Tim Berners-Lee’s plan to save the Internet: give us back control of our data

Releasing his creation for free 30 years ago, the inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, famously declared: “this is for everyone”. Today, his invention is used by billions – but it also hosts the authoritarian crackdowns of antidemocratic governments, and supports the infrastructure of the most wealthy and powerful companies on Earth. Now, in an effort to return the internet to the golden age that existed before its current incarnation as Web 2.0 – characterised by invasive data…

The time of the AI writer

Developments in artificial intelligence that can write authentic-looking stories took a big leap forward earlier this year with the release of GPT-2, a predictive text-creation algorithm that can create a coherent, realistic-sounding continuation of a text input as short as one or two sentences. In other words, the software looks at a text you write and predicts the next words and phrases. It uses a huge data set as its training source: 8 million web pages which have been curated…

SDF Podcast 18: Inertia, ethics, and breaches of trust

Data, data everywhere, but ethics in short supply. The latest episode of the Small Data Forum podcast follows the classic narrative arc of a three-act story. Beginning, middle, and end. The set-up, the confrontation, and the resolution. Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. And although our wide-ranging discussion did run the risk of leaving all three co-hosts in the depths of despair, Neville Hobson, Thomas Stoeckle, and I end up hoping that the asteroid NASA predicts is hurtling towards earth can be diverted from its nihilistic path.…

SDF Podcast 15 – Reining in tech: responsibility, regulation and education

Our Christmas episode was recorded under the auspices of Janus, the god of all things related to time. Now into the month named after him, the SmallDataForum reviews its predictions and looks at the year ahead. Will Europe ‘take back control’, or will commercial pressures curb big tech’s enthusiasm? Will 2018 be the breakthrough year for chatbots and DPAs (digital personal assistants), both in business and personal use? How will continuous technological and economic transformations affect connections between people? This…

2018: the year of chatbots, AI and digital personal assistants

2017 was the year that artificial intelligence (AI) generally gained a greater consciousness in the public mind as well as in the minds of many professionals, not the least being those in the broad communication business – especially public relations, advertising, marketing and employee communication. Every time we see a robot mentioned in the mainstream media, there’s either a photo of the Terminator or some human-looking machine which feeds our fear – adding to the uncertainty and doubt already in…

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