Information & Technology

  • newspapers
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    Is the digital media a panacea for the ills of mass media concentration?

Is the digital media a panacea for the ills of mass media concentration?

Mass media play an important role in democracies, educating the public, providing a forum for discourse, and shaping public policy. Control of mass media by a few elites, however, is inimical to democracy as it limits the variety of messages disseminated, who can participate in discourse, and what is discussed. Yet, even in democratic countries, mass media is controlled […]

  • promise-keeping
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    People are more likely to promise to help you if you ask them in person or by phone

People are more likely to promise to help you if you ask them in person or by phone

Photo by Jonathan Velasquez on unsplash.com, under a CC0 licence,
It is a busy day at work. Suddenly a colleague jumps into your office asking you to quickly review some slides for an upcoming presentation. “Could you please do me this favour by tomorrow?” she asks. Well, this task is not really related to your work, but you promise her to do the […]

Ride-sharing apps really reduce drunk driving fatalities

Girl waving, by Unsplash, under a CC0 licence
Ridesharing platforms such as Uber and Lyft have sparked a host of policy debates over the last half decade. Detractors argue that these firms put the public and consumers at significant risk. Advocates have argued that such services provide customers with a much needed service that circumnavigates the bureaucratic processes of licensed […]

Can data sharing improve public services?

Ball, by geralt, under a CC0 licence
It is easy to see the appeal of data-sharing as means of fixing problems with the delivery of public services. Take data set X held in one part of government, share it with a different part of government that has another data set Y. Combine data sets X and Y and use the […]

  • bitcoin-cryptocurrency
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    Central banks of developing nations should issue digital currency

Central banks of developing nations should issue digital currency

Bitcoin keychain extended background, by BTC Keychain, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
Over the past few months, academics and central bankers have been involved in a dialogue over whether central banks issue digital currency. We have made our own contribution to this conversation, but perhaps we should be asking a different question. In addition to whether central banks should issue digital currency, […]

  • online-shopping
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    How people react to the ‘also recommended’ section of online stores

How people react to the ‘also recommended’ section of online stores

Online shopping with touchscreen ultrabook, by Intel Free Press, under a CC BY 2.0 licence, via Wikimedia Commons
The “diaper and beer” product placement practice has been a great marketing strategy in traditional retail stores. As e-commerce gains popularity in recent years, online retailers have attempted to replicate this practice in e-commerce.

Is there any website feature that online retailers can exploit to […]

  • net-neutrality-photo
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    Internet providers have an economic incentive to offer some content at faster speeds

Internet providers have an economic incentive to offer some content at faster speeds

Fiber strand, by Groman123, under a CC-BY-SA-2.0 licence
Telecommunication companies were up in arms last year after the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) made net neutrality the law of the land by classifying broadband internet as a utility, seeming to ensure there would be no pay-to-play fast lanes.

Our research over the past six years on the topic shows that the only […]

Negative emotions influence how we move the computer mouse

Photo under a CC0 licence, by startupstockphotos.com
Modern computing devices allow users to enter information using keyboards, mice, or touch screens. Mobile devices have additional sensors like gyrometers and accelerometers that orient the screen. All of these input devices collect data at millisecond precision.

Recent research has focused on a person’s emotional state and how those emotions affect their fine motor movements. […]

Bitcoin may have implications for monetary policy

Bitcoin, by Zach Copley, under a CC-BY-SA-2.0 licence
While excitement about Bitcoin appears to have subsided, the blockchain technology underlying Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies is attracting growing interest (e.g. Oliver Wyman 2016). Central banks have joined the FinTechs and bricks-and-mortar financial institutions in paying attention (Economist 2016). Not a week passes without a monetary authority declaring interest in the technology, and […]

  • man-on-bike-and-bus
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    Integrating digital systems to help city residents plan seamless journeys

Integrating digital systems to help city residents plan seamless journeys

One thing I love about this city…, by torbakhopper, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
The 21st century has seen a growing recognition of the importance of cities in the world: not only does over half of humanity live in cities, but cities contribute 60 per cent of global GDP, consume 75 per cent of the world’s resources and generate 75 per cent […]

Fintech’s greatest promise may be in the developing world

M-PESA, by Rosenfeld Media, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
For Mary Tonkei and Stephen Wainaina Waweru, and a lot of other people in the developing world, the fintech revolution is much more than a matter of convenience. It’s changing their way of life. Tonkei, a Maasai dairy farmer in Kenya, is able to run her entire business through her phone. Using a […]

  • la-traffic-jam
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    Study shows that on-demand ride sharing mitigates traffic congestion

Study shows that on-demand ride sharing mitigates traffic congestion

110 Freeway @ Rush Hour, by Prayitno, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
Digital platforms bring together buyers and sellers for transactions of various types. Such a platform economy has been booming over the last few years. Years ago, we witnessed the success of traditional platforms (e.g., eBay and Taobao) that facilitate transactions of physical products. We call these “Platform Economy 1.0.” More recently, […]

  • internet-of-things
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    How industry influences public opinion about the Internet of Things

How industry influences public opinion about the Internet of Things

Internet of things, by jefferrb, under a CCO licence
Any device with an on-and-off switch can (and should) be connected to the Internet. This is the basic idea of the industrial internet, also referred to as the ‘internet of things’ (IoT). Forecasts indicate that around 6.4 billion connected devices will be in use worldwide by the end of 2016, up […]

  • robot
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    Why there will never be a robot-entrepreneur and why it’s important

Why there will never be a robot-entrepreneur and why it’s important

Robot by geralt, Pixabay, under a CC0 licence
The debate is quite old. Machines, and then robots, have always brought fears and fantasies about unemployment and the brutal disappearance of skills and meaning.

With the rise of the so-called industry 4.0, fear is back. I believe that more than ever, it is a justified fear. Technology has never been more likely […]

  • computer skills
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    ICT skills are substantially rewarded in modern labour markets

ICT skills are substantially rewarded in modern labour markets

Laptop mobile, Pexels, CC0 licence
“The new literacy” is the term Neelie Kroes, former Vice President of the European Commission, uses to describe an individual’s skill in mastering information and communication technologies (ICT). She continues to explain that “the online world is becoming a bigger part of everything we do. No wonder these [ICT] skills are becoming central in the […]

  • Children eating lunch at school, by USDA, CC-BY-2.0
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    An entrepreneur’s quest to build an EdTech product out of her invention

An entrepreneur’s quest to build an EdTech product out of her invention

Children eating lunch at school, by USDA, under a CC-BY-2.0 licence
The purpose of education is to produce happy, healthy, impactful lives, and let society reap the benefits. At first glance, this may not seem controversial, but taken to its radical extreme, this purpose statement — the core tenet of my company, Socos — leads to a fundamentally different approach […]

Should we build robots that feel human emotions?

I recently wrote an article for Scientific American called ‘Robots with Heart’. In the piece, I described our work into incorporating an ’empathy module’ into robots in order for them to better serve the emotional and physical needs of humans. While many readers offered ideas on how we might apply these empathetic robots to medical or other applications, some […]

  • Sentiment analysis
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    Businesses can no longer ignore social media sentiment analysis

Businesses can no longer ignore social media sentiment analysis

In February 2015, Bridgewater Associates, a $165 billion hedge fund founded by billionaire investor Ray Dalio, contacted a number of artificial intelligence (AI) programmers. He offered them an opportunity to join David Ferrucci, who came to Bridgewater at the end of 2012 after leading the Semantic Analysis and Integration Department at IBM’s T.J. Watson’s Research Center for a number […]

  • umbrellas
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    Fresh thinking and innovations are rejuvenating the insurance industry

Fresh thinking and innovations are rejuvenating the insurance industry

Non-specialists rarely think about insurance in their day-to-day life. Most people don’t interact much with their insurer, unless they have a claim — the industry actually has one of the fewest annual customer touchpoints.

Yet, insurance is one of the largest industries in the world, with global annual revenues north of $4.75 trillion, including more than $1 trillion in the […]

In the skies, under the radar

Paul Doersch sells commercial drones, and he is relentlessly bullish on his product. Drone technology is “here to stay,” and unmanned aerial vehicles – UAVs – will eventually become must-haves for endeavors ranging from building inspection to land mapping, says Doersch, president of California-based drone manufacturer Kespry.

Perhaps; but in the here and now, some of Kespry’s customers have been […]