Johnian magazine issue 47, spring 2021
The vaccine offers tangible hope for an end to this pandemic. However, we are still struggling worldwide with the repercussions and restrictions of COVID-19, and we must continue to rely on our reserves of resilience, our capacity for empathy and our willingness to both offer and accept help.
Sam Davies, who chose to live the length of a full lockdown alone on the water during an around-the-world sailing race from November to February, spoke to me from her boat for the profile feature. Following a collision with an unidentified floating object and the aid of her on-shore team, she challenged herself to continue the course to overcome her fear.
Eric Ho explains how facing burnout and reprioritising his health ultimately led to him helping others balance work and wellbeing. And Sophie Callis shares her experience of the community spirit among NHS hospital staff and the challenge of connecting therapeutically with patients while wearing full PPE.
Computers are not yet adept at assessing or responding to nuanced emotional states, but advances in technology are bringing them ever closer to human-level artificial intelligence. Cameron Taylor explores the conversational lessons that we can teach robots, and how human-robot interactions can help us in turn.
Read more about the relative strengths and weaknesses of human brains and computers in the playlist feature. Involved in developing the ARM microprocessor, Steve Furber has since dedicated 20 years of research to building a neuromorphic computing system that will increase our understanding of how the brain operates.
Neil Lawrence, who is a Professor in the Cambridge Computer Lab and who worked with Steve in Manchester, closes the magazine with an overview of his machine-learning career, his collection of old computers and his love of cycling.
Connections, whether in person or facilitated by technology, give us strength. I hope these articles remind you of the diverse community you are a part of, and I encourage you to reach out to the contributors and other alumni on Johnian Hub.
PS Please email me your thoughts on the magazine and look out for more College updates and Johnian stories on our news pages and in our monthly alumni enewsletter.
The opinions expressed in Johnian magazines are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of St John’s College and the University of Cambridge.
You can also download the .pdf of this issue if you would rather read the magazine in that format.
Hannah is the Alumni Relations Officer (Publications) at St John’s. Overseer of the alumni blog and Editor of Johnian magazine and The Eagle, she commissions, writes and edits articles from and for Johnians. Previously, she worked for Clare College and the Cambridge Schools Classics Project, and she holds an MA in Classics from the University of Cambridge (Trinity Hall).