Category Archives: Economy

The only job a robot couldn’t do

By Daniel Carter – The gig economy is growing rapidly, but it’s also changing how we think about what it means to work. Uber and other online platforms are making the case for a future in which work happens in little on-demand bursts — you need a ride, and someone appears to give you that ride. Instead of a salary and benefits like health insurance, the worker gets paid only for the time they’re actually driving you around.

I’m a researcher who studies how people work and I have a hard time endorsing this vision of the future. When I see Favor delivery drivers waiting to pick up a to-go order, I imagine a future in which half of us stand in line while the other half sit on couches. And then I imagine a future in which all these mundane tasks are automated: the cars drive themselves, the burritos fly in our windows on drones. And I wonder how companies are going to make money when there are no jobs and we can’t afford to buy a burrito or pay for a ride home from the bar. more> https://goo.gl/gXoUXd

Five reasons why “downtown universities” matter for economic growth

By Scott Andes – The value of the nation’s higher education system is usually expressed as just that—education. But while the educational mission of America’s colleges and universities is critical, often missed or neglected by local and national policymakers is the value of these institutions to economic growth. This is particularly true for those universities located near major employment neighborhoods of large cities.

Here are five reasons these universities matter for economic growth:

  1. Research universities are essential for innovation, and innovation is essential for economic growth.
  2. Universities located in urban areas produce more patents, corporate partnerships, and startups.
  3. Universities located within innovation districts build on existing urban assets.
  4. Downtown universities specialize in research.
  5. Downtown universities still have a lot of room to improve their outcomes.

As the country searches for new sources of innovation, jobs, and growth, policy makers should consider how some of its oldest institutions—research universities—are best positioned for the new economy. more> https://goo.gl/nXEPk4

Updates from GE

From Light To Bright: San Diego Is Building The World’s Largest Municipal Internet Of Things
By Bruce Watson -San Diego’s newest streetlights might not look all that special — and that’s exactly the point. Designed to blend in with the rest of the city’s outdoor lighting, they’re easy to overlook. Under the surface, though, the LED fixtures are actually data-gathering machines. They will allow San Diego to build the largest municipal internet-of-things network in the world.

San Diego’s digital lighting revolution started as a modest solution to a common problem. “We were broke,” David Graham, San Diego’s deputy chief operating officer, told GE Reports in February. “In the early 2000s, we went through about a decade of fiscal crisis, and we were trying to find ways to be more efficient, save money and reduce energy usage.”

One idea to save money was to replace the yellow glow of the city’s old sodium vapor streetlamps with efficient new LED lights. In addition to providing cleaner, broader-spectrum light, the new fixtures used 60 percent less energy and slashed maintenance needs because of their longer life spans. The city replaced more than 35,000 lights, yielding an estimated $2.2 million in savings per year.

But the new fixtures also brought to light new problems. “We know when a traditional light bulb isn’t working, because it burns out,” says Austin Ashe, general manager of Current, powered by GE’s Intelligent Cities program. “But an LED doesn’t burn out. It just degrades over time.” more> https://goo.gl/6fdyFY

Are Internet companies complicit in promoting hateful and harmful content?

By Hany Farid – In 2016, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Twitter announced that they would work together to develop new technology to quickly identify and remove extremism-related content from their platforms. Despite some progress, serious problems remain.

First, we need a fast and effective method to remove content. Once content has been identified, reported, and determined to be illegal or in violation of terms of service, it should be immediately removed (Prime Minister Theresa May is calling for a maximum of two hours from notification to take-down).

Fourth, we need to invest in human resources. While advances in machine learning hold promise, these technologies – as technology companies will admit – are not yet nearly accurate enough to operate across the breadth and depth of the internet. There are more than a billion uploads to Facebook each day and 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube each minute of the day.

This means that any machine-learning based solution will have to be paired with a significant team of human analysts that can resolve complex and often subtle issues of intent and meaning that are still out of reach of even the most sophisticated machine learning solutions. more> https://goo.gl/X2ACdL

It’s Time to Rewrite the Rules of Our Economy

By Tim O’Reilly – Business leaders making decisions to outsource jobs to low-wage countries or to replace workers with machines, or politicians who insist that it is “the market” that makes them unable to require companies to pay a living wage, rely on the defense that they are only following the laws of economics. But the things economists study are not natural phenomena like the laws of motion uncovered by Kepler and Newton.

The political convulsions we’ve seen in the United Kingdom and in the United States are a testament to the difficulties we face. We are heading into a very risky time. Rising global inequality is triggering a political backlash that could lead to profound destabilization of both society and the economy. The problem is that in our free market economy, we found a way to make society as a whole far richer, but the benefits are unevenly distributed. Some people are far better off, while others are worse off.

Why do we have lower taxes on capital when it is so abundant that much of it is sitting on the sidelines rather than being put to work in our economy?

Why do we tax labor income more highly when one of the problems in our economy is lack of aggregate consumer demand because ordinary people don’t have money in their pockets? more> https://goo.gl/2DioyZ

Updates from Siemens

Declarative Configuration when Change is Constant
By Dave McLeish – Change is a double-edged sword. To set the scene let’s first focus on recent change for the good as relates to our own domain of product lifecycle management (PLM). In the past few years, increased mobility with smart phones and tablets has provided new opportunities for mobile access to PLM. Adoption of familiar user interface (UI) patterns from everyday life (shopping cart, smart search) and enhanced possibilities for user experience through touch and virtual assistants have enabled more of the “extended enterprise” to embrace PLM. From the shop floor where there’s touch screen access to work instructions to executives empowered to simply search, sign off and interact with dashboards on their device of choice, increasingly the whole enterprise can contribute to and view the digital thread from product development to delivery.

At the heart of this change for the good is the rich web-based access to PLM that has been made possible by html5. Rich capabilities that have meant we can begin to reimagine how we collaborate and deliver products from inception, through realization and utilization. Zero-install rich, browser-based solutions remove the need for desktop install and reduce the IT deployment overhead through firewall friendly standard https requirements.

But developing in the browser has its challenges when targeting rich capabilities over high latency WAN and with limited memory resources. Arguably the greatest challenge is managing change. Whilst the emergence of HTML5 and CSS3 among other standards have provided a reliable basis for developing web solutions, the same cannot be said for much of the web development space. more> https://goo.gl/NjgcsC

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When Even the Simple Stuff Is a Crisis

By Robert Schlesinger – What’s going on? If everyone agrees on these successful programs, why are they stuck in legislative purgatory?

The proximate cause is that the Republican majority got too distracted with its endless, fruitless attempts to roll back the Affordable Care Act. That consumed their attention through the year and very specifically in the crunch time during which the final deals should have been cut on basically noncontroversial legislation like renewing funding for CHIP and community health centers. But that went by the boards when the GOP dropped everything to push the late, unlamented, half-baked Graham-Cassidy bill.

Uncertainty abounds. And again, we’re talking about noncontroversial stuff here, which speaks to a larger problem with the political system. The failure of this Congress to understand “the need to act responsibly, to reauthorize needed programs without catastrophic disruption … is simply striking,” says the American Enterprise Institute’s Norm Ornstein, who has written extensively on GOP dysfunction (most recently “One Nation After Trump,” with Thomas Mann and E.J. Dionne). more> https://goo.gl/1xQG84

When Wall Street Owns Main Street — Literally

BOOK REVIEW

Makers & Takers: How Wall Street Destroyed Main Street, Author: Rana Foroohar.

By Rana Foroohar – Made up primarily of San Bernardino and Riverside counties, the Inland Empire was at the heart of the subprime mortgage crisis and has yet to fully recover.

In the early 2000s, predatory lenders flocked to the area, offering dicey deals to the largely minority and lower-middle-class white populations who, unable to afford housing on the coast, still craved the American Dream of homeownership. It ended, as it did in so many neighborhoods and cities across America, in tears and massive foreclosures, turning entire cities into ghost towns of derelict properties.

Private equity funds like Blackstone are giant financial institutions that operate largely outside the scrutiny of governmental regulation, since they are officially designated “nonbanks” or “shadow banks”—never mind that many of them are bigger than the better-known institutions that are subject to regulation.

Most people rightly associate private equity with offshore bank accounts (remember Mitt Romney and Bain Capital?), big corporate buyouts in which formerly healthy firms are loaded up with debt and stripped of their assets, mass layoffs, and an utter lack of transparency in their financial dealings.

But these days, the big news about private equity is that it is at the heart of the country’s housing rebound.

Private equity investors have become the single largest group of buyers in the residential housing market, purchasing $20 billion worth of steeply discounted properties between 2012 and 2014 alone and reaping huge rewards as housing prices have slowly risen from their troughs. more> https://goo.gl/P6fcNA

5 Mindsets to Bring Positive Change Across Society

By Raya Bidshahri – To contribute to human progress, it is not enough to be intelligent, resourceful, or well-connected. Those are all factors that play a significant role but aren’t the true driving forces of disruptive innovation. Stimulating positive change at civilization level also requires certain mindsets and ways of thinking.

Here are five mindsets that will allow us to leave a positive mark on humanity.

  1. Curiosity and Critical Thinking
    One of the tragedies of our education system is that it fails to nurture the childlike sense of wonder that we are all born with.
  2. Intelligent Optimism
    Nothing productive will come from blind optimism and ignorance of some of the brutal realities of our world.
  3. Risk-taking
    Paving a new way forward for humanity comes at a cost. More often than not, executing a radically disruptive idea is a risk.
  4. Moonshot Thinking
    Instead of looking to make a 10 percent gain or improvement in a current product or idea, moonshot thinking involves aiming for a 10x improvement of the status quo.
  5. Cosmic Perspective
    We’ve all heard of “thinking big” or ‘big-picture thinking.” Moving beyond that involves having a cosmic perspective.

It’s about asking the right questions, being intelligently optimistic about the future, taking a risk with a moonshot, and maintaining a cosmic perspective. more> https://goo.gl/V2bVjb

The flaws a Nobel Prize-winning economist wants you to know about yourself

BOOK REVIEW

Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness, Authors: Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein.

By Eshe Nelson – Sorry to say it, but you’re not perfect. We like to believe that we are smart, rational creatures, always acting in our best interests. In fact, dominant economic theory these days often makes that assumption.

What was left of this illusion was further dismantled by the The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, who awarded the Nobel prize in economics to Richard Thaler, an American economist at the University of Chicago, for his pioneering work in behavioral economics, which examines humanity’s flaws—namely, why we don’t make rational economic decisions.

People can make bad economic choices based on something Thaler dubbed the “endowment effect,” which is the theory that people value things more highly when they own them. In other words, you’d ask for more money for selling something that you own than what you would be willing to pay to buy the same thing.

People experience the negative feeling of loss more strongly than they feel the positive sense of a gain of the same size. This is also impact by anchoring: If you are selling an item, your reference point is most likely to be the price you paid for something. Even if the value of that item is now demonstrably worth less, you are anchored to the purchase price, in part because you want to avoid that sense of loss.

This can lead to pain in financial markets, in particular. more> https://goo.gl/eR1B2B