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Brute Force and Insight: Dealing with a Web of Data

Professor Sir Nigel Shadbolt FREng FBCS ( University of Southampton )

We live in an age of superabundant information.  The Internet and World Wide Web have been the agents of this revolution.  A deluge of information and data has led to a range of scientific discoveries and engineering innovations.  Data at Web scale has allowed us to characterise the shape and structure of the Web itself and to efficiently search its billions of items of contents.  Data published on the Web has enabled the mobilisation of hundreds of thousands of humans to solve problems beyond any individual or single organisation.  Open data published on the Web is improving the efficiency of our public services and giving rise to open innovation.  Data collected at scale by public and private agencies also gives rise to concerns about its use and abuse.  Meanwhile, data science is emerging as an area of competitive advantage for individuals, companies, universities, public and private sector organisations and nation states.  A Web of data offers new opportunities and challenges for science, government and business.  This Strachey lecture will discuss these fast moving developments, what they mean for computer science and cognate disciplines, and consider their impact on all of us.


Sir Nigel Shadbolt is Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Southampton. He is also the Chairman and Co-Founder of the Open Data Institute (ODI). Since 2009, Sir Nigel has acted as an Information Adviser to the UK Government, helping transform public access to Government information, including the widely acclaimed site.

With over 400 publications he researches and publishes on computer science, artificial intelligence, open data and web science. During his career, he has also worked in philosophy, psychology and linguistics. Since 2000 he has secured 17 projects as Principal Investigator with a value of over £20 million pounds. He is currently Principal Investigator on a £6.14M EPSRC funded Programme Grant researching the theory of social machines - Web scale problem solving systems comprising large numbers of humans and computers.

In 2006 he was one of three founding Directors of Garlik Ltd, which in 2008 was awarded Technology Pioneer status by the Davos World Economic Forum and won the prestigious UK national BT Flagship Award. Garlik was acquired by Experian Ltd in 2011. In 2013 he was awarded a Knighthood for services to science and engineering. In August 2015 he will move to Oxford to become Principal of Jesus College and will join the Department of Computer Science as a Professorial Research Fellow in Computer Science.



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