Kuka suunnittelee ja valvoo digitaalisia alustojamme? Onko sillä väliä?

henttonen

“Jos käytät suljettua ohjelmistoa tai jonkun muun verkkopalvelinta, olet puolustuskyvytön. Olet kuin savea sen muotoilijan käsissä, joka kehitti kyseisen ohjelmiston”

Näin väitti Free Software -liikkeen perustaja Richard Stallman provokatiivisesti. Tunnetko itsesi “puolustuskyvyttömäksi”? Toivottavasti et sentään, mutta joskus kannattaa pohtia, miten tieto- ja viestintätekniikka muovaa elämäämme ja yhteiskuntaamme.

Harvat kieltävät, että digitaalisilla alustoilla on merkittävä ja alati lisääntyvä vaikutus henkilökohtaiseen elämäämme, liiketoimintaamme ja hallintoomme. Algoritmit määrittelevät tarinat, jotka luemme Facebookissa, hakutulokset, jotka näemme Googlessa ja jopa kumppanit, jotka löydämme Tinderistä. Sadat tuhannet kokopäivätyöntekijät Uber- kuljettajista Handy-siivoojiin noudattavat työssään algoritmin laatimia komentoja, jotka toimitetaan heidän matkapuhelimiinsa.

Yhä useammat julkisen sektorin päätökset tehdään digitaalisilla alustoilla, jotka käsittelevät suuria tietomääriä algoritmisesti. Kuten olet ehkä lukenut, oikeuslaitos ei ole poikkeus: New Jersey on äskettäin korvannut takuuvapaushakemuksia käsittelevät ihmiset  ja kuulemiset tietokoneohjelmalla, joka matematiikkaa ja datatiedettä höydyntämällä ennustaa onko henkilö vapautuessaan riski yhteiskunnalle.

Kun digitalisaatio kiihtyy, monet ihmiset ovat alkaneet kysellä, kuka suunnittelee ja valvoo digitaalisia teknologioita. Ruohonjuuritason liikkeet (esimerkiksi Platform Co-operativism, Internet of Ownership ja Commons Transition) ovat alkaneet vaatia avoimempia ja demokraattisemmin hallittuja digitaalisia alustoja. Ne ovat myös inspiroineet satoja avoimia alustaosuuskuntia kuten FairMondo, Loomio ja Open Food Network.

Ilmiö näyttää muistuttavan vapaiden ja avoimen lähdekoodin ohjelmistojen alkuaikoja. Tuolloin ihmiset vaativat enemmän vaikutusmahdollisuuksia siihen miten ohjelmistot suunnitellaan.  Monet aloittivat pieniä ohjelmistohankkeita, jotka perustuivat läpinäkyvyydelle ja avoimelle yhteistyölle (esim. GNU-käyttöjärjestelmä, josta tuli myöhemmin Linux). Suhteellisen lyhyessä ajassa marginaalisesta tuli valtavirtaa. Suuret ohjelmistoyritykset, kuten IBM ja Sun Microsystems, siirtyivät avoimen lähdekoodin liiketoimintamalleihin.

Nykyään avoimen lähdekoodin ohjelmistot ovat hyvin yleisiä, enimmäkseen ristiriidattomia ​​ja siten näkymättömiä. Mutta mitä tapahtuu ”vaihtoehtoisille” digitaalisille alustoille, joiden taustalla kuuluu samanlaisia ​​vaatimuksia avoimuudesta ja käyttäjien omistajuudesta? Ovatko ne seuraava valtavirta?

 

VTT Katja Henttonen

Katja Henttonen, digitalisaatioasiantuntija
Twitter: @KatjaHenttonen

Päivi Jaring VTT

Päivi Jaring, erikoistutkija
Twitter:
@PaiviJaring

 

Lue lisää:

Tähän aiheeseen liittyvää tutkimusta on käynnissä Accelerate-projektissa.

Simonite, T. (2015) . “When Your Boss Is an Uber Algorithm.” MIT Technology Review December.

Computer says no: New Jersey is using an algorithm to make bail recommendations.

Who designs and controls our digital platforms? Does it matter?

henttonen

“If you use a proprietary [software] program or somebody else’s web server, you’re defenceless. You’re putty in the hands of whoever developed that software”

So claimed Richard Stallman, the founder of the Free Software movement, quite provocatively. Do you feel “defenceless”? Hopefully not, but sometimes it is worth considering how ICTs  shape our lives and society.

Few would deny that digital platforms have huge and increasing control of our personal lives, business and governance. The algorithms determine the stories we read on Facebook, the search results we see on Google and even partners we find on Tinder. Hundreds of thousands of full-time labourers, from Uber drivers to Handy cleaners, follow supervisory  commands which are delivered to their mobile phones by an algorithm.

Increasingly many decisions on the public sector are also made by digital platforms which process big data algorithmically. As you may have read, judiciary is not an exception: New Jersey recently replaced a human-led bail system with new software which uses maths and data science to predict whether or not a person is a risk to the society if released.

As digitalization accelerates,  many  people have started to ask questions on who designs and controls the platform technologies. Grassroots movements such as Platform Co-operativism, Internet of Ownership and Commons Transition are pushing demands for more open and democratically governed digital platforms. They have also inspired hundreds of “open” platform co-operatives, such as FairMondo, Loomio and Open Food Network.

The phenomenon seems to resemble the early days of the Free Software and Open Source software movements. People demanded more control over how software is designed. Many started small software projects, which based on the ideas of transparency and open collaboration (e.g. GNU operating system which later turned Linux). Within relatively short timeframe, the marginal idea went mainstream. Large software companies, such as IBM and Sun Microsystems, shifted to open source -based business models.

Today, open source software is very commonplace, mostly uncontroversial and consequently unvisible. But what happens to alternative digital platforms that echo similar demands of ‘openness’ and control by users? Are they the next mainstream?

 

VTT Katja Henttonen

Katja Henttonen, Digitalization Specialist
Twitter: @KatjaHenttonen

Päivi Jaring VTT

Päivi Jaring, Senior Scientist
Twitter:
@PaiviJaring

 

 

See more:

Ongoing research on this topic in the Accelerate project.

Simonite, T. (2015) . “When Your Boss Is an Uber Algorithm.” MIT Technology Review December.

Computer says no: New Jersey is using an algorithm to make bail recommendations.

How to accelerate innovations and new business?

Companies have been struggling with going to the market for ages and the problem has become even more relevant in the fast-changing technological environment. Acceleration is a combination of processes, tools and methods that help companies go faster to the right market. The Accelerate project is here to tackle these challenges – Senior Scientist Päivi Jaring explains how it happens.

Päivi Jaring VTT

Accelerating an innovation is much more than creating the technology – an innovation must go to the market. An effective go-to-market strategy identifies the ways to reach potential users quickly in order to get feedback of the product and its features and this way adapt to users’ needs and requirements.

Various methods such as lean and agile have been developed for speeding up the time-to-market and for validating the customer needs in early phase of development, but still more experimental approaches to rapidly validate the match between the market need and their innovative technology are still needed. In short: more knowhow and tools on acceleration are needed, and the Accelerate project was launched.

Accelerate research project for European technology companies

Accelerate, an ITEA3 project, took the challenge of enabling the adoption of acceleration knowhow by European technology companies by focusing on two goals: large scale knowledge transfer on acceleration, and the introduction of the so-called validated learning process that systematically searches for the technology-market match by validating it against the business model.

In Accelerate, a four-phase model for acceleration was developed. The four phases of acceleration – the idea, problem/solution fit, product/market fit and scaling phase – are presented in the figure below. In Accelerate, the four-phase model was used in creating services based on technological innovation, advanced processes and new software technologies. The companies found the model also very suitable for accelerating existing businesses activities.

The Accelerate project has created a lot of visibility for this highly relevant topic and had a significant transformational impact on several of the participating companies in the form of new spin-offs, products, business models, and organisational culture change.  Various tools, such as an acceleration platform as a meeting place for start-ups and investors, and an acceleration self-test were developed to help companies in their acceleration process.

Acceleration phases, Accelerate project

Four phases of acceleration.

A to-do-list for business acceleration

Lessons learnt from the work done in the Accelerate project and its use cases can be summarized in the following eight points for new business acceleration:

  1. Step outside to recognize the real problems your potential customers are facing.
  2. Make the whole acceleration journey with and for your users and customers.
  3. Act fast but also invest time on eliciting material from the problem space, competitors and indirect competitors. There needs to be a well-argued problem statement.
  4. Never stop with idea generation and small experimentations – also with regards to your business model.
  5. Use the power of social media in identifying problems, finding solutions, creating awareness and new markets.
  6. Test and find the social media channels suitable for you.
  7. Progressively select and use KPIs to track customer experience, business performance and learning to guide your journey to scalable business.
  8. Use acceleration tools & mindset and startup-like structures regardless of your company’s age and size.

The above points suit to companies regardless of their size and domain.

More information

Päivi Jaring, Senior Scientist
Twitter: @PaiviJaring