Mischa Dohler

Mischa Dohler is now Chief Architect in Ericsson Inc. in Silicon Valley, USA, having previously been Professor in Wireless Communications at King’s College London.

He was born in Germany, into a family of scientific academics, who were also talented in music and business.  He has continued the family tradition, as academic, entrepreneur and musician.  Mischa brings all those skills and interests to bear on his approach to technology, speaking eloquently of its relevance to diverse aspects of our lives; industrial, personal and cultural.

He demonstrated the power of 5G communications to enable collaboration over the Internet in a real time duet with his daughter 1000 km away and looks forward to medicine, industry and culture developing with 6G and the Internet of Things, Skills and beyond.

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting

Professor Sir Martin Sweeting has been fascinated by telecommunications since childhood, and a love of science fiction, particularly the writings of Arthur C Clarke, fostered his enthusiasm for technology.

At school his best subjects were English, French and Latin, but in those days it was hard to combine sciences and arts. So he did A’levels in chemistry, maths and his favourite, physics, going on to gain a degree in electronic and electrical engineering at the University of Surrey, and a PhD.

In 1985, Sir Martin set up Surrey Satellite Technology with about £100 and four employees. The company pioneered rapid-response, low-cost and highly capable small satellites, on which much of our modern life depends. In 2008, SST was sold to Airbus Defence & Space for £50m, but Sir Martin is still executive chairman. The company now has 400 professional staff, annual revenues of more than $100m and total export sales in excess of $1bn to 25 countries. Among its many focuses is clearing up the increasing amount of space debris, which represents a significant threat to the next generation of satellites.

Sir Martin was awarded an OBE in 2002 and won the 2008 Arthur C Clarke Lifetime Achievement Award. In 2016, he was made an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society and listed by Sunday Times as one of the 500 most influential UK citizens.

Professor Sir Ian Diamond

Professor Sir Ian Diamond first encountered a computer as a student at the London School of Economics the mid-1970s. He learnt Fortran and submitted programs on punched cards. “But we never actually used computers to analyse data,” he says.

Computers are now crucial to Sir Ian’s role as the UK’s national statistician, and principal adviser to the UK Statistics Authority and the Government. The task involves using the latest AI, machine learning and textual analysis to tackle some of the thorniest current social and economic challenges.

From the beginning, Sir Ian was interested in the application of statistics to social science, demographics and survey data. Statistics have had a bad press, he says, but when they are rigorous and well put together they are increasingly reliable and powerful. For example, they have recently helped discover how the coronavirus is impacting people disproportionately in different ethnic groups.

After an MSc at the LSE, Sir Ian took a PhD at St Andrews, where he received “outstanding supervision” looking at the problem of relatively high drop-out rates among Scottish students compared with their English counterparts.

His career has included being chief executive of the Economic and Social Research Council and vice chancellor of the University of Aberdeen. In 2019, he did not take much persuasion to apply for the post of national statistician.

“It has been a total thrill every day since,” he says. “We need to produce data that the public can trust, and to reflect the economy and society at a time when it is changing very quickly.”

Massive technology change has made it possible to think increasingly radically about all kinds of data, and to produce ever more timely and accurate statistics. But it is really important to have a social theory about what you are doing, says Sir Ian. And to communicate properly, explaining assumptions and ensuring that people can understand the level of uncertainty and margin for error.

For those interested in studying statistics, there can be no better career, he says, and the UK has some of the world’s strongest institutions.

Sir Michael Brady Part 2

Professor Sir Michael Brady is Emeritus Professor of Oncological Imaging at the University of Oxford, having retired in 2010 as Professor of Information Engineering.  He was co-director of the Oxford Cancer Imaging Centre.  He is distinguished for his work in artificial intelligence, applying his work to a wide range of medical programmes, particularly breast, liver and colorectal cancer.  He combined his work in oncology with a range of entrepreneurial activities including Deputy Chairman of Oxford Instruments, and the founder of successful start-ups such as Guidance, Mirada Medical, Optellum, Perspectum, ScreenPoint Medical, and Volpara Solutions among others.