May Newsletter

Hi everyone-

It’s a bank holiday weekend, so it’s probably May and another month has flown by… I hope the excitement of venturing out from our cave-like lockdown has not proved too overwhelming … perhaps a few curated data science reading materials might prove relaxing?

Following is the May edition of our Royal Statistical Society Data Science Section newsletter. Hopefully some interesting topics and titbits to feed your data science curiosity … A particularly strong section from Members and Contributors this month- good reason to read to the end! Also we are moving Covid Corner to the end to change the focus a little.

As always- any and all feedback most welcome! If you like these, do please send on to your friends- we are looking to build a strong community of data science practitioners. And if you are not signed up to receive these automatically you can do so here.

Industrial Strength Data Science May 2021 Newsletter

RSS Data Science Section

Committee Activities

We are all conscious that times are incredibly hard for many people and are keen to help however we can- if there is anything we can do to help those who have been laid-off (networking and introductions help, advice on development etc.) don’t hesitate to drop us a line.

Fresh on the heels of our incredibly successful event with Andrew Ng, we are excited to announce the next instalment in the series at 6.30pm on Thursday May 20th. The RSS Data Science section invites you to a fireside conversation with Anthony Goldbloom – founder and CEO of Kaggle (now a Google company), the world’s largest data science and machine learning community with over 6MM members. Hear Anthony share his thoughts and experiences from the past 10 years at the forefront of competitive Machine Learning – sign up here to attend.

Martin Goodson, our chair, continues to run the excellent London Machine Learning meetup and is very active in with virtual events. The next event is on 10th May where Noam Brown, research scientist at Facebook AI in New York, will give a talk titled ‘AI for Imperfect-Information Games: Poker and Beyond‘. Videos are posted on the meetup youtube channel – and future events will be posted here.

This Month in Data Science

Lots of exciting data science going on, as always!

Ethics and more ethics…
Bias, ethics and diversity continue to be hot topics in data science…

"This is like trying to write a single law covering 'cars', that covers drunk driving, emissions standards, parking, and the tax treatment of highways.."
  • In addition, it is very hard to regulate ‘AI’ when it is far from clear we have a good definition of what ‘AI’ actually is, as our very own Martin Goodson points out in his recent blog post.
"The Act has already caused dismay amongst statisticians, who had no idea they were actually doing AI all along."
"accountability (n) - The act of holding someone else responsible for the consequences when your AI system fails."

Developments in Data Science…
As always, lots of new developments…

Real world applications of Data Science
Making a difference in the real world

Practical pointers on recommenders and search
Lots of good tips on search and recommendations this month

How does that work?
A new section on understanding different approaches and techniques

It’s all about the data
Which is more important… the data or the algorithm?

"Having clean data is in this category of “ghost knowledge” that, if you’ve been working in data for a long time, you know painfully from your own experience."
"Systematic improvement of data quality on a basic model is better than chasing the state-of-the-art models with low-quality data."

The Art of Visualisation
Making data science look right..

Practical Projects and Learning Opportunities
As always here are a few potential practical projects to while away the socially distanced hours:

Covid Corner

Again, more positive progress in the UK on the Covid front with over 35m people now having received their first vaccine dose and other metrics, such as deaths and hospitalisations all progressing in the right direction.

  • The latest ONS Coronavirus infection survey estimates the current prevalence of Covid in the community in England to be roughly 1 in 1000 so we have come a considerable way from January, when prevalence peaked at around 1 in 50. It is interesting to note though that we are not yet back to where we were last summer, when it dropped to 1 in 2000.
  • Some very positive results regarding the efficacy of the various vaccines ‘in the wild’ against the current variants have been recently published in the BMJ.
"Vaccination with a single dose of Oxford-AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines, [] significantly reduced new SARS-CoV-2 infections in this large community surveillance study"
 “The new vaccine can be mass-produced in chicken eggs — the same eggs that produce billions of influenza vaccines every year in factories around the world”

Updates from Members and Contributors

Again, hope you found this useful. Please do send on to your friends- we are looking to build a strong community of data science practitioners- and sign up for future updates here.

– Piers

The views expressed are our own and do not necessarily represent those of the RSS

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