How the internet is helping us to trust strangers

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After the global bank crisis in 2008, we stopped trusting banks and our mortgage brokers. Trust levels were on an all-time low. The choice for Trump over Hillary was not as much about the best leader, but about the most trustworthy one. Britain choosing to exit the European Union just to get back to their own safe and trusted rules on their island is just another example of how trust in governments and governmental bodies like the EU has shrunk.

As people are less related to a single group and more independent individuals the trust issue with corporate bank ans governments seems a bigger problem then ever. A problem because trust is a fundamental attribute of a functioning society. Paradoxically we are getting some of the trust back through the same way we learned not to trust everybody: The internet.

The internet is connecting people with information that only a decade ago was pretty much unavailable. Looking at platforms like Airbnb, Couchsurfing, and Blablacar it becomes apparent that trust is maybe even more present today then it was some 20 years ago. The internet has given everybody the option to be a critique. Being anonymous stands at the core of this growing population of criticizers. What the before mentioned platforms are doing however is the opposite. Everything is rated by your peers. Where you a nice host? Was the apartment as expected? Did you leave the a very messy apartment? All these possible questions are going to make a difference in the reviews. Offering some sort of social control that was typically reserved for small villages. This social control enables us to trust people we did not know before and make the era of global citizens an era of renewed trust. Imagine the affect it would have if we could make this type of trust available on the biggest scale and get everybody to join. What a world it would be.

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Getting Informed through Facebook: A Risk

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Through its massive proportions, Facebook has become an important outlet for news and media. Lots of people get their daily updates of what happens around the world from what is being liked and shared on Facebook. However, this phenomenon has given rise to so-called “fake news”. The terminology leaves nothing to the imagination. These posts entail completely made-up stories, often tailoring to populistic topics in order to generate the most amount of views.  The problem became especially prevalent during the recent elections in the United States; an array of misinformation proliferated across social media, giving skewed, or down-right wrong, impressions of events and statements. Facebook has acknowledged the problem, and is working on a solution.


Users have noticed a new feature to appear on their Facebook webpage. Under a shared article, a Likert scale is provided (The Guardian, 2016). This scale asks the user whether or not the article withholds any important information of the article, rated from “Not at all” to “Completely”. With this feature, articles can be given a rating of validity. Users can then base their trust of the truthfulness of the article on that rating.


Independent initiatives to battle fake news are also going online. BS Detector is a plugin for web-browsers that checks the source of an article against a database of known fake news sources. If an article is recognized as originating from a blacklisted site, the plugin will insert a red banner over the article with a warning of the potential of misinformation.


Despite actions currently undertaken, fake news will still be found in abundance on social media. We must all still rely on our own judgement of the reliability and validity of a news article being shared on Facebook. Technology has allowed us all to reach each other. It is up to us to be our own BS detector, and not believe anything shared on Facebook without second thought.



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CIOs and their route to ‘executive mastery’

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What we all share among BIM students is a passion for technology, and the belief that digital transformation is THE leverage for companies to gain a strategic advantage and win over competitors. Most of us plan to bring new ideas and tools into big organization and lead the change that will make them more data-driven or tech-focused. Some of us hope to become CIOs in the future, and manage the IT projects of a company. Then, for those who may be interested to enlarge their career scope and wish to become CEOs: is there any correlation between CIOs and CEOs?

Unfortunately, a recent article from Financial Times (listed in the references) points out that “despite the need for technological know-how at the top of organisations, there is no great trend of chief information officers becoming chief executives”. Truth is that many Chief Information Officers do not even aspire to become CEOs. However, those who have the ambition, may not have the experience needed to succeed. A tip is for CIOs to get a job into young “disrupter” companies that heavily rely on technology to deliver their products. Another advice is to critically assess the importance of technology in the organization: is it considered as a strategic asset? Does the CIO get to seat at the table of the board and executive management team meetings? If the answer is no, then the CIO will never be in the running for the top spot in that company.

Still, several success cases are presented that give hope to digital-enthusiast CEO-wannabes: Anthony Watson, former CIO for the retail banking arm of Barclays and then Nike, is now leading a blockchain-focused startup; Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen, former CIO and now CEO of pharma company Novo Nordisk; or Janie Miller, CEO of GE Transportation. However, what they all have in common is a diversified background: some finance, accounting, supply chain, etc., before moving to CIO positions. Broad experience and a great record across a range of disciplines is what sets apart those CIOs who do make it to the top.


Financial Times:

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FIFA 17 in Real Life: How Nerds Are Taking Over Football

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When I play FIFA I always take a look at the numerous statistics about my players. Wouldn’t it be great if football managers in real life have these statistics and functionalities? Football is one of the most conservative sports, which is strange since it is the most popular sport in the world. A Dutch company called SciSports is trying to change this as they are introducing new technologies to football clubs.

SciSports is founded by Giels Brouwer, an alumni of the University of Twente. One of their most successful systems is BallJames. BallJames can be described as an MRI-scanner which scans the field during a match. It consists of fourteen cameras which observe all twenty-two players (and the ball, of course). A computer is analysing all kind of data, for example speed of headers, shots (on goal) and distance covered. BallJames is making use of ‘voxels’ which are 3D-pixels. A football match can generate up to 60 terabytes of data, but that’s just one part of the story. The next step is to come up with recommendations which can help managers. The data analysts of SciSports can help with this, the bigger clubs like Manchester City have their own data team, but smaller clubs don’t have these resources.

SciSports is growing rapidly, they raised 1.35 million euros which they are going to invest in BallJames. Clubs which are using BallJames are Heracles Almelo, PSV and Vitesse. There is an increasing number of ‘laptop-coaches’, a famous example is Pep Guardiola which is extensively using data to improve trainings and the performance of players. But BallJames is not only useful for football clubs, it can also be used at sports like rugby or even crowd-control on airports. I think that every professional club needs such a system in the future, because it can give them some interesting insights.


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Internet connected toys suspected of spying on kids

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Privacy is becoming an issue for the internet of things topic. However, a more unexpected field are internet connected toys. Over 18 privacy groups have been or are filing complaints with the European Union as well as the US Federal Trade Commission concerning Genesis Toys and speech recognition company Nuance for deceptive practices and violating of privacy laws. It is argued that i-Que and My Friend Carla, both pictured, do not only capture voices without notice or approval, it is also not clear what Nuance does with the information that is sent. As an added problem, the organizations are also accusing the companies of not making sure that other Bluetooth connected devices cannot access the toys. Evermore, if not properly managed the speech information that is recorded and sent to nuance could be sold to third parties. There is even another problem that hackers could gain access to these products and the microphones in those devices. Future scenarios could even go as far as “predatory stalking and physical danger”. All in all concerns are plenty, and stakes are high. However, chances are that speech recognition is going to be used more and more in future toys, especially in dolls.

It is unsure yet whether and to what extend the European Union and the US Federal Trade Commission are going to do something about these practices in themselves. It is extra complicated as these products are marketed to kids, who are obviously less able or responsible to manage privacy concerns themselves.

I am curious about how you think about these toys developments. Do you think we should ban them or develop rules? Then again, if we develop rules, how can we enforce them? And in the case of hacking, how should we manage the security of such hardware and the software behind it? Please comment below.

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Microsoft predicts that the search bar will disappear by 2027

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As future business architects or consultants, a disappearance of the search bar would have a major influence on your job and the company you will work for. Questions you would have to ask yourself as soon as you get such jobs would be: How does the role of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) change? How to restructure a company for that future? What will be important instead?

You better already start thinking about this. Microsoft predicts that the search bar will disappear by as soon as 2027. It is fueled by 17 opinions of Microsoft employees, which you can find here:

In 2017 deep learning in information retrieval will already be matured, according to one of their scientists. Over the last years there have been breakthroughs in speech and image recognition and natural language recognition, which already fuels the capabilities of search. But in 2027 it will make for real change. Search will become more “ubiquitous, embedded, and contextually sensitive.” Next to that it will be even more relevant to “current location, content, entities, and activities”, replacing the limited output design of a search bar and website. It is argued that we are seeing the beginnings of that now happening in homes, with devices that answer to spoken queries such as Google Home and Amazon’s Alexa. The capabilities and smartness of those devices will increase along the way adding for example video capabilities and becoming better in their own context at home.


All in all the way we will consume and create information will completely change. What do you think will be the most important technology changes to fuel this transformation? How fast do you think this transformation will happen? How do you think it will impact Search Engine Optimization?

Please comment below with your ideas.



17 for ’17: Microsoft researchers on what to expect in 2017 and 2027


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AI and Us

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In our day to day live we experience that our smartphones have some artificial intelligence (AI) embedded in the form of a personal assistant. This assistant, be it Siri or Google Now, can perform tasks that include looking up and then presenting information verbally. Other features include being able to dictate a text message or creating a calendar entry.

Sci-Fi movies gave us the idea of being able to talk to an AI like we would talk to a real person. The AI’s in the movies, however, have the processing power and memory of a server farm (or even quantum computers) at their disposal.

To create an AI that we regard as intelligent, we have to consider what we consider intelligent behavior. Since we want to create an AI that matches our intellect, we should look at the most intelligent species we know, humans. Humans are particularly good at recognizing patterns. We can train to recognize certain shapes faster, e.g. in mathematics or even art. Computers, however, must be taught to categorize patterns according to what we teach them.
Teaching the computer these patterns to imitate the capabilities of the human brain, is called deep learning and thus creating an AI.

Now that we know what the goal is, what does that mean for businesses? Is AI important to be a part of the digital mastery?

Certainly, companies like Facebook or Google are working on this technology with remarkable results in image and speech recognition.

Other markets are also following the trend of having an intelligent bot at your side, for tasks that seem too complicated or intensive for us.

One sector that follows mathematical rules and where the lifeblood is what a computer knows to work with are financial systems and the tremendous amount of data they process daily. So far they are mainly used to serve customers, much like a sophisticated chatbot (e.g. SEB in Sweden, Royal Bank of Scotland) that answers the questions of customers. Paypal uses the technology to categorize types of fraud, while in Korea an AI delivered a 2 percent return on invested funds. In the automotive industry, we are starting to have very sophisticated autopilots. Assembly lines are more and more staffed with robots that are faster and more reliable than human staff. The possibilities to implement a powerful AI seem endless.

But what about the other side of the coin? How far do we go when we are not limited by processing power or other resources anymore? Why do leaders in their field such as Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and even Stephen Hawking warn about AI? What does that mean for the concept of “business”?

Recommended readings:

Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk, and Bill Gates Warn About Artificial Intelligence

The fear index by Robert Harris

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Social media is decreasing productivity

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The fact that everything is becoming digital and that we might call this a digital revolution is hardly deniable. Logically, you would expect that through all these current technological developments, the productivity per employee should increase. However, the opposite seems to be true. Productivity is barely increasing or is even decreasing. But why?

Economists are still in doubt and researching this phenomenon, but maybe the reason is simple; digitization is just not leading to higher efficiency. According to Tony Crabbe the continuous checking of emails is leading to a major disturbance in the production process and it also leads to an increase of the stress level. He states that employees should only check their mailbox once a day.

Social media as a company
In the end, Twitter and Facebook also want to make money next to offering a service. Thus they are focused on making as much money as possible through our contributions. Calvin Newport, professor of cultural sciences, argues that social media do not only have a devastating effect on society and politics, but also on the economy. Social media makes employees addicted to excitement, therefore they get easily distracted and they will find it increasingly difficult to concentrate on their work. Instead of achieving goals, employees are continuously convincing the world how important they are, where they are and what cool things they do.

Social media as connector
The counter argument that social media works as a connector, it brings people together and makes communication easier and quicker is getting weaker and weaker. Communication is getting less personal and also the influence of the social media platforms being companies is noticeable in them forcing you to get more friends on Facebook, post more Tweets or keep writing blogs. Additionally, it is said that being active on social media is important for finding a job. You will become a brand and the more positive your brand is, the more employers will be interested in hiring you. Nonsense, according to Newport. People need to be original and distinguish themselves by NOT being active on social media. He states that in a capitalistic economy the market will reward those who are rare and therefore valuable.

All in all, people shouldn’t let themselves be leaded by the social media companies. They should just be their original self and not put so much time in updating their timelines causing more and more distraction. Other causes for the decrease in productivity are for instance the fact that the population (in the Netherlands) is aging and low investments. Social media can now be added to that list as it went from accelerator to brake for the digital economy.


de Waard, P. (2016). Zijn sociale media rem op productiviteit?. [online] Available at: [Accessed 4 Dec. 2016].

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Blogging: An opportunity to make your small business a success

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In todays interconnected world people aren’t just buying products based on flashy advertisements or written down selling pitches in web shops. With the almighty internet available they are looking for true and valuable information about different products before making a purchase. That’s why it is very important for entrepreneurs to offer relevant information that people want to consume and pave the way to finding that information without annoying advertisements blocking the way.

However, to make the blog of your business successful you have to think about a couple of things. First you must understand that you have to give something to get something. Customers want information so make sure that you give them information on a regularly basis. The entrepreneur should blog when he can and about different things such as how the company is doing business and why the entrepreneur is doing it. The small business value proposition is often based on a personal story and drive that a bigger business usually does not have. Personalise stories about your business success.  In this way people get to know the person behind the web shop and people following the blog will be aware of your products and services. Your brand will be strong in their minds and they can share it with other people.

Another reason for starting a blog is the pagerank of your site in search engines. This ranking is becoming more and more important as people are increasingly turning to the internet to get information and making purchases based on that. Search engines put written content through their algorithms to decide the ranking of your site. If your blog contains proper grammar, spelling or if visitors like, share or comment on your articles the ranking of your whole site will go up. To get extra attention for your web shop it is clever to think about what potential customers want to know and which words and phrases they would search with to find that information. This words and phrases should be also used in your blogs, creating a higher relevancy match and more traffic on your site. This means more people will find your website with your products and services!

The most important thing to remember is that potential customers are searching for information. The more information you add to your website, the more customers you will attract. Best of all, the blog articles of today will still attract customers years from now. Blogging is the gift that keeps giving!





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Deep learning: the new edge of machine learning

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Machine learning has reached a new frontier in technology: deep learning, which is an algorithm inspired by how the human brain works. It is a new way to predict the future and makes machine learning closer to Artificial Intelligence. From a technical perspective, a lot could be discussed to understand the architecture and engineering of deep learning. However, this article aims to describe some applications which rely on this new algorithm.

This new technology arose few years ago, and many tech companies have already made big investments in it to improve some of their products, as self-driving cars. Deep learning is mainly about making better representations and creating models from large-scale unlabeled data: in simple terms, it relies on creating patterns of objects and classifying them based on common features. So far, the most relevant application that deploys deep learning techniques is image recognition.


Image recognition in our daily activities

As of 2012, deep learning allowed computers to recognize traffic signs twice as good as humans. Google made several experiments with it, and was able to map every single location in France in two hours. Facial recognition is also based on this approach: when Facebook is suggesting to tag specific people in the photos that you post, deep learning algorithms are in action. This is completely different from what happens with Google image searches: it is not anymore about grouping pictures based on the text that describe them on a website. It is about actually recognizing the objects in the photo, and grouping photos based on the features characterizing them. Experiments have shown that, when people are asked which caption they prefer, those created by computers win over those by humans.


Image recognition in medicine

Deep learning is having the most disruptive impact in medical imaging. For instance, a company called Enlitic examines millions of images to automatically learn to identify a disease. They are able to generate a new diagnostic test in 15 minutes, and get 90% of classifications right. Recent research not only has made predictions better, but also could create new insights on science. A study from Stanford looked at cancer tissues under magnification and discovered that cells around the cancer are as important as those characterizing the cancer itself: this is the opposite of what pathologists have been told. Many similar discoveries are being done by people who do not even have a medical background, even though the results are potentially changing the world of health. Plenty of new collaborations between medical companies and data scientists will keep on rising, and they may help to build a better world.



TED talk for Enlitic:


Facial recognition:

Deep learning:

Deep learning:

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