Research Horizons is the University of Cambridge’s research magazine.
Foreword from the Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research:
Welcome to the 31st issue of Research Horizons, in which we focus on digital society.
Around 3.5 billion people use the internet – that’s almost half of the world population. Our digital connectivity is rapidly transforming almost every aspect of our working and personal lives. Soon, innovations that were inconceivable a few years ago will be commonplace – autonomous vehicles, devices that diagnose disease, household appliances that talk to each other. Digital technologies being built in Cambridge and beyond are reshaping health, business, education, public services and the economy.
A digital society – the Spotlight focus this issue – also raises challenges. The more connected we are, the more we open ourselves to risk, whether it’s from cybercrime, invasions of privacy, digital infrastructures that are not up to the job or, ultimately, the advent of machines that are more intelligent than we are.
Here in Cambridge, we understand that addressing these challenges needs social sciences and computer sciences to work together, and we think this is an area where we make a difference. Among various initiatives, we have strategic research priorities in Digital Humanities, Big Data and Public Policy, and we are a partner in the UK’s national centre for data science, the Alan Turing Institute. In addition, the recently funded Leverhulme Centre for the Future of Intelligence will help us to look at some of the overarching issues at play.
As well as our focus on digital society, we also cover a fascinating breadth of other areas in this edition of Research Horizons: singing sand dunes and flamenco flashmobs, a chance observation that led to a breakthrough cancer drug, how to keep patients safe in hospital, the sights, sounds and ‘feel’ of a data centre, and some of the amazing Bronze Age treasures discovered at what’s been dubbed ‘Britain’s Pompeii’. Professor Chris Abell
Professor Chris Abell
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research