Author Archives: @ndreah

(Digital Diplomacy, Digital Public Diplomacy, Data Diplomacy, AI Diplomacy)

What is now called 'Digital Diplomacy' is gaining in importance in the diplomatic field. Digital Diplomacy refers to the strategic use of the Internet and digital tools to achieve various diplomatic objectives.

Diplomatic missions have as their main objectives:

  • maintain relations between states;
  • negotiate agreements of various kinds (economic, cultural, political...)
  • obtain information on the affairs of other states.

An Embassy has as priority objectives:

  • establish public relations;
  • promote stable and peaceful relations between states;
  • protect its citizens abroad .

Technology has helped a great deal in achieving these goals, e.g. with the opening institutional web sites diplomatic missions can more easily reach their citizens in the target country, the invention of smart phones has also enabled diplomacy to speed up the transmission of uncensored information and the inter-connections with other people.

Artificial Intelligence also plays an important role in this direction: thanks to it, a huge amount of information can be analysed, which makes it possible to obtain more accurate and up-to-date pictures of the socio-economic situation of a country.

Artificial Intelligence may make it possible to automate certain functions of embassies, especially routine ones, which would make it easier to carry out procedures for citizens abroad, but also facilitate translation work, given the improvements of software such as DeepL and Google Translate.

The new technologies also allow for the democratisation of diplomatic practices, in the sense that they make international relations accessible also to bodies or persons that are not necessarily governmental, this happens in the context of so-called Digital Public Diplomacy.

With Digital Public Diplomacy, an attempt is made to influence a people's idea of another country or, if it proves convenient, of their own country.

Today, not only the so-called traditional media but also social networks are used to implement public diplomacy strategies.

There are many diplomats, as well as politicians and ministries, who have opened accounts on the most popular social networks, which allows them to have a direct relationship with their target audience with certain social characteristics, facilitating the image-building work of a state.

Through these social networks, a digital agenda is developed that is specifically designed to make the most of the medium's characteristics, images and posts are constructed so that the reception of the message is as efficient and effective as possible in order to achieve the intended objective.

One must, however, beware of the risks that can be taken through the use of artificial intelligence because the latter allows for the diversification of news, images and videos, which greatly facilitates the creation of credible fake news, with the use of bots and trolls to spread 'disinformation' that can become simple and capillary, thus causing conflict and divisions between states.

Since we have talked about Artificial Intelligence as a support for diplomacy, let us now make a brief introduction to better understand this new technology and to be able to use it correctly.

We can classify AI into three levels:

  • Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) so-called Weak AI. ANI is used for simple specific tasks;
  • Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) so-called Strong AI (Future AI);
  • Artificial Super Intelligence (ASI) (Future AI).

Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI) so-called Weak AI is the today AI and is a specific type of artificial intelligence in which a learning algorithm is designed to perform a single task without human assistance, and any knowledge gained from performing that task will not automatically be applied to other tasks. In other words, it lacks consciousness, genuine understanding, and the ability to apply knowledge to different contexts beyond its specific programming.

Machine Learning (ML) is a form of ANI that involves developing algorithms to learn patterns from data in order to perform prediction or anomaly detection. There are three types of ML:

  1. SUPERVISED ML learns to make decisions based on certain columns of labelled data. It is used to make predictions.
  2. UNSUPERVISED ML works with unlabelled data to discover clusters or classes. It is used for example to customer segmentation or for anomalies detection.
  3. REINFORCEMENT Learning (RL) is a type of Machine Learning where an algorithm, referred to as an AGENT, receives in input RAW DATA and learns to make decisions by interacting with an ENVIRONMENT. Each action leads to a REWARD (positive or negative) from the environment.

DEEP Learning (DL) is a subset of ML that uses Neural Networks with many layers to model and solve complex problem.

NLP is a branch of Narrow AI/Weak AI . It processes and analyses massive volume of text and other form of data. It is related to several sectors of interest:

  • Sentimental Analysis: it discovers the sentiment and emotion expressed in a piece of text. It identifies is a statement is positive, negative or neutral. It is used for analyse customer satisfaction, a brand reputation or a public opinion on a specific topic in order to make proactive marketing strategies.
  • Text Classification: it is used to spam text classification and for job application selection.
  • Named Entity Recognition (NER): it is used for classifying specific entities such as names of people, organizations, location or dates within a given text.
  • Machine Learning Translation: it is the process of automatically converting text from one language to another using NLP algorithms. It is used for real time customer support in multiple languages and for cross language collaboration in multinational corporations.
  • Q&A Systems: like Chat GPT which uses NLP techniques where GPT stands for Generative Pre-Training Transformer.

Computer Vision algorithms enable computers and machines to see and interprets visual information. The goal is to extract information from images, pictures and video, that is:

  • Classify objects;
  • Face recognition;
  • Detection moving objects;
  • Image classification.

TESLA is using computer vision algorithms.

In AI data is everything. Neural Networks requires lots of training data. As models learn from data, they depend on the quantity and quality of data. Poor quality data con lead to bias and inaccurate results.

Personalized shopping: analyses customer behaviour and increase customer satisfaction, loyalty and sales;

Virtual Assistants/chat bots: AI-powered virtual assistants like Siri, Alexa, and Google Assistant, faster responses, enhanced customer experience;

Entertainment and Media: modify streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, personalized content distribution;

Transportation and Mobility: autonomous vehicles, smart transportation system, improves traffic management and logistics;

Healthcare and diagnostics: improve healthcare by aiding in in diagnosing diseases, illness and analysing symptoms, personalized medicine, remote patient monitoring reducing healthcare costs;

Finance and Banking: fraud detection, risk assessment, credit scoring, trading and customer service automation in the banking sector.

Agriculture and Environment: optimizing farming, monitoring crops yields, optimizes resource management.

Artificial Intelligence supports and helps and amplifies human intelligence. It does not have the ability to think. It doesn’t have independent though or consciousness.

Tackling the subject of artificial intelligence is important and constructive for everyone, regardless of how much the Internet is used, because what matters is not the quantity but the ways and purposes in which it is used.

In every state there are embassies and diplomacy acts, also through the Internet, to optimise knowledge and relations between peoples in order to promote inter-culturalism and fruitful and peaceful relations.

The proper use of Artificial Intelligence could also mean better health care, safer cars and other transport systems, and even tailor-made, cheaper and more resilient products and services in every state. It can also facilitate access to information, education and training, as well as provide better services to one's fellow citizens abroad.

Therefore, in a country that is welcoming and open to cultural interchange, I consider this topic to be very topical and interesting, both on a theoretical level and in terms of achieving practical goals that are very beneficial for the citizens of each state, particularly for some states that are welcoming and open to dialogue.

The launch of ChatGPT, i.e. the application of Generative Artificial Intelligence, at the end of 2022 brought about a technological revolution that, on the one hand, gave excitement and new opportunities and, on the other hand, concern about the possible negative implications of the misuse of this powerful new technology.

It is clear that we need to manage this new technological revolution and understand the practical applications that can improve human life.

In my opinion, Artificial Intelligence is a tool to 'enhance and amplify' human intelligence in various fields from medicine, economics, mathematics, etc., by assisting it in activities and processes that humans would not be able to do in a short time.

Generative AI is a consequence of the explosion of Big Data, i.e. mountains of structured and unstructured data that have accumulated over the years and that have gained the interest of experts in recent years to use them for the purpose of finding correlations and making predictions.


Borrowing a statement by Professor Dino Pedreschi, Professor of Computer Science at the University of Pisa, when faced with all this huge amount of data, "one wonders where is the information? Where is the knowledge?" that is hidden within this vast amount of data.


At this stage of technological evolution with the explosion of generative AI, by means of chatbots trained with Large Language Models (LLM), we want to interrogate this huge amount of data in a simple way to obtain answers. In other words, we are in the 'chat with data' phase to dialogue with the data and use the proposed solutions to do things better than before.

In any case these answers should be always supervised by human experts. We don't totally delegate to the machine the solution or the action.

AR (Augmented Reality) will also benefit from GenAI, as it will enrich reality not only with mere data and information extracted from an information base, but by dialoguing with a chatbot it will be able to get answers to questions relevant to real situations. On the basis of these answers it will be able to make better decisions and complete tasks with greater precision.

I believe that there will be a convergence of Metaverse, Big Data and AI in highly dedicated and specialised contexts.

Given the great potential of these technologies, their regulation is necessary to prevent the prevalence of mere profit-driven policies on the part of technology industry giants such as: Alphabet, Amazon, Apple, Meta, Microsoft and Nvidia.

The EU institutions have fortunately moved to create the AI Act, the European Artificial Intelligence Act, on 6 December 2023.
This is to prevent abuses in the use of this powerful technology. It is intended to prevent mass surveillance, the use of biometric identification systems in spaces accessible to the public except for special situations.
It is also intended to introduce a watermark, to distinguish a work produced by artificial intelligence from one produced by human. This is to counter the uncontrolled proliferation of texts, photos, and images generated by AI that could become instruments of mass distraction and disinformation, also exploiting social media as channels of communication.


We are not just faced with an uncontrolled information overload, but with an instrument of mass manipulation. What we read influences and feeds our thinking, which, in fact, manages our actions.

{[(written by human)]}

gen AI: Generative means that it can generate the next best word, pixel, audio note, etc. that makes sense in the context of what the AI is being asked to output.

LLM (Large Language Models): An LLM is an artificial intelligence (AI) system that is designed to understand and generate human language. It is essentially a machine learning algorithm that is trained on a massive amount of text data, such as books, articles, and websites, to learn the patterns and structures of natural language. LLMs are often used for tasks such as language translation, text summarization, and question/answering. They can also generate new text based on a given prompt or topic.

ChatGPT is a large language model along with Google’s Bard, Microsoft’s Bing, Anthropic’s Claude, and Meta’s Open Source Llama 2. ChatGPT is the most well known, and currently, the name is being used almost interchangeably to describe the entire field of LLMs.

INTRODUCTION

Technological evolution and the mass dissemination of technological tools has caused the digital world to permeate and change our behavior and lifestyle. This process seems unstoppable as is the technological evolution itself.
Now the digital is still more in connection with our bodies and minds in an immersive digital world.
Even if it is too early to say what impact this will have, it will certainly be a way to enrich and to improve our knowledge and our experience.
In order to understand Metaverse we need to know which are the role of Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Neuroscience.

AR (AUGMENTED REALITY)

Augmented reality (AR) is the real-time use of information in the form of text, graphics, audio and other virtual enhancements integrated with real-world objects. It is based on the concept of overlay (or superimposition): through the webcam of a device or particular glasses, an AR application is able to recognize a framed object by activating information and contents about it (audio, video, three-dimensional objects ) integrating reality without modifying it. In other words, reality is "enriched" through a digital content that is superimposed on it.
Augmented reality, indeed, is already part of our daily lives: for example applications to try out new haircuts, interactive mirrors with which to try on a look without having any clothes with you.

According to Hoffman [06] There are different types of augmented reality:


Marker-based AR: They allow you to quickly connect to websites and download multimedia contents (audio and video or 3D simulations) which will overlap the real images, providing additional information. These markers, called ARtags, are often used in the marketing, recreational, cultural and creative fields.

Non-marker-based AR: markerless augmented reality relies on device hardware, including the camera, GPS, digital compass, and accelerometer, to gather the necessary information that will allow the AR software to download data and information or insert virtual 3D objects into a real-world environment.

VR (VIRTUAL REALITY)

Virtual reality does not superimpose itself on the real world but replaces the surrounding reality altogether with a 3D simulation of a digital world.
In order to be able to enter this digital world, tools such as visors, game consoles, inertial sensors, accelerometers, joysticks and gloves are required to increase interactivity and enhance the immersive feeling of the user.
In VR, we therefore speak of alternative virtual worlds separate from reality, which consist of three essential, integrated components:

  1. CONTENT: reproduction of real objects in the virtual world.
  2. GEOMETRY: which concerns the physical extension of the environment, e.g. indoors (a building) or outdoors (a park).
  3. DYNAMICS: i.e. the rules of interaction between all contents. For example, the rules of interaction between elements must or mustn’t respect the laws of real-world physics.

NEUROSCIENCE

“Neuroscience is the scientific study of the nervous system (the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nervous system), its functions and disorders” (From Wikipedia).
During the COVID-19 homes are becoming our schools and our offices. The continuous use of these digital platforms (overuse of virtual videoconferencing) often generates physical and psychological discomfort like:


• Tiredeness;
• Anxiety;
• Worry

called ZOOM FATIGUE.

In our brain there are a number of specific neurons:
Place cell;
Border cell also called GPS neurons (discovered by the Norwegian neuroscientists Moser in 2014).
GPS neurons are activated when we occupy a position in the environment, allowing us to orient ourselves in space. They play a vital role in our memory. We build our identity through memory. For example, we are student because we go to the university.


When we are in videoconference, we are in multiple places:
1. Place one: on the computer screen
2. Place two: in the room where we move.


For our brain, videoconferencing systems are “not places” and therefore are not connected to our autobiographical memory. These are transit places that leave no marks and are characterized by an eternal present. This is the reason of “zoom fatigue”.
The good news is that the two technologies (AR and VR) used by the Metaverse are capable of activating the GPS neurons and making the subject present in digital places. This is the reason of great interest in this type of digital word.

METAVERSE

Neal Stephenson spoke about the “metaverse” for the first time in 1992 in his science fiction novel Snow Crash. Neal describes it as a three-dimensional digital world that allowed users to escape from a physical world that had become uninteresting.
Today Metaverse is a shared, online 3D space where users can interact with each other and with computer-generated objects and avatars. The Metaverse opens up a whole new world of economic prospects, from virtual music events to NFT-based products, to name a few. In other words:
Metaverse is:


• a universal and immersive virtual world
• a network of 3D virtual worlds focused on social connection

based on these technologies:
virtual reality (VR)
augmented reality (AR)

Brain and body interact with the Metaverse in a special way. The experience of our body is not direct but is the result of a simulation created by our mind through the multi-sensory integration of different body signals.
Considering for example PHANTOM LIMB SYNDROME, amputees suffering from this syndrome continue to feel pain in the empty space where their limb used to be.
The Metaverse works in a similar way: virtual and augmented reality send the same sensations to the brain (via helmet and sensors) that they would receive in the real world. The subject will feel present in the virtual world they are experiencing.

However, there are several visions of the metaverse:


The first Metaverse idea is digital three-dimensional worlds accessible through dedicated viewers and devices. In this vision there are companies such as Meta, HTC, Sony and ByteDance, owner of TikTok.


The second Metaverse idea is augmented reality. In this vision are companies such as: Niantic, Snap and Apple. The Metaverse, in this case, is the world we see enriched by digital objects and information that are superimposed on our vision through a smarthphone and/or glasses.


The third Metaverse idea is 3D worlds accessible from a browser or a desktop or mobile application. Examples of this vision are Roblox, Minecraft and Fortinite games and 3D meetings by Google.


The fourth Metaverse idea is the future of the Internet not as html pages but as three-dimensional, interconnected immersive places.

METAVERSE: BODY SWAPPING

Television and social media are persuasive technologies, the Metaverse is a transformative technology. The metaverse allows one to enter a body other than one's own.

EXAMPLE 01: By entering Albert Einstein's body, subjects become significantly more intelligent.
EXAMPLE 02: By entering the body of a black person, racial prejudice is reduced.
EXAMPLE 03: By entering the body of a bad guy, I could become a dangerous person.

In practice, our brain enters a different body in an automatic way and changes its simulations. Positive applications: health, wellness, training.

METAVERSE: MIXED REALITY

The term 'mixed reality' (MR) was coined by Paul Milgram (1994); he assumes that at the antipodes of this definition, there is on the one hand reality (without any digital contamination) and, on the other hand, the virtual (exclusively synthetic world) and that MR develops, contiguously, precisely between these two extremes.
In the context of Metaverse “mixed reality” is the fusion between the virtual and physical worlds, where the experience we have in the physical world influences the virtual world and vice versa. Between the two worlds there is a one-to-one correspondence.
The two worlds are by the “digital twins”, virtual clones of real objects, connected directly with the physical counterpart, for example:
AVATAR: If I move in the real world my virtual avatar also moves. If the avatar is touched in the digital world, tactile feedback is provided to the physical body.
OBJECTS: If I start the washing machine in virtual reality, the physical one in my apartment also starts working.

INDUSTRIAL METAVERSE

The objective is to create virtual copies of one or more elements of a company: workshop, production chain, marketing department to simulate without blocking operations.
Operating parameters could be analyzed and then these can be modified in order to increase performance and decrease costs.
Only when the suitably modified virtual model creates the desired advantages in terms of both economics and performance then the real counterpart is modified. In this way these interventions will produce the desired effects with high probability of success.

DIGITAL WORLDS

A few examples of digital worlds.

Virtual Open Source Worlds:

  • Mozilla Hubs: https://hubs.mozilla.com/;
  • Third Room: https://thirdroom.io/preview;
  • V-Sekai: https://v-sekai.org/;
  • Ubiq: https://ucl-vr.github.io/ubiq/;

Some statistics:


Source: https://osservatoriometaverso.it/progetti/statistiche-sul-metaverso/


CONCLUSION

Since Metaverse touches many aspects: from technology to cognitive psychology, from learning to social life, from economics to entertainment, we can say that it needs a human, integrated and multidisciplinary approach to be used. What it will lead to and how it will change our lives we can only imagine for now.

An introduction to metaverse

BIBLIOGRAPHY/WEBOGRAPHY

1. Surviving COVID-19: The Neuroscience of Smart Working and Distance Learning: https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/full/10.1089/cyber.2021.0009;

2. Osservatorio italiano Metaverso: https://osservatoriometaverso.it/;

3. Giuseppe Riva professore ordinario di Psicologia generale dell’Universita’ Cattolica del Sacri Cuore di Milano;

4. Fasano L.(2022). Realtà aumentata: cos’è e come provarla. Mister Gadget Tech. https://www.mistergadget.tech/110904/realta-aumentata-cose-e-come-provarla/;

5. Milgram P., & Fumio K. (1994). A Taxonomy of Mixed Reality Visual Display, IEICE Transactions on Information Systems, Vol E77-D, No.12 December 1994;

6. Hoffman A., Metaverso: guida per principianti alla nuova frontiera e a come investire nel nuovo mondo virtuale su Blockchain, Criptovaluta, Arte digitale, NFT e Virtual Land, 2021;

7. Open Metaverse Interoperability Group: https://omigroup.org/;

8. OpenSea is the world's first and largest web3 marketplace for NFTs and crypto collectibles. Explore, collect, and sell NFTs: https://opensea.io/;

9.  Bellesso Angela, The Metaverse and the new frontiers of marketing, UNIVERSITÀ DEGLI STUDI DI PADOVA A.A. 2021-2022