It is a great pleasure to provide these introductory words for the first newsletter of the Leeds Institute for Data Analytics. LIDA (pronounced Lee-dah rather than Lie-dah – we aspire to become world-leading with data…) has been established as an Institute since the spring of 2014. The Institute hosts two national Research Council Centres, in Medical Bioinformatics (funded by the Medical Research Council) and Consumer Research (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council). From these foundations we are now working with a growing team of associates from every Faculty in the University.
Our occupancy of dedicated and beautifully appointed space on Level 11 of the Worsley Building began in July 2015. Many of you will already be familiar with these premises having attended business meetings, academic seminars or perhaps training events here, while others will already be permanently resident alongside myself. If not, then I hope we will have the opportunity to welcome you soon.
I would like to share two further observations that I find particularly motivational. The first is that data analytics (in some contexts ‘data science’ or ‘big data’ may be better descriptors) is the one theme in which each Research Council has invested (heavily) in the last three or four years. LIDA aims to exploit this breadth by engaging across every Faculty in the University and many commercial, government and third sector organisations beyond.
Second: according to the Martin Institute at the University of Oxford, in the year 2033, 98% of sports referees, 96% of chefs and 89% of bus drivers will lose their jobs to algorithms! Although these numbers should be treated with a dose of scepticism, the underlying message is clear – over the next 20 years our world will be transformed by data (and the associated methods) in ways that we can scarcely begin to imagine. It is my personal conviction that data analytics will drive more significant changes in research, business and society than any other technology.
Only time of course will prove whether either the Martin Institute or I are remotely close to the mark. Whatever the case, I believe that LIDA has embarked on a journey that will combine intense academic stimulation with a sense of purpose, endeavour and achievement, underpinned by a collegial and collaborative ethos which befits our wide-ranging aspirations. I do hope that you will wish to travel with us, and enjoy accounts of our progress in this and future newsletters.
Professor Mark Birkin