Arianna smashed it at ComplexNetworks’23 and delivered the best plenary lightning for the work “Finding Hidden Swingers in the 2022 Italian Elections Twitter Discourse”. The work is the result of a collaboration with Alessia Antelmi and Lucio La Cava, two dear friends of NERDS who visited us earlier this year. Well done, Arianna and team!
Wow – Roberta Sinatra just won an ERC Consolidator grant! We congratulate her with all our hearts to this once-in-a-lifetime achievement!
An ERC Consolidator grant comes with 2 million EUR for 5 years and enables “a scientist who wants to consolidate their independence by establishing a research team and continuing to develop a success career in Europe”.
Roberta’s excellence, her interdisciplinarity, and her proposed topic just hit the right nerve:
scAIence: Quantifying AI-infused Science
The goal of scAIence is to quantify whether, how, and with which implications generative AI is changing how scientists write, communicate, and diffuse their science, and to explore rigorously the opportunities, dangers, and implications of scientists augmenting their scientific writing with AI. The focus of scAIence is quantitative and based on large-scale data and controlled experiments, since we lack a systematic analysis of AI-generated science: All our evidence regarding AI-generated writing is anecdotal or based on small case studies.
Within the scAIence project, Roberta and her team will deploy a novel computational social science approach, based on a wide array of quantitative disciplines, leveraging large-scale databases of human-generated information and controlled experiments. scAIence will break new ground by (i) introducing the quantitative methods required to understand AI-infused science, (ii) redefining metrics and models to account for AI-generated content in science, and (iii) delivering quantitative scientific insights into how AI is changing the diffusion of science. Taken together, scAIence will lay the scientific foundation for the quantitative study of AI-infused science.
The scAIence project is planned to take place at Roberta’s main affiliation SODAS at Copenhagen University – follow Roberta for upcoming hiring calls for PhD students and Postdocs.
Exactly one year ago Michael has set up the datasci.social Mastodon server, to allow the data/network science community, broadly defined, to build up a new online home after Twitter’s demise. In this time datasci.social has become a vibrant online community with almost 300 people who have joined from all over the world, from various disciplines or from industry. As the first account on the server, also NERDS have set up shop there: After just a year we have successfully amassed almost 500 followers: https://datasci.social/@nerdsitu
However, the point of Mastodon is not quantity, but quality. As Twitter has become X, a platform now known for hate speech and misinformation, we are prioritizing Mastodon and are posting all our news there first. We still keep our X account, as a large part of our scientific community has not yet moved away from X, but we encourage everyone to just try out Mastodon. While Mastodon is not perfect, it is better than other platforms we know, not least because of its extraordinary engagement and civility which makes it great for scientists. If you are interested, sign up here, it’s super easy: https://datasci.social/auth/sign_up
To learn more about datasci.social, see: https://community.datasci.social/
It has taken us almost 2 years, but we finally managed to co-organize a new Nightingale Network meeting yesterday!
The Nightingale Network brings together faculty, postdocs, and students based in Denmark who share an interest in Computational Social Science, Complex Systems, and Network Science.
The gathering of around 30 researchers took place in the top, 15th floor of the colossal Maersk tower, where we held IC2S2 earlier this year. With many new faces joining all our groups in Denmark, again many new social ties were forged and old ties strengthened, making full use of our nerdy open-source party-games: https://github.com/NERDSITU/nerdyicebreakers (including a new one by main organizer Laura)
Here the press-shots of the winners in the three games Bingo (Arianna), Nerdgame (Ben, last nerd standing – with a very consistent outfit), and the new Six degrees of wikipedia (Mirko, Arianna, Pantelis, Peter, Sandro):
If you are from Denmark (or closeby) and share our research interests, please reach out to us if you want to be part of the next meeting!
This month, another two PhD students join NERDS – Welcome Anders and Daniel!
Anders Weile Larsen is working with Roberta Sinatra (KU, SODAS) and Vedran Sekara (ITU, NERDS) on a project which aims to uncover the fundamental limits of ML and AI for predicting human behavior. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Cognitive Science and a Master’s in Social Data Science, Anders comes from a highly interdisciplinary background. Anders has previously worked in the Danish Ministry of Taxation where he developed a customer segmentation model and taught Python programming. More recently, as part of the Nation-Scale Social Networks project, Anders has worked on estimating peer effects of library takeouts and modeling patterns of literary consumption. Anders’ PhD is funded by the Danish Pioneer Centre for AI, where he is also affiliated.
Daniel Juhász Vigild is a PhD student at SODAS (our sister group at KU), at the ROCKWOOL Foundation’s Research Unit, and is a visiting PhD student at ITU. He holds a Msc. in Business Analytics from DTU.
His research examines the digitalization of the public sector, with a focus on quantifying the productivity enhancements and potential social costs of implementing digital initiatives.
He is currently examining the effect of implementing POL-INTEL, an intelligence-led policing tool implemented in Denmark in 2018.
NERDS members Michele Coscia and Roberta Sinatra each won a Villum Synergy research grant, funded by the Villum Foundation! Each of the grants will provide us funding for one Postdoc.
Current view from the NERDS lair
Michele Coscia’s project Past social network reconstruction from material culture data is in collaboration with the Centre for Urban Network Evolutions (UrbNet), Aarhus University. This data-driven project establishes interdisciplinary collaboration between archaeologists and network scientists to create the first integrated computational workflow for reconstructing past social networks from material culture data. It will enhance archaeological method and theory for network data representation of material culture data and for testing assumptions about how this data reflects past social networks. It will also enrich network science: archaeology provides network data with critical incompleteness issues but that is also rich in metadata. The project will enable studies on the diversity of social networks of our species, and how processes evolve over long time periods beyond the scope of current social network studies.
Roberta Sinatra’s project Quantifying the Prevalence and Diffusion of Generative AI in Science is in collaboration with the Department of Sociology, University of Copenhagen. This project fills these critical knowledge gaps by bridging expertise in computer science and the sociology of science, to study the prevalence of large language models (LLMs) like ChatGPT in science. It will analyze trends in the usage and prevalence of LLMs across scientific disciplines and will predict the diffusion and adoption of generative AI in scientific networks. The project will help prepare the scientific enterprise for the challenges and opportunities presented by generative AI.
Meet the newest member of NERDS – Jacob Aarup Dalsgaard! Jacob is a PhD student in social data science at SODAS – our KU sister group, and will be a visiting PhD student at ITU. Jacob will be diving deep into the world of bias in science, focusing especially on algorithms and models, as part of the BiasExplained project funded by the Villum Foundation. We’re super happy to have him on board and can’t wait to see all the contribution he will bring to the group. 💡
Welcome to the NERDS squad, Jacob! 🖖
Four years after we brought DataBeers to Denmark, another successful event was held this week in Copenhagen!
DataBeers is a global not-for-profit initiative active in dozens of cities worldwide, that brings data scientists and data enthusiasts from industry, government, academia and the arts to knowledge share. The DataBeers teams organise events and invite speakers to tell their experience with data: analysis, visualisations, applied data, data journalism etc., always in an informal and agile manner.
This week’s event was again co-organized by NERDS (especially Sandro and Arianna), and also featured Michael as one of the speakers with a magic-themed talk on “Stories from 1001 paths (over Dybbølsbro)” – slides available here [pdf]: http://michael.szell.net/downloads/talk_szell2023sfp.pdf
The event had a fantastic vibe, great speakers, and a psyched audience including many ITU students. Apart from the four speakers from academia and industry, it also featured a scientific presentation karaoke. Here some visual impressions from the event, which this time took place in Absalon, a locally famous church-turned-into-community-center:
DataBeersCPH has now grown to accommodate 170 participants, with the event’s free tickets having become sold out one week before the event, mainly through word-of-mouth. The event’s free beers and its venue were charitably sponsored by the DDSA, DTU, ITU, and KU.
Here’s two cheers for many more successful DataBeers in Copenhagen to spread our love for data and science (and beers)! 🍻 🍻
Sidewalk networks: Review and outlook, by D. Rhoads, C. Rames, A. Solé-Ribalta, M.C. González, M. Szell & J. Borge-Holthoefer, published in Computers, Environment and Urban Systems
From a transport perspective, increasing active travel –and walking in particular– is crucial for the future of sustainable cities, as reflected in global decarbonisation policies and agendas. Further, walking is much more than a mere mode of transport: it provides a fundamental social function, fostering vibrant cohesive communities. Arguably, walking and its associated infrastructure –sidewalks– should rank among the highest priorities for planning authorities. However, efficiency- and speed-driven urbanisation has gradually reallocated street space to private cars, leading to automobiles being the prioritised mode of transport today. Empirical research has generally followed suit, and a systemic understanding of walking as a phenomenon is largely missing, i.e., questions like how connected, resilient, accessible, or socially equitable is the pedestrian infrastructure of whole neighbourhoods and cities. Such relative neglect of sidewalk network research is, first and foremost, the consequence of a generalised lack of publicly available data on sidewalk infrastructure worldwide. A second reason might be its apparent lack of interest from a systemic standpoint: pedestrian mobility does not produce coordination challenges on the scale that cars do. In this work, we confront this perception by showing that there is ample research potential in the study of system-wide sidewalk networks, with both structural and dynamical challenges which might be critical to pursue the latest aspirations towards sustainable mobility in cities.
The OECD/ITF (International Transport Forum) released the document “Towards the Light: Effective Light Mobility Policies in Cities” with policy recommendations towards more sustainable cities through light mobility such as bicycles, scooters, or micro vehicles.
In this report, a whole section called “Go faster! Develop high-quality wheeled light mobility infrastructure that fits the context” is based almost entirely on several of our NERDS papers on bicycle/micromobility network analysis. The section discusses how “a strong effort should be made to ensure that the newly created network is connected to the greatest extent possible and allows access to important and popular points of interest”, and how data-driven approaches that we developed are “important tools” that can complement traditional manual approaches:
Further, the report cites a previous study of ours on the perceived distribution of road space,
[Cars] have become so entrenched in the urban landscape that the general public often systematically overestimates the amount of mobility space allocated to non-motorised modes – while underestimating the space allocated to the car (Szell, 2018). Additionally, much of the violence they impose on all other road users is normalised and remains unaddressed in public and policy discourses.
Policy makers and planners need to remove their car blinders and cure their car blindness so that they can finally see the light.
We wholeheartedly agree and are happy that our research is useful for sustainable policy-making in an international context. (The International Transport Forum is an inter-governmental organisation within the OECD system, and is the only global body with a mandate for all modes of transport. It acts as a think tank for transport policy issues and organises the annual global summit of transport ministers.)