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The techlash against Amazon, Facebook and Google—and what they can do - A memo to big tech, Economist, Jan 2018
You are an industry that embraces acronyms, so let me explain the situation with a new one: “BAADD”. You are thought to be too big, anti-competitive, addictive and destructive to democracy
TheEconomist  techlash  technology 
5 weeks ago by pierredv
A connected world will be a playground for hackers - Cyber security - The Economist, Sep 2019
"Few companies making connected gadgets have much experience with cyber security"

"AS WAYS TO break into casinos go, a fish tank is an unusual route. Yet that is what was used in an unnamed American gambling house in 2017. It had invested in a fancy internet-connected tank in which the temperature and salinity of the water were remotely controlled. Its owners were not naive: when they installed it, they isolated its controls on their own specific part of their company network, away from all their sensitive systems.

It made no difference. According to Darktrace, a computer-security firm, attackers from Finland managed to break into the tank’s systems, then used it as a stepping stone for the rest of the casino’s networks. They made off with around 10GB of data."
TheEconomist  cybersecurity  IoT  vulnerability 
october 2019 by pierredv
Why widely spoken languages have simpler grammar - Johnson
" tend to find that “big” languages—spoken by large numbers over a big land area—are actually simpler than small, isolated ones. This is largely because linguists, unlike laypeople, focus on grammar, not vocabulary"

"... is not entirely foreigners and their sloppy ways that are to blame for languages becoming simpler. Merely being bigger was enough"

"Neither the more systematic nor the more idiosyncratic languages were “better”, given group size: the small and large groups communicated equally well"

"As groups grow, the need for systematic rules becomes greater; unlearnable in-group-speak with random variation won’t do. But languages develop more rules than they need; as they are learned by foreign speakers joining the group, some of these get stripped away"
TheEconomist  language 
august 2019 by pierredv
DeepMind and Google: the battle to control artificial intelligence | 1843 April.May 2019
So far, Google has not interfered much with DeepMind. But one recent event has raised concerns over how long the company can sustain its independence.
Google  DeepMind  AI  TheEconomist 
march 2019 by pierredv
Cold comfort farms - Farming in Africa - 2013
"Yet Africa’s huge potential clashes with a brutal reality documented in a new report from the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), a think-tank with headquarters in Kenya. Take the cost of fertiliser, for instance. Farmers in America pay a price on delivery of $226 per tonne. But in Zambia the price is $414. Shipping costs explain only a small part of the difference. The rest is accounted for by port duties, bribes, storage fees, fuel costs, the importer’s mark-up and the credit charges racked up as the fertiliser makes its tortuous journey from port to farm."
farming  agriculture  TheEconomist  Africa 
february 2019 by pierredv
An astronomers’ meeting turns into a haiku competition - Scientific foibles - Economist Mar 2018
this year, more than 200 of the papers at LPSC [Lunar and Planetary Science Conference] have such haiku summaries
TheEconomist  poetry  haiku  science  astronomy 
march 2018 by pierredv
The success of AVs will depend on sensible regulation - Rules of the road - The Economist Mar 2018
"Chris Urmson of Aurora says American regulators have got things right, working closely with AV firms and issuing guidelines rather than strict rules that might hamstring the industry."

"On this ]pharma] analogy, autonomous cars are currently at the clinical-trial stage, without final approval as yet."

[Takao Asami of the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi alliance] "draws another analogy, with aviation."

"America’s National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has started applying its aviation expertise to autonomous vehicles. In many ways AVs are more complex than aircraft, says Deborah Bruce of the NTSB, because they are closely surrounded by other things that move in unpredictable ways."

"The current patchwork of regulation will have to be simplified if the technology is to be widely deployed. “Uniformity is the friend of scalability,” says [Karl Iagnemma of nuTonomy, an AV startup that has tested vehicles in Singapore]. Questions of insurance and liability will also have to be worked out. Amnon Shashua of Mobileye worries that because of today’s regulatory uncertainty, fatal accidents involving fully autonomous vehicles could plunge the industry into legal limbo, or kill it altogether. He has proposed a set of rules that define how a car should respond in all 37 scenarios in the 6m-entry accident database maintained by NHTSA, America’s car-safety regulator, and would like to see these rules adopted as an open industry standard. "
TheEconomist  transportation  AutonomousVehicles  automation  regulation 
march 2018 by pierredv
Self-driving cars will profoundly change the way people live - A different world - Economist Mar 2018
"AVs could greatly reduce deaths and injuries from road accidents. Globally, around 1.25m people die in such accidents each year, according to the WHO; it is the leading cause of death among those aged 15-29. Another 20m-50m people are injured. Most accidents occur in developing countries, where the arrival of autonomous vehicles is still some way off. But if the switch to AVs can be advanced even by a single year, “that’s 1.25m people who don’t die,” says Chris Urmson of Aurora, an AV startup"

"Even with modern safety features, some 650,000 Americans have died on the roads since 2000, more than were slain in all the wars of the 20th century (about 630,000)."
TheEconomist  automation  AutonomousVehicles  transportation  mortality 
march 2018 by pierredv
The merits of revisiting Michael Young - Bagehot, Feb 2018
AFTER much searching, Bagehot has found a book that at last explains what is going on in British politics. This wonderful volume not only reveals the deeper reasons for all the bizarre convulsions. It also explains why things are not likely to get better any time soon. The book is Michael Young’s “The Rise of the Meritocracy”—and it was published 60 years ago this year.
TheEconomist  politics  meritocracy  books  culture  opinion  education 
february 2018 by pierredv
Richard Thaler wins the Nobel prize for economic sciences - Free exchange, The Economist Oct 2017
"Setting out to explore why people feel losses more keenly than gains, he helped uncover the endowment effect: a tendency to value something more highly just because you own it."

"The importance of context also arose in Mr Thaler’s work on “mental accounting”. In thinking about money, people tend to compartmentalise, grouping certain types of spending or income together. ... In some cases this might amount to a strategy for managing imperfect self-control (as in the credit-card debt example). More broadly, it reflects the human tendency to tackle cognitive problems in pieces, rather than as a whole. "

"Mr Thaler, with his colleague Hersh Shefrin, understood choices as battles between two competing cognitive forces: a “doer” part of the brain focused on short-term rewards, and a “planner” focused on the long term. Willpower can help suppress the doer’s urges, but exercising restraint is costly. "
Richard-Thaler  Nobel-Prize  economics  TheEconomist  psychology  money  cognitiion 
january 2018 by pierredv
Neil MacGregor on living with gods - Transcendental meditation, The Economist, Nov 2017
"As the exhibition and the radio series both proclaim, religion has generally been an activity, not a set of true-or-false propositions, and above all a collective activity in which the tribe or nation finds meaning."

About Neil MacGregor show and podcast "Living with Gods"
TheEconomist  religion  quotes 
january 2018 by pierredv
Great strides have been made against disease and poverty - Generation games, Sep 2017
“Over the next few decades the fertility gap between Africa and the rest of the world is expected to narrow, but only excruciatingly slowly. . . . This demographic divergence is a big reason to fear that poverty will stick around. Today 9% of the world’s people are believed to live in extreme poverty—defined as consuming less than $1.90 a day at 2011 purchasing-power parity. About half of those people are under 18. This represents remarkable progress: in 1990 about 35% of all people were thought to be extremely poor by the same yardstick. But progress will probably be much slower from now on. . . . Although the share of Africans living in deep poverty is falling, it is not falling quickly enough to outweigh rapid population growth.”
TheEconomist  GatesFoundation  development-assistance  health  Africa 
november 2017 by pierredv
Coase’s theory of the firm, Economics brief, Economist Jul 2017
"why are some activities directed by market forces and others by firms? His answer was that firms are a response to the high cost of using markets. It is often cheaper to direct tasks by fiat than to negotiate and enforce separate contracts for every transaction. Such “exchange costs” are low in markets for standardised goods, wrote Coase. A well-defined task can easily be put out to the market, where a contractor is paid a fixed sum for doing it. The firm comes into its own when simple contracts of this kind will not suffice."

-- what about regulation of spectrum?

"But a second paper, “The problem of social cost”, ... argued that private bargaining could resolve social problems, such as pollution, as long as property rights are well defined and transaction costs are low (they rarely are)."

"a body of more rigorous research on such questions began to flourish. Central to it was the idea that it is difficult to specify all that is required of a business relationship, so some contracts are necessarily “incomplete”. "

"pot markets are thus largely self-policing. They are well suited to simple, low-value transactions, such as buying a newspaper or taking a taxi.

Things become trickier when the parties are locked into a deal that is costly to get out of."

"Where it becomes costly for a company to specify all that it wants from a supplier, it might make sense to acquire it in order to claim the residual rights (and the profits) from ownership. But, as Messrs Grossman and Hart noted, something is also lost through the merger. The supplier’s incentive to innovate and to control costs vanishes, because he no longer owns the residual rights."

"Mr Holmstrom and Paul Milgrom established that where important tasks are hard to monitor, and where a balance of activities is needed, then a contract should shun strong incentives tied to any one task. The best approach is to pay a fixed salary and to leave the balance of tasks unspecified."
TheEconomist  economics  history  Coase  people  profile  contracting 
october 2017 by pierredv
The case for an efficiency tax, Economist Mar 2017
"EFFICIENCY is at the heart of progress. Yet just as too much of a good thing (travel, say) can yield a bad (congestion), so excessive ease in transactions can generate costs, known in the jargon as a “facile externality”, such that less efficiency would actually be more efficient. In academic circles, especially Scandinavian ones, the notion is well established that innovations which eliminate too much hassle could do society harm."

"In all this indulgence, the forgone benefits of hassle (slygge in Danish) go largely unrecognised. Frictionlessness encourages bad habits."

"Payments are also subject to facile externality. Three in five Britons say they spend more with a wave of the plastic than they would with cash"
TheEconomist  tax  efficiency  opinion  economics  externalities  AprilFool 
october 2017 by pierredv
Disrupting the trust business - Economist Tech Quarterly, July 2017
"The trust business is little noticed but huge. Startups deploying blockchain technology threaten to disrupt it, and much else besides"

"Together, list-keepers and those who watch them form one of the world’s biggest and least noticed industries, the trust business."

"Different sorts of self-sufficient lists now abound" --
Ethereum, Everledger

"... the other big function of such ledgers: they can serve as a source of truth ... " "truth services"

"Transactions on a blockchain could also serve as input for smart contracts. "

Other companies: Slock.it, OpenBazaar, Steemit, Synereo

"If even objects control their own destiny, what is left for governments and the nation state to do? "
1. "in many cases somebody still has to make sure that the information baked into a blockchain is actually true"
2. "The technology could also be used as a cheap platform to generate what poor countries lack most: more efficient government and trust in contracts."
3. "... money. Although the blockchain was created to replace them, central bankers have been interested in the technology from the beginning. When banks share a ledger, rather than keeping their information in separate databases, it will be simpler for regulators to observe financial flows."

CAVEATS:
1. "The technology today is nowhere near being able to support many of these applications. " -- ledgers not immutable, scaling problems
2. "institutional resistance"
3. politics (including internal fights among engineers)
TheEconomist  technology  bitcoin  blockchain  regulation  government 
august 2017 by pierredv
The disaster that could follow from a flash in the sky - Economist Tech Quarterly, Jul 2017
Scenario: "Imagine a nuclear blast occurring somewhere above eastern Nebraska. "

" It permanently damages the grid’s multimillion-dollar high-voltage transformers. ... After the surge, telecom switches and internet routers are dead. Air-traffic control is down. Within a day, some shoppers in supermarkets turn to looting... Utilities can neither treat nor pump water or sewage. Raids on homes thought to have water become frequent and often bloody...Martial law ends six months after the original energy surge. Roughly 350,000 Canadians and 7m Americans have died. "

"Yet not much is being done. Barack Obama ordered EMP protection for White House systems, but FERC, the utilities regulator, has not required EMP-proofing. Nor has the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) pushed for a solution or even included EMP in official planning scenarios. (The Pentagon should handle that, DHS officials say; the Pentagon notes that civilian infrastructure is the DHS’s responsibility.) As for exactly what safeguards are or are not needed, the utilities themselves are best equipped to decide, says Brandon Wales, the DHS’s head of infrastructure analysis. But the utilities’ industry group, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), argues that, because EMP is a matter of national security, it is the government’s job. NERC may anyway be in no rush. ... NERC has repeatedly and successfully lobbied Congress to prevent legislation that would require EMP-proofing."
TheEconomist  EMP  Carrington-event  solar-storm  catastrophic-risk  politics  planning 
august 2017 by pierredv
Millions of things will soon have digital twins
"Such achievements are largely down to the factory’s “digital twin”. For there is another factory, a virtual version of the physical facility that resides within a computer system. This digital twin is identical in every respect and is used to design the control units, test them, simulate how to make them and program production machines. Once everything is humming along nicely, the digital twin hands over to the physical factory to begin making things for real."

"The powerful systems that have since emerged bring together several elements—software services in computer-aided design and engineering; simulation; process control; and product life cycle management. Some digital twins are gaining artificial intelligence and virtual-reality capabilities, too. They can also help to monitor remotely and provide after-service for products that have been sold. "

"Siemens is not alone in equipping its factories with digital twins. Its American rival, GE, is doing the same. Both companies also sell their digital-twin software, along with firms such as Dassault Systèmes, a French specialist in the area."
TheEconomist  mirror-worlds  manufacturing  automation  Siemens 
august 2017 by pierredv
Drones—what are they good for? - Economist Technology Quarterly June 2017
"Today’s drones are mostly flying cameras. They are already being put to a wide range of business uses"

Industries discussed
= agriculture
= construction and related industries
= mining and aggregates - supply chain
= "inspection of buildings and other infrastructure, such as pipelines, wind turbines, electrical pylons, solar farms and offshore platforms"

"So the industry has been pursuing the idea of “reality capture”, using technology to measure buildings precisely during construction and track the use of raw materials on site to ensure that everything is going according to plan. Drones are ideally suited to the task. Thousands of aerial photographs are crunched into a 3D site model, accurate to within a few centimetres, called a “point cloud”, which can be compared with the digital model of the building. And safety worries that hamper the use of drones in other fields are kept to a minimum because construction sites are closed areas, workers wear hard hats, and drones fly within line of sight."

"A single drone flight can generate as much as 100 gigabytes of data, says Anil Nanduri of Intel. Airware, which is working with large insurance companies in Europe and America, has developed a system that handles the whole process."
TheEconomist  drones  UAS  commerce 
june 2017 by pierredv
The future of drones depends on regulation, not just technology - Rules & tools - Economist Technical Quarterly, June 2017
"DJI’s drones already support “geo-fencing” using technology provided by Mr McNeal’s company, AirMap. Its database of where drones are and are not allowed to fly is built into the software used to control them, working with satellite positioning to prevent an operator from flying a drone too close to an airport, for example. AirMap’s database can be updated in real time to keep drones away from unexpected events such as fires and other incidents."

"The UTM system will be automatic, with drones filing requests to use particular flight paths with a local data exchange, which then co-ordinates all the movements. “The regulator only sets the rules and defines the exchanges, so it’s a very different way of doing things from air-traffic control,” says Dr Kopardekar."

"By contrast, his firm disables drones by intercepting their control signals and video feeds. Examining the radio traffic to and from a drone makes it possible to determine what type it is, track it and if necessary take it over to disable it or force it to land. Anti-drone systems made by SkySafe, and rivals such as Dedrone and DroneShield, are being evaluated for military and government use and to police airspace around airports, stadiums and prisons (to prevent smuggling of phones, drugs and other items to inmates)."

"Drones will need to be equipped with “sense and avoid” systems and long-range radio to communicate with each other and with the data exchange."
TheEconomist  drones  UAS  regulation  DJI  AirMap 
june 2017 by pierredv
Free exchange: William Baumol, a great economist, died on May 4th | The Economist
"He helped move economics beyond the narrow ideal of perfect competition by introducing the idea of contestable markets, in which competitive pressure comes from the worry that rivals will swoop in to vie for a market if incumbents are anything other than ruthlessly efficient. Perfectly contestable markets should be just as efficient as perfectly competitive ones, even if only a handful of firms dominate a business."

"Yet Mr Baumol will be remembered best for his cost disease."

"The analysis bore relevance outside the arts, he quickly realised. Technological progress in some industries implies that in services with relatively low rates of productivity growth—like health care, education and government—swelling costs will outstrip growth in productivity. Costlier public services are a necessary side-effect of long-run growth."

"Cost disease also provides a vision of a world of large-scale automation. As machines become better at doing things, the human role in generating faster productivity growth will converge towards zero. At that point, so long as society expects everyone to work, all spending in the economy will go towards services for which it is crucial that productivity not grow, in order to provide jobs for everyone. Society could seemingly be both characterised by technological abundance and paralysed by cost disease."
TheEconomist  obituary  economics  history  profile  people  biography  competition  automation 
june 2017 by pierredv
Manifesto man: Douglas Carswell against the world | The Economist, April 2017
"Mr Carswell thinks that a new oligarchy is the biggest threat to the welfare of mankind."

"Big companies are tightening their hold over the global economy. Established parties are rigging the political system in their own favour. And business and politics are becoming ever more intertwined as companies offer jobs to ex-politicians. Journalists snobbishly dismiss populism as proof that their fellow citizens are bigots rather than as evidence that they are waking up to the fact that the system is rigged. Yet Mr Carswell has no time for the leftist solution—enlisting the state to regulate capitalism and redistribute wealth."

"Mr Carswell makes his case well. He is right that capitalism is going through a worrying period of concentration: .... He is also right that today’s meritocratic elite is hard to stomach, ... But he is wrong to think that people-power is the answer. There is a good reason that America’s Founding Fathers, whom Mr Carswell so admires, built up checks and balances to the will of the people: the people are often moved by short-term passions, swayed by demagogues, deceived by rumours. Crowds are often mad rather than wise."
TheEconomist  reviews  books  quotations 
april 2017 by pierredv
Cambridge economists: The art and science of economics at Cambridge | The Economist Dec 2016
"The history of a famous faculty shows that the way economics is taught depends on what you think economists are for"

“Disciplines are now defined too much by methods rather than by questions”, Low says.
TheEconomist  economics  history  quotations 
march 2017 by pierredv
Grudges and kludges: Too much federal regulation has piled up in America | The Economist March 2017
"Regulation can also impede innovation in ways that are hard to foresee. In 1973 the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), worried about loud sonic booms, banned civil aircraft from flying at supersonic speeds above America. But planes are now lighter, more aerodynamic, and contain more efficient engines, explains Eli Dourado of Mercatus. That makes them quieter. With start-ups trying to build commercially viable supersonic jets, Mr Dourado thinks the FAA should replace the ban with a maximum permissible noise level. "
US  regulation  TheEconomist  aviation 
march 2017 by pierredv
Lifelong learning is becoming an economic imperative | The Economist
"Burning Glass Technologies, a Boston-based startup that analyses labour markets by scraping data from online job advertisements, finds that the biggest demand is for new combinations of skills—what its boss, Matt Sigelman, calls “hybrid jobs”. Coding skills, for example, are now being required well beyond the technology sector. In America, 49% of postings in the quartile of occupations with the highest pay are for jobs that frequently ask for coding skills (see chart)."
TheEconomist  learning  employment 
january 2017 by pierredv
Established education providers v new contenders | The Economist, Jan 2017
"Nonetheless, the MOOCs are on to something. Education, like health care, is a complex and fragmented industry, which makes it hard to gain scale. Despite those drop-out rates, the MOOCs have shown it can be done quickly and comparatively cheaply. "

"In their search for a business model, some platforms are now focusing much more squarely on employment (though others, like the Khan Academy, are not for profit). Udacity has launched a series of nanodegrees in tech-focused courses that range from the basic to the cutting-edge. It has done so, moreover, in partnership with employers. A course on Android was developed with Google . . ."

"Coursera’s content comes largely from universities, not specialist instructors; its range is much broader; and it is offering full degrees (one in computer science, the other an MBA) as well as shorter courses. But it, too, has shifted its emphasis to employability. "

"Universities can become more modular, too. EdX has a micromasters in supply-chain management that can either be taken on its own or count towards a full masters at MIT. . . . . Enthusiasts talk of a world of “stackable credentials” in which qualifications can be fitted together like bits of Lego."
TheEconomist  MOOCs  Coursera  EdX  Udacity  education  employment 
january 2017 by pierredv
Spirituality on screen: Examining “The Young Pope” in light of contextual theology | The Economist Jan 2017
Saint Anselm considered theology to be “faith seeking understanding” (fides quaerens intellectum). The “seeking” can only be done by an individual with a particular set of views, conditioned by a particular set of circumstances. All theology, then, is contextual.
TheEconomist  theology  spirituality 
january 2017 by pierredv
The consensus crumbles | The Economist 2 Jul 2016
"The economists who foresaw the backlash against globalisation"
"These trade-offs create a “trilemma”, in Mr Rodrik’s view: societies cannot be globally integrated, completely sovereign and democratic—they can opt for only two of the three. In the late 1990s Mr Rodrik speculated that the sovereignty of nation states would be the item societies chose to discard. Yet it now seems that economic integration may be more vulnerable."
"Global integration, Messrs Alesina and Spolaore argue, reduces the economic cost of breaking up big countries, since the smaller entities that result will not be cut off from bigger markets. Meanwhile the benefits of separatism, in terms of being able to cater better to the preferences of voters, are less diminished. So the global reduction in barriers to trade since the second world war, the pair contend, at least partly explains the simultaneous growth in the number of countries, even if national fractures often involve, or lead to, political instability and violence."
"Branko Milanovic of the City University of New York believes such costs perpetuate a cycle of globalisation. He argues that periods of global integration and technological progress generate rising inequality, which inevitably triggers two countervailing forces, one beneficial and one harmful. On the one hand, governments tend to respond to rising inequality by increasing redistribution and investing in education; on the other, inequality leads to political upheaval and war. The first great era of globalisation, which ended in 1914, gave way to a long period of declining inequality, in which harmful countervailing forces played a bigger role than beneficial ones. History might repeat itself, he warns."
TheEconomist  trade  finance  economics 
august 2016 by pierredv
Pandora’s box | The Economist 13 Aug 2016 -- Recruitment and inequality
"Allowing ex-cons to hide their criminal histories increases racial inequality"
"Forcing job applicants to declare they have a criminal record—whether or not it is relevant to the post—allows employers to filter out ex-convicts, it is argued, and prevents them finding the sort of work that would help them stay out of prison. So activists across the world have called for “ban-the-box” laws, which prohibit employers from inquiring about criminal histories prior to job interviews or offers."
"As black people are more likely than whites to end up with criminal records—five times more likely in America—banning the box should help reduce bias, advocates say. But research suggests otherwise. Instead, such policies encourage racial stereotyping by employers that hinders minority groups from finding work."
"Research by other economists suggests the more information the better when it comes to giving minorities a leg up."
TheEconomist  regulation  unintended-consequences 
august 2016 by pierredv
Secrets and agents | The Economist
"George Akerlof’s 1970 paper, “The Market for Lemons”, is a foundation stone of information economics. The first in our series on seminal economic ideas"
classics  TheEconomist  economics 
august 2016 by pierredv
I’m afraid I can’t do that - Automtion | The Economist June 2016
"Reasons to be less afraid about the march of the machines"

"a new working paper by Melanie Arntz, Terry Gregory and Ulrich Zierahn of the Centre for European Economic Research paints a slightly brighter picture. The earlier study [by Osborne and Frey] quizzed experts on the chance that a particular occupation could be automated, and then totted up the proportion of American workers in such jobs. But the newer study suggests that this method was too blunt. Digging into more detailed data, the researchers find that many jobs involve bundles of tasks, only some of which machines can easily handle. "

"... the newer study finds that three-quarters of those jobs involve some group work or face-to-face interaction—tasks robot struggle with. Applying a similar analysis to all jobs, they find that only 9%, not 47%, are at high risk of automation."
TheEconomist  automation  employment 
june 2016 by pierredv
Hacked off | The Economist -- May 2016
"Guarding against rogue drones could be a legal nightmare"
Legal issues:
> "detecting a small hovering quadcopter drone at any reasonable distance requires a relatively powerful radar" which are covered by FCC rules
> "intercepting signals used by a drone might be considered an illegal “wiretap”, according to FCC regulations"
> "Jamming signals is also against the law."
TheEconomist  drones  UAS  UAV  countermeasures 
june 2016 by pierredv
Antibiotic resistance: The grim prospect - Briefing | The Economist May 2016
Already the cost to the American health-care system of dealing with infections resistant to one or more antibiotics is $20 billion a year.
TheEconomist  healthcare  antibiotics 
may 2016 by pierredv
Why do we work so hard? - Ryan Avent, 1843 Magazine, April/May 2016
via John Helm
"Our jobs have become prisons from which we don’t want to escape"
TheEconomist  1843magazine  work  employment 
april 2016 by pierredv
Which airlines should you travel with – and which should you avoid? -- Economist 1843
"Asia’s airlines are mostly excellent; Europe’s are competent; America’s are awful."
travel  TheEconomist  1843magazine 
april 2016 by pierredv
Girls and sex: Two steps forward, one back - Economist April 2016
"For anyone raising a daughter, these books do not make for easy reading. Expect plenty of stories about binge drinking, random hookups, oral sex and misjudged sexting. Intellectually, many young women believe they can achieve whatever they set their minds to, but most still struggle to obey a sexual double-standard that gives them little room between being chided as “sluts” or “prudes”. As one teenage girl tells Ms Orenstein, “Usually the opposite of a negative is a positive, but in this case it’s two negatives. So what are you supposed to do?”"
TheEconomist  sex  gender  books  reviews 
april 2016 by pierredv
Business in America: Too much of a good thing - Economist, Briefing Apr 2016
"Profits are too high. America needs a giant dose of competition"
Their prescription: "It would aim to unleash a burst of competition to shake up the comfortable incumbents of America Inc. It would involve a serious effort to remove the red tape and occupational-licensing schemes that strangle small businesses and deter new entrants. It would examine a loosening of the rules that give too much protection to some intellectual-property rights. It would involve more active, albeit cruder, antitrust actions. It would start a more serious conversation about whether it makes sense to have most of the country’s data in the hands of a few very large firms. It would revisit the entire issue of corporate lobbying, which has become a key mechanism by which incumbent firms protect themselves."
TheEconomist  usa  commerce  competition 
april 2016 by pierredv
Business in America: The problem with profits - Economist, Leader, Apr 2016
"Big firms in the United States have never had it so good. Time for more competition"
“Most of the remedies dangled by politicians to solve America’s economic woes would make things worse. ... Better to unleash a wave of competition. The first step is to take aim at cosseted incumbents. Modernising the antitrust apparatus would help. Mergers that lead to high market share and too much pricing power still need to be policed. But firms can extract rents in many ways.… The second step is to make life easier for startups and small firms.”
TheEconomist  usa  competition  commerce  opinion 
april 2016 by pierredv
Asset managers: The tide turns - Economist Mar 2016
"a study by Standard & Poor’s, which compiles the S&P 500 index, among other things, found that 91% of active managers in emerging-market equities failed to beat the relevant index over ten years, and that 95% of active bond managers underperformed. This is hardly surprising: the average manager is likely to do no better than the market, before fees. Once fees are subtracted, therefore, active managers are likely to underperform. Morningstar, a data provider, has found that high fees are indeed a predictor of underperformance"
TheEconomist  finance  investing 
april 2016 by pierredv
The driverless, car-sharing road ahead - The Economist , 9 Jan 2016
"shortly before CES opened, GM announced a $500m investment in Lyft, a ride-sharing service."

"At CES Mark Fields, Ford’s CEO, said that it would in future be “both a product and mobility company”."

"Membership of car clubs, which let people book by app for periods as short as 15 minutes, is growing by over 30% a year"

"At the same time, app-based taxi services such as Uber and its Chinese counterpart Didi Dache, which are often cheaper and more efficient than conventional cabs, are also growing quickly. Once these are able to dispense with drivers for their vehicles, the taxi, car-club and car-sharing businesses will in effect merge into one big, convenient and affordable alternative to owning a car."
automobile  automation  TheEconomist  taxis  app-economy  employment  transport 
march 2016 by pierredv
Call centres - The end of the line. Economist Feb 2016
“New technologies are poised to abolish many call-centre jobs and transform others. At best, jobs will be created more slowly in the Philippines and India; ... There might never be another Manila.” “Much of the call-handling and data-processing work sent overseas is basic and repetitive... Such routine tasks can often be done better by a machine. Blue Prism makes software “robots” that carry out such repetitive tasks just as a person would do them, without requiring a change to underlying IT systems—but much faster and more cheaply.” “Increasingly, Western companies prod customers to get in touch via e-mail or online chat. Software robots can often handle these inquiries. The cleverest systems, …, refer the most complex questions to human operators and learn from the responses. The longer they run, the better they get.” "So automation might mean fewer jobs, or at least less growth, in India and the Philippines, but more jobs in America and Europe."
employment  automation  call-centers  TheEconomist  AI 
february 2016 by pierredv
Gender, education and work: The weaker sex | The Economist
"It is a problem that would have been unimaginable a few decades ago. Until the 1960s boys spent longer and went further in school than girls, and were more likely to graduate from university. Now, across the rich world and in a growing number of poor countries, the balance has tilted the other way. Policymakers who once fretted about girls’ lack of confidence in science now spend their time dangling copies of “Harry Potter” before surly boys."
education  gender  gendergap  TheEconomist 
december 2015 by pierredv
The great chain of being sure about things - Economist 31 Oct 2015
"The technology behind bitcoin lets people who do not know or trust each other build a dependable ledger. This has implications far beyond the cryptocurrency" startups mentioned: Colu, Everledger, CoinSparks,Lighthouse, Coin Services, Ethereum,
TheEconomist  bitcoin  Ethereum 
november 2015 by pierredv
Creativity and cheating: Mwahahaha… | The Economist
"showed not only that creative people cheat more, but also that cheating seems to encourage creativity—for those who cheated in the adding-up test were even better at word association than their candle-test results predicted"
TheEconomist  cheating  creativity  psychology  experiment 
october 2015 by pierredv
Obituary: Oliver Sacks - Travels through a mindscape, Sep 2015
Oliver Sacks, neurologist, died on August 30th, aged 82 Lovely portrait photo of him
TheEconomist  obituary  Oliver-Sacks 
september 2015 by pierredv
Time to fix patents - The Economist, Aug 8th
"Ideas fuel the economy. Today’s patent systems are a rotten way of rewarding them"
TheEconomist  patents  IPR  opinion 
september 2015 by pierredv
It’s not what you spend: How to make aid to poor countries work better - Economist 23 May 2015
Now donors are trying a new approach: handing over aid only if outcomes improve. “Cash on delivery” sees donors and recipients set targets, for example to cut child mortality rates or increase the number of girls who finish school, and agree on how much will be paid if they are met. ... In cash-on-delivery schemes, recipients choose their own paths towards their targets, subject only to basic rules, such as respecting human rights.
development-assistance  TheEconomist  Norway  Brazil  climate-change  giving 
august 2015 by pierredv
Doing good by doing well: Lessons from business for charities - The Economist, 23 May 2015
"much of the new interest in such “impact-driven” philanthropy is from donors with business backgrounds who aim for the same efficiency in their giving as in their work. " " a 2007 study estimated that American households gave at least $60 billion annually to charities focused on the needs of the poor. By comparison, the Gates Foundation made grants totalling $3.9 billion last year."
charity  philanthropy  TheEconomist 
august 2015 by pierredv
The man who told us so What the West, and the Soviet Union’s victims, owe to Robert Conquest - Economist 15 Aug 2015
wonderful quotes and limericks: He despised much modern literary criticism: it used “important” freely but shunned “beautiful”. For him, the great pursuit was the “deep blue clarities of a delighting mind”.
TheEconomist  obituary 
august 2015 by pierredv
Bedside manners | The Economist
Small data has been used for years, to great effect, in home monitoring
healthcare  BigData  TheEconomist 
june 2015 by pierredv
A fearful number | The Economist
No number strikes fear into bankers’ hearts like “311”. That is the section of America’s Patriot Act of 2001 that gives the Treasury sweeping powers to act against those who facilitate financial crime, anywhere in the world, by labelling them a “primary money-laundering concern”. For firms badly behaved or unlucky enough to be targeted, a 311 designation is more often than not a death sentence. … Another alarming feature of 311s is that there is no requirement to make detailed evidence public, or even available to a court, to justify the action. It is an administrative procedure, not a judicial one. Only the Treasury knows how much evidence it has, and how reliable it is. Moreover, there is scant recourse for those targeted. Challenges can be heard by a federal court, but the bank has to show that the action was “arbitrary and capricious”, which is especially hard to prove given the secrecy of the process.
TheEconomist  finance  law  governance  adjudication  enforcement 
june 2015 by pierredv
Flash fiction: Short and sweet | The Economist April 2015
"IN THIS week's issue we review “Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories from Around the World”. What, you may wonder, does a very short story look like? Here are ten entertaining examples to flash before your eyes"
TheEconomist  fiction  writing  flash-fiction 
april 2015 by pierredv
America’s bureaucracy: Sins of commissions | The Economist aug 2014
Review of Philip Hamburger's new book "Is Administrative Law Unlawful?" The first large federal breach in the tripartite legal system came with the creation of the Interstate Commerce Commission ... That this approach would come at a cost was no secret. [Woodrow] Wilson worried that Prussian-style administration could “suffocate” America’s dynamism. Another supporter, Roscoe Pound, the highly influential dean of Harvard Law School, wrote in 1920 that the “genius of administrative action through commissions endangers the doctrine of the supremacy of law.” He was prescient. Many federal agencies now have the power to create, adjudicate and execute what are in effect laws, but are not actually the creation of Congress or the courts. “Americans”, Mr Hamburger writes, “must live under a dual system of government, one part established by the Constitution, and another circumventing it.”
US  government  regulation  agencies  books  TheEconomist  Philip.Hamburger 
august 2014 by pierredv
sin | More Intelligent Life
Seven essays about the seven deadliest sins
TheEconomist  writing  sin 
june 2014 by pierredv
Difference Engine: The internet of nothings | The Economist May 2014
"Devising sensors and algorithms to handle the front- and back-ends of the IoT are the easy part. Unfortunately, few developers are tackling the really difficult bit in the middle—the myriad infrastructural gaps that lie between the sensors in things at the edge of the internet, and the data collection and analysis performed by servers in the cloud at the centre." "As a result, it seems two quite separate IoTs are emerging, each with its own customers and characteristics. One, largely invisible to the outside world, is an industrial-grade network—which may, or may not, run over the internet. This enterprise-class IoT is progressing steadily and reaping real rewards. . . . That is not the case with the consumer-based IoT, an extension of the promised smart home, which aims to serve the needs of private individuals. Lacking the end-to-end integration and expertise that supports the enterprise IoT, the consumer IoT is shaping up to become one of the biggest sources of frustration..."
IoT  internet  trends  TheEconomist  opinion  hacking  cybersecurity 
may 2014 by pierredv
Computer security: Divided we stand | The Economist May 2014
Making software more hack-resistant by adding diversity to code at compile time
TheEconomist  cybersecurity  hacking  programming 
may 2014 by pierredv
Old Mexico lives on | The Economist Feb 2014
"On February 2nd 1848, following a short and one-sided war, Mexico agreed to cede more than half its territory to the United States. An area covering most of present-day Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah, plus parts of several other states, was handed over to gringolandia. The rebellious state of Tejas, which had declared its independence from Mexico in 1836, was recognised as American soil too. But a century and a half later, communities have proved more durable than borders. The counties with the highest concentration of Mexicans (as defined by ethnicity, rather than citizenship) overlap closely with the area that belonged to Mexico before the great gringo land-grab of 1848. Some are recent arrivals; others trace their roots to long before the map was redrawn. They didn’t jump the border—it jumped them."
identity  mexico  US  geograonophy  ethnicity  history  TheEconomist  maps 
february 2014 by pierredv
South African whites: Braai, the beloved country | The Economist Nov 2013
"The former ruling class has withered but outside of politics a lot of whites are still doing pretty well" "Perhaps unsurprisingly in the wake of apartheid, the racial climate is still often toxic. White guilt, black anger, plus prejudice and misinformation on all sides, still cloud South African whites’ existence." "Crime may be worse than under apartheid, yet most whites are relatively well protected. They make up 9% of the country’s 52m people but fewer than 2% of murder victims. Racially motivated bloodshed is fairly rare. " "White poverty is growing. Perhaps 10% live below the poverty line. Destitute whites in rags beg on street corners. All-white squatter camps have sprung up, with residents in shacks made of sheet metal. They survive on odd jobs and complain that poor blacks get more help from the government."
TheEconomist  crime  poverty  Afrikaans  race  quotations  South-Africa 
january 2014 by pierredv
The recorded world: Every step you take | The Economist
The Economist comes out strongly against personal video surveillance: "This is where one of this newspaper’s strongly held beliefs—that technological progress should generally be welcomed, not feared—runs up against an even deeper impulse, in favour of liberty. Freedom has to include some right to privacy: if every move you make is being chronicled, liberty is curtailed."
TheEconomist  privacy  surveillance  opinion  editorial 
december 2013 by pierredv
Criminal justice (2): The new debtors’ prisons | The Economist
report/critique of getting offenders to pay for enforcement. Quote: "That Brennan Centre study found that nine of the 15 American states with the largest prison populations permit “collection fees” on criminal-justice debt, which are often payable to private firms. Only one of the 15 (Texas) exempts penniless defendants from additional collection fees. All this occurs routinely, though the Supreme Court ruled in 1983 that before a court jails someone for failing to pay a fine or fee, it must first ensure that his failure to pay was wilful—that he could have paid but chose not to. Jailing someone because he cannot pay violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause. Similarly, 13 of the 15 states studied by the Brennan Centre charge defendants public-defender fees ($50 for a misdemeanour and $100 for a felony defence in Florida; in Virginia, as much as $1,235 for some felonies), even though the Supreme Court ruled in 1963 that the Sixth Amendment required courts to provid"
prison  TheEconomist  ACLU  Brennan  Center  for  Justice 
december 2013 by pierredv
Colonial museums: A different story | The Economist
A glorious opening paragraph: QUAINT is not an obvious word to use about America—a country built on revolution, restless expansion and the unabashed pursuit of profits. Yet for years a cloud of quaintness hung about many of the country’s founding-places. Museums and historic sites depicted the birth of the United States as a morality tale and an Anglo-Saxon family dispute, pitting tyrannical King George and his redcoats against freedom-loving colonial subjects (helped, just a bit, by the French).
TheEconomist  writing  history  USA 
december 2013 by pierredv
Schumpeter: The mindfulness business | The Economist
ciritique of mindfulness business: "The biggest problem with mindfulness is that it is becoming part of the self-help movement—and hence part of the disease that it is supposed to cure. Gurus talk about “the competitive advantage of meditation”. Pupils come to see it as a way to get ahead in life. And the point of the whole exercise is lost. What has parading around in pricey lululemon outfits got to do with the Buddhist ethic of non-attachment to material goods? And what has staring at a computer-generated dot got to do with the ancient art of meditation? Western capitalism seems to be doing rather more to change eastern religion than eastern religion is doing to change Western capitalism."
mindfulness  meditation  buddhism  business  TheEconomist  Schumpeter  opinion 
december 2013 by pierredv
Working hours: Get a life | The Economist Sep 2013
"For the countries for which data are available the vast majority of people work fewer hours than they did in 1990. And it seems that more productive—and, consequently, better-paid—workers put in less time at the office. The Greeks are some of the most hardworking in the OECD, putting in over 2,000 hours a year on average. Germans, on the other hand, are comparative slackers, working about 1,400 hours each year. But German productivity is about 70% higher."
employment  Greece  OECD  TheEconomist  Germany  productivity 
november 2013 by pierredv
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