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- Will AI be sinister or singular?
What we might loosely refer to as artificial intelligence (AI) has become a part of our daily lives, from mobile phone voice assistants to self-driving cars. That said, many of the tools and technologies we refer to as AI, while seemingly intelligent are actually computer algorithms trained on large amounts of data to perform in a certain way. The chat bots and image generators that are frequently in the news are models that simulate neural networks to create apparently novel content from a prompt or question. We are certainly a long way from the sci-fi notion of artificial intelligence as meaning sentience in machines.
Nevertheless, researchers writing in the International Journal of Smart Technology and Learning have looked at how the concepts of artificial intelligence sit alongside what we perceive as human intelligence. We commonly think of the brain as being the most complicated object in the known universe. It is the result of billions of years of evolution, is self aware and capable of incredible creative and destructive thoughts all seemingly emerging from the interactions of billions of nerve cells within our so-called grey matter.
We know that human intelligence encompasses a wide range of abilities, including problem-solving, learning, creating new ideas, and remembering details…and critically being aware of all of this. In contrast, what we consider to be AI at this point in technological history is defined as systems that can perform tasks that are typically done by experienced humans or can be used to assist less experienced individuals perform certain tasks more efficiently. There is not yet any allusion to sentience in AI.
However, as AI becomes more and more sophisticated could it perhaps advance towards the notion of the singularity put forward by author Vernor Steffen Vinge and later discussed in depth by futurologist Ray Kurzweil? The singularity being the point at which technology does indeed become sentient and then perceives humanity itself as redundant to its wants and needs. As such, there are pressing ethical and moral questions to be answered in terms of whether AI will always be our helpful guide in so many tasks or whether it could eventually lead us to darker place from which humanity might not return.
Even experts in the field are uncertain about how to answer the questions. Of course, if history teaches us anything it is that regardless of whether we answer the moral questions, there will always be people willing to take us down the path that divides us morally and ethically.
In his paper, Jonathan Michael Spector of the Department of Learning Technologies at the College of Information at the University of North Texas in Denton, Texas, USA, points out that while the human brain may well be the product of millions of years of evolution and is highly adaptable to the "modern" problems we face and capable of finding solutions, physically it has changed very little in many millennia. We are born with the same physiology as our prehistoric ancestors, after all. By contrast, we are almost at the point where AI tools are beginning to improve other AI tools…which some observers see as the next step towards the technological singularity.
Spector hopes his article will trigger conversations about the future of AI and human intelligence. As we continue to develop and integrate AI into our lives, it is, he suggests, very important for us to consider the implications and impact it will have on us as individuals and as a society.
Spector, J.M. (2023) 'Human and artificial intelligence in education', Int. J. Smart Technology and Learning, Vol. 3, No. 2, pp.163–167.
- Road traffic accidents and mobile phone addiction
Research in the International Journal of Vehicle Safety looks at the relationship between mobile phone addiction and road traffic accidents in two groups of drivers those who were involved in an accident and those who were not. The team surveyed 240 drivers about their mobile phone use, split between the two groups and found, perhaps obviously, that the drivers who revealed themselves to have an "addiction" to mobile phone use were more likely to have been injured in a road traffic accident than the ones who were not addicted.
Afarin Akhavan and Adel Ashrafi of the Department of Industrial Engineering at the Science and Arts University and Gholam Hossein Halvani, Moein Nemati, and Rohollah Fallah Madvari of the Department of Occupational Health Engineering at the Shahid Sadoughi University of Medical Sciences in Yazd, Iran, write that road traffic accidents are listed as the leading cause of death by the World Health Organisation with some 20 to 50 million people dying each year in such accidents.
The mortality rate in low-income countries is significantly higher than in richer nations. Iran suffers disproportionately from road traffic deaths, with an incidence of five times the global average. Increasing numbers of vehicles on our roads, changes in lifestyle and driving behaviour seem to be nudging those figures upwards each year. The team hoped to identify a relatively recent factor that may be contributing to the increasing number of deaths on the roads – mobile phone addiction – and focused on one of the regions in Iran, Khuzestan, where the accident rate is notably higher than elsewhere.
Given that earlier research suggests that 93 percent of accidents are caused by human behaviour rather than vehicle or road failure, with tiredness and distractions being responsible for many. Of course, the use of mobile phones while driving is prohibited in many places and limited to hands-free use, there is inevitably a large number of drivers who continue to use their devices despite the obvious risks. The demonstration of a direct link between mobile phone addiction and road traffic accidents points to the need for more research into this phenomenon and perhaps ways to combat mobile phone addiction, as well as the need to educate drivers who are users in an effort to reduce the deaths on Iranian roads and elsewhere.
Akhavan, A., Ashrafi, A., Halvani, G.H., Nemati, M. and Madvari, R.F. (2022) 'Relationship between mobile phone addiction and driving accidents in two groups of drivers with and without accidents', Int. J. Vehicle Safety, Vol. 12, Nos. 3/4, pp.344–352.
- AI disentangles quantum patents
A new study in the International Journal of Intellectual Property Management, demonstrates how so-called artificial intelligence (AI) techniques can be used instead of conventional text analysis to disentangle information from a large body of work. Proof of principle was undertaken using a patents database and focusing on research and technologies utilising the field of quantum science. The specific case revealed interesting dynamics concerning global innovation and national organisational profiles pertaining to competition in this area between China and the USA.
Zeki Can Seskir of the Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis at Karlsruhe Institute of Technology and Kelvin W. Willoughby of the HHL Leipzig Graduate School of Management, Germany, built an operating definition of quantum technology and then used AI to create a global patent database. The approach allowed them to extract pertinent information in this field that could be useful to policymakers and managers looking to understand international innovation in this field. The same approach might work just as well in other fields. The approach blended human analysis and AI processing of the body of work.
Billions of Euros and dollars are being ploughed into the burgeoning area of quantum technology with the aim of bringing discoveries and innovations "out of the lab and into the market".
Quantum technology (QT) refers to a broad range of emerging technologies that build on the principles of quantum mechanics to develop innovative and disruptive applications. Quantum mechanics is a field of physical science that emerged in the first half of the twentieth century as our understanding and experiments with atoms and their constituent parts as well as energy began to evolve. Many of the findings confound common sense and yet reveal themselves to represent a valid model of physical reality in many settings. Indeed, semiconductors, lasers, and transistors, and electronics in general rely on an understanding of quantum mechanics and as our understanding develops so too will the technology.
Quantum technology uses the often paradoxical properties of subatomic particles, such as superposition, entanglement, and wave-particle duality, to achieve things that cannot be done with classical systems based on earlier models of the subatomic realm. Examples of quantum technologies include quantum computing, quantum communication, quantum cryptography, quantum sensing, and quantum metrology, among others. Quantum technology could soon change the way in which finance, healthcare, energy, transportation, and security, are undertaken as well as leading to advances in science and engineering.
Seskir, Z.C. and Willoughby, K.W. (2023) 'Global innovation and competition in quantum technology, viewed through the lens of patents and artificial intelligence', Int. J. Intellectual Property Management, Vol. 13, No. 1, pp.40–61.
- A slimline tonic for the pharmaceutical industry
Research in the International Journal of Services and Operations Management, has looked at the pharmaceutical industry in Jordan from the perspective of lean manufacturing practices and operations demonstrating that a lean approach can be beneficial to costs, speed, and reliability in the industry but does not apparently affect quality or innovation significantly.
The concept of lean operations is an approach to manufacturing that emphasizes the elimination of waste and the optimization of efficiency. It was first developed by the Toyota Motor Corporation in the 1950s and has since been adopted by many other manufacturers. The goal of lean operations is to create value for customers while minimizing waste, such as overproduction, defects, excess inventory, unnecessary movement, waiting, over-processing, and unused talent. A number of tools and techniques are used to facilitate lean operations, such as value stream mapping, continuous flow, pull systems, standard work, visual management, error-proofing, and continuous improvement.
Abdel-Aziz Ahmad Sharabati of the Business Faculty at the Middle East University in Amman, Jordan, surveyed 116 managers from 10 of 14 Jordanian pharmaceutical manufacturing organizations on how lean operations are used in their organisations. Alongside the above findings, the work also showed that lead-time, setup time, inspection time, and delivery time were significant factors in determining a company's competitive advantage, while inventory was not.
The work suggests that similar research might be usefully carried out in other industries across Jordan and in the pharmaceutical industry in other countries to see whether the findings are more widely applicable. In an increasingly globalised world, this research could help companies recognise what needs to be done to improve their competitive edge in the face of international competition. Of course, for the pharmaceutical industry itself, any such changes in practices and operations must also comply with regulations in the industry at the national and international level.
Sharabati, A-A.A. (2023) 'Lean operations and competitive advantage in the pharmaceutical industry', Int. J. Services and Operations Management, Vol. 44, No. 3, pp.293–316.
- Beyond the Bucks: supporter recognition is key to crowdfunding success
Crowdfunding is an approach to raising money to kickstart a project or business venture. It usually involves soliciting small contributions from a large number of people, often via the internet. The idea behind crowdfunding is that many people can pool their money together to support a project, which can make it possible for entrepreneurs, artists, and other creatives to get the funding they need to turn their ideas into reality. The supporters are often rewarded with early access to a product or service once it becomes available or exclusive rewards, such as special editions, signed versions, or attractive paraphernalia associated with the product or its creators.
The approach allows entrepreneurs and creatives to sidestep the traditional gatekeepers of funding, such as banks and venture capitalists. They can engage with potential investors who have an intrinsic interest in supporting innovative projects and ideas rather than simply looking for a return on a financial investment. Some supporters will even be keen to feel that they are part of a pioneering community around the venture. Another aspect of crowdfunding is that the supporters can give direct and invaluable feedback to the creatives and entrepreneurs about their offering.
Much of the research into crowdfunding that has been carried out over the years, focuses on how trust is established and maintained around the transactions and relationships. Writing in the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, an international team considers that "recognition" rather than trust per se should be a focus of theoretical frameworks aimed at improving our understanding of the dynamics of crowdfunding.
Jack Wroldsen of the Orfalea College of Business at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, California, USA and Djamchid Assadi of the Burgundy School of Business, Campus Lyon, France, explain that recognition, or the sphere of solidarity, is what emphasises the mutual relationships and respect between entrepreneurs and supporters and how these translate into value for the former and meaning for the latter in the realm of crowdfunding. The team has undertaken several case studies to demonstrate where recognition is present or absent and how this impacts the outcomes of a given project. Overall, they suggest that the concept of recognition, rather than trust alone, provides a more accurate and holistic view of crowdfunding.
The team shows that recognition involves nurturing a reciprocal relationship of mutual respect, not simply maintaining trust. In the case study where the crowdfunding relationship was broken, they explain, it was not that erstwhile supporters lost trust in the venture it was that they were ultimately excluded from the community of collaborators, early-adopters, and developers that had built up around the product. They were no longer recognised.
Wroldsen, J. and Assadi, D. (2023) 'Trust is not recognition: an exploration of revolts in crowdfunding', Int. J. Entrepreneurship and Innovation Management, Vol. 27, Nos. 1/2, pp.1–18.
- Social media impact on government policy
A review and meta-analysis of the appropriate research literature spanning 2010 to 2020, shows that social media has played a significant role in shaping government policies. The work is published in the publication Electronic Government, an International Journal.
Social media refers to websites and applications, mobile apps, that allow users to create, share, and exchange information and content with others in virtual communities and networks. The concept is often referred to as Web 2.0 to contrast it with Web 1.0, which largely involved the traditional model of users passively consuming the output from websites in much the same way as they had for generations of consumers of newspapers, magazines, radio and television broadcasts. Social media gained traction in the early 2000s, with platforms such as Myspace and Friendster, which quickly gathered users and demonstrated some of the potential of this new online realm.
It was not until the launch of Facebook in 2004 that social media began to revolutionize the way people communicate and connect online. Of the services that emerged at the time and soon after, several are still active and represent a large proportion of online activity for many people. These various services are often at the centre of controversial activity. During the period of 2010-2020, social media became even more pervasive and diverse, with platforms including Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat becoming so popular that they displaced conventional news and entertainment sources for many people.
Social media is used in a wide range of sectors, including politics, business, education, news, and entertainment. Politicians have frequently exploited social media to help them fulfill their agenda and aspirations. Businesses find new ways to engage with putative customers but occasionally also see the negative impact of going viral when their activities are controversial. The same happens for celebrities and others. In education, social media has been used as a tool for online learning and communication between students and teachers and was a boon during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, some aspects of social media use still retain their utility. In entertainment, social media has become a world of so-called influencers, a new breed of celebrity whose talents may not lie in the traditional fields of art, music, or acting, but nevertheless allow them to gather an audience around them, build a personal brand to whatever end they can imagine.
Now, Achmad Nurmandi, Herpita Wahyuni, Salahudin, and Isnaini Muallidin of the Universitas Muhammadiyah Yogyakarta in Indonesia, and Maria Dolores Guillamon of the University of Murcia in Spain used a method known as meta-modelling to process several hundred documents from the literature published in that decade-long period. They hoped to determine what researchers had found during the period regarding the influence of social media on public policymaking and governance through data acquisition, opinion tracking, fast data processing, and public opinion analysis and measurement. Critically, the work looked at the impact on scientific developments in social media and government policies.
The team writes that "The use of social media in various policymaking processes has had a significant effect." They add that "Open access can make public spaces understandable and help achieve common goals." They conclude that "Future research should examine approaches to making reliable policies and promoting transparency through social media."
Nurmandi, A., Wahyuni, H., Guillamon, M.D., Salahudin and Muallidin, I. (2023) 'Social media use for public policymaking cycle: a meta-analysis', Electronic Government, Vol. 19, No. 2, pp.123–145.
- Finding your feet on civvy street: navigating a second career after military service
A nation's armed forces rely on personnel to defend that nation through their strength, determination, and ability to adapt to modern warfare whether their role is on land, sea, or in the air. In most countries, young recruits join the military willingly as a career choice. There are, of course, some countries that have national service, or conscription. This might also change in times of conflict. Those who sign up are generally well aware that their careers will have a duration that is far shorter than that of someone working in civilian life in general, unless of course, they rise through the ranks to the upper echelons of service, when retirement might come later.
Commonly military personnel will complete their service between the ages of 35 and 50, perhaps having joined when they reached adulthood or shortly thereafter. Civilian employment generally sees individuals reaching "retirement" age in their mid to late 60s, although that age varies considerably and in some places people tend to retire before they reach 60, in others, there is a push to raise the retirement age to 70 to ensure an active workforce in the face of an aging population.
Given the much younger retirement age of military personnel, there is generally a pressing need for those retiring from the armed forces to seek out a second career. These individuals are often highly skilled and disciplined and should be seen as a valuable, national asset with talents that can be used to allow them to earn a good living as well as play their part in society after their military service is complete. However, many veterans struggle to find appropriate second careers. This problem is often exacerbated by physical and mental health problems that may have arisen during active service, for example, in peacekeeping activities or war zones.
The issue of age at retirement can also be a problem for those leaving service later in life and hoping to jump into a new career when they may be many years older than others seeking training and employment in a given sector, such as construction or commercial driving.
A study in the International Journal of Society Systems Science by a team from the Mittal School of Business at the Lovely Professional University in Phagwara, Punjab, India, has looked at how strategies and principles might be developed to help ex-military personnel, veterans, determine their need and desire for a second career after military service and to assess those aspirations realistically.
The team of Sarabjit Singh Walia and Rajesh Verma suggest that their findings are crucial for society as a whole but in particular for helping veterans who have dedicated their lives to serving their country. The team highlights many of the challenges veterans face when transitioning from the military and finding themselves back on what is colloquially known as "civvy street", in civilian life, in other words. They highlight the need for support and resources to assist with this transition.
The team points out that employers may need education so that they can learn to recognize the value of taking on military veterans and so open up new opportunities where unique skills and experience can be used. Conversely, training for ex-military personnel that focuses on self-employment and entrepreneurship could be a focus for those who see a second career outside the realm of conventional employment.
The work looks specifically at the armed forces of India and reveals the differences in transition needs for those leaving the army, the navy, and the airforce. Although points out that, ultimately, all such personnel, once they change out of their uniforms find themselves in a similar position on civvy street. There is a pressing need to address society's shortcomings in order to help retiring military personnel make a successful transition from service back into civilian life.
Walia, S.S. and Verma, R. (2022) 'Second career – availability and aspirations of ex-servicemen', Int. J. Society Systems Science, Vol. 14, No. 2, pp.163–179.
- Seeing greenwashing companies true colours
Research in the International Journal of Environment and Sustainable Development shows that there is a gap between the environmental messages given to consumers in verbal or visual form and the perception of and trust in those messages and whether consumers recognise some of them as nothing more than greenwashing.
Greenwashing is a neologism that refers to the scurrilous actions of some companies or organisations using misleading marketing tactics to create a false impression that their products or services are environmentally friendly or sustainable when they are not. The term "greenwashing" is a play on the term "whitewashing," which refers to the practice of covering up or hiding negative information. Greenwashing is used to conceal unsustainable or environmentally harmful practices. If consumers recognise greenwashing, then the company's fake appeal to environmentally conscious consumers in order to gain a competitive advantage in the market will be stymied.
Kenny Basso, Jandir Pauli, Priscila Cerutti, Marcia Perin, Vitor Francisco Dalla Corte, and Leila Dal Moro in the Faculdade Meridional, IMED, Brazil carried out a single-factor experiment. In this experiment, participants were shown either text or image-based materials. The researchers found that those individuals exposed to the text format materials engaged with it far less than those exposed to an image. Indeed, those people presented with images were more likely to be suspicious of greenwashing than the text-only group because they were more likely to engage with the material.
The findings of this study highlight the need for consumers to be wary of greenwashing tactics used by companies. The use of images is more engaging and so makes it harder for greenwashing claims by unethical companies to be accepted by consumers.
As climate change and environmental problems continue to be pressing global issues, it is crucial that companies and consumers work together towards more sustainable practices. This study sheds light on the need for more transparent communication from companies, and the importance of consumers educating themselves and taking a proactive role in buying from companies that do not greenwash their products and services.
Basso, K., Pauli, J., Cerutti, P., Perin, M., Dalla Corte, V.F. and Moro, L.D. (2023) 'Greenwash, show your true colours: how verbal and visual messages influence consumers' perception?', Int. J. Environment and Sustainable Development, Vol. 22, No. 2, pp.210–225.
- The dark side of relationship marketing
Work published in the International Journal of Business Innovation and Research offers a theoretical perspective on whether an innovative form of marketing is a double-edged sword for business owners who operate in the business-to-business, B2B, sphere.
In conventional marketing, businesses hope to profit from essentially one-time transactions and sales. There was a nod to customer loyalty, but on the whole, this was largely ignored as long as one-time sales kept rolling in. In today's world, there is an increasing push towards repeat transactions, brand awareness, and customer loyalty meaning ongoing sales and so profits. This so-called "relationship marketing" builds long-term relationships between one commercial concern and a business customer rather than focusing on those one-time transactions.
The obvious goal of relationship marketing is to establish a strong and lasting connection with customers through loyalty programs, personalized marketing campaigns, and customer service initiatives. The benefit to the company is almost guaranteed repeat business and an increase in word-of-mouth referrals to potential new customers thanks to the satisfaction of the loyal customer. The benefits to the loyal customer of the relationship are loyalty bonuses, better, more personal, service and communication regarding their purchases, as well as product offerings tailored to their needs and budget.
Deepika, Shashank Vikram Pratap Singh, and Mohinder Paul of the University of Delhi, India, suggest that this form of marketing for all its mutual benefits may have a dark side. It may be a win-win, but it could also be a double-edged sword. They offer a theoretical perspective on the downsides of this popular business strategy.
The researchers point out that relationship marketing can lead to negative outcomes between companies that adopt this strategy. Earlier research has perhaps ignored this aspect of the approach, but the team argues that it is an important area that deserves more attention. They suggest that there are two factors at play. The first is time – over time, a relationship can become routine and boring, losing the spark that made it special in the first place. The second factor is opportunism – when one partner has the chance to take advantage of the other, it can sour a positive relationship.
The researchers provide a framework for understanding the variables associated with relationship marketing. The positives of trust and commitment and the negatives of vulnerability, complacency, and suspicion. They argue that if a partner has the opportunity to engage in opportunism this can be detrimental to the relationship. Those positives soon become negatives and the relationship fails. The team suggests that, as with many other relationships, keeping the spark alive and avoiding complacency is key. They also suggest that while partners can, of course, be trusting of each other it is as well to be aware of the early signs of opportunism and cheating and to nip them in the bud for the sake of the relationship.
The team adds that future research might consider the other factors at play such as reduced vigilance, dependence, the quality of available alternatives, agent-specific knowledge, dissatisfaction, and lack of innovation. All of these factors can affect relationships between businesses buying and selling products and services from each other.
Deepika, Singh, S.V.P. and Paul, M. (2023) 'Does relationship marketing have a dark side? A theoretical perspective', Int. J. Business Innovation and Research, Vol. 30, No. 3, pp.389–406.
- Machine learning predicts suicide risk in patients with anxiety and stress
Anxiety and depression are serious mental health problems that a growing number of people seem to be facing. These conditions can tragically lead to suicidal thoughts and actions. As such, new research in the International Journal of Biomedical Engineering and Technology is being undertaken to help find modern solution to help prevent such tragic outcomes. The work focuses on how machine learning might be used to identify patients who may be at risk of suicide and allow interventions to be made in a timely manner.
According to the World Health Organisation, approximately 700,000 die by suicide each year. That represents more than one person every minute. Many more people attempt suicide and the WHO suggests that a prior attempt is ultimately the biggest risk factor for suicide. Suicide is a multidimensional disorder that arises from the interaction between biological, genetic, psychological, sociological, and environmental factors. In places where mental health services are not readily available, people at risk often see a physician rather than a psychiatrist. Research has shown that between one in five and three in five of people who commit suicide had seen a physician in the month prior to their death.
Anju Bhandari Gandhi and Devendra Prasad of the Panipat Institute of Engineering and Technology in Haryana, Umesh Kumar Lilhore and Sarita Simaiya of Chandigarh University in Gharuan Mohali, Punjab, and Deepak Kumar Verma of the Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University in Kanpur Uttar Pradesh, India, have investigated how computer algorithms can be used to analyze data from patients suffering from anxiety and stress. They compared several different types of algorithms to see which might be best suited to predicting suicidal behaviour based on the patient data.
The results are promising. The team explains that the random forest algorithm was able to predict with 95% accuracy which patients were at risk for suicide. This kind of analysis could be used to screen patients more efficiently, helping healthcare workers identify those who need help the most sooner rather than when it is too late. As healthcare workers continue to face increasing complexity and limited time, it is important to find innovative ways to identify problems. The WHO points out that suicide is the fourth leading cause of death among 15-29 year-olds. The team's algorithmic approach to risk assessment based on monitoring anxiety levels works equally well for youngsters as it does for older people.
Obviously, software can never replace one-to-one care, but if it can reveal issues that might not be immediately apparent to a healthcare worker and flag problems early, then the healthcare worker might be in a better position to make a timely intervention and so save lives.
Gandhi, A.B., Prasad, D., Lilhore, U.K., Verma, D.K. and Simaiya, S. (2023) 'Suicidal behaviour screening using machine learning techniques', Int. J. Biomedical Engineering and Technology, Vol. 41, No. 2, pp.111–125.
Associate Prof. Ping Wang appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Computers in Healthcare
Associate Prof. Ping Wang from James Madison University in the USA has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Computers in Healthcare.
Prof. Daphne Halkias appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Environment, Workplace and Employment
Prof. Daphne Halkias from École des Ponts ParisTech in France has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Environment, Workplace and Employment.
International Journal of Business and Globalisation is now an open access-only journal
We are pleased to announce that the International Journal of Business and Globalisation is now an Open Access-only journal. All accepted articles submitted from March 2023 onwards will be Open Access, and will require an article processing charge of US $1500.
Associate Prof. Chongying Wang appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Electronic Healthcare
Associate Prof. Chongying Wang from Nankai University in China has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Electronic Healthcare.
Prof. Omid Mahian appointed as new Editor in Chief of International Journal of Renewable Energy Technology
Prof. Omid Mahian from Xi'an Jiaotong University and Imperial College London has been appointed to take over editorship of the International Journal of Renewable Energy Technology.