Category Archives: Education

Our illusory sense of agency has a deeply important social purpose

BOOK REVIEW

The Cognitive Neuropsychology of Schizophrenia, Author: Chris Frith.

By Chris Frith – We humans like to think of ourselves as mindful creatures. We have a vivid awareness of our subjective experience and a sense that we can choose how to act – in other words, that our conscious states are what cause our behavior. Afterwards, if we want to, we might explain what we’ve done and why. But the way we justify our actions is fundamentally different from deciding what to do in the first place.

Or is it? Most of the time our perception of conscious control is an illusion. Many neuroscientific and psychological studies confirm that the brain’s ‘automatic pilot’ is usually in the driving seat, with little or no need for ‘us’ to be aware of what’s going on. Strangely, though, in these situations we retain an intense feeling that we’re in control of what we’re doing, what can be called a sense of agency. So where does this feeling come from?

Humans are social animals, but we’d be unable to cooperate or get along in communities if we couldn’t agree on the kinds of creatures we are and the sort of world we inhabit. … more> https://goo.gl/yohWCj

Updates from Aalto University

Collaboration and partners
By Pia Kåll – When I was still in high school and even during my matriculation exam, I was convinced that University of the Arts was the place to be for me. However, at the time of applying I changed my mind and applied to Aalto University to study applied physics because it sounded challenging. It also felt like the right thing to do – to let art be a hobby and get a job from another field.

After I graduated, I started my dissertation. However, I didn’t finish it because I visited a McKinsey recruitment event and decided to grab the opportunity to influence the development and strategy of large, global companies as a consultant.

When I was offered a seat on the Executive Board of Outotec, I just couldn’t decline the challenge. At first, I led Strategy and M&A and later on broader responsibilities including product development and development of business processes and operational models.

In that position I realized that I enjoy working in different situations and with different people in as many different fields, and among as various questions as possible. In private equity , these sides are combined. When I transferred to CapMan, I first worked as a Partner in Buyout, and starting from June 2017 I have worked as a Managing Partner. more> https://goo.gl/DzM5Na

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Why religion is not going away and science will not destroy it

BOOK REVIEW

The Territories of Science and Religion, Author: Peter Harrison.
Narratives of Secularization, Editor: Peter Harrison.
The Future of Christianity, Author: David Martin.

By Peter Harrison – Scientists, intellectuals and social scientists expected that the spread of modern science would drive secularization – that science would be a secularizing force. But that simply hasn’t been the case. If we look at those societies where religion remains vibrant, their key common features are less to do with science, and more to do with feelings of existential security and protection from some of the basic uncertainties of life in the form of public goods.

The US is arguably the most scientifically and technologically advanced society in the world, and yet at the same time the most religious of Western societies.

As in India and Turkey, secularism is actually hurting science.

In brief, global secularization is not inevitable and, when it does happen, it is not caused by science. Further, when the attempt is made to use science to advance secularism, the results can damage science.

The conflict model of science and religion offered a mistaken view of the past and, when combined with expectations of secularization, led to a flawed vision of the future. Secularization theory failed at both description and prediction.

The real question is why we continue to encounter proponents of science-religion conflict.

Religion is not going away any time soon, and science will not destroy it. more> https://goo.gl/ZjLZJx

David Brooks Is Mistaken: The Economy Is Broken

By Steve Denning – Brooks concludes blithely that “the market is working more or less as it’s supposed to.” It is therefore wrong to conclude that the U.S. economy has “structural flaws.” That is “a story that is fundamentally untrue.”

The difficulty with the argument, as Brooks well knows, is that one or two good years don’t make an era. Two years of income growth don’t undo the trauma flowing from 50 years of wage stagnation, much less lead to the conclusion that there are “no structural flaws” in the economy.

The brute fact remains that median salaries have stagnated for some 50 years. That’s the real problem of the U.S. economy that economists ought to be talking about.

When moderates deny the obvious, the disaffected inevitably turn elsewhere.

If moderates want to be listened to, they will need to take a harder look at what is going on, come up with coherent explanations for what has gone wrong, and offer plausible remedial action. more> https://goo.gl/zuoJbQ

Global cooperation depends on the strength of local connections

BOOK REVIEW

The Descent of Man, Author: Charles Darwin.

By Benjamin Allen – The story of humanity is one of extraordinary cooperation but also terrible conflict. We come together to build cities, civilizations and cultures, but we also destroy these through violence against each other and degradation of our environment.

Given that human nature is capable of both extremes, how can we design societies and institutions that help to bring out our better, more cooperative, instincts?

This question is not limited to humans. Life’s domains are replete with many forms of cooperation, from microbes sharing helpful molecules to dolphins providing aid to the injured. This kind of ‘altruistic’ behavior – helping others at one’s own expense – presents an evolutionary puzzle.

Ideas about evolution and human nature can be difficult to test in the laboratory. However, insight can come from a surprising place: mathematics. The idea is to create a mathematical model: a cartoon picture of the real world, drawn in the language of maths. Mathematical analysis can then provide a kind of ‘instant experiment’ to test an idea on its theoretical merits.

Individuals can cooperate, helping their neighbors at a cost to themselves, or not. This choice is an example of what game theory calls the ‘prisoner’s dilemma’. Each individual, if acting in pure self-interest, would choose not to cooperate. Yet cooperation by everyone leads to greater prosperity for all.

Over time, one strategy will win out: society will converge to a state where either everyone cooperates or no one does. more> https://goo.gl/XC4Ju9

The Future Of Work And The Social Welfare State’s Survival

By Steven Hill – Europe, like the United States, has seen dramatic changes in how people work. Compared to 15 years ago, many more people have part-time, temp or mini-jobs, or are self-employed.

These shifts provide a hint about the ‘future of work’, and have enormous consequences for people’s well-being, as well as for the survival of the social welfare system.

In the latest phase of this trend, more people are finding work in the ‘digital economy’, via online Web- and app-based platforms. As self-employed freelancers, some work from home, others out of the dozens of co-working spaces that populate London, Berlin, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Hamburg, Munich and Stockholm. They don’t report to a regular workplace or employer, and have flexible work schedules, which is an attractive feature for many.

Other occupations are being ‘disrupted’ too, including food delivery, house cleaning, apartment rentals and more. These industries use ‘platform workers’, who receive customers’ orders via their smart phones or over the Web.

Silicon Valley likes to call these workers the ‘CEOs of their own freelancing business’, but that’s just techno happy talk.

In reality, many of them spend more time (unpaid) constantly looking for work than actually finding it. They also don’t have any job security or much coverage from the social welfare system. Wages for these freelancers vary a lot by occupation – those in the tech industry are high, but other occupations barely earn minimum wage. more> https://goo.gl/nL6HTq

Why digital work hubs are the key to citywide collaboration

By Leif Hartwig – As smart city initiatives pop up around the world, technologists and local governments are looking at ways in which they can help improve the quality of life of their citizens.

Achieving the “smart city vision,” however, is no easy task. With the implementation of each new process or technology, officials must ensure that communication is in sync with internal and external stakeholders to truly benefit on the road to getting “smarter.”

Like today’s modern enterprises, cities need to adapt to technological changes and create new and more efficient methods for getting work done. Even more so, city workers need to be able to communicate with each other, including contractors and private company representatives who are all involved in key projects.

When considering digital work hubs, officials/knowledge workers should keep in mind easy-to-use tech platforms that eliminate the need to have a number of different tools such as email, messaging, video conferencing and data sharing apps being used to collaborate and share. The combination of these tools and the transition of people on projects creates a huge challenge when it comes to searching for any information related to a project or group. more> https://goo.gl/vAvBRG

Cyberwar: A guide to the frightening future of online conflict

By Steve Ranger – At its core, cyberwarfare is the use of digital attacks by one country or nation to disrupt the computer systems of another with the aim of create significant damage, death or destruction.

Governments and intelligence agencies worry that digital attacks against vital infrastructure — like banking systems or power grids — will give attackers a way of bypassing a country’s traditional defenses.

And unlike standard military attacks, a cyberattack can be launched instantaneously from any distance, with little obvious evidence in the build-up, and it is often extremely hard to trace such an attack back to its originators. Modern economies, underpinned by computer networks that run everything from sanitation to food distribution and communications, are particularly vulnerable to such attacks, especially as these systems are in the main poorly designed and protected.

Attacks by individual hackers, or even groups of hackers, would not usually be considered to be cyberwarfare, unless they were being aided and directed by a state. more> https://goo.gl/U3S5Ds

Updates from Adobe

Jennifer Kinon On Taking Chances
By Serena Fox – Jennifer Kinon loves to build big identity systems. “The bigger, the better,” says Kinon, who with partner Bobby Martin co-founded New York-based Original Champions of Design as a firm that specializes in creating cohesive visual identities for brands.

Recently, Kinon embarked on the biggest and most high-profile identity campaign of her career when she took a 16-month hiatus to serve as design director of Hillary for America. Despite the outcome of last year’s presidential election, Kinon and her team of 16 designers were widely lauded for applying a rigorous brand strategy that produced a memorable and unified branding and social media campaign. more> https://goo.gl/tMnXKr

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Where Friedman Was Wrong

A new paper by Oliver Hart and Luigi Zingales argues that a company’s objective should be the maximization of shareholders’ welfare, not value.
By Asher Schechter – In 1970, Milton Friedman famously argued that corporate managers should “conduct the business in accordance with [shareholders’] desires, which generally will be to make as much money as possible while conforming to the basic rules of the society, both those embodied in law and those embodied in ethical custom.”

Since then, Friedman’s view that the sole social responsibility of the firm is to maximize profits—leaving ethical questions to individuals and governments—has become dominant both in finance and law. It also laid the intellectual foundations for the “shareholder value” revolution of the 1980s.

Friedman’s position has been attacked by many critics on the grounds that corporate boards should consider other stakeholders in their decisions.

Yet, if the owner of a privately held firm is under no obligation to care about anybody’s interest but her own, why should it be different for a publicly traded company? more> https://goo.gl/8y3wWZ