Frontiers

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The Quest to Create Utterly Normal Virtual Reality Experiences

Virtual reality is used today for job training, but that’s just the beginning. In a Q&A, Jeremy Bailenson, a leading expert in virtual reality, says that VR has the potential to be a much-improved video conference tool — one that’s good enough to reduce our need to commute. What Bailenson calls “avatar-based communication,” with eye contact and facial expressions, has the potential “to create the intimacy and non-verbal behavior that you get face to face.”

The Risk of Machine-Learning Bias (and How to Prevent It)

Machine-learning algorithms enable companies to realize new efficiencies for tasks from evaluating credit for loan applications to scanning legal contracts for errors. But they are as susceptible as any system to the “garbage in, garbage out” syndrome when it comes to biased data. Left unchecked, feeding biased data to self-learning systems can lead to unintended and sometimes dangerous outcomes.

Why Businesses and Governments Need to Stop Trying to Secure Their Networks

Moving to a zero-trust network, where all the services an organization needs are hosted in the cloud, is the most secure IT option. Most network breaches are caused by human error: People forget their laptops in bathrooms and cabs, connect to insecure public Wi-Fi, click on emails they shouldn’t, and download attachments carrying malware. The only way to manage this threat is to dismantle the privileged intranet and treat every login as a potential threat.

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The Secret to Successful Knowledge Seeding

Launching a peer-to-peer knowledge-sharing platform is not easy. Online support forums have two distinct segments: those who seek product support, and those who provide it. Knowledge seekers are hesitant to ask questions if knowledge contributors are few and far between, and knowledge contributors will not sign up if there are not enough problems to solve. It is a classic chicken or egg challenge that can be effectively addressed by seeding the platform with expert knowledge.

Building a Robotic Colleague With Personality

Researchers are exploring how to create intelligent machines that work with us better as opposed to taking our place. Robots that can express human body language can have a positive effect on their human colleagues, enabling them to be more effective at their jobs, take on higher-level tasks, and realize psychological benefits. The overall result is a more productive human-robot team.

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How Emotion-Sensing Technology Can Reshape the Workplace

New emotion-sensing technologies can help employees make better decisions, improve concentration, alleviate stress, and adopt healthier and more productive work styles. But companies must address important privacy issues.

Great Ideas Are Getting Harder to Find

A wide range of evidence shows that U.S. research efforts are rising substantially, but at the same time, research productivity is sharply declining. Optimists hope for a fourth industrial revolution that will raise the bar again, while pessimists lament that most potential productivity growth has already occurred.

Why Some Platforms Are Better Than Others

Executives often look at the network effects of digital platforms as a key source of competitive advantage — without understanding that platforms need to also leverage other factors at play in the local markets and among preferred customers. Network effects can help, but on their own, they offer very limited competitive value.

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Surviving a Day Without Smartphones

For young adults accustomed to continually checking their cellphones, even a single day without access to them can be anxiety-producing. What are the implications for executives about managing this constantly connected generation – and their devices – in the workplace?

Don’t Get Caught in the Middle

There was once a time when middlemen were indispensable. Intermediaries facilitated transactions between makers and buyers; they closed the gaps between disconnected entities that required one another for survival; and, within organizations, they interpreted high-level corporate strategy and connected it to front-line execution. But one by one, such intermediaries are being made obsolete by technology.

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