Tag Archives: Leadership

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>

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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>

The Progressives’ Plan to Win in 2018

By Elaine Godfrey – Democrats have been grappling with key questions about coalition building since the 2016 election: Should they prioritize winning back the voters they lost to Trump?

Should they attempt to woo the white voters gradually fleeing the party?

Progressives this weekend said, emphatically, no. It’s a genuine attempt to remake the Democratic Party at a time when racial and class tensions are the highest they’ve been since the 1960s—and it’s also put them on a collision course with party leaders and other Democrats.

That doesn’t mean ignoring whites and Trump voters, she says. Instead, “it’s rejecting the notion that our way to victory is having a centrist, moderate right-leaning strategy that feels like we could peel off Romney Republicans, versus investing in communities of color, marginalized groups, and progressive white people,” Anoa Changa said. “There is this notion that … we can’t address the issues of race, systemic oppression, because we don’t want to piss these voters off. We have to find a way to do both.” more>

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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>

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What’s More Dangerous, Immigration Or Russian Meddling?

By Robert Reich – What’s the most worrisome foreign intrusion into the United States—unauthorized immigrants, Chinese imports, or interference in our democracy?

For Trump, it’s immigrants and imports. He doesn’t care much about the third.

Yet Trump continues to assert that talk of Russian meddling in American elections is “a big hoax.” And his White House still has no plan for dealing with it.

In fact, Trump has it backwards.

Illegal immigration isn’t the problem he makes it out to be. Illegal border crossings have been declining for years.

And if the Chinese want to continue to send us cheap imports that we pay for with U.S. dollars and our own IOUs, that’s as much of a potential problem for them as it is for us.

But Russian attacks on our democracy are a clear and present threat aimed at the heart of America. more>

How to govern AI to make it a force for good

In the interview, Gasser identifies three things policymakers and regulators should consider when developing strategies for dealing with emerging technologies like AI.
Urs Gasser – “Everyone is talking about Artificial Intelligence and its many different applications, whether it’s self-driving cars or personal assistance on the cell phone or AI in health,” he says. “It raises all sorts of governance questions, questions about how these technologies should be regulated to mitigate some of the risks but also, of course, to embrace the opportunities.”

One of the largest challenges to AI is its complexity, which results in a divide between the knowledge of technologists and that of the policymakers and regulators tasked to address it, Gasser says.

“There is actually a relatively small group of people who understand the technology, and there are potentially a very large population affected by the technology,” he says.

This information asymmetry requires a concerted effort to increase education and awareness, he says.

“How do we train the next generation of leaders who are fluent enough to speak both languages and understand engineering enough as well as the world policy and law enough and ethics, importantly, to make these decisions about governance of AI?”

Another challenge is to ensure that new technologies benefit all people in the same way, Gasser says.

Increasing inclusivity requires efforts on the infrastructural level to expand connectivity and also on the data level to provide a “data commons” that is representative of all people, he says. more>

Marginalized People Don’t Need Lessons in Civility

By Terese Marie Mailhot – White people tend to use the word “civilized” in its adjectival form. To them, it describes being polite and respecting other people’s opinions and beliefs. For me, as for many other natives, “civilized” is a historical verb, recalling a bloody ultimatum imposed on us by an invading army. White people were never more “civilized” than us; they perpetuated the dichotomy of civilized versus savage to dehumanize us.

Those who posit themselves as most civil are often the people with the most power and privilege, and they’re also often the most forgetful of the history of this continent, which was founded in blood. I do not believe in civility, just as I do not believe in savagery. I believe in decency and see the living traumas still unresolved in my own people’s history. There are remnants of distrust that go back to when my grandmother went to Indian residential school, and indigenous people still distrust the government, not only for the massacres throughout indigenous history, but also for parts of our history that are often neglected or overlooked, like the coerced and forced sterilization of indigenous women in both Canada and the United States, which occurred as recently as 1990.

Civility is an invention that has been weaponized against indigenous people since settlers first started coming to indigenous lands. The rhetoric Europeans used, the language settlers used, the words presidents used against indigenous people argued that Indians were savages. more>

How To Avoid Strategic Timing Mistakes Like Exxon’s

By George Bradt – The Wall Street Journal suggests Exxon’s once perfect machine is running dry. It got strategic timing wrong, investing too much too soon in capacity-building. It’s yet one more lesson on the critical importance of getting the timing right between implementing revenue-generating programs and building capabilities.

Strategy is about the creation and allocation of resources to the right place in the right way at the right time over time. It’s about choices. It’s about accepting failure as an option and asking “what if?” Most understand that the “right place” where to play choice is every bit as important as the “right way” how to win choice. Many get the “right time over time” choice wrong. This is what has gotten Exxon into trouble.

Moving from your current reality to a new, desired destination requires projects and programs that actually move you in that direction supported by the capabilities needed to deliver those projects and programs.

Here’s the rub. If you focus too much on running the projects and programs (path I) you get ahead of your capabilities and can’t deliver them. If you focus too much on building capabilities (path III) you run out of cash. The art of strategic timing is stepping up your capabilities ahead of program delivery requirements – but not too far ahead. more>

Updates from Chicago Booth

By John Wasik – Finland sits at the top of the United Nations’ 2018 World Happiness Report, which ranked more than 150 countries by their happiness level. The country that gave the world the mobile game Angry Birds scored high on all six variables that the report deems pillars of happiness: income, healthy life expectancy, social support, freedom, trust, and generosity. News reports touted Finland’s stability, its free health care and higher education, and even the saunas and metal bands for which it’s famous.

Yet abundance does not equate to happiness, according to research—even on a longer time frame. In most developed countries, the average person is rich by the standards of a century ago. Millions more people have access to safe food, clean drinking water, and in most cases state-funded health care.

And in countries with a growing middle class, millions more are now finding themselves able to purchase big-screen televisions, smart phones, and cars.

But this growth in wealth hasn’t made people happier.

People gain more happiness when they satisfy their inherent rather than learned preferences—needs rather than wants. more>

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