Cees Lanting

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Friday, June 26

  • 4:44pm

    A simplified overview

     

    In the following we will assume that Contract Tracing devices are smartphones, as this is also the assumption in most developments currently underway; in the near future, however, other devices might be used in combination with or instead of smartphones.

     

    What is Contact Tracing

    Contact Tracing is a tool to monitor and record proximity between users that has taken place; this can be used to inform users of risks of possible infection transfer in the recent past; for COVID-19 the recent past is currently estimated as a period of up to 2 weeks.

     

    How does Contact Tracing work

    • Each user is given a unique identifier in the form of an anonymous Contact Tracing token.
    • When two persons, with the Contact Tracing applications active on their devices, are in each other’s proximity for at least a time T and within a distance D (currently T = 15 minutes / D = 1 meter), they exchange their anonymous Contact Tracing tokens
    • When a user is tested positive, e.g. after suspecting COVID-19 symptoms, the user:
      • uploads a list of anonymous Contact Tracing tokens received within a timeframe in which infection could have been transferred
    • Each user receives regularly lists of anonymous Contact Tracing tokens of other users tested positive; when a match is found with anonymous Contact Tracing tokens stored, the user:
      • uploads a list of anonymous Contact Tracing tokens received within a timeframe in which infection could have been transferred
      • request to be tested

     

    How is the privacy of the users protected

    • Each user is known only by a unique and anonymous Contact Tracing token
    • Contact Tracing information, i.e. the received anonymous Contact Tracing tokens, are stored on the users’ devices locally
    • The matching of risks for possible transfers of infection takes place on the users’ devices

    This means that the only traceable items are users requesting to be tested . . .

     

    What is needed to effectively mitigate COVID-19 spreading with Contact Tracing

    • There needs to be sufficient testing capacity able to test and give test results timely
    • Since Contact Tracing results in significant numbers of potential infected cases to be tested, this means that the number of new infections needs to be relatively small, so that the potential infected cases...
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Monday, December 16 2019

  • 12:18am

    Or, truth and reality versus a show with false impressions and misrepresentations

    More and more the written press and even more broadcasters and digital media seem to be in a contest to make a show, and sorry to say, more and more at the cost of common sense, truth and reality.

    Below, examples where the show effect is pushing back common sense and misrepresentation results.  

    In technology

    The Boeing 737 MAX issue

    The Boeing 737 MAX issue is presented as just an issue of badly designed software relying on a single unreliable sensor.

    What is missing in information:

    This software is needed to control the consequences of an anomaly in the aerodynamic design. Solving the control system design and software issues solves the problem at most partially. And making the MCAS system standalone, non-integrated was a fatal mistake.

    The Porsche electric battery super batteries

    Porsche announced electric car charging: 5 to 80% of capacity in 15 minutes; this is presented and received as a fantastic step forward for Electric Vehicles.

    What is missing in information:

    It would be if the electricity grid to all houses could be upgraded dramatically and quickly: the fast charging requires 400 kW charging power, equivalent to about the maximum power of 12 households . . .  So, let’s hope Porsche owners only use the 11 kW / 9 hours chargers at home.

    The ‘TESLA Cybertruck’:

    TESLA’s Musk made a nice show of this very strong truck and collected lots of orders.

    What is missing in information:

    There may be some issues with the car, resulting from the tough, difficult to shape stainless steel:

    • RIGGED and STRONG, has no energy absorption zones, which means danger for the occupants;
    • With sharp edged shapes, it may be a danger for people outside the car, incl. pedestrians;
    • Tough, difficult to shape stainless steel risks to bring along manufacturing problems.

     

    In politics, presentation and analysis of the recent UK general election

    Presenting election results as a ‘bicycle race’:

    1 - ‘Will Corbyn tonight reduce the gap with the Tories?’

    2. - ‘The constituency that gives the Tories the majority’

    What is missing in information:

    1. Once the ballot boxes are closed, the counting begins, and there is no more possibility to influence the outcome (unless there is election fraud), whatever Mr. Corbyn (or others) may do that evening. Presenting the results of the counting, or better, the time it takes to count the votes in a certain constituency, as a bicycle race is entertaining but misleading.
    2. The constituency that brought the...
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Tuesday, November 26 2019

  • 8:56pm

    Hereafter you find some Axioms on (the use of) social networks, with intention to encourage

    • Further discussions,
    • Research on the direct and indirect influences and possible abuses, and
    • Discussion at the political level of suitable measures for at least the EU.

    The axioms and opinions or those of the author.

    This contribution uses work by Lanting, Lokshina* and Thomas* (* SUNY Oneonta, NY).

     

    1. The main usefulness of social network for political and commercial use is that of broadcasting.
      1. Social networks merely function as set of address lists, that allow ‘personalized’ messages to be broadcasted among a large number of groups and communities;
      2. It therefore should be considered to apply rules for publishing and/or broadcasting also to information disseminated in and by means of social networks.
    2. The so-called Micro-targeting is not as powerful and less important than is advertised by social networks.
      1. Given that the user entries are not verified and difficult verifiable, the information operated on is not sufficient to micro-target(ing) individual users;
      2. User entries, and additional information ‘sneak-peeked’ by APP or Client software from the smartphone or PC (often without an explicit agreement from the user) is likely to  contain information confusing and obscuring perception by augmenting the frontstage: logged data resulting from looking for information for or about others is difficult to distinguish from information relevant to the user Person-X him- or herself;
      3. Instead, looking for communalities among communicates and groups of users may provide some information on interest that may be common to at least part of the community or group;
      4. The effectiveness of dissemination to a group or community is augmented by selective relaying by users within, or more importantly to outside the group or community;
      5. a shotgun approach of dissemination with added reliance on selective relaying by users may be highly effective, possibly as good or better than micro-targeting would be;
      6. see points 5., 6. and 7. hereafter, also for some of the terminology
    3. The performance of search engines may have to be re-evaluated, as search engines have a tendency to return at least for a part information and links to information that is not what a specific user search is looking for, but related information that others have been looking for.  
      1. This is illustrated by the ‘Bettina Wulff case’: Bettina Wulff Körner, wife of the former German President Christian Wulff, became the victim of links in Google created by users trying to look for rumours about her past;...
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Monday, November 25 2019

Monday, November 4 2019

  • 8:45pm

    The following is intended as contribution to the discussion on Democracy and Media in the digital era,

    by attempting to identify possible threats to democracy and mapping possible influences of media, ‘old’ as well as ‘new’ or digital, against the threats. The threats identified are not orthogonal but are linked and overlap.

    It represents solely the opinions of the author, presented in a somewhat structured way.

     

    Threat to democracy

    Characterization

    Mitigation mechanisms

    Elected dictator

    ‘the people’ versus the parliamentary democracy rules

    Constitution, guaranteed, effective checks & balances, and an independent judiciary

    Intimidation / civil unrest

    ‘public anger’ against politicians & judges

    Constitution, early reaction/protection

    Election funding

    May shape elections

    State funding and/or strict rules

    Corruption

    Affects executive, legislative, judiciary branches

    Checks, whistle-blowers’ protection

    Populism

    Perceived problems with proposed ‘simple solutions’

    Independent fact finding & research

    Party discipline

    Party discipline: ethical, legal, constitutional?

    Enforcing constitutional rules

    Lobbying

    Dependency on information and resources from interested parties

    Funded fact finding & research

    ‘Decisive vote’

    Overstating and misrepresenting the ‘one vote’ importance

    Factual reporting, not sensational

     

    Threat to democracy

    Printed media:

    Sensation press

    Printed media:

    Serious press

    Public

    Broadcasters *)

    Commercial

    Broadcasters

     

    ‘social media’

    Elected dictator

    Increases risks

    Decreases risks

    Decreases risks

    May increase or decrease risks

    May increase or decrease risks

    Intimidation / civil unrest

    May increase or decrease risks

    Decreases risks...

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Friday, November 1 2019

  • 9:50pm

    In the 2nd half of 2016, when reviewing research papers on marketing applications of social media at a US university, I raised the need for validity checks on social media accounts.

    The researchers were using test populations, semi-randomly selected within certain interest groups among Facebook accounts (by brokers).

    I noted that persons could have multiple accounts, could easily give false information about themselves (for different reasons, incl. with criminal intent), and that the social media have very limited tools to verify the fidelity of the accounts (in other words, they are overselling the value of their accounts for e.g. commercial use). For example, I could easily create a 2nd account calling myself Napoleon or presenting myself as a member of an (not well known) Hells Angels branch.

    Note:     the recent revelation of Senator Mitt Romney’s secret Twitter account "Pierre Delecto" is just a, relatively innocent, demonstration of this.

    The discussion following resulted in two things:

    • The agreement that the research papers would
      • include a disclaimer stating the limited possibilities for validity checks on social media accounts
      • use of populations, where suitable, selected from an environment where social control of the members would likely add a level of validity checks (e.g. selecting accounts of persons belonging to a group with likely enough social contacts)
      • We started an effort to model the discrepancy between the visibility that a social network has on a person’s information and the actual information (this work is ongoing, now including sociological expertise)

    About 2 months thereafter, the US elections took place, and the first rumours of the possible role of social media in the election result surfaced. Next, we found ourselves flooded by reactions from people that realized that in the process we had ‘uncovered the dangers’ before the election.

    To set the record straight, we did not uncover something others had not seen. Instead, we simply proposed some measures for application in a limited domain - research papers on the marketing use of social media - and initiated work to model the modalities of visibility and validity checks.

    Some of us had been worried about misinterpretation and misuse of social media, but we also did not realize the impact that this could have on an election in a country like the US.

    Since, the role and possible misuse, abuse of and collaboration by social media have been increasingly important items for news and study; this includes the use of social media to selectively broadcast to large audiences, and in the process bypass legislation applied to broadcasters and press.

    Contribution uses work by Lanting, Lokshina* and Thomas* (* SUNY Oneonta, NY) 

  • 2:57pm

    The need for validity checks on information on social media

     

    In the 2nd half of 2016, when reviewing research papers on marketing applications of social media at a US university, I raised the need for validity checks on social media accounts.

    The researchers were using test populations, semi-randomly selected within certain interest groups among Facebook accounts (by brokers).

    I noted that persons could have multiple accounts, could easily give false information about themselves (for different reasons, incl. with criminal intent), and that the social media have very limited tools to verify the fidelity of the accounts (in other words, they are overselling the value of their accounts for e.g. commercial use). For example, I could easily create a 2nd account calling myself Napoleon or presenting myself as a member of an (not well known) Hells Angels branch.

    Note:     the recent revelation of Senator Mitt Romney’s secret Twitter account "Pierre Delecto" is just a, relatively innocent, demonstration of this.

    The discussion following resulted in two things:

    • The agreement that the research papers would
      • include a disclaimer stating the limited possibilities for validity checks on social media accounts
      • use of populations, where suitable, selected from an environment where social control of the members would likely add a level of validity checks (e.g. selecting accounts of persons belonging to a group with likely enough social contacts)
      • We started an effort to model the discrepancy between the visibility that a social network has on a person’s information and the actual information (this work is ongoing, now including sociological expertise)

    About 2 months hereafter, the US election took place, and the first rumours of the possible role of social media in the election result surfaced. Next, we found ourselves flooded by reactions from people that realized that in the process we had ‘uncovered the dangers’ before the election.

    To set the record straight, we did not uncover something others had not seen. Instead, we simply proposed some measures for application in a limited domain - research papers on the marketing use of social media - and initiated work to model the modalities of visibility and validity checks.

    Some of us had been worried about misinterpretation and misuse of social media, but we also did not realize the impact that this could have on an election in a country like the US.

    Since, the role and possible misuse, abuse of and collaboration by social media have been increasingly important items for news and study; this includes the use of social media to selectively broadcast to large audiences, and in the process bypass legislation applied to broadcasters and press.