Category Archives: Media

How The OECD Wants To Make Globalization Work For All

By Ronald Janssen – In its key issues paper for the Ministerial Council, the OECD recognizes that the frictional costs of opening to world trade have been much higher than so far assumed.

Workers losing their job because of competition with low wage economies were supposed to find new jobs elsewhere and do so quickly because the same process of globalization would be pushing up overall national income.

The OECD now openly admits that this assumption was wrong.

A second critical stance is taken on what the OECD calls a ‘plausible’ link between globalization and rising inequalities. Here, it explicitly admits that globalization has weakened the bargaining power of labor in advanced economies, invoking the threat of cheap import competition from low wage countries as well as that of moving investment and production there.

Trade and investment deals are often rushed through parliaments when all details have been negotiated, thus providing big business the opportunity to weigh on decision-making by massive lobbying of governments in the preceding trade negotiations themselves. The OECD specifically adds that ‘the cost-benefit balance of provisions such as ISDS look increasingly questionable, especially when both sides are advanced economies with low risk of discriminatory treatment of foreign investors and reliable judicial systems.” more> https://goo.gl/TM76h7

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

The Next Crisis Will Start in Silicon Valley

By William Magnuson – It has been 10 years since the last financial crisis, and some have already started to predict that the next one is near. But when it comes, it will likely have its roots in Silicon Valley, not Wall Street.

Our banks are better capitalized than ever. Our regulators conduct regular stress tests of large institutions. And the Dodd-Frank Act imposes strict requirements on systemically important financial institutions.

But while these reforms have managed to reduce the risks that caused the last crisis, they have ignored, and in some cases exacerbated, the emerging risks that may cause the next one.

These financial technology (or “fintech”) markets are populated by small startup companies, the exact opposite of the large, concentrated Wall Street banks that have for so long dominated finance. And they have brought great benefits for investors and consumers. By automating decision-making and reducing the costs of transactions, fintech has greased the wheels of finance, making it faster and more efficient.

But revolutions often end in destruction. And the fintech revolution has created an environment ripe for instability and disruption. It does so in three ways. …

Wall Street is no longer the future of finance. Silicon Valley is. more> https://goo.gl/LK6CsY

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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

Return of the city-state

BOOK REVIEW

Radicals Chasing Utopia, Author: Jamie Bartlett.
The End of the Nation State, Author: Jean-Marie Guéhenno.
The End of the Nation State, Author: Kenichi Ohmae.
The New Localism: How Cities Can Thrive in the Age of Populism, Author: Bruce Katz.

Nation-states came late to history, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they won’t make it to the end of the century
By Jamie Bartlett – To the people living under the mighty empire, these events must have been unthinkable. Just as they must have been for those living through the collapse of the Pharaoh’s rule or Christendom or the Ancien Régime.

We are just as deluded that our model of living in ‘countries’ is inevitable and eternal.

Which is all rather odd, since they’re not really that old. Until the mid-19th century, most of the world was a sprawl of empires, unclaimed land, city-states and principalities, which travelers crossed without checks or passports. As industrialization made societies more complex, large centralized bureaucracies grew up to manage them.

Those governments best able to unify their regions, store records, and coordinate action (especially war) grew more powerful vis-à-vis their neighbors. Revolutions – especially in the United States (1776) and France (1789) – helped to create the idea of a commonly defined ‘national interest’, while improved communications unified language, culture and identity. Imperialistic expansion spread the nation-state model worldwide, and by the middle of the 20th century it was the only game in town.

There are now 193 nation-states ruling the world. more> https://goo.gl/2N1bGb

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

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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