About Center for Information and Bubblestudies (CIBS)
CIBS investigates bubble phenomena as information control problems.
The Center for Information and Bubble Studies is an interdisciplinary center of excellence studying bubble phenomena as they relate to attention economics, social media, social influence, fake news, misinformation and post-factual democracy. The scientific staff is made of scholars from the humanities, social science, social psychology, media studies, logic, behavioural science, computer science and mathematics. The center has a prolific scientific profile, a significant public outreach and a strong commitment to scientific social responsibility as the World Economic Forum - together with similar sentiments expressed by the UN and OECD - recently declared misinformation a challenge on par with climate change, migration and other global challenges.
The Center for Information and Bubble Studies (CIBS) was founded in 2015 by a generous grant from the Carlsberg Foundation. CIBS is based at the Department of Communication at The Faculty of Humanities of the University of Copenhagen. CIBS is also host and proprietor of the digital education program D.U.D.E. sponsored by TrygFonden, an educational program in digital literacy for upper secondary school and high school.
The center was founded, and is led by professor Vincent F. Hendricks with a faculty of some 15 members between senior faculty, post docs, ph.d.s, master students and administrative staff.
CIBS is an interdisciplinary center of excellence studying bubbles, infodemics and other information-driven phenomena of the digital age given
- attention economy, the information markets and the formation of attention bubbles online
- social media studies, the business model of attention allocation, data harvest, surveillance capitalism, influencer culture, the structure and dynamics of the public sphere in the digital age
- formal logical / statistical / game-theoretical models and simulations of social influence among users, investors and other online actors ranging from informational cascades, bystander effects, pluralistic ignorance and other information-driven socio-psychological phenomena
- statistical analyses of infostorms ranging from twitter outbreaks, breaking news bars to digital wildfires in a connected world
- the nature and dynamics of the new media landscape including fake news, misinformation and the consequences for democracy, the rise of populism, conspiracy theories, identity politics, evidence-based political deliberation, decision and action and post-factual democracy.
By aligning problems of bubble formation in miscellaneous markets with information control problems CIBS brings together philosophy, economics, logic, social psychology, information theory, behavioral science, and computer science to form a novel and thoroughly interdisciplinary platform for analyzing and resolving often destabilizing bubble-phenomena of human and market interaction.
The research paradigms and practices of CIBS are in essence interdisciplinary. By way of example by answering questions as to the extent to which, phenomena like pluralistic ignorance, cascades, polarization, bystander effects and other group-psychological biases and erroneous reasoning responsible for macroscopic coordination phenomena like boom-thinking in finance, religious or ideological opinion, the emergence of trends, changes in climate of opinion in science, the strange bubble economics of "selfies" and group-recognition, group-think in opinion bubbles on the web, twitter-storms and "like"-culture, cyber-bullying, popular political programs, science funding, etc.? Answering such questions will extend the prevalent theories of attention bubbles and infodemics and evaluate their explanatory power in other disparate settings. But bubbles may not necessarily be malignant if they mirror public conviction on correct information and social influence rails reason. Attention bubbles calling for crowd climate awareness, race and gender equality, health care etc. seem benign and attention allocation accordingly may be used to promote the common good.
- Nemo D’Qrill & Vincent F. Hendricks
Published in Review of Behavioral Economics in 2018, the paper gives an analysis of phishing in markets from within a conceptual/formal game-theoretical perspective. The analysis reveals some important differences between honesty, dishonesty, and trust among traders in a market. In contrary to Akerlof and Shiller’s thesis “Phishing for Phools”, the paper concludes that under certain circumstances it can be an advantage to behave like an honest trader. The paper thereby shows that phishing for phools may not always be the best strategy to pursue.
- Esther M. Kjeldahl & Vincent F. Hendricks
Published in EMBO Reports – Science and Society in 2018, the article shows how social factors such as pluralistic ignorance may affect people’s reactions and attitudes towards climate change. It concludes that people tend to underestimate other people’s concerns about climate change and that it may explain why many people abstain from taken climate action.
- Joachim S. Wiewiura & Vincent F. Hendricks
Published in New Media & Society in 2018, the article investigates certain configurations of information networks on social media by addressing cases of online coordination based on common knowledge, pluralistic ignorance, and slacktivism. It is shown that social network sites’ reliance on specific network structures has negative consequences for public narratives about political, social, or cultural reality. The purpose of the article is to take a step toward identifying possible information control problems that add to the mapping of public spheres with emphasis on the generation of public signals.
- Mads Vestergaard & Vincent F. Hendricks
Published in Politik und Zeitgeschichte in 2017, the article gives a warning about how western democracies might turn into post-factual states, where opportune narratives serve as the basis of opinion in public debate and politics instead of fact and evidence. The article describes and analyses cases of fake news and misinformation as symptoms of the development of a post-factual democracy. Furthermore, the article shows how the post-factual democracy is strongly promoted by the new media landscape.
“Logical Perspectives on Informational Social Influence in Trade and Science”
- Hanna S. Van Lee
Published in 2019, the Ph.D. thesis uses the machinery of dynamic epistemic logic to formulate and analyze opinion diffusion in scientific communities and so-called greater fools reasoning in trade markets. In doing so it investigates two concrete social phenomena where information and in particular higher-order information plays a key role: 1) scientists who acquire knowledge through observation and interaction; and 2) traders who reason about asset values and about other traders. The study shows how an epistemic logical study can provide a novel perspective on well-known problems of informational social influence.
- Mads Vestergaard & Vincent F. Hendricks
Published by Springer in 2019, the book gives an analysis of the information market, the attention economy and the media eco-system which may pave the way to post-factual democracy. It thereby displays how a democracy can devolve into a post-factual state by showing how misleading narratives can become the basis for political opinion formation, debate, and legislation.
- Mads Vestergaard
Published by Information in 2019, the book investigates some of the negative consequences of the digital revolution from a critical perspective. The book provides examples of new surveillance technologies that threaten elementary rights of freedom and the privacy of the citizens. Finally, the book argues we instead of looking at China as the center of digital totalitarianism, we should turn our focus on new technologies in Denmark provided by the big tech giants, which may reduce the citizens to passive passengers.
- Silas L. Marker & Vincent F. Hendricks
Published by Gyldendal in 2018, the book presents an introduction to the battlefield of identity policies, where discussions on subjects such as gender, race, nationality, and social backgrounds tend to become very heated. It thereby highlights different positions, ideas, and disagreements in the current debate on identity policies. Finally, the book argues that it’s in fact possible to have a decent public discussion about discrimination and power relations, in which the nuances and the truth are maintained.
- Pelle G. Hansen & Vincent F. Hendricks
Published by Springer in 2016, the book shows how information may be used to improve the quality of personal decision and group thinking using philosophy, logic, social psychology, economics, and choice and game theory. The book warns us against the informational pitfalls which modern information technology may amplify, from science, reality culture and cyberbullying. It presents a detailed guide to navigating the bewildering superabundance of information in today’s globalizing world by drawing on the latest work in philosophy and the social sciences to explore how information, and its misuse, can both support and undermine democracy.
- Dominik Klein, Rasmus K. Rendsvig
Published in Proceedings of the Twenty-Eighth International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence, IJCAI-19 in 2019, the paper discusses unreliable communication protocols from a topological perspective by focusing on the coordinated attack problem. The analysis is unfolded in a mathematically expressive framework where convergent sequences and limit points are natural inhabitants, which shows when and how unreliable communication converges to a state of common knowledge. It is concluded that common knowledge is attainable if, and only if, we do not care about common knowledge. This statement is made precise by the framework of the paper, where caring about common knowledge means that it is expressible in the formal logical language.
- Hanna S. Van Lee, Rasmus K. Rendsvig & Suzanne van Wijk
Published in Journal of Philosophical Logic, Springer in 2019, this paper investigates a type of choice in dynamical multi-agent systems, where agents have to choose from a class of formal protocols. After illustrating how such protocols may be used in formalizing and analyzing information dynamics, the paper characterizes the types of epistemic temporal models that they may generate. This facilitates a formal comparison with the only other formal protocol framework in dynamic epistemic logic, namely extensional ‘DEL-protocols’. The paper concludes with a conceptual comparison between the two, highlighting modelling tasks where DEL dynamical systems are natural.
- Alexandru Baltag, Zoé Christoff, Rasmus K. Rendsvig & Sonja Smets
Published in Journal of Philosophical Logic, Springer in 2018, this paper studies the diffusion of opinions, new technologies, infections, or behaviors in social networks from a logical approach to threshold models. It describes the threshold dynamics by using a minimal dynamic propositional logic and thereby shows that the logic is sound and complete. Furthermore, the framework gets extended with an epistemic dimension to investigate how information about more distant neighbors’ behavior allows agents to anticipate changes in the behavior of their closer neighbors. Overall, the logical formalism used captures the interplay between the epistemic and social dimensions in social networks.
- Hanna Sofie van. Lee & Sonja Smets
Published in Journal for General Philosophy of Science in 2019, the paper contributes to the debate about the effect of various network configurations on the epistemic reliability of scientific communities by introducing an epistemic logical framework of observation, interaction and belief revision in scientific communities. The presented sound and complete system provide the formal tools for qualitative analysis of the social dynamics of scientific inquiry. Furthermore, this paper includes detailed suggestions for future applications of the framework.
- Hanna S van Lee
Published in International Workshop on Logic, Rationality and Interaction, LORI in 2017, this paper deals with the theory of the greater fools-explanation of financial bubbles by translating the phenomenon into the language and models of dynamic epistemic logic. By presenting a formalization of greater fools reasoning, structural insights are obtained pertaining to the structure of its higher-order content and the role of common knowledge.
Watch this video for an introduction to bubble studies in 15 minutes:
Professor Vincent F. Hendricks,
Department of Media, Cognition and Communication
University of Copenhagen
Mobil: 40 16 80 63
Professor Flemming Besenbacher,
Head of the Carlsbergfoundation
Mobil: 23 38 22 04