How bosses are (literally) like dictators

By Elizabeth Anderson – American public discourse doesn’t give us helpful ways to talk about the dictatorial rule of employers.

Instead, we talk as if workers aren’t ruled by their bosses. We are told that unregulated markets make us free, and that the only threat to our liberties is the state. We are told that in the market, all transactions are voluntary. We are told that since workers freely enter and exit the labor contract, they are perfectly free under it.

We prize our skepticism about “government,” without extending our critique to workplace dictatorship.

Why do we talk like this? The answer takes us back to free market ideas developed before the Industrial Revolution. In 17th- and 18th-century Britain, big merchants got the state to grant them monopolies over trade in particular goods, forcing small craftsmen to submit to their regulations. A handful of aristocratic families enjoyed a monopoly on land, due to primogeniture and entail, which barred the breakup and sale of any part of large estates. Farmers could rent their land only on short-term leases, which forced them to bow and scrape before their landlords, in a condition of subordination not much different from servants, who lived in their masters’ households and had to obey their rules.

The problem was that the state had rigged the rules of the market in favor of the rich. more> https://goo.gl/etCyXT

To create economic opportunities, cities must confront their past — and look to the future

By Amy Liu – Cities are under pressure to deliver on a whole host of national priorities, including addressing the nation’s weak productivity growth, stagnant wages, and stark racial disparities.

That’s because Washington, D.C., has made clear that building an inclusive economy is not a top priority.

Health care and other supports for low-income, working families are on the chopping block. A robust federal economic growth agenda is missing.

And the Trump administration’s budget blueprint and policies indicate that state and local governments, along with the private sector, are expected to step up their investments in key domestic policy areas including infrastructure, basic and applied research, job training, and housing assistance. more> https://goo.gl/6T4UQM

Updates from GE

Smart Trains And Beyond: GE’s Jamie Miller To Talk Digital Disruption At Tech Confab

By Bruce Watson – Deutsche Bahn Cargo trains crisscross Europe daily carrying everything from coal and steel to cars and cabinets. If a train gets stuck or needs to be taken offline, it can cause problems for the entire system. Now GE digital technology is making the trains smarter and reducing downtime. By tapping sensors embedded on 250 of DB Cargo’s trains, GE will be able to collect several terabytes of data to help keep the trains running efficiently.

Digital transformations like this are the focus of Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech summer retreat this week in Aspen, Colorado. The idea behind Brainstorm is deceptively simple: Gather 600 of the world’s top business leaders, tech entrepreneurs and investors to discuss the tech trends that are poised to transform the world. It’s an opportunity to feed innovation, discuss future trends and — in general — find a way to make disruption a little less disrupting.

Digital disruption isn’t only hitting the tech world. We’re seeing it in industry as well. In manufacturing, for example, digital innovations can lead to a difference of billions of dollars in productivity. more> https://goo.gl/DoqxoN

Republicans Aren’t Turning on Trump—They’re Turning on Each Other

By Molly Ball – The House is mad at the Senate. The Senate is mad at the House. Various factions in the House and Senate are mad at each other or mad at their leaders.

Everyone is always mad at the Freedom Caucus. Divisions between Republican factions are nothing new; nor is friction between the House and Senate. In an oft-repeated fable, a new Republican member of Congress, eager to go after the “enemy” Democrats, is corrected by an old bull: “The Democrats are the opposition,” he says. “The Senate is the enemy.”

Still, some wonder whether the current sniping isn’t better directed to Pennsylvania Avenue, where the scandal-mired president creates new headaches with every passing day.

A House Republican staffer described the fractious mood on Capitol Hill as “Republican-on-Republican violence.” As for why lawmakers don’t train their ire on the real root of their problems, the staffer shrugged: “Maybe it’s just easier to attack people without 13 million Twitter followers.” more> https://goo.gl/UEe8ja

Why Every Leader Needs to Be Obsessed With Technology

By Lisa Kay Solomon – Digitization has moved beyond music and entertainment, and now many big retailers operating physical stores are struggling to stay relevant. Meanwhile, the pace of change is accelerating, and new potentially disruptive technologies are on the horizon.

More than ever, leaders need to develop a strong understanding of and perspective on technology. They need to survey new innovations, forecast their pace, gauge the implications, and adopt new tools and strategy to change course as an industry shifts, not after it’s shifted.

Nurturing curiosity is the first step to understanding technological change.

Becoming more technologically minded takes discipline and focus as well as unstructured time to explore the non-obvious connections between what is right in front of us and what might be. It requires a commitment to ongoing learning and discovery.

Whatever your strategy, the goal should be to develop a healthy obsession with technology. more> https://goo.gl/2ETU3m

The Age of Biological Annihilation

By John C. Cannon – The loss of approximately 200 species a century might not seem extreme through the lens of one person’s lifespan, but it’s as much as 100 times faster than historical estimates, according to a 2015 study also led by Ceballos. He explained that under “normal circumstances,” it might have taken as many as 10,000 years for that many animals to vanish.

The researchers discovered that the populations of nearly one-third of these animals in this sample are on the decline. In terms of sheer numbers, the study’s maps show that perhaps half the number of individual animals that once inhabited the Earth with humans are gone—a loss that numbers in the billions.

The team also drilled down into the research on populations of 177 well-studied mammals to see how they have fared since 1900. They found every single one has lost at least 30 percent of its habitat, and around 40 percent of these mammals have lost 80 percent or more of their former ranges. more> https://goo.gl/o4dxkY

Updates from GE

Looking For The Unknown: Artificial Intelligence Is Seeking Cancer Patterns That Have Eluded Humans
By Maggie Sieger – The use of AI in healthcare, which was one of the topics discussed at GE’s recent Minds + Machines conference in Berlin, is a fast-growing field. Scientists are using so-called “deep learning networks,” which weave together hundreds, if not thousands, of data points and process this data with multiple algorithms simultaneously, mimicking the human brain.

When crossing the street, pedestrians take into account dozens of factors, including the number and speed of approaching cars, the condition of the pavement, fellow travelers and even the shoes they are wearing or what they are carrying. Deep learning has the potential to do the same thing – but with even more data points and at speeds unmatched by humans.

They are feeding millions of data points into the cloud, including decades of colorectal data collected by national registries, thousands of MRIs and CT scans, gene panels and biomarkers. The software then looks for patterns, connections and correlations with a speed and detail unmatched by humans.

As AI becomes a more common tool in healthcare, medical schools will have to change how they train physicians to make sure they have the new capabilities, skill sets and methodologies to use AI effectively, more> https://goo.gl/2kME5a

Why New York Is Just an Average City

By Geoffrey West – The ubiquitous use of per capita indicators for ranking and comparing cities is particularly egregious because it implicitly assumes that the baseline, or null hypothesis, for any urban characteristic is that it scales linearly with population size.

In other words, it presumes that an idealized city is just the linear sum of the activities of all of its citizens, thereby ignoring its most essential feature and the very point of its existence, namely, that it is a collective emergent agglomeration resulting from nonlinear social and organizational interactions.

Cities are quintessentially complex adaptive systems and, as such, are significantly more than just the simple linear sum of their individual components and constituents, whether buildings, roads, people, or money.

There is an approximately 15 percent increase in all socioeconomic activity with every doubling of the population size, which happens almost independently of administrators, politicians, planners, history, geographical location, and culture. more> https://goo.gl/8NZ5Rq

Are You Ready To Consider That Capitalism Is The Real Problem?

BOOK REVIEW

The Divide: A Brief History of Global Inequality and Its Solutions, Author: Jason Hickel.

By Jason Hickel and Martin Kirk – A full three-quarters of people in major capitalist economies believe that big businesses are basically corrupt.

Why do people feel this way?

It’s because they realize—either consciously or at some gut level—that there’s something fundamentally flawed about a system that has a prime directive to churn nature and humans into capital, and do it more and more each year, regardless of the costs to human well-being and to the environment we depend on.

That’s what capitalism is, at its root.

What might a better world look like? There are a million ideas out there. We can start by changing how we understand and measure progress.

We can change that.

People want health care and education to be social goods, not market commodities, so we can choose to put public goods back in public hands. People want the fruits of production and the yields of our generous planet to benefit everyone, rather than being siphoned up by the super-rich, so we can change tax laws and introduce potentially transformative measures like a universal basic income. more> https://goo.gl/ntiMQr

The New Normal: Radical Inequality, Suffocating Debt, and Growing Job Uncertainty

By Servaas Storm – The U.S. economy is suffering from two interrelated diseases: the secular stagnation of its potential growth, and the polarization of jobs and incomes. The two disorders have a common root in the demand shortfall, originating from the ‘unbalanced’ growth between technologically ‘dynamic’ and ‘stagnant’ sectors, which—crucially—is bringing down potential growth.

The key mechanism is just this: rising real wages, as during the period 1948-1972, provide an incentive for firms to invest in labor-saving machinery and productivity growth will surge as a result; but when labor is cheap, as during most of the period 1972-2015, businesses have little incentive to invest in the modernization of their capital stock and productivity growth falters as a consequence.

Financial globalization, in addition, enabled the rich to have their cake (profits) and eat it (by channeling them to offshore tax havens or into derivative financial instruments). In this way, trade and financial globalization have been essential building blocks of the dual economy. more> https://goo.gl/5EFndw