Dr Kate Devlin
Computer scientist and writer
Kate Devlin was born in Northern Ireland in 1976 to 'mixed marriage' parents: a Catholic father and a Protestant mother. They decided she could pick her own beliefs when she was old enough: she opted for atheism. Growing up at the tail end of The Troubles confirmed for her that 'given all the furore over what was nominally about who did god better, I was having none of it.'
Kate began her academic career with a degree in archaeology, going on to specialise with a PhD in computer science in 2004. She is an interdisciplinary researcher who sits between the arts and the sciences, examining the impact of technology on the world, both past and present – the trust we place in it and the attachment we feel.
Kate is currently Reader in Artificial Intelligence & Society in the Department of Digital Humanities, King's College London. She has become a driving force in the field of intimacy and technology, running the UK's first sex tech hackathon in 2016 and a follow-up in 2017. In short, she has become the face of sex robots – quite literally in the case of one mis-captioned tabloid photograph. Her book, Turned On: Science, Sex and Robots (Bloomsbury, 2018), was praised for its writing and wit. She has written articles on the subject for New Scientist, Prospect, and Sunday Times amongst others, featured on BBC Radios 1–5, guested on a wide range of podcasts, and made a number of TV appearances, TEDx talks, and numerous other tech and philosophy events, festivals and comedy nights. She was probably the first person to say 'sex robots' in the House of Lords – in an official capacity, at least.
Kate is a mental health advocate, speaking openly about her experiences, and is a keen supporter of diversity in tech, striving to highlight the power imbalance in the development and deployment of artificial intelligence.