We are a contributing department to the Turing Institute, founded in 2015, 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 headquartered in the British Library.

The University of Oxford is one of the five universities selected to lead the Turing Institute, together with Cambridge, Edinburgh, UCL and Warwick. We join four other departments in leading Oxford’s role in the Turing Institute: The Mathematical Institute, Department of Computer Science, the Department of Statistics and the Department of Engineering Science. The delivery of the Institute is being coordinated by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). Strategic partners include The Lloyd’s Register Foundation, GCHQ, and Intel.

Data science — and the way the Turing Institute works as a research institute — is inherently interdisciplinary. The Institute’s initial scoping process identified “social sciences methods and expertise for understanding human behaviour from data” as one of its four key capabilities and foundational research strengths; the OII’s Turing Faculty Fellows will play a key role in this area.

You can read more in The Turing Institute’s Scientific Strategy (PDF).

The following OII faculty have been appointed as Turing Faculty Fellows, and will be spending a portion of their time in the new institute: Helen Margetts, Luciano Floridi, Mark Graham, Scott A. Hale, Bernie Hogan, Vili Lehdonvirta, Eric Meyer, Mariarosaria Taddeo, Joss Wright, Taha Yasseri.

Work by the OII

We will contribute our unique multi-disciplinary expertise to the 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, we 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, we will draw in the richness of expertise and excellence across the Oxford social science departments to the Institute.

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. Our aim as the Turing Institute 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.

Scoping Workshops and Summits

We have co-organised the following scoping workshops and summits as part of our work in the Institute.

Turing Lectures

  • Turing Lecture: The Data Science of Politics
    Helen Margetts discusses how data science might help us to understand, explain and even predict ‘political turbulence’, by making use of data generated by politics co-ordinated, communicated and organized through social media.
    Recorded: 30 March 2016, Duration: 01:02:04
  • Turing Lecture: Ethics in the Age of Information
    Professor Luciano Floridi outlines the nature and scope of Information Ethics, the new philosophical area of research that investigates the ethical impact of ICTs on human life and society.
    Date Published: 30 March 2016, Duration: 01:14:46