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BBC’s Maggie Aderin-Pocock to Speak at Scotland’s DataFest19

Duncan MacRae


Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE

Data Summit lines up ten global data science speakers for DataFest19 in Scotland’s capital this March.

Ten international data science specialists, including the BBC’s ‘face of space’, Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, have been announced as Data Summit speakers.

The event, to be held in Edinburgh this March, is part of the two-week international conference, DataFest19.

The world-renowned data science leaders, innovators and researchers will take the stage at the Assembly Rooms on the 21st and 22nd March.

They include Liberty Vittert of the Harvard Data Science Review, researcher and broadcaster Stephanie Hare, and Rob McCargow, director of AI at PwC. Maggie Philbin, host of Tomorrow’s World and CEO at TeenTech, returns as host of Data Summit.

The speakers join confirmed keynotes Christopher Wylie, the famed whistleblower in the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, and Dr Sue Black OBE, professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist at Durham University.

Gillian Docherty, chief executive at The Data Lab, said: “It’s fantastic to have such a strong line-up of internationally renowned speakers at Data Summit, all of whom are making instrumental advancements in data science around the world. We’re very much looking forward to welcoming them to Scotland for what promises to be a fantastic event.”

The ten Data Summit speakers who have been announced are:

• Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock MBE, space scientist and science communicator

A scientist and broadcaster referred to as the BBC’s ‘face of space’. She is the presenter of the astronomical institution The Sky at Night, has fronted several space documentaries, and regularly appears on science and non-science programmes

• Tabitha Goldstaub, co-founder at CognitionX

An AI expert, Tabitha Goldstaub is the co-founder of CognitionX and Director of GogX, the Festival of All Things AI, which in June 2018 brought together more than 300 speakers and 6,500 members of the AI community to discuss the impact of artificial intelligence.

• Joanna Bryson, associate professor in the Department of Computing at the University of Bath

A transdisciplinary researcher on the structure and dynamics of human-and animal-like intelligence, Joanna Bryson’s research covers topics ranging from artificial intelligence, through autonomy and robot ethics, and on to human cooperation.

• Rob McCargow, director of AI at PwC

Rob works with partners across academia, government, technology vendors, startups and other key stakeholders in order to drive innovation within the firm and develop new services for clients.

He is an evangelist for responsible technology and promotes awareness of the growing ethical agenda relating to AI.

• Ken Sutherland, president, Canon Medical Research Europe

Sutherland is director of the board and responsible for all aspects of the strategic development and operational control within Canon Medical Research Europe. He is also a key member of Canon Medical Systems’ Global R&D leadership team.

• Stephanie Hare, researcher and broadcaster

A researcher and broadcaster focusing on technology, politics and history, Stephanie Hare has been selected as a part of the landmark BBC Expert Women initiative, where she shares insights on television and radio. She also has a regular radio column that goes out on BBC World Service World Business Report and BBC Radio 4 Business Daily.

• John Mertic, director of program management at Linux Foundation

John Mertic is the director of program management for The Linux Foundation. Under his leadership, he has helped ODPi, R Consortium, and the Open Mainframe Project accelerate open source innovation and transform industries.

With an extensive open source background, he is a regular speaker at various Linux Foundation and other industry trade shows each year.

• Oliver Smith, strategy director and health moonshot at Telefónica Innovation Alpha

Ollie is responsible for overall strategy within Telefonica Alpha’s Health Moonshot, alongside establishing and maintaining strong partnerships, and business model development.

He was previously director of strategy and innovation at Guy’s and St Thomas’ Charity, responsible for investing £100 million over five years in innovations across acute, primary, and integrated care as well as biomedical research and digital health.

• Melissa Terras, professor of digital cultural heritage at the University of Edinburgh

Melissa Terras leads digital aspects of research within CAHSS and is director of research in the new Edinburgh Futures Institute. Her research focuses on the use of computational techniques to enable research in the arts, humanities, and wider cultural heritage and information environment that would otherwise be impossible.

• Liberty Vittert, associate editor at Harvard Data Science Review

Liberty Vittert is an American statistician, political commentator, and host of Liberty’s Great American Cookbook, a cooking show on Scottish Television. Vittert currently serves as a visiting assistant professor at Washington University in St. Louis. Previously, Vittert served as the Mitchell lecturer at the University of Glasgow’s School of Mathematics and Statistics.

Data Summit sits at the fore of the DataFest programme, showcasing stories on data-driven innovation with keynotes, panels and pitches. The theme for DataFest19 will be collaboration and doing #datatogether. It is a celebration of the groups, collectives, communities and teams who together have envisioned a path for data’s future and are taking steps to implement it.

The extended DataFest19 follows on from the success of DataFest18, which saw in excess of 3,000 participants across more than 45 events, including hackathons, networking and inspiring workshop sessions for school pupils stretching from Edinburgh and Glasgow to Inverness, Dundee, and Aberdeen.

DataFest19 has been extended to two weeks for the first time to take account of the huge interest in the DataFest Fringe Events programme around the country. Fringe events include meetups, debates, public engagement and data science training programmes.

DataFest19 will also include the inaugural Data Tech event – a new event bringing together technical communities, practitioners and academics working on similar challenges across different sectors to learn from one another and forge new collaborations to benefit both themselves and their organisations.

The festival will also see the return of Data Talent, the annual collider event that brings together aspiring data science and engineering students with employers from across the country.

Women in Data Science also returns. It is part of the worldwide Women in Data Science initiative by Stanford University. It brings together women data scientists and school girls to showcase what a data career looks like and inspire the female data leaders of the future.

Tickets are on sale now. For more information visit –

Duncan MacRae


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