Launching Future World Challenge

A participant writes ..

I was thrilled to be able to participate in the Future Worlds Challenge. On the very first day, I was nervous and excited because I did not know what to expect, but the cheerful and helpful Teachers put me at ease immediately and I was able to follow the class easily and learn the code.

It was super interesting and I was so excited for the next class that I was not able to sleep that night! The next day, we were able to do group work! I was put together with 2 other students from the US (while I live in Singapore) with whom I was able to get along very easily. They were very co-operative and we were able to share ideas about the future with each other with ease.

Thinking about the future has also been really interesting, to be honest here, we should be thinking about the future much more that we do.

The Teachers would always be there for any questions that we would have that helped us a lot.

We collaboratively worked hard on the presentation and did well with it.

Key learnings that I can takeaway from this workshop are:


  1. teamwork helps greatly brainstorming of diverse ideas and facilitates finding solutions
  2. some solutions will not require technology but others will and coding using Alexa will be very helpful for those.

This workshop is a great beginning and I am looking forward to more interesting and amazing workshops and classes focusing on problem solving and finding solutions to make the world a better place for us and generations to come in the near future.

It was one of the most amazing workshops that I have attended ever and I would 100% recommend it to anyone else looking to improve their coding and have thought provoking sessions about the Future!

These are the words of Lara, one of the winners of our first Future Worlds Challenge held over the last two weekends of November, 2021.

After years of development and planning we finally launched this event which was conceived as a result of the first Brave Conversations and our commitment to work with young people to help them better develop a Web Science way of thinking about the technologies they use every day.

This first iteration of Future Worlds Challenge was framed around partnering with the Web Science Lab at MIT, specifically the MIT App Inventor team led by PhD Researcher Jessica Van Brummelen. From the outset we determined to work with young people from around the globe aged between 11 – 17 (together with their parents) and craft an experience which aimed at the maximum possible learning for the kids whilst also actively informing and contributing to the MIT Research.

UTW Episode 30: David Lazer

Using the Web to Study the Web

Our guest for this episode is David Lazer, a Professor of Political Science and Computer and Information Science at Northeastern University. David is among the leading scholars in the world on misinformation, and he has also researched how we can use the web as a tool to improve our political system. He co-wrote the book Politics with the People: Building Directly Representative Democracy, which was published in 2018 by Cambridge University Press. 

In this episode, David talks about the potential for members of Congress to meet online with voters. He also discusses an online platform he helped to design called Volunteer Science, which houses a large pool of remote volunteers and lowers the startup costs of running experiments for researchers. Finally, he talks about his research on social media and big tech’s algorithms and misinformation on the web – and a recent grant from the National Science Foundation that will fund some of this work. 


ICO Fines Cabinet Office for data security breach

The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued the Cabinet Office with a £500,000 fine over a data breach that disclosed the personal details of more than 1,000 people listed for 2020’s New Year Honours. The ICO said its investigation into the breach revealed that the Cabinet Office had failed to put proper technical and organisational measures in place to prevent disclosure of personal information in breach of UK’s data protection law.

Insurers cut cover amid growth of Ransomware incidents

Computing reports Insurance firms are worried about profits as ransomware gangs become more sophisticated.

Whilst previousy insurance companies  typically cooperated with  customers (and with Cybercriminls) to cover losses, cyber attacks have risen in number and sophistication which is forcing insurance companies to cut the amount of cover they provide to customers. Insurers have increased premiums, cut policy coverage and may even adopt an adversarial vs a co-operative response to ransomware claims.

“Insurers are changing their appetites, limits, coverage and pricing,” Caspar Stops, head of cyber at insurance firm Optio, told Reuters … Limits [the upper amount paid in a claim] have halved – where people were offering £10 million ($13.5 million), nearly everyone has reduced to five.”

American cyber insurance firm CNA Financial allegedly paid hackers $40 million (£30 million) to decrypt its data and restore systems, following a ransomware attack in March.
In June, meat processing giant JBS confirmed it paid $11 million (£8.2 million) to the REvil ransomware gang, which locked its systems at the end of May.
Insurers say some attackers may specifically check whether potential victims have policies that would make them more likely to pay a ransom.

One industry insider said a tech firm that previously paid £250,000 for £130 million of professional indemnity and cyber cover  is now paying £500,000 for a cover of £55 million.

The main advice from the FBI in the US is not to pay, and instead report the incident as early as possible. The agency also warned that paying ransoms only funds criminals’ efforts.


The post Insurers cut cover amid growth of Ransomware incidents appeared first on Web Science Trust.

New Book: Perspectives on Digital Humanism

This new book collects a series of pieces by leading authors in the field of Digital Humanism including our own WST Trustee George Metakeides as well as WSTNet Lab Directors Hans Akkermans and Mannfred Hauswirth.

The book: 

Aims to set an agenda for research and action in the emerging field of Digital Humanism

Contains short essays by selected thinkers from computer science, law, humanities and social sciences

Covers the complex interplay of technology and humankind to ensure the full respect of universal human rights

It is available to purchase in hardback, paperback or as free download in PDF or EPUB format.

Edited by

Hannes Werthner

Erich Prem

Edward A. Lee

Carlo Ghezzi

and published by Springer

The post New Book: Perspectives on Digital Humanism appeared first on Web Science Trust.

Potential £17m Fine for Facial Recognition Firm

The BBC reports that ClearView, an Australian firm selling access to a database of more than 10 billion facial images, is facing a potential £17m fine in thge UK over its handling of UK personal data.

The Information Commissioner’s Office said “it had significant concerns about Clearview AI”, whose facial recognition software is used by police forces and ClearView has been instructed to stop processing UK personal data and delete any it has. Clearview itself disputes the UK regulator’s claims desxcribing them as “factually and legally incorrect” and is considering further action in light of the UK allegations though it has already lost and is appealing a similar case in Australia. The UK decision is provisional and the ICO said any representations by Clearview AI will be carefully considered before a final ruling is made in the middle of next year. 

Whilst the ClearView’s  service to police is described as resembling a “Google search for faces” the UK’s Information Commissioner said that Clearview’s database was likely to include “a substantial number of people from the UK” whose data may have been gathered without people’s knowledge.

The firm’s services are understood to have been trialled by a number of UK law enforcement agencies, but that was discontinued and Clearview AI does not have any UK customers. 

Earlier this year Facebook announced that it would no longer use facial recognition software to identify faces in photographs and videos marking a more cautious view by some social media companies whilst others continue to gather facial recognition data (for now).