President Emmanuel Macron Benefits from Being Anti-Trump | Time.com


.. In the process, Macron has all but obliterated the traditional political parties that have dominated politics in France for about 50 years, including the Socialist Party that governed the country until last month, and that on Sunday won a miniscule 7.4% of the votes.

The achievement has stunned political veterans, who liken it to a political revolution. “France is back,” declared the Macron-appointed Prime Minister Edouard Philippe on Sunday night. Several factors have powered Macron’s sweeping victories, among them a seething frustration shared by millions of French over economic stagnation and years of double-digit unemployment, and a belief that drastic change is necessary to solve the country’s problems.

But as Macron absorbs his astonishing success, he owes thanks too to President Donald Trump.

Source: President Emmanuel Macron Benefits from Being Anti-Trump | Time.com

How Customers Are Defining the Future of Biometrics | Nextgov.com


With individuals across every generation identifying a need for security solutions that go beyond password-based systems on their personal devices, commercial organizations are being incentivized to create products with biometric capabilities, whether it’s a fingerprint scanner to open your iPhone or facial recognition to enter an apartment building.

While this growing trend is important for consumers and commercial businesses, it will ultimately depend on the federal government to ensure these systems are ethical and secure.

Source: How Customers Are Defining the Future of Biometrics – Nextgov.com

Bad writing at the World Bank is part of a much bigger problem | Quartz


The World Bank’s chief economist Paul Romer lost his managerial duties at the bank’s research arm late last month following a staff revolt against Romer’s efforts to improve the quality of writing in the group’s publications.

Yet his challenges at the World Bank highlight a greater problem facing financial institutions: It is deeply difficult for many economists to communicate their ideas like regular people, and that difficulty widens a dangerous gap between the public and the systems that serve it.

From the public’s perspective, there’s little difference between an organization hiding behind maddeningly opaque jargon and just plain hiding. Indirect language leads to distrust.

Source: Bad writing at the World Bank is part of a much bigger problem — Quartz

It’s Not Just Trump’s Paris Decision That’s Bad for Pittsburgh | Pacific Standard


As quite a few people have pointed out, the Pittsburgh of Trump’s imagination no longer exists.

In recent years, Pittsburgh has come to be known not for its steel mills, which have been in sharp decline for some time, but for its economic reinvention as a mini tech hub.

Google, Amazon, Apple, and Disney all have offices there. It’s where Uber first tested its self-driving cars. And while the city is still home to manufacturing activity, it’s now the high-tech, advanced kind—GE, for example, opened a center focused on the additive manufacturing industry in the city last spring.

Source: It’s Not Just Trump’s Paris Decision That’s Bad for Pittsburgh – Pacific Standard

Why Facebook is Fertile Ground for Fake News | Pacific Standard


“Social contexts may impede fact-checking by, at least in part, lowering people’s guards in an almost instinctual fashion,” Youjung Jun and her colleagues write in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Apparently we assume that if a lot of people are reading or sharing a story, it has probably been verified somewhere along the line.

“People did not seem to have much insight into their own behavior,” the researchers add, “with those in the group condition steeply discounting how much they would be swayed by others’ presence.”

Source: Why Facebook is Fertile Ground for Fake News – Pacific Standard

Climate change is here to stay, so deal with it | Axios


The chances of reversing climate change are slim regardless of U.S. involvement in the Paris agreement.

Countries, companies, U.S. states and cities and non-governmental organizations pursuing policies to address climate change should refocus their high-level political efforts on ways to prepare for the impacts that are already here and those still to come.

To be clear, in many areas of the U.S. and around the world, government and business leaders are considering or already pursuing policies to prepare for a warmer planet, particularly higher sea levels and more extreme storms. Many examples exist, and here are three …

Source: Climate change is here to stay, so deal with it – Axios

There’s no sharp distinction between cult and regular religion | Aeon Essays


Historically, our obsession with cults seems to thrive in periods of wider religious uncertainty, with ‘anti-cult’ activism in the United States peaking in the 1960s and ’70s, when the US religious landscape was growing more diverse, and the sway of traditional institutions of religious power was eroding.

This period, dubbed by the economic historian Robert Fogel as the ‘Fourth Great Awakening’, saw interest in personal spiritual and religious practice spike alongside a decline in mainline Protestantism, giving rise to numerous new movements.

Today’s cults might be secular, or they might be theistic. But they arise from the same place of need, and from the failure of other, more ‘mainstream’ cultural institutions to fill it. If God did not exist, as Voltaire said, we would have to invent him. The same is true for cults.

Some of these were Christian in nature, for example the ‘Jesus Movement’; others were heavily influenced by the pop-cultural ubiquity of pseudo-Eastern and New Age thought: the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (aka the Hare Krishna), modern Wicca, Scientology.

Source: There’s no sharp distinction between cult and regular religion | Aeon Essays

Remote control of the brain is coming: how will we use it? | Aeon Ideas


Controlling the minds of others from a distance has long been a favorite science fiction theme – but recent advances in genetics and neuroscience suggest that we might soon have that power for real.

With so much progress on a variety of fronts, some form of human mind control – and the treatments and benefits it confers – should be here before long.

We just need to make sure that like other emerging technologies – artificial intelligence and robotics come to mind – they are used for good to improve lives.

Source: Remote control of the brain is coming: how will we use it? | Aeon Ideas

10 of the Worst-Designed Weapons Ever Made | Design News


In 2007 the US Department of Homeland Security awarded a contract to a private company, Intelligent Optical Systems (IOS), to design a non-lethal weapon for possible use by TSA agents and border crossing guards.

The result of was the LED Incapacitator, more colloquially known as the Puke Gun. The flashlight-like weapon rapidly emits extremely bright, focused random pulses of color. When the human eye attempts to focus on this it causes visual impairment, headaches, disorientation, and even nausea and vomiting.

The LED Incapacitor actually works in testing according to IOS. However it does have one major Achille’s Heel. To thwart the weapon all a target has to do is close their eyes.

Source: 10 of the Worst-Designed Weapons Ever Made | Design News

How Indian IT can compete with Google and Facebook and show the world a better way | The Economic Times


Essentially , three basic approaches to deal with the power of these American data miners have emerged.

First, the US government sees them as pillars of post-industrial American power, and as an immense national security intelligence resource. It is therefore their strategic ally.

Second, proponents of “digital sovereignty“, mostly autocracies, have chosen to build national search engines and social media structures, favoring domestic private market entrants (as has happened in Russia and China), and by exercising control over national telecommunications networks to block the US companies.

Third, the European Union has attempted to control the companies’ behavior by regulation and litigation.

India has a golden opportunity to find a fourth way.

India can. India can invent competition that challenges not just the platform companies but their basic, anti-environmental business model. Indian internet companies can provide global digital service platforms that protect, rather than destroy, privacy . Indian internet industries can provide reasonably priced, universally available, privacy respecting services that compete directly with services provided by the US data miners, priced reasonably in local terms in all the developed and developing societies.

Source: How Indian IT can compete with Google and Facebook and show the world a better way – The Economic Times