The Turing Podcast

The Institute's podcast for discussions on all things data science, AI and machine learning

Introduction

The Turing Podcast is your home for discussion on all things data science, AI and machine learning.

Now into our third series, hear directly from the researchers who are pushing boundaries in these areas, using data science and AI to tackle issues that are relevant to us all.

The podcast is produced by Dan Whitfield. Current hosts are Anneca York, Ed Chalstrey, Jo Dungate, Christina Last and Bea Costa Gomes. Past hosts include Effie Dennis, Tarek Allam, Ben Walden and Rachel Winstanley.

Music for the podcast is written by Jamin Sun. Find him on Instagram or Bandcamp.

Listen and subscribe via: SpotifyApple PodcastsStitcherPodbayPodbeaniHeart RadioListen Notes and more.

Episode archive

Series 3, Episode 4: Turing deployment at sea: identifying plankton in real time

In this episode, hosts Bea and Anneca are joined by Robert Blackwell, from CEFAS (Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science), who tells us, among many other things, how an algorithm to detect different species of plankton developed in two weeks during a Turing DSG ended up being deployed six months later on a ship.

Series 3, Episode 3: Machine Learning for Armed Conflict Mediation

This week we welcome Dr Miguel Arana-Catania and Professor Rob Proctor from the University of Warwick, along with Dr Felix-Anselm van Lier from Oxford University. The episode discusses their recent work in using machine learning to analyze large-scale peace dialogue transcripts from the war in Yemen, with the aim to assist conflict mediators.

Series 3, Episode 2: Living with Machines

This week the hosts are joined by David Beavan, a Senior Research Software Engineer and Dr Kasra Hosseini a Research Data Scientist, both of whom work in the Alan Turing Institute’s Research Engineering Group. The episode focusses on one of The Alan Turing Institute’s major research projects in the Digital Humanities known as “Living with machines”, which takes a fresh look at the history of the industrial revolution with data driven approaches. Find out more at https://livingwithmachines.ac.uk/

Series 3, Episode 1: Data Science for Social Good: Predicting air pollution in a post-COVID world?

In this episode Christina catches up with two of her former collaborators, Prithviraj Pramanik and Dr Subhabrata Majumdar. The three of them worked as volunteers at Solve for Good (a platform to connect social good organisations with volunteer data scientists to solve socially beneficial challenges). The team discusses their work with UNICEF to build a post-pandemic global air pollution model to help map child exposure to harmful air pollutants.

Series 2, Episode 17: The right to privacy

This week Ed and Rachel speak with Geoff Goodell, Senior Research Associate in the Financial Computing and Analytics group at UCL, and associate of UCL’s Centre for Blockchain Technologies and the LSE systemic risk centre. Geoff is an advocate for privacy as a human right in the digital world, in particular with regard to digital identity systems. Recorded in mid-2021, this episode takes a deep dive into some of the important topics surrounding people’s identities in the online world, including both the technical and ethical considerations.

Series 2, Episode 16: The Turing Podcast asks: Where is Bitcoin headed?

Ed and Rachel are joined by Dr Tim Hobson, Senior Research Software Engineer and resident Bitcoin enthusiast at The Alan Turing Institute. Tim offers his take on the phenomenon that is Bitcoin, the future of its adoption and how the underlying technology relates to his research interests.

Series 2, Episode 15: Careers in data science with Accenture

The latest episode of The Turing Podcast features a special roundtable discussion with our strategic partner Accenture about career options in the data science sector. Our hosts Jo Dungate and Bea Costa Gomes were joined by three influential figures in AI and data science – Henrietta Ridley (Data Science Manager at Accenture), Alice Aspinall (Senior Manager at Mudano), and Kirstie Whitaker (the Turing’s Director of the tools, practices and systems programme).

Our guests brought their different experiences and perspectives to an insightful discussion on various aspects of the data science industry, from how they first got into their fields, their career motivations and lessons learned along the way. The episode concludes with each guest offering advice to anyone at the beginning of their career.

Series 2, Episode 14: "The problems of AI" with James Geddes

This week on The Turing Podcast, the hosts chat with Dr James Geddes, who is a Principial Research Data Scientist in the Research Engineering Group at The Alan Turing Institute. The discussion revolves around an all-important question: What actually is AI? James breaks down three categories of computer programs that could be considered AI: simulations, symbolic AI and machine learning, and the hosts debate which, if any of these, are really intelligent. This week the podcast is hosted by Ed Chalstrey and introduces Christina Last.

Series 2, Episode 13: You don’t need anybody’s permission to be a great mathematician

In this episode we talk to Dr Nira Chamberlain, president of The Institute of Mathematics and its Applications. We talk with Nira about Black History Month, mathematicians though history that have inspired him, and how mathematics can cross racial, geographical and cultural boundaries.

Series 2, Episode 12: Nicol Turner Lee: Bridging the digital divide

The hosts were joined by Dr Nicol Turner Lee to discuss her research on public policy, designed to enable equitable access to technology and digital equity. We talk about themes in her recent book on the Digitally Invisible and the real-life consequences of the growing digital divide. Nicol Turner Lee is a speaker, author and technology innovator. As well as a senior fellow in Governance Studies and Director of the Centre for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution in Washington D.C., where she also serves as Co-Editor in Chief of the blog, Tech-Tank.

Series 2, Episode 11: How to communicate science to non-specialists

We chat about all things science communication with two Turing colleagues: Ethics Research Fellow Mhairi Aitken and Science Writer James Lloyd. They discuss why we need science communicators in the first place, what makes for good communication, and what specific challenges are associated with communicating data science and AI research to the general public.

Series 2, Episode 10: Tackling the infodemic

This week on the podcast, we bring you a conversation the hosts had last December with PhD candidate Elizabeth Seger. Elizabeth studies at the University of Cambridge and is a research assistant at the Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence. Talking about her work with The Alan Turing Institute, she explains how informed decision making in democracies is being impacted by modern technology, and in particular how online misinformation has affected the pandemic response. Find out more about the research.

Series 2, Episode 9: How can AI help us understand breast cancer?

In this episode hosts Jo Dungate and Rachel Winstanley speak to Andrew Holding, a Senior Research Associate at Cancer Research UK's (CRUK) Cambridge Institute and Turing Fellow. Andrew discusses how his research is using machine learning to understand the biology that underlies breast cancer to help improve treatments.

Series 2, Episode 8: Palaeoanalytics: Using data science and machine learning to answer questions about human evolution

The hosts chat with Professor Robert Foley, who works on Human Evolution at the University of Cambridge and is a Turing Fellow. The conversation takes a broad view of how our understanding of human evolution has changed in recent decades and focuses in on the Turing's Palaeoanalytics project, which involves applying data science and machine learning methods to non-genomic data. Find out more about this project.

Series 2, Episode 7: How good is AI at detecting online hate?

AI is widely lauded as a way of reducing the burden on human online content moderators. However, to understand whether AI could, and should, replace human moderators, we need to understand its strengths and limitations. In this episode our hosts speak to the researchers Paul Röttger and Bertie Vidgen to discuss how they are attempting to tackle online hate speech, in particular through their work on HateCheck – a suite of tests for hate speech detection models.

Series 2, Episode 6: Optimising policy for sustainable development

In an interview recorded last year, Jo and Ed are joined by Dr Omar A Guerrero, an Economist and Computational Social Scientist at The Alan Turing Institute and UCL Department of Economics, whose research is on economic behaviour and institutions from an interdisciplinary angle. The episode focuses on Policy Priority Inference (PPI): a technology developed in collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme. PPI is intended to be used to optimise government policy to meet sustainable development goals and identify the policy priorities that governments need to set if they are to adopt a specific development strategy. Read more about the research discussed in this episode.

Series 2, Episode 6: COVID-19 lockdowns: which policies worked best?

This week on the podcast, the hosts are joined by Sören Mindermann and Mrinank Sharma, who are PhD students at the University of Oxford. Mrinank works as part of Oxford's Future of Humanity Institute, whilst Sören is a member of Oxford Applied and Theoretical Machine Learning Group. The episode focuses on the research they have recently published on inferring the effectiveness of government interventions against COVID-19, during the first wave of the pandemic in early 2020. You can read the research article for this work. 

Series 2, Episode 5: In conversation with Sue Black

In this episode the hosts were joined by Professor Sue Black to discuss her inspirational life story and career, as well as the initiatives she has set up to encourage more women into the tech sector and her hopes for the future. Sue Black – Professor of Computer Science and Technology Evangelist at Durham University – has set up initiatives such as BCSWomen and the social enterprise Techmums, to encourage more women into computing. She has received an OBE for services to technology and was also instrumental in the campaign to save Bletchley Park.

Series 2, Episode 4: Mapping the UK's solar power

This week the hosts chat with Dr Dan Stowell, senior researcher at Queen Mary University of London and fellow of The Alan Turing Institute, about his work on addressing climate change via creating high-coverage open dataset of solar photovoltaic installations in the UK. It also happens to be research that podcast host Ed was involved in as you'll hear! You can check out the paper on this topic, published in Nature Scientific Data here.

Series 2, Episode 3: Robert Winston on science and the public in the COVID-19 era

On this episode of the podcast, we are joined by Lord Robert Winston to talk about engaging with the public about the science of combatting COVID-19. Professor of Science and Society and Emeritus Professor of Fertility Studies at Imperial College London, Robert has also had an incredible career in television, presenting the BBC’s The Secret Life of Twins, Child of Our Time and the BAFTA award-winning The Human Body. Professor Winston runs a research programme at the Institute of Reproductive and Developmental Biology at Imperial College that aims to improve human transplantation. He has over 300 scientific publications about human reproduction and the early stages of pregnancy.

Series 2, Episode 2: How AI and data science are revolutionising biology

This week the hosts are joined by Professor Tim Hubbard, who is Head of the Department of Medical and Molecular Genetics at King’s College London, and Associate Director of Health Data Research UK in London, as well as being the Head of Genome Analysis at Genomics England. They discuss the recent success of Deep Mind's AlphaFold protein structure prediction software at the CASP14 competition and other developments from the worlds of health data science and genomics.

Series 2, Episode 1: The dark triad: Modelling psychopathy

On the first episode of season two, we are joined by Alexander Tokarev, a very recent PhD graduate from the University of Manchester. Alex does research in organisational psychology, personality psychology, and psychometrics. With a strong mathematical and statistical background, he applies these to psychology. He is here to tell us a little bit about modeling personality traits, in particular the ones known as the dark core. Sound effects courtesy of Brand Name Audio.

Series 1, Episode 17: The Privacy Collective

Ever wondered what you were signing up to when you click the 'accept all cookies' button that seems to appear on every website you visit? In the final episode of The Turing Podcast series one, the hosts are joined by Dr Rebecca Rumbul to talk about The Privacy Collective, an organisation that supports compensation claims arising out of the misuse of personal data on behalf of the general public, and how they're involved in with the largest data privacy case against GDPR breaches in history. To learn more, check out their website.

Series 1, Episode 16: Project Odysseus: Capturing city activity to help exit lockdown

This week on The Turing Podcast, the hosts chat with James Walsh, a research assistant at The Alan Turing Institute, and Funmi Kesa, a PhD student at the University of Warwick, and hear about their work on “Project Odysseus”, one of The Alan Turing Institute’s key research projects in response to the COVID-19 Pandemic. By capturing activity in London to better understand 'busyness', the research aims to aid effective policy-making strategies for exiting lockdowns.

Series 1, Episode 15: Reproducible data science: How hard can it be?

The ability to reproduce the research that other scientists have done to see whether the same results are obtained (or the same conclusions are reached) is an integral part of the scientific process, but are we doing it right and how difficult is it to do? This week, Ed is joined by Dr Kirstie Whittaker and Dr Sarah Gibson for a discussion about the reproducibility of scientific research, why this is such an important topic and what The Alan Turing Institute is doing to promote best practices in reproducible data science. Kirstie is the Programme Lead for Tools, Practices and Systems at The Alan Turing Institute and Sarah is a Research Software Engineer at the Institute who is also a fellow of the Software Sustainability Institute. Check out some of the projects mentioned in the interview such as The Turing Way at https://the-turing-way.netlify.app/ and Binder at https://mybinder.org/

Series 1, Episode 14: Digital identity: can we trust it?

Today, September 16th, is International Identity Day! To mark the occasion, the hosts are joined by Carsten Maple, who is Professor at the University of Warwick and Fellow of The Alan Turing Institute, for a conversation about the trustworthiness of digital identity systems, some of the related work going on at the institute and other “open” initiatives in the digital identity research space. Identification has come a long way since the 1990s when paper-based registries and documents, such as hard copy passports, were the only option for fully verifying a person’s identity. The last decade has seen the proliferation of digital identity systems, both national and commercial, meaning that identities can be verified and checked securely, cheaply and at scale. Will digital identity systems will achieve fair and just outcomes for citizens? That remains an open question!

Series 1, Episode 13: Being an epidemiologist in 2020

This week on The Turing Podcast we're joined for a second time by Alan Turing Institute fellow Dr Peter Tennant of the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics, for a discussion about the scientific communities' response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Peter is an expert not only in data science, but also Epidemiology and causal inference. The discussion took place in June when fewer of the UK’s lockdown restrictions had been lifted.

Series 1, Episode 12: Data journalism in the COVID-19 era

This week The Turing Podcast welcomes our second external guest interviewee: Tom Chivers. Tom is a science writer and journalist who has previously worked for the Daily Telegraph and Buzzfeed UK, but now writes for the online publication UnHerd. His writing often focusses on topics such as rationalism and Artificial Intelligence and he has authored a popular book The AI Does Not Hate You: Superintelligence, Rationality and the Race to Save the World. In this episode, the discussion revolves around the media coverage of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tom's experience as data-savvy journalist and the challenges of accurately reporting on rapidly evolving science, at a time when public hunger for information is high and misinformation abounds! You can keep up with Tom’s writing here, or follow him on Twitter.

Series 1, Episode 11: Antibody certificates for COVID-19?

On the podcast this week, the hosts chat with Dr Chris Hicks and Dr David Butler, who work as post-doctoral researchers in security and cryptography at The Alan Turing Institute. In an episode that focusses on one of the projects the institute has undertaken to help tackle the pandemic, they discuss how to build a privacy-preserving system for issuing and verifying COVID-19 antibody certificates, a technology that could be used to help with the easing of pandemic measures in some scenarios. If you’d like to learn more about this research, check out their paper here.

Series 1, Episode 10: The future of tech

In the last couple of decades, we've all been witness to the huge advances in personal computing and the astonishing rise of consumer technology. We now live on a planet that's more connected than ever before, with over 3.5 billion smartphone users, many of whom use social media on a daily basis. But where is consumer technology headed and what exciting developments are there on the horizon? In this episode of The Turing Podcast, the hosts speak to Daniel Rotar, CEO and Founder of ZONEofTECH: one of the largest UK based Technology YouTube channels, for a conversation that ranges from the latest developments in Augmented Reality (AR) technology and smartphone design to the intersection of AI research and consumer tech. You can watch and subscribe to ZONEofTECH here.

Series 1, Episode 9: Amsterdam's 3D printed steel bridge and its digital twin

In this week's podcast, the hosts speak with Dr Eric Daub, a Principal Research Data Scientist at The Alan Turing Institute, about his involvement in measuring, monitoring, and analysing the performance of the world’s largest 3D printed metal structure: a 12 metre-long stainless steel bridge crossing one of Amsterdam's canals.

Series 1, Episode 8: AIrsenal: the Fantasy Football AI

This week's episode takes us back the pre-COVID-19 era, when premier league football was still a thing! Dr Nick Barlow of The Alan Turing Institute's Research Engineering Group chats to the podcast hosts about his side project "AIrsenal", a machine learning manager for Fantasy Premier League. You can find out more about the project and even contribute to the code by visiting here and here.

Series 1, Episode 7: Superbug evolution: understanding the spread of antimicrobial resistance

Viruses like SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19, aren't the only problem we face globally when it comes to infectious disease. Bacterial pathogens are constantly evolving, presenting a challenge for the worlds healthcare systems as more of the antibiotics we rely on to kill bacteria fail on those that have evolved antimicrobial resistance. In this episode, we chat with Victoria Carr, a PhD student in Bioinformatics at the Centre for Host-Microbiome Interactions at King's College London and The Alan Turing Institute, who describes her research comparing antimicrobial resistance in mouth and gut microbes and developing software to find "mobile genetic elements" (DNA sequences that can change position within a genome) and their association with antibiotic resistance genes.

Series 1, Episode 6: Image analysis in neurodegenerative disease

Image recognition and classification is a hot topic in AI research, and these tools are increasingly being utilised by biologists with the aim to classify and distinguish diseases. In this episode, Bea Costa Gomes, a PhD candidate and Turing enrichment student at The University of Manchester talks about her research into developing software that spots shape differences in the images of diseased brain cells, as well as her passion for Drosophila flies!

Series 1, Episode 5: Cause and effect

Remember back at school when you were taught that correlation doesn’t mean causation, that increased ice cream sales are correlated with sunnier weather but don’t cause the clouds to part? Peter Tennant, a fellow of the Alan Turing Institute based at Leeds Institute for Data Analytics explains why it’s important for scientists to become more confident in talking about causation, how "causal inference" methods are transforming the field of epidemiology and why AI isn’t typically best placed to make sensible assumptions about complex data. This episode was recorded before the COVID-19 lockdown began in the UK, but the topics discussed couldn’t be more relevant!

Series 1, Episode 4: Astrophysics in the age of big data

Large datasets and modern machine learning techniques are fast changing the field of Astrophysics and our understanding of the universe. In this episode, we chat with PhD candidates Tarek Allam and Gordon Yip, whose respective research at University College London’s Department of Physics and Astronomy focuses on the classification of supernova light curves to help constrain theories of Dark Energy and the atmospheric composition of remote exo-planets.

Series 1, Episode 3: Data trusts: power to the people in the digital age

How can groups of people be empowered to share sensitive personal data such as medical records, with transparency about how they will be used? This is a question of particular relevance during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this episode, we're talking to Sylvie Delacroix, Turing Fellow and Professor at Birmingham Law School about the concept of data trusts and how they enable the sharing and safeguarding of data. https://datatrusts.uk/

Series 1, Episode 2: Tracking the pandemic

How can data science support us in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic? Our Researcher at Large, Jon Crowcroft, speaks about how smartphones can be mobilised to track the COVID-19 pandemic. He also discusses how data science and AI research is playing a crucial role in finding solutions during the crisis.

Series 1, Episode 1: AI for the skies

Recorded a few months ago, in our first episode we speak to Dr Radka Jersakova, Research Data Scientist at The Institute about her project that applies AI to air traffic control simulators. Join us as we discuss how advances in AI may go some way paving the way towards putting more planes (safely) in the sky.