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Just a few days ago, European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker presented his 2018 State of the Union speech with the title “The Hour of European Sovereignty”. In the speech, he argues that the time has come for the EU “to become more autonomous and live up to our global responsibilities”. The question is how to make this ambition become a reality, how to achieve strategic autonomy. Especially in the context of cybersecurity, strategic autonomy is becoming a widely discussed topic. The growing interest in the link between “digital” or “cyber” and strategic autonomy is driven by the increased dependency on …

Facial Recognition Technology will have a severe impact on society in the future, resulting in a loss of anonymity for everybody. The Russian artist Egor Tsvetkov demonstrated with an experiment that it is already possible today to identify random people on the metro by just using their photos and a facial recognition app. Currently this was done by processing images afterwards with face search and augmenting it with human verification, but it is not difficult to imagine every cell phone or connected car being able to identify anyone’s face and perform a search on the web within less than a …

When does traditional statistical modelling (TSM) become machine learning (ML)?[i] “Machine learning” has truly become a buzzword that is applied rather liberally to a wide range of modelling applications. But, the difference is far from a question of semantics: there are fundamental differences between ML and TSM that data practitioners should keep in mind. Similarities But, let’s start off with some commonalities between ML and TSM. In both disciplines our aim is to build a (statistical) model (to use TSM terminology) that minimises loss, that is, that achieves the smallest possible difference between observed values and the values estimated by the …

A few months ago, I published an exceptionally short paper presenting experimental evidence on a particular issue of survey methodology. This experience has taught me valuable lessons about conveying the necessary information under extreme restrictions on the word count. In its original version, my paper was 2,300 words long and it was formatted in accordance with the convention of the field: an introduction highlighting the relevance of the research question and the gaps in the existing literature, an empirical section describing the methods and presenting the results, and a conclusion discussing implications, limitations, and offering directions for future research. Since …

Including persons with disabilities in emergency responses is a shared responsibility of all humanitarian actors As discussed in the first article of this series, persons with disabilities have been overwhelmingly excluded from humanitarian aid in different crises worldwide. In general, services provided by governments and NGOs are not accessible to these individuals, increasing their vulnerabilities during emergency responses. Activists and NGOs, however, have been trying to change this unacceptable situation. Actors such as International Disability Alliance (IDA), International Disability and Development Consortium (IDDC), Humanity & Inclusion, Christian Blind Mission (CBM), HelpAge International, Light for the World, Sightsavers have been leading an international movement to guarantee that …

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that 15 percent of the global population (or over 1 billion people) have some form of disability. These figures can grow even larger due to natural disasters or conflicts, when more people are exposed to debilitating accidents or violence. Despite general awareness amongst different actors that persons with disabilities are more likely to become subject to a vast range of risks during humanitarian crises, few practical actions are usually taken to reduce these perils. Many actors do not comply with the recommendations from international agreements on ensuring the participation of persons with disabilities in …
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Some six months before Theresa May called a surprise general election, The Road to Somewhere was published. In it, David Goodhart argues that the old political divide, between left-wingers and right-wingers, has been superseded. The electorate, Goodhart claims, is now better divided between “anywheres” and “somewheres”.  Peter Wiggins looks at the Goodhart argument in the context of the 2017 general election. Of “Anywheres”, “Somewheres” and “Inbetweeners” According to The Road to Somewhere, roughly 25% of the population are “anywheres” – they are mobile, metropolitan, liberal, tolerant, at home wherever they may be, and wary of group attachment. These voters are …

When Teresa May announced her snap election last April, she not only ruined my Roman holiday, but also made me cringe about having written a blog in the immediate aftermath of the Brexit referendum in which I had encouraged just that, namely: “Go with Dignity – Call a Snap Election!” Why? By then I had accepted the prevailing wisdom that the Conservatives would win a landslide victory, providing them with a three-figure majority in the Commons. This would have given her the popular mandate to push through Brexit in the ‘hardest’ possible form, thus nullifying any chance for a second …