Noshir Contractor elected president of ICA

WST Trustee and Web Science researcher Prof Noshir  Contractor has been elected as next president of the prestigious ICA ( International  Communications Association

Click here to see the details of the election.

About Noshir

Noshir S. Contractor is a Jane S. & William J. White Professor of Behavioral Sciences in the School of Engineering, School of Communication and the Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University, USA. He is the director of Sonic Lab and a Trustee of the Web Science Trust.

About the ICA

(from current presidents introduction)

ICA started 70 years ago as a small organization of U.S.-based researchers. It has expanded to boast more than 6000 members in over 80 countries. Since 2003, we have been officially associated with the United Nations as a nongovernmental organization (NGO).

We publish five internationally renowned, peer-reviewed journals: Communication, Culture, and Critique (CCC), Communication Theory (CT), Human Communication Research (HCR), Journal of Communication (JoC), and the Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication (JCMC). Journal of Communication is the world’s top ranked communications journal on SCIMAGO, and Communication Theory is ranked #5. 

WSTNet Lab Profile: RPI

RPI (the Renssellaer Polytechnic Institute) is based in Troy, New York state comprising 30 research centres and over 750 PhD students. These research teams are engaged in projects worth over $100 million.   

RPI’s Center for Computational Innovations (CCI) is home to one of the most powerful (eight petaflop) supercomputers on the November 2019 Top 500 ranking of supercomputers (named AiMOS – Artificial Intelligence Multiprocessing Optimized System – in honor of Rensselaer co-founder Amos Eaton).

RPI is making AiMOS available (in partnership with IBM, academic institutions, and national labs) as well as access to the expertise of world-class faculty in data, artificial intelligence, networking, therapeutic interventions, materials, public health, and other areas necessary to understand and address the threat of COVID-19.

RPI hosts the Tetherless World Constellation (TWC) which is an active WSTNet laboratory associated with the Web Science community.

 

Deborah McGuinness is a professor in the computer science and cognitive science departments and the director of the Web Science Research Center at Rensselaer. She is a leading expert on knowledge representation and reasoning languages, ontology creation and evolution environments, and provenance.  

 

She is a long-time friend and supporter of Web Science and best known for her research on the Semantic Web and in bridging artificial intelligence and eScience. An extension of the World Wide Web, the Semantic Web allows computers and other electronics and robotics to communicate and interact without requiring human intervention. The Semantic Web uses information encoded in Web ontology languages to allow computers to “talk” to and understand one another. She is a professor and Lab director at the Tetherless World Constellation 

McGuinness’ work on ontology languages and semantic environments opens the Semantic Web to a broader user base and enables semantic applications to proliferate. McGuinness is one of the founders of an emerging area of semantic eScience—introducing encoded meaning or semantics to virtual science environments. Within this intersection of artificial intelligence and eScience, McGuinness is engaged in using semantic technologies in a range of health and environmental applications.

She has published more than 200 papers on semantic eScience, data science, knowledge-based systems, ontology environments, configuration, search technology, and intelligent applications, and holds five patents. She recently won the Robert Engelmore Memorial Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence Award for leadership in Semantic Web research and in bridging artificial intelligence and eScience, as well as significant contributions to deployed artificial intelligence applications.

McGuinness earned a bachelor’s degree in computer science and in mathematics from Duke University, a master’s degree in computer science and electrical engineering from the University of California at Berkeley, and a doctoral degree in knowledge representation from Rutgers University.

Click here to see TWC’s WSTnet Page
Click here to visit the RPI website

 

New Book by Phil Howard OII WSTNet Lab Director

Lie Machines: How to Save Democracy from Troll Armies, Deceitful Robots, Junk News Operations, and Political Operatives

Philip N. Howard is director of the Oxford Internet Institute and the author of nine books, including Pax Technica: How the Internet of Things May Set Us Free or Lock Us Up, which was praised in the Financial Times as “timely and important.” He is a frequent commentator on the impact of technology on political life, contributing to the New York Times, Financial Times, and other media outlets.

  •  
Format:
Hardback
Publication date:
23 Jun 2020
ISBN:
9780300250206
Imprint:
Yale University Press
Dimensions:
240 pages: 216 x 140 x 22mm

Read more at Yale Books

Dame Wendy Hall appointed to Ada Lovelace Institute

We are delighted to announce the appointment of Professor Dame Wendy Hall as Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute.

Dame Wendy Hall DBE, FRS, FREng is one of the world’s foremost computer scientists and plays a leading role in shaping science and engineering policy and education in the UK and internationally. She is the UK’s first AI Skills Champion and Regius Professor of Computer Science at the University of Southampton, where she is also Executive Director of the Web Science Institute.

Dame Wendy was appointed by the Nuffield Foundation – the independent funder of the Ada Lovelace Institute – following an open recruitment process. Her three-year term as Chair will begin on 1 June 2020, succeeding Sir Alan Wilson, who retired as Executive Chair in February having led the Institute’s development phase.

Dame Wendy co-Chaired the UK government’s AI Review, published in 2017, and is a member of the AI Council, an independent expert committee providing advice to government and high-level leadership of the AI ecosystem in the UK. She is also Executive Director of the Web Science Trust, which has a global mission to support the development of research, education and thought leadership in Web Science.

During her distinguished career, Dame Wendy has been President of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the British Computer Society, Senior Vice President of the Royal Academy of Engineering, and a member of the UK Prime Minister’s Council for Science and Technology. She was a founding member of the European Research Council and Chaired the European Commission’s IST Advisory Group from 2010-2012. Her previous international roles include membership of the Global Commission on Internet Governance and the World Economic Forum’s Global Futures Council on the Digital Economy.

Sir Keith Burnett, Chair of the Nuffield Foundation said: ‘Dame Wendy Hall is one of the most influential scientists in the UK and the Nuffield Foundation is delighted to appoint her Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute. Dame Wendy’s research has been a driving force in the development of her discipline, and through her senior leadership and advisory roles she has shaped science and technology policy both in the UK and internationally.

‘The Ada Lovelace Institute, although a relatively new organisation, is already providing a much-needed independent, evidence-led voice in the public debate on how data and AI should be used in the interests of people and society – most recently in relation to the use of technology in the public health response to the COVID-19 crisis. With Dame Wendy as Chair, I have every confidence the Institute will continue to make progress towards its goal of ensuring the benefits of data and AI are justly and equitably distributed.’

Dame Wendy Hall said: ‘I am very excited to be offered the opportunity to become Chair of the Ada Lovelace Institute. I have been very impressed with what the Institute has achieved since its inception and the commitment of the Nuffield Foundation to its development. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to work with Carly Kind and her team to help ensure the Institute continues to make a significant impact in the world of AI and data ethics by taking an evidence-led approach to the development of policy and practice in this area, which is something I am passionate about.’

Carly Kind, Director of the Ada Lovelace Institute said: ‘Dame Wendy brings to the Ada Lovelace Institute not only her expertise in computer science, but also her pioneering insights into the sociotechnical nature of AI and data-driven systems – a perspective that is critical to the Ada Lovelace Institute’s approach to policy and practice. We are honoured that Dame Wendy will lead our already august Board, deepening the Institute’s expertise in data science and building connections across academia, government and industry.’

About the Ada Lovelace Institute
The 
Ada Lovelace Institute is a research institute and deliberative body dedicated to ensuring that data and AI work for people and society. In addition to its ongoing work programmes, the Ada Lovelace Institute is currently undertaking research projects to help inform understanding of the COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on data and AI. Last month it published a rapid evidence review, Exit through the App Store?, to inform how the Government and the NHS adopts technical solutions to aid in the transition from the COVID-19 crisis.

WSTnet Lab Profile: Inria

Inria is the French national research institute for digital science and technology. World-leading research and technological innovation are an integral part of its DNA. Inria’s 3,500 researchers and engineers put their passion for digital technology to work in nearly 200 project teams, most of which are joint teams with our academic partners, including major research universities and the CNRS. They explore new fields, often in collaboration with different disciplines and industrial partners, with the aim of meeting ambitious challenges.

As a technology institute, Inria supports the development of numerous software products, sometimes making a global impact via the open source model. Because technology start-ups are powerful channels for research outcomes, Inria also supports entrepreneurial risk-taking and start-up creation (Deeptech). Firmly established on major university campuses and in industrial ecosystems, the Institute is at the heart of the digital revolution.

Our role is to further the progress of risky, ambitious projects in the fields of science and digital technology: Inria enables researchers and innovators to nurture either scientific or entrepreneurial projects, before helping to move them forward.

Our responsibility is to create value on a large scale both for society and for the economy , helping to boost France’s appeal and standing.

Inria is a place for scientific vitality, where research is organized based on agile project team model. Its mission is to accelerate, through digital research and innovation, the construction of France’s scientific, technological and industrial leadership in European dynamics.

 Today Inria has 3 500 Researchers & Engineers working in 200 Project Teams located in 9 research centers at the heart of major research universities in France. Inria also had 93 international associated teams active in 2019 with academic institutions from other countries. 

 

Fabien Gandon is a Research Director and Senior Researcher at Inria, France.

Fabien’s PhD in 2002 pioneered the joint use of distributed artificial intelligence (AI) and semantic Web to manage a variety of data sources and users above a Web architecture. Then, as a research project leader at Carnegie Mellon University (USA), he proposed AI methods to enforce privacy preferences in querying and reasoning about personal data. In 2004, recruited as a researcher at Inria, he started to study models and algorithms to integrate social media and knowledge based AI systems on the Web while keeping humans in the loop. In 2012 he became the representative of Inria at W3C and founded Wimmics, a joint research team on bridging social and formal semantics on the Web with AI methods. In 2017 he established and became the director of the joint research laboratory between Inria the QWANT search engine.

Fabien remarked :

“In Web Science, we should build our research program as a joint effort with two research fields born in the 50s: “AI” for Artificial Intelligence and “IA” for Intelligence Amplification and Intelligence Augmentation. The Web Science research agenda must account for the fact that the long term potential of the Web is to augment and link all forms of intelligence.”

The same year he also became responsible for the research convention between the Ministry of Culture and Inria with a special interest for cultural data and applications. In 2018 Fabien became Vice Head of Science for the research center of Inria Sophia Antipolis – Méditerranée. Over the years and since 2002, Fabien also never stopped teaching Semantic Web and Linked data, and he authored several MOOCs on the topic.

Many research topics at Inria have a direct impact on the Web: Data and knowledge representation and processing; Networks and Telecommunications; Optimization, Learning, and Statistical Methods; Interaction and visualization; Security and Confidentiality; etc. And Inria researchers are internationally recognized and, for instance, Inria received 56 ERC grants since 2007.

Inria has driven digital innovation and research in France and in Europe for over 50 years. Set up to act as a bridge between the academic world and industry, straddling new frontiers in digital research, a pioneer in pushing through new disciplines with their roots in applied mathematics and IT, a pioneer in supporting the dynamism of tech start-ups both in France and across Europe, the Institute has been a visionary and a trailblazer in a range of different fields (computational science, the Internet, the Web). For instance, in 1995, Inria was selected by MIT as a partner within the W3C (World Wide Web Consortium), which is responsible for standardizing web technology, becoming leader of the European hub. Today, Inria continues to support the digital transformation of science, the economy and society as a whole: Inria created 170 startups since 1984 75% of which are in operation or acquired. More than ever, “software is taking over the world”, giving scientists new challenges, opening up new opportunities for tech entrepreneurs, and making it more important than ever to enter into dialogue with society to “make sense of the digital world”. More than ever, Inria is supporting those taking scientific and entrepreneurial risks and research with the biggest possible impact.

Click here to visit the Inria website

 

WSTnet Student Profile: Simon Jonsson

Simon is completing his second year at the Web Science Institute (WSI) at Southampton where he is working towards a PhD in Web Science on “Increasing engagement and learning performance in educational apps”.


We spoke to Simon about his interest in enhanced learning techniques and how he hopes to contribute towards improved learning experiences at a time when many are relying so heavily on remote and on-line learning approaches. 

Q. Simon tell us about your research topic

A. Well the research is concerned with the design of approaches/elements which increase both the enjoyment and efficiency of the e-learning experience through the creation of a state of “flow”. When we are in state of flow we are typically less distracted, more receptive to the content/material and typically report enjoying the experience more than when not in flow.

Q. Are you looking to make learning more enagaging/enjoyable through gamification?

A. Well thats just the point. Gamification appears to be partly distracting: drawing attention to another aspect of the experience rather than focussing on the experience itself so users are enjoying the gamerather than enjoying the learning. This can be reflected in the speed and depth of learning and ties the sucess of the learning to the sucess of the gamified elements.

Q. How are you testing your approach?

A. Whilst the final approach can be expanded to many factors and combinations I have started in the pilot phase with a simple A/B matrix in which four groups are exposed (or not) to a learning design feature giving rise to AB, A’B, AB’, A’B’ (A and B, NOT A and B, A and NOT B, NOT A and NOT B).

We then test the participants for the length and regularity of engagement and adminisiter tests around the learning and retention. In this way we have a simple model to evaluate the impact of a single feature or feature combination on engagement and performance.

The first phase has used local volunteers whilst the main study will involve releasing the app to the Google Play store to recuit a much larger number of participants.

Q. Have any of the results or insights surprised you so far?

A. One thing which did surprise me was the existence of a large body of education/learning theory which does not seem to be used or implemented in practice. For example, spaced learning was a theory put forward by Ebbinghaus in 1885 and which even today is not always implemented in learning apps.

Q. How will your research continue?

A. Once we have results from a wider Google Play experiment (based on Spanish Language learning) we will review applying any insights to other areas of learning and app design.

 



Q.  Have any aspects of Web Science been useful here?

A. The most significant aspect of Web Science has been the interdisciplinarity – the opportunity to work with aspects of education coming from a background in Maths and Psychology. That interdisciplinarity is so important.

Good luck with the rest of your research and thanks for taking part.