Realigning technology with humanity’s best interests

Technology is hijacking our minds and society. Our world-class team of deeply concerned former tech insiders and CEOs intimately understands the culture, business incentives, design techniques, and organizational structures driving how technology hijacks our minds. Since 2013, we’ve raised awareness of the problem within tech companies and for millions of people through broad media attention, convened top industry executives, and advised political leaders. Building on … Continue reading Realigning technology with humanity’s best interests

Breakthrough technologies – robotics and IP

Robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) have huge potential to transform many aspects of our lives. Recent trials with humanoid robots in supermarkets, schools, hospitals and retirement homes in Europe, the United States and Japan give a sense of this. Hollywood movies like Ex_Machina and Her have also attracted public attention, raising questions about the potential superiority of robots and AI. But how is innovation in … Continue reading Breakthrough technologies – robotics and IP

China’s AI Awakening

For many in China, this simply won’t do. The country is now embarking on an unprecedented effort to master artificial intelligence. Its government is planning to pour hundreds of billions of yuan (tens of billions of dollars) into the technology in coming years, and companies are investing heavily in nurturing and developing AI talent. If this country-­wide effort succeeds—and there are many signs it will—China … Continue reading China’s AI Awakening

Being the King Kong of algorithmic culture is a tough job after allConvergence – Jonathan Roberge, Louis Melançon, 2017

This article explores the growing importance of algorithms in digital culture and what they could mean for the visibility and interpretation of culture as a whole. Taking Google as a prime example of a company that participates in widespread information overload whilst simultaneously providing some algorithmic answers to it, we show how it exhibits four different regimes of justification: the techno-scientific, economic, political and moral–aesthetic. … Continue reading Being the King Kong of algorithmic culture is a tough job after allConvergence – Jonathan Roberge, Louis Melançon, 2017

Can computers help us synthesize new materials? | MIT News

Last month, three MIT materials scientists and their colleagues published a paper describing a new artificial-intelligence system that can pore through scientific papers and extract “recipes” for producing particular types of materials. That work was envisioned as the first step toward a system that can originate recipes for materials that have been described only theoretically. Now, in a paper in the journal npj Computational Materials, … Continue reading Can computers help us synthesize new materials? | MIT News

Introduction to machine learning

In machine learning, computers apply statistical learning techniques to automatically identify patterns in data. These techniques can be used to make highly accurate predictions. Keep scrolling. Using a data set about homes, we will create a machine learning model to distinguish homes in New York from homes in San Francisco. via A visual introduction to machine learning Continue reading Introduction to machine learning

What can we learn about Somalis from their Facebook networks?

After the initial focus on the Somali dominated economy and social structure of Eastleigh, I hoped to contribute additional material to the project by mapping out the online social networks of Somalis (or at least as many as I could convince to grant me access to their network data). I hoped such material would add a quantitative element to the oral reports of geographically distributed … Continue reading What can we learn about Somalis from their Facebook networks?

The Relentless Pace of Automation

Last October, Uber had one of its self-­driving trucks make a beer run, traveling 200 kilometers down the interstate to deliver a cargo of Budweiser from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs. A person rode in the truck but spent most of the trip in the sleeper berth, monitoring the automated system. (The test came just a few weeks after Uber had announced its driverless car … Continue reading The Relentless Pace of Automation

Understanding statistical ways…

Humans have a bias for turning to the right in a number of settings. Here we document a bias in head-turning to the right in adult humans, as tested in the act of kissing. We investigated head-turning bias in both kiss initiators and kiss recipients for lip kissing, and took into consideration differences due to sex and handedness, in 48 Bangladeshi heterosexual married couples. We … Continue reading Understanding statistical ways…

Understanding of p-hacking

Data dredging (also data fishing, data snooping, and p-hacking) is the use of data mining to uncover patterns in data that can be presented as statistically significant, without first devising a specific hypothesis as to the underlying causality. The process of data dredging involves automatically testing huge numbers of hypotheses about a single data set by exhaustively searching — perhaps for combinations of variables that … Continue reading Understanding of p-hacking

Beyond opening up the black box: Investigating the role of algorithmic systems in Wikipedian organizational culture

Scholars and practitioners across domains are increasingly concerned with algorithmic transparency and opacity, interrogating the values and assumptions embedded in automated, black-boxed systems, particularly in user-generated content platforms. I report from an ethnography of infrastructure in Wikipedia to discuss an often understudied aspect of this topic: the local, contextual, learned expertise involved in participating in a highly automated social–technical environment. Today, the organizational culture of … Continue reading Beyond opening up the black box: Investigating the role of algorithmic systems in Wikipedian organizational culture

Traditional Values and Political Trust in ChinaJournal of Asian and African Studies – Yida Zhai, 2016

Chinese traditional culture is viewed to sustain political trust in the authoritarian regime. Given that Chinese cultural traditions are complex and multi-dimensional, it is ineffective to deal with this notion by a single index. This study divides Chinese traditional values into a non-political dimension (traditional family and social values) and a political dimension (traditional political values). Then, I empirically test how different dimensions of Chinese … Continue reading Traditional Values and Political Trust in ChinaJournal of Asian and African Studies – Yida Zhai, 2016

Blackbox of surveilling French Internet

« Boîtes noires ». Le terme avait suscité un torrent de critiques au moment des discussions autour de la loi sur le renseignement, début 2015. Ces algorithmes, qui permettent de traiter de grandes quantités de données dans le but de détecter des « signaux faibles » pour lutter contre la « menace terroriste », sont aujourd’hui en cours de déploiement. C’est le président de la Commission nationale de contrôle des … Continue reading Blackbox of surveilling French Internet

Doing Research in the Business World

Doing Research in the Business World is a research textbook, covering a diverse range of methodologies and methods, from surveys to action research approaches. This impressive philosophical and methodological span — all the more noteworthy when one remembers it is single-authored — makes it a concrete block of a book, weighing in at over 800 pages. This makes the organisation of content an important consideration … Continue reading Doing Research in the Business World

BotOrNot: A System to Evaluate Social Bots

While most online social media accounts are controlled by humans, these platforms also host automated agents called social bots or sybil accounts. Recent literature reported on cases of social bots imitating humans to manipulate discussions, alter the popularity of users, pollute content and spread misinformation, and even perform terrorist propaganda and recruitment actions. Here we present BotOrNot, a publicly-available service that leverages more than one … Continue reading BotOrNot: A System to Evaluate Social Bots

Accountability of AI Under the Law

The ubiquity of systems using artificial intelligence or “AI” has brought increasing attention to how those systems should be regulated. The choice of how to regulate AI systems will require care. AI systems have the potential to synthesize large amounts of data, allowing for greater levels of personalization and precision than ever before—applications range from clinical decision support to autonomous driving and predictive policing. That … Continue reading Accountability of AI Under the Law

Manipulating Social Media to Undermine Democracy

Governments around the world have dramatically increased their efforts to manipulate information on social media over the past year. The Chinese and Russian regimes pioneered the use of surreptitious methods to distort online discussions and suppress dissent more than a decade ago, but the practice has since gone global. Such state-led interventions present a major threat to the notion of the internet as a liberating … Continue reading Manipulating Social Media to Undermine Democracy

D3 and canvas in three steps

Let’s say you’re building a data visualization using D3 and SVG. You may hit a ceiling when you try to display several thousand elements at the same time. Your browser may start to puff under the weight of all those DOM elements. Well here comes HTML5 Canvas to the rescue! It’s much faster, so it can solve your browser’s puffing problems. But you may quickly … Continue reading D3 and canvas in three steps

The horse race of ideas at the finish line

For decades, news coverage of U.S. presidential elections has been focused on the so-called “horse race” — polls, predicted outcomes, fundraising — rather than on the policy issues that ultimately matter most. The Electome, a project of the Laboratory for Social Machines at the MIT Media Lab, was created with the aim of changing this. About a year ago, with generous support from the Knight Foundation and Twitter, we … Continue reading The horse race of ideas at the finish line

Twitter officially expands its character count to 280

Twitter’s expansion to 280 characters is rolling out publicly today to all users in supported languages, including English. The company had first announced the controversial plan to move beyond its traditional 140 characters back in September, noting at the time how a longer character count allowed users to express more of their thoughts without running out of room to tweet. via Twitter officially expands its character … Continue reading Twitter officially expands its character count to 280

Is the Lone Scientist an American Dream? Perceived Communal Opportunities in STEM Offer a Pathway to Closing U.S

The United States lags behind many Asian countries in engagement in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM). An unexplored factor in these country-level differences may be U.S.–Asia gaps in perceptions of the goal opportunities provided by STEM. Across four studies, U.S. students perceived fewer communal opportunities (working with/helping/relationships with others) in STEM than Asian students; this differential perception contributed to U.S.–Asia gaps in STEM interest. … Continue reading Is the Lone Scientist an American Dream? Perceived Communal Opportunities in STEM Offer a Pathway to Closing U.S

Spatial‐Data Sharing: Applying Social‐Network Analysis to study individual and collective behaviour

Spatial‐Data Sharing (SDS) is a crucial aspect of spatial‐data infrastructures. This paper introduces Social‐Network Analysis to research on SDS. By mapping out relationships among social actors using Social‐Network Analysis, the collective properties of SDS in organizations can be investigated. Previous theoretical approaches have focused exclusively on individual behaviour. This paper attempts to expand this focus and applies Social‐Network Analysis in a study of SDS in … Continue reading Spatial‐Data Sharing: Applying Social‐Network Analysis to study individual and collective behaviour

Lunar – a cryptocurrency hedge fund?

The financial world is currently facing what will be the biggest disruption since the creation of money itself. Institutional investors and venture capitalists will soon lose their monopoly on a market worth trillions. Hedge funds, especially, have been historically inaccessible to the average investor, with many requiring a minimum buy-in upwards of $1 Million. We aim to change that. We want to use cryptocurrency to … Continue reading Lunar – a cryptocurrency hedge fund?

What Will Happen to Our Jobs Tomorrow

How will disruptive new technologies — such as artificial intelligence, blockchain and robotics — transform my organization? Do I need to change the way I work in order to remain relevant in a digital age? Will I be replaced by a machine? . . . Am I going to lose my job? via “What Will Happen to Our Jobs Tomorrow”? – Hacker Noon Continue reading What Will Happen to Our Jobs Tomorrow

What you can’t say about the 19th National Communist Party Congress on WeChat

From October 18 to October 24 2017, the Communist Party of China (CPC) held its 19th National Communist Party Congress (NCPC19), which marked the halfway point of President Xi Jinping’s 10-year term, and served as a bellwether of his power over the party. The National Communist Party Congress (NCPC) is the most important political event for the CPC, and information around it is carefully managed. … Continue reading What you can’t say about the 19th National Communist Party Congress on WeChat

Profit and gift in the digital economy

Over three billion times a day, someone types a search term into Google and within a few seconds receives a list of search results on their screen (Internet Live Stats, 2014). This service, delivered entirely free to the user, has become a cornerstone of the work and knowledge practices of a substantial portion of humanity.[1] But the Google Search business model – like many others in … Continue reading Profit and gift in the digital economy

Aid, China, and Growth: Evidence from a New Global Development Finance Dataset

This paper introduces a new dataset of official financing — including foreign aid and other forms of concessional and non-concessional state financing — from China to 138 countries between 2000 and 2014. We use these data to investigate whether and to what extent Chinese aid affects economic growth in recipient countries. To account for the endogeneity of aid, we employ an instrumental-variables strategy that relies … Continue reading Aid, China, and Growth: Evidence from a New Global Development Finance Dataset

Why People Get Religious about Bitcoin

The Bitcoin phenomenon isn’t about a bunch of people who all believe the cryptocurrency is a good investment. That’s part of it. But for many, the belief in Bitcoin’s power to transform society runs much deeper: it’s almost an article of faith. Where does this fervor come from? To understand, it’s important to keep in mind that “the blockchain” is not really a thing. via … Continue reading Why People Get Religious about Bitcoin

Introduction to Spark with Python

After lots of ground-breaking work led by the UC Berkeley AMP Lab, Spark was developed to utilize distributed, in-memory data structures to improve data processing speeds over Hadoop for most workloads. In this post, we’re going to cover the architecture of Spark and basic transformations and actions using a real dataset. If you want to write and run your own Spark code, check out the … Continue reading Introduction to Spark with Python

Collective intelligence for promoting changes in behavior

Climate change is one of the biggest challenges humanity faces today. Despite of high investments in technology, battling climate change is futile without the participation of the public, and changing their perception and habits. Collective intelligence tools can play an important role in translating this “distant” concept that is climate change into practical hints for everyday life. In this paper, we report a case study … Continue reading Collective intelligence for promoting changes in behavior

The shortest-lived Catalan Republic?

Barcelona, October 27, 2017. Parliament proclaims Catalonia’s independence. They end their session with a round of the Catalonian national anthem, joined by the thousands of people gathered outside. This anthem, “The Reapers,” recalls the first of several armed struggles to preserve Catalan law. After Madrid’s swift reaction last Friday to dissolve the Catalan Parliament and prosecute its presiding officer along with the region’s president and … Continue reading The shortest-lived Catalan Republic?

How Collaboration in Tech is Changing and Why Developers Should Care

The business world is currently experiencing a revolutionary transformation. Propelled by changing demographics, the explosion of novel mobile devices and cloud-based applications, and the increasing availability of inexpensive Internet access, technology-driven businesses are seeking to capitalize on the evolving nature of today’s work. At the forefront of this evolution is the ongoing transformation of the meanings, functions, and capabilities of collaboration in both tech and … Continue reading How Collaboration in Tech is Changing and Why Developers Should Care

Web began dying

Before the year 2014, there were many people using Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Today, there are still many people using services from those three tech giants (respectively, GOOG, FB, AMZN). Not much has changed, and quite literally the user interface and features on those sites has remained mostly untouched. However, the underlying dynamics of power on the Web have drastically changed, and those three companies … Continue reading Web began dying

Critical data studies

Critical Data Studies (CDS) explore the unique cultural, ethical, and critical challenges posed by Big Data. Rather than treat Big Data as only scientifically empirical and therefore largely neutral phenomena, CDS advocates the view that Big Data should be seen as always-already constituted within wider data assemblages. Assemblages is a concept that helps capture the multitude of ways that already-composed data structures inflect and interact … Continue reading Critical data studies

March for science

Not quite promptly at six o’clock on Saturday morning, two dozen scientists whose fields of study can’t be summarized in a sentence boarded a bus at the Institute for Advanced Study, in Princeton, New Jersey, and headed south, bound for the March for Science, in Washington, D.C. “I hope it doesn’t rain,” Ed Witten, the first and only theoretical physicist ever to win the Fields Medal, the Academy … Continue reading March for science

Storytelling data

One statement that I make often and emphasize repeatedly in my work is that when it comes to explanatory analysis, we should never simply show data; rather, we should make data a pivotal point in an overarching narrative or story. Today, I’ll take you through an example that illustrates this transition from showing data to using data to answer a question in a way that … Continue reading Storytelling data

Git Workflow

A Git Workflow is a recipe or recommendation for how to use Git to accomplish work in a consistent and productive manner. Git workflows encourage users to leverage Git effectively and consistently. Git offers a lot of flexibility in how users manage changes. Given Git’s focus on flexibility, there is no standardized process on how to interact with Git. When working with a team on … Continue reading Git Workflow

Civic crowdfunding is privatisation masquerading as democracy

Crowdfunding is increasingly being put forward by local authorities as a way of enabling democratic participation and a means of funding initiatives. According to guidelines from the Local Government Information Unit and Spacehive, Manchester, Liverpool and Plymouth councils, Dorset county council, and 16 London boroughs have all used it as a means of raising revenue. via Civic crowdfunding is privatisation masquerading as democracy | Cities … Continue reading Civic crowdfunding is privatisation masquerading as democracy

Life expectancy

The interactive chart below shows that life expectancy has increased substantially around the world in the last couple of centuries. As a matter of fact, the data tells us that in the long run life expectancy has increased in all countries around the world. Life expectancy is one of the key measures of a population’s health, and an indicator used widely by policymakers and researchers … Continue reading Life expectancy

Truth about Blockchain

Contracts, transactions, and the records of them are among the defining structures in our economic, legal, and political systems. They protect assets and set organizational boundaries. They establish and verify identities and chronicle events. They govern interactions among nations, organizations, communities, and individuals. They guide managerial and social action. And yet these critical tools and the bureaucracies formed to manage them have not kept up … Continue reading Truth about Blockchain

Economics of the Blockchain

We rely on economic theory to discuss how blockchain technology will shape the rate and direction of innovation. We identify two key costs affected by the technology: 1) the cost of verification; and 2) the cost of networking. The first cost relates to the ability to cheaply verify the attributes of a transaction. The second one to the ability to bootstrap and operate a marketplace … Continue reading Economics of the Blockchain

Internet censorship in Egypt

Internet filtering in Egypt illustrates how censorship can be a slippery slope. After an extended period of open access to the Internet in Egypt lasting several years following the January 2011 revolution, the government dramatically increased its censorship of political content between December 2015 and September 2017. What started with the filtering of one regional news website in 2015 has led to the filtering of … Continue reading Internet censorship in Egypt

The Stuff of Bits | The MIT Press

Virtual entities that populate our digital experience, like e-books, virtual worlds, and online stores, are backed by the large-scale physical infrastructures of server farms, fiber optic cables, power plants, and microwave links. But another domain of material constraints also shapes digital living: the digital representations sketched on whiteboards, encoded into software, stored in databases, loaded into computer memory, and transmitted on networks. These digital representations … Continue reading The Stuff of Bits | The MIT Press

Network Structure of Social Coding in GitHub

Social coding enables a different experience of software development as the activities and interests of one developer are easily advertised to other developers. Developers can thus track the activities relevant to various projects in one umbrella site. Such a major change in collaborative software development makes an investigation of networkings on social coding sites valuable. Furthermore, project hosting platforms promoting this development paradigm have been … Continue reading Network Structure of Social Coding in GitHub

Technology Firms Shape Political Communication

This article offers the first analysis of the role that technology companies, specifically Facebook, Twitter, Microsoft, and Google, play in shaping the political communication of electoral campaigns in the United States. We offer an empirical analysis of the work technology firms do around electoral politics through interviews with staffers at these firms and digital and social media directors of 2016 U.S. presidential primary and general election … Continue reading Technology Firms Shape Political Communication

Wikipedia and the politics of openness: Information, Communication & Society

In Wikipedia and the Politics of Openness, Nathaniel Tkacz unpacks why and how Wikipedia enjoys this particular exemplar status. It is this kind of talk that tells a great deal about what Wikipedia is, even as it might obscure the way it actually works. The very title bespeaks one of Tkacz’s most important claims: that Wikipedia does not exist alone, that it is circumscribed by … Continue reading Wikipedia and the politics of openness: Information, Communication & Society