets standards for consumer goods, has recently established a working group to focus on mobile ready hero images.

“We spotted the opportunity to improve the current situation using our Global Standards Management Process,” said Paul Reid, head of standards at GS1 in the UK. “The aim of the working group is to get agreement between competing brands and retailers, leading to a single, globally applicable set of guidelines for mobile ready hero images. These guidelines will help brands and retailers make the shopping experience better and more consistent.”

“Inclusive design can help improve the visual clarity of hero images, making them more accessible to a wider range of consumers,” said Waller. “In particular, our SEE-IT method can estimate the proportion of the population who would be unable to discern the important information from e-commerce images. We have joined the GS1 working group in an advisory capacity, and we are looking forward to contributing our expertise to help inform the critical decisions.

“Grocery products are just the start: we want to improve the e-commerce images used for every product, at every retailer, in every country in the world.”

Inset image: Examples of mobile-ready hero images. Walkers is a trademark owned and designed by PepsiCo and used with permission.

A new type of online product image, developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge in collaboration with global consumer goods company Unilever, could improve the mobile shopping experience for the world’s 2.5 billion smartphone users. 

We want to improve the e-commerce images used for every product, at every retailer, in every country in the world.Sam WallerPhoto by Gilles Lambert on UnsplashMan on a smartphone

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YesRelated Links: Short introduction to mobile ready hero imagesGS1 working groupInterview with Sam Waller in The Grocer
Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Shoals of sticklebacks differ in their collective personalities

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Wed, 02/07/2018 - 01:34

For centuries, scientists and non-scientists alike have been fascinated by the beautiful and often complex collective behaviour of animal groups, such as the highly synchronised movements of flocks of birds and schools of fish. Often, those spectacular collective patterns emerge from individual group members using simple rules in their interactions, without requiring global knowledge of their group.

In recent years it has also become apparent that, across the animal kingdom, individual animals often differ considerably and consistently in their behaviour, with some individuals being bolder, more active, or more social than others.

New research conducted at the University of Cambridge’s Department of Zoology suggests that observations of different groups of schooling fish could provide important insights into how the make-up of groups can drive collective behaviour and performance.

In the study, published today in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, the researchers created random groups of wild-caught stickleback fish and subjected them repeatedly to a range of environments that included open spaces, plant cover, and patches of food.

Dr Jolle Jolles, lead author of the study, now based at the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology, said: “By filming the schooling fish from above and tracking the groups’ movements in detail, we found that the randomly composed shoals showed profound differences in their collective behaviour that persisted across different ecological contexts. Some groups were consistently faster, better coordinated, more cohesive, and showed clearer leadership structure than others.

“That such differences existed among the groups is remarkable as individuals were randomly grouped with others that were of similar age and size and with which they had very limited previous social contact.”

This research shows for the first time that, even among animals where group membership changes frequently over time and individuals are not very strongly related to each other, such as schooling fish or flocking birds, stable differences can emerge in the collective performance of animal groups.

Such behavioural variability among groups may directly affect the survival and reproductive success of the individuals within them and influence how they associate with one another. Ultimately these findings may therefore help understand the selective pressures that have shaped social behaviour.

Dr Andrea Manica, co-author of the paper from the University of Cambridge, added: “Our research reveals that the collective performance of groups is strongly driven by their composition, suggesting that consistent behavioural differences among groups could be a widespread phenomenon in animal societies.”

These research findings provide important new insights that may help explain and predict the performance of social groups, which could be beneficial in building human teams or constructing automated robot swarms.

The research was supported by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.

Jolles, JW et al. Repeatable group differences in the collective behaviour of stickleback shoals across ecological contexts. Proceedings of the Royal Society B; 7 Feb 2018; DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2629

Research from the University of Cambridge has revealed that, among schooling fish, groups can have different collective personalities, with some shoals sticking closer together, being better coordinated, and showing clearer leadership than others.

Jolle JollesStickleback

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Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Opinion: Women’s suffrage centenary is a rallying call for us all to take action

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 10:26

A hundred years on from women winning the vote in this country, gender pay gaps, sexual harassment and everyday sexism are still making headlines.

While gender pay gaps and sexual harassment were certainly overt in earlier centuries, it is difficult to say whether the everyday sexism was more common.

While women were economically active in most sectors of the economy, and in much larger numbers than is usually thought, they could be legally excluded from high-status forms of employment by guilds and professional bodies.

In 17th century London, Samuel Pepys itemised in excruciating detail the sexual exploitation of female employees, friends and acquaintances in his meticulous diary. His actions may have been unwelcome but none were illegal unless they resulted in pregnancy. This kind of diary was fairly unusual. But the language to describe the commerce proliferating in early modern England and the language describing sex overlapped. A woman’s credit was largely sexual, whereas a man’s was financial. The range of options to discredit a woman was wide. In the introduction to the 1855 Philadelphia edition of Pepys’ Diary, it describes “almost every word in the English language designating a female, having, at some time or another, been used as a term of reproach”.

In the early 17th century, women sometimes sued name-callers for defaming their reputation. This largely disappears later, though probably because the legal defence of a woman’s reputation was no longer seen as necessary rather than that the name-calling stopped.

Feminist campaigns for equality since the mid-19th century achieved real improvements – first higher education in the later 19th century, the vote 100 years ago today, then birth control and statutory equal pay in the 1970s.

But even those radical achievements did not create a situation of equality. That is not because of any biological differences between the sexes, as some suggest. Cordelia Fine, in her books Testosterone Rex and Delusions of Gender, clearly outlines the very small biological differences between women and men.

Be aware of your bias

At least part of the answer – and it is not comforting – is that, in general, we have an ‘implicit bias’ in favour of male (and lighter skinned) people. Psychological work on these cognitive errors has been around for 30 years. We know that employers, whether male or female, rank a CV for a job application higher with a man’s name at the top than the same CV with a woman’s name at the top.

Similarly, ‘Anglo’ sounding names are preferred. One writer who ran her own personal experiment found that literary agents, who are predominantly female, were eight times more likely to respond to the same proposal coming from a (fictional) man as from a (real) woman, as Mary Ann Sieghart found out last week on Analysis.

These biases are unconscious, based on associations that are made in the culture around us, regardless of our personal beliefs. But the one thing that history can teach is that culture does change.

The Everyday Sexism blog, which documents incidents ranging from trivial to criminal anonymously, as a way to share frustration and rage, is inconceivable in any previous century -- and not just because the internet is recent.

Jennifer Saul’s article ‘Stop Thinking So Much About “Sexual Harassment”’ (Journal of Applied Philosophy 31/3, 2014) directs attention away from the legal procedures and towards practical means of intervention in unacceptable situations, to intervene in the culture that tolerates discrimination. 

Cambridge University’s Breaking the Silence campaign, as well as the wider movements of #MeToo and Time’s Up both speak to the possibility of changing the ‘climate’ of our institutions, even as we can expect to have to work towards that end on a daily basis.

When girls get shamed for their appearance, or boys for emotional vulnerability, or the founder of #MeToo gets abused as ‘too ugly to rape’, or one of your peers after a few too many says ‘you only got the job because you are a woman/black/asian’, it can be hard to remember that we are living in the 21st century.

Why is this kind of hatred and fear still around, in apparent contradiction to both laws and generally tolerant cultural norms?

Challenging a culture of discrimination

An institutional ‘climate’ of discrimination may arise from countless small incidents: a racist or sexist joke that passes unchallenged, for example; or a series of meetings or public forums where the voices of white men dominate.

These days, discriminatory comments may be subtle, or passing, or ‘jokey’, in such a way that makes them not worth following through with a formal complaint. Most of us don’t know how to respond in such situations, whether we or someone else is the target: we are embarrassed or freeze, hoping it will go away, or perhaps it never really happened?

But the one thing we can be sure of is that this situation will arise again. And if we do not intervene, it will continue to happen, and perhaps even more frequently. Bystander training offers options to stop the behaviour and give support to those who are targeted. The aim is to change the accepted cultural norms of workplaces and communities, even of a conversation, because most of us want to live and work in a more tolerant and supportive climate.

Sympathetic but effective interventions counter everyday sexism and racism. For example, one of the best ways to ways to deal with offensive ‘jokes’ is not to laugh. Smiling or laughing gives the speaker the impression that everyone around agrees with him.

Often comments are more thoughtless than malicious. Open-ended questions that give the speaker the chance to apologise are a good way to challenge quickly and effectively: "Why do you say that?" "How did you develop that belief?" If our first response is anger, then questions like these can help to buy time to recover our temper and think more clearly.

It can be hard to challenge prejudice without feeling like you’re making a scene or causing a fuss. It is hard to step in, and can feel costly. But as The Breaking the Silence film says, it is also hard to imagine that the cost you may experience will be equal to a victim’s suffering.

Alone, we can’t change a culture, but if attitudes are challenged, together we can change a climate of discrimination.

Join this week's Breaking the Silence campaigning to increase bystander interventions to stop sexual harassment as part of National Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week 2018. Download materials here or at

As we celebrate the 100th anniversary of women gaining the vote in the UK today, the fight for equality feels far from over, says historian Dr Amy Erickson

The aim is to change the accepted cultural norms of workplaces and communities, even of a conversation, because most of us want to live and work in a more tolerant and supportive climateTime's up for sexual harassment, or is it?Time's up for sexual harassment, or is it?

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Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Last chance to sign up to the Cambridgeshire Energy Switch

Cambridge Council Feed - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 09:44

RESIDENTS in Cambridge could get a better deal from their energy provider by taking part in the latest round of Cambridgeshire’s collective energy switching scheme supported by Cambridge City Council.

Since the introduction of the scheme in 2014, more than 1400 residents have switched energy suppliers in Cambridgeshire and benefited from savings of more than £200 per household per year.

Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Artificial intelligence is growing up fast: what’s next for thinking machines?

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Tue, 02/06/2018 - 09:11

We are well on the way to a world in which many aspects of our daily lives will depend on AI systems.

Within a decade, machines might diagnose patients with the learned expertise of not just one doctor but thousands. They might make judiciary recommendations based on vast datasets of legal decisions and complex regulations. And they will almost certainly know exactly what’s around the corner in autonomous vehicles.

“Machine capabilities are growing,” says Dr Stephen Cave, Executive Director of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence (CFI). “Machines will perform the tasks that we don’t want to: the mundane jobs, the dangerous jobs. And they’ll do the tasks we aren’t capable of – those involving too much data for a human to process, or where the machine is simply faster, better, cheaper.”

Dr Mateja Jamnik, AI expert at the Department of Computer Science and Technology, agrees: “Everything is going in the direction of augmenting human performance – helping humans, cooperating with humans, enabling humans to concentrate on the areas where humans are intrinsically better such as strategy, creativity and empathy.” 

Part of the attraction of AI requires that future technologies perform tasks autonomously, without humans needing to monitor activities every step of the way. In other words, machines of the future will need to think for themselves. But, although computers today outperform humans on many tasks, including learning from data and making decisions, they can still trip up on things that are really quite trivial for us.

Take, for instance, working out the formula for the area of a parallelogram. Humans might use a diagram to visualise how cutting off the corners and reassembling it as a rectangle simplifies the problem. Machines, however, may “use calculus or integrate a function. This works, but it’s like using a sledgehammer to crack a nut,” says Jamnik, who was recently appointed Specialist Adviser to the House of Lords Select Committee on AI.

“When I was a child, I was fascinated by the beauty and elegance of mathematical solutions. I wondered how people came up with such intuitive answers. Today, I work with neuroscientists and experimental psychologists to investigate this human ability to reason and think flexibly, and to make computers do the same.”

Jamnik believes that AI systems that can choose so-called heuristic approaches – employing practical, often visual, approaches to problem solving – in a similar way to humans will be an essential component of human-like computers. They will be needed, for instance, so that machines can explain their workings to humans – an important part of the transparency of decision-making that we will require of AI.

With funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council and the Leverhulme Trust, she is building systems that have begun to reason like humans through diagrams. Her aim now is to enable them to move flexibly between different “modalities of reasoning”, just as humans have the agility to switch between methods when problem solving. 

 Being able to model one aspect of human intelligence in computers raises the question of what other aspects would be useful. And in fact how ‘human-like’ would we want AI systems to be? This is what interests Professor José Hernandez-Orallo, from the Universitat Politècnica de València in Spain and Visiting Fellow at the CFI.

“We typically put humans as the ultimate goal of AI because we have an anthropocentric view of intelligence that places humans at the pinnacle of a monolith,” says Hernandez-Orallo. “But human intelligence is just one of many kinds. Certain human skills, such as reasoning, will be important in future systems. But perhaps we want to build systems that ‘fill the gaps that humans cannot reach’, whether it’s AI that thinks in non-human ways or AI that doesn’t think at all.

“I believe that future machines can be more powerful than humans not just because they are faster but because they can have cognitive functionalities that are inherently not human.” This raises a difficulty, says Hernandez-Orallo: “How do we measure the intelligence of the systems that we build? Any definition of intelligence needs to be linked to a way of measuring it, otherwise it’s like trying to define electricity without a way of showing it.”

The intelligence tests we use today – such as psychometric tests or animal cognition tests – are not suitable for measuring intelligence of a new kind, he explains. Perhaps the most famous test for AI is that devised by 1950s Cambridge computer scientist Alan Turing. To pass the Turing Test, a computer must fool a human into believing it is human. “Turing never meant it as a test of the sort of AI that is becoming possible – apart from anything else, it’s all or nothing and cannot be used to rank AI,” says Hernandez-Orallo.

In his recently published book The Measure of all Minds, he argues for the development of “universal tests of intelligence” – those that measure the same skill or capability independently of the subject, whether it’s a robot, a human or an octopus.

His work at the CFI as part of the ‘Kinds of Intelligence’ project, led by Dr Marta Halina, is asking not only what these tests might look like but also how their measurement can be built into the development of AI. Hernandez-Orallo sees a very practical application of such tests: the future job market. “I can imagine a time when universal tests would provide a measure of what’s needed to accomplish a job, whether it’s by a human or a machine.”

Cave is also interested in the impact of AI on future jobs, discussing this in a report on the ethics and governance of AI recently submitted to the House of Lords Select Committee on AI on behalf of researchers at Cambridge, Oxford, Imperial College and the University of California at Berkeley. “AI systems currently remain narrow in their range of abilities by comparison with a human. But the breadth of their capacities is increasing rapidly in ways that will pose new ethical and governance challenges – as well as create new opportunities,” says Cave. “Many of these risks and benefits will be related to the impact these new capacities will have on the economy, and the labour market in particular.”

Hernandez-Orallo adds: “Much has been written about the jobs that will be at risk in the future. This happens every time there is a major shift in the economy. But just as some machines will do tasks that humans currently carry out, other machines will help humans do what they currently cannot – providing enhanced cognitive assistance or replacing lost functions such as memory, hearing or sight.”

Jamnik also sees opportunities in the age of intelligent machines: “As with any revolution, there is change. Yes some jobs will become obsolete. But history tells us that there will be jobs appearing. These will capitalise on inherently human qualities. Others will be jobs that we can’t even conceive of – memory augmentation practitioners, data creators, data bias correctors, and so on. That’s one reason I think this is perhaps the most exciting time in the history of humanity.”

Our lives are already enhanced by AI – or at least an AI in its infancy – with technologies using algorithms that help them to learn from our behaviour. As AI grows up and starts to think, not just to learn, we ask how human-like do we want their intelligence to be and what impact will machines have on our jobs? 

Perhaps we want to build systems that ‘fill the gaps that humans cannot reach’, whether it’s AI that thinks in non-human ways or AI that doesn’t think at allJosé Hernandez-OralloThe DistrictArtificial intelligence

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Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Opinion: Why Cambridge University received 173 anonymous reports of sexual misconduct in nine months

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 13:23

Trust in universities’ ability to safeguard students and staff from sexual abuse will remain low until reports of sexual misconduct are in triple figures, according to Graham Towl, former chief psychologist for the Ministry of Justice.

The University of Cambridge has now passed that point, with 173 reports received through our anonymous reporting tool between its introduction in May 2017 and 31 January 2018. The start of an awareness campaign against sexual misconduct called Breaking the Silence in October 2017 prompted the second largest spike in reports.

Several other universities have introduced similar anonymous reporting tools, such as the University of Manchester, but Cambridge is the first to publish such a high number of reports.

We expected high numbers, and view it as a metric of success. It appears victims have confidence in our promise that these figures will be used to judge the nature and scale of sexual misconduct affecting students and staff, and to act on it accordingly.

Under-reporting of sexual misconduct is a problem generally, not just in universities. According to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center in the US, more than 90% of those who were sexually assaulted on campus did not report it. The charity Rape Crisis describes the numbers in terms of a pyramid. The wide base is the total number of incidents, reports of incidents are in the middle and at the tip are the few that result in convictions.

Universities must step up

A number of recent high profile cases of acquittal have raised significant concerns about prosecution practices relating to disclosure of evidence. They also show the fundamental importance of the rule of law: the criminal justice system must be fair and must be seen to be fair.

But the media coverage of these cases may mean victims of sexual misconduct will be less likely to report what has happened to them to the police – and so other agencies will need to respond. Universities have a particular responsibility for their own students who have been affected by sexual misconduct, but this requires them to be able to identify and then provide support to the students who need it.

The challenge is that one or two complaints a year do not give a university much information with which to formulate a response to the wider problem. Through the anonymous reporting tool, we now have a large number of Cambridge voices who have reported the issues they’ve faced. Using this data, we can start to measure the impact of initiatives and campaigns such as Breaking the Silence. But this data is anonymous, and some of it will be historic.

It supports our belief that we have a significant problem involving sexual misconduct – what we now need to ensure is that those who have been affected receive the support and guidance they need.

The early signs of the impact of Breaking the Silence are encouraging. Before the campaign, 52% of those reporting recent incidents thought nothing would be done if they made a complaint. Following the launch, that has dropped to 30%. Clearly, there is work still to do, but the campaign’s message that those who report will be supported and action can be taken is starting to have an impact.

Why anonymity works for some

As part of our evaluation of the campaign, we held a series of focus groups. I was struck by one student’s comment in particular. She said the #MeToo campaign put people under unfair pressure to disclose, adding that, to her, it was wrong that victims of sexual misconduct were being encouraged to “parade their pain” in the national news.

Anonymous reporting can help survivors’ voices be heard without their rawest experiences being made public in any way. It gives them a voice in a way that is free of the fear of consequences, but also free from accusations that complaints are vexatious as neither perpetrator nor victim can be named. For some, this may be sufficient. For others, they may want action to be taken.

When speaking to our staff who support students affected by sexual misconduct, all describe students who do not want formally to report to the authorities; who do not want others to know; who do not want to have to relive their experience. These students feel there is no benefit to them in reporting, and they are fearful of the reactions of their friends or the perpetrator if they do so.

Read more: Understanding the myths that new students hold about sexual violence and domestic abuse is key for prevention

Without anonymous reporting options there are no opportunities for these silenced voices to be heard. And with anonymous reporting, these students may start to have confidence that they can come forward and be heard in person and be given the emotional support, advice and guidance they might need.

Challenging sexual misconduct is not only the right thing to do for the safety and well-being of staff and students. Universities are in a unique position to instil a zero tolerance approach to misconduct in their students which they can take with them into the future.

Graham Virgo, Professor of English Private Law; Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, University of Cambridge

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

In October 2017, we launched an awareness campaign against sexual misconduct called Breaking the Silence. This prompted the second largest spike in reports in our University's history, writes Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Education, Professor Graham Virgo.

Cedric BousquetBreaking the Science

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Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Families ready to move in to new council homes on Uphall Road

Cambridge Council Feed - Mon, 02/05/2018 - 11:39

NEW tenants are set to move in this week to two new council homes constructed by Cambridge City Council employees and apprentices on Uphall Road.

The two properties are being let to families who have been on the council’s housing waiting list, and who will rent their homes directly from the council.

The semi-detached three bedroom houses have been built on a site that was previously occupied by 15 garages.

Both houses have high levels of energy efficiency with solar panels fitted to the roof and insulation that will help to reduce the tenants’ electricity bills.

Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

How Japan’s ‘salaryman’ is becoming cool

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Fri, 02/02/2018 - 13:50

Read more about the new research into 'Cool Japanese men.

Japanese men are becoming cool. The suit-and-tie salaryman remodels himself with beauty treatments and 'cool biz' fashion. Loyal company soldiers are reborn as cool, attentive fathers. Hip-hop dance is as manly as martial arts. Could it even be cool for middle-aged men to idolise teenage girl popstars? 

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Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Council launches £90k public art commission to celebrate the story of the River Cam

Cambridge Council Feed - Fri, 02/02/2018 - 12:22

CAMBRIDGE City Council has launched a large public art commission opportunity to celebrate and promote the story of the River Cam and its role in shaping Cambridge.

The commission involves the appointment of an artist in residence from May 2018 to May 2019 who will organise a programme of events and activities designed to give the local community the opportunity to participate creatively in research about the river Cam.  

Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Preparing for the future: artificial intelligence and us

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Fri, 02/02/2018 - 09:00

AI systems are now used in everything from the trading of stocks to the setting of house prices; from detecting fraud to translating between languages; from creating our weekly shopping lists to predicting which movies we might enjoy.

This is just the beginning. Soon, AI will be used to advance our understanding of human health through analysis of large datasets, help us discover new drugs and personalise treatments. Self-driving vehicles will transform transportation and allow new paradigms in urban planning. Machines will run our homes more efficiently, make businesses more productive and help predict risks to society.

While some AI systems will outperform human intelligence to augment human decision making, others will carry out repetitive, manual and dangerous tasks to augment human labour. Many of the greatest challenges we face, from understanding and mitigating climate change to quickly identifying and containing disease outbreaks, will be aided by the tools of AI.

What we’ve seen of AI so far is only the leading edge of the evolution to come.

Yet the idea of creating machines that think and learn like humans has been around since the 1950s. Why is AI such a hot topic now? And what does Cambridge have to offer?

Three major advances are enabling huge progress in AI research: the availability of masses of data generated by all of us all the time; the power and processing speeds of today’s supercomputers; and the advances that have been made in mathematics and computer science to create sophisticated algorithms that help machines learn.

Unlike in the past when computers were programmed for specific tasks and domains, modern machine learning systems know nothing about the topic in question, they only know about learning: they use huge amounts of data about the world in order to learn from it and to make predictions about future behaviour. They can make sense of complex datasets that are difficult to use and have missing data.

That these advances will provide tremendous benefits is becoming clear. One strand of the UK government’s Industrial Strategy is to put the UK at the forefront of the AI and data revolution. In 2017, a report by PricewaterhouseCoopers described AI as “the biggest commercial opportunity in today’s fast-changing economy”, predicting a 10% increase in the UK’s GDP by 2030 as a result of the applications of AI.

Cambridge University is helping to drive this evolution – and to prepare for it.

Our computer scientists are designing systems that are cybersecure, model human reasoning, interact in affective ways with us, uniquely identify us by our face and give insights into our biological makeup.

Our engineers are building machines that are making decisions under uncertain conditions based on probabilistic estimation of perception and for the best course of action. And they’re building robots that can carry out a series of actions in the physical world – whether it’s for self-driving cars or for picking lettuces.

Our researchers in a multitude of different disciplines are creating innovative applications of AI in areas as diverse as discovering new drugs, overcoming phobias, helping to make police custody decisions and forecasting extreme weather events.

Our philosophers and humanists are asking fundamental questions about the ethics, trust and humanity of AI system design, and the effect that the language of discussion has on the public perception of AI. Together with the work of our engineers and computer scientists, these efforts aim to create AI systems that are trustworthy and transparent in their workings – that do what we want them to do.

All of this is happening in a university research environment and wider ecosystem of start-ups and large companies that facilitates innovative breakthroughs in AI. The aim of this truly interdisciplinary approach to research at Cambridge is to invent transformative AI technology that will benefit society at large.

However, transformative advances may carry negative consequences if we do not plan for them carefully on a societal level.

The fundamental advances that underpin self-driving cars may allow dangerous new weapons on the battlefield. Technologies that automate work may result in livelihoods being eliminated. Algorithms trained on historical data may perpetuate, or even exacerbate, biases and inequalities such as sex- or race-based discrimination. Without careful planning, systems for which large amounts of personal data is essential, such as in healthcare, may undermine privacy.

Engaging with these challenges requires drawing on expertise not just from the sciences, but also from the arts, humanities and social sciences, and requires delving deeply into questions of policy and governance for AI. Cambridge has taken a leading position here too, with the recent establishment of the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence and the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk, as well as being one of the founding partners of The Alan Turing Institute based in London.

In the longer term, it is not outside the bounds of possibility that we might develop systems able to match or surpass human intelligence in the broader sense. There are some who think that this would change humanity’s place in the world irrevocably, while others look forward to the world a superintelligence might be able to co-create with us.

As the University where the great mathematician Alan Turing was an undergraduate and fellow, it seems entirely fitting that Cambridge’s scholars are exploring questions of such significance to prepare us for the evolution to come. Turing once said: “we can only see a short distance ahead, but we can see plenty there that needs to be done.”

Inset image: read more about our AI research in the University's research magazine; download a pdf; view on Issuu.

Dr Mateja Jamnik (Department of Computer Science and Technology), Dr Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh (Centre for the Study of Existential Risk and the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence, CFI), Dr Beth Singler (Faraday Institute for Science and Religion and CFI) and Dr Adrian Weller (Department of Engineering, CFI and The Alan Turing Institute).

Today we begin a month-long focus on research related to artificial intelligence. Here, four researchers reflect on the power of a technology to impact nearly every aspect of modern life – and why we need to be ready.

What we’ve seen of AI so far is only the leading edge of the evolution to come.Mateja Jamnik, Seán Ó hÉigeartaigh, Beth Singler and Adrian WellerJonathan Settle / University of Cambridge

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Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Cambridge events mark 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote

Cambridge Council Feed - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 13:42

CAMBRIDGE City Council is supporting a series of events being held in Cambridge to commemorate 100 years since women were first able to vote in UK national elections.

On Tuesday 6 February, there will be a day of free activities centred around the Guildhall from 10.30am-9pm, which will see a blue plaque unveiled to Millicent Garrett Fawcett, a leader of the movement for women’s suffrage and a founder of Newnham College, Cambridge. Other activities on the day include:

Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Trumpington Cross goes on display for the first time

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Thu, 02/01/2018 - 11:57

Read more about the unusual burial of one of England's earliest converts to Christianity. 

Extremely rare, early Christian gold cross, gifted to Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

The skeleton of the teenage girl, and the remnants of her burial, as discovered by Cambridge University archaeologists in 2011.

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Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

University celebrates LGBT+ History Month

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 13:27

​Today is the start of LGBT+ History Month, which will be marked with a series of public events at the University throughout February.

LGBT+ History Month takes place every February, and promotes equality and diversity by increasing the visibility of lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans people, their history, lives and experience; as well as raising awareness and advancing education on matters affecting the LGBT+ community.

This year, the University Library will fly the rainbow flag - the internationally-recognised symbol of the LGBT+ community - from its 157ft tall tower for the first time to mark the month, joining the many Colleges across the city who also fly the flag. The Library will host a pop-up exhibition called Queering the UL towards the end of the month, featuring a selection of LGBT+ related materials brought together for the first time from the more than eight million items which form the library’s 600-year-old collection. Items on display range from the 11th century to the 21st, including evidence of gay life in medieval Cairo, gender fluidity in 18th century Japan and ephemera from the vibrant LGBT scene in 1970s' Latin America.

Liam Sims, Rare Books Specialist, said: “Since its appearance in San Francisco in 1978 the rainbow flag has symbolised both the diversity of the LGBT+ community and the pride felt by its members, and in flying the flag, the University Library sends a clear message that it is a welcoming, open and tolerant place.”

Dr Jessica Gardner, University Librarian, said: “In joining with other institutions across Cambridge also flying the flag we show that our city and university are places where people can be themselves without fear of discrimination.”

Marking the end of LGBT+ History Month, the exhibition will be held on 28th February (3.00-6.30pm). No booking is required. The exhibition will be held in the Milstein Rooms (through the Exhibition Centre). You can use the hashtag #queeringtheul to share your thoughts on what you see.

A number of student-run events are taking place this month, coordinated by the Cambridge University LGBT+ Campaign. A calendar of events is available on their Facebook page.

In addition to University and College events, there are many events taking place around Cambridgeshire to mark LGBT+ History Month. Further details are available on the Encompass website.

Cambridge University Library celebrates LGBT History Month: rainbow flag flies from our iconic tower to show our city and university are places where people can be themselves without fear of discrimination.

— Jessica Gardner (@CamUniLibrarian) February 1, 2018


Veterinary Medicine supporting LGBT @cusulgbt

— Cambridge Vet School (@CamVetSchool) January 31, 2018

We're flying the flag today for the start of #LGBTHM18! There are a lot of events in Cambridge this month, and we're excited to be hosting a panel on 'Queering Britain's national heritage". Details here:

— Pembroke College (@pembroke1347) February 1, 2018

Flying the flag

— Christ's College (@christs_college) February 1, 2018

We are celebrating LGBT+ History Month throughout February with a pop-up University Library exhibition and numerous student-led events.

In flying the flag the University Library sends a clear message that it is a welcoming, open and tolerant place.Liam Sims, Rare Books Specialist at the UL

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Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

LGBT History Month officially launches at the Guildhall

Cambridge Council Feed - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:46

THE MAYOR of Cambridge, Cllr George Pippas, will host an event at the Guildhall tomorrow (Thursday 1 February) to mark the start of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender History (LGBT) Month.

The Mayor will launch this year’s event, which is supported by Cambridge City Council, from 11.45am at The Guildhall, with the rainbow flag raised above the building 40 years after it was first flown in the UK.

Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Proposals for balanced housing budget for 2018-19 approved by Leader of the Council

Cambridge Council Feed - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 12:20

A COMMITMENT to provide more housing for people in need is the top priority for Cambridge City Council, as set out in its Housing Revenue Account Budget Setting Report (HRA BSR), which was approved by Cllr Lewis Herbert, Leader of the Council, today.

The report describes how the council will invest in housing services in the coming year, targeting resources on those people who are in greatest need.

Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

Zero gravity graphene promises success in space

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 07:00

Working as part of a collaboration between the Graphene Flagship and the European Space Agency, researchers from the Cambridge Graphene Centre tested graphene in microgravity conditions for the first time while aboard a parabolic flight – often referred to as the ‘vomit comet’. The experiments they conducted were designed to test graphene’s potential in cooling systems for satellites.

“One of graphene’s potential uses, recognised early on, is space applications, and this is the first time that graphene has been tested in space-like applications,” said Professor Andrea Ferrari, who is Director of the Cambridge Graphene Centre, as well as Science and Technology Officer and Chair of the Management Panel for the Graphene Flagship.

Graphene – a form of carbon just a single atom thick – has a unique combination of properties that make it useful for applications from flexible electronics and fast data communication, to enhanced structural materials and water treatments. It is highly electrically and thermally conductive, as well as strong and flexible.

In this experiment, the researchers aimed to improve the performance of cooling systems in use in satellites, making use of graphene’s excellent thermal properties. “We are using graphene in what are called loop-heat pipes. These are pumps that move fluid without the need for any mechanical parts, so there is no wear and tear, which is very important for space applications,” said Ferrari.

“We are aiming at an increased lifetime and an improved autonomy of the satellites and space probes,” said Dr Marco Molina, Chief Technical Officer of the Space line of business at industry partner Leonardo. “By adding graphene, we will have a more reliable loop heat pipe that can operate autonomously in space.”

In a loop-heat pipe, evaporation and condensation of a fluid are used to transport heat from hot electronic systems out into space. The pressure of the evaporation-condensation cycle forces fluid through the closed systems, providing continuous cooling.

The main element of the loop-heat pipe is the metallic wick, where the fluid is evaporated into gas. In these experiments, the metallic wick was coated in graphene, improving the efficiency of the heat pipe in two ways. Firstly, graphene’s excellent thermal properties improve the heat transfer from the hot systems into the wick. Secondly, the porous structure of the graphene coating increases the interaction of the wick with the fluid, and improves the capillary pressure, meaning the liquid can flow through the wick faster.

After promising results in laboratory tests, the graphene-coated wicks were tested in space-like conditions onboard a Zero-G parabolic flight. To create weightlessness, the plane undergoes a series of parabolic manoeuvres, creating up to 23 seconds of weightlessness in each manoeuvre.

“It was truly a wonderful experience to feel weightlessness, but also the hyper-gravity moments in the plane. I was very excited but at the same time a bit nervous. I couldn’t sleep the night before,” said Dr Yarjan Samad, a Research Associate at the Cambridge Graphene Centre.

During the flight, the graphene-coated wicks again demonstrated excellent performance, with more efficient heat and fluid transfer compared to the untreated wicks. Based on these results, the researchers are continuing to develop and optimise the coatings for applications in real space conditions. “The next step will be to start working on a prototype that could go either on a satellite or on the space station,” said Ferrari.

The research was supported by the Graphene Flagship and the European Space Agency, as a collaboration between researchers from Université libre de Bruxelles, Belgium; the University of Cambridge, UK; the National Research Council of Italy (CNR), Italy; and industry partner Leonardo Spa, Italy.

In a series of experiments conducted last month, Cambridge researchers experienced weightlessness testing graphene’s application in space.

This is the first time that graphene has been tested in space-like applications.Andrea Ferrari Graphene FlagshipZero gravity graphene

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Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire

£42m new research institute to boost evidence on improving care in the NHS

Cambridge University NewsFeed - Wed, 01/31/2018 - 00:26

The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute (THIS Institute), led by the University of Cambridge, is made possible by the largest single grant ever made by the Health Foundation, an independent charity. The new institute is founded on the principle that efforts to improve care should always be based on the best quality of evidence. Some of that evidence will be created by NHS patients and staff themselves, using innovative citizen science methods in large-scale research projects.

Director of THIS Institute Professor Mary Dixon-Woods, said: “If you ask people to describe the future of healthcare, they might describe a shiny vision of new treatments and technologies. These kinds of innovations are important. But how healthcare is organised and delivered, including its basic systems and processes, has perhaps just as much impact, and sometimes more, on patient outcomes and experience.”

Dr Jennifer Dixon, Chief Executive of the Health Foundation, said: “The UK population clearly wants a high quality and sustainable NHS into the future. Understanding what works, in which contexts and why, is crucial, as is obtaining that evidence fast so it can be acted on. There couldn’t be a more important time to do this, and that is why the Health Foundation has put its money where its mouth is.”

One way the institute will create the evidence-base is through citizen science. Using methods already used in other areas such as biology and astronomy, THIS Institute is building a digital platform to crowdsource research ideas and collect research data from NHS staff and patients, including their opinions on the right indicators of quality of care and their views on equipment design.

Professor Dixon-Woods, Director, THIS Institute, adds: “Tackling healthcare challenges needs to involve a greater variety of people with diverse experience: the institute is looking for expertise in new places. Some of this expertise will come directly from patients – us, you, me – working alongside healthcare staff and other professionals such as engineers and designers.”

The institute will be based at the Cambridge Biomedical Campus, alongside Cambridge University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and world-leading research institutes. It is made possible by a ten-year grant from the Health Foundation, whose mission is to bring about better health and healthcare for people in the UK.

Press release from The Healthcare Improvement Studies Institute.

A new research institute launching today is seeking to create a world-leading asset for the NHS by improving the science behind healthcare organisation and delivery.

DSC09477-2kristin klein

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Avanti Estates Ltd fined £5,250 for housing management regulation offences

Cambridge Council Feed - Tue, 01/30/2018 - 09:52

CAMBRIDGE City Council has successfully prosecuted a property management company after an overcrowded Cambridge rental property was found to have unsatisfactory fire precautions and to be in a state of general disrepair. 

Following an investigation by the council into the house of multiple occupation (HMO) in Bosworth Road, the managing agent, Avanti Estates Ltd, was successfully prosecuted for offences under The Housing Act 2004 on 4 January. 

Categories: Cambridge, Cambridgeshire