Last year we drew up a ranking of the most-read articles in 2017. And given the increase in the number of readers in 2018, we would like to repeat the operation as a good omen for the coming year.
In the year that is drawing to an end, the top topics were those related to Open Data, Artificial Intelligence but also AR and Mixed Reality, in addition to the inevitable articles related to Social Networks.
Here are the “most-read” in 2018
The theme is undoubtedly topical and, in his vision, Marco Caressa manages to explain well the perverse mechanism of the dangerous (especially if unwitting) disintermediation that social networks allow when we are informed. “At the root of fake news and fake data,” says the post, “there is a problem of delegating knowledge. The information overload we are subjected to does not allow an exhaustive verification of sources and contents, so it is necessary to delegate to ‘experts’ work that we cannot or do not want to do. The disintermediation offered by the web and social networks, however, risks fueling a dangerous delegitimization of the expert, pushing us to overestimate our possibility – moreover only theoretical – of accessing information and tragically underestimate our ignorance”. How to defend ourselves then? Turning also to Bertolt Brecht, the article seeks to explain how.
There is much talk of Artificial Intelligence, but we are not always able to identify practical and useful applications that allow us to understand its importance. In this in-depth focus, Simona Piacenti reports the results of a study, published by Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) in the United States of America, which correlates postings on Facebook with depression, “starting from the axiom that the language we use is the litmus test of our unconscious: references to sadness, loneliness, hostility and an increase in self-referencing, could indicate an inclination towards a depressive state”. Therefore, thanks to AI, early diagnosis of such a serious and poorly understood disease is possible..
The datum at the center of smart cities. And the datum understood as a common good that Public Administrations have the obligation to make available to everyone as a collective asset useful for improving people’s lives. This is the vision recounted by Sonia Montegiove in the article that reports the smart city experience of Barcelona and the vision of its councilor Francesca Bria. “Giving people ownership of their personal data“ are the opening words of the DECODE project, funded by the EU and coordinated by Bria, which aims to develop practical tools for protecting people’s data. “The role of cities,” explains the article, “will increasingly be to identify new economic, legal and governance strategies as well as open standards that allow the construction of accessible information infrastructures by citizens, local businesses, NGOs, cooperatives and local communities which, by re-using information, would have the opportunity to build new digital services.
The OpenStreetMap project, which feeds the largest database of free geographical data in the world, as a tool for limiting environmental risk. In his vision, Alessandro Palmas describes how “on OpenStreetMap you can find industrial settlements, hydrographic graphs, roads and pathways, weight and shape limits on roads and bridges and in tunnels, power lines, schools, hospitals and shelters for the elderly, but also helicopter pads, sports fields and areas for emergency takeoffs or for stacking areas, etc. All with global coverage, in the same geographical projection and available 24 hours a day, 365 days a year”. Not to mention the use that can be made of OSM in the case of small daily emergencies to “search for defibrillators, hydrants or house numbers (useful for the emergency phone number and firefighters)”.
An article investigating the change in professions with the advent of robotics, AI, IoT. “Among a wealth of numbers, research and forecasts,” reads the article, “one thing is certain: the world has changed and with it, professions. 65% of children currently entering primary schools will have completely new jobs, which do not yet even exist. An apparently futuristic forecast, reported by The Future of Jobs of the World Economic Forum, which has already come true for many emerging professions”. Figures reported in a research study carried out by the Italian National Employment Agency (ANPAL) highlight how demand – linked in particular to ICT profiles – has already changed.
Interview with Davide Taibi, CNR researcher and member of the OpenData Sicilia community, which explains the opportunities related to the opening of data not only through Open Data but also Linked Data. “Interest in open data has never completely died,” says Taibi in the interview. “Taking into consideration the most recent developments, creation of the Digital Transformation Team in 2016 channeled considerable effort into implementation of a real digital transformation strategy in the Public Administration in various directions”. Although there is still a lot of work to do, especially from a cultural and organizational point of view, as Taibi himself says, many initiatives have been undertaken at national and local levels that give hope for and support to greater dissemination of the datum culture as a public resource.
Terms like Big Data, IoT or AI that are often read also in the non-tech pages of daily newspapers should have entered the common cultural baggage and instead, according to a research study carried out by the Digital Transformation Institute and CFMT and summarized in a focus article by Stefania Farsagli, are unknown to most. “Only 34% of consumers interviewed had heard about Artificial Intelligence, while 34% of users did not know what Big Data are and what they are for. Not to mention Blockchain: even in its best known form, cryptocurrency (Bitcoins to be clear), 52% of consumers interviewed had no idea what it is and what its applications are. Except for then declaring, in more than half of the cases of those who claimed to be aware, that the use of technology in processes of disintermediation would improve their lives”.
A young engineer, expatriate from a very young age, talks about his commitment to major research and development projects on Artificial Intelligence and Mixed Reality. After several post-graduate professional experiences, Alberto Tono joined the research and development team for Studio HOK, an integrated design company with about 2,000 employees in 23 cities. “The proliferation of new digital tools and technologies gives us the opportunity to completely innovate the construction and architecture sector: immersive reality and Deep Learning break the traditional pattern and completely change workflows”.
A research study by the Digital Transformation Institute investigates the use of Artificial Intelligence by companies and consumers. “The experiences in which we come across Artificial Intelligence,” says the article, “have multiplied: 47% of consumers have used voice assistance software and 31% of those who have never had the occasion say they are interested in doing so in the future. Talking with a virtual voice that manages to solve our problems is the favorite interaction and the one that puts people more at ease (26%), together with visual interaction with a virtual person (26%). On the other hand, there is much more hesitation if it is the case of physical interaction with a three-dimensional reality or avatar for example (only 12% consider it preferable), or a robot/android (9%); finally, 45% of respondents express concern regarding a future in which vehicles drive themselves”.
In his Back2Basics column, Stefano Epifani explains the meaning of terms which, although linked to the most used technologies and innovations, are often little known or misunderstood. Of the many articles posted, it is the one on the term Artificial Intelligence that has met with particular success among readers. “Few concepts,” reads the article, “have fascinated the human being on a par with Artificial Intelligence, fueling the imagination of science fiction authors of every age: the idea that man could artificially ‘create’ an intelligence, or could even create demiurgically new consciences, has first seduced and then frightened hordes of scientists, philosophers, theologians and economists”. What are the opportunities and risks of this technology? How, starting from the basics, can we get to know it better?