Information & Technology

Rethinking privacy in the age of psychological targeting

“Psychological targeting” is the practice of predicting people’s psychological profiles from their digital footprints (e.g. their Facebook profiles, transaction records or Google searches) in order to influence their attitudes, emotions or behaviours with the help of psychologically informed interventions. For example, knowing that a person is extroverted makes it possible to personalise recommendations in a way that aligns with […]

Is the idea of ‘care robots’ an oxymoron?

The idea that technology and the digital revolution will transform our lives and be wholly positive is a familiar trope. Undoubtedly the pace of change is rapid – especially since the arrival of high-speed internet connectivity – and the emergence of interactive and voice-activated devices has progressed from the possible to the common place in very short order. The […]

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    Jeroen Tas: ‘If we don’t look at the big picture, we can tweak ourselves to oblivion’

Jeroen Tas: ‘If we don’t look at the big picture, we can tweak ourselves to oblivion’

When he bought large orders of light bulbs for the Winter Palace, the Russian Tsar became a high-profile customer of Philips, the Dutch multinational corporation founded in 1891 to produce just that: light bulbs. But the company never limited itself to one line of products. In the 20th century, Philips became a household name, with its brand name stamped on […]

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    Marcelo Lombardo: ‘Cloud management software is revolutionising small firms’

Marcelo Lombardo: ‘Cloud management software is revolutionising small firms’

Earlier this year, San Francisco-based venture capital firm Riverwood Capital invested US$ 20 million in Omie, a Brazilian start-up that provides small and medium businesses (SMBs) with an AI-powered business management software. Omie’s genius idea was to focus on small firms, not served by larger management software services. By automating business functions, the company essentially eliminates the massive amount […]

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    Marcus Weldon: ‘5G will enable a new era of productivity and economic growth’

Marcus Weldon: ‘5G will enable a new era of productivity and economic growth’

In the early aughts, Nokia produced the most coveted mobile phones in the world, before it was disrupted by big tech giants ushering in the age of smartphones. The Finnish multinational corporation no longer produces phones directly, as its core activity has shifted to network equipment. It now aims to lead the market for end-to-end 5G networks. With a […]

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    Do six per cent of financial transactions sent via the Swift system really fail?

Do six per cent of financial transactions sent via the Swift system really fail?

In May 2019, Brad Garlinghouse, CEO of a San Francisco based (but Delaware registered) fintech firm called Ripple Labs gave a presentation to the 9th High-Level Conference on the International Monetary System. The small audience included Christine Lagarde (then chairman of the IMF) and the heads of several central banks. He described a problem in the world financial system […]

How to promote media literacy

I was recently asked to respond to a presentation on Australian children’s news media literacy at LSE. Shortly after, I participated in a roundtable on news literacy and disinformation, organised by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS). These two occasions have made me think more deeply about news literacy as a variant of media literacy, which has the potential to enable citizens […]

Data breaches and the fate of the IT director

Recently, hardly does a month go by without us hearing breaking news on high-profile data breaches. For example, earlier this year, the social media giant Facebook revealed that over 419 million users had their account-linked phone numbers exposed due to an unencrypted server. Anyone who is interested can potentially search for a particular Facebook ID and its associated phone […]

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    Why it’s hard to read the privacy policies of cloud service providers

Why it’s hard to read the privacy policies of cloud service providers

Cloud computing is growing at an unprecedented rate, and it is estimated that cloud services will reach a global market value of $411 billion annually by 2020 with annual growth exceeding 15 per cent (Columbus 2019; Gartner 2019). Cloud computing services allow businesses the flexibility of accessing data storage and software resources according to their needs without costly investments […]

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    As AI expands, companies must allow employees to rethink their jobs

As AI expands, companies must allow employees to rethink their jobs

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is poised to transform the business world. It is not the first time that technologies have done so. Decision support systems, expert systems (already integrating AI) and knowledge management systems, which were promoted by the largest consulting firms and IT manufacturers, monopolised the interest of companies in the late 1990s. Yet, despite the undeniable benefits they […]

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    Hidden in plain sight: the ghost in the automation and future of work debate

Hidden in plain sight: the ghost in the automation and future of work debate

Looking at the big picture it is not easy to pick your way through the media representations of the debate around automation, robots and the future of work. Sources and multiple studies are, in fact, very variable in quality, evidence and rigour. Nevertheless, media narratives seem to polarise around two storylines — hype or fear. “Hype” tells us that […]

Bitcoin: from currency to investment

While attending the 2019 American Sociological Association annual conference in New York, I came across an advertisement that nicely captures the competing visions within the bitcoin community. The ad (Figure 1) depicts a scene from the American Revolution, illustrated in pointillist style to evoke American paper currency. A slogan, “The revolution needs rules,” overlays a throng of white men, each […]

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    Screen size matters: people understand the news less when they read it on their phones

Screen size matters: people understand the news less when they read it on their phones

Media consumption is increasingly conducted on-the-go. Whether its binge-watching episodes of Stranger Things, social networking, or watching the news, there’s an app for that. And ongoing improvements in smartphones, wireless coverage, network connectivity and speed make doing all these things on mobile devices more than possible; for many it’s preferable.
Industry trends are indicative. The global proliferation of smartphones is […]

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    We need to appreciate privacy as a value that protects social goods

We need to appreciate privacy as a value that protects social goods

Privacy has usually been defined in terms of an individual’s space, necessary for meeting the person’s vital interests. The central concept in these discussions is autonomy, a core value in our society. The best way to connect the two concepts is to consider privacy as a tool that fosters and encourages autonomy. Privacy contributes to the demarcation of a […]

Are you allowed to augment my reality?

In 2016, the Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. asked people to stop playing Pokémon GO inside the museum; having players trying to catch Pokémon detracted from the somber material the museum displayed. While Pokémon GO was one of the first uses of augmented reality to capture the public imagination, the technology is increasingly common in both business and […]

Why people need the dark web, whether they want it or not

Never before has the real world been so interconnected with the cyber with an increasing amount of our everyday activity becoming digitised. However, what we say, what information we look at, and every online activity necessarily leaves electronic records and footprints that can reveal some of our most personal activities and attributes. Unsurprisingly, this is something that has not […]

Content pricing in the age of the digital-native generation

The advent of the internet and information technology has led to the digitisation of content and this, in turn, has transformed the distribution and consumption of goods like newspapers, books, CDs, and DVDs. Traditionally, consumers have purchased content in a physical medium. Today, an increasing number of consumers buy and consume digital content such as newspapers, eBooks, album and […]

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    Algorithms could give the world its first ‘born digital’ free trade agreement in Africa

Algorithms could give the world its first ‘born digital’ free trade agreement in Africa

The African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement, presently signed by 52 African Union (AU) member states, is remarkable in its geographic coverage and ambition to create a single market for the continent. The agreement’s extensive protocols will cover trade in goods, trade in services, investment, competition and intellectual property rights.

Following its ratification by the Gambia in April 2019, […]

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    Using consumer psychology to enhance mobile app recommendation

Using consumer psychology to enhance mobile app recommendation

Mobile apps play an increasingly important role in people’s lives and enrich almost every aspect, from social networking and health monitoring to shopping and entertaining. People now spend more time using mobile devices than PCs to access the internet. According to statistics from Yahoo’s Flurry analytics, 90 per cent of people’s mobile time is spent using apps, which they can […]

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    Blockchain can keep flawed data from machine learning systems

Blockchain can keep flawed data from machine learning systems

With the dramatic fall in popularity of cryptocurrencies and the wave of unpredictable volatility in the value of these immaterial currencies, comes a seeming drop in the interest in blockchain. Yet, the development of this technology and its application are still charging ahead in full force and blockchain’s full potential is yet to be seen, understood and implemented. We […]