• Nathaniel Byrne

Newsletter January 16th 2020

Calls & Opportunities


PhD Enrichment scheme at The Alan Turing Institute

The Turing Enrichment scheme offers students enrolled on a doctoral programme at a UK university an opportunity to boost their research project with a placement at the Turing for up to 12 months.

Enrichment places are offered for 6, 9, or 12 months with start dates in October 2020 and January 2021 on a full or part time basis. Places are based at the Institute, headquarters at the British Library in London, where students will continue their PhD in conjunction with their current supervisor, while enriching their research and making new collaborations during their time at the Institute.

Enrichment students may be eligible for a stipend top up of up to £7,000 (exact maximum to be confirmed) and/or a travel allowance.

To find out if you are eligible and for details of how to apply please visit the website.

Applications should be made directly to the Turing by Tuesday 21 January 2020.

Turing ASG Digital Twins: Urban Analytics — Call for Proposals

The Urban Analytics programme has just launched a call for proposals for projects in the ASG Digital Twins: Urban Analytics theme. The Institute, via the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and in collaboration with a number of other research councils, has been awarded a £38.8 million research programme through UKRI’s Strategic Priorities Fund.

The research activities will support UK priority areas which are nested within existing Institute programmes and aims to deploy AI and data science through six themes:

  • Digital Twins: Urban Analytics underpinning the planning system;

  • Digital Twins: Complex Engineering Systems in industry;

  • Health: revolutionising health services through precision medicine;

  • Criminal Justice System, laying foundations for AI in government departments and agencies;

  • AI for Science: delivering AI into national labs;

  • Tools, Practices and Systems, bringing best practice into domain areas.

Themes, projects and associated programmes can be explored on the website.

Guidance notes and application details are available from Nathaniel Byrne at

The deadline is 24 January at 17:00 GMT.

Project ExplAIn

AI and machine learning technologies are helping people do remarkable things. From assisting doctors in the early detection of diseases and supporting scientists who are wrestling with climate change to bringing together diverse groups from around the globe through real-time speech-to-speech translation, AI systems are enabling humans to successfully confront an ever-widening range of societal challenges.

This progress has, however, brought with it a new set of difficulties. Many machine learning applications, such as those in natural language processing and computer vision, complete their assigned tasks by identifying subtle patterns in large datasets. These systems accomplish this by linking together many hundreds, thousands—or sometimes even millions—of data points at a time. Humans don’t think this way and because of this have difficulty understanding and explaining how these sorts of AI systems reach their results.

Over the last year, The Alan Turing Institute and the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) have been working together to discover ways to tackle these difficult issues. The ultimate product of this joint endeavour—the most comprehensive practical guidance on AI explanation produced anywhere to date—has now been released for consultation. This guidance is intended to be a useful and inclusive tool, so the ICO and the Turing welcome comments from members of the public, experts and practitioners who are developing and deploying AI systems.

The consultation runs until 24 January 2020, with the final guidance due to be released later in the year.

For more information about the project and the consultation, please visit the website.

Health and Medical Sciences Programme Deputy Director

The Turing’s health and medical sciences programme is seeking a Deputy Director to work alongside the Programme Director for Health, Chris Holmes. You will help shape the strategy and implementation of the Turing’s Health Programme, as well as providing research leadership. This will include close working across the Alan Turing Institute and Health Data Research UK, which provides a unique opportunity to join-up national health data science initiatives, to address the big health issues facing the UK.

This is a stand-out opportunity to join a prestigious, national research institute and shape its agenda at an important and exciting time in its development.

For more information about the role and to apply online, visit the website. Closing date: 26 January 2020.

NEW: Data Science for Social Good Summer Fellowship

This year's fellowship (DSSGx) will run from 15 June to 5 September at the University of Warwick campus, and offers a competitive stipend. DSSGx is an independently organised programme affiliated with the DSSG Foundation at Carnegie Mellon University (CMU).

DSSGx gives aspiring data scientists the opportunity to work on data mining, machine learning, and data science projects with social impact. Participants will work with global non-profit organisations and government bodies to make a real-world social impact with their data, by improving their services, interventions, and outreach.

You are invited to apply before 31 January 12:00 (CST). Find out more and apply here

BBC Expert Network seeking Turing written contributions

The BBC is actively looking for written contributions from the Turing for their Expert Network.

Articles need to be related to a Turing project/piece of research and can be linked to the news agenda and/or have a human angle. Article pieces need to be between 600-800 words (you can browse website for examples) and need to be accessible to members of the public.

View a piece they commissioned by Turing Fellow Brad Love: Do supermarkets know more about us than we do? And another from Turing@Birmingham Lead and Turing Fellow Ganna Pogrebna: The emotions that make a film a hit…or a miss

If you are interested or have any questions, please contact Beth Wood, Turing’s Press and Communications Manager at

Invitations to Contribute

Online platforms and digital advertising: Consultation response

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) published an initial draft of their Online Platforms and Digital Advertising market study. The study mainly focuses on Google and Facebook and proposes a range of potential interventions to limit these companies' market power, including:

  • A code of conduct to govern the behaviour of platforms with market power:

  • Rules to give consumers greater control over their data; and

  • Interventions to address the sources of the market power of Google and Facebook

The CMA is inviting comments on the report, and the Turing's Public Policy Programme will submit an official response. We would like to include the views of as many researchers as possible from the Turing community. To that end, we were wondering if we could please get your help in sharing our call for feedback with relevant researchers in your programmes or universities.

The CMA's report is available at this link. The CMA did not set specific questions to guide the public consultation, but they are particularly interested in views on the interventions that they are considering. These are summarised on pages 22 through 26 of the report.

We welcome any contributions from the Turing's research community -- whether they are on the report as a whole or the interventions proposed. We encourage researchers to ensure that submissions are written in an accessible manner with a clearly defined contribution. As a previous example of a coordinated consultation response from the Institute's Public Policy Programme, please read the response to the DCMS and Home Office consultation on the Online Harms White Paper.

Send submissions by Friday, 24 January 2020. Please contact Nathaniel Byrne.

Source code disclosure in trade agreements

As the UK government is gearing up to negotiate a trade deal with the US, source code disclosure is likely to be one area where the UK will cede ground to the US. The government doesn't seem to view this as a contentious issue: many UK companies oppose any form of mandatory source code disclosure and TechUK released a report on Monday which recommends that "future trade agreements should include a clause stating that no party shall require the transfer of, or access to, source code of software, algorithms, or encryption keys owned by a person of another party, as a condition for the import, distribution, sale or use of such software, or products containing such software, in its territory."

A clause along these lines is expected to make it into the UK's future trade agreements. But such a clause will require some exemption. For example, access to source code might be necessary to ensure that public authorities can check, assess or certify that services and products using software comply with relevant legal requirements or standards. This includes assessment by regulators, but also by courts and tribunals (including in IP infringement cases, criminal cases, or civil liability cases).

A document from Turing has been promised to the UK government that outlines the situations when source code disclosure would be beneficial, and your help in compiling this document would be appreciated..

Please provide feedback by Monday, 20 January 2020. All contributors will be acknowledged in the document submitted to the Department for International Trade; this document will not be made public.

Please contact Nathaniel Byrne for details.

Turing Save Haven Secure Compute Environment

Turing’s Safe Haven secure compute environment is currently available through the Alan Turing Institute. Check out the background information here  and a more in depth paper can be found via this arxiv link:

Events & Conferences


Tuesday 24 March 2020 - Wednesday 25 March 2020

Turing Presents: AI UK

Tickets are now available for the Alan Turing Institute's first major conference. For the first time a dynamic, two-day showcase will see the Turing bring together all three of these goals in an unrivalled showcase featuring the very best of UK academic work in AI and machine learning.

Turing Fellows are eligible for a 10% discount, please contact Nathaniel Byrne, for details.

Thursday 5 March 2020

European AI Policy Conference

Bringing together some of the leading voices in AI from across the continent to discuss why European success in AI is important, how the EU compares to other world leaders today, and what steps European policymakers should take to be more competitive in AI.

Sunday 7 June 2020 - Wednesday 10 June 2020

PSI Conference: Speaker required

The PSI ( are looking to run a session around the topic of ethics and are looking for a third speaker from The Alan Turing Institute who would be interested in presenting at their upcoming conference in Barcelona. One idea is to have a presentation on ethics with respect to automated decision making in healthcare, but a different topic around ethics and data science/AI in the area of healthcare would be of interest.

Tuesday 7 July 2020 - Friday 10 July 2020

12th International ACM Web Science Conference, University of Southampton

Call for Contributions

The ​12t​h International ACM Conference on Web Science in 2020 (WebSci’20) is a unique interdisciplinary conference facilitating creative and critical dialogue with the aim of understanding the Web and its impacts and reflecting on the most pressing questions facing the Web. This year the organiser particularly encourage contributions on the interrelationships between the Web, AI and other new digital technologies, exploring current theoretical, methodological, and epistemological challenges as well as the practices of individuals, collectives, institutions, and platforms.

Please see the website for more information and detail on submitting.

Abstract submission deadline: 14 February 2020

Paper submission deadline: 21 February 2020


Thursday 13 February 2019

NEW: Dynamic situational awareness from autonomous platforms (1,000 Drones)

Suitable attendees will be anyone from a robotics, AI, autonomous strategy/systems or air/space platforms background, this one-day workshop will determine the key research challenges to using a system of air and land autonomous platforms in a Defence and Security context. The intention is to launch a research programme into the challenges raised by the workshop and will underpin a real world trial using 640 Autonomous airborne systems, 300 Autonomous ground borne systems and 10 base stations or “Aviaries” for the air platforms.

Further details are available here. For more information and to register for this event, please contact Alaric Williams or Kate Wicks.

Upcoming Events

Monday 13 Jan 2020 - Tuesday 14 Jan 2020

Statistics and computation

This event will bring together experts to talk about advances at the intersection of statistics and computer science in machine learning. This two-day conference will focus on the underlying theory and the links with applications, and will feature 12 talks by leading international researchers.

Monday 20 Jan 2020

Computational archival science (CAS) symposium

In collaboration with the Humanities and Data Science Turing Interest Group, the final event of the CAS Network will take place at The Alan Turing Institute on 20 January 2020. By bringing together experts from various disciplines and backgrounds, this closing event of the Network aims to explore and discuss why, and how to best, integrate computational thinking into archival theory and practice.

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Health programme Seminar Series: Mental Health

The January 2020 seminars will take place at The Alan Turing Institute and participants can join either in person or remotely (via Zoom). We will ask partner universities to host future seminars to ensure they are accessible for Health programme members around the country.

If you would like to host a future Health programme seminar at your university or have suggestions for topics for future sessions, please complete this online form.

Friday 24 Jan 2020

Reliability and reproducibility in computational science

This workshop deals with reliability and reproducibility of data produced by computer simulations in a number of research fields, including biomedicine, advanced functional materials, climate change, energy, and urban analytics. The goal is to support students and academics as they develop their code, as well as to train next-generation scientists and leaders to produce work that will be regarded as gold-standard examples of trustworthy and reusable research.

Friday 07 Feb 2020

Citizen participation and machine learning for a better democracy

Speakers will present on the Consul project, on how machine learning is being used to enhance citizen’s experiences of direct democracy, new cases of direct democracy in Scotland and the Netherlands, and more advanced applications of machine learning in this critically important domain.

Wednesday 12 Feb 2020

Complexity and token economy

The event will bring together experts from academia and the industry to talk about how Complexity can help make sense of what is happening in the cryptocurrency ecosystem, and how open data from cryptocurrencies can help test and advance theories of Complexity.

Monday 24 Feb 2020

NEW: UK multi-agent systems symposium

The AI Programme at the Turing will host an interactive UK Symposium on Multi-Agent Systems (UK-MAS). The goal of the symposium is to bring together UK-based research labs at universities and industry who have a significant focus on MAS research, to explore the MAS research landscape in the UK. There will be space for talks by people from academia and industry as well as discussion sessions and networking opportunities.

Wednesday 26 Feb 2020

NEW: Turing Lecture: AI and the future of work

In this lecture, Dr Anne-Marie Imafidon will explore some of the current limitations of the implementations of AI, the implications of a severe lack of diversity throughout the development and creation processes and specifically what this means in the workplace. Also – Anne-Marie will touch on the loss of jobs and strategies for ensuring future employment. Then, drawing on her work with the Institute for the Future of Work, she’ll close with the role that industry has to play in creating a fairer, more equitable future and in role-modelling behaviours to shape society.

Future Events

Wednesday 04 March 2020,

Targeted learning

Wednesday 11 Mar 2020

Machine learning interpretability, explainability and trustability

Monday 16 Mar 2020

Data science for development

Wednesday 18 Mar 2020 - Thursday 19 Mar 2020

UK-Italy robotics and AI research collaboration workshop

Tuesday 24 Mar 2020

NEW: Turing Lecture: Provably beneficial AI

Wednesday 22 Apr 2020

NEW: Turing Lecture: Earth Day with Emily Shuckburgh

Many events are recorded, find the archive on YouTube.

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