The Evolution of Computing at Cambridge

A chart showing the development of computing at Cambridge, along with images showing the development of the chart itself.

AI @ Cambridge

Computing @ Cambridge

The evolution of computer science and AI within the Cambridge Ecosystem.

This chart shows a snapshot of firms associated with the computing phenomenon at Cambridge, along with a small selection of academics pushing the field forwards.

These are both bookended by a selection of other pioneering thinkers and companies worldwide. As for the future, below is a modest list of present, probable and possible applications of AI technologies. This is intended to be illustrative (and speculative) rather than definitive (or exhaustive).

Present applications

Spell checking

Spam filtering

Fraud detection

Interactive maps

Movie recommendations

Web searching

Image recognition

Voice recognition

Online shopping

Personalised advertising

Self-driving cars

Face recognition

Automated recruitment

Language translation

Digital assistants

Precision farming

Probable applications

Brain-computer interfaces

Lifelong avatar assistants

Decoding of human intent

Lip reading CCTV

AI board members

Real-time crime prediction

Computers with feelings

Self-writing software

Autonomous robotic surgery

Smart energy grids & appliances

Drone to drone combat

Modelling of crowd behaviour

National mood prediction

Longevity forecasting at birth

Detection of algorithmic biases

Amplification of IQ

Design of ‘impossible’ buildings

Acceleration of drug discovery

Personalised medicine

Volcano modelling

Possible applications

Inner speech recording

Artificial curiosity

Artificial creativity

Dream recording

Amplification of EQ

Automated insights

Decision-making apps

Software that rusts

Foreign policy algorithms

Dynamic allocation of tax revenues

Crisis forecasting

Fake memory implants

Earthquake prediction

Dispute resolution algorithms

Whole planet simulation

AI to AI negotiation

Animal communication

Reanimation of the deceased

VR games based on known fears

Pilotless commercial aircraft

Fully immersive virtual realities

“One day ladies will take their computers for walks in the park and tell each other, “My little computer said such a funny thing this morning”. ~ Alan Turing

A new info-graphic

This visualisation of Nobel Prizes won by colleges and other affiliates of Cambridge University between 1905 and 2020 shows that the University has won Prizes more than any other institution in the world.  It also demonstrates the importance of pure research and the world-changing impact of unbridled curiosity and speculation. Along with the power of accidental collisions with people and information this is perhaps something that successful entrepreneurs have in common with Nobel Prize winning academics – the ability to see the world as it is and ask ‘why?’ or to see the world as it could be and ask ‘why not?’.

But what of the future? What might a physics prize be won for in the year 2040 and how might such research eventually be applied to real world problems? Moreover, how might the Nobel Prizes themselves evolve? Could there be a new category created in 2029 for data modelling or data ethics perhaps? And why is there still no suitable accommodation made for aspects of environmental science, artificial intelligence or philosophy relating to tech?

With some luck, a future Nobels graphic is on the cards….

Entreprenerial Mind Map

This one has been a while coming. It’s a visual exploration of some of the traits and states associated with an entreprenerial mind. Obviously not everyone will possess all of these traits or states and neither are they static – these will change over time too as a start-up grows and new people join the business. Perhaps a question is which states work best throughout an organisations lifecycle?


Peta Levi, ‘Flourishing in the Cambridge parkland’, Financial Times, November 1980

Segal Quince Wicksteed, The Cambridge Phenomenon: The Growth of High Technology Industry in a University Town, 1985

Lyle M. and Signe M. Spencer, Competence at work: models for superior performance (Chapter 17, Entrepreneurs), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1993

Sally Caird, What do psychological tests suggest about entrepreneurs? Journal of Managerial Psychology, 8(6) pp. 11–20, 1993

Tom Byers (Stanford), Heleen Kist (Stanford) and Robert I. Sutton (Hass), Characteristics of the Entrepreneur: Social Creatures, Not Solo Heroes, Handbook of Technology Management, Richard C. Dorf (Ed), CRC Press, October 1997

Yin M. Myint, Shailendra Vyakarnam and Mary J. New, The effect of social capital in new venture creation: the Cambridge high‐technology cluster, John Wiley & Sons, June 2005

S Kavadias, SC Sommer, The effects of problem structure and team diversity on brainstorming effectiveness, Management Science, 2009

T Miller, M Grimes, J McMullen and T Vogus, Venturing for others with heart and head: How compassion encourages social entrepreneurship, Academy of Management Review 37 (4), 616-640, 2012

J Hutchison‐Krupat, RO Chao, Tolerance for failure and incentives for collaborative innovation, Production and Operations Management, 2014

The Cambridge Phenomenon: 50 Years of Innovation and Enterprise, Kate Kirk and Charles Cotton, Third Millennium, 2012

M. Frese & M. M. Gielnik, The psychology of entrepreneurship. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 1, 413–438, 2014

M. J. Gorgievski & U. Stephan, Advancing the Psychology of Entrepreneurship: A Review of the Psychological Literature and an Introduction. Applied Psychology, 65(3), 437–468, 2016

Lynda Applegate, Janet Kraus, and Timothy Butler, Skills and Behaviors that Make Entrepreneurs Successful, HBR Working Knowledge, June 2016

Dean A. Shepherd and Holger Patzelt, Entrepreneurial Cognition: Exploring the Mindset of Entrepreneurs, Palgrave Macmillan, 2018

Nicos Nicolaou, Phillip H. Phan and Ute Stephan, The Biological Perspective in Entrepreneurship Research, Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, November 2020

Early roughs…