Manuel Cebrian's research while affiliated with University Carlos III de Madrid and other places

Publications (190)

Article
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As the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated, identifying the origin of a pandemic remains a challenging task. The search for patient zero may benefit from the widely-used and well-established toolkit of contact tracing methods, although this possibility has not been explored to date. We fill this gap by investigating the prospect of performing the so...
Preprint
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Detecting early signs of an outbreak in a viral process is challenging due to its exponential nature, yet crucial given the benefits to public health it can provide. If available, the network structure where infection happens can provide rich information about the very early stages of viral outbreaks. For example, more central nodes have been used...
Preprint
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Protests during the COVID-19 pandemic present a complex trade-off between democratic rights of freedom of assembly and an epidemic risk, and have created a need for careful assessment of protest-driven infections. Here, we build a coupled disease transmission model and assess the impact of protests on the COVID-19 spread in the continental US using...
Article
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Influencing others through social networks is fundamental to all human societies. Whether this happens through the diffusion of rumors, opinions, or viruses, identifying the diffusion source (i.e., the person that initiated it) is a problem that has attracted much research interest. Nevertheless, existing literature has ignored the possibility that...
Article
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Bots’ ability to influence public discourse is difficult to estimate. Recent studies found that hyperpartisan bots are unlikely to influence public opinion because bots often interact with already highly polarized users. However, previous studies focused on direct human-bot interactions (e.g., retweets, at-mentions, and likes). The present study su...
Article
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Culture has played a pivotal role in human evolution. Yet, the ability of social scientists to study culture is limited by the currently available measurement instruments. Scholars of culture must regularly choose between scalable but sparse survey-based methods or restricted but rich ethnographic methods. Here, we demonstrate that massive online s...
Article
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When facing automation threats, a large Chinese city worker might not be as lucky as a worker in a large US city. Empirical studies found that large US cities exhibit resilience to automation impacts because of the increased occupational and skill specialization. However, in this study, we observe polarized responses in large Chinese cities to auto...
Article
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How to deal with a big problem, such as pandemics or climate change, when we suspect that there is no solution to it? (Zona Crítica- ElDiario.es, March 23th, 2022) Link: https://www.eldiario.es/opinion/zona-critica/problemas-intratables_129_8842925.html
Article
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¿Cómo afrontar un gran problema, como las pandemias o el cambio climático, cuando sospechamos que no hay solución al mismo? (Zona Crítica- ElDiario.es, 23/Marzo/2022) Link: https://www.eldiario.es/opinion/zona-critica/problemas-intratables_129_8842925.html
Preprint
Full-text available
Bots’ ability to influence public discourse is difficult to estimate. Recent studies found that hyperpartisan bots are unlikely to influence public opinion because bots often interact with already highly polarized users. However, previous studies focused on direct human-bot interactions (e.g., retweets, at-mentions, and likes). The present study su...
Chapter
The ability of social and political bots to influence public opinion is often difficult to estimate. Recent studies found that hyper-partisan accounts often directly interact with already highly polarised users on Twitter and are unlikely to influence the general population’s average opinion. In this study, we suggest that social bots, trolls and z...
Chapter
Machines powered by artificial intelligence increasingly mediate our social, cultural, economic, and political interactions. This chapter frames and surveys the emerging interdisciplinary field of machine behaviour: the scientific study of behaviour exhibited by intelligent machines. It outlines the key research themes, questions, and landmark rese...
Article
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Policymakers commonly employ non-pharmaceutical interventions to reduce the scale and severity of pandemics. Of non-pharmaceutical interventions, physical distancing policies—designed to reduce person-to-person pathogenic spread – have risen to recent prominence. In particular, stay-at-home policies of the sort widely implemented around the globe i...
Article
Technologies for manipulating and faking online media may outpace people's ability to tell the difference.
Article
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Protests diffusion is a cascade process that can spread over different regions of the planet. The way and the extension that this phenomenon can occur is still not properly understood. Here, we empirically investigate this question using protest data from GDELT and ICEWS, two of the most extensive and longest-running data sets freely available. We...
Article
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Crises in a global setting of interdependencies call for time-critical coordinated responses. However, it is often the case that the mechanisms responsible for these actions do not agree across all their hierarchies. This can be roughly attributed to personal estimations of the situation and to social influence. An ensuing lack of consensus against...
Article
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Multiple driving forces shape cities. These forces include the costs of transporting goods and people, the types of predominant local industries, and the policies that govern urban planning. Here, we examine how agglomeration and dispersion change with increasing population and population density. We study the patterns in the evolution of urban for...
Article
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The pandemic is not going to last forever… or is it. This will depend on us and the way we manage our attention within the ecosystem of the show in which we are immersed. (Tribuna - El País, April 9th, 2021) Link: https://elpais.com/opinion/2021-04-09/la-enesima-ola.html
Article
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La pandemia no va a durar para siempre… o sí. Esto dependerá de nosotros y de la forma que administremos nuestra atención dentro del ecosistema del espectáculo en el que estamos inmersos (Tribuna - El País, 09/Abril/2021) Link: https://elpais.com/opinion/2021-04-09/la-enesima-ola.html
Article
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Cities are the innovation centers of the US economy, but technological disruptions can exclude workers and inhibit a middle class. Therefore, urban policy must promote the jobs and skills that increase worker pay, create employment, and foster economic resilience. In this paper, we model labor market resilience with an ecologically-inspired job net...
Preprint
Full-text available
Policymakers commonly employ non-pharmaceutical interventions to manage the scale and severity of pandemics. Of non-pharmaceutical interventions, social distancing policies -- designed to reduce person-to-person pathogenic spread -- have risen to recent prominence. In particular, stay-at-home policies of the sort widely implemented around the globe...
Preprint
Contact tracing has been extensively studied from different perspectives in recent years. However, there is no clear indication of why this intervention has proven effective in some epidemics (SARS) and mostly ineffective in some others (COVID-19). Here, we perform an exhaustive evaluation of random testing and contact tracing on novel superspreadi...
Preprint
Influencing (and being influenced by) others indirectly through social networks is fundamental to all human societies. Whether this happens through the diffusion of rumors, viruses, opinions, or know-how, finding the source is of persistent interest to people and an algorithmic challenge of much current research interest. However, no study has cons...
Article
Full-text available
During the COVID-19 pandemic, political polarization has emerged as a significant threat that inhibits coordinated action of central and local institutions reducing the efficacy of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs). Yet, it is not well-understood to what extent polarization can affect grass-roots, voluntary social mobilization targeted at mit...
Article
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An amendment to this paper has been published and can be accessed via a link at the top of the paper.
Article
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As groups are increasingly taking over individual experts in many tasks, it is ever more important to understand the determinants of group success. In this paper, we study the patterns of group success in Escape The Room, a physical adventure game in which a group is tasked with escaping a maze by collectively solving a series of puzzles. We invest...
Article
The potential of digital contact tracing to slow the spread of a virus had been quietly explored for over a decade before the COVID-19 pandemic thrust the technology into the spotlight. But can it actually be effective in the hard-to-model complexity of real-world social networks?
Preprint
Full-text available
Culture has played a pivotal role in human evolution. Yet, the ability of social scientists to study culture is limited by currently available measurement instruments. Scholars of culture must regularly choose between scalable but sparse survey-based methods or restricted but rich ethnographic methods. Here, we demonstrate that massive online socia...
Preprint
Ten years ago, DARPA launched the 'Network Challenge', more commonly known as the 'DARPA Red Balloon Challenge'. Ten red weather balloons were fixed at unknown locations in the US. An open challenge was launched to locate all ten, the first to do so would be declared the winner receiving a cash prize. A team from MIT Media Lab was able to locate th...
Article
We present BeeMe, an online platform designed for Internet collective action and problem solving. As a test case, we analyze data from a global performance where thousands of individuals collectively solved a mystery online. We discuss our results in light of contemporary debates on hybrid systems.
Article
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In this study, we analyze Twitter data to understand information spreading activities of social media users during Hurricane Sandy. We create multiple subgraphs of Twitter users based on activity levels and analyze such network properties. We observe that user information sharing activity follows a power-law distribution suggesting the existence of...
Preprint
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We propose a new discrimination-aware learning method to improve both accuracy and fairness of face recognition algorithms. The most popular face recognition benchmarks assume a distribution of subjects without paying much attention to their demographic attributes. In this work, we perform a comprehensive discrimination-aware experimentation of dee...
Article
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Las empresas líderes de datos e Inteligencia Artificial no supieron predecir la escala de la propagación del coronavirus, pese a su avanzada capacidad tecnológica. (Tribuna - El País, 08/Abril/2020) Link: https://elpais.com/elpais/2020/04/07/opinion/1586252351_094192.html
Article
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The leading data and Artificial Intelligence companies failed to predict the scale of the spread of the coronavirus, despite their advanced technological capacity. (Tribuna - El País, April 8th, 2020) Link: https://elpais.com/elpais/2020/04/07/opinion/1586252351_094192.html
Preprint
We present an online platform, called BeeMe, designed to test the current boundaries of Internet collective action and problem solving. BeeMe allows a scalable internet crowd of online users to collectively control the actions of a human surrogate acting in physical space. BeeMe demonstrates how intelligent goal-oriented decision-making can emerge...
Article
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In the age of hyperconnectivity, we are undergoing an explosive increase in the interdependence of the political, commercial, financial, and social spheres. The recent rise of deglobalization movements across the world highlights the local negative externalities of poorly designed networked structures at the global scale: high social complexity der...
Article
Rapid communication during extreme events is one of the critical aspects of successful disaster management strategies. Due to their ubiquitous nature, social media platforms are expected to offer a unique opportunity for crisis communication. In this study, about 52.5 million tweets related to hurricane Sandy posted by 13.75 million users are analy...
Preprint
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The most popular face recognition benchmarks assume a distribution of subjects without much attention to their demographic attributes. In this work, we perform a comprehensive discrimination-aware experimentation of deep learning-based face recognition. The main aim of this study is focused on a better understanding of the feature space generated b...
Article
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Mobility is one of the fundamental requirements of human life with significant societal impacts including productivity, economy, social wellbeing, adaptation to a changing climate, and so on. Although human movements follow specific patterns during normal periods, there are limited studies on how such patterns change due to extreme events. To quant...
Article
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The compact city, as a sustainable concept, is intended to augment the efficiency of urban function. However, previous studies have concentrated more on morphology than on structure. The present study focuses on urban structural elements, i.e. urban hotspots consisting of high-density and high-intensity socioeconomic zones, and explores the economi...
Preprint
Full-text available
The compact city, as a sustainable concept, is intended to augment the efficiency of urban function. However, previous studies have concentrated more on morphology than on structure. The present study focuses on urban structural elements, i.e., urban hotspots consisting of high-density and high-intensity socioeconomic zones, and explores the econom...
Preprint
Full-text available
When facing threats from automation, a worker residing in a large Chinese city might not be as lucky as a worker in a large U.S. city, depending on the type of large city in which one resides. Empirical studies found that large U.S. cities exhibit resilience to automation impacts because of the increased occupational and skill specialization. Howev...
Preprint
Recent advances in neural networks for content generation enable artificial intelligence (AI) models to generate high-quality media manipulations. Here we report on a randomized experiment designed to study the effect of exposure to media manipulations on over 15,000 individuals' ability to discern machine-manipulated media. We engineer a neural ne...
Article
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Rapid advances in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation technologies have the potential to significantly disrupt labor markets. While AI and automation can augment the productivity of some workers, they can replace the work done by others and will likely transform almost all occupations at least to some degree. Rising automation is happening...
Article
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Machines powered by artificial intelligence increasingly mediate our social, cultural, economic and political interactions. Understanding the behaviour of artificial intelligence systems is essential to our ability to control their actions, reap their benefits and minimize their harms. Here we argue that this necessitates a broad scientific researc...
Preprint
The "small world phenomenon," popularized by Stanley Milgram, suggests that individuals from across a social network are connected via a short path of mutual friends and can leverage their local social information to efficiently traverse that network. Existing social search experiments are plagued by high rates of attrition, which prohibit comprehe...
Article
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A bibliometric analysis of the past and present of AI research suggests a consolidation of research influence. This may present challenges for the exchange of ideas between AI and the social sciences.
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España, donde la interacción real entre personas forma parte de su cultura, debe impulsar un uso más emocional de la Red frente al modelo anglosajón puramente informacional (Tribuna - El País, 10/Enero/2019) Link: https://elpais.com/elpais/2019/01/09/opinion/1547060159_516710.html
Article
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Spain, where real interaction between people is part of its culture, should promote a more emotional use of the Internet as opposed to the purely informational Anglo-Saxon model. (Tribuna - El País, Jan 10th, 2019) Link: https://elpais.com/elpais/2019/01/09/opinion/1547060159_516710.html
Preprint
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Algorithmic-matching sites offer users access to an unprecedented number of potential mates. However, they also pose a principal-agent problem with a potential moral hazard. The agent's interest is to maximize usage of the Web site, while the principal's interest is to find the best possible romantic partners. This creates a conflict of interest: o...
Article
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Constitutions reflect the character and history of countries, particularly colonial legacy. While legal systems and constitutional texts are often "inherited" from a former coloniser, until now this has not been quantified and interplay with global policy trends and horizontal influence not well understood. In this paper we analyse the structure an...
Conference Paper
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We introduce TuringBox, a platform to democratize the study of AI. On one side of the platform, AI contributors upload existing and novel algorithms to be studied scientifically by others. On the other side, AI examiners develop and post machine intelligence tasks to evaluate and characterize the outputs of algorithms. We outline the architecture o...
Article
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Significance We present the Facebook Gender Divide, an inexpensive, real-time instrument for measuring gender differences in Facebook access and activity in 217 countries. The Facebook Gender Divide captures standard indicators of Internet penetration and gender equality indices in education, health, and economic opportunity. We find that the tende...
Data
Supporting information file. Equation A in S1 File: User-level regression equation. Fig A in S1 File: Twitter user-level analyses for all message types. Fig B in S1 File: Twitter user-level analyses for posts without weather terms. Fig C in S1 File: User-level comparisons between the effect size of below freezing temperatures on positive, non-weath...
Conference Paper
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The analysis of the creation, mutation, and propagation of social media content on the Internet is an essential problem in computational social science, affecting areas ranging from marketing to political mobilization. A first step towards understanding the evolution of images online is the analysis of rapidly modifying and propagating memetic imag...
Article
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AI researchers employ not only the scientific method, but also methodology from mathematics and engineering. However, the use of the scientific method - specifically hypothesis testing - in AI is typically conducted in service of engineering objectives. Growing interest in topics such as fairness and algorithmic bias show that engineering-focused q...
Article
Full-text available
The analysis of the creation, mutation, and propagation of social media content on the Internet is an essential problem in computational social science, affecting areas ranging from marketing to political mobilization. A first step towards understanding the evolution of images online is the analysis of rapidly modifying and propagating memetic imag...
Article
Full-text available
Since Alan Turing envisioned Artificial Intelligence (AI) [1], a major driving force behind technical progress has been competition with human cognition. Historical milestones have been frequently associated with computers matching or outperforming humans in difficult cognitive tasks (e.g. face recognition [2], personality classification [3], drivi...
Article
2018, The Author(s). Constitutions help define domestic political orders, but are known to be influenced by international mechanisms that are normative, temporal and network based. Here we introduce the concept of the ‘provision space’—the set of all legal provisions existing across the world’s constitutions, which grows over time. We make use of t...
Article
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Online social media are information resources that can have a transformative power in society. While the Web was envisioned as an equalizing force that allows everyone to access information, the digital divide prevents large amounts of people from being present online. Online social media in particular are prone to gender inequality, an important i...
Article
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Hurricane Sandy was one of the deadliest and costliest of hurricanes over the past few decades. Many states experienced significant power outage, however many people used social media to communicate while having limited or no access to traditional information sources. In this study, we explored the evolution of various communication patterns using...
Article
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We conduct the largest ever investigation into the relationship between meteorological conditions and the sentiment of human expressions. To do this, we employ over three and a half billion social media posts from tens of millions of individuals from both Facebook and Twitter between 2009 and 2016. We find that cold temperatures, hot temperatures,...
Article
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Location-based social network data offers the promise of collecting the data from a large base of users over a longer span of time at negligible cost. While several studies have applied social network data to activity and mobility analysis, a comparison with travel diaries and general statistics has been lacking. In this paper, we analysed geo-refe...
Article
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Many people use social media to seek information during disasters while lacking access to traditional information sources. In this study, we analyze Twitter data to understand information spreading activities of social media users during hurricane Sandy. We create multiple subgraphs of Twitter users based on activity levels and analyze network prop...
Article
Full-text available
The city has proven to be the most successful form of human agglomeration and provides wide employment opportunities for its dwellers. As advances in robotics and artificial intelligence revive concerns about the impact of automation on jobs, a question looms: How will automation affect employment in cities? Here, we provide a comparative picture o...