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Presidential Speaker Series with Sir Adrian Smith

Wednesday 23 June 2021 08:00 - 09:30

Mathematical Futures: The Actuary in a World Transformed

Sir Adrian Smith outlined how advances in data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence in the world of big data will transform the nature of many industries, including financial services. The broader environment within which mathematics is applied will change rapidly, often led by innovative yet disruptive forces outside. These changes will undoubtedly have an impact on the work of actuaries - and the profession will need to adapt quickly to thrive.

A recording of this session is now available through the IFoA's Online Learning Resource and VLE

Actuaries are well-placed to consider the long-term implications of a world in which data technology informs not just traditional actuarial sectors of insurance, pensions, risk, investment and healthcare, but also to drive policy decisions to address broader societal challenges. Sir Adrian will encourage the profession to step out of its traditional areas of strength, with a more ambitious mindset, to take advantage of the opportunities that these sweeping changes will provide. This is not just about embracing the skill sets which are required in the digital world; a whole new mindset and reinvention are necessary. There is also a heightened need for leadership to identify and develop the appropriate talent for new, emerging roles.

Given the IFoA’s public interest perspective, the debate is not just about innovation in data technology but must include fostering trust in data through good ethical practice. Sir Adrian will also speak to the profession’s responsibilities in the ethical implementation of data science and the need for new standards, regulation and transparency to protect society in this new world.

John Taylor and Marjorie Ngwenya joined the session as panellists. John focussed on the links between data science, AI and the IFoA's Great Risk Transfer work, and Marjorie debated how the profession ensures that existing and new technologies work to the benefit and purpose of people. 

Join us for this talk with Professor Sir Adrian Smith as part of the 'Dr Patrick Poon Presidential Speaker Series'.

Adrian Smith joined The Alan Turing Institute as Institute Director and Chief Executive in September 2018. In November 2020, he became President of the Royal Society, in addition to his leadership of the Turing. He is also a member of the government's AI Council, which helps boost AI growth in the UK and promote its adoption and ethical use in businesses and organisations across the country. 

Professor Smith’s previous role was Vice-Chancellor of the University of London where he was in post from 2012. He was Director General, Knowledge and Innovation in BIS (now BEIS) between 2008-2012. He has worked with the UK Higher Education Funding and Research Councils and was Deputy Chair of the UK Statistics Authority from 2012—2019. In 2014, he was appointed Chair of the Board of the Diamond Synchrotron at Harwell and in 2018, a board member of the UK Atomic Energy Authority.

Professor Smith is a past President of the Royal Statistical Society and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 2001 in recognition of his contribution to statistics. In 2003-04 Professor Smith undertook an inquiry into Post-14 Mathematics Education for the UK Secretary of State for Education and Skills and in 2017, on behalf of Her Majesty’s Treasury and the Department for Education, published a 16-18 Maths Review.

In 2006 he completed a report for the UK Home Secretary on the issue of public trust in Crime Statistics. He received a knighthood in the 2011 New Year Honours list.


Event organiser

Contact Niki Park for more information.

020 7632 2152