Home Forums Silicon Valley Study Tour – August 2020 Bicocca Silicon Valley 2020

36 replies, 8 voices Last updated by Paolo Marenco 3 years, 2 months ago
  • Ismaele

    Thanks @ardalan and welcome in this forum @nicholas! I appreciate your ideas about these general topics and listen to your different viewpoints.

    This time I want to know your opinion about the dynamics of information spreading across the internet and mainly through social networks. Over the past few years we’ve seen fake news spreading in particular moments, even in these days. Which is the role of social networks/social media on that? Here is an article on information spreading about coronavirus (https://www.bbc.com/news/technology-51337357) just as an example, but the discussion is much wider.

    The influence of this can be very important for many aspects of how people behave and face their challenges every day, it is not a joke.

    Do you remember some cases in the past when social media and/or fake news gained the upper hand? Which is your opinion about it? How would you solve this problem?

    Nicholas Sollazzo

    Fake News

    Our brain is constantly in “energy saving mode”: it is lazy and always looking for shortcuts to save energy; that’s why, when it comes to inquire about something, people have a tendency to rely on a single source, often the first one they come into contact with, and take everything it says as unique and absolute truth.
    Whereas in the past the main source was newspapers, today the main source of information are definitely Social Networks.

    The advent of technology has meant that, nowadays, disinformation is almost impossible because, somehow, we always come into contact with some form of news: maybe a repost on Facebook from a friend of ours, a post on LinkedIn from a colleague of ours, a tweet on Twitter from a person we esteem, a story on Instagram, a video on TikTok and so on; from the problem of disinformation, we have moved on to the problem of misinformation and manipulated information.
    But why someone should bother themselves to “manipulate the information”? Well, Information is power, and “guiding” the thought of the masses towards a specific idea, is convenient especially when someone is fighting a battle to gain more power; and today it has become easier than ever, thanks to this very interconnection that everyone has through Social Networks, to guide the thoughts of the masses on to beliving something.
    The Cambridge Analytica scandal has shown us how all the data that we “give away” online to the Tech-Giants, allowed them to manipulate people’s thoughts to get them to vote for a certain candidate compared to another, or how easy it is to trigger panic when a virus, like the coronavirus, begins to cast its shadow on mankind.

    Of course, after these terrible events and after the pressure of governments, the companies behind the major social networks have started to take steps to mitigate the spread of these Fake News, as highlighted in the article that @ismaelepaoli shared, putting in place techniques such as censorship, warnings and redirecting to an authoritative sources to inform their users in the right way, in order to fight against the spreading of these Fake News.

    But is that enough?

    In my opinion, it is not.
    No, because what these giants do is nothing more than invade our privacy even more, reading every post or limiting the spread of any kind of information on a large scale, as reported in the article: “Facebook-owned messaging site WhatsApp […] announced measures to prevent users from forwarding messages to more than five people or groups. It also adds a tag to heavily forwarded messages “. This seems to me to be a huge violation of personal privacy and it makes me realize that Facebook is able to control certain processes carried out by its users within its messaging app.

    The platforms we use every day are private platforms, owned and operated by private companies whose purpose is not so much to be ethical or to spread verified news, but to make profits, and this puts them in a position where it is easier to forgive than to ask permission. But I’m digressing.

    The solutions to the Fake News problem, in my opinion, are 3:

    1) DYOR (Do Your Own Research): educate the people not to trust a single source but to research, understand, ask questions and make their own ideas based on many sources.

    2) Relying on sites where the news are verified: since, as previously mentioned, our brain is lazy and it is more difficult to do some research than is to read a single article (or a title, in some cases), we should get informed on sites where the news are checked, approved and modified by many people. Sites like: WikiNews or WikiTribunal or even sites like reddit where news are shared and controlled by multiple users.

    3) AI: we have already talked about Artificial Intelligence, so another option could be to train a neural network that takes multiple sources and put them together into a neutral and bias-free articles with a reasonable degree of accuracy.

    Personally I’m very attracted to projects like WikiTribunal and, for this reason, I hope that this project can really be adopted by the masses.
    As we have Instagram for photos, YouTube for videos, Wikipedia for the online encyclopedia and Facebook to remind us our mom’s birthday, I hope that one day, WikiTribunal, could become the place where everyone will go to read the news.


    Thanks for sharing your opinion with us Nicholas! The example of Cambridge Analitica you mentioned is one of the most famous cases over the last few years, and it is impressive how social networks information influenced people’s point of view.

    Since you said our brain is constantly in “energy saving mode”, and often people want easy/fast information on traditional channels, how would you engage people with real news? Sites like WikiNews or WikiTribunal are punctual but not very known/used everywhere till now. How would you make people rely only on real data/information?

    What about @Ardalan, @Matteo and @Giovanni? What do you think about this topic and about what Nicholas shared with us? How can technology be used, today or in the future, to challenge disinformation?

    Nicholas Sollazzo

    My answer to your @ismaelepaoli question is: they should be more present on social networks.
    By now, almost nobody looks for and reads the news directly from the websites of the big newspapers. Almost everyone comes into contact with the news on social networks and then they got redirected to the websites. It’s easier and the user never really leaves the social netowork.

    Unfortunately, realities like WikiTribune and WikiNews are lacking from this point: They have some accounts on social networks like twitter, but they don’t post very often and almost nobody look at them.

    Reddit, on the other hand, being a social network itself, wins on the whole line from this point of view; but, unfortunately, in Italy is still a very niche social network so it’s rare that the average italian knows about it. In my opinion, however, Reddit is the best alternative for most people.

    Anyway, I leave a list of some Italian subreddit for those of you who want to have a look at it 😉

    Ardalan Mehraram


    I believe that the solution is not related too much to the technology, but to the people’s psychology.
    What is very interesting is that it is easier to believe than to don’t believe. There are not enough information to people. For example there are not advertising on TV about fake news on the social network. How could they learn how to recognize whether a news is real or not?
    This is a very huge problem that need to be covered. The aim of my answer is to say that artificial intelligence need a help by the schools. From when you are a teenager, you need to take lessons about these concept, to be ready to face up all the problems that the internet create.
    It is a very interesting point, I would like to know what do you think about it!



    It seems you both are explaining the importance of education on information, and that seems fair to me. Most of it is related on how much a person wants to discover the news’ level of reliability and how much someone is willing to compare info among different sources. Moreover, the effort is in understand which sources are more solid than others, and this may change over time. Nevertheless, sources of information (social networks included) themselves should be aware of their role in spreading news and have a closer control of what is shared, for example certifying verified news with a with a logo (like in instagram verified profiles for instance).

    A new topic now: what do you think about new trends of digital-physical customer experience? Have you ever heard the “Phygital” concept? Big companies like Amazon are thinking about that and how to change clients impression. Could this concept be used also for users of other products or services? Do you think innovation is only related to products or also to how products/services are distributed and perceived?

    You can find some articles below 😉




    Nicholas Sollazzo

    The term Phygital (physical-digital) refers to the conjugation of the online and offline world, trying to take the best aspects of each to create a more complete and satisfying customer experience.

    In a world where the user experience is increasingly important, companies need to experiment with new methods to trigger positive emotions in users. For this reason, although it is possible to buy anything using our smartphones, some people still prefer to conclude the purchase in a physical store. This highlights how interpersonal interactions continue to be a highly important element for customers. That’s why Amazon opened its first bookstore in Seattle, USA in 2015. Since then, the e-commerce giant has also opened a revolutionary grocery store: Amazon GO. The revolutionary aspect of this store is that there are no cashiers: you take the item you want, scan the QR Code on the app and, when you leave the store, the Amazon GO app will make you pay for it. Amazon, of course, is not the only company that has embraced this innovation: other companies and brands such as TeslaXiaomiNike and KFC, stores previously only online or only offline, have implemented their methods to create a Phygital experience.

    This new approach is increasingly blurring the line between online and offline, combining the digital sales experience such as speedcomfort and vast catalogue, with the retail experience such as interactions between peopleinteractions with the product and immediacy of purchase. This multi-channel presence is certainly the best way to satisfy an increasingly demanding and hyper-connected consumer by approaching it on multiple platforms.

    Phygital’s concept has made companies more aware of the relationship that customers had with e-commerce and physical stores: many people, in fact, enter a store to see, touch or try out an item and then order it online (Showrooming), often at a lower price; but sometimes they see a product online, and for the haste and desire to own it immediately, they buy it in store (Webrooming) even if they have to pay more. The awareness of this phenomenon has meant that companies can now be present at 360º in the lives of their customers and avoid “selling” to a competitor.

    Once this is understood, any product or service company is able to replicate the concept in order to be more present in their customers’ lives, but in order to achieve a truly Phygital experience, it is essential to have technology that facilitates the introduction of immediacy and immersion, and interaction, which the digital world naturally lacks.

    In the food sector, the arrival of food delivery platforms such as DeliverooUber Eats and JustEat has certainly lowered the barriers to entry, making it easier for shop owners to approach Phygital without too many problems. Platforms such as Glovo have also extended this concept, allowing any business to approach their products from the comfort of a smartphone, and some retailers have even started to develop their own applications.

    Personally, I think this is a win-win for everyone: the consumer feels more connected to the brand, more listened and has a better overall experience with the product/service he is going to buy; the company will have an advantage towards competitors who are not embracing this revolution and, above all, will have more channels of interaction with its customers.


    I agreed that to fight the fake news It is more important to educate people. In the end, the fake news gets bigger because they are more likely shared by people. The technology could be used to educate and develop more critical thinking. The example made by @ismaelepaoli sounds good. Other uses that could come to the company and technologies could be a warning system. Which detects potential fake news before they go viral or a voting system that goes through the news.

    It is the last trend in marketing. Phygital is the future of marketing system. Have you hear the Sarzana store owner who wants to ‘tax’ the customers. Because they tried the shoes with no intention of buying to get the shoes elsewhere online at a lower price. This fact didn’t happen only to him. The value to offer to the customer isn’t anymore the product or service. The value comes from the entire user experience. It is the way today the figure of UX researcher becomes more and more important. The lead generation could start from the social finishing in an acquisition in the store. Find the product in the store and decided to buy it, after some research, in the store e-commerce.

    In summary, the future of retail will base on omnichannel customer experience. This should be in this way to create the best customer journey. This approach is possible through many touchpoints that work together for customer satisfaction. Whoever that run a business that doesn’t adopt this strategy would lose market shares.


    Hello everyone! My name is Giuseppe Occhino and I’m a PhD student at the first year in Public Health at University of Milano-Bicocca. My background as Bicocca student includes a bachelor’s degree in Statistics and Information Management and a master’s degree in Biostatistics, respectively.

    I have just discovered this forum and I hope I’m not too late to dream the Silicon Valley together with all of you.

    What I like most of my studies, and what I would like to focus on in the future, is the great help that big data can give us to predict different situations in the health system, especially during a period of health emergency like that of the entire world is going through nowadays.

    Fake news

    Unfortunately, we know that this phenomenon has the potential to attract the public opinion promoting most of the time hate speech and to invalidate democracies, reducing trust in their processes.

    As you said before, it is fundamental for schools to provide young students, as part of their curriculum, with a strong education on media and information literacy. Consequently, teachers should be well-trained in the subject matter to reinforce students with the essential knowledge to comprehend, interpret and assess with a critical eye any kind of information described by all forms of media.

    A suggestion would be to organize during the school education many projects in partnership with media companies and local or national authorities.


    New “phygital” channels appear to be gradually enclosing more dynamic executions which were once only achievable by combining various distinct channels. This concept is extended to the behaviour of customers’ media, often balancing TV, print, social, radio and much more.

    Consequently, phygital consumers have high expectancies and combining together online and in-store practices in whatever way is most suitable for them, using a variety of technologies to service them with what they wish.

    As you mentioned before, Amazon is an important example. Having suffused its e-commerce existence, it started obtaining relevant real estate, through the acquirement of Whole Foods Market for $ 14 billion in 2017, to generate a productive and complementary physical impact. But the opposite is also true, and equally important.


    Thanks Nicholas and thanks Giovanni for sharing many examples with us! Welcome Giuseppe, we are glad you have joined this forum 🙂

    Now I want to change the topic again, even though it is new and real nowadays. Newspapers talk a lot about it, but I want to talk about Covid-19 differently, using this forum to share opinions about how technological advancement can help in situations like this: smart working, for example, is helping a lot many companies and workers.

    The epidemic expansion is changing a little bit our habits. Since we have many opportunities brought about by technological potential, how would you use technology in this particular case? How might innovation improve our lives or helping us to overcome this situation? Free your creativity!

    I would like to start a discussion in which you do not only share your idea, but you also discuss your points of view with the other guests in a positive way 😉


    • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by Ismaele.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by Ismaele.
    • This reply was modified 3 years, 8 months ago by Ismaele.

    Hi everybody! My name is Davide Costa and I am a Master Degree student in Electronic Engineering at the Politecnico di Torino. I obtained my Bachelor Degree in Electronic Engineering at the University Federico II in Naples and moved to Turin because I was fascinated by the huge amount of opportunities offered by the Politecnico and I wanted to try myself in a more stimulating environment.

    As soon as I recieved the email about the opportunity to visit the Silicon Valley, I immediately signed up, but I couldn’t quickly respond in this forum due to the sudden explosion of the sanitary emergency that kept me busy trying to resolve the various issues it raised. I hope it is not too late to reply, since going to the Silicon Vally is one of my biggest dreams! It has been since I first heard about it and I am glad that we were offered this chance to go there and see it with our own eyes!


    There is no denying that the Covid-19 epidemic is disastrously affecting world economy: markets are crashing and workers can’t phisically reach their workplace due to preventive measures. Nevertheless, luckily, technology is here to help! The topic directly concerns me as I am now in Naples, and virtual classrooms are my only way to attend lectures and therefore to properly continue my university career, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to effectively communicate with professors and studying would be much more difficult than it already is. Moreover, smart working is thoroughly helping people working from their own houses, especially in Italy, where it was not so spread, hence, to look at the bright side, this could become an opportunity for everybody to get accostumed to working instruments that are very common in other countries.

    Also, I found this article on the Bangkok Post (check it out at https://www.bangkokpost.com/business/1869524/using-technology-to-fight-covid-19) that perfectly fits our discussion! The app that monitors your path and informs you whether you have come in close contact with an infected person is incredibly helpful, such as the temperature scannign drones: these are the types of technology that we need to efficiently fight this disease and, as the article mentions, this could be an enormous opportunity to develop systems that will help us be more prepared against possible future health issues.

    Let me know what you think about it!

    Nicholas Sollazzo

    Much has changed since we addressed this topic: first the virus was declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization and then Europe became its epicenter.

    With the decree #IORESTOACASA, Italians had to equip themselves to work and study remotely, forced to stay at home to limit contagion. In this context, technology has become a very important tool to deal with the difficulties of the moment, as well as having adequate facilities and infrastructures.

    From the data collected by Growth From Knowledge it would seem that, after a very first moment of disorientation, Italians have reorganized themselves towards product categories more suitable for the use of online content and services: chatroom, to talk and meet with friends, e-commerce, to make purchases without having to physically go to shops and ** e-learning platforms**, to continue and deepen their studies.

    Moreover, thanks to the digital solidarity initiative promoted by the Minister for Technological Innovation and Digitisation, more and more digital services and platforms are offering free bundles to help “pass the time” pleasantly or to facilitate work and study from home.

    This “technological spring” that Italy is going through in this moment of crisis, would seem to have also reached politics, a more conservative and refractory to innovations. In fact, several politicians, such as Delrio (PD) and Magi (+Europa), have already begun to make proposals to remote voting so that the political gear does not stop working at the very moment when it is most needed.

    And as the icing on the cake, a game has also been developed to help find a vaccine for COVD-19. It’s called Foldit and it’s a free puzzle game that engages players with foldable protein chains to change their behaviour.

    It was originally created by developers at University of Washington in 2008 to research potential cures for diseases like Alzheimer’s disease and HIV/AIDS with the help of people, but a new coronavirus puzzle has recently been added.

    Players will need to create or modify proteins that can bind to one of the “spike proteins” of SARS-CoV-2 that would then prevent it from infecting human cells and replicating.

    Despite its more technical and research origins, Foldit is simple enough to play: you can ignore all the medical and scientific jargon and just concentrate on moving the structure around and earning points. All you do is click on a section of the protein and drag it to change its shape, to try to make it match the objective of the puzzle. Foldit assigns points to players based on efficiency and effectiveness, and tracks their results with an in-game scoreboard.

    If all this seems impossible to you, PCGamer notes that Foldit players helped researchers decode the AIDS virus in 2011, something that has plagued scientists for years.

    The Italian telecommunication infrastructure, however, is being put to the test during this period due to the considerable increase in traffic due to smart workingvideoconferencingshared work softwarestreaming multimedia content and online games. Many people, including myself, have started to use more often software such as Skype, for streaming video lessons, Amazon, to buy online, Discord, to play games and stay in touch with friends and Netflix, to watch movies and TV series.

    Data from Akamai and Cisco Systems reported by Sole24Ore show how internet traffic has doubled in some regions of Italy and many Internet Service Providers, including TIM, are struggling to keep up with the big demand of internet connections.

    In the very near future, where technologies such as drones for deliveries and remote operations (surgical or any other kind), self-driving cars, for deliveries of goods and travel, wearable, to monitor health in real time and VR-Tecnology to meet, play and spend the time, will be part of everyday life and, in the unfortunate (but likely) case where another pandemic situation will knock on our door, the question that arises spontaneously is: will Italy be ready to embrace and harness these new technologies in the best possible way or will it once again find itself unprepared?

    In short, the virus is forcing us to spend more time at home and this has led to both an economic and moral collapse; but after reorganizing ourselves for the new (and hopefully temporary) lifestyle, habits and consumption are changing accordingly: the hi-tech and the online are taking on an even more central role in the lives of Italians; companies and politics are gearing up to ensure the economic machine works and we all are doing our best to limit the spread of the virus and help as we can.

    Everything seems to be saying that It’s all going to be okay (?)

    Nicholas Sollazzo

    hi @desa and welcome to the forum!

    While I think that temperature scannings drones are a great way to find and help people that could be infected with the SARS-CoV-2, I don’t think that the app is a great idea: this could lead to throwing and discriminating against people just because they have COVID-19. Besides that, I think that tracking all people in this way raises a lot of questions about privacy.
    All these innovations could help but let’s not turn this situation into a Black Mirror scenario.

    In my post here I talked about a smart, wearable device that can detect personal health in real time. This could also raise many questions about privacy, but I think they could be more effective than drones flying around scanning every living thing or app that can track all infected people, don’t you think?


    Welcome Davide, nice to meet you and thanks for your comment! Since you are studying at Politecnico di Torino, try to visit the following link at the PoliTo forum for the Silicon Valley Study Tour 2020 🙂 https://www.siliconvalleystudytour.com/forums/topic/poli-to-silion-valley-2020/

    Going back to our previous discussion about reliable information, here you guys can find an article about WhatsApp fighting misinformation: https://techcrunch.com/2020/03/21/whatsapp-search-web-coronavirus/ .

    Many stimulating links Nicholas! I am now working in the telco industry and I see these phenomena going on. A big question now in the tech and telco industries is: how do we imagine the world after this emergency? Which habits will change? How this sudden change will influence our society and our way of doing daily things?

    I add this article by World Economic Forum where you can find suggestions about interactions between companies and the society in this particular moment 😉 https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2020/03/coronavirus-and-corporate-social-innovation/


    Hi guys! Thanks a lot for your participation and your contribution to this forum, it has been a pleasure to interact with you.

    We are going to close this forum tomorrow and evaluate your activity for the Silicon Valley Study Tour: we are organizing all the tour activities to give our participants the best experience possible, respecting the constraints of this particular period and what is happening around the world.

    Now please send me your updated CV attached and the link at your LinkedIn profile if you have one, between today and tomorrow, at the email address ismaelepaoli@gmail.com 🙂

    Thanks a lot! Stay tuned 😉

Viewing 15 posts - 16 through 30 (of 37 total)
  • The topic ‘Bicocca Silicon Valley 2020’ is closed to new replies.