Two data ethics bodies announce board members and remit

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Two new bodies dedicated to investigate the potential benefits and governance of data and artificial intelligence (AI) have, in the past month, announced the next stages of their development. 

At an event last week, the Ada Lovelace Institute launched its prospectus (PDF) and announced four board members, including RSS executive director, Hetan Shah. The new independent research body was set up earlier this year to ensure that data and AI works for people and society. It was founded by the Nuffield Foundation, aided by other organisations including the RSS, the Alan Turing Institute, the British Academy and the Wellcome Trust. 

Significance December 2018 issue

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The December 2018 issue of Significance is out now in digital formats. In this issue, we explore the thorny topic of data ethics. 'Big data' is gradually revealing its potential to both help and harm us. But the rights and wrongs of what to do about this are hard to pin down, so Robert Langkjær‐Bain looks at the work under way to ensure the data revolution does not leave ethics behind.

Next, we turn our attention to the risk of extreme floods in England and Wales. In past winters, flooding has caused billions of pounds of damage, and though governments, emergency services and homeowners might like to think – and hope – that such extreme events are rare, statisticians have shown that they are likely to occur more frequently than expected.

Want to know more about the RSS? Watch our new video!

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Want to know more about the history of the RSS and the work that we do? Or are you a fellow and want to let others know about our role and purpose?

Watch this short video to find out, and share to spread the word!


RSS launches Nigeria local group

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The RSS is delighted to announce the launch of a new local group outside of the UK, in Nigeria.

The local group is based around the Federal University of Agriculture Abeokuta in Ogun State, Nigeria and is chaired by Olaniyi Olayiwola (pictured below), a senior lecturer in statistics at the university whose current research centres around climate modelling. The local group’s secretary Olawumi Olatunde works at the National Bureau of Statistics and its treasurer is from the Oyo State Teaching Service Commission, so the group has a wide range of interests represented.

More statistical expertise required in justice system, says RSS

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The RSS’s Statistics and Law section has highlighted the need for better statistical expertise in the justice system in two important inquiries relating to the role of statistics in UK law.

In a submission to the Law Society’s inquiry into Algorithms in the Justice System (PDF), the RSS draws attention to ‘dangerously misleading statistical arguments in the current literature, and the consequent need for expert statistical input.’

David John Finney 1917-2018

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We are very sad to hear about the passing of our former president, Professor David Finney.

David’s achievements in statistics included pioneering the development of systems monitoring drug safety. His reports and papers on the subject have greatly influenced the monitoring system now in place. He worked alongside many notable statisticians of the 20th century, including Ronald Fisher and Frank Yates. His two most widely known books, Probit Analysis (1947) and Statistical Method in Biological Assay (1952), both redefined those subjects.

Bournemouth chosen to host RSS 2020 Conference

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The Society’s International Conference will be heading to the south coast of England in September 2020 when the Bournemouth International Centre will host the event for the first time.

Paul Gentry, the Society’s conferences and events manager, said, 'It’s exciting to be taking the conference to a venue that we have not visited before and which will provide us with the space to continue to grow the conference which achieved another record attendance this year.'

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