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Jesus professor one of GQ’s 50 most influential people

Sir Nigel Shadbolt was recognised by GQ for the work he does with the Open Data Institute, which GQ describes as the ‘“not-evil” WikiLeaks’.

He co-founded it with Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, in 2012.

Professor Shadbolt is also the Principal of Jesus College and a Professor in the Department of Computer Science where he specialises in human centred computing, a new and increasingly important field in AI.

The President of the Jesus College JCR congratulated Shadbolt on their behalf, saying “we are very lucky to have such a caring principal.

“He’s really made our college a better place. Huge congratulations to Nigel! We are all very happy for him!”

He was also congratulated by the University and the department of Computer Science via twitter.

Shadbolt and Berners-Lee’s brainchild, the Open Data Institute, was created after both worked as Information Advisors to the Coalition government, where they supervised the release of many public data sets as open data.

It specialises in the use of open data to support innovation, training and research by governments and private companies.

It receives funding from the UK Technology Strategy Board and includes Deutsche Bank and Ocado Technology as its members.

In GQ, Shadbolt has propounded the benefits of increased use of AI, saying “every aspect of how individuals, corporations and governments function can be more effectively managed with the right application of the right data.”

However, in light of the Cambridge Analytica scandal, he has also argued that “consumers and citizens should be empowered, not oppressed by data and its analysis.”

This scandal demonstrated how data mining could be used to political ends without the knowledge of the public or authorities.

The personal data of up to 87 million Facebook users were acquired through the 270,000 Facebook users who used a Facebook app called ‘This Is Your Digital Life’, breaching the digital terms of service.

Furthermore, data has left it possible for political actors of all sizes to launch software strikes with increasing force, such that Professor Shadbolt has called for ‘enforced conventions, treaties and limitations’ in the digital world.

This may be in response to increased tensions over foreign government interference in elections through digital means, including alleged Russian interference in the 2015 US Presidential election and the 2016 UK EU referendum.

Strikes can also be launched by individuals, like when the NHS was subject to a cyber attack causing the shutdown of hundreds of thousands of computers in 2017.

As well as specialising in data and AI, Professor Shadbolt has researched and published on topics including cognitive psychology, computational neuroscience and the Semantic Web.

Some of his current research focuses on the theory and practice of social machines, applications that succeed by integrating humans and computers.

This will lead to greater support from machines in ways that seem more similar to humans as through the accumulation of data and use of AI machines can resemble closed loved ones.

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