Tag Archives: Internet

Restoring Social Cohesion: A Project For 2018 And Beyond

By Michael D. Higgins – Addressing the changes and the fracture in the relationship between the citizen and society has been a matter of great importance for me throughout my Presidency.

It is a relationship that was fraying long before the onset of the Global Financial Crisis, but it has markedly lost cohesion in these last ten years, aggravated by a global macro-economic policy response that saw the losses in so many economics socialized while the gains of the financial sector were not just privatized, but concentrated at the peak of the wealth and income pyramid. Unprecedented programs of austerity became mainstream for citizens and countries reeling from the consequences of an era characterized by a new form of lightly regulated speculative capital.

The transition, in its day, between The Theory of Moral Sentiments (1759) of Adam Smith and his Wealth of Nations (1776) drew a more extensive debate in the eighteenth century than the changes in contemporary international economies, that are in our time presented as near inevitable, and that are being delivered as their sole policy choice to publics suffering the burden of what Pope Francis has called a ‘plague of indifference’. This includes not just the authors of policies but weary publics that are looking away, averting their gaze from deepening inequalities, the welfare of workers, the plight of migrants. He was referring to publics that, in the absence of technical literacy, felt they could not initiate change, were forced to accept what was socially damaging as ‘inevitable’.

The persistence of a failure to critique or challenge a political economy which maintains and even deepens existing inequalities of income, wealth, power and opportunity within societies and between nation-states is eroding social cohesion. more>

Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index

Digiconomist – Ever since its inception Bitcoin’s trust-minimizing consensus has been enabled by its proof-of-work algorithm. The machines performing the “work” are consuming huge amounts of energy while doing so. The Bitcoin Energy Consumption Index was created to provide insight into this amount, and raise awareness on the unsustainability of the proof-of-work algorithm.

Note that the Index contains the aggregate of Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash (other forks of the Bitcoin network are not included). A separate index was created for Ethereum, which can be found here.

To put the energy consumed by the Bitcoin network into perspective we can compare it to another payment system like VISA for example. According to VISA, the company consumed a total amount of 674,922 Gigajoules of energy (from various sources) globally for all its operations. This means that VISA has an energy need equal to that of around 17,000 U.S. households. We also know VISA processed 111.2 billion transactions in 2017.

With the help of these numbers, it is possible to compare both networks and show that Bitcoin is extremely more energy intensive per transaction than VISA. more>

Online giants must accept responsibility for impacts on the physical world

By Mark Muro, Jacob Whiton, and Sifan Liu – Despite record profits, these are tough times for Big Tech. In 2017, the industry and society each began to realize the full ambiguity of tech’s transformations of the wider world.

To be sure, many of the era’s disconcerting tech-related mega-trends have tangled origins and predate the current “digitalization of everything” quantified in our recent report.

Yet as tech columnist Farhad Manjoo has noted, the rise of the giant tech platforms has now been linked to a long list of troubling developments (along with the creation of much value).

These developments range from such online concerns as fake news, online echo chambers, and addictive product design to broader analog challenges such as the rise of inequality, the hollowing out of the job distribution, and the spread of the gig economy and automation.

Last year, Elise Giannone demonstrated that the divergence of cities’ wages since 1980—after decades of convergence—reflects a mix of technology’s increased rewards to highly skilled tech workers and local industry clustering. more>

Economics is quantum

BOOK REVIEW

The Money Formula: Dodgy Finance, Pseudo-Science, and How Mathematicians Took Over the Markets, Author: David Orrell.
Quantum Mind and Social Science, Author: Alexander Wendt.
Laws of Media: The New Science, Author: Marshall McLuhan.

Money and brains are both quantum phenomena – so it’s not surprising that economics is overdue for a quantum revolution
By David Orrell – In recent years there have been many calls for economics to reinvent itself, most noticeably from student groups such as the Post-Crash Economics Society, and Rethinking Economics. In 2017, the United Kingdom’s Economic and Social Research Council announced that it was setting up a network of experts from outside economics whose task it would be to ‘revolutionize’ the field. And there have been countless books on the topic, including my own Economyths (2010), which called for just such an intervention by non-economists.

But progress has been slow.

One problem is that, while there have been many demands for a revolution, the exact nature of the revolution is less clear. Critics agree that the foundations of economics are rotten, but there are different views on what should be built in its place.

But what if the problems with economics run even deeper?

What if the traditional approach has hit a wall, and the field needs to be completely reinvented?

What if, as with 19th-century physics, the problem comes down to ontology – our entire way of thinking and talking about the economy? more>

Is Your Startup Stalled? Pivot to Blockchain

By Erin Griffith – In the high-stakes world of venture-backed startups, not growing is the same as dying. Historically, stalled companies sought a sympathetic acquirer or quietly shut down. Now, startups have a new potential lifeline: They pivot to blockchain.

The rush by startups into cryptocurrencies mirrors similar moves among publicly traded companies, where shares of several cheap, thinly traded stocks have spiked after merely adding the word bitcoin or blockchain to their names.

Even the stock price of the parent company of Hooters leapt nearly 50% at the mere mention of blockchain in a press release. The Securities and Exchange Commission has taken note, halting trading in some cases, because of the risks these currencies posed to inexperienced investors.

The rush by startups into cryptocurrencies mirrors similar moves among publicly traded companies, where shares of several cheap, thinly traded stocks have spiked after merely adding the word bitcoin or blockchain to their names.

Even the stock price of the parent company of Hooters leapt nearly 50% at the mere mention of blockchain in a press release. The Securities and Exchange Commission has taken note, halting trading in some cases, because of the risks these currencies posed to inexperienced investors. more>

Updates from Ciena

Year in Review: Ciena’s Top 8 Announcements of 2017
By Bo Gowan – We started off the year in January with a new member of our Blue Planet family: Blue Planet Analytics. Built for the new world of Big Data, Blue Planet Analytics generates deep network insights to help network operators make smarter, data-driven business decisions.

Paired with Blue Planet’s orchestration and policy systems, Blue Planet Analytics helps operators to continue on the path to a more autonomous network and is a strategic evolution of Ciena’s Blue Planet software suite.

Following shortly after our Blue Planet Analytics news was the unveiling of a much anticipated Blue Planet offering: Manage, Control and Plan (MCP).

MCP brings together all aspects of network operations within a single, unified interface, providing customers real-time software control and advanced visualization across Ciena’s packet and packet optical portfolios. For our existing packet and optical customers, Blue Planet MCP is a new way of managing their network. more>

Intel flaws hint at tech “too big to fail” risk

By Liam Proud, Robert Cyran – Tech groups like Amazon, Facebook and Alphabet are attracting increasing political heat for their dominance of markets like e-commerce, social media and web search.

But a recently discovered security flaw in chips made by Intel, Advanced Micro Devices and ARM highlights another important concern: bugs potentially affecting hardware found in the majority of computing devices.

Scale helps justify the massive investment needed to develop improved semiconductor technology and produce chips. Intel last year said it would spend $7 billion on a U.S. factory, and it had already started building the facility years ago. The dominance of a few players also helps ensure compatibility between machines. The downside is that hardware flaws like the newly revealed Meltdown and Spectre affect a huge number of users and could become systemic.

It’s an analogous problem to vulnerabilities in the once-dominant Microsoft Windows operating system – or, in the agricultural world, to a disease affecting widely used crop variety, like the preponderant but under-threat Cavendish banana.a more>

We’re witnessing the wholesale looting of America

By Matthew Yglesias – Over the course of 2017, both in Congress and in the executive branch, we have watched the task of government devolve into the full-scale looting of America.

Politicians are making decisions to enrich their donors — and at times themselves personally — with a reckless disregard for any kind of objective policy analysis or consideration of public opinion.

Members of Congress who under other circumstances might be constrained by shame, custom, or the will of their constituents have learned from Trump’s election that you can get away with more than we used to think.

Norm erosion is real, and it matters. Economists Daron Acemoglu and Matthew Jackson of MIT and Stanford have written about how rules are only effective when they are backed up by social norms “because detection relies, at least in part, on whistle-blowing.” Their Spanish colleague Patricia Funk emphasizes that in a variety of contexts, “the strength of the social norm of ‘not committing a crime’ is shaped by social interactions.”

These scholars are all considering deep, long-lasting differences in cultural norms, but we also know from experience that norms can sometimes shift dramatically in unusual circumstances.

The country is left only to hope that it doesn’t last too long. more>

The Internet of Things Is Going to Change Everything About Cybersecurity

By Yevgeny Dibrov – Despite increased spending and innovation in the cybersecurity market, there is every indication that the situation will only worsen. The number of unmanaged devices being introduced onto networks daily is increasing by orders of magnitude, with Gartner predicting there will be 20 billion in use by 2020.

Traditional security solutions will not be effective in addressing these devices or in protecting them from hackers, which should be a red flag, as attacks on IoT devices were up 280% in the first part of 2017.

In fact, Gartner anticipates a third of all attacks will target shadow IT and IoT by 2020.

This new threat landscape is changing the security game. Executives who are preparing to handle future cybersecurity challenges with the same mindset and tools that they’ve been using all along are setting themselves up for continued failure.

There is much debate over the effectiveness of security and awareness training, centered on competing beliefs that humans can either be the most effective or weakest links in security chains. It can’t be denied, however, that in the age of increased social-engineering attacks and unmanaged device usage, reliance on a human-based strategy is questionable at best.

It is time to relieve your people (employees, partners, customers, etc.) of the cybersecurity burden. more>

A goal realized: Network lobbyists’ sweeping capture of their regulator

By Tom Wheeler – “Here’s how the telecom industry plans to defang their regulators,” a September 12, 2013 Washington Post headline announced. “[T]elecom giants including Verizon, AT&T and Comcast have launched multiple efforts to shift regulation of their broadband business to other agencies that don’t have nearly as much power as the FCC,” the article explained.

The companies’ goal: to move regulatory jurisdiction from the Federal Communications Commission to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Strategically, it is a brilliant sleight of hand since the FTC has no rulemaking authority and no telecommunications expertise, yet the companies and the policymakers who support them can trot out the line that the FTC will protect consumers.

With this vote, the FCC walked away from over a decade of bipartisan efforts to oversee the fairness and openness of companies such as Comcast, AT&T, Charter, and Verizon. These four companies control over 75 percent of the residential internet access in America, usually through a local monopoly. Henceforth, they will be able to make their own rules, subject only to very limited after-the-fact review.

The assertion that the FTC will be able to provide that protection adequately is an empty promise. The people at the FTC are good people, but they have neither network expertise, nor the authority to make rules. more>