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After the SNC-Lavalin affair, we must strip the influence of political staffers - The Globe and Mail
Omer Aziz was a policy adviser to the Minister of Foreign Affairs.

From the outside, our government is a democracy with duly elected parliamentarians. From the inside, it can feel like an autocracy, with power concentrated in very few hands. There is a single node of power and all the channels run through it. That’s why the Prime Minister’s Office is colloquially referred to as “the Centre.”....At Global Affairs Canada, political staffers meet regularly with stakeholders, including human-rights groups, corporate representatives and anyone else who might be affected by our policies, and signals regularly came from above on how to manoeuvre on a certain file. If a message comes from “the Centre” to your office, you can bet that everyone will drop everything and make sure they are meeting expectations. Refuse, and well – these people hold your future in their hands.

It would be no stretch to say that most of the important decisions made by the Canadian government are made by only a handful of people. This has led to preventable errors and bad policy outcomes such as Justin Trudeau’s India trip or the SNC-Lavalin affair. As with too much accumulated wealth, too much accumulated power is ultimately bad for democracy.

There are more than 600 political staffers in Ottawa. These jobs are not publicly advertised and are notoriously difficult to come by if you’re not already well-connected. It’s no wonder that diversity is such a problem in government – and this includes viewpoint diversity as much as ethnic and racial diversity.

Pull back the curtain and it turns out the people in the backrooms mostly resemble one another. Within the political staff itself, there exists a hierarchy, with senior staffers in the Prime Minister’s Office at the top. This is where the real decisions are made.

We need to seriously scale back the influence of political staffers and legislate what the parameters of their jobs really are......The biggest problem with concentrating political power is that it leads to hubris and arrogance, and eventually to critical errors. It leads people to believe that they can overstep boundaries in the name of the Boss.

Absolute power not only corrupts, it is fundamentally corrupting to the entire operation. This is not how a parliamentary system of government is supposed to work. These people are not the mafia. The government does not belong to them.

We could cut the number of staffers in half and Ottawa would run better than it does now. There should also be a formal, publicly acknowledged policy process so Canadians can trust that the system of democracy is working from within and decisions that might shape the future of the country for decades are not being made by a cloistered elite.
centralization  Ottawa  PMO  political_power  SNC-Lavalin  politicians  political_staffers  Canada  Canadian  government  institutions  partisanship 
yesterday
Everything still to play for with AI in its infancy
February 14, 2019 | Financial Times | by Richard Waters.

the future of AI in business up for grabs--this is a clearly a time for big bets.

Ginni Rometty,IBM CEO, describes Big Blue’s customers applications of powerful new tools, such as AI: “Random acts of digital”. They are taking a hit-and-miss approach to projects to extract business value out of their data. Customers tend to start with an isolated data set or use case — like streamlining interactions with a particular group of customers. They are not tied into a company’s deeper systems, data or workflow, limiting their impact. Andrew Moore, the new head of AI for Google’s cloud business, has a different way of describing it: “Artisanal AI”. It takes a lot of work to build AI systems that work well in particular situations. Expertise and experience to prepare a data set and “tune” the systems is vital, making the availability of specialised human brain power a key limiting factor.

The state of the art in how businesses are using artificial intelligence is just that: an art. The tools and techniques needed to build robust “production” systems for the new AI economy are still in development. To have a real effect at scale, a deeper level of standardisation and automation is needed. AI technology is at a rudimentary stage. Coming from completely different ends of the enterprise technology spectrum, the trajectories of Google and IBM highlight what is at stake — and the extent to which this field is still wide open.

Google comes from a world of “if you build it, they will come”. The rise of software as a service have brought a similar approach to business technology. However, beyond this “consumerisation” of IT, which has put easy-to-use tools into more workers’ hands, overhauling a company’s internal systems and processes takes a lot of heavy lifting. True enterprise software companies start from a different position. They try to develop a deep understanding of their customers’ problems and needs, then adapt their technology to make it useful.

IBM, by contrast, already knows a lot about its customers’ businesses, and has a huge services operation to handle complex IT implementations. It has also been working on this for a while. Its most notable attempt to push AI into the business mainstream is IBM Watson. Watson, however, turned out to be a great demonstration of a set of AI capabilities, rather than a coherent strategy for making AI usable.

IBM has been working hard recently to make up for lost time. Its latest adaptation of the technology, announced this week, is Watson Anywhere — a way to run its AI on the computing clouds of different companies such as Amazon, Microsoft and Google, meaning customers can apply it to their data wherever they are stored. 
IBM’s campaign to make itself more relevant to its customers in the cloud-first world that is emerging. Rather than compete head-on with the new super-clouds, IBM is hoping to become the digital Switzerland. 

This is a message that should resonate deeply. Big users of IT have always been wary of being locked into buying from dominant suppliers. Also, for many companies, Amazon and Google have come to look like potential competitors as they push out from the worlds of online shopping and advertising.....IBM faces searching questions about its ability to execute — as the hit-and-miss implementation of Watson demonstrates. Operating seamlessly in the new world of multi-clouds presents a deep engineering challenge.
artificial_intelligence  artisan_hobbies_&_crafts  automation  big_bets  cloud_computing  contra-Amazon  cultural_change  data  digital_strategies  early-stage  Google  hit-and-miss  IBM  IBM_Watson  internal_systems  randomness  SaaS  standardization 
2 days ago
Quotation about lying
"If you can't lie no better than that, you might as well tell the truth" - Delbert McClinton
lying  truth-telling  quotes 
2 days ago
6 GREATEST EXERCISES (Old School Edition!!) - YouTube
* Plug energy leaks in your pull-ups. Tighten core, tight legs, buttocks, point feet down and away from the chest down.
* Bench press--keep grips should width, don't go out wide. Focus on adduction across the front of your body towards midline.
* Deadlifts--master the hip hinge. Bar and the knees.
* Barbell curl--cheat the rep on the start. When it gets to vertical, stop cheats. SLOW down the eccentric.
AthleanX  arm_curls  bench_press  deadlifts  military_press  old_school  pull-ups  squats  strength_training 
2 days ago
Opinion | The Two Codes Your Kids Need to Know
Feb. 12, 2019 | The New York Times | By Thomas L. Friedman, Opinion Columnist.

A few years ago, the leaders of the College Board, the folks who administer the SAT college entrance exam, asked themselves a radical question: Of all the skills and knowledge that we test young people for that we know are correlated with success in college and in life, which is the most important? Their answer: the ability to master “two codes” — computer science and the U.S. Constitution......please show their work: “Why these two codes?”

Answer: if you want to be an empowered citizen in our democracy — able to not only navigate society and its institutions but also to improve and shape them, and not just be shaped by them — you need to know how the code of the U.S. Constitution works. And if you want to be an empowered and adaptive worker or artist or writer or scientist or teacher — and be able to shape the world around you, and not just be shaped by it — you need to know how computers work and how to shape them.....the internet, big data and artificial intelligence now the essential building blocks of almost every industry....mastering the principles and basic coding techniques that drive computers and other devices “will be more prepared for nearly every job,”....“At the same time, the Constitution forms the foundational code that gives shape to America and defines our essential liberties — it is the indispensable guide to our lives as productive citizens.”......“Understanding how government works is the essence of power. To be a strong citizen, you need to know how the structures of our government work and how to operate within them.”
African-Americans  civics  coding  constitutions  education  engaged_citizenry  foundational  high_schools  indispensable  individual_agency  life_skills  op-ed  public_education  questions  SAT  show_your_work  students  Tom_Friedman  women 
2 days ago
Tyson Made Its Fortune Packing Meat. Now It Wants to Sell You Frittatas.
Feb. 13, 2019 | WSJ | By Jacob Bunge

Tyson’s strategy is to transform the 84-year-old meatpacking giant into a modern food company selling branded consumer goods on par with Kraft Heinz Co. or Coca-Cola Co.
.....Tyson wants to be big in more-profitable prepared and packaged foods to distance itself from the traditional meat business’s boom-and-bust cycles. America’s biggest supplier of meat wants to also be known for selling packaged foods........How’s the transformation going? Amid an historic meat glut, the company’s shares are worth $4.9 billion less than they were a year ago—and are still valued like those of a meatpacker pumping out shrink-wrapped packs of pork chops and chicken breasts....Investors say the initiatives aren’t yet enough to counteract the steep challenges facing the poultry and livestock slaughtering and processing operations that have been the company’s core since....1935.....Record red meat and poultry production nationwide is pushing down prices and eroding Tyson’s meat-processing profit margins. Tariffs and trade barriers to U.S. meat have further dented prices and built up backlogs, while transport and labor costs have climbed. .......The packaged-foods business is itself struggling with consumers gravitating toward nimbler upstart brands and demanding natural ingredients and healthier recipes........Tyson's acquisition of Hillside triggered changes, including the onboarding of executives attuned to consumer trends. Tyson added managers from Fortune 100 companies, including Boeing Co. and HP Inc., who replaced some meat-processing officials who led Tyson for decades. The newcomers brought experience managing brands, understanding consumers, developing new products and building new technology tools, areas Tyson deemed central to its future......A chief sustainability officer, a newly created position, began working to shift Tyson’s image among environmental groups, .....Shifting consumer tastes have created hurdles for other packaged-food giants, such as Campbell Soup Co. and Kellogg Co. .... the meat business remains Tyson’s biggest challenge. In 2018 a flood of cheap beef, fueled by enlarged cattle herds, spurred a summer of “burger wars,” meat industry officials said. .......investment in brands and packaged foods hasn’t insulated Tyson’s business from these commodity-market swings. ........The company is also trying to improve its ability for forecast meat demand..........developing artificial intelligence to help Tyson better predict the future.........Scott Spradley, who left HP in 2017 to become Tyson’s CTO, said company data scientists are crunching numbers on major U.S. metropolitan areas. By analyzing historic meat consumption alongside demographic shifts, the number of residents moving in and out, and the frequency of birthdays and baseball games, Mr. Spradley said Tyson is building computer models that will help plan production and sales for its meat business. The effort aims to find patterns in data that Tyson’s human economists and current projections might not see. ......Deep data dives helped steer Tyson toward what executives say will be one of its biggest new product launches: plant-based replacements for traditional meat,
Big_Food  brands  Coca-Cola  CPG  cured_and_smoked  data_scientists  Kraft_Heinz  meat  new_products  plant-based  prepared_meals  reinvention  shifting_tastes  stockpiles  strategy  sustainability  tariffs  Tyson  predictive_modeling 
3 days ago
Ikea looks to launch sales platform that would include rival products
February 12, 2019 | Financial Times | Richard Milne in Almhult.

Ikea is exploring the launch of an online sales platform offering furniture not just from the famous flat-pack retailer but also from rivals as part of its big transformation...........

Torbjorn Loof, chief executive of Inter Ikea, added: “It is also about how you connect. If you take home furnishings, for instance — how you connect communities, how you connect knowledge, how you connect the home. It’s not only furniture, it’s paintings, it’s the do-it-yourself part. There are many different constellations that can and will evolve over the years to come.”
Alibaba  Amazon  brands  clothing  e-commerce  experimentation  fashion  furniture  home-assembly  Ikea  leasing  opportunities  platforms  retailers  third-party  Zalando  rivalries  digital_strategies  Torbjörn_Lööf  coopetition 
4 days ago
The robot-proof skills that give women an edge in the age of AI
February 11, 2019 | Financial Times |by Sarah O’Connor.

in a world of algorithms and artificial intelligence, communication skills and emotional intelligence — traditionally seen as female strengths — could prove key.

The latest panic about artificial intelligence is that it will deal a blow to women in the workplace..... The concerns are legitimate enough, but they fail to appreciate the big ways in which the world of work is going to change. In fact, it is quite possible the age of AI will belong to women. Men are the ones in danger of being left behind....Some AI tools may be biased against women — a risk for any group that has been historically under-represented in the workplace. Because machine learning tends to learn from historical data, it can perpetuate patterns from the past into the future......It is right to pay attention to these problems and work on solutions. Algorithms shouldn’t be given power without transparency, accountability, and human checks and balances. Top AI jobs should be held by a more diverse set of smart people.....As machines become better at many cognitive tasks, it is likely that the skills they are relatively bad at will become more valuable. This list includes creative problem-solving, empathy, negotiation and persuasion. As Andy Haldane, chief economist at the Bank of England, has put it, “the high-skill, high-pay jobs of the future may involve skills better measured by EQs (a measure of emotional intelligence) than IQs”..... increasing demand in these jobs for supplementary skills such as emotional intelligence, which has given women an edge.....as the AI era dawns, it is the right moment to overhaul the way we value these skills, and the way we teach them. With an eye on the demands of the future, we are trying to persuade girls that coding is not just for boys. So why aren’t we also trying to persuade boys that empathy is not just for girls?

We could start by changing the language we use. For too long we have talked about “soft skills”, with connotations of femininity and a lack of rigour. Let’s call them what they are: “robot-proof skills” that neither men nor women can afford to face the 21st century
21st._century  algorithms  artificial_intelligence  biases  checks_and_balances  dark_side  emotional_intelligence  EQ  future-proofing  gender_gap  machine_learning  soft_skills  smart_people  under-representation  women  workplaces 
5 days ago
A Lady’s Many Scents - The New York Times
By Jen Gunter
Feb. 7, 2019

Pineapple juice, apple cider vinegar, douching: Is your body’s natural odor a “fixable” problem?
bacteria  gynecology  hygiene  intimacy  personal_grooming  personal_care_products  sexuality  smell  women 
6 days ago
Former finance minister, ambassador and businessman Michael Wilson dies at 81 - The Globe and Mail
TIM KILADZE AND ERIC ANDREW-GEE
PUBLISHED FEBRUARY 10, 2019

Michael Wilson, a former federal finance minister and stalwart of Canadian business who overcame personal tragedy in later life to become an advocate for mental-health support, has died at 81.

Under prime minister Brian Mulroney, Mr. Wilson helped negotiate the North American free-trade agreement and brought in the federal goods and services tax, initiatives that were controversial at the time, but have survived to become pillars of federal policy......Mr. Wilson went on to have a laurelled career after politics as Canadian ambassador to the United States in the late 2000s and then chancellor of the University of Toronto from 2012 until 2018....He was also a veteran investment banker with a career in finance that spanned more than half a century and included senior roles at UBS Canada, Royal Bank of Canada and, most recently, Barclays Capital Canada.

But, of late, he was perhaps best known for his dedication to raising awareness of mental-health issues after his son Cameron died by suicide in 1995, at the age of 29​. That work included serving as chair of the Mental Health Commission of Canada for the past four years......Anthony Fell was Mr. Wilson’s boss as CEO of RBC Dominion Securities when Mr. Wilson was a partner in the investment bank, before entering federal politics. The two stayed close friends.

“It’s been said that one of the best thing you can leave behind is a sterling reputation for integrity and for making a positive difference in peoples’ lives, and this Michael Wilson has done throughout his life, in very full measure,” Mr. Fell said on Sunday.
Canada  Canadian  crossborder  Bay_Street  FTA  GST  investment_banking  leaders  mental_health  Michael_Wilson  NAFTA  obituaries  politicians  public_service  RBC  Tim_Kiladze  UBS  UCC  uToronto 
6 days ago
Can Trump Handle a Foreign Crisis?
Feb. 7, 2019 | WSJ | By Peggy Noonan.

He’ll face one eventually, and there’s good reason to worry the administration will be unprepared.

Someday this White House will face a sudden, immediate and severe foreign-policy crisis..... past and present officials of this administration are concerned on how the White House would handle a crisis......History resides in both the unexpected and the long-predicted. Russia moves against a U.S. ally, testing Washington’s commitment to Article 5 of the North Atlantic Treaty; a coordinated cyber action by our adversaries takes down the American grid; China, experiencing political unrest within a background of a slowing economy, decides this is a good time to move on Taiwan; someone bombs Iran’s missile sites; Venezuela explodes in violence during a military crackdown; there’s an accidental launch somewhere..... historian Margaret MacMillan said ....“I think we should never underestimate the sheer role of accident.”....Everything depends on personnel, process and planning. The president and his top advisers have to work closely, with trust and confidence, quickly comprehending the shape of the challenge and its implications. There must be people around him with wisdom, judgment, experience. They must know their jobs and be able to execute them under pressure. Clear lines of communication are key between both individuals and agencies.....keep their eyes on the million moving pieces, military and diplomatic, that comprise a strategy.......During the Berlin airlift, thought at the time to be the height of the Cold War, Secretary of State George C. Marshall, who’d been Army chief of staff during World War II, was asked how worried he was. “I’ve seen worse,” he replied. He had. ......“No administration is ready for its first crisis,” says Richard Haass, who was a member of George H.W. Bush’s NSC and is author of “A World in Disarray.” “What you learn is that the machinery isn’t adequate, or people aren’t ready.” First crises trigger reforms of procedures so that second ones are better handled. ......There is no way, really, to simulate a crisis, because you don’t know what’s coming, and key people are busy doing their regular jobs. And all administrations, up until the point they’re tested, tend to be overconfident. What can they do to be readier? Think, study, talk and plan.....For a modern example of good process, personnel and management, there is the Cuban missile crisis. .....the stakes couldn’t have been higher.......It might be good to have regular situation-room meetings on what-ifs, and how to handle what-ifs, and to have deep contingency planning with intelligence, military and civilian leaders discussing scenarios. “Put yourself in a position,” says Mr. Haass, “where you’re less unread when a crisis does occur.”.......Margaret MacMillan again: People not only get used to peace and think it’s “the normal state of affairs,” they get used to the idea that any crisis can be weathered, because they have been in the past. But that’s no guarantee of anything, is it?
chance  contingency_planning  crisis  Donald_Trump  U.S.foreign_policy  JFK  Margaret_MacMillan  overconfidence  Richard_Haass  security_&_intelligence  unexpected  White_House  unprepared  accidents  Cuban_Missile_Crisis  luck  Peggy_Noonan  preparation  readiness  George_Marshall  normality  unforeseen 
6 days ago
Gene editing: how agritech is fighting to shape the food we eat
February 9, 2019 | Financial Times | by Emiko Terazono in Norwich and Clive Cookson in London.
agriculture  agribusiness  bananas  biologists  Crispr  farming  food  fruits  gene_editing  monocultures 
7 days ago
This Thriving City—and Many Others—Could Soon Be Disrupted by Robots - WSJ
Feb. 9, 2019 | WSJ | By Christopher Mims.

In and around the city of Lakeland, Florida you’ll find operations from Amazon, DHL (for Ikea), Walmart , Rooms to Go, Medline and Publix, a huge Geico call center, the world’s largest wine-and-spirits distribution warehouse and local factories that produce natural and artificial flavors and, of all things, glitter.

Yet a recent report by the Brookings Institution, based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau and McKinsey & Co., argues that the economic good times for Lakeland could rapidly come to an end. Brookings placed it third on its list of metros that are most at risk of losing jobs because of the very same automation and artificial intelligence that make its factories, warehouses and offices so productive......As technology drives people out of the middle class, economists say, it’s pushing them in one of two directions. Those with the right skills or education graduate into a new technological elite. Everyone else falls into the ranks of the “precariat”—the precariously employed, a workforce in low-wage jobs with few benefits or protections, where roles change frequently as technology transforms the nature of work......One step in Southern Glazer’s warehouse still requires a significant number of low-skill workers: the final “pick” station where individual bottles are moved from bins to shipping containers. This machine-assisted, human-accomplished step is common to high-tech warehouses of every kind, whether they’re operated by Amazon or Alibaba. Which means that for millions of warehouse workers across the globe, the one thing standing between them and technological unemployment is their manual dexterity, not their minds.... “I think there will be a time when we have a ‘lights out’ warehouse, and cases will come in off trucks and nobody sees them again until they’re ready to be shipped to the customer,” says Mr. Flanary. “The technology is there. It’s just not quite cost-effective yet.”
artificial_intelligence  automation  Christopher_Mims  cities  clusters  disruption  distribution_centres  Florida  geographic_concentration  hyper-concentrations  precarious  productivity  robotics  warehouses 
7 days ago
Opinion | Abolish Billionaires - The New York Times
By Farhad Manjoo
Opinion Columnist

Feb. 6, 2019

A radical idea is gaining adherents on the left. It’s the perfect way to blunt tech-driven inequality.
Alexandria_Ocasio-Cortez  Anand_Giridharadas  artificial_intelligence  capital_acumulation  digital_economy  Farhad_Manjoo  income_distribution  income_inequality  moguls  network_effects  rhetoric  software  superstars  winner-take-all 
10 days ago
Roger McNamee on how to tame Big Tech
February 7, 2019 | Financial Times | Roger McNamee.

Government intervention of this kind is a first step on the path to resolving the privacy issues that result from the architecture, business models and culture of internet platforms. But privacy is not the only problem we must confront. Internet platforms are transforming our economy and culture in unprecedented ways. We do not even have a vocabulary to describe this transformation, which complicates the challenge facing policymakers....Google, Facebook and other internet platforms use data to influence or manipulate users in ways that create economic value for the platform, but not necessarily for the users themselves. In the context of these platforms, users are not the customer. They are not even the product. They are more like fuel.....Google, Facebook and the rest now have economic power on the scale of early 20th-century monopolists such as Standard Oil. What is unprecedented is the political power that internet platforms have amassed — power that they exercise with no accountability or oversight, and seemingly without being aware of their responsibility to society......When capitalism functions properly, government sets and enforces the rules under which businesses and citizens must operate. Today, however, corpor­ations have usurped this role. Code and algorithms have replaced the legal system as the limiter on behaviour. Corporations such as Google and Facebook behave as if they are not accountable to anyone. Google’s seeming disdain for regulation by the EU and Facebook’s violations of the spirit of its agreement with the US FTC over user consent are cases in point......AI promises to be revolutionary. That said, it will not necessarily be a force for good. The problem is the people who create AI. They are human...McNamee recommends two areas of emphasis: regulation and innovation. As for the former, the most important requirement is to create and enforce standards that require new technology to serve the needs of those who use it and society as a whole. ...... The IoT requires our approval. Do not give it until vendors behave responsibly. Demand that policymakers take action to protect public health, democracy, privacy, innovation and the economy.
accountability  Alexa  antitrust  artificial_intelligence  biases  Big_Tech  consent  dark_side  Facebook  Google  Industrial_Internet  monopolies  personal_data  platforms  political_power  privacy  Roger_McNamee  sensors  surveillance  unintended_consequences 
10 days ago
Ikea furniture does not need to fall apart
Consumer companies can avoid an environmental dystopia by refurbishing and reusing more
FEBRUARY 6, 2019 | Financial Times | JOHN GAPPER
John Gapper
disposability  furniture  IKEA  refurbished 
10 days ago
Jim Balsillie: Dragging Canada into the 21st Century | TVO.org
Technological innovation at the outset of this millennium has been nothing short of revolutionary. And it shows no signs of slowing down. Jim Balsillie, the former co-CEO of Research In Motion, says Canada is not keeping up. Worse, that policymakers and businesses still don't seem to fully appreciate the scope of the change underway. He's now chair of the Council of Canadian innovators, and he joins The Agenda to discuss his ideas.

#1 job. Accumulate valuable intangible assets. which you then commercialize. You acquire a lot of IP and data assets.
21st._century  Canada  competitiveness  digital_economy  ideas  innovation  intangibles  intellectual_property  Jim_Balsillie  knowledge_economy  policymakers  protocols  Steve_Paikin  Sun_Tzu  under-performing 
11 days ago
Big data: legal firms play ‘Moneyball’
February 6, 2019 | Financial Times | Barney Thompson.

Is the hunt for data-driven justice a gimmick or a powerful tool to give lawyers an advantage and predict court outcomes?

In Philip K Dick’s short story The Minority Report, a trio of “precogs” plugged into a machine are used to foretell all crimes so potential felons could be arrested before they were able to strike. In real life, a growing number of legal experts and computer scientists are developing tools they believe will give lawyers an edge in lawsuits and trials. 

Having made an impact in patent cases these legal analytics companies are now expanding into a broad range of areas of commercial law. This is not about replacing judges,” says Daniel Lewis, co-founder of Ravel Law, a San Francisco lawtech company that built the database of judicial behaviour. “It is about showing how they make decisions, what they find persuasive and the patterns of how they rule.” 
analytics  data_driven  judges  law  law_firms  lawtech  lawyers  Lex_Machina  massive_data_sets  Moneyball  predictive_modeling  quantitative  tools 
11 days ago
Japan gears up for mega hack of its own citizens
February 5, 2019 | Financial Times | by Leo Lewis.

Yoshitaka Sakurada, Japan’s 68-year-old minister for cyber security, stands ready to press the button next week on an unprecedented hack of 200m internet enabled devices across Japan — a genuinely imaginative, epically-scaled and highly controversial government cyber attack on homes and businesses designed as an empirical test of the nation’s vulnerability. A new law, fraught with public contention over constitutionally-guaranteed privacy, was passed last May and has just come into effect to give the government the right to perform the hack and make this experiment possible. The scope for government over-reach, say critics, cannot be overstated. Webcams, routers and other devices will be targeted in the attacks, which will primarily establish what proportion have no password protection at all, or one that can be easily guessed. At best, say cyber security experts at FireEye, the experiment could rip through corporate Japan’s complacency and elevate security planning from the IT department to the C-suite.

The experiment, which will run for five years and is being administered through the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications, is intended to focus on devices that fall into the broadly-defined category of “internet of things” (IoT) — anything from a yoga mat that informs a smartphone of your contortions, to remotely controlled factory robots. And while cyber experts say IoT security may not be the very top priority in the fight against cyber crime and cyber warfare, they see good reasons why Japan has chosen to make its stand here.....warnings that the rise of IoT will create a vast new front of vulnerability unless the security of, for example, a web-enabled yoga mat is taken as seriously by both manufacturers and users as the security of a banking website. The big cyber security consultancies, along with various governments, have historically relied on a range of gauges to calculate the scale of the problem. The Japanese government’s own National Institute of Information and Communications Technology (NICT) uses scans of the dark web to estimate that, of the cyber attacks it detected in 2017, 54 per cent targeted IoT devices.
C-suite  cyberattacks  cyber_security  cyber_warfare  dark_web  experimentation  hacks  Industrial_Internet  Japan  overreach  preparation  privacy  readiness  testing  vulnerabilities  white_hat 
11 days ago
Zucked by Roger McNamee — anti-social network
January 4, 2019 | Financial Times | Hannah Kuchler.

n Zucked, McNamee describes his evolution into one of the loudest voices calling for regulation of Facebook, after a lifetime as a “technology optimist” and a capitalist convinced markets could settle their own problems. The 62-year-old is part of the old guard of Silicon Valley, investing in companies including Electronic Arts, the video game company, and Palm, the maker of the early handheld devices. But he rebelled against the Valley’s code of silence, to become a key leader in a campaign against Facebook.

His book is the first narrative tale of Facebook’s unravelling over the past two years. McNamee tells the inside story of the campaign in which he allied with former Google design ethicist Tristan Harris and lobbied the politicians who eventually called Zuckerberg to testify in front of Congress in April 2018.

Without McNamee and Harris, would Washington have woken up to the severity of the social network’s problems — or believed they could do anything about it? Zucked lands just as the Democrats take over the House of Representatives, making US regulation more likely — although nowhere near inevitable.
books  book_review  Facebook  Mark_Zuckerberg  regulations  Roger_McNamee  Silicon_Valley 
11 days ago
Do You Keep a Failure Résumé? Here’s Why You Should Start. - The New York Times
What is a failure résumé? Whereas your normal résumé organizes your successes, accomplishments and your overall progress, your failure résumé tracks the times you didn’t quite hit the mark, along with what lessons you learned.

Melanie Stefan, a lecturer at Edinburgh Medical School, knows this well. A few years ago, she called on academics to publish their own “failure résumés,” eventually publishing her own. On it, she lists graduate programs she didn’t get into, degrees she didn’t finish or pursue, harsh feedback from an old boss and even the rejections she got after auditioning for several orchestras.

What’s the point of such self-flagellation?

Because you learn much more from failure than success, and honestly analyzing one’s failures can lead to the type of introspection that helps us grow — as well as show that the path to success isn’t a straight line.
accomplishments  advice  anti-résumé  failure  lessons_learned  résumés  self-flagellation  straight_lines  tips 
13 days ago
Inter Ikea’s Torbjorn Loof: making the vision clear
February 3, 2019 | Financial Times | Richard Milne.

Internal politics had supposedly never played much of a role in the tangled web of companies that makes up the world’s largest furniture retailer. But when Inter Ikea, little-known owner of the brand and concept, acquired the product range, design and manufacturing businesses in 2016 from its more famous sister company, Ikea Group, Torbjorn Loof was struck by the infighting.......The 53-year-old is running a franchise system that decides everything: from which products are on offer and what the stores look like, to the famous catalogues and flat-pack design. But rather than use his new-found power and influence, Mr Loof took a different approach..........Mr Loof is now engineering the biggest transformation Ikea has undertaken by changing its famed business model that has brought it so much success. Having giant out-of-town warehouses, where shoppers pick their own furniture and then build it at home, underpinned Ikea’s solid profitability for seven decades.

But now it is looking increasingly at city-centre stores, online shopping, home delivery and assembly, and more radical ideas such as leasing furniture and selling on websites such as Alibaba. Mr Loof says that challenging such a successful status quo is tricky, especially as the company does not have all the answers on what the new retail landscape will look like.....“We made sure that the vision and the purpose were very, very clear. Not spending too much time on what sometimes is in the middle of things — all the strategies and plans, and all of that had to come later.”......Ikea founder Ingvar Kamprad said it was important to be long term and “think about where should we be in 200 years?” The managers smiled at his exaggeration and asked him if that wasn’t too much. “Yes, of course”, he said, “but then you make the short-term plan: that means the next 100 years”.....the toughest tasks is encouraging the entrepreneurship that characterised the company’s early days. He concedes that the decade-long period of growth in the early part of this century stifled Ikea’s creativity and recalls going to see Kamprad a few years ago when sales suddenly hit a bump. “I was a little bit worried. I said to Ingvar: ‘sales are not growing’, and then he looked at me and just smiled and he said: ‘wonderful! Crisis!’ So, there is this kind of [attitude] to love the crisis because the opportunities in the crisis are that you get more creative,” he adds. Ikea has experimented more with what Mr Loof calls the “phygital” — the place where the physical and digital worlds of shopping collide (e.g.an augmented reality app visualization of Ikea furniture in situ at a customer's home, as well as a virtual reality kitchen). ...Ikea will do numerous trials in the next few years: “Even if we would be the best planners, we hire brilliant business analysts, the best strategists, I think we would not make it. So, we have to be the fastest learners . . . daring to test things and make mistakes, but also again correct them.”
CEOs  clarity  Ikea  vision  mistakes  Communicating_&_Connecting  creativity  crisis  cyberphysical  transformational  coopetition  city-centres  Alibaba  leasing  e-commerce  home-assembly  home-delivery  Torbjörn_Lööf 
13 days ago
CROSSFIT - Pros and Cons (You Decide!) - YouTube
See training versus exercising at 10:09 / 15:31
AthleanX  Crossfit 
14 days ago
James Baldwin: why Beale Street still talks
JANUARY 31, 2019 | Financial Times | by Diana Evans.

The writer’s work remains hugely relevant, particularly in today’s charged racial atmosphere.......James Baldwin never goes out of fashion. This might seem an enviable attribute for a writer to sustain posthumously, if it were not for a predominant reason why. He is a soldier, a comrade. He is a brother-in-arms in a war that doesn’t end. Along with Toni Morrison, Angela Davis, Richard Wright, Nina Simone, Langston Hughes, Maya Angelou and many others, Baldwin is among those foremost in an army of artists and activists who have challenged, fought and assuaged racism and become icons of “black struggle”. As the struggle continues and does not appear to be concluding any time soon, Baldwin’s work is as relevant and prevailing as ever.

The latest landmark in the mounting homage and salutation to Baldwin’s writing is Oscar-winning Barry Jenkins’s adaptation of his penultimate novel If Beale Street Could Talk. Set in Harlem in the 1970s, it’s a mournful, limpid, at times excruciating portrayal of an engaged young couple, Fonny and Tish (played by Stephan James and KiKi Layne), who are separated by Fonny’s sudden incarceration after being falsely accused of rape, leaving Tish to weather pregnancy alone. The film successfully mirrors the book’s oscillating, dreamy atmosphere, capturing the childlike innocence of Tish’s love-soaked narrative voice which accentuates the cruelty of the world around them. She asks, late in the novel, Fonny still hopelessly imprisoned and childbirth close, “What happened here? Surely, this land is cursed.”......No one else articulates with quite the same inexhaustible clarity the outrage, hardship, and fury of existing on the receiving end of race, the sense of being endangered, at best truncated, both physically and spiritually, on a most fundamental level........Born in New York in 1924, Baldwin grew up in poverty in Harlem, the eldest of nine children, and was a gifted Pentecostal preacher prior to being a writer, though he eventually left the church, deeming it a reinforcement of institutionalised modes of oppression. A novelist, essayist, playwright and short-story writer, during his lifetime he became a kind of literary spokesman for the civil rights movement, appearing on the cover of Time magazine in 1963 and forming friendships with Malcolm X, Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers, all of whom were assassinated, which he was trying to address in his unfinished manuscript “Remember This House”, the basis for I Am Not Your Negro.
African-Americans  blackness  films  movies  James_Baldwin  writers 
15 days ago
How to Do a Data ‘Cleanse’ - The New York Times
By David Pogue
Feb. 1, 2019

(1) Have you backed up your data?
(2) Are your phone’s photos safe?
(3) Have you cleaned out your machine?
(4) Is your software up-to-date?
Apple  backups  decluttering  digital_storage  howto  iOS  storage 
16 days ago
Why Serious Cooks Are In Love With Frozen Food - WSJ
2 COMMENTS
By Sarah Karnasiewicz
Updated Feb. 1, 2019 1:13 p
cold_storage  frozen_foods 
16 days ago
Why People Ghost — and How to Get Over It - The New York Times
By Adam Popescu
Jan. 22, 2019

Ghosting — when someone cuts off all communication without explanation....happens across all social circumstances and it’s tied to the way we view the world......The pace of modern life makes it hard enough to maintain real life friendships; it’s impossible to actually be friends with everyone you’re supposedly simpatico with online......Growing apart can be a friendship’s natural evolution; ditto for lovers.....when you get ghosted, there’s no closure, so you question yourself and choices which sabotages self-worth and self-esteem.....ghosting a form of the silent treatment akin to emotional cruelty (the pain it causes can be treated with Tylenol, according to multiple studies). So, how do you avoid it in the first place?......be particularly choosy about who you tend to interact with,”....get a sense early on of what kind of individual you’re dealing with.”......watch how people treat others is a good indicator.......Ghosting has a lot to do with someone’s comfort level and how they deal with their emotions,” she added. “A lot of people anticipate that talking about how they feel is going to be a confrontation. That mental expectation makes people want to avoid things that make them uncomfortable.”.....the flip side [of ghosting] is a subset of the population looking for real connection. “People are craving authenticity,”...“Being vulnerable is the number one thing that creates intimacy between people and if you worry about being hurt all the time, you’re not able to be vulnerable and it affects the quality of connection.”....ghosting has a lot to do with how we feel about our future — or whether we think our mate is the “one,” which is a question of belief versus destiny. Either someone believes the relationship is capable of growing or they’re seeking an archetypal partner (what’s typically called a soul mate). “Individuals who have stronger destiny beliefs are more likely to ghost,”....remember if someone ghosts you that behavior says more about them than you,” Dr. Vilhauer said. “It’s about their discomfort. You have to keep trying.”.....modify how we reject people.....Don’t apologize, she said, but be honest about boundaries, whether it’s going to a movie with someone or spending the rest of your life together. Just be real. “The good middle ground is explicitly rejecting someone and telling them ‘no,’ not ‘I’m sorry,’”....Taking a risk to tell someone how you really feel — even if it’s not what they want to hear — has benefits. Self-esteem, stress, blood pressure, spending more time with people you care about. And getting that time back opens up self-discovery.
avoidance  blindsided  breakups  clarity  Communicating_&_Connecting  dating  discomforts  exits  friendships  ghosting  relationships  self-esteem  self-worth  personal_connections  belief_systems  say_"no" 
16 days ago
James Ingram, a Hitmaking Voice of ’80s R&B, Is Dead at 66 - The New York Times
By Jon Caramanica
Jan. 29, 2019

James Ingram, whose voice — technically precise, crisp and reserved, yet full of audacious feeling — made him one of the defining singers of R&B in the 1980s, has died. He was 66.

Just as R&B’s “quiet storm” phase was peaking, Mr. Ingram was plucked from side-gig obscurity by the producer Quincy Jones to appear on his 1981 album, “The Dude.”
'80s  African-Americans  obituaries  R&B  singers  smooth_jazz 
17 days ago
Canada must reassess its approach to China - if not, we may get steamrolled by the world’s new juggernaut - The Globe and Mail
JONATHAN MANTHORPE
CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED JANUARY 30, 2019

.....The current CCP regime will not last forever. Dynasties never do, and the historical record in China is that they all die violently. This will likely happen to the CCP, but it’s not a good bet that it will happen anytime soon. Thus, Canada and all other countries having to engage with China while maintaining their own liberal-democratic institutions face some harsh realities. If Canada wishes to preserve its values and its standards of living based on trade in a world dominated by China, if it wishes to expand its influence as a global middle power, present and future governments in Ottawa need to prepare the ground. They need to cement political, economic social, and security ties within NATO and the G7, along with other like-minded countries. Canadian politicians need to assume a much tougher and more self-assured attitude toward Beijing than is now the case.
Canada  Canada-China_relations  China  Donald_Trump  isolationism  U.S.  Chinese_Communist_Party  authoritarianism  bullying  editorials  extradition  fascism  hostage_diplomacy  Meng_Wanzhou  rule_of_law  Xi_Jinping  arbitrariness 
17 days ago
Robotaxis: can automakers catch up with Google in driverless cars?
January 31, 2019 | Financial Times | by Patrick McGee.

A new network of small tech companies could allow the car industry to compete with Waymo.

The automotive industry is among the most capital-intensive in the world: If the economy sours, assets turn into liabilities overnight as factories churning out thousands of cars begin to haemorrhage cash. So when toxic mortgage securities blew up in 2008, causing a recession, banks performed terribly — but carmakers fared even worse.

That is what makes auto consultants at Bain so worried. They fear that carmakers are about to be hit with a one-two punch: first, they project a US recession in the next 12 to 18 months. Then, increasing numbers of baby boomers will retire, causing a structural decline so big that, they warn, US car sales could shrink from more than 17m last year to just 11.5m by 2025 — the same level seen in 2008-09, which caused GM and Chrysler to go bankrupt and Ford to suffer a $14.6bn loss.....But there is hope. If carmakers play their cards right, they could be saved by what GM has called “the biggest business opportunity since the internet”. The potential saviour is the rise of shared, driverless “robotaxis”, which Bain expects to become mainstream in some large cities in six to eight years. This new market, virtually non-existent today, promises to be huge. ... Intel projects a “passenger economy” worth $7tn by 2050....Car brands typically earn $2,000 from a vehicle sale. That is just $0.01 per km over the lifetime of a vehicle, whereas for robotaxis “the potential is 20 to 25 cents per km”,...To realise this potential the industry will need to update its entire business model. The challenge for carmakers is to gain the expertise in self-driving algorithms, in-car entertainment, streaming services and fleet management for ride-hailing that will be central to this new era......Luckily, there has been an explosion of small companies developing the skills and technologies that carmakers can make use of. .......Waymo, the Alphabet self-driving unit that began as a Google project, is widely seen as the leader in this new landscape....it has built a commanding lead since its founding in 2009. And with at least 600 of its vehicles driving more than 25,000 miles a day, it is perfecting its algorithms in a way that could blindside the competition. Last year UBS projected that Waymo “will dominate” the operating systems for autonomous vehicles, taking “60 per cent of the total projected revenue pool in 2030”.......The threat of Waymo is not that it will build better cars. It has no need to. Instead it is ordering vehicles from Chrysler and Jaguar — effectively turning them into suppliers — and then fitting them out with self-driving software and hardware built in-house. But its potential goes beyond superior self-driving capabilities. Once robotaxis are mainstream, Alphabet can collect data from Google Maps and Search, entertain with YouTube and the Play Store, offer advice through Google Home smart speakers and use its software knowhow to manage fleets. Aside from the vehicle itself, Waymo is a vertically-integrated “closed system”........Carmakers are responding by partnering up like never before and making big investments to acquire new expertise. Volkswagen has linked up with Ford, while arch-rivals BMW and Mercedes have pooled their mobility efforts. In 2016 GM paid $500m for a stake in Lyft, the ride-hailing group, and it spent more than $1bn to buy Cruise, a self-driving company.......These deals, however, are merely the tip of the iceberg. Beneath the car brands, an entire ecosystem of niche companies has spurred into existence. Known as the “data value chain”, these groups specialise in the software, sensors, data processing and navigation needed to make autonomous cars a reality. None has the willpower, resources or vision to take on Waymo. Instead, they are forming clusters, exercising “swarm intelligence” to independently work towards the same collective goal of creating a safe, driverless experience......The implications of this ecosystem are profound. It suggests the carmakers can catch the likes of Waymo up without being the best-in-class in the new technologies. They merely need to be competent enough to know who is best — and then partner with them.
Alphabet  automotive_industry  automobile  autonomous_vehicles  Bain  blindsided  GM  Google  Waymo  capital-intensity  large_markets  partnerships  supply_chains 
17 days ago
Opinion | Warning! Everything Is Going Deep: ‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’
Jan. 29, 2019 | The New York Times | By Thomas L. Friedman, Opinion Columnist.

Recent advances in the speed and scope of digitization, connectivity, big data and artificial intelligence are now taking us “deep” into places and into powers that we’ve never experienced before — and that governments have never had to regulate before. I’m talking about deep learning, deep insights, deep surveillance, deep facial recognition, deep voice recognition, deep automation and deep artificial minds.

Some of these technologies offer unprecedented promise and some unprecedented peril — but they’re all now part of our lives. Everything is going deep........how did we get so deep down where the sharks live?

The short answer: Technology moves up in steps, and each step, each new platform, is usually biased toward a new set of capabilities. Around the year 2000 we took a huge step up that was biased toward connectivity, because of the explosion of fiber-optic cable, wireless and satellites.

Suddenly connectivity became so fast, cheap, easy for you and ubiquitous that it felt like you could touch someone whom you could never touch before and that you could be touched by someone who could never touch you before.

Around 2007, we took another big step up. The iPhone, sensors, digitization, big data, the internet of things, artificial intelligence and cloud computing melded together and created a new platform that was biased toward abstracting complexity at a speed, scope and scale we’d never experienced before.....as big data got really big, as broadband got really fast, as algorithms got really smart, as 5G got actually deployed, artificial intelligence got really intelligent. So now, with no touch — but just a voice command or machines acting autonomously — we can go so much deeper in so many areas....DeepMind, the artificial intelligence arm of Google’s parent, developed an A.I. program, AlphaGo, that has now defeated the world’s top human players of the ancient strategy game Go — which is much more complex than chess — by learning from human play......Today “virtual agents” — using conversational interfaces powered by artificial intelligence — can increasingly understand your intent... just by hearing your voice.....The percentage of calls a chatbot, or virtual agent, is able to handle without turning the caller over to a person is called its “containment rate,” and these rates are steadily soaring. ....But bad guys, who are always early adopters, also see the same potential to go deep in wholly new ways.....On Jan. 20, The London Observer looked at Harvard Business School professor Shoshana Zuboff’s new book, the title of which perfectly describes the deep dark waters we’ve entered: “The Age of Surveillance Capital.”....“Surveillance capitalism,” Zuboff wrote, “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioral data. Although some of these data are applied to service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioral surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence,’ and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon and later. Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of marketplace that I call behavioral futures markets. Surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations, for many companies are willing to lay bets on our future behavior.”
5G  algorithms  AlphaGo  artificial_intelligence  automation  books  complexity  connectivity  dark_side  DeepMind  digitalization  gaming_the_system  human_experience  massive_data_sets  patterns  rogue_actors  Tom_Friedman  trustworthiness  virtual_agents 
18 days ago
Red Lentil Soup With Lemon Recipe - NYT Cooking
MELISSA CLARK

INGREDIENTS
3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
¼ teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch of ground chile powder or cayenne, more to taste
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
2 cups water
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
lentils  pulses  recipes  soups 
18 days ago
If you want to get ahead, don’t be afraid to get dirty
January 29, 2019 | The Globe and Mail | ROY OSING - SPECIAL TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL
PUBLISHED 6 HOURS.

* ACT FAST. When you are confronted with a formidable challenge, make a decision quickly; overanalyzing doesn’t usually lead to success because it squanders your most precious asset – time.Success demands that you act fast and not waste valuable resources by over-complicating the route to a decision.
* HAVE A ‘WHAT IF’ PLAN
Have a contingency plan for when your chosen course of action doesn’t work out the way you intended.
* DON’T CHASE PERFECTION
Embrace imperfection; there is no such thing as a perfect anything.
* FIND DOERS. Find people who have a proven track record of doing things fast.
* PLAY IT UNSAFE. Work outside your comfort zone.
* SHUN THE RULES. Rules exist to make us compliant and fall in with what others do; they are a set of standards imposed by others....Bottom line: Broken rules are the cost of doing messy business.
* FORGET YOUR JOB DESCRIPTION. Job descriptions compartmentalize the activity of an organization; they specify the role we must play and the results we are expected to deliver.
* STAY FOCUSED. Try many things in rapid succession but avoid multitasking. ....Success doesn’t come from juggling several balls. It comes when we are focused on a single outcome and dedicate our heart and soul to seeing it through.
* SCREW UP. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
achievements  contingency_planning  focus  good_enough  messiness  mistakes  monotasking  risk-taking  speed  Roy_Osing 
19 days ago
Will Tanzania's Drone Industry Take Off?
January 28, 2019 | Business Daily podcast | By BBC World Service.

Discovered by Player FM and our community — copyright is owned by the publisher, not Player FM, and audio streamed directly from their servers.
Drones have been used increasingly in Africa for survey and mapping, but will cargo drone delivery companies be the next big thing? Jane Wakefield visits Mwanza on the banks of Lake Victoria to speak to African and international companies hoping to cash in on the drone delivery market. During a trial for a big World Bank project called The Lake Victoria Challenge Jane speaks to the Tanzanian drone pilot making waves across the continent, to the global start ups innovating rapidly, and to one drone company helping to map Cholera outbreaks in Malawi. Jane hears from Helena Samsioe from Globhe, Edward Anderson from the World Bank, Frederick Mbuya from Uhurulabs, Leka Tingitana Tanzania Flying Labs and others. (Photo: A delivery drone in Tanzania, Credit: Sala Lewis/Lake Victoria Challenge)
3-D  Africa  delivery  drones  flu_outbreaks  Malawi  podcasts  start_ups  Tanzania 
19 days ago
The Sewers of Paris and the Making of the Modern City | CBC Radio
Philip Coulter goes underground in the City of Light to visit the City of Smell. Part 1 of 2-part series.
CBC Radio · January 25
19th_century  CBC_Radio  cities  disease  herd_immunity  history  pandemics  Paris  plague  public_goods  public_health  sewage 
20 days ago
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