The instruments of warfare – weapons with projectiles – were well known before the Internet, but ineffective in cyberspace. The pre-Internet soldiers were trained and wore uniforms. Today’s warrior could take down an energy grid from her bedroom – without firing a shot – simply by pressing some keys on her laptop. If a bomber from one country dropped a bomb on another’s country nuclear power plant, it would likely provoke an outbreak of physical war.
In 2025, the financial crisis has meant that the police have had to do more with less. In most Chinese cities, facial recognition on CCTV is now standard. With other means of societal surveillance, such as biometrics on public transport and the universal Social Credit System that tracks bank records and voice recognition ATMs, many see China as having become the archetypal “surveillance state”.
The SHERPA project has undertaken 10 case studies on the role of artificial intelligence (AI) and big data analytics in different application scenarios. This briefing paper describes key insights of the use of these technologies in a small start-up that uses social media data for the purposes of predictive risk intelligence. It raises questions of privacy and data protection but also of power and labour relationships. The case demonstrates that even a small start-up can find ways of addressing such issues, if awareness and willingness are present.
The use of predictive risk intelligence through the combination of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data is reaching new horizons, alternatively known as smart information systems (SIS). SIS are widely used to provide intelligence in many areas predicting risk, such as supply chain management (SCM) (Bendoly, 2016), sustainability (Kant & Sangwan, 2015), medicine (Williams et al., 2018), finance (Xia, Liu, & Chen, 2013) and insurance (Baecke & Bocca, 2017). All these approaches involve the use of advanced machine learning techniques that integrate data to deliver predictions of risks affecting the critical elements of enterprises and communities.