Home Forums Silicon Valley Study Tour – 20-26 August 2017 Genova Silicon Valley 2017

43 replies, 13 voices Last updated by Marta Pancaldi 6 years, 4 months ago
  • Cristian Accetta

    @parro I’m both excited and afraid because it would be an incredible change in everyday life that could help us and because now an excellent hacker can enter a house through electricity, next in the future a good one will be able to use everything in the house to enter it. Besides, the companies are not so much security aware now, so I hope they will be a lot before this future is coming, otherwise people will have to be aware not only about what they do on the net, but also on what they do in their home.

    @luca In my opinion data acquisition will never become a new coin, but soon it will become a discount method even in physical large chain shops, because companies want to hide their collection of data not to make that clear to customers.

    Giulia Vezzani

    Woah! What a long discussion about this topic! 🙂

    I can’t follow it in real-time since I’m abroad for some days, but I’ll catch you up after Easter.

    Just a comment @luca:

    I totally agree with you about the fact that Internet is a new channel that should be used by everyone, also by politicians. It’s also absolutely good that there are people super excited about it (like you) and someone worried about the same fact (like me). And it’s important that these groups of people share their opinions so that to converge to the correct use of this important tool 😉

    Andrea Parodi

    @igorpiobianchi I clearly see the difference between advertising products or ideas, when it comes to their importance, but they are different only when you stop and think about this analytically.

    On the contrary I think that a Facebook user can easily spot the difference between a product’s ad and his news feed’s posts but it’s more difficult to notice an ad about an idea.

    It can be in the form of a video (one in the continuous flow of videos on the feed), that can captivate a person without him being able to consciously evaluate it.

    In my opinion this is the “power” of persuasion on social networks: people can be hit without rest by an idea (for example a political one – see Trump) which will subconsciously influence them with no difficulty.

    This is mostly thanks to the absent-minded mood in which people tend to be when they scroll on their smartphones.

    I think people with the aim of manipulation know this potential very very well.

    All of this power multiplied by the targeted content that can be generated with the great amount of personal data we’ve already spoken​ about.

    (Think that now in a political campaign you can carry on different ideas, one for every part of your electorate – the death of politics!)

    Once again the solution should be an education about this new means of communication, pointing out their power, instead of letting them appear only a pastime, good only to share the photo of your last dinner.

    Fabio Tatti

    Hi all,

    what a great discussion that you’ve been having on this forum!

    I have found out about this initiative very recently and didn’t get a chance to attend the presentation at DIBRIS. After browsing through the website though, I made the connection with the wonderful stories about Silicon Valley that I had heard from Roberto Bonzio of “Italiani di Frontiera”, in his 2015 talk at TEDx Porto Antico. I’m absolutely fascinated by the idea of the SVST and I find the ongoing discussion in this forum extremely engaging.

    About me: I’m Fabio and I have just finished a PhD in Bioengineering and Robotics at IIT in Genoa (literally just finished, two days ago 🙂 ). I have an interest in technology (robotics and computer science) as well as human factors (neurosciences and behavior) and I like working at the interface between these things because I believe that technology has a huge power to help and empower humans but sometimes fails to do so because humans and machines can’t understand each other.

    About the ongoing discussion, forgive me if I won’t try to reply to the many points that you’ve raised over the past days: this post would get too long to read for you and to write for me, so I’ll just start with some general comments that came to my mind after reading the article.

    Personally, I find the use of large-scale psychological profiling to influence elections terrifying. Among the many questions that it raises is following: people expect politicians to deliver on their promises. If a politician bases his/her entire campaign on data-driven ads and statements that change regularly according to people’s moods on Facebook, while his/her real intents are fundamentally different (time will tell us whether or not that’s Trump’s case), what will happen when people realize that they have been cheated? Mass uprising? Both in the case of Brexit and in Trump’s election there have been instances of people who voted in favor and then marched in the streets shortly after the election claiming that their vote “has been stolen”. It’s not a news that politicians lie to get votes, but here we are talking about a completely different scale and really targeting people’s inner fears and emotions.

    I don’t think technology should be blamed. Technology is always a tool, it is up to people and lawmakers to properly regulate its use so that it does good rather than harm. For example I have read on the internet that Kosinski has developed methods to diagnose depression and other forms of mental illness based on Facebook activity. I think that this is an extremely valuable tool that could save lives and allow people who might otherwise go unnoticed to get help, or to get it earlier than they otherwise would.

    On the other hand I think this raises questions: medical data is extremely private, if there is a tool that allows mass diagnoses, who should own this tool and the data that it provides? Would it be ethical for a private company to own these data? In my personal opinion such data should only be available to national health services. The same questions apply to other forms of profiling: who should have access to these data? What applications should be allowed and what should not?

    We are in a completely unmapped territory, and I think it is urgent to draw a map. Part of the problem is that the vast majority of people are completely unaware of the data that is regularly collected about their digital activity, how these data are used and for what purposes. This needs to change. These topics should be part of everyone’s education, so that we can all be conscious users and make informed choices. Laws and regulations will follow thereafter.

    Sorry for the long post. I’m looking forward to engage in a discussion with you!

    Claudio Fantacci

    Hi everyone,

    I’m Claudio Fantacci a postdoc researcher of the Istituto Italiano di Tecnologia in Genoa at the iCub Facility, Humanoid Sensing and Perception.

    I attended Paolo’s talk at the Università di Genova, and I found the Silicon Valley Study Tour an attractive project and a great opportunity for anyone studying and/or working in any tech field.
    Silicon Valley companies are leading the digital revolution and shaping the digital world we are living at this very moment, at a pace we can barely understand.
    I believe that projects and initiatives like SVST is of central importance for both students and entrepreneurs. There is a cultural gap between how we see the world and the one envisioned by the tech companies that must be filled.

    On a larger scale and in a broader sense, I think that a significant part of this vision is based on the use of big data (together with specific tools) to help and assist people by predicting their needs.
    Here is where things get interesting: what is one’s need that can be satisfied with big data?
    The answer is very unclear (or, if you prefer, the question is ill posed) and can range from “How can I suggest someone to drive from place A to B based on the average traffic jam at peak hours?”, to “How can I use targeted ads based on user preferences to increase revenues?”, and even further with “What should I say in this particular state to convince people to vote me?”.
    If you think about it, they are just different needs.
    This connects us with the VICE article, and for what seems to me the most important part of it: the Kosinski’s statement “This is not my fault. I did not build the bomb. I only showed that it exists.”.
    “Big data” have been around for years now, but only recently they have attracted so much attention. As an example, read this article where the term “big data” is never used, but it is clearly under the hood.
    Cambridge Analytica focused on a very particular, narrowed need and they succeeded.
    This is no different from any other company or start-up focusing on other specific needs.
    As also @paolomarenco said during his talk, start-ups shall focus on a particular problem and put all the effort to solve it.

    Many other tech companies we daily rely upon, take our data and sell them to third party companies for their own business. And believe it or not, we agreed to let them doing so when we accepted the licenses to use their services.
    I think that this time our perception on the use of big data is different and somewhat uncomfortable, is because we feel accomplices of the outcomes. Don’t you think so?

    To reply to some of the comments I read so far, I don’t think there should be any strict regulation to be enforced by authorities on the use of (generic and sensible) data given by the people, as long as they agree to do so. This could be dangerous for many reasons including the net neutrality. On the other hand it is clear to me that there is not yet an Internet culture among us. People need to be acknowledged of the risk of using internet, from agreeing to licenses to providing their information (of any kind) to websites.
    What do you think about it?

    It is also funny to notice that, sometimes, when you speak with someone about data collected by third parties and the impact they could make depending on their usage, you often get appointed as a paranoid. Yet, we are here discussing about it. Has it also happened to you?

    To conclude, here are some provocative questions:
    – how many of you knows what data Google collects of you? You can find some info here: https://www.google.com/policies/privacy/#infocollect
    – and Facebook? See https://www.facebook.com/policy.php
    – how many of you knows the existence of https://encrypted.google.com/ ?
    – do you know that thanks to EU laws we can ask Google (and other companies) “The right to be forgotten”? See https://support.google.com/legal/contact/lr_eudpa?product=websearch
    – what is your default browser? I have been using https://duckduckgo.com/ for quite a long time now. Have you ever heard about it?

    Fabio Tatti

    @claudiofantacci I think the fact that many people label concern about data collection and their usage as “being paranoid” is a manifestation of what you refer to as a lack of an Internet culture among us, and I quite agree with you on this point.

    Also, I think that the reason why the perception of the role of big data in Brexit and the U.S. election is different has to do with the magnitude of the outcome. I have typically associated the idea of big data with things such as genomics and proteomics, or with targeted advertising of commercial products. These applications and their results just seem on a different level than getting you elected president of the U.S. or influencing a country’s decision to stay in or leave the E.U.

    In my opinion the principle that if people accept a policy statement on the use of their data no further regulation is needed would work in a society where all Internet users are fully aware of the risks and implications of the policies they are agreeing to. I don’t think we are quite there yet. In order to get there we need to realize that the Internet is now part of everyone’s life and, as so, a proper education on how to use it and on risks related to it should be part of the education programs worldwide.

    Perhaps if we don’t want to regulate the use of personal data there might be room for improvement in the way the policies are presented to users. Most services just require you to tick on a box where you indicate that you have read and accept a document that most people won’t read and might not understand. I’m sure there can be ways to present information differently and more clearly. Also having to opt-in (you tick if you want that service) or opt-out (you tick if you don’t want that service) makes a difference.

    Paolo Marenco

    Hey all…sorry but I m from mobile in the Deep liguria country side! Great last debate in this 2017 italian Selection:-) The eligible ones to SVSt 2017 are all the attendees to this Forum after the Dibris Conference that sent me their resume. I think 7: 4 students and 3 Iit. On Tuesday more info coming! Have a good sunny Easter…welcome on board!

    Paolo Marenco


    Hey all, happy to announce our retreat in Milano , Bicocca University  U6 Building , Room 01B,  Piazza dell’Ateneo Nuovo 1 ( Bus 87 from the right side of Stazione Centrale)

    May , Friday 19.   Agenda:

    2,30 pm Welcome by Bicocca people

    2,40-4,30 Roberto Bonzio http://www.italianidifrontiera.com  Inspiring talk . Roberto, out of the box journalist,  is the guide of Italiani di Frontiera Silicon Valley Tours held since 2011 for 200 managers and entrepreneurs

    4,30- 7 Paolo Marenco introduction to all the City teams : Torino, Novara, Castellanza, Milano, Trento,  Bolzano, Padova, Genova. Every team will introduce the attendees one by one, the actual status of their participation ( Crowdfunding, Tech Scouting, other ) . Sinergies among teams, Q&A.

    Tour Program Presentation, useful things to know going to Silicon Valley and California ( for those who add to the SVST vacation time)

    It’s only the second time we do such retreat, thanks to Bicocca!, I think will be great for mutual knowledge and sharing programs and ideas!

    (language will be Italian  😉

    Paolo Marenco

    Hey all,

    the  hotel address necessary to obtain  ESTA VISA is:

    Comfort Inn

    El Camino Real 1818 ,

    Redwood City,  CA 94063

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by Paolo Marenco.
    Paolo Marenco

    https://www.facebook.com/events/1686889098273359/  here we are , we go on with our meeting from 4,30 to 7 pm

    Paolo Marenco

    Hey all. About May 19 in Bicocca Milan.

    Luca Panzi and Andrea Parodi  have already signed for presence. For us is very important to know if the absence in Milan is “Not Participation to the Tour”, or just busy day.

    Please confirm presence on Facebook  iBicocca page.

    Our reunion for SVST 2017  will start at 4,30pm  after Roberto Bonzio talk, so you can also arrive at that time. Conclusion will be 7 pm.

    We’ll discuss the work in progress for funding the tour of every city group, share experiences, give advices and links. Open discussion.

    see u there!

    Claudio Fantacci

    Hi @paolomarenco, unfortunately for @giuliavezzani and I is a “Not Participation to the Tour”.

    We hope to keep in touch with you all for possible future meetings/talks and project.

    Adriano Fontanari

    Hi there!

    I am Adriano, we met last Friday at Bicocca.

    I am going to buy the ticket to SV. Before doing that, I would like to know if there is someone who would like to buy the ticket and travel with me.

    If yes, send me a message.

    Thank you,


    Marta Pancaldi

    Hello everybody!
    With the permission of Paolo, I thought it would be a good idea to create a group on Facebook to discuss our amazing SV Tour.
    During our meeting in Milan, I saw that many of you have already purchased a flight ticket and, for those who are still searching for flight options, this could be a good opportunity to find a “travel companion” 🙂
    Also, since many of us are coming to San Francisco a few days earlier, this group may help us find a common accommodation, so that we can stay and explore the city together 🙂

    The group is (obviously) called “Silicon Valley Study Tour 2017” and you’ll find it at this address: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1416433395090723/
    Feel free to join it and somebody will grant you the access.

    Meanwhile, good luck to everybody for the upcoming exam session! 😀

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