Facebook data harvesting: what you need to know

Facebook likes

Facebook makes most of its money from advertising, and – as the Cambridge Analytica scandal continues to haunt Mark Zuckerberg’s company – users are demanding to know how their data is being wrangled and harvested. But while concern about Facebook user privacy has spiked, it’s been clear since Facebook’s inception that its business is based on widespread surveillance of people, whose data is the product.

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Teaching machines to understand – and summarize – text

Swamped in paper

We humans are swamped with text. It’s not just news and other timely information: Regular people are drowning in legal documents. The problem is so bad we mostly ignore it. Every time a person uses a store’s loyalty rewards card or connects to an online service, his or her activities are governed by the equivalent of hundreds of pages of legalese. Most people pay no attention to these massive documents, often labeled “terms of service,” “user agreement” or “privacy policy.”

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Are robots taking our jobs?

If you put water on the stove and heat it up, it will at first just get hotter and hotter. You may then conclude that heating water results only in hotter water. But at some point everything changes – the water starts to boil, turning from hot liquid into steam. Physicists call this a “phase transition.”

The challenges for GDP, now and in the future

When Professor Sir Charlie Bean published his review of UK economic statistics in March, he warned that current systems and process were starting to show their age. “We need to take economic statistics back to the future or we risk missing out an important part of the modern economy from official figures,” he said.