Professor Noel Sharkey is a British computer scientist from Belfast and Coleraine, Northern Ireland. He is best known for his appearances as a judge on the robot combat television series Robot Wars, and as a "techspert" on Techno Games. Sharkey is often considered to be "head judge", specifically taking on that role in Series 8-9.
Professor Noel Sharkey is the only judge to have featured in every Robot Wars series so far, including the international versions. In Series 8, he was specifically referred to as head judge.
Sharkey's role on the original run of Robot Wars was mostly non-speaking, but Sharkey made a number of speaking appearances on the show, including interviews with Jonathan Pearce in Robot Wars: The Sixth Wars, consultation from Philippa Forrester concerning the Judges' decision after 259 fought Wild Thing, where he defended Wild Thing's victory while expressing disappointment at 259's loss, and expressing the legality of Tornado's bar spinner in the Sixth Wars Grand Final.
As of Series 8, Noel Sharkey gained more of a speaking role on the show. Sharkey or one of his fellow Judges would sometimes be interviewed after a Judges' decision or an important match, commenting on the battle, and often explaining the reasoning behind a Judges' decision. Dara Ó Briain also interviewed Noel Sharkey in Episode 1 of Series 8 about the advancements of robotics during the time Robot Wars was off-air. Sharkey talked about HARDOX armour and the use of drones in bars.
Noel Sharkey, in his own words, experienced the 'worst moment of his career' on Robot Wars: Extreme Warriors, when the judges awarded a victory to Tornado over Razer in the International Championship, based on damage to Tornado in the form of a loose weapon motor that Sharkey at the time believed was caused to Razer.
Sharkey actively uses Robot Wars as a platform to encourage women to involve themselves in engineering. Examples of this include a tweet alongside Team Dutch Robot Girls, using the hashtag #9percentisnotenough.
Other televised mediaEdit
Noel Sharkey held a prominent role in all four series of Techno Games, alongside Martin Smith, where he was given the title of 'techspert'. Philippa Forrester and Jayne Middlemiss would consult the two for opinions on the competing robots, and explanations on how they work, sometimes including predictions. Sharkey's role as a Robot Wars judge was commonly referenced on Techno Games.
Sharkey co-hosted Bright Sparks, a science and engineering challenge series, for BBC Northern Ireland. He also produces and presents a weekly radio show for community radio station Sheffield Live called The Sound of Science.
Sharkey has made many other television appearances including 10 episodes of What would happen if? (National Geographic Channel), Blue Peter, CBBC, Dara Ó Briain's Science Club, The Big Questions, BBC News, Sky News, News Night, and The One Show, and many overseas appearances including television in China, Egypt, the USA, and around Europe.
Sharkey is now Emeritus Professor of Artificial Intelligence and Robotics in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Sheffield where his his also Emeritus Professor of Public Engagement.
He is co-founder and chair elect of the NGO: International Committee for Robot Arms Control (ICRAC) icrac.net and a principle spokesperson for the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots a large coalition of 54 international NGOs like Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Nobel Women's initiative and Pugwash. They have made strong headway at the United Nations about regulating the use of robots in war.
Sharkey is also co-founder and co-director of the Foundation for Responsible Robotics with the aim of promoting the responsible design, development, implementation, and policy of robots embedded in our society.
Sharkey is an interdisciplinary academic holding fellowships at the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the British Computer Society, the Royal Institute of Navigation and the Royal Society of Arts,He is a chartered electrical engineer, a chartered information technology professional and a member of both the experimental psychology society and equity. He holds a PhD in experimental psychology/cognitive science, an honorary Doctorate of Science (DSc) and an honorary doctorate in Information Science.
In the academic world, Sharkey is best known for his contribution to machine learning and cognitive science, artificial intelligence and robotics writing more than 150 academic articles and books. He has worked in the US at Yale AI labs and Stanford Psychology Dept and in the UK at Essex dept Language and Linguistics, Exeter, Computer Science dept and Sheffield Computer Science dept.
As well as his scientific writing Sharkey has written for the likes of the Guardian, the Telegraph as well as magazines like New Scientist and the Wall Street Journal magazine.
Sharkey's other contributions include the setting up of robot competitions for young people around the world (including the national Chinese creative robotics contest, and the national Egyptian schools Artificial Intelligence and robotics contest), and the development of exciting state-of-the-art robotic museum exhibitions.
He has also written and spoken widely concerning the ethical responsibilities of governments and international organisations in a world where robotics applications are dramatically increasing (both in the military and policing contexts, and in the care of children, the elderly and the sick).