School of Informatics

10th September 2013: Sir Nigel Shadbolt

This lecture is supported jointly by School of Informatics and the Farr Institute for Health Informatics.

sir nigel shadbolt

The Fifth Paradigm: From Open Data to Social Machines Tuesday 10 September 2013, 4.00pm Room G.07, School of Informatics, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh EH8 9AB

The lecture will be followed by a wine and canape Reception in the Forum Atrium.


We are living in an age of superabundant information. The Internet and World Wide Web have been the agents of this revolution. This deluge of information and data has led to a range of scientific discoveries and engineering innovations. From characterising the shape and structure of the Web to efficiently searching its billions of items of contents, from mobilising millions of humans to solve specific problems to improving the efficiency of our public services.

The Web has also engendered new kinds of "social machine" governed not purely by computational processes, but by collective social processes resulting from the amalgam of individual action and coordination. Social Machines are mediated and enabled by the shared communication and data substrate of the Web. Simultaneously we are witnessing the emergence of a Web of Linked Open Data - driven by the release of large sets of data into the public domain. These developments offer new opportunities for science, government and business. They offer new possibilities for both Artificial and Augmented Intelligence. The lecture will discuss these fast moving developments and how they will impact our lives.


Sir Nigel Shadbolt is Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Southampton, where he leads the Web and Internet Science Group. He is also the Chairman and Co-Founder of the Open Data Institute (ODI). Since 2009, Sir Nigel has acted as an Information Adviser to the UK Government, helping transform public access to Government information, including the widely acclaimed site.

With over 400 publications he researches and publishes on open data, artificial intelligence, computer and web science. During his career, he has also worked in philosophy, psychology and linguistics. Since 2000 he has secured 17 projects as Principal Investigator with a value of over £20 million pounds. He is currently Principal Investigator on a £6.14M EPSRC funded Programme Grant researching the theory of social machines - Web scale problem solving systems comprising large numbers of humans and computers.

In 2006 he was one of three founding Directors of Garlik Ltd, which in 2008 was awarded Technology Pioneer status by the Davos World Economic Forum and won the prestigious UK national BT Flagship Award. Garlik was acquired by Experian Ltd in 2011. In 2013 he was awarded a Knighthood for services to science and engineering.