Author Archives: Net economy

Investing in People to Build Human Capital

World Bank – Scientific and technological advances are transforming lives: they are even helping poorer countries close the gap with rich countries in life expectancy. But, poorer countries still face tremendous challenges, as almost a quarter of children under five are malnourished, and 60 percent of primary school students are failing to achieve even a rudimentary education.

In fact, more than 260 million children and youth in poorer countries are receiving no education at all.

“Human capital” – the potential of individuals – is going to be the most important long-term investment any country can make for its people’s future prosperity and quality of life.

In many countries, the workforce is unprepared for the future that is fast unfolding.

This is a key insight from the World Bank’s forthcoming World Development Report 2019: The Changing Nature of Work. The frontier for skills is moving faster than ever before. Countries need to gear up now to prepare their workforces for the tremendous challenges and opportunities that are being driven by technological change. more>

How evil happens

BOOK REVIEW

Passions and Tempers: A History of the Humours, Author: Noga Arikha.
Eichmann in Jerusalem, Author: Hannah Arendt.
The Science of Evil: On Empathy and the Origins of Cruelty, Author: Simon Baron-Cohen.
Home Fire, Author: Kamila Shamsie.

By Noga Arikha – The ‘sapiens’ in Homo sapiens does not fully describe our species: we are as violent as we are smart.

This might be why we are the only Homo genus left over in the first place, and why we have been so destructively successful at dominating our planet. But still the question nags away: how are ordinary people capable of such obscene acts of violence?

Today, biology is a powerful explanatory force for much human behavior, though it alone cannot account for horror. Much as the neurosciences are an exciting new tool for human self-understanding, they will not explain away our brutishness. Causal accounts of the destruction that humans inflict on each other are best provided by political history – not science, nor metaphysics. The past century alone is heavy with atrocities of unfathomable scale, albeit fathomable political genesis.

The social neuroscientist Tania Singer at the Max Planck Institute in Leipzig in Germany defines empathy as the ability to ‘resonate’ with the feelings of the other. It develops from babyhood on – as imitation at first, then joint attention – into the ability to adopt the point of view of another, along with a shift in spatial perception from self to other, as if one were literally stepping into another’s shoes.

This requires an ability to distinguish between self and other in the first place, an aspect of the so-called ‘theory of mind’ that one acquires over the first five years of life.

But while empathy ensures the cohesion of a group or a society, it is also biased and parochial. Revenge thrives on it. more>

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Updates from Autodesk

ElumTools™ is a fully integrated lighting calculation Add-in for Autodesk® Revit®.
ElumTools™ – ElumTools performs accurate point-by-point lighting calculations for both interior and exterior lighting directly within the Revit model using our industry-standard radiosity calculation engine.

ElumTools is able to leveraging existing Revit geometry and luminaire families by utilizing Revit spatial elements of Rooms, Spaces, Regions and Areas as calculation boundaries.

The surface reflectance and color can be interpreted from the Revit materials properties and mapped to more suitable values if necessary. Reflectances can also be assigned using Revit Categories to encompass all ceilings, walls and floors for example.

Lighting fixture families already present in Revit are used by ElumTools and photometric file associations can be easily created if not already present. A wide variety of prominent manufacturers IES files are available with a few clicks from our cloud-based “Instabase.”

Each calculation is presented in an interactive visualization window with complete 3D walk-through capability. more>

The Temp Economy and the Future of Work

BOOK REVIEW

Temp: How American Work, American Business and the American Dream Became Temporary, Author: Louis Hyman.

By Gabrielle Levy – The way people work is changing. Machines and computers reduce the need for labor. Companies have shifted to hiring relatively few permanent staff and opting instead to strike temporary contracts with outside workers.

Uber, the ride-sharing behemoth, is perhaps the best known of these modern companies, with its thousands of drivers operating as independent contractors, but it did not invent the form. The roots of the gig economy go all the way back to the years after World War II, with the creation of the first temp and consulting agencies, including Manpower Inc. and McKinsey & Co.

We will see work become less tied to a particular employer in lots of ways. For some people, that’s fantastic, If you’re a consultant or independent contractor and you have lots of control over your life and you get paid pretty well, then this is a fabulous turn. And if you are a gig worker and you are running errands for somebody else, it’s kind of a nightmarish turn.

Do people really want full-time work? Do they want secure work? And the answer is, yes and no.

Everybody likes to work when they want to work, just like every employer wants workers who will start and stop as needed.

How do we create a system where work can be flexible but we can still have a baseline level of security for our health and our families that allows us to take risks and be entrepreneurial and explore new economic possibilities? more>

Updates from Siemens

Product Realization for Aerospace and Defense
Siemens – Aerospace companies need to win business in an environment that is increasingly competitive, both locally and globally. This requires proving your ability to meet target dates and costs in production while delivering products that meet customer requirements. Increasing demand in some sectors, such as commercial aircraft, drives a requirement for higher levels of productivity. You have to take advantage of new materials and processes to build the most competitive products.

The Product Realization solution from Siemens PLM Software provides aerospace OEMs and suppliers a process-driven aerospace manufacturing solution to enable manufacturing decision-making earlier in the lifecycle and integrate manufacturing considerations throughout each phase of the lifecycle.

This closed-loop solution supports early manufacturing planning during the program pursuit and bid process to identify and mitigate risks that could impact overall program affordability. You can verify manufacturing processes, tooling and work instructions virtually, prior to committing hardware. more>

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Updates from Adobe

5 & 3/4 Questions
Alicia Rius – My work with animals is like an immersive experience. I like to get close to the subjects so you can feel yourself in them. The images are clean, simple, and emotional.

I’m a memory collector. I’ve been documenting my life’s experiences with photos and in writing since I was a kid. But 2010 is when I started to take it more seriously. I bought my first DSLR, and I learned everything with YouTube videos and countless hours of practicing.

One day, when I was out there, I stumbled upon an abandoned farmhouse. It was amazing to see all things they had left behind, all those memories! How could they? That eerie feeling hooked me up, and then I started to document abandoned places around Europe.

The work that I feel most identified with is the work that has the right balance of beauty and eeriness. Both my Abandoned series and my hairless cat series are good examples.

Both are personal projects, and personal projects allow me to be who I am as a photographer. more>

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Updates from Ciena

The Adaptive Network: Why automation alone isn’t enough
By Keri Gilder – Just imagine, instead of 70, your heart rate was at 100 beats per minute. This could be a warning sign that you are on the verge of having a heart attack.

If your doctor were to get this information in real time, they could check the readings against your medical records and see that this is completely out of the norm and then warn you to seek medical assistance immediately.

However, if your personal trainer received that same information, would they reach the same conclusion as your doctor? Your trainer has access to a different database, which might show your resting heart rate as well as the rate during high-intensity training. Knowing that you are likely exercising, they would instead conclude that there is no need to go to the hospital after all.

This clearly demonstrates that just accepting raw data without filtering and proper analysis is no longer good enough and can potentially have serious repercussions. Instead, it is critical that we have diversity of thought when it comes to how we interpret data.

This is not just true for our health or other day-to-day scenarios, but can also be applied to the communication networks that carry and house our information. more>

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Is Silicon Valley’s giant foundation just hoarding money?

By Ben Paynter – In late July, the Institute for Policy Studies warned that one of the fastest growing ways of giving to charity could be manipulated to benefit super-rich donors instead of those most in need.

The charitable vehicle in question is called a donor-advised fund (DAF), which allows donors to give money and non-cash assets, including public stock, to charity to receive an immediate tax benefit, but then wait to distribute the money. It’s a clever incentive that’s particularly en vogue among the 1%, in part because it allows for contributions of non-cash assets, such as stock, private company shares, and real estate, to avoid capital gains tax.

The issue is that there isn’t any formal timetable for that money to flow back out again, or necessary guidance on how particularly large sums might effectively be spent. Both issues appear to affect the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, a $13.5 billion cause fund that has received donations from Mark Zuckerberg, among other tech elite.

Among the 80% of charities that have tried to expand in recent years, half have exceeded their sustainable budgets, a precarious position for any organization that relies on (hard to access) grant money to remain afloat. Per Open Impact’s report, the region’s tech elite may be giving billions to philanthropy annually, but community groups have historically received next to nothing. more>

Looking Past GDP to Measure Economic Strength

By Sophie Mitra – GDP has many limitations. It captures only a very narrow slice of economic activity: goods and services. It pays no attention to what is produced, how it is produced, or how it might improve lives.

Still, many policymakers, analysts, and reporters remain fixated on the GDP growth rate, as if it encapsulates all of a nation’s economic goals, performance, and progress.

The obsession about GDP comes, in part, from the misconception that economics only has to do with market transactions, money, and wealth. But the economy is also about people.

Despite the media’s obsession with GDP, many economists would agree that economics considers wealth or the production of goods and services as means to improve the human condition.

One approach is to have a dashboard of indicators that are assessed on a regular basis. For instance, workers’ earnings, the share of the population with health insurance, and life expectancy could be monitored closely, in addition to GDP.

However, this dashboard approach is less convenient and simple than having one indicator to measure progress against. A wide set of indicators are, in fact, available already in the U.S.—but attention remains stuck on GDP. more>

The respect deficit

BOOK REVIEW

Dream Hoarders, Authors: Richard V Reeves.
Equality of What? Author: Amartya Sen.
One Another’s Equals, Author: Jeremy Waldron.
If You’re an Egalitarian, How Come You’re So Rich? Author: Gerald Cohen.
A Theory of Justice, Author: John Rawls.
Loving: Interracial Intimacy in America and the Threat to White Supremacy, Author: Sheryll Cashin.
The Wealth of Nations, Author: Adam Smith.
The Rise of the Meritocracy, Author: Michael Young.
Player Piano, Author: Kurt Vonnegut.
Hillbilly Elegy, Author: J D Vance.

By Richard V Reeves – Contemporary concerns over inequality are typically framed in economic terms. Income and wealth provide convenient gauges of the growing distance between the affluent and the rest. But there is a much deeper kind of inequality, caused not by a lack of resources, but by a lack of respect. You might be much richer or poorer than I am. But if we treat each other with mutual respect, we are, relationally speaking, equal.

Societies that are equal in terms of relations are those in which there is mutual respect, where – as the philosopher Philip Pettit put it in 2010, alluding to a line by John Milton – ‘free persons … can speak their minds, walk tall among their fellows, and look each other squarely in the eye’.

Look each other squarely in the eye. That’s the heart of it. If I lower my eyes out of deference, I render myself your inferior. Black slaves who dared look their owners in the eye could be whipped for ‘insolence’. If we consider ourselves morally worthier than someone else, we are said to ‘look down’ on them; and they likely notice. If we simply fail to look a person in the eye – my bus driver perhaps – the danger is we miss their basic humanity, their essential moral sameness, the basic equality that exists between us. And then I might throw an insult, or something much worse, at them. more>