Can social media, loud and inclusive, fix world politics

Rania Fakhoury at the Conversation: “Privacy is no longer a social norm, said Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg in 2010, as social media took a leap to bring more private information into the public domain. But what does it mean for governments, citizens and the exercise of democracy? Donald Trump is clearly not the first leader to […]

Seeing Theory

“Seeing Theory is a project designed and created by Daniel Kunin with support from Brown University’s Royce Fellowship Program. The goal of the project is to make statistics more accessible to a wider range of students through interactive visualizations. Statistics is quickly becoming the most important and multi-disciplinary field of mathematics. According to the American […]

The Problem With Facts

Tim Hartford: “…In 1995, Robert Proctor, a historian at Stanford University who has studied the tobacco case closely, coined the word “agnotology”. This is the study of how ignorance is deliberately produced; the entire field was started by Proctor’s observation of the tobacco industry. The facts about smoking — indisputable facts, from unquestionable sources — […]

What if Sociologists Had as Much Influence as Economists?

Neil Irwin in the New York Times: “Another academic discipline may not have the ear of presidents but may actually do a better job of explaining what has gone wrong in large swaths of the United States and other advanced nations in recent years. Sociologists spend their careers trying to understand how societies work. And some of […]

iGod

Novel by Willemijn Dicke and Dirk Helbing: “iGod is a science fiction novel with heroes, love, defeat and hope. But it is much more than that. This book aims to explore how societies may develop, given the technologies that we see at present. As Dirk Helbing describes it in his introduction: We have come to the conclusion […]

Google DeepMind and healthcare in an age of algorithms

Julia Powles and Hal Hodson in Health and Technology: “Data-driven tools and techniques, particularly machine learning methods that underpin artificial intelligence, offer promise in improving healthcare systems and services. One of the companies aspiring to pioneer these advances is DeepMind Technologies Limited, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Google conglomerate, Alphabet Inc. In 2016, DeepMind announced its first major […]

Digital Democracy in Belgium and the Netherlands. A Socio-Legal Analysis of Citizenlab.be and Consultatie.nl

Chapter by Koen Van Aeken in: Prins, C. et. al (eds.) Digital Democracy in a Globalized World (Edward Elgar, 2017), Forthcoming: “The research question is how technologies characterized by ubiquitous Web 2.0 interactivity may contribute to democracy. Following a case study design, two applications were evaluated: the Belgian CitizenLab, a mobile, social and local private application to […]

Prediction and explanation in social systems

Jake M. Hofman, Amit Sharma, and Duncan J. Watts in Science: “Historically, social scientists have sought out explanations of human and social phenomena that provide interpretable causal mechanisms, while often ignoring their predictive accuracy. We argue that the increasingly computational nature of social science is beginning to reverse this traditional bias against prediction; however, it has also […]

Regulating by Robot: Administrative Decision Making in the Machine-Learning Era

Paper by Cary Coglianese and David Lehr: “Machine-learning algorithms are transforming large segments of the economy, underlying everything from product marketing by online retailers to personalized search engines, and from advanced medical imaging to the software in self-driving cars. As machine learning’s use has expanded across all facets of society, anxiety has emerged about the intrusion of algorithmic […]