Category Archives: Education

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>

Related>

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>

Related>

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>

Related>

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>

What did Max Weber mean by the ‘spirit’ of capitalism?

By Peter Ghosh – Max Weber’s famous text The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) is surely one of the most misunderstood of all the canonical works regularly taught, mangled and revered in universities across the globe.

We use the word ‘capitalism’ today as if its meaning were self-evident, or else as if it came from Marx, but this casualness must be set aside. ‘Capitalism’ was Weber’s own word and he defined it as he saw fit. Its most general meaning was quite simply modernity itself: capitalism was ‘the most fateful power in our modern life’.

More specifically, it controlled and generated ‘modern Kultur’, the code of values by which people lived in the 20th-century West, and now live, we may add, in much of the 21st-century globe. So the ‘spirit’ of capitalism is also an ‘ethic’, though no doubt the title would have sounded a bit flat if it had been called The Protestant Ethic and the Ethic of Capitalism.

Weber supposed that all previous ethics – that is, socially accepted codes of behavior rather than the more abstract propositions made by theologians and philosophers – were religious. Religions supplied clear messages about how to behave in society in straightforward human terms, messages that were taken to be moral absolutes binding on all people. In the West this meant Christianity, and its most important social and ethical prescription came out of the Bible: ‘Love thy neighbor.’

As a guide to social behavior in public places ‘love thy neighbor’ was obviously nonsense, and this was a principal reason why the claims of churches to speak to modern society in authentically religious terms were marginal.

The ethic or code that dominated public life in the modern world was very different. Above all it was impersonal rather than personal: by Weber’s day, agreement on what was right and wrong for the individual was breaking down. The truths of religion – the basis of ethics – were now contested, and other time-honored norms – such as those pertaining to sexuality, marriage and beauty – were also breaking down. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

By Michael Maiello – Yale University’s Bryan T. Kelly, Chicago Booth’s Dacheng Xiu, and Booth PhD candidate Shihao Gu investigated 30,000 individual stocks that traded between 1957 and 2016, examining hundreds of possibly predictive signals using several techniques of machine learning, a form of artificial intelligence.

They conclude that ML had significant advantages over conventional analysis in this challenging task.

ML uses statistical techniques to give computers abilities that mimic and sometimes exceed human learning. The idea is that computers will be able to build on solutions to previous problems to eventually tackle issues they weren’t explicitly programmed to take on.

“At the broadest level, we find that machine learning offers an improved description of asset price behavior relative to traditional methods,” the researchers write, suggesting that ML could become the engine of effective portfolio management, able to predict asset-price movements better than human managers.

Of almost 100 characteristics the researchers investigated, the most successful predictors were price trends, liquidity, and volatility. more>

Related>

Supercomputers

By Laura Panjwani – High-performance computers (HPC), also known as supercomputers, give scientists the power to solve extremely complex or data intensive problems by concentrating the processing power of multiple, parallel computers.

Performance of a supercomputer is measured in floating-point operations per second (FLOPS) instead of million instructions per second (MIPS), the measurement used in conventional computing.

The technology has a plethora of applications—including quantum mechanics, climate research, oil and gas exploration, chemistry, aerospace and automotive technologies, and much more.

In addition to environmental applications, supercomputers are also key to many up-and-coming technologies, including autonomous vehicles. In our article, “Using Deep Learning, AI Supercomputing, NVIDIA Works to Make Fully Self-Driving Cars a Reality” we highlighted Xavier, a complete system-on-chip (SoC) that integrates a new graphics processing unit (GPU) architecture called Volta, a custom 8 core CPU architecture, and a new computer vision accelerator. It features 9 billion transistors and a processor that will deliver 30 trillion operations per second (TOPS) of performance, while consuming only 30 watts of power.

This technology is the most complex SOC ever created and is a key part of the NVIDIA DRIVE Pegasus AI computing platform, the world’s first AI car supercomputer designed for fully autonomous Level 5 robotaxis. more>