Nav: Home

From the Panama Papers to an intelligence service for your own business

November 07, 2016

In 2016 more than a hundred newspapers and others published revelations on tax avoidance and evasion. They were based on the Panama Papers, a collection of data that comprises 2.6 terabytes of information and 11.5 million documents. In 2015 this was leaked to the Sueddeutsche Zeitung; an international group of journalists evaluated it over the course of a year. Now, computer scientists at the Max Planck spin-off Ambiverse have analyzed the data with software in a few hours, obtaining new results.

The software is intended to help businesses analyze large amounts of text automatically. While the international group of journalists analyzed the Panama Papers in depth and focused on people like Nawaz Sharif, prime minister of Pakistan, or Petro Poroshenko, president of Ukraine, the young entrepreneurs used their software to take a broader approach. For example, they found that athletes, rather than politicians, were the largest group involved. They accounted for more than 20% of the people identified by the software, followed closely by artists. Only then came the politicians. The capability of the software to create categories automatically delivered further insights. Among the athletes, it was soccer players who were most often involved in strategies for tax avoidance and evasion. Second place was taken by tennis and basketball players (around 10%); hockey and volleyball players were in third place (about 5%). Another insight regarding politicians was found: political ideology did not influence the decision to use an offshore account. Conservative and socialist politicians are equally represented in the Panama Papers.

"It's unfortunate that we could only work with the data provided and already prepared by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists. Our system isn't merely capable of handling raw data; it actually obtains even better results," explains Johannes Hoffart, whose PhD at the University of Saarland was based on the underlying technology. Together with four other Max Planck researchers, he founded Ambiverse just under a year ago to market the technology. Much as news services maintain armies of analysts to evaluate publicly available texts, businesses can do this with the Ambiverse software in a few minutes.

The software is so powerful because, among other things, it doesn't search by just a term. Instead, for example, a search for "Angela Merkel" also finds texts in which the chancellor is referred to only as "Angie" or "CDU chief." At the same time, the program leaves out all the documents referring to the well-known soccer coach with the same surname. Thus, businesses can find people, places, and products in large amounts of text, even when this is made more difficult by ambiguous terms or abbreviations. The search for categories even makes it possible to search for "financial companies" or "soccer players" without having to specify these more precisely. In addition, the software can be used not only for texts in German and English, but also Spanish and Chinese. This is made possible by a knowledge base developed at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics; its content was developed partly with the help of the online encyclopedia Wikipedia. With their business plan, the founders of Ambiverse won the trans-regional business plan competition "1,2,3, GO" a few weeks ago.
-end-
Further information: https://www.ambiverse.com/oh-wie-schon-ist-offshore-panama/

Questions can be sent to:
Johannes Hoffart
Ambiverse GmbH
Tel: +49 681 9325-5024
E-Mail: jhoffart@mpi-inf.mpg.de
Editor: Gordon Bolduan
Competence Center Computer Science Saarland
Tel: +49 681 302 70741
E-Mail: gbolduan@mmci.uni-saarland.de

Saarland University

Related Data Articles:

Discrimination, lack of diversity, & societal risks of data mining highlighted in big data
A special issue of Big Data presents a series of insightful articles that focus on Big Data and Social and Technical Trade-Offs.
Journal AAS publishes first data description paper: Data collection and sharing
AAS published its first data description paper on June 8, 2017.
73 percent of academics say access to research data helps them in their work; 34 percent do not publish their data
Combining results from bibliometric analyses, a global sample of researcher opinions and case-study interviews, a new report reveals that although the benefits of open research data are well known, in practice, confusion remains within the researcher community around when and how to share research data.
Designing new materials from 'small' data
A Northwestern and Los Alamos team developed a novel workflow combining machine learning and density functional theory calculations to create design guidelines for new materials that exhibit useful electronic properties, such as ferroelectricity and piezoelectricity.
Big data for the universe
Astronomers at Lomonosov Moscow State University in cooperation with their French colleagues and with the help of citizen scientists have released 'The Reference Catalog of galaxy SEDs,' which contains value-added information about 800,000 galaxies.
What to do with the data?
Rapid advances in computing constantly translate into new technologies in our everyday lives.
Why keep the raw data?
The increasingly popular subject of raw diffraction data deposition is examined in a Topical Review in IUCrJ.
Infrastructure data for everyone
How much electricity flows through the grid? When and where?
Finding patterns in corrupted data
A new 'robust' statistical method from MIT enables efficient model fitting with corrupted, high-dimensional data.
Big data for little creatures
A multi-disciplinary team of researchers at UC Riverside has received $3 million from the National Science Foundation Research Traineeship program to prepare the next generation of scientists and engineers who will learn how to exploit the power of big data to understand insects.

Related Data Reading:

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Crisis
There's no greater threat to humanity than climate change. What can we do to stop the worst consequences? This hour, TED speakers explore how we can save our planet and whether we can do it in time. Guests include climate activist Greta Thunberg, chemical engineer Jennifer Wilcox, research scientist Sean Davis, food innovator Bruce Friedrich, and psychologist Per Espen Stoknes.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#527 Honey I CRISPR'd the Kids
This week we're coming to you from Awesome Con in Washington, D.C. There, host Bethany Brookshire led a panel of three amazing guests to talk about the promise and perils of CRISPR, and what happens now that CRISPR babies have (maybe?) been born. Featuring science writer Tina Saey, molecular biologist Anne Simon, and bioethicist Alan Regenberg. A Nobel Prize winner argues banning CRISPR babies won’t work Geneticists push for a 5-year global ban on gene-edited babies A CRISPR spin-off causes unintended typos in DNA News of the first gene-edited babies ignited a firestorm The researcher who created CRISPR twins defends...