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Welcome to a New Era

In only a few short years since the emergence of the World Wide Web, society has transitioned into a revolutionary new era — that of the “data economy.” Such a large-scale transformation has happened seemingly overnight. In a 2017 EU report, it was estimated that by 2020 the value of the EU’s ‘data economy’ alone would approach EUR 643 billion (approx. 3.17% of total EU GDP), up from an estimated EUR 257 billion in just 2014.

The consequences of increased datafication of our world have altered society in dramatic ways, both productive and divisive. The products of the data economy…


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In this week’s essay, independent contributor Edric Ramirez-Valdez of the University of Cambridge’s School of Clinical Medicine delves into another aspect of healthcare in the digital era —specifically, how the data and analytics revolution can help tackle the global (and partially preventable) burden of non-communicable diseases.

As the discovery of cures for infectious and acute conditions increases and their impact on health worldwide wanes, a tidal wave of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) has emerged — leading to NCDs becoming the largest cause of premature death globally. To give an idea of scale, the WHO has reported that 41 million people die…


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In this week’s essay, GDI Research Analyst Vincent Jeanselme of the University of Cambridge’s MRC Biostatistics unit provides an overview of Medical AI, discussing its evolution, limitations, and a likely path forward.

Modern medicine leverages artificial intelligence (AI) to aid doctors in their daily work, with AI systems assisting during surgery, alerting when patients become unstable, or even analysing x ray scans. This technology has drastically evolved over the past few years to allow the analysis of an ever growing amount of data. However, these AI-assisted tools are still hardly integrated into current practices. …


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Advances in modern transportation technology rely heavily on collected data, whether for simply notifying users of free parking spaces or for more complex applications like calculating rideshare apps’ surge-pricing. In this week’s essay, GDI Research Analyst and engineering masters student Shahvez Ul Haq takes us through several examples of the oft-overlooked technical side behind how different types of data are collected for use in optimizing travel and reducing urban traffic congestion.

Mapping the City with Smartphones

The first common method of collecting transportation data is right in your hand. Small and mighty, smartphones enable their users to take an active role in planning routes using…


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Welcome to 2021! Over the holidays, our team at GDI has been reflecting on the increasing impact of algorithms on everyday decision processes, especially given current world events. Most media coverage discussing algorithmic biases has focused on social and cultural factors — yet technical biases also play a critical, yet largely invisible role. In this third GDI Deep Read, Research Analyst Anna Sappington reflects on her own experiences with machine learning to explore the nuanced concept of ‘algorithmic fairness’ as a way to prevent both socially and technically embedded bias within real-world tools.

In 2019, self-proclaimed “techno-sociologist” Zeynep Tufekci stood…


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The dust has barely had time to settle over the last five months since the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) issued arguably the most important judgement on data privacy this year: That of Case-C-311/18 (Schrems II), concerning the EU-US Privacy Shield. In short, the US was found to provide insufficient data subject rights relative to the EU — essentially meaning that there will no longer be a free flow of data from Europe to the US.

Despite the vast scope of its impact, many open questions remain. On the 11th and 12th of November 2020 the European…


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GDI Shorts are an ongoing series where we explore interesting ideas affecting the data economy through three simple questions: What is the idea? Where is it located? And why should I care?

What are maker spaces?

“Maker spaces” (sometimes called “hackerspaces”) are collaborative working environments equipped with a variety of tools — ranging from the highly technical (e.g., editing software and 3D-printers) to basic instruments (e.g., hammers and table saws) — that enable their users to exchange ideas and use these shared tools to ‘make’ new creations.

These spaces are also sometimes referred to by specific names, depending on the specialty of each space…


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The push for cashless societies is real. The reasons to embrace digital payments are widely advertised, but the advantages of cash are rarely appreciated. Cash empowers people with freedom, privacy, and control over their spending. As GDI Research Analyst Meghan Keenan argues in this first GDI Deep Read, at the end of the day, the elimination of cash is not in the interest of the general public.

In 2019, global non-cash transactions rose by almost 14% — the highest growth rate since 2010. Banks are closing down branches and ATM machines in favour of digital payments and online banking infrastructure…


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Following the revolutions in military affairs brought about by gunpowder and nuclear weapons, we find ourselves once again at the dawn of a new era of warfare: The Age of Autonomous Systems. Using cutting-edge technologies for military purposes, especially from the field of Artificial Intelligence, will radically transform how wars will be fought in the near future.

LAWS (Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems) is a critical acronym to understand warfare in the 21st century. LAWS encompass any weapon system with autonomy in its critical functions, namely one which can select (i.e., search for or detect, identify, track, and select) and attack…


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Data — a resource some consider the “new oil” — has played a central role in our daily lives for millennia. Ancient states used censuses to inform tax levying; colonial banks used local land registries to inform loan issuance. While the scale of human activities has changed over time leading to more data, arguably the most drastic change has been in the ways we capture and store this information about our activities and the environment.

Recent technological advances — especially widespread digitalisation — have radically reduced the cost of collecting and storing the large volumes of data that result from…

Good Data Initiative

Think tank led by students from the Univ. of Cambridge. Building the leading platform for intergenerational and interdisciplinary debate on the #dataeconomy

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