“I am the Livery Company Professor of IT at Gresham College. I have worked in the software industry for over 30 years, specialising in safety-related and other critical applications. I am a visiting Professor at the Universities of Aberystwyth and Bristol, a Director of the Health and Safety Executive, and a former visiting professor of Oxford university and Director of the Serious Organised Crime Agency”.
Big Data: The Broken Promise of Anonymisation
This is the 6th lecture in the 12 part series “Living in a cyber-enabled world”
Modern society is dependent on computers. Less than 70 years after the first successful program ran on the first modern computer, software-based systems are everywhere. Yet we are only at the beginning of the revolutionary changes that computers will bring to society. We are on the verge of the “internet of things”, where almost everything could contain intelligence and be network connected. This decade may see the first artificial life, where a whole organism is reproduced at molecular level as a software simulation. Several countries have started preparations to introduce driverless cars on public roads. Autonomous air vehicles with high resolution cameras and satellite navigation have already moved from military applications into toyshops.
But all this progress is dependent on a software industry that is still at the craft stage, 45 years after the phrase “software engineering” first came into common use. Most programmers lack even a basic understanding of computer science or of the disciplines that are fundamental to engineering professions. As a result, many software projects overrun in costs and time, fail to deliver real benefits, suffer reliability and usability problems, and leave users exposed to costly cybercrime.
This lecture programme will explore the state of software today, how we got to where we are, and what we shall need to do to shore up the foundations of a digital society that is increasingly built on sand.
This lecture programme has been designed to inform, to entertain, and to stimulate balanced discussions that lead to effective actions.