ChatGPT has been an integral part of many people's working lives for a year now. The extensive press coverage and numerous testimonials, despite the sometimes erroneous content, impressively underline the importance of these assistance systems. Initial studies show productivity gains through the use of ChatGPT, as these systems can provide support for a variety of tasks, but the impact on certain job roles can be serious.
An insightful study into the motivations of knowledge workers to use ChatGPT is "Why do people use ChatGPT? Exploring user motivations for generative conversational AI" from December 20231. This study shows how generative conversational AI meets a variety of user needs by overcoming the limitations of traditional conversational technologies - for example, by offloading cognitive or creative tasks to the technology. The majority of respondents cited productivity gains as the primary reason for using ChatGPT. The motivation to use ChatGPT to increase productivity in a variety of ways was clear, such as to find information quickly and easily, to generate text or assist with writing, or in software development to generate code or identify problems in code. Although to a lesser extent, ChatGPT is also used for creative work or learning, mainly because of its ability to simplify complex concepts and explain difficult topics in an easy to understand way.
As populations decrease in various countries, such as Europe, China, and Japan, the latter has taken the lead in implementing robots for basic tasks to alleviate their care crisis. Ethnographer James Wright conducted a study called "Are Robots the Solution to Japan's Care Crisis?" based on his book "Robot's Won't Save Japan." In this research, Dr. Wright delves into the emotional and social consequences of introducing robots into a care setting, specifically how it might impact relationships between residents and staff members. He also considers the potential for robots to alter these dynamics.
In the old days, satellite internet was slow and used by few people. Through various initiatives, satellite internet, such as Starlink, has made a comeback. It now serves as a crucial link to reach remote corners of the world. This technology is mission-critical for Ukrainian warfare and holds the promise of covering zones currently without internet access. Yet, affordability in remote areas is key to its adoption.
But can satellite internet also be an option to circumvent internet censorship? With only a small mobile dish—or soon, just a smartphone—users anywhere could potentially bypass restrictions. The feasibility of this approach so far depends heavily on private companies like Starlink or OneWeb offering their services in countries with censorship practices. But also China plans to launch a constellation of 12,992 satellites, joining Russia and the EU, with projects like IRIS2, in providing their own satellite internet solutions. But as these plans unfold, space is becoming increasingly crowded. Thousands of satellites are planned for launch, with Starlink alone accounting for approximately 30,000. This rapid expansion raises questions about the sustainability of space as a resource.
So, how is all of this governed? Laura DeNardis has written an insightful report on Interplanetary Internet Governance, suggesting that existing space treaties could play a role in governing the internet beyond Earth. This emerging field of governance will be key to managing the crowded skies and ensuring that satellite internet remains a viable and accessible option for all.
As society becomes more technologically advanced, algorithms are taking on a greater role in completing tasks. However, with the increased reliance on these programmed protocols, common sense and intuition often take a backseat. These algorithms are designed to handle typical scenarios, but struggle when faced with exceptions. As a result, humans are increasingly out of the loop.
In the last two decades, outsourcing digital work has become a major industry. Companies began shifting bits and pieces of their operations to cheaper labor markets. This led to the development of platforms like Upwork and Fiverr that offer freelancers from around the world for a small fee. One could argue this is a great way to start working in the digital space and a better alternative than low-paying gig work on ride hailing apps like Gojek (Indonesia) or Little (Kenya). All you need is a laptop and you can be part of the international force trying to make a decent wage. Nonetheless, your efforts will be met with fierce competition as more and more advanced AI technologies are developed making things ever tougher for those who depend on these business models.
As you delve deeper into digitalizing government services, two realities become clear: the complex process of transitioning from manual paper-driven processes between multiple government agencies requires a culture of adaptability that administrations often lack. Additionally, the sheer number of government services involved makes it incredibly likely that a backlog of manual tasks will remain for an extended period of time.
When it comes to the relationship between environment and technology, there are many terms thrown around: Green technology, Climate Tech, Clean Technology, Green IT. They are often used interchangeably, though they mean different things. As I tried to understand it, I pondered the various interpretations of these ideas.
It's easy to recognize how technologies can lower or remove carbon dioxide emissions while also increasing their contribution to worldwide carbon use.
As I reflect on my earliest interactions with the Internet in the 1990s, the screeching sound of a modem dialing up to establish a connection resonates vividly.
I have probably spent thousands of hours programming, during which I had to listen to this persisting, among others, myth about programming: You need to be good at maths, at applying algebra, etc.
Programming has more to do with chess than maths
Most programming requires simple to complex logical thinking. These are sequences, such as reading the content of a file, checking for certain occurrences and then doing action a or b depending on certain conditions.
It is like playing chess and not working with mathematical formulas. The more you think your moves ahead, the better you can code.
Mainly, web programming hardly involves any maths that you cannot refresh in a short time.
I don't mean to rule maths out of the equation. maths can be pretty helpful when you have to deal with complex programming challenges, i.e. optimising the Google search algorithm, but that is probably not your case.
Let me tell you a secret: While excellent programmers solve a task with a few lines of code that runs in milliseconds, the novice code might take longer and be slower, but it also fits the purpose.
For at least two decades, personal knowledge management (PKM) has been a popular concept to describe how individuals can organize their information more efficiently for more quality output. I have wondered how the term "management" made it into this concept. After some personal learning, I believe the concept is misleading for beginners who want to set up or improve their personal knowledge process.
Imagine your government is facilitating services, providing them whenever and wherever you need to. For example, sending you a notification when your passport is about to expire, offering you a parking permit when you move to a new neighbourhood, or automatically analysing your tax payments with practical saving recommendations.
But why is this far from happening in most countries?
From back in the times when I lived in Egypt, I still remember the lifts operated by elevator operators at government buildings. Liftmen used to ask politely for the desired floor, press the right button, and then sit back on their little chair. Since the 1850s, elevators have transported passengers with the help of such operators. Back then, a person used to take control of a machine to transcend altitude within a few seconds.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is already embedded in a range of digital services. Voice assistants such as Alexa, car routing or content translation all involve machine learning - the most popular form of artificial intelligence technology. There are many warnings these days about AI, such as the ethics behind these machine driven decision systems or threats of automation and the loss of many jobs.
Very little is reported about how artificial intelligence can improve public services and can have positive social impact. Smart algorithms combined with cloud computing power allow unprecedented forms of data analysis that would take much longer if humans were doing it.
Below I researched a list of inspiring examples of how artificial intelligence is used in public service, education, human rights and health (#aiforgood). The examples prove that AI can have a helpful impact, but as any other technology, does have consequences. The case of depression detection shows the challenges of such approaches. At the end of the day it is still an algorithm that can lead to false predictions. So it is very important to weigh the risks of false decisions in each of these projects.
In the science of learning it is long known that every student is required to study differently depending on their experience, skills and knowledge. But most training approaches teach the same way to all students. The student needs to adapt to the course curricula, instead of the curricula adapting to the student needs. Elearning makes little difference here, where each student goes through the same learning material.
"Good morning Heinz. No more excuses or I will open the shutters" says Claire, my ongoing follower, my legal stalker and beloved artificial intelligence assistant. The sweet voice is echoing in every corner of the apartment during my morning routine. She follows me through speakers or whispers in my ear. I don't know when I was able to procrastinate last.
The Internet has become in recent years a major arena of conflict. National and international conflicts are increasingly fought online through cyber propaganda, cyber attacks and even cyberwar. Hence, digital peace is a major topic and involves civil society, international organizations, companies and states.
Disruptive digital innovation does not happen where you think it does. The media is full of articles about the digital innovations happening at big Internet companies, and which seem impressive at first sight:
- Google’s Duplex robot assistant can schedule hairdresser appointments by telephone for you.
- Netflix has improved, yet again, its movie recommendation algorithm to better entertain you.
- Amazon has further automated its warehouse to deliver packages a bit faster.
Digital rights means different things to different people: From digital rights management to digital human rights. This post shall give you an overview on these different concepts. We will take a look how the focus on digital rights has shifted in the last 20 years and what are the challenges of applying such rights in cyberspace.
Back at the Peer Value conference last year I had the chance to hear a presentation by Tiberius Brastaviceanu from Sensorica that was really impressive. Open innovation is my passion and I work with my clients finding great ideas around our WeThinq platform. I believe open innovation is often seen very limited where company gradually open up for external expertise to innovate. Instead open innovation needs to be practiced in a network, where people collaborate open and effectively. Sensorica represents such a progresssive form of open innovation. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I did.
Christian Kreutz: I'm here at the Peer Value Conference with Donnie Maclurcan? I pronounced it right. That's very nice. I was very intrigued about the work you're saying you're doing. Tell me a bit about what you're doing? Donnie Maclurcan: Six years ago, with 10 individuals, we co-founded a global economics institute called the Post Growth Institute. We look at what comes after capitalism. What was fascinating to me -- and relates a lot to the processes that we've engaged with since then -- is some of the lessons we learned about starting our organization, and what really motivates people to continue being part of the organization, and builds trust within our group.
It is great to see that our publication "10 trends in open innovation" is now available as an eBook. For this project, I worked together with the GIZ, namely Jan Schwaab, Balthas Seibold and Christian Gmelin, to create 10 exciting chapters, which enlighten the abstract concept of innovation. The various chapters provide an overview and practical advice on how to pursue an open innovation approach. Thanks to all the authors. Following are some introductions to the chapters.
Social innovation labs are increasingly popping up and evolving all over the world. They mostly focus on startups and business development around topics such as energy, environment, civic participation or the cities as a laboratories. For an introduction to social innovation read my blog post.
With the rise of big data and affordable sensor technology, smart city innovation can transform cities into a better place, but only if the right data is available. This seems to be a 'solutionism' belief. Almost like the equation: the better the data, the better the decision, neglecting the underlining complexity of decision-making processes and that cities involve multiple interests that need to be carefully weigh out.
After months of work our software code is finally released to the public for free. Every line of code and all thoughts behind it. Good ideas and probably also so not so good ones. The philosophy behind it all is simple: An idea needs to prove itself and can only be improved if its "recipe" is as transparent as possible. For us at Crisscrossed (www.crisscrossed.de), it was our first open source software project and as an outcome there was the realization that open source innovation is essential for how we collaborate on ideas to make them become reality in a complex world.
Last updated: 04.09.15
Open source software has become a strong movement and as it gains popularity it leads most software companies to engage with the expanding open source community. All things digital, being it music, photos, etc., have in one way or another become free thanks to some clever licenses. What is not so often noticed is how the vision of open source spreads to other sectors and leads to a fascinating array of tools, thanks for example to 3D printing, and communities, which form a new way of open collaboration. I made a small exploration to search for great projects.
The New Yorker recently published an insightful article called „We Know How You Feel - Computers are learning to read emotion, and the business world can’t wait.“, which discusses the potential of machine learning and big data. The author tells the story of how advanced facial recognition has developed. It is now possible to analyze single facial expressions and emotions we are not even aware of ourselves. That has triggered a lot of interest by advertisement companies. The goal is to increase the attention advertisements receive. One such company developing such software is Affectiva and it seems to be doing well.
To get from A to B in a city the choices are stark: Public transport, taxi, your own car or bike. If you think that is a lot then skip till the end of this post. But if you are like me, always trying to find the best way to get to places and normally none of the options above satisfy you, then continue reading.
This article was originally published in the GIZ publication "10 trends in open innovation - How to leverage social media for new forms of cooperation".
Tumble dryers are part of many households – a modern convenience but also an appliance that has one of the highest energy consumption rates. Is there a way to reduce energy consumption associated with this device? At the Dynamic Demand Challenge, an open innovation contest organized by the UK innovation agency Nesta, a noteworthy proposal to solve energy consumption issues tackled this. Participants presented a small laundry app that presents you with the best options for when and how to do your laundry – both washing and drying. The app always prefers line drying outdoors over tumble drying. Based on weather report information the app lets you know whether, for example, there is a chance of rain in the hours ahead or whether it is worth waiting for some sunshine hours expected for later in the day. At the same time, it monitors energy consumption patterns and provides information on highs and lows of energy demand. In the future, the app could become a feature not only of most washing machines and tumble dryers, but also of many other appliances with high energy consumption rates. It is a small step to start with but it has great potential to tackle the issue of energy saving.
For the past 5 years I have been involved in a number of web civic engagement projects. I have seen as many successes as failures, which in one way or another have always been a lesson. Certainly, so much learning has taken me to conceive one of my own projects, for example Creating Frankfurt - a citizen participation project, which I developed four years ago in Germany. This project, as in the practice, has taught me what works and what doesn't. Because of that, I can attest that there is very little information out there on evidences and references when it comes to civic innovation. A lot is just a trend or hype and few are on the quest for a sustainable and demanded citizen participation service, which is very tricky to achieve. (Hint: It is much less about technology than most believe it is).
From my experience gained throughout my career, I have stumbled over and over again with organizational problems. Companies and organizations, from whatever field, are simply inefficiently structured. More or less the classical top-down approach tends to persist, completely contradicting a more efficient approach to empower people. Ofttimes, the talents and the potential of employees are restrained by organizational hierarchies, which at the end of the day is counterproductive for most organizations.
Open Innovation is a great concept to drive ideas and find solutions. To approach and dive into open innovation is not always uncomplicated. At WE THINQ (Disclaimer: I am the founder of WE THINQ) we believe that an easy-entry point is much needed, and that a good alternative to this would be practical and concise messages showing you the potential and needed resources, factual examples, and providing accurate answers to the right questions. Here is a little taster to show you how this open innovation course will help you get started.
There is no doubt that crowdsourcing has great potential; particularly in the case of the United Nations. One clear advantage of open innovation for the UN is that it allows it to test its performance and engage with each target group to learn what it is actually needed and achieved. The UN has an unlimited audience and deals with immense challenges, which require creative, collective solutions. Using the Internet to gather ideas, discuss and collaborate on finding solutions should be the daily norm; and that is why at least some UN organizations have already started experimenting. Here is a list of interesting crowdsourcing examples.
A great article from the Washington post, shared by Martina Hetzel via the KM4DEV mailing list, has caught my attention. The article, titled "The solutions to all our problems may be buried in PDFs that nobody reads", cites a World Bank report and emphasizes on its knowledge management issues.
"About 13 percent of policy reports were downloaded at least 250 times while more than 31 percent of policy reports are never downloaded. Almost 87 percent of policy reports were never cited. "
Open data is a great chance to make development aid not only more transparent, but also more efficient. Having been an aid worker for a while in Egypt and Germany myself, I could see how much information is needed. It is often very difficult to get even an overview of who is doing what. Now having the opportunity to look into various development organizations as a consultant I have seen many bottlenecks and the potential open data has to make development organizations more efficient. Open data will allow organizations to get involved and collaborate in new ways.
Only a few years ago 'unconferences' where a new and different type of event, where people organized themselves online to meet somewhere to listen and exchange about crazy ideas. The web-based model of open innovation developed into face-to-face events. Years later, we are now witnessing how innovation hubs are popping up across the world. Spaces are being opened for anyone to exchange ideas and find help and solutions to seriously implement these. The Internet, as platform for open innovation, has been transforming the way we collaborate, which makes companies, for instance, experiment with incubators, accelerators or open innovation challenges.
Crossposted from the WE THINQ Blog
Open innovation can be a powerful force. When hundreds of people collaborate openly things can evolve in all kinds of creative ways. That kind of energy is fantastic to see and I am always excited to follow real-time open innovation events implemented through our application WE THINQ. Ideas spread like wild fire and comments come in by the minute as lately seen in an exciting project with the Deutsche Welle.
Looking at the many dimensions of poverty, one can realise what a highly complex issue it is. The monetary perspective is just a start-off, there are also many other relevant areas such as health, acccess, location, environment, mobility, etc. Amartya Sen has done a groundbreaking work and much progress in recent decades to measure poverty. But one big problem persists: Poverty analysis is backwardly focused. To put it in blunt words, we can measure how it happened, but it is very difficult to measure it as it happens. Statistics are often months or even years old. When people apply for social welfare the personal crisis has already occurred. But how can the symptoms be measured before they even happen?
Organisations working in development cooperation generally have nice websites with descriptions of projects and plenty of texts on big issues. But when it comes to talking about money, most websites put the topic on the back burner. KfW Entwicklungsbank (KfW Development Bank) wanted to change this, and through my engagement at the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany (OKF), I helped to implemente their new transparency portal (Disclaimer: I am in the board of OKF GER).
It’s like that basic rule in nutrition: Food that is not eaten has no nutritional value. Data which is not understood has no value. Hans Rosling
When it comes to open data nowadays, one first tends to look at a range of data sets and then think about what could be done with them, though it should be the other way around. There is a real demand for data services, and it is 'only' about combining the right data sources together. Sadly, this demanded, good and valuable information is rarely available as open data. It could be that my criticism is due to the lack of my creativity to squeeze the best out of even lame data.
There are practically only two options of German developing aid figures one can obtain; either highly aggregated data from the German Ministry of Economic Development and Cooperation, or complicated and academic designed pages such as aidflows from the OECD.
Offene-Entwicklungshilfe.de (Open Germain Aid) is in this regard different. Here, instead of first learning how to use the app, you can wander easily through figures about beneficiary countries from German aid and other individual projects.
".. if you don’t adapt your way of presenting to the way that people understand it, then you won’t get it through. You must prepare the food in a way that makes people want to eat it. The dream that you will train the entire population to about one semester of statistics in university: that’s wrong." Hans Rosling about the importance of good data presentation.
Budget transparency websites such as openspending.org are lately criticized that opening and vizualizing data is not enough. Journalists are required to find the stories behind such data as David Sasaki argues in his interesting post.
First, raw data is not enough — we need visualizations to understand it. Second, visualizations are not enough — we need journalists to investigate and tell stories about the data.
I agree it is essential that secrets or wrong spendings need to be disclosed by journalists, but accountability can work also in different ways. One of the biggest challenge at the moment is the lack of simple information services. For example take the OECD website aidflows.org. The website has a loading time of almost a minute and then offers data for scientist but not for a person, who wants quick access to data.
“Every two days now we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003” said Eric Schmidt from Google in 2010. Behind most of this information there is Big Data. And although we Internet users contribute mostly to that vast data, we get little or nothing back. But what is big data? Big data is so far a closed shop with a wealth of information that urgently needs to change.
Knowledge management is in decline or even once again dead according some writers. Knowledge management has probably been a misleading concept ever since the times when we used to believe we could store our wisdom in a little neat database. And that's also probably why document management is also plunging.
Around 150 participants joined the Open Aid Data Conference in Berlin. The event was full with discussions and exchange on how open data can be used to achieve more transparency in the developing aid sector. The first day was split into two workshops – an 'Aidinfo Data Training' and 'Hackday,' to explore potential data sets and applications to make developing aid more transparent.
The past year I have written on many occasions about the potential of open data and why it is much needed particular for the development aid sector. So I am happy to announce a Hackday I am organizing as part of the Open Knowledge Foundation Germany. The Hackday is linked with the Open Aid Data conference held in Berlin, which is organized by Openaid.de, Boell-Foundation among others. Click here for full further information.
Remember when you learnt cycling? The first time you stepped into a pedal and tried to balance the bicycle; the voice behind your neck telling you to keep pedaling and you will be fine. Learning cycling is a wonderful example of how difficult it is to "transfer" knowledge and that most of our wisdom is not just published in the Internet.
Google Maps has been an incredible service in the past years. Not only it was Google's engineers, who invented the slippy map, which revolutionized digital maps, but its approach to offer such a service for free and shock competitors with a free routing service. Google has a tremendous overview on all activities on the Internet; billions of search queries everyday say a lot about people's personalities. With analytics in websites, Google tracks people's paths from one page to the next.