FutureSource



FutureSource

This blog is the first in a series exploring the implications of different policies on the development and deployment of artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cognitive systems.

The term “cognition” is defined as “of, relating to, being, or involving conscious intellectual activity”.1 Our world is surrounded by cognitive organisms that range in complexity from an ant to the most intellectually-capable cognitive organism that is known today – a human. A fundamental characteristic of cognitive organisms is their ability to form higher-level abstractions of cognition that mimic or surpass their individual levels of cognition.2 A cognitive system is a human-made system that is able to interact with their human counterparts and understand human expression mechanisms that are primarily delivered via visual, audial, and textual communication.3 For clarity, this article defines cognitive organisms as being nature made, and cognitive systems as being human-made (…for now). By understanding human tendencies, cognitive systems should therefore be able to anticipate human intent and either be prepared to respond instantly, or be proactive and respond preemptively.

Given the transient nature of humans, cognitive systems must be able to evolve their interactions with their human counterparts. For that to happen, they must learn from new input data, and augment their decision making models based on feedback from both humans and their environments. The need to learn about their environment through data presents a fundamental question; i.e., how do policy decisions pertaining to data acquisition, transmission, storage, and communication impact the ability of cognitive systems to learn and achieve their operational objectives?

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On June 8, the United Kingdom will vote in its second general election in just over two years. The last election in May 2015 resulted in a Conservative government, and led to the June 2016 national referendum on Britain’s membership in the European Union. Following the result in favor of Brexit, Prime Minister David Cameron—the leader of the unsuccessful Remain campaign—resigned, and former Home Secretary Theresa May took office.

May’s leadership has been dominated by Britain’s departure from the EU, and the implications for the country. In April, facing domestic opposition to this approach, including legal challenges, she called a snap general election. She argued this would help Britain have a stronger negotiating position in the talks with other EU member states, and would give her a clear mandate to go ahead with leaving the EU. Although Brexit is an important issue in the election, however, it is not the sole focus of the campaign. Health, education, welfare, immigration, and the environment feature heavily in the manifestos of the major parties.

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Conservative Prime Minister Theresa May and Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, the front-runners in the British general election, have endured a volatile race punctuated by two terror attacks that have rocked Britain. With campaigning suspended twice after each incident and British pollsters’ failure to predict Brexit, FutureSource queried a data science firm to get its reading on the election that has challenged conventional forecasters.

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To use an old Thatcherite adage, the United States, United Kingdom and European Union are all living in cloud cuckoo land, seemingly vastly underestimating the medium- to long-term effects of Brexit: a dramatically weakened UK, an undermined EU, and fragmented transatlantic relations. Put another way: the transatlantic rift that has clearly already opened over NATO and now the US withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement could be just the start—made far worse by a bad Brexit.

Over the past few months, a group of Brits in Brussels has been working unofficially on Brexit scenario planning, attempting to delve into what the UK, EU, and transatlantic relations will be facing with Brexit. Laid out in such detail—which we will do in the next few weeks—is a veritable catalogue of daunting mountain-size challenges. While it’s true the UK faces some of the biggest knots to disentangle, the EU and transatlantic relations won’t be spared. Viewed all together, it is clear that breezy statements such as “Brexit means Brexit” hide a veritable catalogue of hurdles and hardships, mostly on the British side, but also for the EU.

This is the first of four blogs, examining key aspects of the divorce—in line with four core scenarios we believe possible, each of which we feel to be a train crash.

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This blog post is part of a series analyzing the newest forms of data forecasting.

The Iranian presidential election has leapt into the headlines as two candidates feverishly make their final arguments to voters. President Hassan Rouhani and conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi have burst into the lead after two other hopefuls dropped out of the race this week. With opinion polling scattered and inconsistent, a clear picture of the electorate is difficult to measure. Two data science startups have offered their election analysis before Friday’s voting. This blog is part of the Foresight, Strategy, and Risks Initiative’s continuing series on data-driven electoral forecasting. Previous pieces looked at data forecasts versus polling predictions in the runup to the French presidential voting in late April and early May, and the recent South Korean presidential election.

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This blog post is part of a series analyzing the newest forms of data forecasting.

The South Korean presidential election scheduled for tomorrow has been fraught with anxiety as voters remain divided over the direction of the country’s political future. The aftermath of a presidential impeachment has placed heightened scrutiny over the presidential race. North Korea has added to the apprehension as it continues to rattle the electorate in its quest to mate ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads.

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Pollsters used to have the monopoly on predicting electoral outcomes. But startups that use data science, machine learning, and artificial intelligence have been crowding into that market and in several cases besting the pollsters at their own game. Brexit and Donald Trump’s electoral victory confounded pollsters, but were forecast by several of the data science firms. As we head toward the second round of the French presidential election on May 7, we wanted to review how the new startups come up with their forecasts and compared their predictions with pollsters. So far, the accuracy award went to French polling firms for being stop-on in their predictions of the Macron victory in the first round.

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With political risk claims and geopolitical uncertainty increasing, Zurich’s David Anderson and the Atlantic Council’s Mathew Burrows talk risk scenario analysis and mitigation.

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Last week the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank held their spring meetings in Washington, DC. Despite worries of rising geopolitical threats, populist views on trade protectionism, and pressures of increased migration to Europe, both organizations have released generally optimistic forecasts of global economic growth for 2017.1

I decided to examine how the IMF and World Bank produces these forecasts. Since the IMF is one of the only entities in Washington that is required to monitor the health of the global financial system, one assumes that there is an actual or virtual “financial war-room” that provides early warning about the next financial crisis or bubble. Due to the IMF’s and the World Bank’s unique responsibilities, it stands to reason that twenty-first century software and forecasting tools are used by their employees on a regular basis.

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Zurich Geopolitical Email Banner

Geopolitical volatility is the new normal and is not going away anytime soon.

While the news features the rise of protectionism everyday, an energy crisis due to a conflict in the Middle East or the spread of water and food insecurity, could equally disrupt the world. Should any of these situations deteriorate further, the impacts would be earth shattering for how the world governs and does business.

A new Atlantic Council study, released today, looks at the implications of these global risks on global gross domestic product (GDP), extreme poverty, middle-class growth, and country instability. This report tests the proposition that global risks are increasing faster than global growth.

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