Technologies of Speculation: The limits of knowledge in a data-driven society


Book by Sun-ha Hong: “What counts as knowledge in the age of big data and smart machines? In its pursuit of better knowledge, technology is reshaping what counts as knowledge in its own image – and demanding that the rest of us catch up to new machinic standards for what counts as suspicious, informed, employable. In the process, datafication often generates speculation as much as it does information. The push for algorithmic certainty sets loose an expansive array of incomplete archives, speculative judgments and simulated futures where technology meets enduring social and political problems.

Technologies of Speculation traces this technological manufacturing of speculation as knowledge. It shows how unprovable predictions, uncertain data and black-boxed systems are upgraded into the status of fact – with lasting consequences for criminal justice, public opinion, employability, and more. It tells the story of vast dragnet systems constructed to predict the next terrorist, and how familiar forms of prejudice seep into the data by the back door. In software placeholders like ‘Mohammed Badguy’, the fantasy of pure data collides with the old spectre of national purity. It tells the story of smart machines for ubiquitous and automated self-tracking, manufacturing knowledge that paradoxically lies beyond the human senses. Such data is increasingly being taken up by employers, insurers and courts of law, creating imperfect proxies through which my truth can be overruled.

The book situates ongoing controversies over AI and algorithms within a broader societal faith in objective truth and technological progress. It argues that even as datafication leverages this faith to establish its dominance, it is dismantling the longstanding link between knowledge and human reason, rational publics and free individuals. Technologies of Speculation thus emphasises the basic ethical problem underlying contemporary debates over privacy, surveillance and algorithmic bias: who, or what, has the right to the truth of who I am and what is good for me? If data promises objective knowledge, then we must ask in return: knowledge by and for whom, enabling what forms of life for the human subject?…(More)”.

For the Win


Revised and Updated Book by Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter on “The Power of Gamification and Game Thinking in Business, Education, Government, and Social Impact”: “For thousands of years, we’ve created things called games that tap the tremendous psychic power of fun. In a revised and updated edition of For the Win: The Power of Gamification and Game Thinking in Business, Education, Government, and Social Impact, authors Kevin Werbach and Dan Hunter argue that applying the lessons of gamification could change your business, the way you learn or teach, and even your life.

Werbach and Hunter explain how games can be used as a valuable tool to address serious pursuits like marketing, productivity enhancement, education, innovation, customer engagement, human resources, and sustainability. They reveal how, why, and when gamification works—and what not to do.

Discover the successes—and failures—of organizations that are using gamification:

  • How a South Korean company called Neofect is using gamification to help people recover from strokes;
  • How a tool called SuperBetter has demonstrated significant results treating depression, concussion symptoms, and the mental health harms of the COVID-19 pandemic through game thinking;
  • How the ride-hailing giant Uber once used gamification to influence their drivers to work longer hours than they otherwise wanted to, causing swift backlash.

The story of gamification isn’t fun and games by any means. It’s serious. When used carefully and thoughtfully, gamification produces great outcomes for users, in ways that are hard to replicate through other methods. Other times, companies misuse the “guided missile” of gamification to have people work and do things in ways that are against their self-interest.

This revised and updated edition incorporates the most prominent research findings to provide a comprehensive gamification playbook for the real world….(More)”.

Right/Wrong:How Technology Transforms Our Ethics


Book by Juan Enriquez: “Most people have a strong sense of right and wrong, and they aren’t shy about expressing their opinions. But when we take a polarizing stand on something we regard as an eternal truth, we often forget that ethics evolve over time. Many shifts in the right versus wrong pendulum are driven by advances in technology. Our great-grandparents might be shocked by in vitro fertilization; our great-grandchildren might be shocked by the messiness of pregnancy, childbirth, and unedited genes. In Right/Wrong, Juan Enriquez reflects on what happens to our ethics as technology makes the once unimaginable a commonplace occurrence.

Evolving technology changes ethics. Enriquez points out that, contrary to common wisdom, technology often enables more ethical behaviors. Technology challenges old beliefs and upends institutions that do not grow and change. With wit and compassion, Enriquez takes on a series of technology-influenced ethical dilemmas, from sexual liberation to climate change to the “immortality” of mistakes on social media. (“Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Google are electronic tattoos.”) He cautions us to judge those who “should have known better,” given today’s vantage point, with less fury and more compassion. We need a quality often absent in today’s charged debates: humility. Judge those in the past as we hope to be judged in the future….(More)”.

Millions, Billions, Zillions: Defending Yourself in a World of Too Many Numbers


Book by Brian W. Kernighan: “Numbers are often intimidating, confusing, and even deliberately deceptive—especially when they are really big. The media loves to report on millions, billions, and trillions, but frequently makes basic mistakes or presents such numbers in misleading ways. And misunderstanding numbers can have serious consequences, since they can deceive us in many of our most important decisions, including how to vote, what to buy, and whether to make a financial investment. In this short, accessible, enlightening, and entertaining book, leading computer scientist Brian Kernighan teaches anyone—even diehard math-phobes—how to demystify the numbers that assault us every day.

With examples drawn from a rich variety of sources, including journalism, advertising, and politics, Kernighan demonstrates how numbers can mislead and misrepresent. In chapters covering big numbers, units, dimensions, and more, he lays bare everything from deceptive graphs to speciously precise numbers. And he shows how anyone—using a few basic ideas and lots of shortcuts—can easily learn to recognize common mistakes, determine whether numbers are credible, and make their own sensible estimates when needed.

Giving you the simple tools you need to avoid being fooled by dubious numbers, Millions, Billions, Zillions is an essential survival guide for a world drowning in big—and often bad—data….(More)”.

How To Make The World Add Up


Book by Tim Harford: “…When was the last time you read a grand statement, accompanied by a large number, and wondered whether it could really be true? Statistics are vital in helping us tell stories – we see them in the papers, on social media, and we hear them used in everyday conversation – and yet we doubt them more than ever.

But numbers – in the right hands – have the power to change the world for the better. Contrary to popular belief, good statistics are not a trick, although they are a kind of magic. Good statistics are not smoke and mirrors; in fact, they help us see more clearly. Good statistics are like a telescope for an astronomer, a microscope for a bacteriologist, or an X-ray for a radiologist. If we are willing to let them, good statistics help us see things about the world around us and about ourselves – both large and small ­- that we would not be able to see in any other way.

In How to Make the World Add Up, Tim Harford draws on his experience as both an economist and presenter of the BBC’s radio show ‘More or Less’. He takes us deep into the world of disinformation and obfuscation, bad research and misplaced motivation to find those priceless jewels of data and analysis that make communicating with numbers worthwhile. Harford’s characters range from the art forger who conned the Nazis to the stripper who fell in love with the most powerful congressman in Washington, to famous data detectives such as John Maynard Keynes, Daniel Kahneman and Florence Nightingale. He reveals how we can evaluate the claims that surround us with confidence, curiosity and a healthy level of scepticism.

Using ten simple rules for understanding numbers – plus one golden rule – this extraordinarily insightful book shows how if we keep our wits about us, thinking carefully about the way numbers are sourced and presented, we can look around us and see with crystal clarity how the world adds up….(More)”.

The Reasonable Robot: Artificial Intelligence and the Law


Book by Ryan Abbott: “AI and people do not compete on a level-playing field. Self-driving vehicles may be safer than human drivers, but laws often penalize such technology. People may provide superior customer service, but businesses are automating to reduce their taxes. AI may innovate more effectively, but an antiquated legal framework constrains inventive AI. In The Reasonable Robot, Ryan Abbott argues that the law should not discriminate between AI and human behavior and proposes a new legal principle that will ultimately improve human well-being. This work should be read by anyone interested in the rapidly evolving relationship between AI and the law….(More)”.

Co-Production of Public Services and Outcomes


Book by Elke Loeffler: “This book examines user and community co-production of public services and outcomes, currently one of the most discussed topics in the field of public management and policy. It considers co-production in a wide range of public services, with particular emphasis on health, social care and community safety, illustrated through international case studies in many of the chapters. This book draws on both quantitative and qualitative empirical research studies on co-production, and on the Governance International database of more than 70 international co-production case studies, most of which have been republished by the OECD. Academically rigorous and systematically evidence-based, the book incorporates many insights which have arisen from the extensive range of research projects and executive training programmes in co-production undertaken by the author. Written in a style which is easy and enjoyable to read, the book gives readers, both academics and practitioners, the opportunity to develop a creative understanding of the essence and implications of co-production….(More)”.

Cyber Republic


Book by George Zarkadakis: “Around the world, liberal democracies are in crisis. Citizens have lost faith in their government; right-wing nationalist movements frame the political debate. At the same time, economic inequality is increasing dramatically; digital technologies have created a new class of super-rich entrepreneurs. Automation threatens to transform the free economy into a zero-sum game in which capital wins and labor loses. But is this digital dystopia inevitable? In Cyber Republic, George Zarkadakis presents an alternative, outlining a plan for using technology to make liberal democracies more inclusive and the digital economy more equitable. Cyber Republic is no less than a guide for the coming Fourth Industrial Revolution and the post-pandemic world.

Zarkadakis, an expert on technology and management, explains how artificial intelligence, together with intelligent robotics, sophisticated sensors, communication networks, and big data, will fundamentally reshape the global economy; a new “intelligent machine age” will force us to adopt new forms of economic and political organization. He envisions a future liberal democracy in which intelligent machines facilitate citizen assemblies, helping to extend citizen rights, and blockchains and cryptoeconomics enable new forms of democratic governance and business collaboration. Moreover, the same technologies can be applied to scientific research and technological innovation. We need not fear automation, Zarkadakis argues; in a post-work future, intelligent machines can collaborate with humans to achieve the human goals of inclusivity and equality….(More)”.

Predict and Surveil: Data, Discretion, and the Future of Policing


Book by Sarah Brayne: “The scope of criminal justice surveillance has expanded rapidly in recent decades. At the same time, the use of big data has spread across a range of fields, including finance, politics, healthcare, and marketing. While law enforcement’s use of big data is hotly contested, very little is known about how the police actually use it in daily operations and with what consequences.

In Predict and Surveil, Sarah Brayne offers an unprecedented, inside look at how police use big data and new surveillance technologies, leveraging on-the-ground fieldwork with one of the most technologically advanced law enforcement agencies in the world-the Los Angeles Police Department. Drawing on original interviews and ethnographic observations, Brayne examines the causes and consequences of algorithmic control. She reveals how the police use predictive analytics to deploy resources, identify suspects, and conduct investigations; how the adoption of big data analytics transforms police organizational practices; and how the police themselves respond to these new data-intensive practices. Although big data analytics holds potential to reduce bias and increase efficiency, Brayne argues that it also reproduces and deepens existing patterns of social inequality, threatens privacy, and challenges civil liberties.

A groundbreaking examination of the growing role of the private sector in public policing, this book challenges the way we think about the data-heavy supervision law enforcement increasingly imposes upon civilians in the name of objectivity, efficiency, and public safety….(More)”.

Exploring Urban Form Through Openstreetmap Data: A Visual Introduction


Chapter by Geoff Boeing in Book edited by Justin B. Hollander and Ann Sussman: “This chapter introduces OpenStreetMap—a crowd-sourced, worldwide mapping project and geospatial data repository—to illustrate its usefulness in quickly and easily analyzing and visualizing planning and design outcomes in the built environment. It demonstrates the OSMnx toolkit for automatically downloading, modeling, analyzing, and visualizing spatial big data from OpenStreetMap. We explore patterns and configurations in street networks and buildings around the world computationally through visualization methods—including figure-ground diagrams and polar histograms—that help compress urban complexity into comprehensible artifacts that reflect the human experience of the built environment. Ubiquitous urban data and computation can open up new urban form analyses from both quantitative and qualitative perspectives….(More)”.