Category Archives: Economy

Updates from ITU

Advocacy Target 4: Digital Skills & Literacy
ITU – Effective education systems are essential for meeting future challenges and delivering on the SDGs. Although rapid technological change has taken place over the last thirty years, education systems in many countries have remained largely unchanged over the last century. Education is about much more than merely providing people with the skills and knowledge to work, and must create a framework through which people can lead diverse and fulfilling lives. People of all ages should have opportunities to learn about their own cultures, in their own languages.

There is broad agreement that education needs to ensure that people gain four main skills: creativity, communication, collaboration, and critical thinking. Alongside skills such as literacy and numeracy, people should now also gain basic digital skills. They need to have a comprehensive understanding of the rapidly changing world in which they live, as well as their roles and responsibilities within it. ITU’s Global ICT Development Index (IDI) includes a measure of digital skills and capabilities.

There is considerable debate as to what proficiency in digital skills and an ‘adequate’ level really mean. Digital skills have been broken down into three categories:

  1. the basic digital literacy needed for all workers, consumers and citizens in a digital society;
  2. the advanced ICT skills (coding, computer science and engineering) which are needed to develop innovative ICT products and services; and
  3. e-business skills or the specific know-how needed for digital entrepreneurshipn. Figure 15 shows how global averages for digital skills vary from 5.2% (using a programming language) to 43.7% (transferring files).

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Updates from Chicago Booth

Is corporate market power really surging?
By Alex Verkhivker – In economic circles, an argument has gained traction that corporate market power is surging, resulting in skyrocketing markups, a falling labor share, and other negative consequences for consumers and workers. But some researchers are pushing back, emphasizing weaknesses in the argument and urging policy makers to be cautious before taking any actions.

Proponents of the market-power argument often rely on one of two methodologies, one that calculates and compares total revenues and costs at the economy-wide level and another that uses company-level data. University of Minnesota’s Loukas Karabarbounis and Chicago Booth’s Brent Neiman focus on the first of these two, in which the economy is considered a pie that is made of up three slices: the labor share (which goes to workers), the capital share (costs incurred to use factories, equipment, software, etc.), and economic profits. Economic profits are calculated by finding the difference between revenues and costs, including the cost of capital faced by companies to fund their assets used in production. more>

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Updates from Ciena

The Future of the Internet Is Fiber Deep
By Elias Cagiannos – Netflix is the poster child for over-the-top (OTT) content and has no doubt played a large role in shifting the status quo when it comes to our entertainment and viewing habits. The company can be credited with reimagining content distribution — investing in homegrown content and a content delivery network to feed our binge-viewing habits.

However, these habits are primarily supported on MSO networks, which have one of the best internet service products on the market. These companies are focused on the future, making investments in the people, processes and infrastructure necessary to help them match their capabilities to a new generation of users.

Consumer demand for improved viewing options has created an environment where MSOs can’t tolerate service disruptions or quality issues. However, aging coaxial plants, analog repeaters and limited spectrum make meeting customer demand for fast and reliable service a challenge. MSOs recognize this and are already moving in the right direction, but they will advance even faster with fiber deep — the concept by which operators push fiber closer to the end user, which helps improve service. more>

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Updates from ITU

How AI for healthcare can overcome obstacles and save lives
By Dr. Winnie Tang – Al has been widely applied in healthcare. It can identify early symptoms, diagnose diseases, help carry out operations, predict when an epidemic will break out and undertake hospital administrative tasks such as making appointments and registering patients.

Accenture, a consultancy firm, estimated that 10 promising Al applications could save up to USD 150 billion in annual medical expenses for the U.S. by 2026.

Among the 10 applications, the most valuable is the robot-assisted surgery, according to the research. A study of 379 patients who had undergone orthopedic surgeries found that an AI-assisted robotic technique resulted in a five-fold reduction in the complications compared to operations performed solely by human surgeons. more>

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Updates from Autodesk

AI is coming for industrial design
By Mark Wilson – MIT researchers have debuted a tool that automatically generates products–and analyzes them in detail–on your behalf.

Take these two task lamps. They each have three heads, bent and placed in very different ways. So which has the better stability? It’s a trick question. They’re equally stable–and that was discovered by an algorithm, which designed them both.

MIT researchers have debuted a tool that automatically generates products–and analyzes them in detail–on your behalf.

Take these two task lamps. They each have three heads, bent and placed in very different ways. So which has the better stability? It’s a trick question. They’re equally stable–and that was discovered by an algorithm, which designed them both.

MIT researchers, in conjunction with Columbia University, have unveiled a new tool for designers who work with computer-aided drafting software. Building on previous work over the past year, their technique can optimize a design for any object, like a lamp or boat or wrench, for all sorts of metrics like mass, drag, and stress tolerance. And then it can create dozens of designs of that object, each tuned to different optimal efficiencies.

In other words, it removes iteration from the design process–and it could be applied to the design and engineering of consumer goods and industrial parts, replacing some of the human guesswork of product design and augmenting the intuition of designers themselves. more>

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Updates from Adobe

How Digital Textile Designers Make Wearable Art
Adobe – Thanks to digital design tools, textile design is experiencing something of a renaissance. The field attracts graphic designers and illustrators because it employs many techniques they are already familiar with, but it enables visual thinkers to expand beyond the page and the screen. Fabric offers new opportunities and challenges with designs that move, flutter, and twirl along with their wearers.

In addition, some creatives see designing textiles as a way to make the switch from corporate design to crafting objects that are more personal. Clothes have the power to be more abstract and intimate than many client-based assignments.

For her part, Kaylan K. turned to drawing at the age of six to cope with “a very traumatic childhood” in Montreal.

“Art was my way of escaping all of this trauma around me and putting my energy into something that makes me feel alive,” she explains. more>

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Updates from datacenter.com

How Cloud Demand Positively Impacts further growth of Amsterdam
datacenter.com – As one of the top data center markets in the world, the Amsterdam area is poised for more growth over the coming years as cloud demand increases. The amount of data going through the cloud will reach 14.1 ZB by 2020.

After Microsoft opened their €2 billion campus, Google opened their data center in North of the Netherlands (Eemshaven) and the recently the announcement came that Google will expand with a second campus in The Netherlands (Amsterdam region). Other large cloud companies are expanding their supply in and around Amsterdam.

Datacenter.com opened Datacenter.com AMS1 in Amsterdam South-East this year, the best connected data center Campus, which will soon will upgrade to the second phase due to the fast growth and the high interest. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

Actively managed, but more index-like
Chicago Booth – Analyzing 2,789 actively managed mutual funds between 1979 and 2014, the researchers find that fund portfolios have become more liquid over time, largely as a result of becoming more diversified. Both components of diversification—balance and coverage—have risen sharply, especially since 2000. The level of coverage rose faster than the level of balance as mutual-fund managers poured ever more names into their portfolios.

The research captures the rise of closet indexing among active-mutual-fund managers, a phenomenon that may be caused by managers hewing toward the benchmark they are trying to outperform. While diversification has some benefits in terms of risk management and liquidity, the close resemblance of active portfolios to passive indexes might leave some investors wondering why they’re bothering to pay for active management given the ubiquitous availability of cheap, passive alternatives. more>

Updates from Ciena

FlexE: 3 reasons network providers are interested
By Helen Xenos – FlexEthernet, or FlexE, is a client interface standard being defined by the OIF that allows for a variety of Ethernet MAC rates (10GbE, 40GbE, nx25GbE) that are decoupled from Ethernet PHY (physical interface) rates.

Wait, what?

You may have heard about FlexE and even read about operators trialing FlexE in their networks, but unless you are intimately involved with standards activities or Ethernet protocol implementation, translating FlexE to its resulting networking value may not be obvious. For most of us, it is only once you start to look at the drivers behind the development and dig into which of today’s challenges it solves, that you can determine whether FlexE is something that makes sense for your network. more>

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Updates from Siemens

Swiss furniture maker produces innovative seating and tables following Industry 4.0 concepts
Girsberger – Since Girsberger AG’s development of an infinite height adjustment mechanism for stools patented in 1910, the company has been turning out novel and often groundbreaking seating solutions. Since it was established as a wood turning shop in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1889, the furniture manufacturer has been producing innovative seating and tables with outstanding ergonomics, resilience and durability for offices as well as dining rooms.

To remain internationally competitive with this portfolio in a country such as Switzerland with its high infrastructure and labor costs as well as an adverse exchange rate is in itself quite a challenge.

“Combining sophisticated, original design and functionality with maximum practical benefits, we create tomorrow’s classics,” says Michael Girsberger. He is heading the Switzerland-based group with subsidiaries in the European Union and Turkey in the family’s fourth generation. “This requires an uncompromisingly honest use of materials as well as precision in manufacturing with high craftsmanship.” more>

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