Impact & Society

Euro CSS 2019: European Symposium Series on Societal Challenges in Computational Social Science

The 2nd-4th September 2019 marked the third in a series of symposia on Societal Challenges in Computational Social Science (Euro CSS). Computer scientists, political scientists, sociologists, physicists, mathematicians and psychologists from 24 countries gathered in Zurich for a day of workshops and tutorials followed by a two-day one track conference.

10 organizations leading the way in ethical AI

AI is susceptible to misuse and has been found to reflect biases that exist in society. Fortunately, there are a number of organizations committed to addressing ethical questions in AI. We list our top 10.

Book review: The code: Silicon Valley and the remaking of America by Margaret O’Mara

In The Code: Silicon Valley and the Remaking of America, Margaret O’Mara provides a new account of the region’s evolution that brings the US government into the story. The book offers a compelling narrative that tracks the key players and events that have underpinned Silicon Valley’s tremendous, but messy, rise, writes Robyn Klingler-Vidra, while also underscoring the gender imbalance and casual misogyny that has been a longstanding characteristic of its culture.

SMaPP-Global: An interview with Josh Tucker and Pablo Barbera

In April this year a special collection examining social media and politics was published in SAGE Open. Guest edited by Joshua A. Tucker and Pablo Barberá, the articles grew out of a series of conferences held by NYU’s Social Media and Political Participation lab (SMaPP) and the NYU Global Institute for Advanced Study (GIAS) known as SMaPP-Global. Upon publication Joshua Tucker said ‘the collection of articles also shows the value of exposing researchers from a variety of disciplines with similar substantive interests to each other's work at regular intervals’. Interdisciplinary collaborative research projects are a cornerstone of what makes computational social science such an interesting field. We were intrigued to know more so caught up with Josh and Pablo to hear more.

Instead of seeing criticisms of AI as a threat to innovation, can we see them as a strength?

At CogX, the Festival of AI and Emergent Technology, two icons appeared over and over across the King’s Cross location. The first was the logo for the festival itself, an icon of a brain with lobes made up of wires. The second was for the 2030 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a partner of the festival. The SDG icon is a circle split into 17 differently colored segments, each representing one of the goals for 2030—aims like zero hunger and no poverty. The idea behind this partnership was to encourage participants of CogX—speakers, presenters, expo attendees—to think about how their products and innovations could be used to help achieve these SDGs.

2018 SAGE Concept Grant winners: An interview with the Digital DNA Toolbox team

Following the launch of the SAGE Ocean initiative in February 2018, the inaugural winners of the SAGE Concept Grant program were announced in March of the same year. As we build up to this year’s winner announcement we’ve caught up with the three winners from 2018 to see what they’ve been up to and how the seed funding has helped in the development of their tools.

In this post, we spoke with the Digital DNA Toolbox (DDNA) winners, Stefano Cresci and Maurizio Tesconi about their initial idea, the challengers they faced along the way and the future of tools for social science research.

Researchers are awarded grants to study Facebook data and its influence on elections

Last year saw the launch of Social Science One—a model devised to allow academic researchers access to the huge amounts of data generated by private industry, including Facebook data which will constitute the inaugural project. This week the first grants have been announced in partnership with the Social Science Research Council. Twelve projects have been awarded grants, as over 60 researchers come together from 11 countries and 30 academic institutions to study social media’s impact upon our society and democratic systems.

Matchmaking tools: Augmenting the relationship between research and industry

On a Friday evening in 1922, you could turn on the radio in Schenectady NY and hear Hermann Briggs talking about the latest research and discoveries around common disease and illnesses. Radio, and later TV, were the most exciting and widest reaching media platforms where research knowledge could be shared with the public.

Today, researchers have access to a whole host of media (podcasts, YouTube channels, Ted Talks, etc.) to talk about their research and how it can be fun or useful for the public.

Book review: Artificial unintelligence: How computers misunderstand the world by Meredith Broussard

This book will be of particular value to social scientists interested in the political, economic and social dynamics of AI and data-driven technology. It will also be of interest to investigative and data journalists seeking to leverage computational tools.

Fake news sharing is rare but older people over 65 are more likely to share these articles, study finds

These two studies examined fake news on separate social media platforms; Facebook and Twitter, with both concluding that sharing this content was a rare occurrence but when users did share fake news articles they tended to be older Americans over 65.

Social Science Foo Camp 2019

The second annual Social Science Foo Camp took place at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park at the start of this month, convening an eclectic mix of more than 200 social scientists, technologists, funders, policy makers, businesspeople and writers.

Collecting mobile application usage data

Widely used apps like Facebook, Twitter or Google Maps count millions of users and are already deeply entrenched in our daily social life. However, while we know that mobile map applications are used quite often, we know very little about how they are used