The Royal Academy of Engineering is to take part in two events at the annual Battle of Ideas festival, exploring the future of technology and sustainability and discussing what big data holds in store.

Dr Natasha McCarthy, Head of Policy at the Academy, will be joining a panel of experts, including engineers and authors, to discuss whether advances in technology are always good for society. Held on Saturday 19 October, Technology and sustainability: kill or cure? is part of a festival strand exploring technological progress.

In a second event supported by the Academy, Vice President Dr Martyn Thomas CBE FREng will be debating the emergence of big data as well as the associated ethical considerations of privacy, consent and security. Taking place on Sunday 20 October, Number crunching and ethics in the era of Big Data will hear from Dr Thomas and experts in biomedicine and technology.

Dr Martyn Thomas CBE FREng says: “Big Data and data analysis are both a big opportunity and a serious threat. If we are to get most of the benefits and avoid most of the risks we need to stop pretending that personal data can be made anonymous while remaining useful and introduce effective data protection, properly enforced.”

For more information on Battle of Ideas please visit

Notes for editors

  1. The Battle of Ideas is a festival of debate and discussion, organised by the Institute of Ideas. Now in its ninth year, the festival will take place on the weekend of 19 and 20 October at the Barbican Centre, London.
  2. Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship - comprising the UK's most eminent engineers - provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain's engineering community.

For more information please contact

Manisha Lalloo at The Royal Academy of Engineering
Tel. 020 7766 0683; email: Manisha Lalloo