DDI launches ambassadors network

Understanding the blockages that can stop academics and industry collaborating and ensuring ‘knowledge flow’ so that learnings are shared in the right way at the right time were just some of the issues raised at the launch of the Data-Driven Innovation initiative’s ambassadors network on 18 May 2022.

The invitation-only network brings together a diverse mix of thought leaders who share the DDI’s values and its vision of ‘data for good’.

The initial cohort includes Allison Schrager, Senior Fellow at the Manhattan Institute and Columnist at Bloomberg, Michael Cross, Director and Co-founder at Blue Mirror Insights, and Pooja Jain, CEO and Co-founder of CogniHealth.

Speaking at the launch, DDI’s director Jarmo Eskelinen explained how the network had been formed at a critical period for the initiative. “2023 will mark our fifth year anniversary – we will be halfway through the delivery phase. By the end of 2023 all of the six DDI hubs will be open and there will be five football field’s worth of new innovation collaboration space in Edinburgh.”

Guest speakers were Professor Chris Speed, director of the Edinburgh Futures Institute and Professor Shannon Vallor, director of the Centre for Technomoral Futures.

Chris Speed stressed the importance of tackling shared problems and coming at them from different angles. Chris confessed that he was looking forward to EFI having what he called a Ghostbusters moment. “Don’t cross the streams is usual practice in university schools, but EFI will very much be about crossing the streams – in an academic disciplines sense. We know that global challenges will need to be faced off with a combination of disciplines.”

With its motto of ‘open to all’ EFI will also focus on engaging a range of communities and aims to be the most diverse, plural, and inclusive of all the DDI hubs. “This should be reflected in the corridors of the huge EFI site,” said Chris. “We want to bring more people onto the university campus and help them with flexible and inclusive ways to learn.”

Shannon Vallor explained how the Centre for Technomoral Futures is based on the crosscutting theme of ethics of data and AI and is focused on the integration of technical knowledge and moral knowledge. Shannon highlighted the interdisciplinary nature of her team’s work across research themes including emerging tech and the human condition, and ethics of algorithms. She said, “Many of our PhD candidates are working at the intersection of more than two areas of research. It’s important for our research to look at near term challenges that need to be addressed now.”

The Centre for Techomoral Futures will routinely engage technology practitioners, policymakers, regulators, business and civic leaders and citizen advocates, including and especially those communities historically underrepresented, marginalised or disproportionately impacted by data-driven innovation and other new technologies.

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