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Blackett Memorial Lecture 2018

The Society is pleased to announce that the 2018 Blackett Memorial Lecture will be given by

Sir Alan Wilson, FRS FAcSS FBA

Chief Executive of The Alan Turing Institute and
Professor of Urban and Regional Systems in the
Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London.

on Wednesday 28 November 2018


Title : OR in the age of AI

Abstract: The Lecture will be presented in three stages. First a review of the current positioning of OR in an age that is being transformed by increasing computing power, the ‘big data’ revolution (along with an appreciation of the value of data), and perhaps above all, by AI. The second part addresses the non-trivial question: what is AI? What is AI good at? What is AI not so good at? This builds on Michael Jordan’s argument that the immediate value of AI is through intelligence augmentation (IA) and intelligent infrastructure (II). The final stage of the argument is to explore the future of OR in the age of AI. There is an opportunity for OR to be newly ambitious through tackling large-scale transformative projects, and particularly by adding the notion of ‘learning machines’ to the OR tool kit. Two illustrations will be offered: meeting challenges in health service provision and in the planning of future cities.


Sir Alan Wilson is currently Director, Special Projects at the Alan Turing Institute, having been Chief Executive for two years up to September. He is also now Executive Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute. He is also Chair of the Home Office Science Advisory Council. Sir Alan was Vice-Chancellor of the University of Leeds from 1991 to 2004 when he became Director-General for Higher Education in the then DfES. From 2007 to 2013 he was Chair of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and from 2013 to 2015 he was Chair of the Lead Expert Group for the Government Office for Science Foresight Project on The Future of Cities.

Sir Alan was awarded a lifetime honorary membership to The OR Society during the society’s annual Blackett Memorial Lecture held on 23 November 2017 at the IET London. The award recognises Sir Alan’s over 50 years of research and leadership related to operational research (OR) and the society welcomes him to the OR community.

Wednesday 28 November 2018
Lecture at 4.30pm
Royal Society, 6-9 Carlton Terrace, London.

(Tea and biscuits at 4.00pm; Drinks reception 6.00-7.00pm after the lecture)

There is no charge for attendance at this event.
Registration is now open to both members and non-members of The OR Society.

If you have any queries, please contact Hilary Wilkes on

For information on the 2017 Lectures and see the talk, take a look under the 'Watch / Listen / Download' tab.