Category Archives: Business

The next energy revolution: The promise and peril of high-tech innovation

By David Victor and Kassia Yanosek – The technology revolution has transformed one industry after another, from retail to manufacturing to transportation. Its most far-reaching effects, however, may be playing out in the unlikeliest of places: the traditional industries of oil, gas, and electricity.

Today, smarter management of complex systems, data analytics, and automation are remaking the industry once again, boosting the productivity and flexibility of energy companies. These changes have begun to transform not only the industries that produce commodities such as oil and gas but also the ways in which companies generate and deliver electric power. A new electricity industry is emerging—one that is more decentralized and consumer-friendly, and able to integrate many different sources of power into highly reliable power grids. In the coming years, these trends are likely to keep energy cheap and plentiful, responsive to market conditions, and more efficient than ever.

But this transition will not be straightforward. It could destabilize countries whose economies depend on revenue from traditional energy sources, such as Russia, the big producers of the Persian Gulf, and Venezuela. It could hurt lower-skilled workers, whose jobs are vulnerable to automation. And cheap fossil fuels will make it harder to achieve the deep cuts in emissions needed to halt global warming. more> https://goo.gl/YB2Yry

The future is emotional

By Livia Gershon – The truth is, only a tiny percentage of people in the post-industrial world will ever end up working in software engineering, biotechnology or advanced manufacturing. Just as the behemoth machines of the industrial revolution made physical strength less necessary for humans, the information revolution frees us to complement, rather than compete with, the technical competence of computers.

Many of the most important jobs of the future will require soft skills, not advanced algebra.

Back in 1983, the sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild coined the term ‘emotional labor’ to describe the processes involved in managing the emotional demands of work. She explored the techniques that flight attendants used to maintain the friendly demeanors their airline demanded in the face of abusive customers: taking deep breaths, silently reminding themselves to stay cool, or building empathy for the nasty passenger.

A growing real-world demand for workers with empathy and a talent for making other people feel at ease requires a serious shift in perspective. It means moving away from our singular focus on academic performance as the road to success. It means giving more respect, and better pay, to workers too often generically dismissed as ‘unskilled labor’. And, it means valuing skills more often found among working-class women than highly educated men. more> https://goo.gl/hghbQM

Connecting People to Prosperity in the Exponential Age

By Vanessa Bates Ramirez – “Our assumptions about how economies function no longer seem to hold true entirely because of exponential technology.”

This claim came from entrepreneur and Singularity University faculty member, Amin Toufani.

In what he calls exponential economics or “exonomics,” Toufani breaks the tech-driven changes happening in the modern economy into seven pillars: people, property, production, price, power, policy, and prosperity.

Toufani pointed out that exonomics’ ultimate goal is to connect people and prosperity.

“Technology is empowering all of us, and people seem to be doing what companies used to do and companies seem to be doing what governments used to do,” Toufani said.

The democratizing effect of information technology is enabling small teams to have an outsized impact. He showed a graph of collaboration app Slack’s user growth, and it’s practically a vertical line. A few years old, Slack reaches millions of users, many of whom pay for the service, and was recently valued upwards of $9 billion.

The kicker? Slack was created by a team of 12 software developers. And it’s far from the only such example. more> https://goo.gl/wpBRPz

Why Single-Payer Health Care Could Work in California

By Natalie Shure – This groundswell of public enthusiasm has given rise to multiple initiatives to construct single-payer systems at the state-level, in places where local politics are more amenable to leftward reform than Washington’s.

California’s bill advanced on the heels of a similar one in May that made it through the New York Assembly. Last week, Nevada’s legislature voted to allow anyone to buy into Medicaid coverage—a move that would effectually create a so-called “public option” that some argue could be a gateway toward single-payer.

The overwhelming majority of proponents of state-level single-payer cite a unified national program as their endgame, and state-based overhauls may indeed by the most feasible route there.

In many ways, California seems better poised for a single-payer coup than any other state. A Democratic supermajority controls both houses of the California legislature, which has already passed similar bills in 2006 and 2008 (albeit arguably underdeveloped ones, which were subsequently vetoed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger). more> https://goo.gl/S4PKsc

Will robots make job training (and workers) obsolete?

By Harry J. Holzer – Automation eliminates the number of workers needed per unit of good or service produced. By reducing unit costs it raises productivity and, in a competitive market, product prices should decline. All else equal, this will raise consumer demand for the good or service in question.

Whether or not this rise in product demand is sufficiently large to raise overall employment for the product depends on whether the fall in workers needed per unit of production is proportionately lesser or greater than the rise in the numbers of units demanded; if lesser, than product demand will rise.

Labor economists believe that workers mostly pay for general skill development (often in the form of lower wages, when the training occurs on the job), while employers are willing to share more in the costs of developing worker skills more specific to their needs.6 A shift away from specific towards more general skill training will thus involve a shift of the costs of training away from employers towards workers (or the public), and less sharing of any risks involved in whether the market rewards those skills over time.

Some workers whose tasks can mostly be performed by machines will be displaced, while demand is enhanced for others who can work along with the new machines—perhaps as technicians or engineers but also in a range of newer tasks that the machines cannot perform, including more complex analysis or social interactions with customers and coworkers. more> https://goo.gl/pveH2W

Why Your Brain Hates Other People

By Robert Sapolsky – Humans universally make Us/Them dichotomies along lines of race, ethnicity, gender, language group, religion, age, socioeconomic status, and so on. And it’s not a pretty picture.

We do so with remarkable speed and neurobiological efficiency; have complex taxonomies and classifications of ways in which we denigrate Thems; do so with a versatility that ranges from the minutest of microaggression to bloodbaths of savagery; and regularly decide what is inferior about Them based on pure emotion, followed by primitive rationalizations that we mistake for rationality.

Pretty depressing.

The brain’s fault lines dividing Us from Them are also shown with the hormone oxytocin. It’s famed for its pro-social effects—oxytocin prompts people to be more trusting, cooperative, and generous. But, crucially, this is how oxytocin influences behavior toward members of your own group. When it comes to outgroup members, it does the opposite… more> https://goo.gl/jv9WTY

Updates from Adobe

Make It Impactful: Optimizing Images with Lightroom
Adobe – Lightroom allows you to sort photos by multiple criteria—including file name, date, rating, and color label. KATIE Orlinsky likes to sort and cull photos quickly, applying ratings and colors to her photos using key commands (1 to 5 are ratings; 6 to 9 are colors).

After assigning ratings to her images, Orlinsky isolated only images with a certain rating. Then she put those images in a subfolder (by clicking on the plus sign to the right of Folders and choosing Add Subfolder) and continued reviewing. She finally narrowed her choices down to three and then to one.

GARETH Pon imported Orlinsky’s photo and switched to the Develop module (View > Go To Develop). Before he began making adjustments in the Basic panel, he moved the exposure slider left and right to get a feel for the photo. “Ideally, you want to make sure your image is at a good exposure before you start playing with it and making other adjustments,” he says. more> https://goo.gl/X1nPuj

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A Dangerous Choice

By Kenneth T. Walsh – President Donald Trump’s decision to give the Pentagon the authority to make policy in Afghanistan is one of his most important, far-reaching and dangerous choices as commander in chief so far.

In the near term, it will almost certainly mean an escalation of the conflict with the addition of thousands of U.S. troops to the war zone. The fighting in Afghanistan has already lasted for 16 years and is America’s longest sustained war, extending over the tenure of three presidents of both major parties – George W. Bush, Barack Obama and Donald Trump. Only the U.S. commitment to Vietnam came close to this mark, and it was a very polarizing, detested venture and ended in a defeat that Americans want to avoid repeating.

Over the long term, it means more U.S. entanglements in a region that few Americans understand, that U.S. policy makers often misjudge, and that has been the graveyard for potential occupiers and conquerors such as Alexander the Great, Great Britain and the Soviet Union. more> https://goo.gl/pmjecw

Supreme Court Just Ruled That Using Social Media Is a Constitutional Right

By Ephrat Livni – Public space in the digital age has no shape and no physical place. But the Supreme Court is now sorting out what that means for free-speech rights.

On June 19, the justices unanimously held that states can’t broadly limit access to social media because cyberspace “is one of the most important places to exchange views.”

“A fundamental First Amendment principle is that all persons have access to places where they can speak and listen, and then, after reflection, speak and listen once more,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote. Given the fact that social-media platforms in particular allow for this kind of free communication, and that the constitution protects the right to exchange, more> https://goo.gl/XRLDt7

Updates from Boeing

THINK UNRIVALED PROFITS WITH 737 MAX 10
Boeing – The 737 MAX 10 will be the airlines’ most profitable single-aisle airplane, offering the lowest seat costs ever. Like Boeing’s other 737 MAX models, the MAX 10 incorporates the latest technology CFM International LEAP-1B engines, Advanced Technology winglets, Boeing Sky Interior, large flight deck displays, and other improvements to deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market.

The entire 737 MAX family has been designed to offer customers exceptional performance, flexibility and efficiency, with lower per-seat costs and an extended range that will open up new destinations in the single-aisle market.

The 737 MAX is the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history. The first MAX variant, the 737 MAX 8 has entered commercial service and will followed by the MAX 9, MAX 7 and the MAX 10, which will be introduced in the 2020 time frame. more> https://goo.gl/93eRP2