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- Made in China
New work in the International Journal of Economic Policy in Emerging Economies debunks the notion of ever-increasing consumption in China. The topic has been the subject of much debate wherein it had for many years that economic household consumption was consistently rising across the nation. However, the analysis by Kerry Liu of The China Studies Centre at the University of Sydney in Australia, looked at gross domestic product data, household survey data, and retail sales data from a new perspective and concludes that expenditure has been slowing since 2011.
There has been an inkling that consumers in China have been "downgrading" their spending, choosing lower prices rather than expensive high-quality goods. Whimsically, it has been reported that Chinese consumers have given up their avocados, switched back to the bicycle rather than taking a taxi ride, slinging their cocktails in favour of beer, and cancelling their gym memberships to exercise outdoors as their grandparents did. There have been some conflicting findings such as increasing numbers of vehicle purchases, particularly sport-utility vehicles (SUVs) and some other goods. There are four times as many cars sold in China each year as there are in the great gas-guzzling nation of the USA.
Liu's findings point to an explanation as to why this might be:
The main findings are that disposable income plays a significant role in consumption growth; that wealth effects from the real estate market [rising home rental costs] play a significant role in consumption upgrade; and that increasing rent has significantly contributed to the consumption downgrade.
"In view of the importance of consumption to the rebalancing of the Chinese economy, this study makes significant contributions to the debate on China's economic policies," says Liu. He adds that while some recent government policies have had a positive effect, more needs to be done. "China should improve its monetary policy by balancing the goals of meeting the needs of the real economy and not further inflating asset markets," he concludes.
Liu, K. (2022) 'The Chinese consumption myth', Int. J. Economic Policy in Emerging Economies, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp.103–120.
- myEntropy reveals file type
We are, in the pandemic world, even more dependent on online services than we ever have been before, whether as remote workers, those learning from home, or in healthcare. As such, there is an increasing need to ensure those services are protected from malicious third parties and malware.
New work published in the International Journal of Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, discusses how the entropy level of critical files might be measured and provided a proxy for determining whether or not those files have been corrupted by a virus or usurped with malware. Tay Xin Hui, Kamaruddin Malik Mohamad, and Nurul Hidayah Ab Rahman of the Universiti Tun Hussein Onn in Malaysia, explain their investigations using "myEntropy" an entropy calculator tool that they have used to examine SQL files, SWF files, and Java files. These three filetypes Structured Query Language, Small Web Format, and Java files are commonly used in a wide-range of online services and can be highly vulnerable to attack.
The team used 250 sample files to calculate the entropy level for each filetype. They could then discern the average entropy level for each. Thus the myEntropy tool might be developed further to be used to quickly and with little computer resources ascertain whether a file of these critical type has been corrupted or replaced with one carrying embedded malware, which would change the entropy of the file considerably.
The team suggests that the tool can be developed for the analysis of many other vulnerable filetypes. They add that a user-friendly front-end for the tool might also be developed to facilitate its adoption by those managing digital devices, emerging computing infrastructure such as Internet of Things systems, cloud computing services and so address the growing problem of cybersecurity threats.
Hui, T.X., Mohamad, K.M. and Ab Rahman, N.H. (2022) 'myEntropy: a file type identification tool using entropy scoring', Int. J. Electronic Security and Digital Forensics, Vol. 14, No. 1, pp.76–95.
- Modelling the spread of viruses
New research published in the International Journal of Mathematics in Operational Research plots a new route for viral propagation in a computer network.
Anis Rezgui of Ecole Polytechnique de Tunisie and Carthage University in Tunisia has examined an earlier approach to studying the way a virus spreads through a network and found that approaches based on stochastic ordinary differential equations. A second approach, a microscopic approach based on a Markov chain has many similarities with SODEs but can take into account the interconnections between nodes in the network and so provide a clear picture of propagation.
Computer security is a multi-billion dollar industry but money aside it is such an important part of the modern world that it must be the focus of much research out of necessity. Rezgui explains that modelling viral propagation through a computer network has been modelled historically in the same way that we model biological viruses, epidemiologically, in other words. There have been two major types of model used, deterministic and stochastic ones each with pros and cons.
This new work focuses on the latter but introduces a novel approach based on the aforementioned Markov chain, which offers a rigorous way to model viral propagation mathematically. It allows researchers to understand the global behaviour of the network when exposed to malware infection but homes in on the dynamics occurring at each node in the network alone. Such modelling is critical to understanding how a virus spreads and so offers insights into how it might be stopped in its tracks through network analysis. Incorporating a model into an antivirus system might ultimately be able to halt a novel, or zero-day, infection when the viral signatures are not known beforehand and the virus is starting to spread.
It is perhaps a whimsical notion that such modelling when applied to human society might allow biologists and epidemiologists to spot a new and emerging pathogen, such as a coronavirus, before it spreads widely and to stop infection of social nodes that would otherwise lead to a pandemic, for instance.
Rezgui, A. (2021) 'A model for viruses propagation throughout networks', Int. J. Mathematics in Operational Research, Vol. 20, No. 3, pp.373–384
- Cybersecurity among SMEs in Africa
Can small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Africa address the cybersecurity risk adequately? New research from Christopher A. Moturi, Nabihah R. Abdulrahim, and Daniel O. Orwa of the School of Computing and Informatics at the University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya, off an answer in the International Journal of Business Continuity and Risk Management.
The team suggests that SMEs are key to economic growth in Africa but as many companies become increasingly entrenched in digital and online operations and services, the risks they face from malware and hackers increases. The team has the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) cybersecurity framework to undertake an in-depth study of selected SMEs to identify the critical issues that are causing those companies problems and to help find solutions that might be applicable to many other SMEs. In Kenya alone, cybercrime is costing SMEs there the equivalent of millions of dollars every year.
Their work could help guide those very companies to a more secure future but also provide e a roadmap for governments and regulatory bodies. Importantly, the study could be used to raise awareness and instil a security-aware culture across SMEs where that culture does not yet exist. Given that cybersecurity has no unique definition across companies and regulators, it is important that agreement on meaning be made so that risks can be identified and security implemented. This definition must encompass evolving social media, mobile computing, big data, cloud computing, and the internet of things to ensure cybersecurity measures are in place that stay one step ahead of the many threats facing companies.
"SMEs are in a position to become more resilient even with limited resources by applying the NIST cybersecurity framework within their environment to gain an in-depth understanding of the cybersecurity risk management practices," the team writes. The NIST framework can offer SMEs a strategic approach that may cost them money initially but will save them money in the long term by reducing the risk of them succumbing to security breaches and cybercrime.
Moturi, C.A., Abdulrahim, N.R. and Orwa, D.O. (2021) 'Towards adequate cybersecurity risk management in SMEs', Int. J. Business Continuity and Risk Management, Vol. 11, No. 4, pp.343–366.
- Climate change and COVID-19
The lockdowns, travel restrictions, and remote working and remote learning that became obligatory for many people around the world during the COVID-19 pandemic may have been inconvenient for some of them but they also represented a lesson we might learn regarding how well we can cope without the daily commute. Such a lesson could point us to new ways of working and learning that might even have a reduced carbon footprint, suggests work published in the International Journal of Global Warming. Indeed at the height of the lockdown and enforced remote activity, during the second and third quarters of 2020, carbon emissions fell enormously.
Aseel A. Takshe, Davide Contu, and Noelia Weber of the Canadian University Dubai, UAE, Jon C. Lovett of the School of Geography at the University of Leeds, and Paul Stenner Faculty of Arts and Social Science, School of Psychology and Counselling, The Open University, UK, suggest that change is afoot. They explain how the various restrictions implemented in efforts to curtail the spread of the coronavirus may have altered our perceptions of effective climate change actions. The team has now surveyed environmental students to see how their perceptions have changed and through their statistical analysis of the results have found four discourses that emerge.
The first sits well with the notion that we ought to learn the lessons of the so-called new normal and that this could benefit us in slowing climate change. The second is more pessimistic but suggests that we should at least endeavour to not return to pre-pandemic habits. The third discourse from the survey analysis demonstrates that many think economic recovery will have precedence over any consideration of the huge problem of climate change. Finally, the opportunities for sustainability after COVID-19 emerge.
The team suggests that, in the UEA, at least, projections for lowering carbon emissions could be achieved if the government implements a 'green' economic recovery in parallel with more stringent climate policies, such as abolishing any carbon-intensive investments. They add that adaptation will, of course, be a shared responsibility between governments, communities, and individuals. There is now a need to undertake similar surveys in other nations to determine whether or not similar discourses emerge and to measure the temper of environmental students elsewhere.
Takshe, A.A., Lovett, J.C., Stenner, P., Contu, D. and Weber, N. (2022) 'Prioritising climate change actions post COVID-19 amongst university students; a Q methodology perspective in the United Arab Emirates', Int. J. Global Warming, Vol. 26, No. 1, pp.120–139.
- Investing in COVID-19
Researchers in Fiji have used the recently developed COVID-19 based global "fear index" to investigate the impact of the pandemic on nine major Asia-Pacific countries, specifically: Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. The results for the period February 2020, just before the WHO declaration of the pandemic status of the disease, to November 2020 are discussed in the International Journal of Monetary Economics and Finance.
The findings of Keshmeer Makun of the School of Economics at the University of the South Pacific in Suva, Fiji, suggest that there was a cointegrating relationship between the global fear index and stock returns for the nine countries. This implies that the index has a significant negative impact on stock returns in the short run. In a parallel analysis, Makun also demonstrated how exchange rates and oil prices also affected stock returns during this major global crisis in the Asia-Pacific markets.
At this point in human history, there are few people who remain unaffected in some way by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. It has killed millions, left many people seriously ill, and disrupted normal socioeconomic activity considerably since its emergence as a global pandemic in early 2020. At the time of writing, many nations are still attempting to control the spread of novel variants of the disease that continue to claim lives and disrupt even the so-called "new normal" of our daily lives.
The true long-term impacts of the disease remain to be seen as we move towards the second anniversary of the pandemic. From the economic and investment perspective, there remains much uncertainty and rational investors and shareholders might feel in a precarious position as the pandemic continues to unfold.
Makun, K. (2021) 'Covid-19 based global fear index, economic fundamentals and stock return nexus: analysis of Asia-Pacific stock markets', Int. J. Monetary Economics and Finance, Vol. 14, No. 6, pp.532–550.
- Digital music
The digitalisation of the music industry has been massively disruptive, to say the least. From the studio mixing desk to the world of downloads, nothing has caused more friction and more opportunity. Indeed, access to music has never been easier nor has the ability for musicians to reach an audience.
Writing in the International Journal of Indian Culture and Business Management, researchers in India discuss the dismantling of long-standing practices to make way for innovation in terms of Schumpeter's "creative destruction". They examine how innovation across the music industry has ultimately increased productivity. They ask whether the creative destruction of analogue technologies paved the way for the new digital world. This fits neatly with their assessment of the Indian music industry, which they explain was one of the largest producers of music cassettes in the 1980s.
"With peer-to-peer networks and social connectivity new ways to create and promote music evolved. Middlemen could be laid off. The creations of artists reached the final consumers through costless digital transmissions," write Bindu Balagopal of Victoria College, Palakkad, and Chacko Jose P. of Sacred Heart College, Chalakudy, Kerala, India.
The team has found that small, independent record companies are currently thriving. "The resilience of supply and a boom among fringe suppliers in spite of falling industry revenues is consistent with a process of creative destruction in the context of radical technological change," the team adds. The researchers point out that the music industry has evolved significantly since the early days of printed sheet music to the world of digital downloads. "Developments in the music industry have been many and varied and have kept pace with the technological changes happening all over the world," they conclude.
Balagopal, B. and Jose P., C. (2021) 'Innovations in digital technology and creative destruction in the music industry', Int. J. Indian Culture and Business Management, Vol. 24, No. 3, pp.303–318.
- Developing artificial emotional intelligence
Can artificial intelligence (AI) have emotional intelligence? Research published in the International Journal of Engineering Systems Modelling and Simulation, plots the roadmap.
AI is something of a buzzword in computer science and beyond, but the concepts have a long history dating back to the 1950s if not earlier. The definition of AI has evolved over that time, however. Originally, AI encompassed the notion of creating a system, a machine that would mimic the naturally intelligence, the cognitive skills of animals. However, the idea of "intelligent agents" that can process exogenous information (input from sensors) and use the output from that processing to fulfil particular goals is now considered a more precise way to view AI. Nevertheless, the current state-of-the art sees the kind of processing that AI might do as problem solving or the machine learning paradigm that is inclined more towards biomimicry of cognition.
AI is already having an impact on areas of human endeavour as diverse as medicine and healthcare, transport, education, agriculture, finance, marketing, even entertainment, and, of course, robotics and computing itself.
Sharmistha Dey of the Department of Computational Sciences at Brainware University in Barasat, Kolkata, and Chinmay Chakraborty of the Department of Electronics and Communication Engineering at Birla Institute of Technology in Mesra, Jharkhand, India, suggest that AI is changing the world, allowing us to develop intelligent solutions that are capable of autonomous decision-making and self-diagnosis. They point out that the inclusion emotional intelligence in the development of AI is perhaps at a critical stage as it could allow us to develop AI that precludes the system succumbing to the inherent biases of those who develop a given AI system and choose its initial training inputs.
"If a machine can think or feel like a human, it can be converted into a better decision-making system," the team writes. Importantly, an AI system needs to have an inbuilt emotion detector that it might understand the emotional context of its inputs, but likewise needs a way to represent the emotional context of any solution it offers to a given problem or situation. Deep learning algorithms that go beyond the standard approaches to machine learning will take AI to the next destination on the roadmap. More data and moment-by-moment processing will help create the context and allow AI to evolve to our benefit.
Dey, S. and Chakraborty, C. (2021) 'Emotional intelligence – creating a new roadmap for artificial intelligence', Int. J. Engineering Systems Modelling and Simulation, Vol. 12, No. 4, pp.291–300.
- Let it snow – Antarctica, frozen legal state
Antarctica is a mysterious continent, we have barely scratched its icy surface in terms of exploration and within this frozen realm, there are unimagined resources that remain untapped. The continent lies without state, nations stake claims to chunks of it but its legal status is frozen like its vast wildernesses. Now, a new paper in the International Journal of Technology, Policy and Management suggests an approach based on the anarcho-capitalist and heterodox-economist philosophy of Murray Newton Rothbard (1926-1995) that could allow the international community to assign equitable but limited property rights to Antarctica.
Of course, having a framework for the carving up of a continent might be perceived as a modern form of imperialism. Rothbard argued that all services provided by the "monopoly system of the corporate state" could be done far more effectively by private enterprise, he even argued that the state is "the organization of robbery systematized and writ large". How the notion of assigning state ownership to portions of Antarctica sits with such a view may well require its own standalone philosophy.
José Antonio Peña-Ramos of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Humanities at the Universidad Autónoma de Chile in Providencia, Chile and Dmitri Amirov-Belova of the Pablo de Olavide University in Sevilla, Spain, explain that due to its isolated location and perhaps its extreme temperatures and climatic conditions, there is no indigenous population or government. This contrasts starkly with the Arctic in the north, of course. They point out that several nations have territorial claims on the continent – Argentina, Australia, Chile, New Zealand, Norway, and the United Kingdom. There are several thousand people each year who spend time on the continent for scientific and other purposes.
The team offers much food for thought for those concerned for the future of Antarctica. Primarily, they suggest that a non-state-centric view of international relations may be needed to answer the questions we must act about this frozen continent.
Peña-Ramos, J.A. and Amirov-Belova, D. (2021) 'A Rothbardian approach for the assignment of property rights on the Antarctica continent', Int. J. Technology, Policy and Management, Vol. 21, No. 4, pp.333–343.
- Analysing online social networking
A comprehensive review of the various approaches to social networking user behaviour analysis is reported in the International Journal of Computer Applications in Technology by a team from India. Pramod Bide and Sudhir Dhage of the Computer Engineering Department at the Sardar Patel Institute of Technology in Mumbai, Maharashtra, explain that various approaches can be used for gender prediction, the identification of malicious users, real-time user preference determination, and emotion detection.
Online social networks have been with us for many years now and they each have their pros and cons for their billions of users. For researchers and other observers they are a major source of data that can be used to glean insights into human behaviour and the interactions and responses of users to others and to commercial, political, and other concerns that hope to engage with those users. As such, numerous analytical approaches have been tested that might extract insights from the various online social networks, each with its own successes and failures.
The team explains that hybrid techniques and ones that can be used to analyse behaviour between networks can be the most powerful tools. The results that such approaches are able to glean about the networks' users can be useful to marketing departments, political campaigners, advocacy groups, and many other so-called "stakeholders" looking to make the most of the online world to fulfill their own agendas.
The team concedes that the vast majority of analytical tools focus on text-based updates on social networks, but some can take images and videos into consideration too, and even audio in some instances. Indeed, they suggest that the next step will be to survey tools that focus specifically on audio-visual content.
Bide, P. and Dhage, S. (2021) 'Comprehensive survey of user behaviour analysis on social networking sites', Int. J. Computer Applications in Technology, Vol. 66, No. 1, pp.1–18.
Inderscience journals newly indexed by Ei Compendex
Inderscience's Editorial Office is pleased to announce that the following journals have been indexed by Ei Compendex, thus further expanding the range of Inderscience journals listed on this database:International Journal of Bio-Inspired Computation
International Journal of Business Intelligence and Data Mining
International Journal of Cloud Computing
International Journal of Computational Intelligence Studies
International Journal of Electronic Business
International Journal of Energy Technology and Policy
International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development
International Journal of Hydrology Science and Technology
International Journal of Innovation and Sustainable Development
International Journal of Knowledge-Based Development
International Journal of Power and Energy Conversion
International Journal of Powertrains
International Journal of Sensor Networks
International Journal of Systems, Control and Communications
Inderscience Editor receives research award from American College of Greece
Prof. Constantin Zopounidis, Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Multicriteria Decision Making and International Journal of Financial Engineering and Risk Management, has recently received an award from the American College of Greece (Deree) for his many research achievements. Constantin Zopounidis is President of Financial Engineering and Banking Society and a professor at the Technical University of Crete, and has developed a multifaceted scientific work in the fields of financial engineering, multicriteria decision aid, operations research, corporate finance and banking management. The award ceremony took place in December at the 11th National Conference of the Financial Engineering Society.