The Summit 2016

Trust in the 21st Century

In November 2016 the British Science Association held the inaugural Summit at BAFTA, London. The theme was ‘Trust in the 21st Century’ and its impact on the future of science, innovation and business. The Summit brought together leading speakers from both within and beyond science to discuss, debate and agree radical new ways of using science to advance society through the lens of trust.


Summit 2016

The inaugural Summit on Tuesday 8 November 2016 brought together over 20 leading speakers and 200 of the UK’s key business leaders, policy-makers, scientists and opinion-formers.


Constructing the mad scientist: tackling stereotypes in science

Where does the stereotype of the mad scientist come from?

Professor Alice Roberts, academic and broadcaster, tracks the history of the scientists in the public mind, discussing what can learn from these stories today.

We should trust the human cloud

Viscount Matt Ridley, journalist and author, argues that we should trust collective intelligence rather than relying on individual experts.

Trust and the future of the professions

For decades, we’ve trusted traditional professions such as doctors, lawyers, and teachers to deliver essential services and advice. But, will they survive the introduction of new technologies which provide ‘reliable solutions’? Daniel Susskind, Lecturer in Economics at Balliol College, Oxford and co-author of the Future of Professions, discusses a new phenomenon of ‘quasi-trust’ and questions whether it’s possible compare human reasoning with artificial intelligence.

Why our leaders must understand the cutting edge of technology

Just 16 years ago, the thought of trusting a website with your credit card information was almost unheard of, now, millions of people share their houses and cars with strangers through AirBnB and Uber. However, large sections of the population are being left behind whilst the technology and reach of the internet continues to expand. Baroness Martha Lane Fox explains why inclusion at all levels is essential as digital systems shape our society.

Can blockchain solve the accountability gap?

The blockchain is a data structure that makes editing the past near-impossible. Vinay Gupta (technologist and policy analyst) explains the history of the technology, and how it could be harnessed to improve trust and transparency in drug-trials, climate models, finance, and even human rights.

Can we trust open data and artificial intelligence?

Open data is an extraordinarily powerful concept, and it’s being used to inform healthcare, transport & economic policy. However, the majority of the public find it challenging to scrutinise. Sir Nigel Shadbolt, Prinicipal of Jesus College, Oxford and Professor of Artificial Intelligence, argues for a national conversation on holding new decision-making systems to account.

Is social media changing democracy?

In 2016, social media conversations were more accurate than the polls in predicting the outcome of the Brexit vote and the Trump campaign. Dame Wendy Hall, computer scientist at the University of Southampton, analyses this trend, and discusses what it could mean for the future of democracy and the internet.

The new age of empiricism

Do we still need scientists in an age where it takes seconds for machines to find patterns in huge datasets? Julia King, Baroness Brown of Cambridge DBE, explains the limits of complex models, and questions whether we can trust their predictions.

Do false memories lead to bad political decisions?

So-called “rosy retrospection” fades our bad memories of past events – did this have something to do with the UK’s decision to leave the EU? Dr Julia Shaw, Senior Lecturer at London South Bank University, takes us through the fragile network of neurons and brain cells that make up our memories, and shows how they enhance, distort, or trick us over time.

Manipulative numbers: How we use statistics to get want we want

Think numbers are neutral? They’re far from it! Sir David Spiegelhalter, Professor of Public Understanding of Risk at University of Cambridge, lifts the lid on how we communicate numbers to gain trust, and identifies some of the worst offenders.

Why are people nervous about nuclear?

Nuclear energy has a trust problem. Despite the fact that it’s secure, independent, and carbon-free, it’s not a mainstream power source. Lady Barbara Judge CBE, Chair of the Institute of Director, explains the reasons it makes people are nervous, and why it’s important to have a national conversation about nuclear.

When did our kids become my kids? How shifting perspectives undermine trust

Sacha Romanovitch, Chief Executive of Grant Thornton LLP UK, discusses how changing social norms have damaged our trust in each other, considering the role of self-interest, competition and hierarchies in building trust in the future.

Trust vs trustworthiness

University of Cambridge Emeritus Professor of Philosophy Baroness Onora O’Neill asks the difficult questions about trust in society today: Is there actually a crisis of trust? Do we want transparency? Is more trust a good thing?

Trust in me? Experts in the 21st century

Why do 79% of people trust scientists but only 21% of politicians? Lord David Willetts, Chair of the British Science Association, explores the changing relationship between expertise, authority and society in the 21st century.


Please click here to view the 2016 programme (including the list of attendees).