Nello Cristianini

Full Professor, University of Bath

Nello Cristianini is a Professor of Artificial Intelligence in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Bath.
He holds a degree in physics from the University of Trieste, a Master in computational intelligence from the University of London and a PhD from the University of Bristol. Previously he has been a Professor of Artificial Intelligence at the University of Bristol, an associate professor at the University of California, Davis, and held visiting positions at other universities.
His research contributions encompass the fields of machine learning, artificial intelligence and bioinformatics. Particularly, his work has focused on statistical analysis of learning algorithms, to its application to support vector machines, kernel methods and other algorithms. Cristianini is the co-author of two widely known books in machine learning, “An Introduction to Support Vector Machines and Kernel Methods for Pattern Analysis” and a book in bioinformatics, “Introduction to Computational Genomics”.
Recent research has focused on the philosophical challenges posed by modern artificial intelligence, big-data analysis of newspapers content, the analysis of social media content. Previous research had focused on statistical pattern analysis; machine learning and artificial intelligence; machine translation; bioinformatics.
As a practitioner of data-driven AI and Machine Learning, Cristianini frequently gives public talks about the need for a deeper ethical understanding of the effects of modern data-science on society.
Cristianini is a recipient of the Royal Society Wolfson Research Merit Award and of a European Research Council Advanced Grant. In June 2014, Cristianini was included in a list of the “most influential scientists of the decade” compiled by Thomson Reuters (listing the top one per cent of scientists who are “the world’s leading scientific minds” and whose publications are among the most influential in their fields). In December 2016 he was included in the list of Top100 most influential researchers in Machine Learning by AMiner. In 2017, Cristianini was the keynote speaker at the Annual STOA Lecture at the European Parliament. From 2020 to 2024 he was a member of the International Advisory Board of STOA (Panel for the Future of Science and Technology of the European Parliament).

The Shortcut – How machines became intelligent without thinking in a human way

We have built a form of artificial intelligence, and we depend on it in many ways, but we do not yet know how to trust it. The key to addressing our social anxieties about intelligent machines is to understand the various shortcuts that we have taken along the way, from the use of statistical machine learning to that of “data from the wild” to “implicit feedback”. This talk will examine the steps that took us to the present form of AI, what we can expect from it, and how we can manage our relation with it, including its legal regulation.
An important consideration will be the specific position we have chosen for AI in our global data infrastructure, which gives it both access to information and the opportunity for consequential decisions. Furthermore it also enables the emergence of a new type of agent: the social machine. When we access YouTube or TikTok we may find ourselves in the presence of a new form of intelligent agent, exemplified by recommender systems. We will focus on the collective behaviour of social machines, formed by connecting human participants through a digital infrastructure, for example on social media. We will explore what a social machine is, how it can arise from the interaction of human participants, and if it can be seen as an autonomous intelligent entity. What can we learn from this perspective about common forms of AI, how we can regulate their use, and how society is shaped by them?

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