Information & Technology

Algorithms writing academic books? What gives?

Apparently, there are now academic books generated by artificial intelligence algorithms.  An example just published by Springer Nature, and written by ‘Beta Writer’, is called Lithium-Ion Batteries: A Machine-Generated Summary of Current Research.  I don’t know anything much about lithium-ion batteries, nor about how these algorithms work, but I do know something about scientific knowledge and the way it is generated. I […]

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    Blockchain’s security weakness lies in the very thing that makes it secure: cryptography

Blockchain’s security weakness lies in the very thing that makes it secure: cryptography

Blockchain was originally designed as a technology to support cryptocurrency, and its use is expanding beyond its financial roots to benefit organisations across different industries. From enhancing customer experience in day-to-day trade, finance and cross-border payments, to smart contracts and IoT security, blockchain is transforming the way companies do business.

Despite its cryptographic history, organisations should not see blockchain as […]

Using economics to explain YouTuber popularity

What are social media stars or so-called influencers? This new type of superstars has emerged with the growing relevance of social media like YouTube or Instagram and is of considerable economic relevance – despite its sometimes amateurish reputation. According to Forbes News, the top 10 YouTubers of 2018 earned an aggregate 180.5 million US dollars, which is an increase […]

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    How internet companies are tackling online harm on their platforms

How internet companies are tackling online harm on their platforms

As it celebrates its 30th anniversary the internet revolution has lost its way. From democratising and emancipatory beginnings, the information superhighway has become a hotbed of crime, harm and offence, powered by designed addition and fake news. Unparalleled connectivity, automation and efficiency, have left people around the world scrambling to adapt to technology’s disruptive impact on everyday life and institutions of business and […]

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    Regulating social media: lessons from Britain’s first highway code

Regulating social media: lessons from Britain’s first highway code

There is much discussion currently regarding the regulation of the internet and, in particular, the taming of social media. Technology is causing problems to the extent that society is troubled, but this is not a new problem. There is a common pattern of technology emerging to address a problem, followed by the discovery that the technology itself can be […]

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    Building our online personas: do we reinvent ourselves? Or stick with what we know?

Building our online personas: do we reinvent ourselves? Or stick with what we know?

More than 20 years ago, in a now-classic manifesto, Tom Peters announced to the world that branding was no longer the domain of companies alone: regular people must also become marketers for their own “brands” — “the brand called You” — and actively ensure that the world perceives them as they wish to be perceived. That once-novel idea has […]

Preventing online harm

A new Online Harms White Paper, published jointly by the UK government’s Department for Digital, Media, Culture and Sport and the Home Office, calls for a new system of regulation for tech companies with the goal of preventing online harm. In brief, the paper (which outlines government proposals for consultation in advance of passing new legislation) calls for an independent […]

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    Our digital malaise: distraction is costing us more than we think

Our digital malaise: distraction is costing us more than we think

Many of us are doing real work six or even five hours each day, while spending eight-plus hours “at work”, without realising the loss of time spent with family, on hobbies, exercise or energising side projects.

Instead of getting a full-day’s work accomplished, we’re losing productive time to interruptions from co-workers, needless meetings, and especially our perpetually pinging phones. The […]

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    Five policies to deal with the loss of jobs to automation (UBI is not one of them)

Five policies to deal with the loss of jobs to automation (UBI is not one of them)

The potential threat of technological unemployment is one of the most hotly debated economic issues of our times: in boardrooms and trade union offices but also increasingly amongst policy-makers. The catch-all term ‘digital’ may have been added to numerous political concepts in recent years but beyond such branding there has been very little debate of substance about what a […]

How to approach digital transformation

Digital transformation has gained buzzword status in businesses over the past few years with boards, investors, and other stakeholders demanding that initiatives in this area take flight. These demands come as no surprise when you consider that getting digital transformation right can have significant business impact, from boosting customer satisfaction, to improving business speed and agility, to increasing revenue […]

The EU copyright directive creates new legal uncertainties

It is perhaps understandable that European lawmakers have large Internet companies in their sights. The Cambridge Analytica scandal and subsequent data breaches at Facebook led to admonishments and fines. Germany and France have passed laws on misinformation in the wake of findings that malicious actors could have exploited the way news stories are displayed and spread on sites like Twitter.

The recent and […]

Bias and belief in meritocracy in AI and engineering

As artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning techniques increasingly leave engineering laboratories to be deployed as decision-making tools in Human Resources (HR) and related contexts, recognition of and concerns about the potential biases of these tools grows. These tools first learn and then uncritically and mechanically reproduce existing inequalities. Recent research shows that this uncritical reproduction is not a […]

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    Trust in automation technologies: how users cope with Tesla Autopilot

Trust in automation technologies: how users cope with Tesla Autopilot

The level of automation in consumer-oriented products is increasing, yet the simple presence of automated functionalities does not mean that consumers would accept and use them. Instead, the acceptance and use of automation may vary significantly between the different users of the very same product. This indicates that the management of technological trust has a central role not only […]

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    Locking horns: online incivility is seen as the new normal, and it inhibits social trust

Locking horns: online incivility is seen as the new normal, and it inhibits social trust

Have you ever witnessed (or been involved in) one of those endless Facebook discussions where users fight each other on sensitive issues with nonsensical arguments and rude comments filled with hate and stereotypes? How did this make you feel?

“When it’s a faceless, person-less comment, and it’s comment after comment after comment, it makes you lose faith in humanity”, once […]

Insider hacking doesn’t depend only on individuals

Insider threats pose significant risk to an organisation’s digital assets that can severely impact business objectives. According to the 2015 Vormetric insider threat report, 89 per cent of organisations surveyed believe they are at risk from insider attacks, and 55 per cent suggest privileged users pose the greatest internal threat to security of corporate data. Information security researchers have […]

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    Something must be done about harmful online content, but what exactly?

Something must be done about harmful online content, but what exactly?

Does any issue, in these divided times, unite UK politicians and commentators more than the regulation of online platforms? MPs, Lords, ministers, opposition frontbenchers, charities, newspapers, broadcasters and a succession of think-tanks agree: something must be done about harmful online content.

The question is, what? The Government is finalising a white paper for publication before the end of March; it seems even […]

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    Monitoring and surveillance technologies shift power dynamics in the workplace

Monitoring and surveillance technologies shift power dynamics in the workplace

Whether it’s the use of closed circuit televisions or keycard access to track movement, expectations of privacy are often left at the door when an employee enters the workplace. New technologies are enabling greater and more pervasive forms of monitoring and surveillance, resulting in new challenges for workers. Public debate both in the United States and in Europe have […]

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    Our digital selves and the straitjacket that data extraction imposes on us

Our digital selves and the straitjacket that data extraction imposes on us

How many social media profiles do you have? Do you feel that you express yourself accurately through these profiles? Do they reflect who you are? And who are you in the first place? Are you always the same? Do you present yourself the same way at different times and on different social media?

Profile making has become ubiquitous in digital […]

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    As artificial intelligence changes the world, it changes our language too

As artificial intelligence changes the world, it changes our language too

New technologies don’t just change the world, they change our language too. The automobile era gave us over a thousand new words and phrases such as limousine, drive through, hot rod, tailgate, and muscle car. Computers gave us chips, CPUs, beta testers, operating systems, programs and bugs. The Internet has already contributed hundreds of new words and new meanings […]

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    How to make the most out of machine learning by investing in people and technology

How to make the most out of machine learning by investing in people and technology

Machine learning is poised to pave the way for many exciting opportunities for businesses, but there are many hurdles to be crossed before getting to the finishing line. Many organisations are still struggling with legacy systems and are slow to invest in more advanced technologies. But the more pressing issue at hand, one that has been an ongoing problem […]