Category Archives: Science

Updates from ITU

Home but never alone: Celebrating World Amateur Radio Day
By Lisa Leenders – Early last year, when the outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19) first pushed much of the world into lockdown, one traditional – some might even say old-fashioned – hobby experienced a spectacular revival. Amateur radio lets people interact socially, intensively, without ever meeting in person.

In those early days and weeks of the pandemic, radio amateurs reached out to each other spontaneously via the airwaves at the local, national, and global levels.

These days, local clubs in Europe and other regions are meeting on-the-air, more frequently than they have in decades, providing familiar, friendly voices, as well as regular check-ins on those, such as the elderly, who may be confined at home.

Special event stations, mostly transmitting from people’s homes, shared the message “Stay Safe” in dozens of countries and languages, reminding us all to help limit the spread of the virus.

Over the past year, on-air activity has reached unprecedented levels. Amateur radio contests are attracting record-breaking numbers of entries.

Today, the hobby is more popular than ever, with more than 3 million licensed operators worldwide, according to the International Amateur Radio Union (IARU). more>

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Reinventing the Internet for a society of change

By Francisco Jaime Quesado – The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the world to an unexpected opportunity wherein it can redesign the context and concept of the Internet for society.

The world is facing new and unprecedented strategic challenges as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, and the reinvention of the Internet is one strategic tool that could facilitate a new agenda for the future. This strategic process demands an effective push towards a more cooperative agenda, one that focuses on a prosperous and competitive economy, sustainable environment, and a more democratic, open, healthy society.

This reinvention process should be seen as a key and positive element that empowers both citizens and growing businesses to help build an innovative, secure and sustainable post-pandemic world.

More than ever, the society of change that we need demands a clear and balanced repositioning of the Internet, one that is fundamentally based on a full understanding of policy issues and the context to which they belong. Furthermore, a pragmatic strategy is needed for sustainable growth and prosperity so that the majority of society can respond to the following challenges that the world is now facing:

  • Transforming society into a high skill/high employment economy for a globalized environment;
  • Tackling the effects of an ageing population, while improving major public services;
  • This must be done in a way that takes into account foreseeable expenditures and environmental constraints;

It is absolutely critical that the world’s different social actors come to understand the extreme importance of these issues when it comes to promoting a real and effective process of reinventing the internet, particularly by the private citizens and various institutions who are decisive enablers of change. more>

Updates from McKinsey

CEO dialogue: Perspectives on reimagining operations for growth
The hyper-acceleration of the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) has led to an unparalleled industry transformation, giving organizations a unique opportunity to reimagine operations for growth.
By Enno de Boer, Katy George, and Yves Giraud – In late March, CEOs representing leading innovative organizations from around the world joined McKinsey & Company in collaboration with the World Economic Forum for a discussion on the future of manufacturing. Hundreds of thousands of participants across dozens of industries tuned in to hear from Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, Alex Gorsky, chairman and CEO of Johnson & Johnson, and 11 CEOs of companies that recently joined the Global Lighthouse Network, a community of world-leading companies using 4IR technologies to go beyond productivity improvements to create sustainable, profitable growth.

Their conversation has been edited for clarity and legibility.

“Digitization is going to touch every aspect of our business,” said Alex Gorsky, Johnson & Johnson. “I can´t imagine ten years from now that whether it’s our businesses, our manufacturing, our financial systems, our human-resource systems—it will just be so imbued into every process, every function, every connection that we make.”

Unique growth opportunities

By deploying 4IR technologies at scale, lighthouses are creating new revenue streams through new business models. These companies are more in touch with what their customers want, even as preferences change faster than ever—and they have built the capability to respond rapidly and gain market share in the void left by others that get stuck in pilot purgatory. In fact, being stuck in the pilot phase is a more common feeling in 2020. The three-year trend shows scaling Industry 4.0 tech is reversing. Industrials have had their investments pressure-tested, and as a result have realized they have not scaled as much as they thought. more>

Green markets won’t save us

Markets are an unreliable guide for navigating a problem as large and complex as climate change.
By Katharina Pistor – How can one make wise decisions about a perpetually unknowable future? This question is as old as humankind, but it has become existential in light of climate change. Although there is sufficient evidence that anthropogenic climate change is already here, we cannot possibly know all the ways that it will ramify in the coming decades. All we know is that we must either reduce our environmental footprint or risk another global crisis on the scale of the ‘little ice age’ in the 17th century, when climatic changes led to widespread disease, rebellion, war and mass starvation, cutting short the lives of two-thirds of the global population.

The British economist John Maynard Keynes famously argued that investors are driven ultimately by ‘animal spirits’. In the face of uncertainty, people act on gut feelings, not ‘a weighted average of quantitative benefits multiplied by quantitative probabilities’, and it is these instinct-driven bets that may (or may not) pay off after the dust settles. And yet policy-makers would have us trust animal spirits to help us overcome the uncertainty associated with climate change.

Humanity has long sought to reduce uncertainty by making the natural world more legible, and thus subject to its control. For centuries, natural scientists have mapped the world, created taxonomies of plants and animals, and (more recently) sequenced the genomes of many species in the hope of discovering treatments against all imaginable maladies.

What maps, taxonomies and sequences are to chemists and biologists, numbers and indicators are to social scientists. Prices, for example, signal the market value of goods and services, and the expected future value of financial assets. If investors have largely ignored certain assets, the reason might be that they were improperly measured or priced. more>

Updates from McKinsey

Building a cloud-ready operating model for agility and resiliency
Four operating-model changes can help companies accelerate the journey to cloud.
By Santiago Comella-Dorda, Mishal Desai, Arun Gundurao, Krish Krishnakanthan, and Selim Sulos – With customer expectations and technology evolving at an unprecedented clip, moving to cloud is increasingly becoming a strategic priority for businesses. Capturing the $1 trillion value up for grabs in the cloud, however, has proven frustratingly difficult for many companies. One of the main reasons for this difficulty is that IT’s operating model remains stuck in a quagmire of legacy processes, methodologies, and technologies.

Overcoming this problem requires business and IT to take a step back and think holistically about their cloud operating model. And they need to move now. IT has become integral to driving value and a crucial enabler in meeting business and customer expectations of speed, flexibility, cost, and reliability. At the same time, the risk of failure is increasing because of the growth in complexities and demands around new architectures, agile application development, on-demand access to infrastructure through self-service, cloud migration, and distributed computing, to name a few.

While most organizations will need to adopt a hybrid-cloud approach for the foreseeable future, it will be hard to capture much of cloud’s value without reimagining the IT infrastructure that is ground zero of the cloud operating model. Set up correctly, infrastructure can quickly expand access to new services and products, accelerate time to market for application teams, and cut operating costs at the same time—all of which unleash businesses’ innovation potential.

To capture these benefits, companies must undertake a holistic transformation of infrastructure grounded on four mutually reinforcing shifts: adopt a site-reliability-engineer (SRE) model, 1 design infrastructure services as products, manage outcomes versus activities, and build an engineering-focused talent model. The benefits of these shifts can accrue to infrastructure and operations (I&O) even if they remain completely on-premises. more>

Updates from ITU

Wireless carriers face FOMO vs. FOBFA test
By Roger Lanctot – Something peculiar is unfolding in the wireless industry. While wireless carriers enthusiastically report new fibre and smartphone connections to their networks along with correspondingly robust revenue streams, there is little or no mention of automotive connectivity.

Even Verizon, in the United States, with its budding commercial fleet portfolio comprised of the vehicle connectivity assets of Telogis and Fleetmatics, acquired years ago and combined, merits nary a mention on the earnings call with analysts. AT&T, too, the big dog in embedded vehicle connections in the United States, relegates its automotive activities to the shadows – presumably immaterial to the broader financial prospects of the organization.

The same phenomenon is playing out in Europe, where the likes of Orange, Vodafone, and Deutsche Telekom are operating 5G test sites for connected cars but barely making a peep regarding long-term plans in their public statements. In Asia, as well, Docomo, SK Telecom, KDDI and others are heavily engaged with car makers, but with little revenue yet to show from years of connecting cars.

What is behind the great hush that has descended over car connectivity?

Where is the excitement?

The great hush

Ten years ago, wireless carriers were thrilled about connecting cars because the focus was increasingly on so-called value-added services such as vehicle diagnostics and service scheduling. Usage-based insurance also contributed to the rising interest and awareness. more>

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Bad stimulus: Government payments to individuals are a terrible way to solve America’s structural economic problems

By Albena Azmanova and Marshall Auerback – The new Democratic administration is poised to make its first proud step in delivering on its electoral promise to build back (America) better: the successful adoption of a $1.9 trillion stimulus package, the main components of which are a third round of stimulus checks, a renewal of federal unemployment benefits, and a boost to the child tax credit, as well as funding for school reopenings and vaccinations. It will probably not include a federal minimum wage hike.

Biden’s stimulus is not the stuff of economic revolution—it’s a mix of common sense and keeping the lights on. And the fundamental thinking behind the stimulus approach reflects a continuation of neoliberal policies of the past 40 years; instead of advancing broader social programs that could uplift the population, the solutions are predicated on improving individual purchasing power and family circumstances.

Such a vision of society as a collection of enterprising individuals is a hallmark of the neoliberal policy formula—which, as the stimulus bill is about to make clear, is still prevalent within the Democratic and the Republican parties. This attention to individual purchasing power promises to be the basis for bipartisan agreement over the next four years.

The reality is that social programs on health care and education, and a new era of labor and banking regulation, would put the wider society on sounder feet than a check for $1,400.

There are very few federally elected officials who behave as though they understand that economic insecurity can breed political instability and governing paralysis.

Globalization, deindustrialization, the contraction of the public sector, and the rise of contract labor via the gig economy have made individuals feel insecure in their private circumstances. This has contributed to the appeal of populist politicians, whose tenures generally are corrosive to liberal democracies. Moreover, these tendencies have together undermined our social contract as a whole, depriving governments of the means and resources to tend to the public interest. more>

To Tackle Inequality, We Need to Start Talking About Where Wealth Comes From

Thatcherite narrative on wealth creation has gone unchallenged for decades.
By Laurie Macfarlane – Do people in Britain resent the rich? According to two new studies published this week, the answer to this question is: not really.

The studies, one commissioned by Trust for London and another by Tax Justice UK, explore public attitudes towards wealth based on focus groups held across England. Both found that most people are relatively content with people getting rich, and that attacks on the wealthy are often viewed negatively.

This presents a dilemma for progressives. In recent years left-wing leaders on both sides of the Atlantic have taken a more confrontational approach towards the super-rich. In Britain, the Labour Party’s war cry under the leadership of Jeremy Corbyn has been ‘For the many, not the few’, while in the US Bernie Sanders has made no secret of his contempt for billionaires.

But what if it turns out that ordinary people don’t agree? One response to this dilemma, as outlined by Sonia Sodha in the Observer, is to accept that “the belief that Britain is a meritocracy is ingrained in our collective psyche”, and adjust policies and narratives accordingly. This would mean ditching the class-war rhetoric and instead putting forward solutions designed to appeal to a meritocratic worldview. This might include, for example, closing tax loopholes and increasing particular taxes on grounds of fairness and efficiency.

Sodha is right to point out that this strategy is more likely to chime with people’s existing attitudes towards wealth. As the authors of the Tax Justice UK report note: “The participants in our focus groups largely believe in meritocracy. Those with wealth were seen as having acquired it through hard work.” Participants in the Trust for London research expressed similar views.

But does this mean that progressives should accept the way things are and move on? Not necessarily. As a well-known philosopher once said: “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.”

People’s views aren’t formed in a vacuum: they are shaped by social and political forces that evolve over time. Margaret Thatcher’s neoliberal revolution wasn’t just successful because it reorganized the economy – it was successful because it embedded a particular narrative about how wealth is created and distributed in society. This is a world where, so long as there is sufficient competition and free markets, every individual will receive their just rewards in relation to their true contribution to society. There is, in Milton Friedman’s famous terms, “no such thing as a free lunch”. It’s a world where businesses are the “wealth creators” who create jobs and drive innovation, and business owners are entitled to the financial rewards of success – regardless of how enormous they are.

The problem, of course, is that it bears little resemblance to how the economy actually works. While it is true that working hard will generally help you earn more money, this causality doesn’t hold in reverse: not all wealth has been attained through hard work. In practice, the distribution of wealth has little to do with contribution, and everything to do with politics and power. more>

How to Build a Better Automotive Radar System

By John Blyler – Advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) rely heavily on modern radar technology. And why not? Radar uses electromagnetic waves to sense the environment. It can operate over a long distance in poor visibility or inclement weather conditions. Designing automotive RF that accurately captures diverse traffic situations will be essential in making autonomous operations safe.

Radar systems are no newcomer to the automotive space. In the past, automotive radar was used in vehicles for basic operations such as automatic emergency braking (AEB) and adaptive cruise control (ACC), where the radar sensor only had to provide the vehicle with information relating to the distance and speed of the target in front of it.

However, recent trends to deploy a fully autonomous vehicle have increased the amount of information that a vehicle demands from the radar sensor. Specifically, after detecting a target, the host vehicle must determine several things, such as the distance to a target – be it another car, a person, a stationary object, or the like. The radar must also calculate how fast the target is approaching or departing; whether it is to the right, left, or straight ahead of the vehicle; on the road or above the ground; and the nature of the target, i.e., pedestrian or vehicle, for example.

Automotive radar technology can provide essential, real-time information to the vehicle’s onboard embedded computers and software algorithms to answer these questions by providing five-dimensional datasets: Range, Doppler, Azimuthal direction of arrival (DoA), Elevation direction of arrival (DoA), and Micro-Doppler.

As vehicles migrate from SAE level 1 to level 5 full autonomy, automotive radar technology will be used for far more than emergency braking and adaptive cruise control with ever-increasing reliability and accuracy demands. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

India’s economic recovery from its COVID-19 lockdown
By Chuck Burke – In response to COVID-19’s rise, India ordered most of the country’s 1.3 billion residents to stop working and remain indoors starting in March 2020—the world’s largest lockdown. The government began relaxing restrictions in June, and research finds that while India’s economy improved rapidly in the following months, the outlook for a return to prelockdown levels remained unclear.

In a report for Chicago Booth’s Rustandy Center for Social Sector Innovation, Booth’s Marianne Bertrand and Rebecca Dizon-Ross, Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy’s Kaushik Krishnan, and University of Pennsylvania’s Heather Schofield examined household-level survey data to establish a more comprehensive view of India’s initial recovery than national economic indicators could provide. These charts and maps highlight a selection of their main findings. more>

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