I’m warning you now, it’s a very different kind of episode of Unfinished Business this week as Rachel Andrew and I talk about our feelings on the referendum result for the UK to leave the EU. We talk about the issues that will affect us, you and our businesses in the coming months and years and what we’re already doing to help mitigate them.
Tagged with “economics” (35)
As Kevin Kelly tells it, the hippie revolution and the computer revolution are nearly one and the same.
David Autor, Professor of Economics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), joins Social Europe Editor-in-Chief Henning Meyer to discuss the impact of technological changes on the world of work and the wider economy. The discussion highlights why washing machines will not go to the moon any time soon and why the developing world might have more to fear from the digital revolution than rich countries.
Around the country, people are using on-demand services in place of going to brick-and-mortar businesses. Joy Cardin speaks to a guest who says that on-demand services are increasingly isolating and are creating shut-ins of some customers.
The popularity of fondue wasn’t an accident. It was planned by a cartel of Swiss cheese makers, which ruled the Swiss economy for 80 years.
Where do the boldest innovations, with the deepest consequences for society, come from?
Many business leaders, entrepreneurs, and libertarians claim that the private sector leads the way always, and government at best follows by decades and at worst impedes the process with bureaucratic regulations.
Mariana Mazzucato proves otherwise. Many of the most profound innovations—from the Internet and GPS to nanotech and biotech —had their origin in government programs developed specifically to explore innovations that might eventually attract private sector interest. Ignoring this entrepreneurial risk taking role of government has fuelled a very different story about governments role in the economy, and also fuelled the dysfunctional dynamic whereby risk is socialised—with tax payers absorbing the greatest risk—- but rewards are not. Mazzucato will argue that socialization of risk, privatization of rewards is not only bad for the future of innovation eco-systems but also a key driver of inequality. What to do about it?
Mazzucato is a professor of the Economics of Innovation at Sussex University and author of The Entrepreneurial State: debunking private vs. public sector myths.
On taking thought
Before a packed house, Kahneman began with the distinction between what he calls mental “System 1”—-fast thinking, intuition—-and “System 2”—-slow thinking, careful consideration and calculation.
System 1 operates on the illusory principle: What you see is all there is.
System 2 studies the larger context.
System 1 works fast (hence its value) but it is unaware of its own process.
Conclusions come to you without any awareness of how they were arrived at.
System 2 processes are self-aware, but they are lazy and would prefer to defer to the quick convenience of System 1.
“Fast thinking,” he said, “is something that happens to you. Slow thinking is something you do.“
System 2 is effortful
The self-control it requires can be depleted by fatigue.
Research has shown that when you are tired it is much harder to perform a task such as keeping seven digits in mind while solving a mental puzzle, and you are more impulsive (I’ll have some chocolate cake!).
You are readier to default to System 1.
“The world in System 1 is a lot simpler than the real world,” Kahneman said, because it craves coherence and builds simplistic stories.
“If you don’t like Obama’s politics, you think he has big ears.”
System 1 is blind to statistics and focuses on the particular rather than the general: “People are more afraid of dying in a terrorist incident than they are of dying.”
When faced with a hard question such as, “Should I hire this person?” we convert it to an easier question: “Do I like this person?“
(System 1 is good at predicting likeability.)
The suggested answer pops up, we endorse it, and believe it.
And we wind up with someone affable and wrong for the job.
The needed trick is knowing when to distrust the easy first answer and bear down on serious research and thought.
Organizations can manage that trick by requiring certain protocols and checklists that invoke System 2 analysis.
Individual professionals (athletes, firefighters, pilots) often use training to make their System 1 intuition extremely expert in acting swiftly on a wider range of signals and options than amateurs can handle.
It is a case of System 2 training System 1 to act in restricted circumstances with System 2 thoroughness at System 1 speed.
It takes years to do well.
Technology can help, the way a heads-up display makes it possible for pilots to notice what is most important for them to act on even in an emergency.
The Web can help, Kahneman suggested in answer to a question from the audience, because it makes research so easy.
“Looking things up exposes you to alternatives.
This is a profound change.”
Cory Doctorow (@doctorow) is a essayist, novelist, blogger, and co-editor of BoingBoing, and he is exhausting. The man is a production machine, churning out excellent book after excellent book as if writing were a job instead of something to agonize and procrastinate over. As of this writing, his latest books are Homeland and Pirate Cinema, and, with Charlie Stross, he wrote Rapture of the Nerds. Cory has also long been an advocate for the personal ownership of culture, demanding corporations and governments keep their hands off what we make and their noses out of our individual use and modification of media and hardware. To that end, he has fought endless wars against restrictive legislation.
Websites we mention: Cory worked for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a non-profit that defends individual rights and freedoms. Cory was part of the Humble Ebook Bundle, which put together several science fiction and fantasy books into a single name-your-price bundle in which the buyer chose how much of their payment went to authors and how much to three charities. Amazon has a price-matching arrangement when authors pick a 70%-royalty arrangement that allows them to match the lowest ebook price anywhere on the Net for any book they sell for Kindle. BookScan tracks retail sales through integration with point-of-sale and online sales systems. My father and I run Books & Writers, a book-rank tracking service. Amazon has provided BookScan data to authors who register with them. At least one book distributor in 1996 was relying on IBM’s PROFS on a mainframe. Cory documented in painstaking detail how his With a Little Help story collection was funded and produced. Artist friends created a set of four covers for print editions so that one could choose among them. The book was designed by John D. Berry, a friend of mine and one of the world’s best typographers. (His wife is Eileen Gunn, a science-friend and incubator of science-fiction writers.) There’s a difference between the barter economy and the gift economy, and Cory explains the distinction. Andy Baio, who is part of the life’s blood of creativity on the Internet, released Kind of Bloop, a collection of 8-bit music, that had an homage of a famous Miles Davis photo as part of the cover. Despite it rather obviously being precisely within the reasonable confines of transformative work, it would have required exensive litigation. Andy settled to avoid destroying his family finances. The partly crowdfunded movie Stripped had a second round of money raising to cover the clearance rights for some of the copyrighted material the filmmakers wanted to include. Cory pointed out that the Stanford Center for Internet and Society can help a filmmaker who wants to assert fair-use rights over material obtain the errors and omissions insurance required to have a film shown in a theater and released in other ways. Ursula K. LeGuin likely wouldn’t have a found a publisher who would have been willing to let her quote from The Beatles’ “A Little Help from My Friends” today, a critical component of her The Lathe of Heaven. In fact, the 1980 PBS movie of the book couldn’t be re-released for many years because of both negotiating with the original cast and crew, and obtaining rights. The Beatles’ original version of the song was replaced with a cover in the re-release. (Cory notes that LeGuin doesn’t like fair use of her own work.) Aereo is a Barry Diller-controlled company that is selling access to tiny HDTV antennas over the Internet to skirt rules about re-broadcasting. It’s clever. So clever that a dissenting judge in an appeals panel was rather unhappy about it. Fox filed takedown notices under the DMCA for Cory’s book Homeland on various sites asserting it was the rightsholder, as opposed to being the rightsholder for its TV series Homeland. Jaron Lanier once told tales of virtual-reality goggles and the future. He now tells different stories. The Infocom Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (H2G2) game may still be played. The Incomparable podcast did an episode on Infocom games. Sony once infected computers with a rootkit to manage copy protection for its music CDs. The software hid itself and degraded Windows, and it took a long while for Sony to tell the truth and make amends. Defibrillators can be easily hacked. The Analog Reconversion Discussion Group was formed to plug the “analog hole,” which was a way to copy digital playback through an analog output. Scott Turow wrote a spectacularly uninformed and self-serving Op-Ed in the New York Times that conflated a number of different factors, mostly specious and relatively absurd, about how authors were getting a squeeze on royalties. The issue at hand was the Supreme Court allowing the importation of foreign editions of books. Such editions may be sold cheaply abroad, but also are often made more cheaply and thus not as appealing to American buyers. Turow is head of the Author’s Guild, which purports to speak for all authors, but only a tiny number of writers belong relative to all published authors. (I used to.) The Registrar of Copyrights may approve temporary and limited exemptions to the DMCA, but these are reviewed every three years. RealDVD got pulled from the market by RealNetworks in order to avoid disturbing studio partners. Kaleidescape makes servers that let users rip CDs, DVDs, and Blu-Ray and then space shift them around a house. “No, that’s just perfectly normal paranoia, everyone in the universe has that.” Many people who are competent suffer from Imposter Syndrome. A comic came out after Cory and I spoke about the day jobs of poets.
Robots and algorithms can now build cars, write articles, and translate texts — all work that once required a human. So what will we humans do for work? Andrew McAfee looks at recent labor data to say: We ain’t seen nothing yet.
Tracing globalization back to its roots.
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