Daily Archives: June 29, 2016

We’re Not as Selfish as Economists Think We Are

BOOK REVIEW

The Age of Consent: A Manifesto for a New World Order, Author: George Monbiot.
Captive State: The Corporate Takeover of Britain, Author: George Monbiot.
Poisoned Arrows, Author: George Monbiot.
Amazon Watershed, Author: George Monbiot.
No Man’s Land, Author: George Monbiot.
Feral: Searching for Enchantment on the ­Frontiers of Rewilding, Author: George Monbiot.

By George Monbiot – The revelation that humanity’s dominant characteristic is, er, humanity will come as no surprise to those who have followed recent developments in behavioral and social sciences. People, these findings suggest, are basically and inherently nice.

Chimpanzees, the authors note, behave more like the homo economicus of neoliberal mythology than people do.

Humans, by contrast, are ultra-social: possessed of an enhanced capacity for empathy, an unparalleled sensitivity to the needs of others, a unique level of concern about their welfare, and an ability to create moral norms that generalize and enforce these tendencies.

So why do we retain such a dim view of human nature?

Partly, perhaps, for historical reasons. Philosophers from Hobbes to Rousseau, Malthus to Schopenhauer, whose understanding of human evolution was limited to the Book of Genesis, produced persuasive, influential and catastrophically mistaken accounts of “the state of nature” (our innate, ancestral characteristics).

Their speculations on this subject should long ago have been parked on a high shelf marked “historical curiosities.” But somehow they still seem to exert a grip on our minds. more> http://goo.gl/uBI2iW

Innovation Is Not Enough

By Dani Rodrik – We seem to be living in an accelerated age of revolutionary technological breakthroughs. Barely a day passes without the announcement of some major new development in artificial intelligence, biotechnology, digitization, or automation.

The debate is about whether these innovations will remain bottled up in a few tech-intensive sectors that employ the highest-skilled professionals and account for a relatively small share of GDP, or spread to the bulk of the economy.

The consequences of any innovation for productivity, employment, and equity ultimately depend on how quickly it diffuses through labor and product markets.

The economic historian Robert Gordon argues that today’s innovations pale in contrast to past technological revolutions in terms of their likely economy-wide impact.

Electricity, the automobile, airplane, air conditioning, and household appliances altered the way that ordinary people live in fundamental ways. They made inroads in every sector of the economy.

Perhaps the digital revolution, impressive as it has been, will not reach as far.

On the supply side, the key question is whether the innovating sector has access to the capital and skills it needs to expand rapidly and continuously.

In a world of premature deindustrialization, achieving economy-wide productivity growth becomes that much harder for low-income countries. It is not clear whether there are effective substitutes for industrialization. more> https://goo.gl/XAB6Ti

Updates from Georgia Tech

Roadmap for Advanced Cell Manufacturing Shows Path to Cell-Based Therapeutics
By John Toon – An industry-driven consortium has developed a national roadmap designed to chart the path to large-scale manufacturing of cell-based therapeutics for use in a broad range of illnesses including cancer, neuro-degenerative diseases, blood and vision disorders and organ regeneration and repair.

Over the past decade, new and emerging cell-based medical technologies have been developed to manage and possibly cure many conditions and diseases. In 2012 alone, these technologies treated more than 160,000 patients. Before these treatments can be more widely available, however, the cell therapeutics community will have to develop the capability for advanced, large-scale manufacturing of high-quality and consistent living cells.

To advance that goal, the Georgia Research Alliance (GRA) and the Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) have launched the National Cell Manufacturing Consortium (NCMC), an industry-academic-government partnership that recently released the National Roadmap for Advanced Cell Manufacturing. Establishment of the consortium and development of this 10-year national roadmap was sponsored by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

The roadmap was announced June 13 at the White House Organ Summit. more> http://goo.gl/bjvzQr

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The Risk of a Constitutional Crisis in Britain

By Noah Feldman – What, exactly, is a constitutional crisis?

And equally fascinating, what would a constitutional crisis look like in the country that initiated the modern idea of the national constitution and yet still lacks a written one?

There is no official definition of a constitutional crisis — that in itself is a telling fact. In order to trigger one, a country usually has to be facing a situation in which its constitutional principles offer no clear, definitive answer to a pressing problem of governance.

Although constitutional uncertainty is a necessary condition for a crisis, it isn’t sufficient. For a situation to count as a crisis, powerful political actors, which can include large swaths of the population, have to signal that they are ready to press one course of action to its limits. Meanwhile, other comparably powerful actors have to be prepared to push the other way.

It’s worth remembering that Britain has the longest tradition in the world of resolving its potential constitutional confrontations relatively smoothly, without a written document. more> http://goo.gl/04w5mS

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