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The University of Southampton

Professor Dame Wendy Hall appointed Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute

Published: 19 May 2020
Dame Wendy Hall
Professor Dame Wendy Hall will serve as Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute from 1 June 2020.

The Nuffield Foundation has announced the appointment of Professor Dame Wendy Hall as Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute.

One of the world’s foremost computer scientists, Dame Wendy is Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton and plays a leading role in shaping science and engineering policy and education in the UK and internationally. She is the UK’s first AI Skills Champion and Executive Director of the Web Science Institute.

Dame Wendy's appointment by the Nuffield Foundation – the independent funder of the Ada Lovelace Institute – follows an open recruitment process. Her three-year term as Chair commences on 1 June 2020 as she succeeds Sir Alan Wilson. The Institute, named in honour of the 19th century mathematician Ada Lovelace who is considered the world’s first computer programmer, is a research institute and deliberative body dedicated to ensuring that data and AI work for people and society.

“I am very excited to be offered the opportunity to become Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute,” Dame Wendy enthused. “I have been very impressed with what the Institute has achieved since its inception and the commitment of the Nuffield Foundation to its development. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to work with Carly Kind, Director of the Ada Lovelace Institute and her team to help ensure the Institute continues to make a significant impact in the world of AI and data ethics by taking an evidence-led approach to the development of policy and practice in this area, which is something I am passionate about.”
Dame Wendy co-Chaired the UK government’s AI Review, published in 2017, and is a member of the AI Council, an independent expert committee providing advice to government and high-level leadership of the AI ecosystem in the UK. She is also Executive Director of the Web Science Trust, which has a global mission to support the development of research, education and thought leadership in Web Science.

During her distinguished career, Dame Wendy has been President of the ACM and the British Computer Society, Senior Vice President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology. She is a Fellow of the Royal Society and a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering.

Dame Wendy was a founding member of the European Research Council and Chaired the European Commission’s IST Advisory Group from 2010-2012. Her previous international roles include membership of the Global Commission on Internet Governance and the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on the Digital Economy.

Sir Keith Burnett, Chair of the Nuffield Foundation said:
“Dame Wendy Hall is one of the most influential scientists in the UK and the Nuffield Foundation is delighted to appoint her Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute. Dame Wendy’s research has been a driving force in the development of her discipline, and through her senior leadership and advisory roles she has shaped science and technology policy both in the UK and internationally.

“The Ada Lovelace Institute, although a relatively new organisation, is already providing a much-needed independent, evidence-led voice in the public debate on how data and AI should be used in the interests of people and society – most recently in relation to the use of technology in the public health response to the COVID-19 crisis. With Dame Wendy as Chair, I have every confidence the Institute will continue to make progress towards its goal of ensuring the benefits of data and AI are justly and equitably distributed.”

Carly Kind, Director of the Ada Lovelace Institute said:
“Dame Wendy brings to the Ada Lovelace Institute not only her expertise in computer science, but also her pioneering insights into the sociotechnical nature of AI and data-driven systems – a perspective that is critical to the Ada Lovelace Institute’s approach to policy and practice. We are honoured that Dame Wendy will lead our already august Board, deepening the Institute’s expertise in data science and building connections across academia, government and industry.”

Digital Dame boosts Digital Jersey board

Dame Wendy has also been appointed to the board of Digital Jersey and will take up the position of non-executive director from 1 July 2020.

At Digital Jersey’s Annual Review, earlier this year, Dame Wendy told the audience that Jersey could become the world’s start-up location of choice for AI and she wants to work with Digital Jersey to help train local people in AI skills for the future.

“I’m so pleased to join the board of Digital Jersey,” said Dame Wendy. “I firmly believe that Jersey is well-placed to play a leading role in the digital world with its great potential to support digital start-ups and other developments in this ever-expanding field for years to come.”

Digital Jersey CEO Tony Moretta said: “Securing the service and expertise of Professor Dame Wendy Hall is a major coup for us. She is a leading AI expert and her extensive links and connections in the UK, and further afield, will be of real value as we plan and implement the digital future. We are delighted that she has seen the potential in Jersey and wants to join our board.”

Chairman of the Digital Jersey board, Frank Walker, said: “I was absolutely delighted to see over 80 excellent candidates apply to join the board. It’s a clear reflection of the importance now placed on the digital sector and the role of Digital Jersey. Not surprisingly Dame Wendy stood out and I’m very much looking forward to welcoming her, as one of three new non-execs, and to the contribution she will undoubtedly make to our important work in assisting the digital sector, and the wider economy, recover from the impact of Covid-19, and build our new economic future.”

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