Dr Victoria Baines appointed IT Livery Company Professor of IT

Dr Victoria Baines

Gresham College, London’s oldest Higher Education Institution, is delighted to announce the appointment of Dr Victoria Baines as IT Livery Professor of IT at Gresham College.

Professor Baines is a cybersecurity, digital harms and digital diplomacy specialist who has a wide range of academic, public and private sector experience, from Oxford University to Facebook, and currently provides research expertise to a number of international organisations. 

Professor Baines, who is also a Fellow of BCS, The Chartered Institute for IT, has published widely on cyber in academic journals and has published a book on the Rhetoric of Insecurity: The Language of Danger, Fear and Safety in National and International Contexts, with a special focus on how cyber threats are communicated to citizens and businesses.

Professor Baines said: “I am thrilled to become the IT Livery Company Professor of IT at Gresham College. Public engagement about cybersecurity and technology is my life’s work, and I hope to use this opportunity to help empower people in their use of technology. Citizens should take their place at the heart of decision-making on cyber issues, from who should own the internet, to how to police it, and how to stop disinformation.”

As professor of IT, Professor Baines will continue the 425-year-old tradition of delivering free lectures aimed at the public within the City of London and beyond. Gresham College live streams lectures online and delivers them to physical audiences in London, with over  8 million views of lectures online last year.  More than 2,500 past lectures are freely available to view on the College’s website. This Professorship of IT was established in 2015. 

Dr Simon Thurley, Provost of Gresham College, said: “We’re thrilled to have Dr Victoria Baines share her expertise on Cybersecurity and Technology policy with us next year. She’s a fantastic communicator and will be a wonderful addition to the College.”

Dr Wendy Piatt, CEO of Gresham College, said: “Cybersecurity is critical at this time and these lectures will shed light on some really key debates around the internet and digital diplomacy.”

Alistair Fulton, Master of the WCIT, sponsors of the IT Professorship, said: “The Worshipful Company of Information Technologists is delighted to welcome Dr Victoria Baines as the third Professor of IT at Gresham.  The Company is proud to sponsor this role which was created in 2015.”
 

In 2022-3, Professor Baines will be lecturing on Humanising Cyberspace:

1.    Who Owns the Internet? 
The emergence of the global Internet challenged the notion that states have sovereignty over what their citizens see and hear, and what they can say. Governments around the world shut or slow down internet access for political and security reasons, and prohibit the online publication of undesirable content. How are they able to do this, when so much of the world’s internet infrastructure is outside their control? And what are the prospects for future regulation of our online interactions?

2. What is the Metaverse?
What exactly is the Metaverse? And is it really that new? This talk will explore our emotional connections to cyberspace, our feelings of presence and immediacy in online environments, and what this means for the intensity of our experiences, good and bad. As technology promises ever more immersive, embodied experiences involving 360 degree vision, touch, and even taste, how might this merging of cyber and physical affect our lives?

3. How To Fight Fake News 
Fake news, influence operations, disinformation, misinformation and conspiracy theories are different flavours of falsehoods that have one thing in common: they put citizens in the front line of countering threats to democracies, national security, and community safety. This talk will explore governments’ and platforms’ efforts to counter falsehood, and what citizens can do to defend themselves, their loved ones, and ultimately their nations from influence operations.

4. What's The Problem With Encryption?
End-to-end encryption secures messages before they leave a device, preventing them from being read in transit. Increasingly the default protocol for messaging apps, neither governments nor the platforms on which it operates can access unscrambled communications and message content. Some governments have demanded ‘back doors’ for criminal investigations, while others have exploited workarounds to access the encrypted messages of political dissidents. This talk considers the current public discourse on online surveillance and privacy, and where society might go from here.

5. Defeating Digital Viruses: Lessons From the Pandemic
This talk will explore the potential for harnessing the public health framework for addressing online safety and security. Throughout the COVID pandemic, citizens have washed their hands, covered their faces, and maintained a physical distance. If members of the public can protect themselves and others from offline viruses, why not digital ones?

6. Cybersecurity for Humans
Faceless hackers in hoodies, intergalactic warriors, and technology out of human control: are these representations of cyber threats accurate? And what might be their impact on levels of personal safety and security for organisations? This talk presents ideas for how we might empower people to protect themselves and help address human issues in the IT sector by thinking differently about how we portray security threats and operations.