Stevenson Science Lecture -- Transcript Now Available

2011 Stephenson Lecture ThumbnailThe ISG was honoured that Lieutenant General Sir Edmund Burton accepted an invitation to present the annual Stevenson Science Lecture at Royal Holloway on February 23rd, 2011. Sir Edmund, who supports the Cabinet Office in implementing the UK Government Information Assurance Strategy, addressed the audience on the subject of Scientific Community - Fulfilling an Effective Role in Shaping an Uncertain Environment.

Sir Edmund began his presentation by challenging the audience to consider how society can best be made aware of critical role that knowledge plays in the lives of both citizens and businesses. He went on to observe that major IT initiatives will continue to fail if the intersection areas concerning people, processes and technology are not understood by society's leaders and by the members of society themselves. He felt that “the education of the current and future generations of enlightened leaders” is a key role for the academic community. With this in mind he acknowledged the contribution of the ISG in establishing information security as an academic discipline and praised the training of 2000 MSc Information Security alumni around the world.

While Sir Edmund’s message was framed around information security, much of his message had wider relevance to the communication of scientific ideas amongst society in general. He concluded his talk by considering how science can play a leading role in our society. Sir Edmund made several suggestions based on his considerable personal experience. These included the importance of networks because of the “innovation frequently occurs at business and cultural boundaries, when good people meet”. He also commented on the importance of continuous modification and updating of educational programmes to match the pace of developments in the IT sector and the need to inspire and link with the wider community, including schools, charities and regulatory bodies.

This was a powerful message and one that resonates strongly with the spirit in which the ISG has been set up and managed over the last 20 years. Sir Edmund was quick to recognise this and suggested that academic groups around the world could benefit enormously from the experience of the ISG. He closed by emphasising this point:

“It seems to me that Royal Holloway and the ISG, under the leadership of Prof. Fred Piper and his colleagues within and beyond the College, have demonstrated what can be achieved”.

The full transcript of the lecture is available here.