Commission proposes measures to boost data sharing and support European data spaces

Press Release: “To better exploit the potential of ever-growing data in a trustworthy European framework, the Commission today proposes new rules on data governance. The Regulation will facilitate data sharing across the EU and between sectors to create wealth for society, increase control and trust of both citizens and companies regarding their data, and offer an alternative European model to data handling practice of major tech platforms.

The amount of data generated by public bodies, businesses and citizens is constantly growing. It is expected to multiply by five between 2018 and 2025. These new rules will allow this data to be harnessed and will pave the way for sectoral European data spaces to benefit society, citizens and companies. In the Commission’s data strategy of February this year, nine such data spaces have been proposed, ranging from industry to energy, and from health to the European Green Deal. They will, for example, contribute to the green transition by improving the management of energy consumption, make delivery of personalised medicine a reality, and facilitate access to public services.

The Regulation includes:

  • A number of measures to increase trust in data sharing, as the lack of trust is currently a major obstacle and results in high costs.
  • Create new EU rules on neutrality to allow novel data intermediaries to function as trustworthy organisers of data sharing.
  • Measures to facilitate the reuse of certain data held by the public sector. For example, the reuse of health data could advance research to find cures for rare or chronic diseases.
  • Means to give Europeans control on the use of the data they generate, by making it easier and safer for companies and individuals to voluntarily make their data available for the wider common good under clear conditions….(More)”.

AI’s Wide Open: A.I. Technology and Public Policy

Paper by Lauren Rhue and Anne L. Washington: “Artificial intelligence promises predictions and data analysis to support efficient solutions for emerging problems. Yet, quickly deploying AI comes with a set of risks. Premature artificial intelligence may pass internal tests but has little resilience under normal operating conditions. This Article will argue that regulation of early and emerging artificial intelligence systems must address the management choices that lead to releasing the system into production. First, we present examples of premature systems in the Boeing 737 Max, the 2020 coronavirus pandemic public health response, and autonomous vehicle technology. Second, the analysis highlights relevant management practices found in our examples of premature AI. Our analysis suggests that redundancy is critical to protecting the public interest. Third, we offer three points of context for premature AI to better assess the role of management practices.

AI in the public interest should: 1) include many sensors and signals; 2) emerge from a broad range of sources; and 3) be legible to the last person in the chain. Finally, this Article will close with a series of policy suggestions based on this analysis. As we develop regulation for artificial intelligence, we need to cast a wide net to identify how problems develop within the technologies and through organizational structures….(More)”.

Taming Complexity

Martin Reeves , Simon Levin , Thomas Fink and Ania Levina at Harvard Business Review: “….“Complexity” is one of the most frequently used terms in business but also one of the most ambiguous. Even in the sciences it has numerous definitions. For our purposes, we’ll define it as a large number of different elements (such as specific technologies, raw materials, products, people, and organizational units) that have many different connections to one another. Both qualities can be a source of advantage or disadvantage, depending on how they’re managed.

Let’s look at their strengths. To begin with, having many different elements increases the resilience of a system. A company that relies on just a few technologies, products, and processes—or that is staffed with people who have very similar backgrounds and perspectives—doesn’t have many ways to react to unforeseen opportunities and threats. What’s more, the redundancy and duplication that also characterize complex systems typically give them more buffering capacity and fallback options.

Ecosystems with a diversity of elements benefit from adaptability. In biology, genetic diversity is the grist for natural selection, nature’s learning mechanism. In business, as environments shift, sustained performance requires new offerings and capabilities—which can be created by recombining existing elements in fresh ways. For example, the fashion retailer Zara introduces styles (combinations of components) in excess of immediate needs, allowing it to identify the most popular products, create a tailored selection from them, and adapt to fast-changing fashion as a result.

Another advantage that complexity can confer on natural ecosystems is better coordination. That’s because the elements are often highly interconnected. Flocks of birds or herds of animals, for instance, share behavioral protocols that connect the members to one another and enable them to move and act as a group rather than as an uncoordinated collection of individuals. Thus they realize benefits such as collective security and more-effective foraging.

Finally, complexity can confer inimitability. Whereas individual elements may be easily copied, the interrelationships among multiple elements are hard to replicate. A case in point is Apple’s attempt in 2012 to compete with Google Maps. Apple underestimated the complexity of Google’s offering, leading to embarrassing glitches in the initial versions of its map app, which consequently struggled to gain acceptance with consumers. The same is true of a company’s strategy: If its complexity makes it hard to understand, rivals will struggle to imitate it, and the company will benefit….(More)”.

Using Data and Respecting Users

“Three technical and legal approaches that create value from data and foster user trust” by Marshall Van Alstyne and Alisa Dagan Lenart: “Transaction data is like a friendship tie: both parties must respect the relationship and if one party exploits it the relationship sours. As data becomes increasingly valuable, firms must take care not to exploit their users or they will sour their ties. Ethical uses of data cover a spectrum: at one end, using patient data in healthcare to cure patients is little cause for concern. At the other end, selling data to third parties who exploit users is a serious cause for concern. Between these two extremes lies a vast gray area where firms need better ways to frame data risks and rewards in order to make better legal and ethical choices. This column provides a simple framework and threeways to respectfully improve data use….(More)”

Open data and data sharing: An economic analysis

Paper by Alevtina Krotova, Armin Mertens, Marc Scheufen: “Data is an important business resource. It forms the basis for various digital technologies such as artificial intelligence or smart services. However, access to data is unequally distributed in the market. Hence, some business ideas fail due to a lack of data sources. Although many governments have recognised the importance of open data and already make administrative data available to the public on a large scale, many companies are still reluctant to share their data among other firms and competitors. As a result, the economic potential of data is far from being fully exploited. Against this background, we analyse current developments in the area of open data. We compare the characteristics of open governmental and open company data in order to define the necessary framework conditions for data sharing. Subsequently, we examine the status quo of data sharing among firms. We use a qualitative analysis of survey data of European companies to derive the sufficient conditions to strengthen data sharing. Our analysis shows that governmental data is a public good, while company data can be seen as a club or private good. Latter frequently build the core for companies’ business models and hence are less suitable for data sharing. Finally, we find that promoting legal certainty and the economic impact present important policy steps for fostering data sharing….(More)”

Consumer Reports Study Finds Marketplace Demand for Privacy and Security

Press Release: “American consumers are increasingly concerned about privacy and data security when purchasing new products and services, which may be a competitive advantage to companies that take action towards these consumer values, a new Consumer Reports study finds. 

The new study, “Privacy Front and Center” from CR’s Digital Lab with support from Omidyar Network, looks at the commercial benefits for companies that differentiate their products based on privacy and data security. The study draws from a nationally representative CR survey of 5,085 adult U.S. residents conducted in February 2020, a meta-analysis of 25 years of public opinion studies, and a conjoint analysis that seeks to quantify how consumers weigh privacy and security in their hardware and software purchasing decisions. 

“This study shows that raising the standard for privacy and security is a win-win for consumers and the companies,” said Ben Moskowitz, the director of the Digital Lab at Consumer Reports. “Given the rapid proliferation of internet connected devices, the rise in data breaches and cyber attacks, and the demand from consumers for heightened privacy and security measures, there’s an undeniable business case for companies to invest in creating more private and secure products.” 

Here are some of the key findings from the study:

  • According to CR’s February 2020 nationally representative survey, 74% of consumers are at least moderately concerned about the privacy of their personal data.
  • Nearly all Americans (96%) agree that more should be done to ensure that companies protect the privacy of consumers.
  • A majority of smart product owners (62%) worry about potential loss of privacy when buying them for their home or family.
  • The privacy/security conscious consumer class seems to include more men and people of color.
  • Experiencing a data breach correlates with a higher willingness to pay for privacy, and 30% of Americans have experienced one.
  • Of the Android users who switched to iPhones, 32% indicated doing so because of Apple’s perceived privacy or security benefits relative to Android….(More)”.

Data Sharing 2.0: New Data Sharing, New Value Creation

MIT CISR research:”…has found that interorganizational data sharing is a top concern of companies; leaders often find data sharing costly, slow, and risky. Interorganizational data sharing, however, is requisite for new value creation in the digital economy. Digital opportunities require data sharing 2.0: cross-company sharing of complementary data assets and capabilities, which fills data gaps and allows companies, often collaboratively, to develop innovative solutions. This briefing introduces three sets of practices—curated content, designated channels, and repeatable controls—that help companies accelerate data sharing 2.0….(More)”.

When Do We Trust AI’s Recommendations More Than People’s?

Chiara Longoni and Luca Cian at Harvard Business School: “More and more companies are leveraging technological advances in machine learning, natural language processing, and other forms of artificial intelligence to provide relevant and instant recommendations to consumers. From Amazon to Netflix to REX Real Estate, firms are using AI recommenders to enhance the customer experience. AI recommenders are also increasingly used in the public sector to guide people to essential services. For example, the New York City Department of Social Services uses AI to give citizens recommendations on disability benefits, food assistance, and health insurance.

However, simply offering AI assistance won’t necessarily lead to more successful transactions. In fact, there are cases when AI’s suggestions and recommendations are helpful and cases when they might be detrimental. When do consumers trust the word of a machine, and when do they resist it? Our research suggests that the key factor is whether consumers are focused on the functional and practical aspects of a product (its utilitarian value) or focused on the experiential and sensory aspects of a product (its hedonic value).

In an article in the Journal of Marketing — based on data from over 3,000 people who took part in 10 experiments — we provide evidence supporting for what we call a word-of-machine effect: the circumstances in which people prefer AI recommenders to human ones.

The word-of-machine effect.

The word-of-machine effect stems from a widespread belief that AI systems are more competent than humans in dispensing advice when utilitarian qualities are desired and are less competent when the hedonic qualities are desired. Importantly, the word-of-machine effect is based on a lay belief that does not necessarily correspond to the reality. The fact of the matter is humans are not necessarily less competent than AI at assessing and evaluating utilitarian attributes. Vice versa, AI is not necessarily less competent than humans at assessing and evaluating hedonic attributes….(More)”.

Digital Disruption

Book by Bharat Vagadia: “Implications and opportunities for Economies, Society, Policy Makers and Business Leaders: “This book goes beyond the hype, delving into real world technologies and applications that are driving our future and examines the possible impact these changes will have on industries, economies and society at large. It details the actions governments and regulators must take in order to ensure these changes bring about positive benefits to the public without stifling innovation that may well be the future source of value creation. It examines how organisations in a world of digital ecosystems, where industry boundaries are blurring, must undertake radical digital transformation to survive and thrive in this new digital world. The reader is taken through a framework that critically examines (i) Digital Connectivity including 5G and IoT; (ii) Data Capture and Distribution which includes smart connected verticals; (iii) Data Integrity, Control and Tokenisation that includes cyber security, digital signatures, blockchain, smart contracts, digital assets and cryptocurrencies; (iv) Data Processing and Artificial Intelligence; and (v) Disruptive Applications which include platforms, virtual and augmented reality, drones, autonomous vehicles, digital twins and digital assistants…(More)”.

How Competition Impacts Data Privacy

Paper by Aline Blankertz: “A small number of large digital platforms increasingly shape the space for most online interactions around the globe and they often act with hardly any constraint from competing services. The lack of competition puts those platforms in a powerful position that may allow them to exploit consumers and offer them limited choice. Privacy is increasingly considered one area in which the lack of competition may create harm. Because of these concerns, governments and other institutions are developing proposals to expand the scope for competition authorities to intervene to limit the power of the large platforms and to revive competition.  

The first case that has explicitly addressed anticompetitive harm to privacy is the German Bundeskartellamt’s case against Facebook in which the authority argues that imposing bad privacy terms can amount to an abuse of dominance. Since that case started in 2016, more cases deal with the link between competition and privacy. For example, the proposed Google/Fitbit merger has raised concerns about sensitive health data being merged with existing Google profiles and Apple is under scrutiny for not sharing certain personal data while using it for its own services.

However, addressing bad privacy outcomes through competition policy is effective only if those outcomes are caused, at least partly, by a lack of competition. Six distinct mechanisms can be distinguished through which competition may affect privacy, as summarized in Table 1. These mechanisms constitute different hypotheses through which less competition may influence privacy outcomes and lead either to worse privacy in different ways (mechanisms 1-5) or even better privacy (mechanism 6). The table also summarizes the available evidence on whether and to what extent the hypothesized effects are present in actual markets….(More)”.