We are excited to be a contributing department to the new Alan Turing Institute (ATI), which will place the UK at the forefront of world-wide research in data science. The Institute, which will build on the UK’s existing academic strengths in the analysis and application of big data and algorithm research, is to have its headquarters close to the British Library in London.
The University of Oxford is one of the five universities selected to lead the Alan Turing Institute, together with Cambridge, Edinburgh, UCL and Warwick. The delivery of the Institute is being coordinated by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) which invests in research and postgraduate training across the UK. The Institute is being funded over five years in the first instance with £42 million from the UK government. The selected university partners will contribute further funding. In addition, the Institute will seek to partner with other business and government bodies.
The Oxford Internet Institute joins four other departments in leading Oxford’s role in the ATI: The Mathematical Institute, Department of Computer Science, the Department of Statistics and the Department of Engineering Science. Oxford’s contribution will tap into world-leading strengths and achievements across these scientific disciplines, as evidenced by Oxford’s results in the recent Research Excellence Framework.
The OII will contribute its unique multi-disciplinary expertise to the Alan Turing Institute, bringing expertise in ethics, the understanding of human behaviour in digital settings, and the development of data science approaches for understanding the social world. Operating at the intersection of the social sciences, the mathematical, physical and life sciences, and the humanities, the OII will build on existing collaborations with other Oxford departments across the university, and form new ones with the other university partners in the new Institute. As the department representing Oxford’s Social Sciences Division, the OII will draw in the richness of expertise and excellence across the Oxford social science departments to the ATI.
Large-scale data and algorithmic development offer great potential for furthering our understanding of human behaviour, tackling policy challenges and more efficient provision of public goods, but also pose new ethical dilemmas for policy-making. The OII’s aim as the ATI develops will be to maximize the potential of data science for the common good and social well-being; to develop new ethical thinking for public policy and a normative framework for data science; and to capitalise on the public value of big data.