Public lecture on “Living in a Data Obsessed Society”


On 2nd December 2016, Nello Cristianini gave a public lecture with James Ladyman and Andrew Charlesworth which was hosted by Abigail Fraser to discuss with the public on the theme of “living in a data obsessed society”.

 A new unified data infrastructure that mediates a broad spectrum of our daily transactions, communications, and decisions has emerged from the data revolution of the past decade. New AI technologies permit this infrastructure to infer our inclinations and predict our behaviour for an increasing range of activities, whether social, economic or regulatory. As opting-out is no longer a realistic option, we must strive to understand the effects this new reality can have on society.
Presently, we are ‘sleepwalking’ into unquestioning acceptance of a data ideology which presupposes that data-driven decisions are inherently neutral, objective and effective. Growing evidence to the contrary requires that such assumptions must be rigorously and robustly questioned. From privacy to persuasion, this technology will affect all of us.  

Issues that demand wider debate include addressing the risks of unintended discrimination, challenging spurious claims of objectivity,  the need to uphold an ethics of privacy and autonomy, and the importance of understanding the future roles and capabilities of intelligent machines. 

 A data scientist, a philosopher of science, and a legal scholar,  will present their work on the theme of “living in a data obsessed society”.