America’s Worsening Geographic Inequality

By Richard Florida – It’s not just economic inequality—the gap between the rich and the poor—that is growing ever wider. Geographic inequality, the divide between rich and poor places, is too.

America’s growing geographic or spatial inequality is documented in great detail in recent studies from the Economic Innovation Group (EIG) and The Hamilton Project of Brookings Institution.

Their analysis confirms the decline of America’s once-sturdy middle-class neighborhoods, and the splitting of the nation into areas of concentrated advantage, juxtaposed with areas of concentrated disadvantage.

Fewer than 40 percent of Americans, 120 million or so, live in middle-class neighborhoods which the study’s authors classify as “comfortable” and “mid-tier.” Another third, 106 million people, live in “at-risk” or “distressed” communities. An advantaged quarter or so of Americans, 86 million, live in affluent, “prosperous” neighborhoods. Furthermore, the gap between advantaged and disadvantaged neighborhoods has increased in the past decade or so. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Foreign currency? No thanks. Investors prefer their own currencies and the US dollar
By Chana R. Schoenberger – Globalization and integrated financial markets allow companies and investors worldwide to work together more closely—but investors still strongly prefer to buy assets in their own currency or in the US dollar, research suggests. This means US companies that issue bonds only in the dollar are uniquely able to borrow from abroad.

Harvard’s Matteo Maggiori, Chicago Booth’s Brent Neiman, and Columbia’s Jesse Schreger looked at international capital flows from investors’ purchases of corporate securities, using a data set of $27 trillion in investment positions provided to them by Morningstar, an independent investment-research company. They find that investor portfolios are more strongly biased toward their own currencies than standard models, such as the kind used at the Federal Reserve or International Monetary Fund, would imply.

If a German company issues securities denominated in Canadian dollars, for example, the buyers of those securities will mainly be Canadian. This bias is so strong “that each country holds the bulk of all securities denominated in their own currency, even those issued by foreign borrowers in developed countries,” the researchers write. more>

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NXP Rolls Out Radar Development Platform

By Charles Murray – A new reference platform promises to speed the development time of automotive radar devices for adaptive cruise control, automated braking, and automated steering.

NXP Semiconductors N.V., maker of the new platform, says that it provides engineers with a more direct path to production than any previous product.

“They can kickstart their development activities and accelerate the time it takes to develop a product that can be deployed into production vehicles,” Colin Cureton, senior director of product management for ADAS at NXP Semiconductors, told Design News.

NXP is timing the product rollout for a huge anticipated increase in the use of automotive radar systems. Today, radar is employed in automated braking systems that detect pedestrians and cyclists in front of and behind vehicles, as well as in automated emergency steering, cross-traffic detection, and child detection.

In the near future, many vehicles are expected to deploy radar on the front and rear, as well as on all four corners. NXP predicts that overall use of automotive radar will jump from 24 million units shipped worldwide in 2016 to 168 million units in 2025—a seven-fold increase. more>

The Hidden Costs of Losing Your City’s Newspaper

By Kriston Capps – When local newspapers shut their doors, communities lose out. People and their stories can’t find coverage. Politicos take liberties when it’s nobody’s job to hold them accountable. What the public doesn’t know winds up hurting them. The city feels poorer, politically and culturally.

According to a new working paper, local news deserts lose out financially, too. Cities where newspapers closed up shop saw increases in government costs as a result of the lack of scrutiny over local deals, say researchers who tracked the decline of local news outlets between 1996 and 2015.

Disruptions in local news coverage are soon followed by higher long-term borrowing costs for cities. Costs for bonds can rise as much as 11 basis points after the closure of a local newspaper—a finding that can’t be attributed to other underlying economic conditions, the authors say. Those civic watchdogs make a difference to the bottom line. more>

Updates from Siemens

Smart Products, Smart Manufacturing
Siemens – Next-generation smart products are complex systems of systems that make current development processes inadequate.

Smart factories with smarter, faster and cheaper robots along with additive manufacturing processes are disrupting factories and transforming the manufacturing industry. This requires a new approach to development – a model-based design and manufacturing approach that creates a digital twin and then connects that detailed digital information with people throughout the organization through a digital thread.

This digital twin allows global teams across all disciplines the detailed information they need to evaluate opportunities and predict performance. more>

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Updates from Adobe

BUST Magazine at 25: You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby
By Jenni Miller – 25 years ago, BUST Magazine began life as a cut-and-paste zine that the founders quietly photocopied while at their then-day jobs.

BUST was a beloved side hustle for co-founders Debbie Stoller and Marcelle Karp, who were eager to spread messages about feminism and pop culture. Art director and now co-publisher Laurie Henzel, who previously worked at Rolling Stone doing mechanical graphic design with an X-ACTO blade and physical type, found a cheap printer in Queens and taught herself what was then called desktop-publishing software.

In the early days, the BUST aesthetic was low-fi and DIY, like the underground zines of that age—but sexier. more>

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Updates from Ciena

Life’s tough in the great outdoors, especially for packet-optical network gear
By Frank O. Miller – Packet-optical network gear gets pretty pampered in the data center, with regulated temperatures and a whole team of techs on hand to fix any problems. But what happens if you want to put your equipment outside, closer to your customers? How do you know your switches and other gear will be tough enough to survive?

The answer’s simple: regular data center infrastructure won’t be up to surviving in the great outdoors. Instead, you’ll need equipment that’s street-tough, temperature-hardened, and always available – come snow, rain or shine.

So let’s take a moment and think about some of the biggest challenges that could impact your network equipment in the great outdoors…

In mainland Europe, the temperature differentials between summer and winter can be extreme, requiring all network equipment in street cabinets to be temperature hardened. In Germany, for example, many areas experience daily averages of 0°C in the winter, with summer daily averages of around 24°C. In Russia, the swing is even greater, with winter temperatures of -25°C in many regions and summer averages of 30+°C. more>

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What Would Be the Consequences of Amazon Dominating Social Commerce?

By Samuel Brase – And yet, none of these pieces meaningfully examines, among other things, Amazon’s ongoing labor issues, social media’s unresolved privacy concerns, or the potential consequences of the two mingling.

Given that companies live off data, it’s unlikely that they do things like this just for sales. As a result, it’s important to investigate what’s being left out of the narrative—and what these omissions might reveal about the state (or at least priorities) of tech journalism.

Across the board, these outlets treat Amazon more as a friendly helper than as a company; it merely exists, barely noticed and ever useful.

TechCrunch, for instance, says that “Amazon is clearly warming up to social partnerships,” as if it’s a hermit emerging from seclusion.

CNet describes how the plan “lets you search for items on Amazon,” as if, in 2018, this sort of online shopping is novel.

In the Verge’s account, Amazon is merely a benefactor, “giving Snap some money for every product sold.”

Forbes says that the company “is becoming the de facto destination of sorts for product-related searches,” a mall of the future.

Axios hardly mentions Amazon except as a place to “search for products.”

The Los Angeles Times found an analyst who says that “Amazon makes decisions really based on the data that you put in front of them,” just a rational actor working from simple spreadsheets. more>

Politics, Pessimism and Populism

By Sheri Berman – Social democracy was the most idealistic, optimistic ideology of the modern era.

In contrast to liberals who believed “rule by the masses” would lead to the end of private property, tyranny of the majority and other horrors and thus favored limiting the reach of democratic politics, and communists who argued a better world could only emerge with the destruction of capitalism and “bourgeois” democracy, social democrats insisted on democracy’s immense transformative and progressive power: it could maximize capitalism’s upsides, minimize its downsides and create more prosperous and just societies.

Such appeals emerged clearly during the inter-war years, when democracy was threatened by populism’s more dangerous predecessor—fascism.

In the United States, for example, FDR recognized that he needed to deal not merely with the concrete economic fallout of the Great Depression, but also with the fear that democracy was headed for the “dust heap of history” and fascist and communist dictatorships were the wave of the future. This required practical solutions to contemporary problems as well as an ability to convince citizens that democracy remained the best system for creating a better future. As Roosevelt proclaimed in his first inaugural address:

‘Compared with the perils which our forefathers conquered because they believed and were not afraid, we have still much to be thankful for…. [Our problems are not insolvable, they exist] because rulers have failed…through their own stubbornness and… incompetence….This Nation asks for action, and action now….I assume unhesitatingly the leadership of this great army of our people dedicated to a disciplined attack upon our common problems….The only thing we have to fear is fear itself’. more>

My Fair Data: How the Government Can Limit Bias in Artificial Intelligence

By Josh Sullivan, Josh Elliot, Kirsten Lloyd, and Edward Raff –
The rapid development of artificial intelligence (AI) holds great promise, but also potential for pitfalls. AI can change the way we live, work, and play, accelerate drug discoveries, and drive edge computing and autonomous systems. It also has the potential to transform global politics, economies, and cultures in such profound ways that the U.S. and other countries are set to enter what some speculate may be the next Space Race.

We are just beginning to understand the implications of unchecked AI. Recent headlines have highlighted its limitations and the continued need for human control. We will not be able to ignore the range of ethical risks posed by issues of privacy, transparency, safety, control, and bias.

Considering the advances already made in AI—and those yet to be made—AI is undoubtedly on a trajectory toward integration into every aspect of our lives. As we prepare to turn an increasing share of tasks and decision-making over to AI we must think more critically about how ethics factor into AI design to minimize risk. With this in mind, policymakers must proactively consider ways to incorporate ethics into AI practices and design incentives that promote innovation while ensuring AI operates with our best interests in mind. more>