Earn money by answering our surveys

Register now!
IntoTheMinds consulting blog
Advice in Data & IT
Artificial Intelligence : why we need respectful algorithms
Nov16

Artificial Intelligence : why we need respectful algorithms

Developments of artificial intelligence are a source of concern for several reasons. First of all AI threatens jobs, privacy and our perceived freedom. Second, 99,99% of the population doesn’t really understand what AI is and where it originates. In today’s post I’d like to raise the case of respectful Artificial Intelligence and explain why we need the way we conceive “intelligent” algorithms. Why do we...

Read More
Big Data : 4 types of filter bubbles
Nov14

Big Data : 4 types of filter bubbles

The question of the existence of filter bubbles (also called cognitive bubbles) is central to the fields of Big Data and algorithm design. Among different books, I was very much influenced by the Dominique Cardon’s book on algorithms and society. In this book entitled “What are algorithms dreaming of ?” Cardon proposes a framework based on four types of web measurements, each resting on a specified data type (see...

Read More
Big Data and Ethics : how recommendations work at Meetup.com
Oct17

Big Data and Ethics : how recommendations work at Meetup.com

There have been many interesting talks at the RecSys 2016 conference in Boston. Yet, the presentation given by Evan Estola of Meetup was especially inspiring to me. It wasn’t the regular technical speech you may expect in that kind of conference (although Evan is himself a rather technical guy); rather it gave the audience a perspective and a vision on how ethics and Big Data can (and need to) be combined. Evan started by giving...

Read More
Big Data : why ethics issues need to be addressed urgently
Oct12

Big Data : why ethics issues need to be addressed urgently

Artificial Intelligence is increasingly present in our daily lives : speech recognition, automatic translation, personal assistants, chatbots, recommendation algorithms. These technological advances are also subject to criticism and questions on ethics. What happens with our data, will algorithms govern us, what about the concept of freedom ? There is work to be done to teach people the positive and negative sides of AI and even more...

Read More
Predicting consumers’ behaviors: the importance of explicit feedback
Oct10

Predicting consumers’ behaviors: the importance of explicit feedback

In today’s article I’d like to present a new perspective on the evolution of consumer behaviors’ modelization in the last 30 years or so. These modelizations are windely used in today’s world of Big Data and recommendation algorithms. Introduction Understanding consumer behavior is not a recent quest. Modelizing behaviors has long been a priority for market researchers, academics and practitioners. In the...

Read More
RecSys 2016 conference : trends in recommendation on TV
Oct03

RecSys 2016 conference : trends in recommendation on TV

The ACM Recommender Systems conference opened on 15 September 2016 in Boston (MA) with the RecSys TV workshop, one day dedicated to recommender systems in the broadcasting sphere. Presentations by Verizon, Comcast, Netflix, the University of Lisbon were the highlights of the day. Diana Hu (Verizon) showed how time-series can be used to predict users’ preferences. An interesting decomposition in genres showed very recurrent patterns...

Read More
My summer readings : the outstanding, the good and the worse
Sep28

My summer readings : the outstanding, the good and the worse

Summer is usually the time for me to rejuvenate my creativity and get prepared for the second part of the year to come. I love to chain-read to encourage ideation. This year I packed my beloved Kindle with a few books. Some of them inspired me, others didn’t. Here’s my commented summer reading list. As you’ll see it’s very much Big data oriented. Eli Pariser: “the Filter Bubble” I discovered the book by Eli Pariser only...

Read More
Why you should not wear health devices
Sep26

Why you should not wear health devices

So far insurances had to rely on your declarative questionnaires to evaluate the risk you represented. Those have been found to be very intrusive; so intrusive in fact that Belgian consumers’ defense organization Test Achats has urged insurance companies to change those questionnaires (link in French). This evaluation was made at the time you subscribed the insurance and was likely not to be revised afterwards. Insurances had to...

Read More
Users change their behaviors to please algorithms
Sep21

Users change their behaviors to please algorithms

Technology and especially algorithms have invaded the public space. According to Alain Damasio “Freedom is not a desirable concept anymore”. Security and ease-of-use now comes first, as the success of recommendation engines tends to prove. We are surrounded by computer code suggesting choices and taking decisions for us : from Google search box making suggestions to Netflix’ recommendation engine, through Facebook EdgeRange algorithm....

Read More
Facebook : how do people perceive NewsFeed curation algorithm
Sep19

Facebook : how do people perceive NewsFeed curation algorithm

Curation algorithms aren’t fundamentally different from recommendation engines (see the article we just published on the latter here). They select what you ought to see, for instance on your Facebook Newsfeeds. Two studies have addressed customers’ perception of automated curation : Rader and Gray (2015) and Eslami et al. (2015). Here are how users perceive Facebook NewsFeed’s algorithm. Are people aware of the existence of NewsFeed...

Read More
Recommendation algorithms : how big is the Filter Bubble in actuality
Sep14

Recommendation algorithms : how big is the Filter Bubble in actuality

Recommendation algorithms have been accused to trap users in a filter bubble, to promote the balkanization of information and hence to reduce serependity. The biggest opponent of recommendation engine is probably Eli Pariser who invented the very term of “filter bubble”. Despite very convincing arguments in his 2011 book, Pariser somewhat failed at backing his theory with figures (which is perfectly understandable given the novelty of...

Read More
Big Data: let your customers improve your segmentation
Sep12

Big Data: let your customers improve your segmentation

Companies are keen on obtaining as much data as possible on their customers to improve behavioral profiling. Yet, few companies harness the power of their customers to enrich their data with new types of data, allowing new segments to be created. In today’s article we’d like give you two examples of how online journals are using their customers to categorize their articles differently and improve recommendations. Like and dislike: the...

Read More
1 month using TOR : it ain’t easy to protect his privacy
Sep07

1 month using TOR : it ain’t easy to protect his privacy

Those of you who watched Ed Snowden’s movie “Citizen Four” are certainly aware of privacy issues that come with the use of the Internet. Privacy was first a value of the internet and progressively became a myth. The initial libertarian dream has turned into a total control nightmare, not far away from Orwell’s “1984” vision. All your online actions are being tracked. With that in mind I decided to remove Chrome and Firefox and to use...

Read More
Let’s reinvent recommendation engines
Sep02

Let’s reinvent recommendation engines

Recommendation engines (a series of algorithms aiming at targeting what you’d like best to see / get / purchase / you name it) are everywhere. You use them without knowing it. The first recommendation engine is actually Google (or any search engine) that aims at recommending you the most relevant content for you among millions (if not billions) of possible pages. Those recommendation algorithms make choices for you and exclude...

Read More
Liberals share less serious content on Facebook than conservatives
Aug17

Liberals share less serious content on Facebook than conservatives

In my quest to understand how algorithms limit our freedom, my attention was caught by a piece of research published in June 2015 in Science. This research was funded by Facebook (which is an important piece of information) and aims at understanding whether Facebook’s News Feed selection algorithm limits the diversity of the information we consume on Facebook. The authors conclude that Facebook’s algorithm(s) actually expose us to...

Read More
How I got in the TOP10 of Linkedin’s most viewed profiles
Aug10

How I got in the TOP10 of Linkedin’s most viewed profiles

8 weeks ago I started an experiment. I wanted to jump into the TOP10 most viewed profiles of my Linkedin network. I succeeded. Read further if you want to find out how I achieved jumping from the 100th place to the 10th and what it brought me. Short intro : what does my Linkedin network look like My Linkedin network is made of approximately 1980 connections. I removed very few of them along the years, basically only people who really...

Read More
Get control on tracking with Google MyActivity. True or not ?
Jul20

Get control on tracking with Google MyActivity. True or not ?

It’s now official. Companies went too far as far as data collection is concerned. How can I make such a bold statement? My argument is that Google made a very important move which is a sign that something is changing. Google now gives you the right to see which data it collects on you and to oppose data collection methods. This is made possible through Google MyActivity. Screenshot of my Google activity as displayed in Google...

Read More
French Universities scandalous selection algorithm revealed
Jul06

French Universities scandalous selection algorithm revealed

Big Data technologies and in particular selection algorithms attract more and more criticism from libertarian advocates. I echoed growing concerns myself in an article calling for more transparent algorithms. French newspaper Liberation revealed that National Education ministry faces legal pressure to give access to the code behind the APB algorithm. The latter is used by universities to select freshmen. The variables used by this...

Read More
A history of (Big) Data and modelling
Jun23

A history of (Big) Data and modelling

At the latest EMAC 2016 conference, Michel Wedel gave a brilliant demonstration of how data collection methods have evolved over the last 100 years and how modelling changed. His graphical representation of (Big) Data history was actually so brilliant that I thought worthwhile to reproduce it here. It all started with simple surveys and regression methods. Over a 100-year period, volumes kept increasing and modelling methods have...

Read More
Data Scientists are NOT the solution
Jun08

Data Scientists are NOT the solution

In a recent meeting with Big Data managers in the broadcasting industry, one complaint came over and over again. Data scientists have no feeling for business, and business people even less for statistics and Big Data. How to bridge the gap was the central question. Correlation doesn’t mean causation The lack of business understanding is especially visible when it comes to building predictive models. Too often data scientists...

Read More
Big Data can save lives
Jun06

Big Data can save lives

At the conference organized together by Microsoft Europe and Louvain University, Adeline Decuyper proposed a fresh look at Big Data. She rightly made the point that Big Data can also serve non commercial purposes and contribute to Greater Good. She gave some amazing examples of how cell phone data can be used in a variety of settings to improve the lives of millions of people and even save lives. Big Data applied to mobility issues...

Read More
EMAC 2016: gap between academics and practitioners gets bigger
Jun03

EMAC 2016: gap between academics and practitioners gets bigger

I’m back from the EMAC 2016 conference that took place in Oslo (see my other reports on EMAC 2014, EMAC 2011, EMAC 2010). This year the theme of the conference was “Marketing in the age of data”. Needless to say, Big Data was one very hot topic with very interesting sessions on privacy and recommendation engines, and remarkable keynotes. In two keynote speeches on 26 May, Prof. Michel Wedel (University of Maryland, USA) and Prof. Koen...

Read More
Big Data : what are the trends in the retail and insurance sectors ?
May25

Big Data : what are the trends in the retail and insurance sectors ?

In partnership with Microsoft Europe (Brussels), the University of Louvain (Belgium) organized a conference on 13 May where I discussed the future impact of Big Data in the retail and insurance sectors. I started by outlining the 4 sectors that are heavy data producers and users : banking, insurance, retail and telecom. I showed that Big Data is used for only two purposes in these sectors : reduce costs or generate revenues. I then...

Read More
What is Data Journalism ?
May23

What is Data Journalism ?

Big Data has been discussed many times here, but never under the Data Journalism angle. After being invited by the European Commission to reflect on how to promote Data Journalism in Europe, I thought it might be worthwhile to post the presentation I gave at the Eurovision’s News and technology Seminar on this topic (see at the end of this article) What is Data Journalism ? Without clear definition of Data Journalism I proposed my...

Read More
Innovation at VRT : Appiness “Spott” keeps growing
May15

Innovation at VRT : Appiness “Spott” keeps growing

Last week I was invited by the innovation division of VRT (Belgium’s Dutch-speaking public television) for their creative circle III. It consisted in a series of presentations and testing from startups incubated in VRT’s “sandbox” department. Presentations and demos were given by 5 startups : Fisheye, Limecraft, Moovly, Appiness, Kiswe. Buy what you see on TV with the Spott mobile app The demo which very much impressed me was given by...

Read More
The Financial Times found the most perfect KPI’s to measure success
May11

The Financial Times found the most perfect KPI’s to measure success

The success of any marketing action needs to be measured with the right KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators). The Financial Times found a unique KPI that allows outstanding predictions of their churn rate. Read further to learn more. KPI’s are difficult to set The very definition of those KPI’s is a crucial part of any project. If you take the wrong KPI’s you’ll get a biased perspective on what you are doing. If you chose the right...

Read More
Will banks sell your data to retailers?
Apr20

Will banks sell your data to retailers?

Your bank knows a lot about you and, as a matter of fact, the banking sector has been investing huge amount in Big Data for years. Similarly retailers know also a lot about you through the purchases you make. Is the next step a merger of data from both world to enhance behavior predictability ? This is the subject of an article on Visionary Marketing. However, unlike you may think, the idea of using banking data for other aims is not...

Read More
Insurances : towards the end of the risk sharing principle ?
Apr18

Insurances : towards the end of the risk sharing principle ?

There is one very important underlying principle of any insurance : risk sharing. Good drivers cover a part of the risk of bad drivers; people in good health pay for those who fall ill. Americans call this a “socialist” way of doing business. But until now insurances in Europe have always favored a group approach vs. an individualistic one. The data revolution may be the end of this. Here’s why. Customer data will enable user-centric...

Read More
Mobile Me : your car has no secrets for Mercedes
Apr11

Mobile Me : your car has no secrets for Mercedes

Nowadays cars can be connected with your smartphone ; not only to make calls but also to control your car at distance. The Mercedes Me application enables the owner to monitor basic and more advanced functionalities of the vehicle through his smartphone. The presence of a SIM card transmitting the information to the smartphone is the enabler of this enhanced connectivity ; but it may also enable Mercedes to become a data provider....

Read More
Service quality : the next retail challenge after Big Data
Apr08

Service quality : the next retail challenge after Big Data

Algorithms have become instrumental in retailers’ strategies to increase loyalty among customers. We don’t know of any major retailer not having a Big Data team working on a.o. predicting churn, couponning, increasing loyalty, new segmentation, … Yet, what we also notice is that all retailers more or less all use the same tools, the same techniques for the same goals. It’s all about Spark, Hadoop, real-time...

Read More
Are smart boxes the future of car insurance?
Mar25

Are smart boxes the future of car insurance?

Telematic units, also called black or smart boxes, are devices installed in a car to monitor a driver’s behavior (speed, acceleration, deceleration, …). They are increasingly used by insurance companies to develop a pay-as-you-drive pricing. Such pricing may be especially interesting for young drivers who are hit by high insurance premiums. Young drivers are victims of their youth One metric sums it up all: 25% of accidents are caused...

Read More
How can third-party data support your Big Data strategy
Mar21

How can third-party data support your Big Data strategy

Collecting and integrating third-party data will be the subject of a talk I’ll give at the Big Data conference of the European Broadcasters’ Union in Geneva on 22-23 March 2016. I’ll present three very interesting use cases of companies which have used third-party data to enrich the knowledge they had of their consumers : TAM airlines (which we already discussed on this blog), Realo (my thanks to them for the great interactions we...

Read More
Big Data : 4 points to understand your legal responsibilities
Mar09

Big Data : 4 points to understand your legal responsibilities

I recently attended a workshop on the legal aspects of Big Data and IoT (Internet of Things) that was organized by Impulse in Brussels. The presenter, Philippe Laurent, had a very clever and clear way of presenting the problems posed by Big Data and I thought it might be interesting to share his presentation and conclusions with you. In particular he proposed a 4-category framework that is easy to understand and will give you...

Read More
Techstartupday 2016 : virtual reality on the rise
Feb28

Techstartupday 2016 : virtual reality on the rise

At the techstartup day 2016 that took place in Brussels last week, one of the buzzwords was virtual reality (VR). Juan Bossicard, Cluster manager at Impulse and President of the Microsoft Innovation Center, held a very interesting speech on the opportunities offered by VR in various industries. What I loved about Juan’s speech was the perspective it gave to Virtual Reality and its link with digitalization. Juan’s argument was that...

Read More
Real-estate prices predicted : latest news of startup Realo
Feb26

Real-estate prices predicted : latest news of startup Realo

Last year we reported on the scandal that followed the launch of Realo, a website predicting real-estate prices. A Belgian initiative, Realo has European ambitions and is based on a business model that has proved its efficacy in the US : Zillow.com The scandal was due to the nature of the data used in the algorithm to predict prices : unemployment rate, multiculturality, education levels, … Although all data used was public (and...

Read More
Algorithms : is our freedom threatened?
Feb22

Algorithms : is our freedom threatened?

If you follow the news you may have come across this news : a deep-learning algorithm has defeated the European master of Go. This news was such a milestone in artificial intelligence (AI) that it was featured in the Nature issue on 28 Jan 2016. Big Data scientists believed indeed it would take another 10 years for a computer to beat a human player at Go. The least we can say is that it went much faster than expected. AlphaGo...

Read More