They’re Healthy. They’re Sustainable. So Why Don’t Humans Eat More Bugs?

By Aryn Baker – Sylvain Hugel is one of the world’s foremost experts on crickets of the Indian Ocean Islands. So when he received an email from a fellow entomologist in March 2017 asking for help identifying a species in Madagascar that could be farmed for humans to consume, he thought it was a joke. “I’m working to protect those insects, not eat them,” the French academic responded tartly.

But the emails from Brian Fisher, an ant specialist at the California Academy of Sciences, in San Francisco, kept coming. Fisher had been doing fieldwork in Madagascar when he realized that the forests where both he and Hugel conducted much of their research were disappearing. Nearly 80% of Madagascar’s forest coverage has been destroyed since the 1950s, and 1-2% of what remains is cut down each year as farmers clear more trees to make room for livestock. The only way to prevent this, Fisher told Hugel in his emails, was to give locals an alternative source of protein. “If you want to be able to keep studying your insects, we need to increase food security, otherwise there will be no forest left,” Fisher wrote.

His proposal was insect protein. More than two-thirds of Madagascar’s population already eat insects in some form, usually as a seasonal snack. If there were a way to turn that occasional snack into a regular meal by making it easily available, it could help ease pressure on the island’s threatened forests. Crickets, which are high in protein and other vital nutrients, were already being farmed successfully in Canada for both human and animal consumption. Surely Hugel, with his vast knowledge of Indian Ocean crickets, could help identify a local species that would be easy to farm, and, more importantly, might taste good? more>

Updates from McKinsey

What start-ups need to scale and succeed
Statistically, the odds against a start-up are formidable. Companies that emphasize talent, customer-centricity, and core principles are the ones most likely to succeed.
By James Bilefield – Most start-ups have one thing in common: they usually fail. But the minority who beat the odds and survive share a number of traits. From the outset, they work incredibly hard and move extraordinarily fast to attract early customers, great talent, and additional funding. Once they begin to scale, successful start-ups maintain their momentum, respond quickly to market changes, and remain focused on outcomes and delivering value to customers. Digital entrepreneur James Bilefield shares his start-up insights with McKinsey’s Philipp Hillenbrand.

Philipp Hillenbrand: We always hear that start-ups need to operate at an incredible pace, that speed is everything, and if they slow down, they die. Is this just a cliché, simply a function of entrepreneurial impatience, or actually true?

James Bilefield: The data show that the overwhelming majority of start-ups fail. Some fail fast, while some fail over a longer period of time in markets where funding is usually finite.

To overcome those extraordinary odds, an unusual amount of speed, hard work, and agility is required by the founders and first employees to rapidly develop the business and achieve enough momentum to delight initial customers, attract great talent, and secure further funding. The impatience you highlight is more about ambition, competitive instincts, and, ultimately, survival.

Philipp Hillenbrand: It’s much easier to get off to a running start when you’re small. How did you manage to sustain or even accelerate the velocity while Skype was expanding?

James Bilefield: At Skype, we were on a simple but extraordinary mission—to let the world talk for free and change the face of global communications. Initially, we hired a diverse set of mavericks who really shared our excitement and energy. As we scaled, we strove to ensure that our unique culture and values stayed strong. And thanks to our flat and nimble management style, we maintained a clear focus on outcomes and an obsession on delivering for customers. more>

Manufacturing Predictions for the Next Decade

By Rob Spiegel – Digitalization in automation has been getting a lot of attention in the manufacturing industry over the past year. The popularity of emerging technology is partly due to the pandemic. COVID-19 unexpectedly accelerated the progress of digitalization in automation as factories worked to catch up on the production of essential supplies and run their operations with fewer workers.

2020 was just a peek into the coming technology deployment for manufacturers. Over the next 10 years, new technology will become common in plants. “The form of automation that will be coming in the next 10 years will be a transfer from looking at robotics as automation to looking at true collaborative learning systems,” Matthew Putman, CEO and co-founder of Nanotronics, told Design News. “This will involve robotics improving through artificial intelligence, and that artificial intelligence will improve through collaboration with people.”

Putman predicts that we’ll see the robot market produce equipment this is increasingly intelligent and connected across the network. “There will be more robotics, but more importantly, the robots will be working differently and intelligently. Rather than following human strategies and tactics, robotics will follow artificial intelligence (AI) tactics.” more>

Rising Rates May Signal Significant Market Shifts Ahead

Some investors may be tempted to buy amid the moderate dips in stock prices, but we lay out the rationale for a more nuanced approach.
By Lisa Shalett – The second half of February brought not just a market selloff, but also indications of a more serious potential shift in market outlook. Just two weeks after hitting a high of 3948 on Feb 16, the S&P 500, the benchmark index of the broader U.S. market, has fallen 3.5%, while the tech-and-growth-stock-heavy Nasdaq index is down about 6.4%. For some, that may seem like the kind of moderate dip that could be a buying opportunity, but we don’t believe that’s the case right now.

A close look at interest-rate dynamics suggests that fundamental market conditions may be changing. In the past two weeks, we’ve seen the benchmark 10-year Treasury yield surge as high as 1.6% from 1.3%—compared with its historic low of 0.5% last August. The recent surge may indicate a reassessment of the speed of the U.S. economic recovery and the likely Federal Reserve policy response.

Investor faith that interest rates would remain stable at very low levels has helped support sky-high price-to-earnings multiples this year. Growth stocks are often valued against the yield on a low-risk Treasury bond—the wider the spread, the larger premium that an investor is expected to pay for the added risk of growth. As rates move higher, stock prices often adjust to reflect that narrowing gap. That may be a big reason why tech stocks, in particular, got hit so hard last week.

Also, survey-based indicators from primary dealers and investors suggest that market participants believe that a tapering of the Fed’s bond-buying program will begin in the first quarter of 2022. For that timeline, the Fed would have to start signaling a shift later this year to avoid major market upset, similar to what we saw with the 2018 “taper tantrum.”

This shift in policy expectations has material implications for portfolio construction, suggesting not only shifts in sector and regional positioning, but fresh approaches to diversification, as rising rates produce potential headwinds for both stocks and bonds simultaneously.

Investors should consider adding economically cyclical sectors that can take advantage of global reflation. We also suggest maintaining positions in defensive sectors that would likely do well if the faster-growth, rising-rate scenario takes longer to materialize than indicators now suggest. more>

EU credibility as a people’s union rests on the social pillar

Buffeted by the pandemic and by populism, the EU needs the European Pillar of Social Rights to become a solid anchor of security for all.
By Liina Carr – Next week, the European Commission is set to unveil its Action Plan for putting the European Pillar of Social Rights into practice. The European Trade Union Confederation is pressing hard for an ambitious plan, which provides the means to achieve and monitor tangible social progress.

The EPSR was adopted by member states in 2017 but—partly due to the social and economic damage inflicted by the pandemic—European citizens might be forgiven for wondering what difference it has made to their lives. It was the former commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, who announced the initiative in his 2015 State of the Union address. The text was finally proclaimed by European Union leaders at the Social Summit in Gothenburg.

The ETUC played a major role in developing its 20 principles, which we see as crucial to strengthening the EU’s social dimension—ensuring that the welfare of workers and their families is not subordinated to the economic interests of the single market.

Despite its legalistic language, the pillar however lacks legal force: the principles do not give direct rights to any individual. It has been described as an agenda, ‘a compass for a renewed process of upward convergence towards better working and living conditions in Europe’.

The ETUC sees it as a guiding strategic framework, enabling the commission to bring forward legislation and other initiatives to strengthen social wellbeing. But at a time when the EU is under intense scrutiny for its handling of the Covid-19 crisis, implementing the pillar in a way that touches people’s lives is a question of credibility for European institutions and member-state governments in the eyes of their citizens. There is no time to waste. more>

Updates from McKinsey

Purpose for asset owners: Climbing a taller mountain
In the wake of the pandemic, the world’s long-term investors are reexamining their purpose.
By By Duncan Kauffman, Bryce Klempner, and Bruce Simpson – The world’s pension funds, sovereign-wealth funds, and endowments are no strangers to purpose—they intentionally strive to create positive societal impact. After all, they have long been using purpose as a not-so-secret weapon to attract talent while competing with higher-paying private-sector investment managers. As one chief talent officer of a major asset owner put it, “We can’t compete with Wall Street head-to-head on compensation, but we can emphasize the mission of the work we do: helping millions of our fellow citizens save for their retirements. That’s pretty meaningful.” Nevertheless, amid the pandemic, many institutions are redefining, or simply sharpening, their emphasis on purpose, with promising implications for their constituents and the societies in which they operate.

Experienced climbers

For asset owners, purpose begins with their mandate, one that many owners have taken great care to define. The mandate informs all strategic choices an asset owner makes, so many CEOs and chief investment officers (CIOs) are careful to align their top teams and board. For example, the website for the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan states, “Our name captures our purpose: to secure the future for Ontario’s teachers.” The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority describes its purpose as “. . . to secure and maintain the future welfare of the Emirate.” And the Yale Investments Office “seeks to provide high inflation-adjusted returns to support the current and future needs of the university.

These purpose statements typically share a common concept: asset owners commit to investing the capital they have been entrusted to preserve, by enhancing the long-term purchasing power of their beneficiaries. This purpose is noble; it is focused on helping others—and, in many cases, doing so on a large scale, for millions of beneficiaries or even an entire nation. It aims to help others by enhancing their autonomy. And it is typically cast as helping to orient institutions toward the long term—a horizon in which all stakeholders’ interests tend to converge. The power of these three dimensions of purpose has afforded asset owners comfort (and perhaps competitive advantage) in their distinctive purpose vis-à-vis other investment firms and financial institutions.

Many asset-owner executives may thus feel justifiably proud of their progress on organizational purpose. Yet increasingly, partly impelled by the global health crisis and partly by other societal forces, several asset owners are mulling an even taller mountain: using their capital, capabilities, and influence to contribute to the economic and social recovery of the communities in which they operate, so that they can deliver positive social impact beyond what they currently achieve.

Why do more?

Like many industries with a noble purpose, asset owners have a long history of harnessing some of the advantages that come from a strong shared sense of purpose—in talent (recruitment, retention, motivation, productivity), external engagement (policy and regulatory freedom), and risk management (in their own organizations and portfolios). Yet there are three reasons why asset owners are increasingly seeking to do more. more>

Updates from Ciena

How quickly can you activate new MPLS services?
MPLS tunnels are the go-to technology to deliver network services. But provisioning and activation can take days or even weeks. Blue Planet’s Mitch Auster details how intelligent automation can solve the many complexities of MPLS service activation.
By Mitch Auster – When it comes to delivering high quality services between geographically distributed locations, providers across the world have a go-to technology they rely on – MPLS tunnels. Each service request from a customer comes with unique requirements – a bank may require gold priority paths with redundancy, a television network may demand temporary network connectivity to stream an event, a federal agency might want to send traffic excluding certain countries, or a customer could ask for a high-bandwidth, low-latency path for data traversing between headquarters and their data center.

MPLS service activation in weeks

The current approach for provisioning and activating an MPLS service with such unique customer requirements can take days or even weeks. Under the present mode of operation, a provider must have access to the current network topology of an ever-changing network, evaluate the performance metrics of each device, link and path between multiple source and destinations pairs, use manual, legacy offline planning tools to compute the new path, and manually configure all the routers along the new path.

Add multi-vendor devices or multiple autonomous systems to this mix, and the overall cost in terms of both OPEX and efforts can be quite high. But with the competition waiting with improved offers, customers may not be willing to wait for weeks, or longer, while the provider searches for the most efficient path that meets customer constraints. more>

How to speak in public

Public speaking can feel like an ordeal, but take a lesson from the ancients: it’s a skill you can develop like any other
By John Bowe – Whether you’re facing a large crowd, a handful of colleagues at a conference table, a job recruiter over Zoom, or trying to hold your own during a family fight, the all-too-common experience of speech anxiety can feel like a frustrating act of self-betrayal. You wish to share your knowledge, beliefs and feelings. Yet the moment you decide it’s time to communicate them, the words … don’t … seem. To Want. To Come. Out. Of. Your Mouth.

Think about our usual ways of describing the problem: ‘I’m shy.’ ‘I suffer from speech anxiety.’ ‘I just don’t know how to be myself in front of a group.’ We often act as though the problem stems from a psychological or emotional shortcoming within us. After years of watching our looser-tongued peers express their ideas and passions, it’s easy to become resentful and alienated. These negative feelings can reinforce our original reaction: There’s too much stuff inside of me that I can’t express! There’s something wrong with me.

This diagnosis would have seemed utterly baffling to the ancient Greek educators and philosophers who invented language theory in the 4th century BCE, and then taught it to virtually every student in the West for 2,000 years until a couple of centuries ago. From the ancient perspective, public speaking, like writing or, for that matter, military prowess, was considered an art form – teachable, learnable, and utterly unrelated to issues of innate character or emotional makeup. To them, the idea of expecting the average, speech-ignorant person to be reliably eloquent would be like expecting an untrained adolescent to perform like a seasoned warrior on the battlefield. Their take holds true today – it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to be competent, much less masterful, in an art form you’ve never been taught to practice.

Under the larger discipline of rhetoric (the study of persuasion in all its forms), students in antiquity spent years acquiring a strategic understanding of how to temper logic, emotions and words with poise. Speaking well depended upon learning how to analyze all sides of an argument and assaying all possible avenues of commonality with one’s audience be­fore expressing an opinion. Similar to our approach to reading and writing today, speech training was a comprehensive, critical approach to knowledge, with an additional emphasis on psy­chology and social interaction. more>

From an industrial renaissance to an economy of value

By Francisco Jaime Quesado – While having to endure the ongoing era of a global pandemic, we are facing the prospect of an effective industrial renaissance that can change the way our economy works

In the new global economy, in which industry is becoming more important, companies have a new challenge – to redefine its value chain and to integrate the existing global networks with new ideas, new solutions and new proposals of competence. This industrial renaissance will be a contract of trust in this new agenda of change and a new effective vision for the future as it should mobilize those that have a set of effective value creations in the economy.

A post-pandemic industrial renaissance is the point of contact between those that believe in the power of people to create new solutions to more complex problems that are arising in society and those that want innovation and creativity to be the platform for the creation of value in a globally competitive economy. This ‘renaissance’ is, in essence, the confirmation of a process of integration of people into society – an individual’s contribution must be a commitment to the organization of society and its main elements.

The next stage in the process of rebirth must apply to the most critical factors of competence and trust, which includes a focus on innovation and the sharing of positive dynamics. We need society to have a new challenge. Society must be able to be the real platform of a more entrepreneurial society that is centered on new areas of knowledge and sectors of value.

In a modern and active society, the keyword is ‘co-creation’, which is used to promote a dynamic and active creation process that involves each citizen in the next big challenge for society. more>

Updates from ITU

GPS and garbage trucks: Mapping digital divides in U.S. cities
By Sarah Wray – Addressing the digital divide has become a top priority for cities around the world as COVID-19 has forced study, work and socializing online.

City leaders are increasingly recognizing the opportunity that remote work and technology can offer their citizens and local economy – as long as the right infrastructure is in place.

During a digital roundtable in a series organized by consulting company Ignite Cities and advocacy group the National League of Cities (NLC), Adrian Perkins, Mayor of Shreveport, and Alejandra Sotelo-Solis, Mayor of National City, detailed how closing the digital divide means not only getting residents connected but also helping them upskill for a changing job market. Perkins said:

“If our low-income communities don’t have access to reliable internet, you are cutting them off in so many ways,” including opportunities for remote work, high-paying jobs and educational tools.

He noted that mayors must work alongside the private sector and foster partnerships to close the divide but that leveraging public assets is also key.

“[Telecom companies] are private corporations and they have pushed for their bottom lines and people that could most afford [connectivity],” Perkins added.

“If you are a mayor that hasn’t started to yet work on the public side, on the public fibre that’s available and pushing your public agenda when it comes to bridging the digital divide, you are behind the power curve.” more>

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