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This category is for selected guest blogs written by students on the City, University of London Writing for Business shortcourse.

Is The Lebanese Economy On The Fringe Of Breakdown?

[Note on the author: Carla Haddad is a senior translator, editor and examiner with the Chartered Institute of Linguists. Carla is currently a student on the City, University of London Writing for Business short course which started in May 2018. She wrote this blog as part of a homework/in-class exercise on that course.]

Amid the gloomy picture of an economy in the red, burdened by large deficits and a hefty public debt-to-GDP ratio, will these factors affect the credit rating outlook for Lebanon in the medium to longer term?

Building the Virtual Echo Chamber

[Note on the author: Elma Jenkins works in project support for the RHEA Group. Elma is currently a student on the City, University of London Writing for Business short course which started in May 2018. She wrote this blog as part of a homework/in-class exercise on that course.]

Society is addicted to new media – Google, newsfeeds, tweets and targeted ads – which have been widely blamed for creating more dividing lines in society. Certainly they have brought the psychology of human decision making into politics. No doubt there are groups out there who are being paid to explore this realm. But can new media really manipulate, or is it just clever PR?

More people are sharing their data online than ever before, and the growth is projected to continue into 2020 (Statista, 2017):

Increasingly local knowledge is being digitized, with a proliferation of data portals such as Wikipedia; digital literature collections such as Project Gutenberg; crowd sourcing sites such as Quora; and open data sites such as data.gov.uk. They show a trend towards digitization in government and society but the general public has very little understanding as to how and what gets digitized and, crucially, who decides. A lot of what gets put online is not really useful: it can even be outright misleading. The battle for our attention online has only just begun.

More Than Just An Assistant: Should We Be Concerned About Google Duplex?

[Note on the author: Daria Kravchenko is Group Digital Marketing Manager at Hays Recruitment. Daria is currently a student on the City, University of London Writing for Business short course which started in May 2018. She wrote this blog as part of a homework/in-class exercise on that course.]

Whether you personally are a loyal fan of virtual assistants, trusting Alexa to set your alarm and handle Amazon shopping, or a sceptic avoiding Artificial Intelligence (AI) at all costs, the fact remains that a substantial amount of global effort is going into developing technology that can interact with humans seamlessly, in the same way that we do with each other.

Despite all the technological advances, progress in this field has remained limited so far. Sure, quizzing Siri on the meaning of life can bring on some giggles, but the overall language processing capabilities of existing chatbots are far from advanced. We would never assume there’s a living and breathing person on the other end of the line, when it’s just a machine providing scripted answers in a stilted computerised voice. Right?

Well, that might have been true up until now, but it looks like things have begun to change.

A Changing of the Guard?

[Note on the author: Nick Durrant is a paraplanner and Chartered Financial Planner. Nick is currently a student on the City, University of London Writing for Business short course, which started in January 2018. This blog was created as part of a homework/in-class exercise on that course.]

Emmanuel Macron’s impressive rise to the French Presidency can, with the right mix of ingredients, be repeated elsewhere. Britain could be first.

On a cool Amiens evening in April 2016 Emmanuel Macron launched a new political movement – En Marche! – in front of a small, attentive audience. It was, he said, to be a party that was neither “of the right nor the left”, offering a new form of politics, different from the traditional parties. It worked. Thirteen months later twenty million French men and women voted him as their president.

The stratospheric rise to power of En Marche! can be dismissed as a one off event, never to be repeated in western politics. But there are signs in Britain (where two parties have provided every prime minister for 100 years) that the traditional system could also be threatened by new political movements. Five key trends show why.