The End of Cookies
If you have ever been looking for a product on a web page and then, browsing another different page, you have seen ads related precisely to the product you were looking for, you should know that those responsible are the so-called third-party cookies.
Cookies are small text files that are downloaded to our browser every time we access a web page. They allow servers to track our activity as we browse the Internet. For example, they allow you to keep sessions active, to know which sites you have visited, how often, to remember what you put in the shopping cart, and if you have registered the usernames and passwords you use. Cookies, however, have their days numbered.
Good and bad cookies?
Despite being created for a harmless and limited purpose, for now, the list of things they can do is much more extensive and not always ethical.
Broadly speaking, we can say that there are two types of cookies:
- Own cookies, created by the website we visit. Of these, there are essential ones, such as those that serve to ensure that the content of the website is loaded efficiently, or those that allow the payment of requested goods or services.
- Third-party cookies, created by other websites. These websites are the owners of some content we see on the webpage we visit, such as ads or images.
A third-party cookie is a file that is downloaded from a website to the hard drive of our device, but which comes from a different domain than the site we are visiting.
These cookies are sent to companies (outside the web we are visiting) to personalize the advertising they offer, based on our tastes and the things that catch our attention.
In addition to making advertising increasingly invasive, third-party cookies began to directly affect users’ right to privacy, due to ignorance about the use and processing of their data. That’s why in Europe, web service providers are required to notify you that they are using cookies that contain information about you and give you the option to choose whether to accept the tracing. This is thanks to European laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the highest European standard for personal data, and above all, the new ePrivacy Regulation 2021 on the protection of privacy in the electronic communications sector, which is expected to enter into force in 2023.
Google’s plan for its Chrome browser
Google, one of the largest ad sellers in the world and owner of the most popular browser, Chrome, had been announcing since August 2019 that it was planning to make changes in order to eliminate the controverted third-party cookies, following in the footsteps of some of its competitors, such as Mozilla Firefox or Safari (Apple), which already block them by default.
Although Google had originally indicated 2022 as the deadline for doing so, it has now delayed the move until 2023, according to them, “to avoid jeopardizing the business models of web publishers that support free-access contents”.
The plan for Chrome is to remove support for third-party cookies in two stages:
- Phase 1 (from the end of 2022): Once the tests are completed and the APIs (programmable interfaces for integrating other applications) in Chrome are launched, the start of the first phase will be announced. During this first phase, publishers and the advertising industry will have time to migrate their services. This stage is expected to last nine months and Google is committed to carefully monitoring the adoption and the feedback it receives, before moving on to the second phase.
- Phase 2 (as of mid-2023): Chrome will phase out support for third-party cookies over a three-month period ending in late 2023.
There is controversy
At one time or another, everyone has been surprised by confirming that the Internet allows you to enjoy free services: social networks, e-mail, digital press, etc. But this is only possible thanks to a business model that gets its advertising revenue. And that is one aspect of the controversy. The other is the widespread concern generated by the use of our personal data by Internet giants.
According to some experts, Google’s real goal is to consolidate its control over data generation and analysis, and move towards its undisputed and almost monopolistic leadership in digital advertising (by 2020, Google’s advertising revenue was about $147,000 million, more than 81% of its total income).
There are also those who say that the reason for delaying the removal of third-party cookies by Google for another year is that the solution they are considering could be used to find out even more about Internet users.
The company admits that this implementation is subject to agreements with UK authorities. But these are not the only ones who have warned of possible problems, both for monopolistic practices and for privacy; the top data protection officials in France, Germany, and Belgium are also following in Google’s footsteps closely.
Third-party cookies may have their days numbered, and as a result, the digital marketing industry and the online advertising industry may face the biggest crisis in its history if a viable alternative is not consolidated.
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COVID-19 has brought about changes in our lives, and no one
Just like a shopping centre, a marketplace describes the platform, in this case a digital one, where companies and consumers exchange products and money. An old concept that is taking on new life thanks to new technologies.
Virtually all consumers have become familiar with online shopping, especially in the wake of the pandemic. And most do so through marketplace platforms where the range of products on offer is wider, and they can therefore filter by price, the best value for money, or even be guided by user reviews.
The marketplace concept goes beyond shopping centres: brands are multiplying, price competition is fiercer and the days of poor quality products are numbered, as consumers are the main voice of the platform.
What does the marketplace offer?
The growth and consolidation of these platforms has reached its peak during the pandemic. Users especially value the possibility of shopping from home, being able to do so at any time, without having to travel and avoiding crowds, a key point at the present time.
But more than just as a consequence of the pandemic, why has the marketplace purchasing system increased so significantly? What advantages does it bring for the customer and for companies? Do we know the risks? Agent Jordi Sánchez explains in the following video.
The rise of the marketplace in figures
The agency “Elogia”, a specialist in digital commerce, concluded in its annual study that the marketplace was the most used means of purchase in 2020, and the trend continues to rise:
- 72% of internet users between the ages of 16 and 70 shop online, especially in the 35-44 age bracket.
- 70% of online shoppers use marketplaces to find information and compare products.
- 8 out of 10 users end up buying on the platform.
- They shop an average of 3.5 times a month.
- Spending is €68 on average, although during the pandemic it increased by 51%.
- Computers (83%) and mobile phones (55%) are the main purchasing devices.
- Mobile devices, household appliances and technology are the top-selling products.
Despite the fact that some of these platforms are criticised for ethical issues or working conditions, their turnover continues to grow, pending the figures that reflect this year’s shopping trend.
Catalonia will have a constellation of up to six satellites in space, with a public investment of 18 million euros over four years. The project involves 30 emerging companies and several research centres.
Until very recently, only state space agencies and rich countries could put satellites into orbit. As sending satellites into space is weight-based (literally) and the satellites can weigh tons, it was very difficult to have access to them. Catalonia is committed to the NewSpace strategy.
NewSpace or SpaceIndustry 4.0 transforms the ideas and methods known until recently in the conquest of space, the technologies that allow it, and the businesses that can be derived from it.
It departs from the models promoted by government space agencies in at least five key respects. First, NewSpace arises driven by private initiative and emerging business potential. Second, it proposes a relaxation of the design and construction procedures of space widgets. Third, it seeks a reduction in development time. Fourth, it takes advantage of new technologies. Fifth, as a result of the above, it achieves a drastic decrease in the costs of the development cycle.
Everything this makes NewSpace become, in some respects, a serious competitor of the traditional spatial strategy: OldSpace. This new technological paradigm shift will have commercial and industrial implications that will go far beyond the aerospace sector itself.
In January 2021, the Government gave the green light to the preliminary report of the Draft Law on the Creation of the Space Agency of Catalonia. The Agency, as a key element of the NewSpace strategy, will implement the national economic development policy in this area and will be the reference entity for public and private agents in everything related to the space sector in the country.
Nanosatellites weigh little (up to 10 kg), orbit in space at low altitudes — which allows more protection against cosmic and solar radiation, and require much less energy to transmit data compared to conventional satellites — and they have a lifespan of four years, until gravity attracts them, and they fall to Earth. They are built by assembling CubeSats, unitary elements with a volume of 10 cubic cm (slightly more than a Rubik’s cube) and an approximate weight of 1 kg.
Unlike large traditional satellites, they are not geostationary, so in order to be efficient, they need to operate in a “constellation” or network, so that there are always some that can offer coverage due to their position.
The function of these AEC nanosatellites will be to increase 5G coverage for the Internet of Things (IoT), terrestrial observation, the Generalitat’s own services, or, for example, fire control and rescue in natural spaces and isolated areas.
The first satellite, Enxaneta — a nanosatellite the size of a shoebox and weighing 10 kilograms — was launched into space aboard a Soyuz rocket on March 22, 2021, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Enxaneta orbits the Earth every hour and a half, in a polar orbit, that is, in the direction of the Earth’s meridians, at an altitude of only 500 kilometres, and flies over Catalonia twice a day.
The Enxaneta in particular, which consists of 3 CubeSats, will deploy global connectivity services of the Internet of Things, allowing: the communication and obtaining of data from sensors located throughout Catalonia, even in areas that are difficult to access or that do not have coverage; monitor the flow of rivers and water reserves, and of wildlife in order to protect it; receive weather data from stations in remote locations; monitor herds and crops in order to detect diseases, and define more efficient strategies.
Today, the NewSpace ecosystem in Catalonia is made up of 30 emerging companies, some of which, such as Sateliot, OpenCosmos, Pangea, or Zero2Infinity, world leaders in the nanosatellite sector, have grown driven by many years of cooperation in projects, studies, and space missions with the European Space Agency (ESA).
But, in addition, in Catalonia we also have 13 R&D centres, of which UPC Nanosat Lab and the Institute of Space Studies of Catalonia (IEEC) stand out, as well as one of the European Space Agency’s business incubation centres, ESA BIC Barcelona, based in Castelldefels.
Finally, and in collaboration with IEEC, UPC Nanosat Lab has developed the ground satellite monitoring and control station located in IEEC’s Montsec Astronomical Observatory (OAdM).
Uses of Catalonia’s NewSpace strategy nanosatellites
- Geographical, geological, and meteorological analysis
- Agriculture and aquaculture
- Security and emergencies
- Telecommunications and the audiovisual sector
- Transport and logistics
- Environment, energy, and water
- Smart cities
What is to come
According to the Government, 1,200 new high value-added jobs and a turnover of around 280 million euros will be generated by 2025. Six nanosatellites will take off before 2023, with a total budget of 18 million euros.
The Lleida-Alguaire Airport will host a spaceport dedicated to suborbital flight missions, as well as a propulsion test centre for rocket-launchers (the second in Europe), and a business park and training centre for technology companies linked to space.
Virtual cards are the main method of online payment. In a market where more and more virtual transactions are taking place, these cards offer more protection and agility in shopping.
They are specifically designed to be used as a means of virtual payment. The goal is to provide security to the consumer in their online purchases, and protect both the transactions and the linked current account.
Custom design for digital shopping
The main feature is the format of the card, where there is neither magnetic stripe nor chip. The format and design of virtual cards varies between entities, but it is quite common to find that they only exist virtually and that, therefore, the card data is only accessed from the banking platform or digital wallet.
The information we have about this card is the one for which we will be asked in any virtual transaction: sixteen-digit card number, three-digit security code, and expiration date. This is the most sensitive information on the card, and that’s exactly why you avoid having it in physical format, to reduce the chances of duplication or impersonation.
Protection for your accounts
Online shopping has increased significantly, to the point that many companies are already being created only in digital format. In Catalonia, the turnover of e-commerce has already exceeded 1.5% of GDP. But even so, there are still many consumers who are reluctant to make this change, most motivated by the fear that third parties have access to their money. And while it is true that this is a real problem, banks are creating increasingly sophisticated products to prevent this lack of protection.
Virtual cards, far from exposing our account, do just the opposite: they provide more protection than conventional cards. You have prepaid virtual cards, that is, cards the user tops up with the amount they need. These cards do not have direct access to the account; therefore, protection is assured.
Other virtual cards can be enabled and disabled; therefore, they will only be operational when the customer so desires. Thanks to peculiarities like these, the risk of fraudulent operations decreases still more. These are constantly evolving measures that struggle to end cybercrime.
More control for you, less plastic for the planet
In practical terms, this whole system of protection, which includes the protection of card data and the minimum link with the current account, make it difficult for hackers to access personal accounts. In the event of fraudulent transactions, claims, or purchases in other countries, virtual cards significantly facilitate the resolution of such transactions and, most importantly, allow any incident that may arise to affect only this card, without involving the rest of the cards or accounts.
In addition, not having a physical format is a more sustainable form of payment that, in many cases, involves less maintenance costs for the customer.
Physical cards, in the process of digitization
It is increasingly common to have physical debit or credit cards also in virtual format to pay via mobile. They are usually tied to physical cards and our current account; therefore, they do not represent a major step forward in terms of security, although they facilitate the option of blocking the card in the event of an incident and allow us to control expenses and be able to make payments without the physical card.
The challenge for the coming years will be to bring this method of protection and agility provided by virtual cards closer to payments in other areas such as physical commerce or cash withdrawal.
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Digitalisation has accelerated this type of digital crime
It gives the cybercriminal the ability to lock a device from a remote location and encrypt our files, taking control of all stored information and data and not releasing it until we pay a ransom. Can we prevent it?
Ransomware in the 21st century
Ransomware is one of the main cyber threats. There are more than 1,100 variants designed to attack businesses and private users. Technologies are becoming increasingly sophisticated. However, since 2019 there has been a considerable decrease in attacks on private individuals, and this is due to the fact that ransomware attacks are increasingly personalised towards specific targets. Attacks are directed at a smaller number of organisations and have a much higher success rate. Despite this, we must remain vigilant and adopt security measures that can protect us from these increasingly sophisticated threats. The digital currency, bitcoin, has become the currency of exchanges.
What are the attacks like, and how can they be prevented?
Ransomware can attack in two ways: firstly, by blocking entry into the operating system; and secondly, by encrypting documents and files stored on the hard drive, so that it is impossible to open or read them without the corresponding decryption key.
The advice given by experts to avoid a ransomware attack is the same as that which can be applied when surfing the Internet. Basic precautions, combined with common sense, can help to avoid these dangers. Some of the most basic are:
- Keep the operating system updated to avoid security breaches.
- Have a good antivirus product installed and updated.
- Do not open emails or files from unknown senders.
- Do not open attachments, even if the sender is known. If no file has been requested, it is better not to open it, as it could be malicious software that has infected a contact’s computer and has automatically spread among their contacts.
- Avoid browsing unsafe pages or pages with unverified content.
- Always have an up-to-date backup, it is the best way to avoid losing information.
- Using cloud storage services can help mitigate a ransomware infection.
What should we do if our computer has been infected by a ransomware attack?
There are a number of protocols for dealing with ransomware attacks.
The first step is to create a copy of the infected hard drive. This leaves the main computer intact in case the files are corrupted when we try to decrypt them. This way we can always go back to square one. Also, if necessary, this copy could be used as evidence in a judicial investigation.
Secondly, disinfect the copy using an antivirus software. If you manage to free the documents, you can prevent the malware from re-encrypting them. The system would then be clean, but all affected files would still be encrypted.
The third step is to use a tool that helps identify the malicious code variant that has attacked the system. Once the tool has recognised the code, apply the decryption programme best suited to the ransomware variant that affects you. It is possible that the decryption programme does not work, or that there is still no solution for the ransomware that has affected the computer; in this case, keep the encrypted hard drive in case a solution appears in the future.
Another option is to contact a cybersecurity company, where technical experts in this malware will try to find a customised solution to the encryption.
The first ever ransomware victim
The first person to suffer a ransomware attack was Eddy Willems, a worker at an insurance company in Belgium. In 1989 his boss asked him to check what was on a floppy disk he had received from the WHO. The diskette was expected to contain medical research on AIDS, but when he loaded it, he found a message saying that the computer had been locked and that he had to make a deposit of $189 to an address in Panama.
This is known as the world’s first ransomware attack and was called AIDS Trojan. The author of this attack was Joseph Popp, one of those involved in AIDS research. Why he decided to do this remains unknown. This first ransomware case in history was much simpler and more naive than those currently being carried out.
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This type of digital crime has accelerated
We present a collection of the 11 best TikTok profiles made in Catalan. These young people have gained popularity on the trending social network by making videos in Catalan.
When we hear the word TikTok, the trending app born in China in September 2016 that allows us to make short music videos of up to 1 minute, many think that this platform is only dedicated to dancing, fashion, makeup, and fun. However, it brings us Catalans something more. Its use, in the hands of some young people, young influencers, has become a great tool for spreading and promoting Catalan. Today we want to let you know what we can consider the top eleven TikTokers which promote Catalan. Let’s get started!
- ferranxidk: Ferran, who lives between Girona and Barcelona, is a guy who makes funny videos, has more than 70,000 followers and accumulates more than 9 million likes on TikTok.
- long_lixue: This other well-known Catalan YouTuber, who lives in Girona and has Chinese nationality, also succeeds at TikTok. Well known for collaborating on iCat, he is also famous for fighting racism with millions of likes to his TikTok profile.
- sanyesmag: This young man from La Garrotxa is famous for his magic videos. He has more than 27,000 followers and half a million likes on TikTok. He is a strong promoter of Catalan through this social network.
- walter_capdevila: with nearly 200,000 followers and 5 million likes on the net, we could proclaim this Barcelonan the king of absurd humour. His TikTok profile is a guarantee of laughter.
- misstagless: here we have Sílvia, with 10,000 followers and more than 150,000 likes on TikTok. This Valencian fights for the use and defence of Valencian, playing with home-made humour and a lot of personality.
- filologa_de_guardia: this student of Catalan Philology is called Aida. Her TikTok profile has more than 5,000 followers and almost 50,000 likes. These will be your new Catalan online lessons!
- apitxat: here we have Xavier, with almost 50,000 followers and a million likes. He is another activist for the Valencian lands. You’ll have plenty of jokes and humour in Valencian.
- Can Putades: these girls are from La Garrotxa and live in Barcelona. They have 40,000 followers and almost 1 million likes. Their videos raise unknown words in Catalan from the Garrotxa region, among other funny videos of jokes from their day to day, without ceasing to have Catalan as the basis of their TikTok profile.
- Aroagr8: here we have Aroa and Paula, with 15,000 followers and over 130,000 likes. Famous from confinement, these two girls play with words according to their region, one in Girona and the other in Amposta. Listening to Catalan had never been so curious.
- Bertaarocach: if you prefer a Catalan profile that sticks for its energy and its typical teenager performances that you will want to see time and time again, here is Berta. A profile with more than 100,000 followers and 4 million likes.
- Julen_gs: as we are in the summer, and with the sun we feel like dancing, we say goodbye with Julen’s profile. He makes some superb versions of well-known songs, playing with Txarango’s music, or doing a mix of Plats Bruts with music from the Friends show. He has about 10,000 followers and almost 90,000 likes on TikTok.
The previous TikTok profiles have thousands of followers on the trending social network, and best of all, they have gained popularity by showing themselves to the world in Catalan.
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The Mobile World Congress is the tip of a technological iceberg installed in Barcelona. Today, the technology sector has 160,000 employees, both direct and indirect, and has positioned Barcelona as the third-largest technology cluster in Europe.
Is Barcelona only the Mobile?
During its short four-day duration, the Mobile brings more than 100,000 professional visitors to the Catalan capital, as well as playing a key role in forging relationships between technology companies in the city. It is important to note, however, that the imprint of the technology sector in Barcelona does not end here: on the contrary, it is only the beginning.
Digital and innovation cluster in Europe
Today, Barcelona has effectively positioned itself as one of the most attractive cities on the continent for professionals in the technology sector and emerging companies. According to the Startup Heatmap Europe report, the city of Barcelona is 3rd in the ranking of best-positioned hubs in Europe to host startups, being chosen by 17% of founders of emerging European companies.
This privileged position has allowed the city to attract many investors in recent years, as well as having seen the birth of up to three local unicorns (companies valued at more than 1 billion euros) — Glovo, Letgo, and eDreams — has also attracted seven unicorns of foreign origin in the process of digital transformation of the city : N26, Globant, Checkout, Bitpanda, Deliveroo, Revolut, and Global Switch.
This injection of foreign capital and talent is also reflected in the number of workers attracted by the rise of this sector: more than 80,000 employees directly, and a similar amount indirectly. In addition, this type of jobs tend to be better paid, thus increasing the purchasing power of the Catalan capital. It can be said, therefore, that Barcelona is of paramount importance in the field of technology and the recruitment of professional talent on the continent.
[email protected] or how to turn an industrial district into a cradle of innovation in the city
Having gained this competitive advantage over other cities with more population or more economic weight has not been easy, and we could say that it was mainly due to the existence of some key features, including agreements between public and private institutions in order to jointly promote Barcelona in the world, carrying out common projects to improve its competitiveness on a global scale.
Specifically, one of the projects that has contributed most in this regard has been the creation of [email protected]: a district located in the old industrial neighbourhoods of Poblenou, which was disused since the transfer of many factories outside Barcelona starting at the end of the twentieth century.
The aim of this project was to convert the disused spaces occupied by the old factories into a neighbourhood of technological and digital vocation, adapting the typical industrial neighbourhood from the past to the new 21st century, a clear example of adaptation to the new era.
The effects of [email protected] are completely visible: more than 90,000 highly-qualified people work together every day in one of the 10,000 companies that have been attracted by the potential of the neighbourhood, from small emerging companies to large multinationals, generating synergies between the different sectors present in the district, especially in the field of digitisation and culture.
Barcelona, city of the future
In short, we can say that Barcelona is very well positioned to attract international talent, at a key moment in which the digital transformation sector is expected to play a very important role in the economy and will continue to grow at a frantic pace.
The city of Barcelona must be clear about its objectives and take advantage of all the resources at its disposal in order to be able to link the international promotion of Barcelona as a technology hub with a sustainable and efficient city model, in order to improve the quality of life of residents while positioning itself in the world as a city of the future.
Digital art is capable of anything: it has broken the record by selling a work of art for $69 million
Thanks to the union of art and technology, new human feelings have arisen and have made it possible to experience art in a much more intense way, including newer, much more interactive tools.
The art world is evolving with new resources to reach all audiences and, through technology, it manages to make us feel what art wants to express; lights, perspective, and sound can take us to another dimension.
In 1826, Joseph Nicéphore Niepce began to link photography and art in making the first photographic copies of pictorial works and in trying to capture reality with an artistic sense, beyond the mere capture of images.
We understand art as the activity in which man recreates, for an aesthetic purpose, an aspect of reality or a feeling in beautiful forms, using matter, image, or sound. If we talk about technology, we can define it as the pursuit of satisfying human needs and desires. Technology seeks to solve practical problems in part by using science.
New technologies, new perspectives
Art and technology have always existed as a union, but today the link between the two is much more evident. And if this has been achieved, it is thanks to the use of increasingly sophisticated technological developments.
One of the most innovative techniques has been video mapping, where video projectors are used to display an animation or images on real surfaces, achieving an artistic effect that is out of the ordinary. This technique is based on the movements created by the animation (2D and 3D) on the surface.
The best known mapping is the one we see on monumental buildings accompanied by sounds to create a greater spectacle.
Many brands have managed to reach their target audience through this technique. They have recreated, for example, a piece of high jewellery so that not only the public sees the jewel on display, but also how to go into it, to have a different perception of it.
Flat projections are long gone. Mapping can be projected onto real-world objects, such as a building, and it can capture images on walls with no distortion at all.
Mapping in Barcelona on the occasion of the Llum BCN Festival 2016.
The latest and most revolutionary
The rise of digital art is unstoppable, and the record has been recently broken. Billionaire digital artist Mike Winkelmann, known as Beeple, has made it possible for his artwork to sell for $69 million. The technology that made it possible has its own name: NFT (Non-Fungible Tokens).
Winkelmann has been doing that for over fifteen years, but it is now that he has managed to make his 5,000-image collage position him as the most sought-after digital artist.
Something never seen before! On February 25, his work went to auction for an initial price of $100; within a week, its share price reached $14 million, but what Mike wasn’t expecting was that it reached $69 million. The work that has reached this figure is “Everydays – The First 5000 Days”. The author says it is a work in which “individual pieces are organised in an inaccurate chronological order: when approaching the images, abstract, fantastic, grotesque, or absurd images are revealed, which are deeply personal or representative of today”.
Comparing the past to the present, Van Gogh’s “Irises” oil on canvas, also auctioned by Christie’s, sold for $20 million less than Beeple’s work.
Other ways to create art
We speak with architect Alfredo Acosta, who tells us that architecture and light are very fashionable. He has a new personal project that is focused on the space that is generated with light. The objective is to discover new spaces different from those to which we are used. He gives us the example of typography: if we enlarge a letter, if we increase the scale 14 times, a space is being generated, we can enter the letter and, if we illuminate it in a synchronised way with the person who was enabling the font space, through sensors, we could achieve these sensations, so that person, space, and light can interact.
Soon we will have more details about his exhibition. Can you imagine being able to discover what’s inside your name’s initial?
Where to find digital art
If you are in Barcelona, don’t miss the IDEAL space, a creative laboratory that aims to research, create, and develop technology applied to immersive environments and experiences such as virtual reality or augmented reality, among others. Today you can see KLIMT: a large format immersive production focused on the work of the modernist painter.
Klimt, the Immersive Experience at Ideal
And, in the same space, the Kabaret Fledermaus (Bat cabaret) is carried out, which the authors create as “a vindication of the mythical Viennese cabaret of the early twentieth century through art, music, technology, and science”. In this space, technology manages to create an experience to delve into art with all five senses.
After reading this article, you surely no longer think that art is boring and difficult to understand. Enjoy digital art and delve into works whose author probably never thought they could be viewed in this way.
Artificial intelligence facilitates the fulfilment of 79% of the sustainable development goals set globally in the 2030 Agenda. We analyse a Nature Communications’ study to find out why this figure has been reached and from which areas it will be achieved.
What is artificial intelligence (AI)?
Although there is no single way to describe it, an accurate way is the one described by Britannica, understanding AI as the ability of a digital computer or robot to perform tasks that require human intelligence. In other words, taking advantage of technological tools to optimise human tasks and, at the same time, achieve challenges that until now seemed impossible. Social and economic development cannot be understood without these AI mechanisms that, today, already mark our daily lives. Facial, fingerprint and voice recognition, weather forecasting, interactive communication with machines, automated knowledge extraction and logical reasoning are some of the achievements that will undoubtedly mark this century. The focus, and the challenge, is to create and use this technology to contribute to sustainable development on a global scale.
The three pillars of sustainable development
Society, economy and environment form the basis for understanding today’s world and are therefore the key points for developing strategic actions. The Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible (ODS), have been created from these three pillars. 17 goals and 169 targets shape the present and future challenges on a global scale to keep technological advances at bay and ensure that every step contributes positively to social progress.
The 169 goals address all areas such as poverty, quality education, access to food, health and water for the population, clean and affordable energy and the creation of sustainable cities. The Nature Communications’ study, based on more than 60 sources, finds that the right AI development can have a positive impact on 134 of these goals, 79%. The uses of AI are multiple and we find them represented in most everyday actions.
AI to reduce social inequalities
Technology is opening up to reach all pockets, also from an economic point of view. Today, using AI through our smartphones is part of our routine. Voice, touch and fingerprint recognition, device localisation, connectivity… AI tools are being incorporated at full speed to simplify the user experience and make technology accessible to everyone. The aim is to reduce the digital divide.
But AI goes further and seeks to create inclusion mechanisms for certain groups. One example is tools such as Google Lookout or Microsoft Seeing AI that facilitate the perception of the environment for blind people thanks to the identification of objects, people or text.
At home, applications such as the Localizador de la Fundació Arrels use technology as a way to care for groups at risk of social exclusion, in this case focused on supporting homeless people. Another example is the Refugee Aid App, which provides migrants with the location of NGOs, social and humanitarian aid centres where they can be assisted.
This is one of the key points of AI, favouring interconnection between users from all over the world and facilitating the creation of meeting spaces from which to collectively tackle egalitarian and inclusive social development. Technology provides the platform, but it is the citizens who have to take action.
AI for a circular economy
In terms of sustainable development, the concept of a circular economy is emerging, in which production is aligned with the life cycle of products and moves away from the traditional system based on buy, use and throw away. AI encourages this system based on the simplest everyday actions. Beyond connecting brands and consumers, digital platforms encourage the exchange of second-hand products and, from the digital environment, a trend has been created based on reusing products and promoting DIY.
The industry is also joining production based on the 7Rs, and it is doing so in many different ways. Machines are put at the service of the environment to carry out production based on recycled materials, from tyres to making roads to clothing. The technology is also reaching into means of transport, which are increasingly sustainable and encourage co-operation over private ownership.
In the area of wealth generation, AI is also key in the business sector in terms of efficiency and process optimisation, as well as in the recruitment process. From bringing companies and job seekers together to creating automated talent selection processes. Along the same lines, investment companies such as Circularity Capital connect, through applications, investment and sustainable projects. The business fabric is adapting to environmental needs with technology as its main ally.
AI in the environment: technology to understand the world
With the aim of environmental preservation, platforms have been created that use data analysis to identify species at risk of extinction, prevent desertification in at-risk areas or favour the maintenance of forests. For a more everyday use, there are applications that encourage the consumption of seasonal food, promote local commerce or encourage sustainable consumption of fish, without forgetting the weather forecast that is key in the maritime or outdoor sectors.
At the same time, from our mobile and thanks to AI, we can calculate air quality in real time, greenhouse gas emissions or the carbon footprint we generate on a daily basis. All facilities that demonstrate that leading a sustainable lifestyle is just a click away.
Technology allows us to understand and know what is happening all over the planet, and even on other planets. The applications created through AI extend to all areas and a global vision is positive: we are managing to create a type of technology that makes life easier for humans and, above all, that strives for sustainable development, thinking in terms of the community. The real challenge in this matter, which the study emphasises, is to ensure that the creation and maintenance of this technology does not have a negative impact on the planet. AI can favour sustainable development, but this will only be achieved if the process of achieving it is also environmentally friendly.
A neobank is a financial technology-based bank that operates only digitally or through a mobile app, and can offer most of the products and services of a conventional bank, minus the physical subdivisions. These are relatively young companies, with the neobank designation dating back to 2017.
Banking structures, as well as the needs of the population, have changed exponentially over the last few years. While it used to be commonplace to go to the bank in person to make transactions, we can now carry out the same operations from the sofa at home. In response to the new technological context, traditional banks, those that have been around forever, set to work to make a digital banking model available to the public that would allow a considerable number of banking operations to be carried out from any location.
Thanks to this adaptation, digital banks emerged, ready to address society’s new concerns. However, despite streamlining certain banking procedures, digital banks act as subsidiaries of larger banks that already have a specific track record. It is precisely in this context that neobanks were born; a banking structure that starts from scratch and that, moreover, has as a fundamental pillar the use of Fintech technology to serve its customers.
Over the last few years in Europe we have already started to work with neobanks, taking advantage of the technology in the market. But what exactly do neobanks offer, and what are the differences between traditional banking and a neobank?
Streamlined products and services
We all know what operations a traditional bank can carry out and what procedures can be carried out. The great challenge for them, in fact, was to try to transfer to the virtual world all the procedures that are usually carried out in branches, and they partially succeeded. There are still operations that require a visit to the bank because they cannot be carried out from a tablet or mobile phone. Opening a new account is one of them.
Neobanks, on the other hand, have a much more simplified structure compared to traditional banking. This means that they do not offer all the products or possibilities of the more veteran entities, but they have managed to bring together a good number of services with simpler procedures. In other words, they offer a smaller but at the same time more decisive range of products. Opening a current account, transferring money, managing cards or applying for credit are just some of the procedures that customers can access at any time. For this reason, neobanks are gaining more and more followers among small and medium-sized businesses and young people; they prefer effectiveness and speed in their operations over quantity.
Zero or almost zero fees
Surely more than once you have heard someone complaining about the commissions that banks ask for in order to manage procedures. These expenses are present on the part of traditional banks because they need to put a cost on the management of their agents, maintaining their branches and the bank itself. It is precisely here where we find one of the most relevant differential features. Unlike these, neobanks can afford a considerable reduction in commissions, since the use of technology means the elimination of the costs that large banking institutions have to face.
As a result, traditional banks have also tried to reduce their costs in order to be able to offer more competitive prices, but they have not managed to match the zero transaction costs or decrease their high savings rates. This is why the neobank model is currently gaining popularity.
This is undoubtedly one of the most differentiating factors between traditional banking and neobanks. While the former are characterised by little autonomy and, consequently, work every day to improve their digital services and thus gain more independence, neobanks offer absolute freedom from the outset through highly advanced technological tools that help customers control their money.
But the downside of this is that neobanks often do not have an interpersonal communication service between the customer and the bank itself. Interactions are limited and very much focused on customer services, behind which there may be machines. In this sense, traditional banks do have the capacity to build stronger relationships between customers and agents. As for their digital subsidiaries, despite not having a physical person, they have customer service time slots to be able to solve any doubt or problem in a personalised way.
11Onze Banc has been training its first 50 agents since 15 March 2021 to provide a personalised service to future customers, offering all the advantages of a neobank with a person-to-person service.