Professor Nigel Shadbolt, BCS president, talks to Joia Shillingford about his likes and dislikes.

What's in your pocket?

A Sony Cybershot digital camera, a money clip for cash and credit cards and a Motorola Razr. I use the camera all the time to record memories. It's the fastest way to jot down information from a whiteboard.

First crush?

A telescope. I was mad keen on astronomy as a kid. So I saved up and bought one with a refractor lens for my tenth birthday. I just pointed it at the moon and the love affair never stopped.

True Love?

Family and sailing in that order. I live on the coast in Lymington, making it easy to get out for trips on the Solent. And I share a boat with a friend.

Latest squeeze?

One of my areas of research is memories of life. We're all storing more and more memories digitally, so my current squeeze is a small memory device with a big capacity. It's the Freecom Mobile Drive, which plugs into laptop or PC and can store 120 gigabytes of data. Soon they'll be terabyte [1,000-gigabyte] sized portable memories.

What makes you mad?

People not taking the time to understand how remarkable the technology around us is - who see the latest gadget as a disposable commodity without realising the heroic achievement and effort behind it.

What's your biggest tech disaster?

When I was giving a talk at a Microsoft-sponsored event and realised I was using inappropriate technology - a huge Apple laptop. All I could think of was to turn it round and switch on the Microsoft emulation software, so the audience could see the Windows logo. It didn't help that the office Wi-Fi network wasn't working either.

What would you most love to see?

Real digital empowerment for the developing world. I've just got back from Africa and the fact that mobile networks enable people to leap a technology generation is creating huge opportunities at an individual and political level. I also dream of cities following San Francisco's example and putting in free wi-fi access.

If money was no object?

I'd like to be on the next Apollo space mission and fly to the moon. When I was a kid, I bought into the whole holidays-in-space idea. I couldn't help wondering if there was anyone out there.

Favoured communication method?

Face to face or really high quality video. I've seen some transatlantic videoconferencing that is almost picture perfect. But it still costs too much.

Worst mobile working experience?

When I've just paid to use an airport Wi-Fi [wireless Lan] network and realise it is working so slowly, I won't get all my emails off before I get on the plane.

Website favourites?

Google is one of them and the BBC. For monitoring my digital footprint, I use, which I helped found. Once you've registered, you can find out what data there is out there about you and how vulnerable you are to identity theft.

How wrong have you been?

I thought it would take a very, very long time for a computer to beat the world champion at chess. When it did, it taught me to really respect the power of computing.

Company to watch (not yours)?

Ideo, the US company that has done design work for Apple and Palm. Their products are highly usable but they don't forget to make them beautiful too. Google is also worth keeping an eye on. I see them as a huge incubator that is winning the war of ideas. They only release stuff when they know it can be fundamental in terms of size and scale.

Left field technology?

Wearable memory. I'd like to have a tiny gadget that acts like a Roman Noble's nomenclator, whispering in my ear the name of the person I am about to meet. It could be based on something like a Bluetooth headset with camera and miniaturised memory, recording who I meet and what they say. It would have face-recognition software, so the next time a contact approaches, I'd get their name straightaway.

Nigel Shadbolt is also professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Southampton.