Statistics of the Year 2018: Winners announced

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This year’s Statistics of the Year announcement has a distinctly environmental theme as statistics relating to plastic waste and the use of solar energy emerged as the winners of this year’s International and UK categories respectively.

The commended entries cover a plethora of other issues, from the reduction in global ‘absolute poverty’ to the number of Jaffa cakes present in its Christmas tube - illustrating the phenomenon of ‘shrinkflation’.

RSS publishes 2018 Annual Review

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The Royal Statistical Society has just published its 2018 Annual Review, which provides a great overview of the work the Society has been doing this year.

The six-page report is introduced by our current president, David Spiegelhalter. He writes: ‘A huge amount has been achieved in relation to influencing public debate, championing statistics education and supporting the profession. My particular enthusiasm is for public engagement – I feel that statisticians, with their characteristics of balance and integrity, deserve a far stronger voice in modern debates.  So it’s heartening to see the amount of positive coverage the Society is receiving in the media.’   

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!


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. 

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.

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