WHISTLEBLOWER Christopher Wylie is set to speak at the UK’s first two-week data innovation festival, which kicks off across Scotland today.

Wylie, who revealed documents which prompted the Cambridge Analytica scandal, will appear at one of more than 60 events taking place as part of DataFest.

The festival will showcase Scotland’s leading role in data science and artificial intelligence (AI) over the next fortnight.

Data Lab, the festival organiser, is an innovation centre focused on helping Scottish industry capitalise on data science and AI.

Gillian Docherty, chief executive of Data Lab, said this year’s event would be the biggest so far.

“DataFest will showcase Scotland’s leading role in data science and artificial intelligence on the international stage, while offering an unprecedented networking platform where you can interact with local and international talent, industry, academia and data enthusiasts,” she said.

“DataFest continues to grow each year through demand for more events and opportunities to connect industry, academia and talent as Scotland bands together to collaborate and learn from each other.”

DataFest’s events will take place in Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness, Stirling, Kilmarnock, Elgin, Glasgow and Edinburgh, with a variety of debates, workshops and training programmes hosted by industry, academia and the public sector.

Speakers at the summit include Google’s chief decision scientist Cassie Kozyrkov and Dr Sue Black, Professor of Computer Science and “technology evangelist” at Durham University.

The festival has been extended to two weeks for the first time as a result of the huge interest in the fringe events programme.

A new day called Data Tech is also being introduced. The event will bring together technical communities, practitioners and academics working on similar challenges across different sectors to learn from one another and forge new collaborations, in the hope of benefitting the individuals and organisations.

Additionally, DataFest will see the return of Data Talent, the annual event which brings together aspiring data science and engineering students with firms from around the country.

And, at Women in Data Science – which is part of an international Women in Data Science initiative by Stanford University – 80 Scots schoolgirls will attend a talk by mathematician Dr Hannah Fry, who hopes to inspire an interest in STEM subjects.

The girls will then take part in the final of the Cyber Treasure Hunt organised by the Turing’s Testers, a group of sixth year students at St Kentigern’s Academy.

One key focus across the festival’s events is AI.

Hugo D’Ulisse, director of SAS UK & Ireland, the festival’s headline sponsor, said it was worth highlighting the benefits of AI.

“There are naturally concerns whenever society is on the cusp of great technological advances, as is the case with AI,” he said.

“It’s therefore important to equip the workforce with understanding of how these systems work and DataFest plays a key role in bringing together experts from academia, the public sector and business to help educate and inspire future generations.

“It’s also worth highlighting how AI can be an incredible force for good to society, for example in tackling issues such as natural disasters, wildlife preservation and finding new and improved treatments for cancer.”

Canadian Wylie is due to speak at the two-day DataSummit event on March 21 and 22, which will end the two-week festival.

Last year, the 29-year-old released a cache of documents to The Guardian which revealed the misuse of data by political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica.

Since the revelation, the UK has fined Facebook £500,000 for its role in the scandal.

For more information on tickets visit https://www.datafest.global/.