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Bristol academic to discuss the impact of big data on science and society

Nello Cristianini, Professor of Artificial Intelligence

Press release issued: 10 June 2014

It is estimated that in 2020 the digital universe will be 50 times bigger than in 2010. A leading Artificial Intelligence expert will discuss the new era of predictive analytics and data intensive computing at the Bournemouth Festival of Learning [9-15 June].

Nello Cristianini, Professor of Artificial Intelligence in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bristol will give the opening talk on Tuesday 10 June for the workshop Data scientist: The sexiest job of the 21st century?

Nello will argue data is turning into a new natural resource that is powering a new economic and scientific infrastructure.  By feeding large amounts of data to powerful learning computers, we can make them do things that we could not know how to obtain by traditional programming. 

This new way of working is all about predicting, not explaining: for example, it is about knowing what a new drug will do to a patient, not why.   

Nello will ask if science is meant to help people make sense of the world or is it just meant to deliver good predictions.  He will conclude his talk by explaining that the fuel that powers this revolution is very often people’s own personal data and that people still do not have a clear cultural framework to think about privacy in this new situation.

Professor Cristianini said: “Computers can now do things that their programmers cannot fully explain or understand and today’s Artificial Intelligence has found a way to bypass the need for understanding a phenomenon before we can replicate it in a computer. The technology that made this possible is called machine learning, a method to program computers by showing them examples of the desired behaviour and the fuel that powers it all is data - lots of it.”

The talk, ThinkBIG : the impact of big data on science and society by Professor Nello Cristianini will take place at Bournemouth Festival of Learning on Tuesday 10 June from 9am to 6pm at the Executive Business Centre, 89 Holdenhurst Road, Bournemouth.

Further information

Bournemouth Festival of Learning runs from 9- 15 June and offers over 150 free public events.

About Professor Nello Cristianini

Nello Cristianini is Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Bristol.  His current research covers the large scale analysis of media content (news and social media), using various AI methods, and the implications of Big Data.

Professor Cristianini is the co-author of two widely known books in machine learning, “An Introduction to Support Vector Machines” and “Kernel Methods for Pattern Analysis” and of a book in bioinformatics “Introduction to Computational Genomics”.

He is also a former recipient of the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award and a current holder of a European Research Council Advanced Grant.

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