A green reboot after the pandemic

In addition to threatening millions of lives, the Covid-19 pandemic has demonstrated human societies are capable of transforming themselves more or less overnight—there’s no better time.
By Sandrine Dixson-Declève, Hunter Lovins, Hans Joachim Schellnhuber and Kate Raworth – The Covid-19 coronavirus has forced entire countries into lockdown mode, terrified citizens around the world and triggered a financial-market meltdown. The pandemic demands a forceful, immediate response. But in managing the crisis, governments also must look to the long term. One prominent policy blueprint with a deep time horizon is the European Commission’s European Green Deal, which offers several ways to support the communities and businesses most at risk from the current crisis.

Covid-19 reflects a broader trend: more planetary crises are coming. If we muddle through each new crisis while maintaining the same economic model that got us here, future shocks will eventually exceed the capacity of governments, financial institutions and corporate crisis managers to respond. Indeed, the ‘coronacrisis’ has already done so.

The Club of Rome issued a similar warning in its famous 1972 report, The Limits to Growth, and again in Beyond the Limits, a 1992 book by the lead author of that earlier report, Donella Meadows. As Meadows warned back then, humanity’s future will be defined not by a single emergency but by many separate yet related crises stemming from our failure to live sustainably. By using the Earth’s resources faster than they can be restored, and by releasing wastes and pollutants faster than they can be absorbed, we have long been setting ourselves up for disaster.

On one planet, all species, countries and geopolitical issues are ultimately interconnected. We are witnessing how the outbreak of a novel coronavirus in China can wreak havoc on the entire world. Like Covid-19, climate change, biodiversity loss and financial collapses do not observe national or even physical borders. These problems can be managed only through collective action that starts long before they become full-blown crises.

The coronavirus pandemic is a wake-up call to stop exceeding the planet’s limits. more>

Updates from McKinsey

Coronavirus: Five strategies for industrial and automotive companies
To rebound from the coronavirus pandemic, industrials must undertake a journey that begins with resolve and ends with fundamental reform.
By Joe Dertouzos, Heike Freund, Michael Mischkot, Asutosh Padhi, and Andreas Tschiesner – We are still in the early stages of a global health crisis resulting from the coronavirus pandemic. Protecting lives is the first priority, but we must also protect our livelihoods. For automotive and industrial companies, surviving and emerging stronger at the far end of this crisis will require thinking beyond the next fiscal quarter. Success in the long run will require a journey across five stages: Resolve, Resilience, Return, Reimagination, and Reform.

The first stage, Resolve, involves determining the scale, pace, and depth of action required. To do so, companies in advanced industries must take the following steps:

  • establishing a nerve center to steer the organization, serve as the information hub, manage risk and responses, and align all stakeholders
  • protecting employees by making their health the paramount concern and adjusting production as needed
  • screening and safeguarding the supply chain by understanding risks and taking action to address disruption
  • adapting marketing and sales by identifying and mitigating the risks of declining sales while meeting critical customer needs
  • maintaining financial health by improving liquidity, reducing costs, and establishing a spend control tower

During the Resolve phase, companies must also make difficult choices, such as suspending production facilities, suspending discretionary spending, and furloughing workers. These decisions will require a comprehensive understanding of the situation, including data-driven scenarios for market evolution.

Consider the automotive industry. It is difficult to predict how the pandemic will affect sales in the European Union and the United States, two regions where coronavirus penetration is still emerging. We draw insights about potential developments by looking at the evolution of auto sales in China over the first quarter, since this country has already “bent the curve” and begun to recover from the coronavirus.

As industrials experience virus-related shutdowns and economic pressures, they should move quickly to address near-term cash management challenges and broader resiliency issues. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Redefine the Line: How automotive trends are changing the ways we move from point A to B
By Tarun Tejpal – The automotive industry has been one of the most dynamic and exciting incubators of technological and product innovation in the modern world. A unique mix of investment, consumer interest, and industry competition has driven this dynamism with a constant search for the next feature, style, or capability to capture the public imagination. At the 1964 New York World’s Fair, General Motors (GM) hoped to capture such interest with the Firebird IV concept car. GM explained, then, that the Firebird IV “anticipates the day when the family will drive to the super-highway, turn over the car’s controls to an automatic, programmed guidance system and travel in comfort and absolute safety at more than twice the speed possible on today’s expressways.” (Gao, Hensley, & Zielke, 2014).

GM’s vision of the future was striking and exciting, but the technology did not yet exist to make it a reality. Ford took a different approach to generating buzz in the market, focusing on the present. Instead of forecasting a future of self-driving cars and super highways, Ford launched a car for “young America out to have a good time”: the Mustang (Gao et al., 2014). It engaged the new generation by providing both transportation and personal expression in a stylish, highly configurable, and inexpensive package. Ford estimated it would sell 100,000 Mustangs, but one year after the launch it had sold over 400,000 (Gao et al., 2014).

Vehicles are now a central feature of everyday life. Since 1964, global vehicle sales have grown by nearly 3 percent on average each year, nearly double the rate of population growth, resulting in one billion vehicles on the road today (Gao et al., 2014).

However, large-scale trends, such as a surging Chinese automotive market, electrification, and urbanization, are beginning to affect the form and function of vehicles and personal mobility systems. more>

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Updates from Chicago Booth

Don’t fall for the false trade-offs of COVID-19 policy
By Neale Mahoney – The American economy—like those of many countries—is reeling. As COVID-19 forces businesses to shut their doors and consumers to retreat within their homes, the stock market has plummeted and unemployment-insurance claims have skyrocketed. Many people are predicting that we will soon experience a severe recession, in the United States and around the world.

So it may come as no surprise that in this gloomy environment, there are growing concerns that the economic costs of mitigating the spread of COVID-19—through social distancing and/or isolation, the approaches favored by many health experts—are worse than the health costs we would incur by relaxing such measures. As US president Donald Trump put it on Twitter, “We cannot let the cure be worse than the problem itself.”

Trade-offs are central to economics. Many of our canonical models are designed to illustrate them, and economists are quick to point out trade-offs, or “unintended consequences,” when they are ignored by policy makers.

Because of these trade-offs, reasonable people with a shared goal can disagree, simply because they have differing views of, for instance, the elasticity of labor supply (how workers respond to changes in after-tax wages), the degree of moral hazard (how people respond to the out-of-pocket price of health care), and so on.

However, when it comes to COVID-19, the conventional economic trade-offs are greatly overstated. Indeed, I’m worried that the language of trade-offs is being co-opted to push for shareholder bailouts and corporate cronyism. Some of the “trade-offs” being weighed in discussions of policy are not trade-offs at all. We economists should get ahead of this and call it what it is: nonsense. more>

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China, America, and the International Order after the Pandemic

By Mira Rapp-Hooper – As people around the world fall ill, global markets convulse, and supply chains collapse, COVID-19 may also reorder international politics as we know it. No analyst can know when this crisis will end, much less divine the world we will meet at its conclusion. But as scholars have begun to note, it is plausible that China will emerge from the wreckage as more of a global leader than it began.

Following World War II, the United States was a chief architect of the so-called liberal international order and became its uncontested leader with the Cold War’s end. China, with its breathtaking economic growth and vast increases in military spending, has been on the ascent for decades, but long remained focused on domestic stability and the security of the Chinese Communist Party. It clambered to center stage after 2008, when the global financial crisis appeared to signal a weakening of American primacy.

China and others took the American financial stumble as a blunder of democratic capitalism, and a moment of opportunity to advance their own agendas. Under Xi Jinping, Beijing has seen the last decade as a period of “strategic opportunity” — one it did not necessarily expect to last, as it faces its own expected economic and demographic slowdowns. It built military bases in the South China Sea in contravention of international law, launched the vast and opaque Belt and Road Initiative to spread economic and political influence, doubled down on the state’s role in the economy and prejudicial policies, and coopted international human rights bodies. Along the way, it began to develop its own global governance aspirations and visions.

With the election of Donald Trump, the United States widened Beijing’s window of opportunity with its self-inflicted political convulsion. To China’s great fortune, American foreign policy was now expressly hostile to multilateral institutions, bellicose on trade, and defined national security in terms of narrow, homeland defense. To experts in the United States and abroad this looked like a willing abdication of the system the United States had constructed and led. But alongside these fears, and in another significant shift, foreign policy thinkers from both major parties increasingly agreed that the United States and China had entered a period of a great-power competition, in part, over the future of the international order and which power would set its terms.

Alone, the United States could not hope to match China’s economic and military heft in Asia. With allies by its side, America could remain peerless and manage peaceful change. Narrow unilateralism stoked renewed perceptions of further American decline and attenuated an otherwise favorable balance of power.

Enter the novel coronavirus.

It should be stunning that a virus that originated in China and spread in part due to Chinese government mismanagement may reorder the world to Beijing’s advantage, as Kurt Campbell and Rush Doshi have argued. more>

Updates from McKinsey

We’re not going back to the ‘normal’ we had before coronavirus
Our global managing partner Kevin Sneader joined Andrew Ross Sorkin on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” Wednesday, March 25, to talk live about the business implications of the coronavirus pandemic. The full interview is available now at CNBC.com. You can read all of our material on the crisis at our coronavirus insights page.
By Kevin Sneader – One thing is clear from all the conversations I’ve had: nothing is going to be the same. This is a new normal, a different way of operating.

I think for our clients, they’re worried about their employees, their customers, and cash—in that order. And they are worried about cash. Even in the health care sector, there are providers who are not getting paid right now, and they’re worried about cash flow just as players in several other sectors are.

Another reality they’re all dealing with is that people keep sending them scenarios as to how this could play out. The message we’re hearing is that the scenarios are helpful, but leaders are wondering what’s going to be true across all these scenarios. Because if it’s not going back to the way it was before, what’s the next normal? What’s the way in which we’re going to have to operate?

The reality is that consumer behavior is changing fundamentally, and so much else is changing, and the question is, “will it go back?” I think the answer in many cases is “no.”

If you think about a lot of what’s happened in the last few years, some of it’s going to be reinforced. The shift [to working] online has now been given a boost, and it’s hard to see that being taken back to where it was before.

At the same time, I think one of the biggest shifts will be the way that products reach us. For many years, we and others have been focused on efficiency: how efficiently can I run my supply chain? I think now there’s going to be a lot of conversation about, how resilient is my supply chain? more>

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Updates from ITU

How can we ensure safety and public trust​ in AI for automated and assisted driving?
ITU News – Cars are becoming increasingly automated. Drivers already benefit from a wide range of advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS), such as lane keeping, adaptive cruise control, collision warning, and blind spot warning, which are gradually becoming standard features on most vehicles.

Today’s automated systems are taking over an increasing amount of responsibility for the driving task. It is expected that soon, sensors will take the place of human impulse, and artificial intelligence (AI) will substitute for human intelligence.

This process is defined through various level steps, from low levels of automation where the driver retains overall control of the vehicle in level 1, to a fully-autonomous system in level 5.

10 years ago, manufacturers predicted many cars on today’s roads would be fully automated, but it still remains a distant future for the automotive industry. At the recent Future Networked Car Symposium 2020 at ITU Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, top experts joined a panel entitled ‘AI for autonomous and assisted driving – how to ensure safety and public trust’ to discuss the progress and the prospects for vehicles that drive themselves – and how we might achieve this future. more>

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The rule of law is under duress everywhere

By Ted Piccone – Anyone paying attention to major events of the day in the United States and around the world would know that the basic social fabric is fraying from a toxic mix of ills — inequality, dislocation, polarization, environmental distress, scarce resources, and more. Signs abound that after decades of uneven but steady human progress, we are digging a deeper and muddier hole for ourselves. The principal reason for this pessimism is not the material facts of decline — we have lived through worse times before — but the crumbling consensus around how to overcome such crises. The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic is fast becoming the latest stress test for whether the social contract can hold.

The roadmap for climbing out of the trough should begin with the understanding that the rule of law is the sine qua non of more successful societies. Societies with strong rule of law have built-in mechanisms for mediating conflicts through open and inclusive debate, in which all voices are treated equally, and outcomes are perceived as fair and reasonable.

Unfortunately, as documented by the latest findings of the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index, the rule of law is declining around the world for the third year in a row. The trends are widespread and persistent: The majority of countries that declined in the 2020 rule of law scores also deteriorated in the previous year, and weaker or stagnating performance occurred in the majority of countries in every region and across every income group.

Of particular concern is that countries experienced the biggest declines over the past year in the areas of fundamental rights (54 countries declined, 29 improved), constraints on government powers (52 declined, 28 improved), and absence of corruption (51 declined, 26 improved). These three factors of the World Justice Project (WJP) Index saw the worst performance globally over a five-year time period as well.

In short, the key rule of law elements that undergird accountable governance, and relatedly, citizens’ trust in their leaders, are in retreat, in both established democracies like the United States, and in entrenched autocracies, from Russia to China to Venezuela. In this context, the rise of populist anger and social protests should come as little surprise. more>

Updates from McKinsey

COVID-19: Implications for business
By Matt Craven, Linda Liu, Mihir Mysore, and Matt Wilson – The coronavirus outbreak is first and foremost a human tragedy, affecting hundreds of thousands of people. It is also having a growing impact on the global economy.

At the time of writing, there have been more than 160,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 6,000 deaths from the disease. Older people, especially, are at risk. More than 140 countries and territories have reported cases; more than 80 have confirmed local transmission. Even as the number of new cases in China is falling (to less than 20, on some days), it is increasing exponentially in Italy (doubling approximately every four days). China’s share of new cases has dropped from more than 90 percent a month ago to less than 1 percent today.

Our perspective is based on our analysis of past emergencies and our industry expertise. It is only one view, however. Others could review the same facts and emerge with a different view.

Many countries now face the need to bring widespread community transmission of coronavirus under control. While every country’s response is unique, there are three archetypes emerging—two successful and one not—that offer valuable lessons. We present these archetypes while acknowledging that there is much still to be learned about local transmission dynamics and that other outcomes are possible:

  • Extraordinary measures to limit spread. After the devastating impact of COVID-19 became evident in the Hubei province, China imposed unprecedented measures—building hospitals in ten days, instituting a “lockdown” for almost 60 million people and significant restrictions for hundreds of millions of others, and using broad-based surveillance to ensure compliance—in an attempt to combat the spread. These measures have been successful in rapidly reducing transmission of the virus, even as the economy has been restarting.
  • Gradual control through effective use of public-health best practices. South Korea experienced rapid case-count growth in the first two weeks of its outbreak, from about 100 total cases on February 19 to more than 800 new cases on February 29. Since then, the number of new cases has dropped steadily, though not as steeply as in China. This was achieved through rigorous implementation of classic public-health tools, often integrating technology.
  • Unsuccessful initial control, leading to overwhelmed health systems. In some outbreaks where case growth has not been contained, hospital capacity has been overwhelmed. The disproportionate impact on healthcare workers and lack of flexibility in the system create a vicious cycle that makes it harder to bring the epidemic under control.

Based on new information that emerged last week, we have significantly updated and simplified our earlier scenarios. more>

Updates from Ciena

Single-wave 400G across 4,000km? Yes – with Ciena’s new Waveserver 5.
Ciena’s popular family of Waveserver products just got a new member – Waveserver 5. With tunable capacity up to 800G and support for 400GbE services at any distance, learn how Waveserver 5 is already setting new industry benchmarks – in live networks.

By Kent Jordan – Two mega-trends have been driving rapid innovation in optical networks. Advanced coherent technology brings the promise of greater network capacity, now reaching up to 800G across short links and 400G at distance. At the same time, new compact modular platforms promise greater density, reduced footprint and lower energy consumption.

What if you could combine this incredible performance and awesome density into one device? Sounds too good to be true, right?

Well not anymore. Ciena’s most advanced coherent technology, WaveLogicTM 5 Extreme, has arrived in the newest member of our Waveserver family of interconnect platforms: Waveserver 5. And, it’s bringing the performance you need, packaged in a compact and efficient footprint.

Combining the world’s most innovative coherent chipset with the simple, server-like operational model the Waveserver family is known for, Waveserver 5 provides network operators with industry-leading transport economics for high-capacity, high-growth applications.

Internet2 will be one of Ciena’s first customers to deploy Waveserver 5. They are building out their next-generation research and education (R&E) network across the U.S. and they have selected Ciena’s best, most flexible, open and highest-performance technologies to do the job. more>

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