Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2013.4.1 | Award Amount: 3.75M | Year: 2013
The goal of METALOGUE is to produce a multimodal dialogue system that is able to implement an interactive behaviour that seems natural to users and is flexible enough to exploit the full potential of multimodal interaction. It will be achieved by understanding, controlling and manipulating systems own and users cognitive processes. The new dialogue manager will incorporate a cognitive model based on metacognitive skills that will enable planning and deployment of appropriate dialogue strategies. The system will be able to monitor both its own and users interactive performance, reason about the dialogue progress, guess the users knowledge and intentions, and thereby adapt and regulate the dialogue behaviour over time.\n\nThe metacognitive capabilities of the METALOGUE system will be based on a state-of-the-art approach incorporating multitasking and transfer of knowledge among skills. The models will be implemented in ACT-R, providing a general framework of metacognitive skills.\n\nMETALOGUE research focuses on educational and coaching situations where negotiation skills play a key role in the decision-making processes. Components and algorithms will be developed, tested and integrated into a prototype platform, which will provide learners with a rich and interactive environment that will help to develop metacognitive skills, support motivation, and stimulate creativity and responsibility in the decision making and argumentation process. The METALOGUE system will produce virtual agents capable of engaging in natural interaction through combinations of English, German and Greek, using gestures, mimicry and body language. It will be deployed in two use-case scenarios: in social educational contexts for training young entrepreneurs and active citizens (Youth Parliament), and in a business education context for training call centre employees to successfully handle their customers. Respectively, METALOGUE will have a strong impact on both economic and social levels.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2009.7.3 | Award Amount: 3.44M | Year: 2010
Positiv Spaces (\Spaces) aims to provide novel technologies and instruments that will allow government bodies to measure public opinion on a large scale and seize the outcomes of prospective policy measures by leveraging the power of the communities. From the \Spaces perspective, Virtual Spaces (VS) form a vast reserve of group knowledge that, once aggregated and properly processed, can be incorporated in the policy making process.\nCurrently, government agencies seek to refine their policy making process by assessing the impact of prospective policies to the society prior to their implementation. Traditional tools for this include polls and forums, but these have limited capabilities and are inadequate for purpose variety of reasons. \Spaces aims to address this issue by using VSs as testbeds for policy simulation. Contemporary VSs can be viewed as micro-societies with dynamics resembling those of real world societies, the most evolved having virtual economies as well as regulations analogous to a legislative framework. Moreover, VSs are controlled environments in which all parameters of users reactions and interactions can be tracked. \Spaces will provide governments with tools for testing their legislation in a number of virtual environments as well as data mining tools for tracking the users reactions. We will develop technologies for aggregating, filtering and analyzing this information, as well as recommender and reputation systems that will ensure that only reliable sources of data are taken into account. Finally we will represent this information in an appropriate fashion that will enable government bodies to draw conclusions on the potential outcomes of the policies they propose, taking into account the analogies between VS and real life concepts. We believe that the \Spaces platform will constitute a powerful tool for testing policies and forecasting their impact and will assist government bodies to include the public opinion in the policy making process.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2009.4.1 | Award Amount: 8.01M | Year: 2011
ARCOMEM is about memory institutions like archives, museums, and libraries in the age of the\nSocial Web. Memory institutions are more important now than ever: as we face greater\neconomic and environmental challenges we need our understanding of the past to help us\nnavigate to a sustainable future. This is a core function of democracies, but this function faces\nstiff new challenges in face of the Social Web, and of the radical changes in information\ncreation, communication and citizen involvement that currently characterise our information\nsociety (e.g., there are now more social network hits than Google searches). Social media are\nbecoming more and more pervasive in all areas of life. In the UK, for example, it is now not\nunknown for a government minister to answer a parliamentary question using Twitter, and this\nmaterial is both ephemeral and highly contextualised, making it increasingly difficult for a\npolitical archivist to decide what to preserve.\nThis new world challenges the relevance and power of our memory institutions. To answer these\nchallenges, ARCOMEMs aim is to:\n help transform archives into collective memories that are more tightly integrated with\ntheir community of users\n exploit Social Web and the wisdom of crowds to make Web archiving a more selective\nand meaning-based process\nTo do this we will provide innovative tools for archivists to help exploit the new media and\nmake our organisational memories richer and more relevant. We will do this in three ways:\n first we will show how social media can help archivists select material for inclusion,\nproviding content appraisal via the social web\n second we will show how social media mining can enrich archives, moving towards\nstructured preservation around semantic categories\n third we will look at social, community and user-based archive creation methods\nAs results of this activity the outcomes of the ARCOMEM project will include:\n innovative models and tools for Social Web driven content appraisal and selection, and\nintelligent content acquisition\n novel methods for Social Web analysis, Web crawling and mining, event and topic\ndetection and consolidation, and multimedia content mining\n reusable components for archive enrichment and contextualization\n two complementary example applications, the first for media-related Web archives and\nthe second for political archives\n a standards-oriented ARCOMEM demonstration system\nThe impact of these outcomes will be to a) reduce the risk of losing irreplaceable ephemeral web\ninformation, b) facilitate cost-efficient and effective archive creation, and c) support the creation\nof more valuable archives. In this way we hope to strengthen our democracies understanding of\nthe past, in order to better direct our present towards viable and sustainable modes of living, and\nthus to make a contribution to the future of Europe and beyond.
Agency: GTR | Branch: ESRC | Program: | Phase: Research Grant | Award Amount: 161.44K | Year: 2015
EVI-MED - Constructing an evidence base of contemporary Mediterranean migrations seeks to conduct urgent data collection and essential analysis on the Mediterranean migration crisis and to make these swiftly and publicly available to policymakers, practitioners, migrant community support organisations, and the research community. EVI-MED will provide insights into the major humanitarian, social, economic and political implications for the principal countries of arrival - above all Italy and Greece - as well as Malta which is a central pillar of the search and rescue effort. The project is also relevant to other potential countries of reception and settlement in Europe, including the United Kingdom. This will be achieved through a diversity of research methods, including: A) The collection and standardization of a broad range of secondary data on migration, including statistics provided by search and rescue organisations and national and European bodies which will be integrated with data-sets made available by international NGOs, to create a synthetic database on migration trends and characteristics of flows. B) A survey of individual migrants - with at least 750 participants across Sicily, Greece and Malta - providing insight into profiles, routes, experiences and migration plans. This survey data will be complemented by 45 in-depth interviews focusing on migrant life-histories, decision making and use of networks. C) A systematic mapping of the reception systems in Sicily, Greece and Malta, identifying governmental and non-governmental actors involved in the identification, management, reception, integration and potential return of migrants who make the journey across the Mediterranean. D) Overall analysis of the migration and reception situation, derived from the above data-sets and integrated with further interviews with experts and practitioners, the contribution of international advisors, and the evidence emerging from the existing literature and other research and ongoing research activities. The project benefits from close collaboration with a number of well-established specialist organisations, including the Greek Council for Refugees, the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS), Migrant Report, Borderline Sicily, People for Change Foundation Malta and with expert knowledge of countries of origin provided by the Regional Mixed Migration Secretariat (RMMS), a project of the Danish Refugee Council working in the Horn of Africa and Middle East. EVI-MEDs wide-ranging engagement platform capitalises on the network of collaborations and partnerships established with Middlesexs Mediterranean Observatory on Migration Protection and Asylum (MOMPA) - a joint initiative of Middlesex University London and Middlesex University Malta. The project outputs - including data-sets, policy briefs, academic articles, situation reports, interactive maps - will be made available through the project website, in order to advertise them as widely as possible through EVI-MEDs engagement platform, networks and social media provided by partners and collaborating organisations. Other outputs include conferences, knowledge exchange events, consultations and briefings with national and European policymakers.
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: ICT-2011.5.6 | Award Amount: 3.43M | Year: 2012
Collaboration and crowdsourcing are the realities of todays public Internet. The so-called Web 2.0 represents a precious repository of thematic information, thanks to the heterogeneous content that is inserted daily and spontaneously updated by its users. Very recently, a big commercial interest has started to arise especially within industries that manufacture consumer goods and services in acquiring, classifying and managing all product related information that emerges out of Web 2.0 channels, thus going beyond the known capabilities of consolidated search engines. It would be possible to use this insight to information at multiple stages of the policy-life cycle to support the definition of the political agenda, the creation, the implementation and the monitoring of policy proposals.In this context, modern politicians could test, detect and understand how citizens perceive their own political agendas, and also stimulate the emergence of discussions and contributions on the informal web (e.g. forums, social networks, blogs, newsgroups and wikis), so as to gather useful feedback for immediate (re)action. In this way, politicians can create a stable feedback loop between information gathered on the Web and the definition of their political agendas based on this contribution. The ability to leverage the vast amount of user-generated content for supporting governments in their political decisions requires new ICT tools that will be able to analyze and classify the opinions expressed on the informal Web, or stimulate responses, as well as to put data from sources as diverse as blogs, online opinion polls and government reports to an effective use.To this end, NOMAD aims to introduce these different new dimensions into the experience of policy making by providing decision-makers with fully automated solutions for content search, selection, acquisition, categorisation and visualisation that work in a collaborative form in the policy-making arena.
Capital and Class | Year: 2013
The present world crisis is not a mere financial crisis, but the crisis of the liberal-productivist model of development, dominant from 1980. This article analyses the crisis - an over-accumulation crisis stemming from the weakness of labour-share, combined with a double ecological crisis (food, energy/climate) - in its social and ecological dimensions, according to the concepts of regulation theory. Due to its ecological aspects, the exit from the crisis could not be a globalised reproduction of the Roosveltian New Deal. This paper proposes a 'blueprint for a Green Deal' to answer the challenges of the complex social, ecological and financial crisis. © The Author(s) 2013.
News Article | May 23, 2015
Last week in the United Kingdom, the Conservative Party was re-elected into power. This article explores what their plans to regulate bitcoin might look like and whether they are capable of creating a bitcoin hub in the UK. The last government unveiled its stance on bitcoin back in April. Along with a call for information, it stated: "The government intends to apply anti-money laundering regulation to digital currency exchanges in the UK, to support innovation and prevent criminal use. The government will formally consult on the proposed regulatory approach early in the next parliament." Entrepreneurs need not run for the hills – or silicon valleys. Although 'regulation' is not always the most friendly of words, the government does appear to have a light-touch approach thus far. Furthermore, the Bank of England (BoE) has taken a cautiously optimistic viewpoint on digital currencies. In February, its One Bank Research Agenda came to the following conclusion: The BoE also outlined the potential to create its own government-issued currency based on bitcoin technology. The BoE is supposed to support the economic policies of whatever party gains power. However, the BoE and the Conservative Party share the same optimism for bitcoin. Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne welcomed the BoE's report, tweeting: All in all, the government has set high expectations that incoming regulation should be favourable. With the new Parliament formed this week, we can expect a formal consultation, originally promised by the government, sometime this summer. Until then, we are left to guess what bitcoin regulation will look like. Given the past comments the government has made and the responses given in the call for information, we can confidently expect the following: A major promise from the government is the creation of standards for consumer protection. To date, consumers buying products and services have forgone their rights usually covered by the Consumer Rights Act. A set of similar standards for bitcoin would be the first of its kind. Admittedly, this is unlikely to make a significant difference in consumer adoption of bitcoin. But it may encourage existing bitcoin users to choose to do business with UK-based startups over others abroad. This would give Tech City another competitive advantage over Silicon Valley. This is a view shared by Marco Santori, global policy counsel at Blockchain and a leading expert on bitcoin law: The regulatory sandbox should also be positive for bitcoin startups in the UK. The biggest regulatory concern among most bitcoin startups is that banks can wield greater influence in shaping specific policies. However, the sandbox will play an important role in ensuring these policies are not too draconian. It will only be the FinTech startups interacting with customers in bitcoin that can truly test these policies. Ultimately, if implemented well, a sandbox should filter out impractical policies for startups. The last and most important opportunity for the UK FinTech industry can be for the government to 'one-up' US regulators. New York's Department of Financial Services (NYDFS) and its superintendent Benjamin Lawsky have proposed a 'BitLicense'. This BitLicense has been heavily criticised for being prohibitive. For example, the following information is required for every bitcoin transaction: "The identity and physical addresses of the parties involved, the amount or value of the transaction, including in what denomination purchased, sold, or transferred, the method of payment, the date(s) on which the transaction was initiated and completed, and a description of the transaction." Adam Draper, CEO of Boost VC, heavily criticised the proposals, stating: "The rules don’t include a significantly flexible on-ramp for small startups to build and innovate their products, killing potentially disruptive technology before it can even start." Adam also estimated that the cost of compliance for a startup is $2m. The final draft of the BitLicense is set to be published later this month. If the UK government truly wishes to "create a world-leading environment", it would make sense for it to monitor the reception the BitLicense receives. They might even go as far as deliberately under-cutting the NYDFS' requirements to attract more bitcoin startups to the UK. Tom Robinson, Elliptic COO, has a slightly different perspective. He believes the cost of doing business is not the only regulatory issue to consider: "I believe that there is a real intent from the government to foster innovation in digital currency and blockchain technologies, but the critical question for our industry is what exactly does a world-leading environment looks like? Light touch regulation might make it easier and cheaper to run a digital currency business, but without the rubber stamp of full regulatory oversight it could remain challenging to gain the trust of banking partners and consumers." Overall, while the government's proposals to date sound good, they do leave many unaddressed issues. Bank accounts are a nightmare for bitcoin users and startups in the UK. There are plenty of stories about personal accounts being closed down and business accounts being rejected for being associated with bitcoin. The main reason for this, banks often say, is 'reputational risk'. Whether they have a reputation worth protecting is another debate. However, in their defence, at least part of the problem is a lack of regulation. Banks simply will not touch bitcoin for the time being. A bitcoin entrepreneur, who did not wish to be identified, describes the issue as critical: These were all issues highlighted in the call for information. Despite this, the government has not made any response on this topic. There needs to be a push from the government to prevent banks applying a blanket ban on bitcoin. Instead, they must a have a system of verifying whether any fraud has occurred or will occur. It does not matter how favourable regulation is if banks make it impossible for bitcoin to gain traction. Despite its best efforts, the UK government's plans may be hindered by US regulation. UK banks, which conduct business internationally, must also comply, as much as possible, with international regulation. In particular, UK banks do not want to risk losing US banking licenses. As of right now, the bitcoin industry is still so small it is not worth the risk of losing their licenses to get involved. All of this means UK banks might look towards the BitLicense requirements, instead of the UK regulation, to craft anti-money laundering procedures. Naturally, if they are compliant with stringent NYDFS regulations, they are very likely to comply with UK regulation. The BitLicense may also gain a first mover advantage – by being first, it may become the standard. The government said it hopes to give law enforcement the ability to confiscate bitcoin. This is an unclear statement. One of the key differences between the bitcoin network and traditional payment networks is that, if you own the private keys to your wallet, no one has the ability to take bitcoin away from you. For now it can be assumed that prosecuted criminals will be incentivised to give-up their bitcoin, as was the case with Charlie Shrem. This confiscation plan does raise concerns that the government might neglect the differences between bitcoin and traditional money. Following the re-election of the Conservative Party, the UK is in a great position to potentially become a global bitcoin hub. This stems from a strong FinTech industry and promising regulation proposals from the government. However, bitcoin enthusiasts should not celebrate too early. The regulatory challenges of integrating bitcoin with traditional finance, in a global sense, may be a major pitfall. Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of, and should not be attributed to, CoinDesk.
News Article | May 25, 2015
Disruption is inevitable, Uberization is a fact of life. In the last 10 years, the Internet has slowly creeped into our physical world. At first, it was just Warby Parker opening up a retail store (now a chain of retail stores), or real-world Like Buttons; however, the Internet is being infused into everything. The magical recipe today is Hardware + Software + Internet = Unicorn. Nest, Smartthings, SIGFOX, Scality – even Alcatel-Lucent – have all taken this concept to heart, pursuing the idea that the number of ways we interact with the Internet will no longer be counted in devices – laptops, smartphones & tablets – but in objects: thermostats, alarm clocks, bodyscales. We don’t think of these things as computers, but as ‘connected objects,’ or just objects. The Internet initially tackled & disrupted markets with the least physical barrier to entry: Content, Data & Communication. These things have been happening for millenia – on walls, on paper, on film, on screens – but ultimately had no real defensibility, as they were all just information. Now that information is 100% digital, Internet has been seeping into places where information is created – health, home, and printing – and places where information can create insight – manufacturing, cars, and cities. Today, the formula goes as follows: In the medical device industry, it goes from 3D Printed dental forms to connected medical devices providing real-time updates to/about patients. In the Automotive industry, car manufacturers aren’t just putting a tablet in your car – they are reinventing diagnostics and customer service in order to meet consumers’ increasing need for connectivity. If you wonder why citizens aren’t engaging with Politics, it’s because politics are one of the least connected facets of our lives. Why can’t I vote on my smartphone? Why don’t I get real-time updates about how my elected representatives vote on bills that I am passionate about? Perhaps, it’s because politicians don’t want that information to be public, but it’s also because Internet-enabled hardware hasn’t made its way into Parliament floors. In the coming years, we will no longer call things “Smart” “Connected” or “Internet-enabled” – they will just be things, because consumers will expect that these things be connected, smart & internet-enabled. And, as the world realizes that the Internet provides an amazing infrastructure for distributing innovation, companies will increasingly look for ways to bring their systems online – not just databases & computer screens, but factories, lamps, windows, cars, roads, planes, buildings, and everything we interact with – providing feedback to the companies building said objects, creating new business models for commoditized goods, and bringing real-time, always-on access to previously remote, unavailable systems (think: mountains & railway tracks). The most amazing question that we are confronted with is: at what point, and in which sectors, will it be more important to have sector experience than it is to have Internet experience? For a thermostat, we’ve seen that knowing how it works is clearly less important than creating an amazing, connected experience. When someone builds a car, however, we prefer to have a car from a brand we trust (since we put our lives on the line every time we drive those combustion-powered death traps) than to crowd-fund someone’s super-connected car. This will be the defining question that nearly every physical product, every ‘Industrial’ sector will be forced to face in the next 15 years: How important is what you know vs. what consumers expect from you? Will Google manage to infiltrate the home? Well, that depends on how important it is for consumers that the products they engage with come from brands that understand the problems of the ‘home’ (also, it depends on whether Google finally figures out how to sell products that aren’t ad-driven). Will Tesla manage to compete with traditional grid-based Electricity providers? In this case, it would seem that Tesla, as with everything Elon Musk does, has mastered both the domain expertise as well as the steps necessary to infiltrate both the automotive & energy markets, but only time will tell what consumers expect from them. This is the second coming of the Internet – from Content to Construct – and, like any good sequel, anyone who was safe in the first go around is most likely the first to die. So, if you’ve got skin in the game, I suggest you stay in groups and adapt quickly. If you are, like me, watching from the sidelines – well, grab some popcorn, because we’ve got one hell of an economic show in front of us, which is happening simultaneously at nearly the same rate all across the planet. This week we’ll be hosting the second edition of the Connected Conference, a 3-day event dedicated to the intersection of Internet & Industry, Hardware & Software, Physical & Digital.
News Article | May 27, 2015
Following a power outage in the Parliament House data centre, the Department of Parliamentary Services has said it needs to improve disaster recovery and data management. The issue was highlighted by the department's acting secretary Dr Dianne Heriot in a Budget Estimates hearing on Monday. In the Budget, the agency has been given AU$3.031 million to improve IT security in parliament, and an additional AU$7.7 million for improved network and IT security for the electorate offices of members of parliament. Heriot said that in addition to that, the department was now looking at funding for disaster recovery management. "Last week's power outage in the Parliament House ICT data centre has highlighted the need for better practice data recovery capability for parliamentary IT services," she said. "We are looking as a matter of priority within our current budget as to what we can do to improve our disaster recovery capability." A spokesperson for the department told ZDNet that the power outage occurred on Friday night during scheduled maintenance. "No data was lost during the outage. It occurred during a scheduled maintenance of the Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) system and all Parliamentary Computer Network (PCN) users had been advised of a planned service disruption to 3am. All core ICT services were restored within two hours," the spokesperson said. DPS has responsibility not only for the IT in parliament but also the IT for members and senators in their electorate offices. DPS has established a one-stop IT shop to allocate mobiles, computers, and set up email accounts.
News Article | October 4, 2016
British Parliament's home, the Palace of Westminster, is showing its age. To address issues including water leaks, poor wiring, and risk of fire, a multi-billion pound refurbishment is required that's likely to shut the place for six years. To allow the government to go about its business as usual in the meantime, Gensler has designed a futuristic water-based modular building. The concept building, dubbed Project Poseidon, would allow Members of Parliament to meet on the River Thames, just a stone's throw from their current aging workplace, directly adjacent to the existing Member's terrace. It could operate as a standalone building or potentially integrate with areas of the Palace of Westminster during the refurbishment. Gensler says it would be designed and built in UK shipyards over three years and floated down the Thames in prefabricated sections before being assembled. The building itself would measure 250 x 42 m (820 x 137 ft) and would be supported on a series of steel platforms. A barrier would provide protection from passing water-borne craft. According to Gensler, the striking glazed design draws inspiration from the famous 14th Century hammer-beam timber roof of Westminster Hall. If the project goes ahead (and to be clear, there's no suggestion this is particularly likely at this stage), the firm estimates it would cost £160 million (US$204 million) and take three years to build. Spending so much for temporary digs seems potentially excessive, though Gensler says that Project Poseidon could reduce the total refurbishment costs by up to £1.8 billion ($2.3 billion). We've reached out to the firm for further details on how it arrived at that figure and will update this story if we hear back. The project comes after last year's crowdfunding project for another ambitious vision that would make more use of the Thames by building a floating, sustainably-powered cycle path on it. You can hear the thoughts of a few members of the public in the video below.