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When the Sky is Not the Limit: Digitising Conservative Industries (webinar, Digital (Dis)Comfort Zone Series)

How is the availability and use of data transforming different industries? The webinar took a closer look at several sectors known for high regulatory hurdles and sometimes conservative mindsets, among them Aviation and Construction. The speakers explored the challenging properties of data; heterogeneity, accessibility, availability etc in general as well as reviewing concrete examples of data-driven innovation and shifting attitudes towards our increasingly data-driven environment.

Jonathan Smith of uAvionix spoke about successful 'frugal innovation' in mid-air collision avoidance and the shift in insitutional mindset needed for the National Air Traffic Service to first learn to trust small personal navigation devices, and then lead digital innovation in device design and manufacture with an external industry partner.

Dr Didem Gurdur Broo reflected more widely on the implications behind the widespread use of the phrase 'data is the new oil', which inherently presents data gathering as a good, without asking for which purpose data is being gathered and analysed.

Jonathan started his professional life as an air traffic controller, going on to hold several senior positions with the National Air Traffic Service (NATS) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), most recently with an Airspace Modernisation remit. He is currently Director UK/EU Regulatory Affairs at uAvionix. The company specialises in hardware, software, and cloud services for General Aviation and unmanned aircraft systems, designing transceivers, transponders, remote identification transmitters, and GPS receivers.

Didem is a computer scientist who holds a Ph.D. degree in mechatronics. Currently, she is a research associate at the University of Cambridge, working on data-centric cyber-physical systems for smart infrastructures, in collaboration with the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction, and Laing O'Rourke Centre for Construction Engineering and Technology, funded by the Centre for Digital Built Britain. She is interested in transdisciplinary approaches, systems thinking, design thinking and future thinking to deal with the rapidly changing world.


Coming to a Road near You - Autonomous Vehicles (webinar, Digital (Dis)Comfort Zone Series)

Dr Amanda Prorok (Department of Computer Science and Technology, University of Cambridge) and Ellie Wooldridge (Connected Places Catapult) shared current research into both safety and end-user acceptability of autonomous vehicles, especially in mixed human- and self-driven settings:

How can one design a machine learning environment that leads to safe driving policies for autonomous vehicles in a mixed-reality setup, where autonomous vehicles mingle with static objects and human-driven cars? Amanda's talk illustrate the Prorok Lab's unique sim3real virtual domain approach to this design challenge. The research lab designs algorithms for coordinating systems composed of multiple autonomous robots so as to facilitate cooperation in large-scale, heterogeneous, multi-agent cyber-physical systems. This research brings in methods from planning, control, estimation, and learning. 

How are occupants building up trust in autonomous vehicles? Ellie spokeabout autonomous vehicle studies such as the HumanDrive project and what has been learnt about how vehicle occupants build trust when being driven by an autonomous system compared with a human driver. Her talk brought home how strongly humans measure trustworthiness of new technology by having 'human-like characteristics' and how much emotional security is derived from the presence of human backup.


The Robot will See You Now: Has the Time for Surgical Robots Arrived?

Talk by Mark Slack, CMR Surgical and University of Cambridge, at Curchill College

Robotic assisted surgery is poised to increase access to Minimal Access Surgery for many patients. Minimal access surgery (MAS) brings many benefits to patients undergoing surgery: less pain, quicker return to normal activity, reduction in surgical site infections amongst others. There is now strong evidence that minimal invasive surgery has superior outcomes for this type of surgery over traditional surgery for many common procedures. Surgical complications represent a substantial burden of harm to patients and in the United States alone are estimated to cost $25 billion annually. It is estimated that more than a million patients a year die within 30 days of surgery. Despite the obvious advantages of MAS the choice of surgery is often a matter of surgeon preference with more than 50% of patients still undergoing open surgery. It is hypothesized that this is because of the difficulty in performing MAS . Robotic assisted surgery may make the acquisition of skills easier to obtain but despite this after 20 years of availability the incidence of surgery being performed robotically is only 5%. We believe that the provision of a robotic platform that is cheaper and easier to use may increase access to MAS with all its attendant benefits.

Introduction of novel medical devices brings with it the challenge of doing this ethically and without risk to patients while at the same time managing to do it as quickly as possible and keeping it affordable. The talk described the development of a new surgical robotic platform and the steps undertaken to introduce it safely and ethically.


Robo-Advisers and the Legal Duties of their Providers

Lunchtime seminar with Professor Mihoko Sumida, School of Law, Hitotsubashi University, Tokyo.

In Japan a report of the Financial Service Agency suggesting that the average couple would need a fund of 20 million Yen to support their post-retirement income created sensational headlines this June. One of its effects has been renewed interest on the part of the general public in asset management. This reflects a longer term trend 'from savings to investment' in attitudes towards pension provision. Meanwhile, 'Robo-Advice' in Japan has spread rapidly since its first appearance in 2015. Professor Sumida's talk addressed the following questions: (i) what happens when a human investment adviser is replaced by an automated service ('robo-advice'); and (ii) how should the legal framework of financial regulation and civil liability be changed to accommodate such a development?


Looking at Risk in Software Development

Trust & Technology Lunchtime talk with Amanda Brock (Trustable Software) at the Cambridge Brew House 

Amanda Brock spoke about Trustable (, an open project looking at risk in software development, by pulling together engineering practices, legal and compliance with insurance. Trustable is a not-for-profit and will work on a contributions basis to establish state of the art around engineering processes, public constraints, legal and compliance and to consider suitable insurance for software. 


Designing for Collaborative Data Analysis: a Crime Solving Story

Talk by Dr Tesh Goyal (Google) at the Department of Psychology

How can both experts and non-experts successfully make sense of complex world problems? As a Human-Computer Interaction researcher, Tesh studies how sensemaking is performed to identify challenges in collaborative data analytics, design tools using computational techniques that overcome these challenges. Solving crimes correctly is one such critical and life-altering problem. National Registry at the University of Michigan points out that almost 175 wrongfully incriminated folks were exonerated after having spent a non-trivial amount of their life in prison for crimes they did not commit in 2016 alone. This is 4X the number 10 years ago and continues an upward trend.

Tesh identifies sharing information socially, succumbing to cognitive biases, and lack of support afforded by changing interaction paradigms as key challenges in collaborative data analytics. Subsequently, he iteratively developed multiple tools, including SAVANT REFLECTIVA , CROWDS4ANALYTICS, TEMPORA , and RAMPARTS to overcome these challenges. The approach aims to establish a research framework for creating rich collaborative data analytic systems by: (1) utilizing human generated analytic artifacts to inform and design the interactions (2) leveraging “off-the-shelf” natural language processing, sensors and crowds creatively to design intelligent data analytic tools, and (3) evaluating the effect of these designs in controlled settings to identify the cost vs. benefit of each design decision.


Digital Past, Digital Future (webinar, Digital (Dis)Comfort Zone Series)

Dr Andreas Angourakis, Department of Archaeology and Dr Timea Nochta, Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction 

Digital modelling has revolutionised knowledge acquisition and knowledge utilisation in many academic disciplines. This webinar features two researchers working at the cutting edge of digital modelling in their respective fields, Archaeology and Engineering, giving us glimpses of complex historic reconstruction and futurescoping undertaken by modellers.

Dr Andreas Angourakis is a Research Associate at the McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research. His talk introduced the still young area of Computational Archaeology and expanded on the new insights into the evolution of complex social structures that Archaeology is deriving from the use agent-based modelling. Andreas also touched upon the the challenges inherent in data science for exploring the human past, when conclusions and methodologies cannot be tested against a 'predicted future result'.

Dr Timea Nochta is a Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Centre for Smart Infrastructure and Construction (CSIC), Department of Engineering. Timea's work sits at the interface of civil engineering and policy making; her talk covered how digital models, model projections and digital urban imaginaries – as ‘evidence’ – influence decision-making outcomes in multi-actor settings. It highlighted the importance of building a better understanding of the complex ways in which the social and technical spheres interact and impact the invention and adoption of new technologies, such as city digital twins (CDTs). Several practical recommendations were developed through a case study of relevant urban governance structures and processes in the Cambridge sub-region at CSIC. 



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