Conference 2018: Does Britain still back Brexit?

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John Curtice

Has Britain changed its mind about Brexit? That was the question explored by John Curtice, probably the UK’s most famous pollster, during his keynote presentation on the final day of RSS Conference.

The talk followed days of media coverage of a report Curtice had overseen for NatCen Social Research, which suggested that were a second referendum to be held now, 59% would support Britain remaining in the European Union, up from 48% who voted remain in 2016.

RSS responds to consultation regarding new data ethics centre

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On behalf of members, the RSS has responded to a government consultation into the role and remit of the proposed new Centre for Data Ethics and Innovation (CDEI).

The new CDEI was confirmed by the chancellor at the 2017 Autumn Budget to oversee the future development of algorithms and the ‘decisions’ they make, while maintaining public trust. Roger Taylor, the co-founder of Dr Foster and current chair of Ofqual, was announced as chair in June 2018; following that the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) invited ‘all those who have an interest and stake in the way data use and AI are governed and regulated’ to submit their views to this consultation.

Conference 2018 session: Lets talk about stats

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While pretty much everyone attending the Royal Statistical Society conference can agree that statistics are very important and interesting, how do we convince everyone else of that fact?

Many in the science community devote a significant amount of their time engaging with children and young people to show them how statistics and data analysis techniques can lead to greater insights about the world around them, and three of those people spoke in the RSS conference session on ‘Showcasing statistics through outreach and public engagement’.

Conference 2018 session: Filling and exploring gender data gaps

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Embedded within the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are a host of gender-relevant indicators relating to issues such as education, work and employment, and peace and justice. But the data needed to inform these indicators is often incomplete, and sometimes missing entirely, says Deirdre Appel, a research associate with Open Data Watch (ODW).

SDG 5 relates specifically to gender equality, but speaking at the RSS Conference on Tuesday morning, Appel identified more than 50 separate indicators across the gamut of SDGs that call for evaluation of the different experiences of men and women.

Conference 2018: Fraser Nelson on why fake stats have such virality

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Fraser Nelson

Spectator editor Fraser Nelson has 'always been fascinated by the way statistics shape public debate'. But like many today, he is worried by the ease with which fake facts are pedalled to, and accepted by, the masses.

In an address to RSS Conference on Thursday, he despaired at how misinterpretations and falsehoods gain rapid virality – especially those that the present the world, our society or a particular issue in an unfairly negative light.

Conference 2018: Hannah Fry on being human in the age of machines

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For decades, human activities and decisions have been supported by algorithms. They are the hidden rules and instructions that help our computers to process data and run complex calculations. But in recent years, algorithms have moved from a supporting to a starring role. As our machines have become more powerful, the algorithms have become more sophisticated – so much so that they are now in control of potentially life-changing decisions.

This is the setup for Dr Hannah Fry’s latest book, Hello World. The UCL mathematician, who once explored the 'mathematics of love', has grown fascinated with the relationships between humans and algorithms, the responsibilities we give them, and the impact they are having on our societies – whether good, bad, or ugly.

New William Guy Lecturer 2018-2019

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We are delighted to announce that the new RSS William Guy lecturer for the coming academic year is Dr Lee Fawcett, following an open call and a competitive selection process. Named in honour of William Augustus Guy, an early medical statistician and past RSS president, this prestigious volunteer role recognises fellows with a successful track record in undertaking school outreach activities.

Over the coming year, Lee will be delivering lectures to school students in the UK on the topic of ‘The Storm of the Century! Using data to anticipate extreme climate events’, which looks at what insights statistics can provide for extreme weather events.

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