Monthly Archives: October 2018

Why Wealth Is Determined More by Power Than Productivity

By Laurie Macfarlane – The process of how wealth is accumulated has been subject of much debate throughout history.

If you pick up an economics textbook today, you’ll probably encounter a narrative similar to the following: wealth is created when entrepreneurs combine the factors of production – land, labor and capital – to create something more valuable than the raw inputs. Some of this surplus may be saved, increasing the stock of wealth, while the rest is reinvested in the production process to create more wealth.

How the fruits of wealth creation should be divided between capital, land and labor has been subject of considerable debate throughout history. In 1817, the economist David Ricardo described this as “the principal problem in political economy.”

The measure of wealth used by the OECD is ‘mean net wealth per household’. This is the value of all of the assets in a country, minus all debts. Assets can be physical, such as buildings and machinery, financial, such as shares and bonds, or intangible, such as intellectual property rights.

But something can only become an asset once it has become property – something that can be alienated, priced, bought and sold.

The amount of wealth does not just depend on the number of assets that are accumulated – it also depends on the value of these assets. The value of assets can go up and down over time, otherwise known as capital gains and losses.

The price of an asset such as a share in a company or a physical property reflects the discounted value of the expected future returns. If the expected future return on an asset is high, then it will trade at a higher price today. If the expected future return on an asset falls for whatever reason, then its price will also fall. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

The robots are coming, and that’s (mostly) a good thing
By Nicholas Polson and James Scott – We teach data science to hundreds of students per year, and they’re all fascinated by artificial intelligence. And they ask great questions.

How does a car learn to drive itself?

How does Alexa understand what I’m saying?

How does Spotify pick such good playlists for me?

How does Facebook recognize my friends in the photos I upload?

These students realize that AI isn’t some sci-fi droid from the future; it’s right here, right now, and it’s changing the world one smartphone at a time. They all want to understand it, and they all want to be a part of it.

And our students aren’t the only ones enthusiastic about AI. They’re joined in their exaltation by the world’s largest companies—from Amazon, Facebook, and Google in America to Baidu, Tencent, and Alibaba in China.

As you may have heard, these big tech firms are waging an expensive global arms race for AI talent, which they judge to be essential to their future.

Yet while this arms race is real, we think there’s a much more powerful trend at work in AI today—a trend of diffusion and dissemination, rather than concentration. Yes, every big tech company is trying to hoard math and coding talent. But at the same time, the underlying technologies and ideas behind AI are spreading with extraordinary speed: to smaller companies, to other parts of the economy, to hobbyists and coders and scientists and researchers everywhere in the world.

That democratizing trend, more than anything else, is what has our students today so excited, as they contemplate a vast range of problems practically begging for good AI solutions. more>

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Updates from Ciena

5 Ways DCI Growth is Driving New Innovations in Transport Networking
By Kent Jordan – Data center interconnect (DCI) is at the heart of new global business models, cloud adoption, and digital content delivery and services. Cloud, ICP, and colocation operators are dominating DCI sales, and DCI is becoming more crucial for other industries as well. According to the Equinix Global Interconnection Index, global interconnect bandwidth is forecast to grow to over 8,200T by 2021, which is substantially higher than last year’s projection.

Telecommunications, manufacturing, and banking are all expected to be large contributors to total interconnect bandwidth by 2021. Smaller traffic areas, such as wholesale, retail, and healthcare, are also expected to grow at double-digit rates leading to the need for higher capacity services over time.

Purpose-built, compact, modular systems have sprouted up, offering massive scalability to enable global deployments while reducing operational expenses related to data center space, power, and cooling. These systems offer modularity and pay-as-you-grow scalability for lower traffic scenarios, so enterprises can cost-effectively scale connectivity for cloud services and applications. more>

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Updates from Adobe

Finding Her Voice: Illustrator Samantha Mash
By Wren Sauer – Samantha Mash’s healthy client list includes DC Comics, Outside magazine, and Slack. But the line from art school to a thriving freelance career was not a straight one—in fact, soon after leaving school five years ago, she stopped drawing entirely for two years.

When she was a kid, art was Mash’s solace. “I had a really hard time making friends, and I felt ostracized,” she says. “I needed an outlet.” Online worlds like Neopets gave her a space for visual exploration. In college, she realized that illustration could also be a career.

Mash attended the Pacific Northwest College of Art (PNCA), in Portland, Oregon. All students start with a foundational year as an exploratory stepping stone, and then they choose a major in the second year. “What I clearly wanted to do was illustration,” she says. “The school gave me a path of actualization of this career.”

But like many young artists, Mash struggled to maintain a momentum with her practice after school ended. “I was pretty burnt out; I didn’t know what I was going to do,” she says. “I immediately jumped into the food industry, and I got kind of lost. I knew I had talent—you have to believe it at some point…. But you get out of art school, and you don’t really do stuff with what you have.” She fell out of drawing for nearly two years. more>

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Why Society’s Biggest Freeloaders Are at the Top

By Rutger Bregman – These days, politicians from the left to the right assume that most wealth is created at the top. By the visionaries, by the job creators, and by the people who have “made it.” By the go-getters oozing talent and entrepreneurialism that are helping to advance the whole world.

Now, we may disagree about the extent to which success deserves to be rewarded – the philosophy of the left is that the strongest shoulders should bear the heaviest burden, while the right fears high taxes will blunt enterprise – but across the spectrum virtually all agree that wealth is created primarily at the top.

So entrenched is this assumption that it’s even embedded in our language. When economists talk about “productivity”, what they really mean is the size of your paycheck. And when we use terms like “welfare state”, “redistribution” and “solidarity”, we’re implicitly subscribing to the view that there are two strata: the makers and the takers, the producers and the couch potatoes, the hardworking citizens – and everybody else.

In reality, it is precisely the other way around. In reality, it is the waste collectors, the nurses, and the cleaners whose shoulders are supporting the apex of the pyramid. They are the true mechanism of social solidarity. more>

Reversing The Globalisation Backlash

By Colin Crouch – In The Globalization Paradox Dani Rodrik argued that we have a choice among democracy, national sovereignty and hyper-globalization, a trilemma, and that we could have any two of these but not all three.

‘Hyper-globalization’ clearly implies the neoliberal ideal of a totally unregulated world economy. Democracy separated from the nation state – the only form of democracy ‘capable’ of dealing with the global economy – implies global democracy, which is impossible to achieve.

A non-democratic nation state is compatible with hyper-globalization, because it implies a national ‘sovereignty’ willing to accept governance by the market and corporate power alone. This seems to lead to the conclusion that we can preserve democracy only by limiting political ambitions to the nation state and seeking to use it somehow to evade globalization.

National politicians need freely to admit that there are problems that are beyond their reach, that they need to cooperate with others within international agencies. Governments’ policies within those agencies must then become fiercely debated within national politics.

Is it unrealistic to imagine a general election in which an opposition made a major issue out of a government’s failure to work with other countries within the WTO to suppress slavery, child labor and inhuman working hours?

If Donald Trump had demanded the incorporation of International Labor Organization standards within the rules of the WTO instead of retreating into protectionism, he would have made a major contribution to good global economic governance. more>

LiDAR Has Applications Beyond Automotive

By Charles Murray – Merlin Friesen, founder of embedded systems developer Golden Gate Research Inc., says that LiDAR is evolving faster than most engineers realize, thanks to the hard work of dozens of startups that foresee a practical future for the technology. “There’s really been an explosion of companies building LiDAR,” Friesen told Design News.

“It’s hard to keep track. There are 70 or 80 companies now. Just in the last six months, we’re seeing new names.”

Friesen’s message might come as a surprise to engineers who follow the auto industry and who understand how costly LiDAR systems can be. But, he said, self-driving cars are a demanding application that call for features that may not be needed in industrial robots and drones. Rotating LiDAR units, for example, are the norm in autonomous car applications, but are unnecessary for many industrial applications. Similarly, industrial units may not need GPS systems, accelerometers, or gyroscopes.

Friesen added that the new, smaller LiDAR units have also made in-roads into other mobile applications. His company has incorporated LiDAR sensors weighing a few hundred grams in drones for mapping.

In essence, the end goal for such applications is not much different than automotive, he said. “It’s very similar in that you’re looking for obstacles, calculating the distance to the obstacles, and then trying to move your device,” he told us. more>

How lottery money helped build the United States

By Jonathan D. Cohen – Lotteries present an obvious win for states, as gamblers voluntarily provide millions of dollars to help fund popular programs.

The use of lotteries to raise revenue is as old as the nation itself. In the 1700s and 1800s, lotteries were foundational to the operation of government in the United States and to the European settlement of North America. Like today’s gamblers, colonial Americans turned to lotteries in the hopes that the government could provide services without leveling taxes.

The urge to play lotteries goes back centuries as well. Critics often condemn lottery players as subverting the work ethic, that the pursuit of gambling defies a longstanding American tradition of getting ahead through work, not luck.

But gambling has been an American pastime since before the foundation of the republic, as generations have bet on the odds of changing their lives through fortune. more>

The World Order Is Starting to Crack

By Stewart Patrick – When Donald Trump was first elected U.S. president, foreign observers hoped that he would moderate his more outrageous campaign positions as the practicalities of governing socialized him to adopt more conventional stances. Failing that, they hoped to contain the damage until the U.S. electorate returned to its senses. Trump’s scythe has sliced through these thin reeds.

For a onetime chaos candidate, Trump has been remarkably methodical in his efforts to destroy the liberal international order.

Stunned U.S. allies are now adapting to their new normal by taking steps previously unimaginable. They are hedging their bets in dawning recognition that the America of old may never return, regardless of who succeeds Trump. They are pursuing strategic autonomy, seeking to decouple from an unpredictable United States. And they are considering how to restore some semblance of international cooperation in a world left rudderless in the wake of the U.S. abdication of global leadership.

Collectively, Trump’s actions have sent U.S. allies reeling, shaking their long-standing faith in the West as a community of shared values, interests, and institutions. In response, they are working with China to safeguard globalization, expanding their own strategic autonomy vis-à-vis Washington, and grasping to defend what remains of the open world from the depredations of its erstwhile creator.

Trump’s trade protectionism has done the seemingly unimaginable. It has allowed mercantilist China—which flagrantly steals intellectual property, restricts foreign investment, and protects entire sectors from foreign competition—to portray itself as a bastion of multilateral trade. more>

Updates from Siemens

Equipment Design
Siemens – Deliver greater innovation in equipment design at higher quality and lower cost with comprehensive 3D product design capabilities for all Energy & Utility industry verticals. Our 3D CAD solutions provide a fully integrated and intuitive solution suite of broad and deep, best-in-class capabilities.

We enable your design teams to explore multiple design approaches so you can stay ahead of customer demands in rapidly changing industries like shale oil and renewable power generation. Quickly arrive at the most cost-effective, innovative and functional products that today’s Energy & Utility Owner-Operators demand to keep their operations both competitive and compliant.

The Energy & Utilities industry is accustomed to technical innovation and change. However, global megatrends such as the rise of alternative energy and prolonged low commodity prices are having a disruptive effect on the entire industry.

For energy equipment OEMs, changes in the competitive landscape and more demanding customer requirements are forcing improvements in functionality and performance while driving down the total cost of ownership. Equipment designs must be smarter, more responsive, and economical, in addition to exceeding durability requirements under more demanding conditions and operating environments. more>

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