Top Ten Voices of Science (2017)

Posted on Apr 10, 2017

By Sam Young, Matter PR’s Head of Media  |  sam@matterpr.com 

 

We’ve surveyed the International, National, online, trade, and social media coverage so far this year to find out which scientists have been the most influential in the media and who are the leading Voices of Science in 2017.

Emerging trends include topics such as robotics, 5G, and autonomous systems as well as significant coverage on what it means to be human, our place in the universe, and the creation of UKRI.

At the end of Q1, here’s the Top Ten in our 2017 Voices of Science survey – in reverse order.

 

10 – Neil deGrasse Tyson

There are few scientists who can combine expert knowledge, credibility, and a quirky sense of humour like NdGT. Host of StarTalk and Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, he arguably did more in terms of publicity for SpaceX by simply sayingI’m not taking that trip until Elon Musk sends his mother and brings her back alive.”

Neil deGrass Tyson

A hugely popular Twitter user, deGrasse Tyson often makes headlines for his simplistic, witty, and often profound tweets.

However, it is his passion for his subject that has been earning him the headlines this year, when he said he would fight to save science.

 

9 – Lawrence Krauss

A theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Lawrence Krauss is Foundation Professor of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University. Ever keen to dispel the dogmatic viewpoint religion takes, Krauss believes that people are a ‘cosmic mistake’ and are not the centre of the universe. 2017 has seen Krauss in many of the world’s most influential science media, from Nature, Wired, New Scientist, Scientific American to nationals like the Guardian, and its only April.

 

8 – Andrew Ng

Hailed as one of the world’s most senior AI experts, Andrew Ng founded ‘Google Brain’, a deep learning project developing large scale artificial neural networks.

He commands respect in our 2017 Voices of Science for his ability to make headlines by leaving Chinese internet giant Baidu (knocking off $1.5 billion off the value in the process) and for his bold statements about the future of Artificial Intelligence:

“Just as electricity transformed almost everything 100 years ago, today I actually have a hard time thinking of an industry that I don’t think AI will transform in the next several years.”

7 – Yann LeCun

Head of AI at Facebook, Yann LeCun is a French-born computer scientist who has been making the news this year with his rather refreshing reassurances on our future with machines.

Though many fear the dystopian future depicted in popular fiction such as the Terminator or Blade Runner, LeCun has been reported in several quarters of the world’s media with his beliefs that machines will not take over the world ‘as we have a lot of checks and balances built into society’.

In a move that will calm many who fear the rise of the rise of the machines, LeCun believes that AI is decades away from matching the computational power of the human brain.

 

6 – Professor Robert Winston

As a scientist who is also a writer, a politician and a popular television personality, it is no surprise to see fertility expert Professor Robert Winston in our Top Ten . Whether he is presenting Child of Our Time or conducting fiery experiments with James Corden, Winston remains a very influential voice in Science and the media.

What sets Winston apart from so many eminent scientists on our list is that he engages both on local as well as a national and international level, as you might expect from his many tours of schools the length and breadth of the country.

 

Raymond_Kurzweil5 – Ray Kurzweil

An American author, computer scientist, and inventor, Ray Kurzweil is Director of Engineering at Google. A renowned futurist, Kurzweil has an impressive strike rate for his predict
ions. Of the 147 predictions Kurzweil has made in the last 25 years, he can claim 86 percent success.

High on the Voices of Science list for this year, Kurzweil is original, and at times shocking, but always incredibly newsworthy. Believing that humans and machines will ‘merge’ into a state he calls the ‘singularity’ by 2045 whereby humans with robotic neural implants will be ‘funnier, sexier and smarter’ than humans today.

 

4 – Sir Paul Nurse

Sir Paul NurseA geneticist, Nobel Prize winner, and Director of the Francis Crick Institute, Europe’s biggest biomedical lab, Sir Paul Nurse was installed as Chancellor of Bristol University earlier this year.

With the Francis Crick Institute recently opening the Weston Discovery Lab, a facility for pupils at local schools to visit and take part in a range of experiments, and with Nurse as its director, the former President of the Royal Society is never far from the headlines with his desire to inspire and encourage the next generation of scientists.

 

3 – Lord Martin Rees

Astronomer Royal and former president of the Royal Society, Rees has had science as well as general news editors in a frenzy this month with claims that humanity could be ‘wiped out by robots within a century’, becoming Planet Earth’s dominant species, and alien life being more akin to ‘electronic beings’ having replaced their ‘organic masters’.


2 – Sir Mark Walport

As the UK Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser Sir Mark Walport ranks highly in our Voices of Science list. A medical scientist, the former Director of the Welcome Trust, Walport is now Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), a £6 billion umbrella organisation intended to make the UK a world leader in science.

Described by James Wilsdon, professor of research policy at the University of Sheffield, as ‘the ultimate operator in British science’, Walport will be the head of a very influential body when the UKRI takes effect on 1st April 2018. There has been much speculation about how Walport plans to lead UKRI and whether this will cause it to become less independent of Government in its strategic thinking.

 

At the end of the first quarter of this year, Tim Berners-Lee is number one in our 2017 Voices of Science survey.

 

1 – Sir Tim Berners-Lee

Sir_Tim_Berners-LeeA computer scientist, best known as the inventor of the World Wide Web, Sir Tim Berners-Lee is rarely out of the headlines, despite being a very private man who doesn’t court publicity.

Within the space of a month this year Sir Tim has made the news on topics as varied as selling citizens’ browsing data, questioning the spread of ‘nasty’ ideas on social media, taking a tough stance on ‘fake news’, winning the prestigious Turing award, to urging the government not to undermine encryption in services like WhatsApp.