Laundry folding robots are coming. One version, Laundroid, builds on the idea of a laundroid hive mind: the units get smarter, collectively, by sharing knowledge about folding:
Laundroid has an insert box and four smaller drawers. Dump in up to 30 items of clean clothing and it goes to work.
“The robot arm picks up the clothes one by one and then artificial intelligence recognizes if this is a T-shirt or pants or pajamas,” Shin Sakane, Laundroid’s inventor, said in a Skype interview from Japan.
The biggest technical challenge for both Laundroid and FoldiMate is for the machine to know what it is holding. Because clothes are shapeless in a pile, and the robot arm will grab each item sometimes by the edge, sometimes by a midpoint, “there will be no times that a garment will be picked up in the same shape,” Guy Hayazaki, a Laundroid spokesman, said.
The Laundroids will work as a team. The concept is that, using a Wi-Fi connection, the networked robot brain will connect to a server that is constantly learning best folding methods for each type of clothing by downloading data from all the other Laundroids. This hive mind promises to be able to differentiate between T-shirts, overalls and rompers, fold each according to its needs and sort them into separate piles for members of the household.
Slowly. In the first-generation Laundroid, image analysis of each garment takes up to 10 minutes; folding only a minute or two. But that adds up to nearly a full workday for a full load.
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Since the 1990s, the emphasis on the economic significance of culture and creativity by policy makers, urban planners and researchers has contributed to the global development of (as well as debate on) the creative economy. This movement has particularly taken off in China alongside the transition from the ‘Made in China’ campaign to the ‘Created in China’ campaign. In recent years, the focus of creative industries development in China has shifted from the convergence of culture and technology, and now also includes the convergence of culture, creativity and design with related industries, covering almost all of the sectors of the national economy. Meanwhile, a movement of ‘mass entrepreneurship and innovation’ is being promoted by redefining the international maker culture. In this context, the article investigates the kinship between the maker movement and the creative economy from the perspectives of communities, spaces, activities, policies and innovation, and whether these conjure up a transition from ‘Created in China’ to ‘Intelligent Manufacturing in China’. And for the creative economy, this raises the question: is it turning to a technological future?More here
Ask this question often.
Several times a day, at least.
Endogeneity is a fancy term for confusing cause and effect. For not being clear about causation and correlation.
It's one reason why smart people make so many mistakes. We think A leads to B, so more A gets more B. While A and B may have been related in the past, though, it's not at all clear that improving A is going to do anything about B.
There is, for example, an extraordinarily high correlation between per capita cheese consumption and the risk of being strangled by your bedsheets while you sleep:
That doesn't mean that eating less cheese is going to help you not die in bed.
More on Alexa:
Alexa’s new avatar: Financial advisor. A partnership with Amazon.com Inc. allows select UBS Group AG wealth-management clients in Europe to ask the virtual-assistant financial and economic questions. In response, they will hear the view of UBS’s chief investment office without having to call their financial adviser or check online for a report. But that’s just the beginning, says the WSJ’s Veronica Dagher.
In the not-too-distant future. Wealth-management firms hope to automate the more mundane tasks of booking appointments or answering clients’
AI calling on line one. Artificial intelligence could also learn over time when a client is most likely to call their adviser and then recommend a pre-emptive phone call.
Not one financial advisor, but many. The most groundbreaking science could create an army of virtual financial advisers that learn clients’ habits and employ predictive analytics to tackle complicated tasks such as setting personalized goals.
Ana Swanson takes a look at the surprisingly low growth in wages, stuck in low gear at 2.5%, the same level as in 2009 when unemployment was double today’s 5%. It should be much higher, according to economic thought. But maybe there’s another mystery behind the mystery: productivity.
We’re not getting much more productive
Other economists find different reasons for lagging wage growth. One is that gains in productivity — a measure of how much a given worker or machine can produce — have also been sluggish of late. That is a worrying sign, since productivity gains are what really determines improvements in wealth and living standards over generations.
But blaming productivity for slow wages is not a full explanation, because economists in turn debate the reasons behind sluggish productivity. Some fault measurement issues. Some point a finger at government policies that have failed to encourage investments in machinery and technology. Others say it could just be because of natural ebbs and flows in innovation.
In addition to trends in productivity, weak growth in wages may reflect the difficulty workers have asserting their bargaining position in the current environment, Lawson said.
A dramatic decline in unionization in recent decades has left workers less able to bargain with company owners for pay increases. At the same time, globalization has allowed companies to be more mobile than ever before. If labor gets too expensive in one location, companies can just move.
Neil Irwin dug into productivity recently, as I reviewed in Why is Productivity such a mystery?:
I recommend reading Irwin’s analysis, but to summarize, he basically suggests three scenarios:
1) Depressing — Irwin doesn’t use the term ‘postnormal’ but he should have. In this scenario, we are in new territory where productivity is inherently lower than in the past, and will remain so.
He doesn’t say it, but the nature of the modern world, where everything has become deeply connected to everything else, may have incorporated a subtle friction into the economic engine. As a result, it may require greater investment to make any headway in productivity.
Also, as Irwin points out, new ideas are getting harder to find (see The Hidden Economics of Ideas) so the level of investment and time needed to find breakthroughs is steadily increasing.
2) Neutral — Perhaps we just don’t know how to measure ‘productivity’, anymore. Or said differently, the nature of work may have changed so much that the tools we use don’t measure all the outputs.
3) Optimistic — While companies may be making greater investments in some areas — like driverless cars — the impact and payoff from those investments is all in the future. Additionally, more effort may be directed toward changing the way we work, or the structure of delivering value to customers. Maybe this is an era of transformation, where only after a long hard slog will we finally see the rewards of efforts made in the present.
The reality is that how and what we consider productivity is changing faster than new techniques to improve it, so we need to consider how to hold and use the ruler to measure productivity, because the ruler is changing at least as fast as everything else.
Ana Swanson puts the lie to Mick Mulvaney’s mumbo jumbo about an additional 1% GDP by putting back to work those on the sidelines of employment, but the problem is it’s only about 6 million additional bodies:
It’s fair to ask how much growth this process could generate. But unfortunately, when you dig into the numbers, it appears to fall very short of the kind of growth Mulvaney discussed.
Just look at the overall figures. There are about 160 million Americans in the labor force, who together generate GDP growth of just under 2 percent. How much can another 6 million people do to raise the growth rate another 50 percent?
“The math just doesn’t add up,” said Scott Anderson, chief economist at Bank of the West Economics.
As Josh Feinman, chief global economist at Deutsche Asset Management, points out, it’s highly unlikely the Trump administration can move all of those 6 million people into the labor force, anyway — for the same reason that it can never fully empty the ranks of the unemployed.
“Even in a really strong labor market — just firing on all cylinders, white hot — why is the unemployment rate at 3 percent? The reason is you’ve got frictional unemployment,” he said. “There are jobs that people don’t know about. They might be in a different part of the country, or maybe they have a different skill set. So even in a labor market that’s, as I said, running flat out, the [U3] unemployment rate is not going to be zero.”
I don’t know why we even parse this bullshit trying to find some kernel of reasoning in it. They are just making numbers up to justify the tax cuts and social safety net cuts they have decided they want. It’s not economics, it’s the culmination of winner-take-all thinking, where the White House and its backers, our conquerers, are treating the country and our economy like the spoils of war.
Jed Kolko makes some observations about urban density, but he doesn’t recall – or never knew – that density is a force multiplier, not just aesthetics:
Be skeptical when you hear about the return to glory of the American city — that idealized vision of rising skyscrapers and bustling, dense downtowns. Contrary to perception, the nation is continuing to become more suburban, and at an accelerating pace. The prevailing pattern is growing out, not up, although with notable exceptions.
On the other hand, as anyone who has tried to rent an apartment or buy a condo in a big city knows, housing prices are climbing faster in urban neighborhoods than in the suburbs. And urban neighborhoods are younger and richer than they used to be, with more educated residents and fewer school-age children. Higher-wage jobs are increasingly in city centers, with urban retail catering to these well-paid workers and residents.
This combination of faster population growth in outlying areas and bigger price increases in cities points to limited housing supply as a curb on urban growth, pushing people out to the suburbs. It’s a reminder that where people live reflects not only what they want — but also what’s available and what it costs.
However, these broad national trends hide divergent local ones. A few large metro areas did, in fact, become more urban between 2010 and 2016. Of the 51 metro areas with more than one million people, average neighborhood density rose in 10 and fell in 41, according to census population data and U.S. Postal Service counts of occupied housing units. That is, four-fifths of large metro areas have become more suburban since 2010, while only one-fifth have become more urban.
This article is quite factual, but fails at connecting the dots about the outcomes of density.
Geoffrey West and Luis Bettencourt revealed the relationship between urban density and, on one hand, a decrease in physical resources per capita and on the other in increase in the output of social products, like patents and salary levels:
Luis Bettencourt and Geoffrey West, Bigger Cities Make Do With Less (Scientific American, September 2011)
This new, more quantitative science of cities is becoming possible because of the increasing availability of information—official statistics as well as novel measures of human and social activity—on cities and metropolitan areas worldwide.
By sifting through this flood of data, covering thousands of cities around the world, we have unveiled several mathematical “laws” that explain how concentrating people in one place affects economic activity, return on infrastructure investment and social vitality. Despite the rich diversity of metropolitan regions across the U.S., China, Brazil and other nations, we found a remarkable universality in the way that socioeconomic characteristics increase with a city’s population. For example, if the population of a city is doubled, whether from 40,000 to 80,000 or from four million to eight million, we systematically see an average increase of around 15 percent in measures such as wages and patents produced per capita. If eight million people all live in one city, their economic output will typically be about 15 percent greater than if the same eight million people lived in two cities of half the size. We call this effect “superlinear scaling”: the socioeconomic properties of cities increase faster than a direct (or linear) relation to their population would predict.
The data also reveal that cities’ use of resources follows a similar, though inverted, law. When the size of a city doubles, its material infrastructure—anything from the number of gas stations to the total length of its pipes, roads or electrical wires—does not. Instead these quantities rise more slowly than population size: a city of eight million typically needs 15 percent less of the same infrastructure than do two cities of four million each. This pattern is referred to as sublinear scaling. On average, the bigger the city, the more efficient its use of infrastructure, leading to important savings in materials, energy and emissions.
What we can say with certainty, however, is that increased population promotes more intense and frequent social interactions, occurrences that correlate with higher rates of productivity and innovation, as well as economic pressures that weed out inefficiencies. In a city with high rents, only activities that add substantial value can be profitable. These economic pressures push urbanites to come up with new forms of organizations, products and services that carry more value added. In turn, higher profitability, excellence and choice tend to attract more talent to the city, pushing rents higher still, fueling the need to find yet more productive activities. This feedback mechanism, in a nutshell, is the principal reason cities accelerate innovation, while diversifying and intensifying social and economic activity.
So the real issue behind the increased or decreased densities of cities is not some lifestyle choice about the attractiveness of hipster cafes versus low-cost suburban real estate, it’s really about economic inputs and outputs: denser cities innovate more and consume less, per capita, than less dense ones.
It’s worth noting that this slip in density is correlated with low gasoline prices, so that the costs of commuting longer distances are low, too, with the exception of all the externalities built into low gas prices, like pollution, sprawl, wasted time, unnecessary parking, increased infrastructure, and so on. If we taxed gas to cover those externalities, density in those sprawling cities would likely start flowing the opposite way.
So if you believe increased innovation and decreasing energy use are socially positive, then you should lean toward policies that would encourage density. And those who live or move to areas where density is falling, just be aware that the number of patents is also falling, along with your future salary.
Uber continues to undermine its credibility – if any is left at this point – by a seemingly endless stream of gaffes. The newest: tens or hundreds of millions owed to drivers based on how Uber treats revenue and taxes, which the company says it will repay:
The ride-hailing service said it had been taking its cut from a figure including state taxes, rather than a pretax fare. If a passenger handed over $20, and $2 of that represented taxes, Uber’s commission was a percentage of the full $20, not of $18, as it should have been. Even at pocket change per ride, the cumulative difference was vast.
“We are committed to paying every driver every penny they are owed — plus interest — as quickly as possible,” Rachel Holt, the company’s regional general manager for the United States and Canada, said in a statement.
But Uber’s handling of passenger payments raises questions about a larger legal issue, potentially far more substantial: not the pocket-change difference in the commission but whether that entire $2 in taxes is improperly coming out of the drivers’ wallets.
Uber’s contract with drivers appears to allow the company to deduct only its 25 percent commission, not taxes, from their fares. But a lawsuit filed by a drivers’ advocacy group in New York last year said the company was making its drivers swallow the tax burden — a practice the group said amounted to wage theft.
Documents examined by The New York Times also point to such a practice, which could have cost drivers hundreds of millions of dollars.
Bhairavi Desai, executive director of the advocacy group, the New York Taxi Workers Alliance, said that “from the beginning, Uber built its business model on the assumption that ‘we hate taxes,’” and that it had long “passed this tax on to drivers.”
In response to Uber’s acknowledgment of error on Tuesday, the advocacy group said in a statement that “Uber hasn’t just wrongly calculated its commission; it has been unlawfully taking the cost of sales tax and an injured-worker surcharge right out of driver pay.”
In New York, the company must reckon with a state sales tax of nearly 9 percent per ride, as well as a 2.5 percent “black car fund” surcharge to cover workers’ compensation and death benefits.
This shows once again that Uber always deals from the bottom with a deck that they’ve rigged.
Trump’s crew is increasingly looking like a gang that can’t shoot straight. Most recent a $2 trillion math error where they count the savings of the miracle tax plan twice:
One of the ways Donald Trump’s budget claims to balance the budget over a decade, without cutting defense or retirement spending, is to assume a $2 trillion increase in revenue through economic growth. This is the magic of the still-to-be-designed Trump tax cuts. But wait — if you recall, the magic of the Trump tax cuts is also supposed to pay for the Trump tax cuts. So the $2 trillion is a double-counting error.
Trump has promised to enact “the biggest tax cut in history.” Trump’s administration has insisted, however, that the largest tax cut in history will not reduce revenue, because it will unleash growth. That is itself a wildly fanciful assumption. But that assumption has already become a baseline of the administration’s budget math. Trump’s budget assumes the historically yuge tax cuts will not lose any revenue for this reason — the added growth it will supposedly generate will make up for all the lost revenue.
But then the budget assumes $2 trillion in higher revenue from growth in order to achieve balance after ten years. So the $2 trillion from higher growth is a double-count. It pays for the Trump cuts, and then it pays again for balancing the budget. Or, alternatively, Trump could be assuming that his tax cuts will not only pay for themselves but generate $2 trillion in higher revenue. But Trump has not claimed his tax cuts will recoup more than 100 percent of their lost revenue, so it’s simply an embarrassing mistake.
It seems difficult to imagine how this administration could figure out how to design and pass a tax cut that could pay for itself when Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush failed to come anywhere close to doing so. If there is a group of economic minds with the special genius to accomplish this historically unprecedented feat, it is probably not the fiscal minds who just made a $2 trillion basic arithmetic error.
If there was any doubt that Trump & Co don’t know what the fuck they are doing, this settles it.
Hilariously, when asked about this glitch, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin responded like this:
Harwood asks Mnuchin about double-counting gimmick: “This is a preliminary document that will be refined” #FiscalSummit— David Wessel (@davidmwessel) May 23, 2017
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Raymond Loewy coined the term MAYA to describe Most Advanced Yet Acceptable when it came to futuristic design. The thinking goes that people (the amorphous term for the lumpen masses) won't accept something too advanced, so we ought to lower our standards to gain acceptance.
But mass acceptance isn't nearly as important as it used to be. Pockets of commitment and enthusiasm are more important than being tolerated or even accepted by the disinterested masses.
Our hunch is that we need to average things down if we don't want to be rejected, that we need to offer a bit less if we're hoping to make change happen. Mostly, we tell ourselves to dumb things down and pander to people who don't pay attention, are afraid of forward motion and don't care much either.
But the horizontal nature of information flow means that the opposite is now true. We can be as positive and pure and advanced as we can imagine, and some folks will follow.
If we can fall out of love with the quick mass hit, the requirement isn't to lower the bar. It's to make big promises and actually keep them.
Would you have it any other way?
Obligation to Dissent: Peter Drucker wrote the story of Alfred Sloan, the former CEO of GM, who entered a board meeting to discuss an important issue before the company. Sloan asked the opinions of his directors. When everyone agreed without comment, he immediately stopped the board meeting and said something along the lines of, “Since we’re all in agreement, it’s clear no one has considered the issue. Let us reconvene tomorrow after giving the matter appropriate thought.”
The backlash against the open office has a different tone when it’s CEOs whining: now open plan workplaces are being characterized as inefficient, and demoralizing. Anywhereism’s days might be numbered (see Ism’s):
Nearly 70% of U.S. office spaces are open-concept, according to the International Facility Management Association, compared with 64% two decades ago. Led by CEOs such as Michael Bloomberg, AB InBev NV’s Carlos Brito and Zappos.com Inc.’s Tony Hsieh, more executives have ditched the corner office for an open desk to project camaraderie with the masses.
But as employees and managers squeeze closer together, productivity and morale have suffered. In a review of more than 100 studies of work environments, British researchers found that despite improving communication in some instances, open-office spaces hurt workers’ motivation and ability to focus.
Employees seeking privacy resort to conference-room squatting or ducking into “focus” booths, quiet refuges that companies are increasingly building into open offices.
CEOs have the license to go further. For seven years, Blake Harvey and his employees at his New York communications firm, Lawrence Blake Group, toiled together in co-working spaces. His staff sometimes felt self-conscious working under their boss’s gaze. When he was worried about the business, there was no hiding. “If I was a little down, they could see that, and that affects the whole team,” he said.
“When you’re in a territory that’s clearly yours, you perform better,” says Sally Augustin, an environmental psychologist and principal at La Grange Park, Ill.-based consulting firm Design With Science.
Even watching a boss and co-worker move into a separate space for a meeting can be distracting, she adds.
“People’s minds never go to ‘Bob must be getting a promotion,’” she says. “It’s, ‘Bob must be in trouble. This is the beginning of the end for Bob.’”
Steelcase’s Jim Keane says having his pod isn’t about status or privilege. ‘This is a space where you do certain kinds of work.’
>He has since moved to a 5-by-8-foot pod in the company’s innovation center. He retreats to it when he needs to focus or switch mental gears between meetings. Otherwise, he is out on the floor, with customers and employees, or in other enclaves for meetings.
“It’s not about status or privilege,” he says of the pod, a prototype with still-exposed two-by-fours. “This is a space where you do certain kinds of work.”
Well, it’s not about privilege when everybody can retreat to a pod in the innovation center in order to actually get some work down without distractions.
good primer on a long list of cognitive biases
Jim Hackett does not seem to be your average CEO. At Steelcase, he brought in the anthropologists to rethink office furniture for a new way of work:
He joined Steelcase in 1980, rose through the sales and marketing ranks and showed a feel for future trends. Long before it became the norm in American offices, he had his managers cluster their workstations together without walls or dividers to facilitate teamwork.
When Steelcase slumped in 1994, he was named chief executive, at age 39. He tried to get the company’s executives and designers to think more about furniture’s full role in a working environment, bringing in sociologists and anthropologists to help designers understand how people work, Mr. Keane said.
Under his leadership, Steelcase introduced new lines designed for open-plan offices, video screens and work teams. Along the way, Mr. Hackett built up a network of contacts in the companies using new work environments, especially in the technology industry, relationships that would come in handy later at Ford.
Might be a good time to buy Ford stock, since it lost 40% of its market value in the past three years.
We have to read contemplative conservatives at times, even when their conclusions are wrong, because their observations are often perceptive.
This election, and indeed the past several elections, should therefore leave conservatives concerned about the appeal of the case we have tended to make to the country, and about the pertinence of our views and arguments to contemporary American problems. In this sense, the challenge that 2016 presents to conservatives in particular is not a function of questions about Donald Trump’s character or personal fitness for the presidency, though those questions should certainly concern all Americans. The distinct additional challenge for conservatives is, rather, a function of the way in which Trump’s victory highlighted the weakness of the self-understanding of conservatives as masters and possessors of the Republican Party and the inadequacies of the arguments, policies, and ideals that conservatives have sought to champion. The election has thus left conservatives in a position to pursue the policy agenda we have trumpeted for years and yet should leave us unsure about whether it is the right agenda for this time in America, or the one that voters desire. This year should leave us asking hard questions, which is not what winning usually feels like.
The reasons for this peculiar ambiguity cut to the heart of the lessons that 2016 should help America learn and force us to confront some challenging implications of this election—challenging for both Trump’s backers and his critics on the right. Confronting those implications should also mean confronting an always challenging and fundamental set of questions: What are conservatives for now? And how can we best be of service to the country?
Failing to ask these questions has contributed much to the troubles facing conservatives. And asking them now might be the way to use the exceptional opportunity conservatives suddenly face and to mitigate the grave dangers that have come along with it.
This perceptive description helps clarify some of the challenge today’s right confronts. But perhaps it is not quite correct to say that the Americans who coalesced around Trump (especially before he was the Republican nominee, when they had other right-leaning options) cannot be named or identified. They are, in many respects, a coalition of the alienated. Trump’s appeal, and his victory, had a great deal to do with his ability to give voice to a growing (and in key respects surely justified) alienation from the dominant streams of the culture, economy, and politics in America.
“Alienated” need not be a putrid, Marxist designation. The great twentieth-century sociologist Robert Nisbet defined alienation as “the state of mind that can find a social order remote, incomprehensible, or fraudulent; beyond real hope or desire; inviting apathy, boredom, or even hostility.” This is precisely how Trump and many of his most vocal supporters frequently spoke about America over the past year.
The vague feeling that what had become of our society was somehow remote and incomprehensible—that it was insane, or at the very least not America as we knew it—was a prominent feature of the kind of frustration that many early Trump supporters articulated. The idea that there was something fraudulent about our social order and its institutions was everywhere in Trump’s rhetoric—directed at various points to the electoral process, the media, the political parties, the legal system, the judiciary, the IRS, the FBI, and on and on among our institutions. The sense that this incomprehensible fraud perpetrated on the public by its own elites had robbed America of hope was key to the willingness of many on the right to overlook Trump’s own shortcomings and welcome the potential for disruption that he introduced.
Trump’s appeal to American greatness struck a patriotic nerve among some of his supporters and was certainly received in some quarters as a much-needed call to restore the nation’s dignity and strength. In this respect, it appealed to some sentiments, and to some voters, frequently drawn to conservative politics. But what was new about Trump’s appeal, and what ultimately seemed most powerful about it, had more to do with a kind of partial reaction against the character of liberalism (indeed liberal democracy) in our time. It was, to be sure, a reaction in the name of the honor of the citizens today’s elites treat with contempt, the workers today’s economy treats as dispensable, the traditions today’s culture treats as primitive. It was a partial reaction, however, because Trump generally channeled the frustrations of these Americans but not their aspirations. He shared their resentments far more than their commitments, let alone their piety or their devotions, and so he tended to translate their yearnings into alienation of the sort that drew many other Americans to him.
Alienation can sometimes make for a powerful organizing principle for an electoral coalition, especially when hostility overpowers apathy among the sentiments it breeds. But it does not make for a natural organizing principle for a governing coalition. The sense of lacking a stake in the nation’s governing institutions—the feeling that those institutions are remote and unresponsive—makes it difficult to know what to do when they fall into your possession.
Angelo Codevilla, the renowned scholar of international relations, argued in September that, regardless of who won the election, “the republic established by America’s Founders is probably gone.” This is a function of the path the country had long traveled. “Electing either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump cannot change that trajectory. Because each candidate represents constituencies hostile to republicanism, each in its own way, these individuals are not what this election is about.” Rather, the election was about somehow breaking out of that path and at least creating the minimal possibility of a reversal—a risk worth taking given that the only alternative was the conclusion of a terminal decline.
At the end of his final book, American Babylon, in which he articulated many of the deepest concerns about our culture and society that animate many on the right, the late Richard John Neuhaus acknowledged the permanent temptation to see our own time as the exception to this rule, and noted the importance of resisting it. He wrote:
We seek to be faithful in a time not of our choosing but of our testing. We resist the hubris of presuming that it is the definitive time and place of historical promise or tragedy, but it is our time and place. It is a time of many times: a time for dancing, even if to the songs of Zion in a foreign land; a time for walking together, unintimidated when we seem to be a small and beleaguered band; a time for rejoicing in momentary triumphs, and for defiance in momentary defeats; a time for persistence in reasoned argument, never tiring in proposing to the world a more excellent way.
We cannot dismiss the widespread alienation and despair laid bare by this election as simply an error. One of the virtues of democracy is that it forces us to take the worries of our fellow citizens seriously and therefore compels us to confront real problems we might otherwise ignore. The alienation that prevails among so many fellow citizens is a warning that our economic arrangements, cultural norms, and political system—and indeed our elite institutions in general—have grown distant and unresponsive, and are leaving far too many Americans feeling despised and disrespected, and lacking a stake in their own society. Simply embodying that alienation is not a solution, but ignoring it and just complacently repeating the stale policies, arguments, and slogans that have dominated our politics for decades would exacerbate the problem.
The trouble is that Donald Trump’s circle on the right tends to consist largely (albeit not exclusively of course) of a peculiar combination of the alienated and the complacent—outsiders with a keen sense that the system has failed them and doesn’t belong to them but no clear vision of how to transform it, and insiders who believe a clean rerun of Reaganism is all that America lacks. Alienation and complacency are in tension, but they can cooperate, each for its own reason, in treating disruption as a sufficient substitute for transformation and contempt as a stand-in for reform.
The space between alienation and complacency is where solutions must come from. But filling that gap requires a political vision that takes the roots of today’s alienation seriously as problems to be addressed. Such a vision would seek to help more Americans respect our institutions by making those institutions more respectable, more functional, and more responsive and adaptive. It would seek to take Americans seriously and to honor them as human persons—not helpless recipients of benefits, not interchangeable units of labor, not radically isolated pursuers of pleasure, and not bundles of abstract identities, but as men and women who desire to flourish and to thrive and to be needed and responsible and to belong.
The past year should leave us all with the distinct impression that we have reached the end of an era in American politics, even if it remains far from clear what the next era will look like. The electorate is clearly dissatisfied with the options the two parties have long offered it. That is what made this a protest election above all. No one can yet quite say exactly where this dissatisfaction points, though of course we must try to learn what we can on that front from Trump’s success. But the pattern of dissatisfaction—and particularly of the dissatisfaction of each party’s base with its own party’s offerings—is surely suggestive.
On the left, voters were dissatisfied with the Democratic Party’s inclination to abstract away from their needs, interests, and identities. They nearly chose an angry, elderly socialist rather than opt for the bland technocracy of today’s Progressivism. On the right, voters were dissatisfied with the rote, sloganeering conservatism of much of the GOP, which repeats the ends of Ronald Reagan’s sentences but has long ago forgotten how they started. In both cases, abstractions about freedom seem less satisfying than they used to be, while gestures in the direction of solidarity are deeply compelling even when they are not fully worked out.
Like I said, a good set of observations, deeply considered, by a thoughtful conservative. But I drop off here, since his conclusions fail for me. Contorting a metaphor that Levin himself suggests, I appreciate where his sentences begin, but can’t follow him to their ends, which is always some plea for orthodoxy, some reaffirmation of conservative principles, some slightly oiled version of ‘everyone for themselves’.
And finally, Levin misses the big shift at play, the realignment of politics away from left versus right, and toward metropolitan neoliberal globalism of the elites versus peripheral protectionist localism.
In 1954, the thermonuclear hydrogen bomb, code-named Bravo, was 1,000 times more powerful than the Hiroshima bomb. It was the United States’ most violent thermonuclear test ever.
via U.S. Nuclear History Offers Clues to North Korea’s Progress | William Broad
This is what North Korea wants.
President Trump ignited a national discussion of blue-collar jobs. Truck driving, once a road to the middle class, is now low-paying, grinding, unhealthy work. We talked with drivers about why they do it.
Sokowatch provides consumer goods companies with a simple, consistent, and reliable distribution channel to meet the demands of the informal market. Shops order from Sokowatch via SMS and receive free delivery of their goods within 24 hours. Our team of delivery agents, equipped with proprietary mobile technology, services thousands of shops across Nairobi and Dar es Salaam while capturing critical data on each outlet.
Damals in 2005 hatte ich aus drei Gründen mit dem Bloggen angefangen. 1. Weil mein Kumpel Mzeecedric schon länger ein eigenes Blog hatte und ich darauf öfter kommentierte, 2. weil man über ein eigenes Blog eigene Inhalte in diesem Internet veröffentlichen kann, ohne dass diese einer redaktionellen Zensur unterliegen oder irgendwelche Leserwünsche* erfüllen müssen und 3. weil es auch schon damals mitteilenswerte Gedanken gab, die wir heute eben in Form von YouTube Vlogs, Tweets und Facebook-Kommentaren im Netz hinterlassen. Damals meinte meine Mutter übrigens noch, dass es ja alles ganz nett sei, aber frug auch zugleich, wer das denn alles lesen wolle. Mittlerweile hat sie selber ein iPad und ruft an, wenn ich mal keine Bilder bei Instagram poste. “Junge, alles klar bei Dir? Länger keine Bilder gesehen…”.
Irgendwann später in ca. Mitte 2008 fing es an, dass Agenturen vermehrt Blogs als Mittel zur Suchmaschinenoptimierung und als Kommunikationsmittel wahrnahmen. Von Influencern sprach man da noch nicht, die Inhalte waren oft nicht optimiert für mobile Endgeräte. Die Leute aus diesen Agenturen sprachen von “der Blog”, meinten aber wohl oft nur “den Blogpost” und “das Blog”. Für mich heißt es seit jeher “das Blog”, aber mittlerweile ist es mir fast egal. So wie ich auch bei diesem “wie” und “als” hier im hessischen Sprachraum nur noch müde abwinke. Is halt so bei dene Leut’ ihre Sprach, ge?
Jedenfalls ist das genau mein Grund, wieso ich mir bei den “der Blog”-Sagern manchmal eine fiese Bemerkung erlaube. Hat nur geschichtliche Gründe. Bloggen als Arbeitsmittel, und ich unterstelle da einfach weniger Leidenschaft beim Thema. Allerdings gibt es auch Ausnahmen: Der Katrin Hilger habe ich das damals auch unter die Nase gehalten, aber die ist so eine Bloggerin geworden – und dabei geblieben – dass sie das alles gerne so darf wie sie es für richtig hält. Dieses Bloggingmojo bei ihr, das wünsche ich vielen anderen Bloggern von damals zurück. Einige führen still ihr heimliches Tagebuch, andere schreiben ihre Gedanken zu Themen in dieses Internet. “Wer schreibt, der bleibt.” – was uns im Vetragsrecht eingebläut wurde, hat vielleicht auch Gültigkeit für die Onlinewelt?
Alipasha hat letztens einen Artikel über mich bei hallofrankfurt.de veröffentlicht (vielen Dank!), bei dem er auf diese Macke mit der/das Blog bei mir eingeht. Der/das Blog hat für mich aber nichts mit der Richtigkeit des Artikels zu tun, oder dass im Duden beide Formen stehen, sondern dient nur rein als Indiz für den Umgang mit dem Kommunikationsmittel “Blog” (i.e. als Marketingsplattform sehen vs. als Sprachrohr für die intellektuelle Ader betrachten, bei der Gedanken aufgeschrieben, verbildlicht oder vertont werden müssen). Es ist für mich mittlerweile eher ein running gag geworden, weil: Wer will sich in 2017 noch ernsthaft darüber aufregen? Eben.
*Leserwünsche: vergleicht das mal mit Vlog-Erstellern, deren Videos heute oft perfekt zusammengeschnitten sind. MTV ist nicht tot, es lebt in der Schnitttechnik bei YouTube weiter.
Drink enough water and you will cease to be thirsty.
And yet, a doubting person can be drowning in facts, but facts won't change a mind that doesn't want to be changed. More facts don't counter more doubt. Someone who is shaking his head, arms folded, eyes squinted and ears closed isn't going to be swayed by more facts.
Instead, doubt surrenders to experience. And experience can only happen if there's enrollment.
If someone is willing to find the right answer, willing to explore what might be effective, what might be confirmable, then enrolling in the journey to ease doubt opens the door to personal experience. Which, magically, can let the light in.
Experience, working it out, touching it, studying it, repeatedly asking why with an open mind... these experiences engage us, earn our attention and gain our trust.
Doubt comes from fear, which is why it's so difficult to earn enrollment. People don't want to commit to working their way out of doubt, because doubt is a perverse variation of perceived safety, a paralysis in the face of the unknown. Earn enrollment first, a commitment to find a path, then bring on the process and the facts.
Apple is abandoning plans to own the future of driverless automobiles, which probably also means they are giving up on the most interesting challenges in AI. I guess I am not surprised, considering that a decade ago they gave up on building the best software, and in the past few years they’ve given up on building the best laptops and PCs. Next, will they give up on building the best phones? We’ll know when the Apple 8 comes out.
Meanwhile back at Project titan:
Apple Inc. has drastically scaled back its automotive ambitions, leading to hundreds of job cuts and a new direction that, for now, no longer includes building its own car, according to people familiar with the project.
Hundreds of members of the car team, which comprises about 1,000 people, have been reassigned, let go, or have left of their own volition in recent months, the people said, asking not to be identified because the moves aren’t public.
New leadership of the initiative, known internally as Project Titan, has re-focused on developing an autonomous driving system that gives Apple flexibility to either partner with existing carmakers, or return to designing its own vehicle in the future, the people also said. Apple has kept staff numbers in the team steady by hiring people to help with the new focus, according to another person.
Apple executives have given the car team a deadline of late next year to prove the feasibility of the self-driving system and decide on a final direction, two of the people said. Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr declined to comment.
The new shift and deadline come after months of strategy disagreements, leadership flux and supply chain challenges inside Apple’s unmarked car labs in Sunnyvale, California, a short drive from its Cupertino headquarters.
Oh yes. See the dynamic: Apple executive are sitting in judgment on the whole idea of driverless vehicles. It’s not the executive leading the charge with a vision of the future: they are sitting in judgment. So that means ‘no’ until every reason why not can be knocked down.
I’m happy now I dumped Apple stock. Maybe I should start shorting them.
This is a firm with hundreds of billions to invest. Don’t they believe in the idea of driverless? If they do, and they turn their back, does that mean they don’t believe they can do it? That they can’t win? Do they believe they can win somewhere else? Where?
It’s time for Tim Cook to retire. I had hoped they’d acquire Tesla, and make Musk CEO of Apple. Maybe still possible.
The folks at NOBL researched the blurring of culture based on where the individual sits in the company management hierarchy:
The higher up you are, the better your workplace seems (not just for you, but for everyone else, too).
We surveyed hundreds of employees and had them score their organization not only on individual engagement measures (e.g. I know what is expected of me at work) but on collective conditions, too (e.g. My organization welcomes and promotes diversity). Question after question, we saw responses correlated to the respondents’ position within the firm. We’ve included two (of many) plots of this below. The line is the trend of all responses and the blue dots represent the 25 organizations which had highest overall participation rate in our survey.
So what does this mean?
If you’re a leader, it’s imperative that you challenge your own perceptions of the organization. However you feel about things, your people feel worse about them. Moreover, because perception is reality, your organization likely has differing and competing realities and cultures. That multiplicity will work against you as you struggle to adapt to changing conditions outside of the firm, so you must work to align and unify your culture. Here, quantifying your commitment to a better, shared culture is a powerful first step in uniting cultures.
Or maybe it’s inevitable that those with less power are less aligned with the political ambitions of the more powerful. That’s one way to deconstruct ‘cultural alignment’. After all, the implication of alignment is that the ideal cultural norms and aspirations are set by those higher up, and alignment is something the lower downs are supposed to do. So the charts don’t show companies ‘rotting from the tail’, it just shows that there is a latency – or resistance – between the upper and lower parts of the pyramid.
When we finally shift to networked cultural forms, we’ll accept that people are always out of alignment, and just hope that those working together can agree to move generally in the same direction.
Besides, groupthink is a trap, not a benefit.
Goldwind Americas, a subsidiary of a Chinese wind-turbine company, is undertaking a coal region two step: offering to trainer coal miners as wind farm technicians:
Goldwind Americas, an arm of a leading wind-turbine manufacturer based in China, has been expanding its business in the United States. It has been careful to seek out local, American workers for permanent jobs on the wind farms it supplies.
Now it is trying to extend that policy to an unlikely place: Wyoming, which produces more coal than any other state and has hardly welcomed the march of turbines across the country, even imposing a tax on wind-energy generation.
On Thursday at an energy conference in Wyoming, the company announced plans for a free training program for one of the nation’s fastest-growing jobs: wind farm technician. And it is aiming the program at coal miners having trouble finding work, as well as those from other industries.
Called Goldwind Works, the program would begin next month with a series of informational meetings in Wyoming and include a safety training and tower climb at a wind farm in Montana.The company has an agreement to supply turbines, potentially 850, to a project in Carbon County, Wyo., where the state’s first coal mine opened a century ago. Once construction is completed, as many as 200 workers will be needed to maintain and operate the plant.
The chief executive, David Halligan, said in a telephone interview that he expected coal workers to have relevant skills, mainly electrical and mechanical, and experience working under difficult conditions.
“If we can tap into that market and also help out folks that might be experiencing some challenges in the work force today, I think that it can be a win-win situation,” he said. “If you’re a wind technician, you obviously can’t be afraid of heights. You have to be able to work at heights, and you have to be able to work at heights in a safe manner.”
The program could offer a needed boost. Hundreds of coal miners were laid off in Wyoming last year. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that national employment for mining and geological engineers will grow by 6 percent between 2014 and 2024, while employment for wind turbine technicians is expected to grow by 108 percent.
You can’t do better than 850 wind turbines and 200 technician jobs in Carbon County Wyoming. Note that wind farm technicians are unlikely to be outsourced, since the work is inherently local. Also likely to be one of the last jobs for robots to take over.
Research scientist and neural network goofball Janelle Shane took the wondering a step further. Shane decided to train a neural network to generate new paint colors, complete with appropriate names. The results are possibly the greatest work of artificial intelligence I’ve seen to date.
Personally, I think ‘turdly’ is pretty apt, and a color called ‘stoner blue’ has possibilities, likewise ‘stanky bean’.
High frequency traders are not anymore the cool kids on the block. Margins are shrinking and major players such as Virtu and KCG are now merging to profit from economies of scale. On the other hand, artificial intelligence and quantitative strategies seem to be the new solutions to the alpha generation headache. There has also been lots of news (noise) about DIY (Do It Yourself) hedge funds (Wired, Bloomberg and also FT). More recently, Point72 announced that it handed its first check of c.$10m of the $250m promised to Quantopian.
The AI & Quantitative startup spaces are interesting and have the potential to disrupt a $3.2tn industry. In order to better understand the different actors, I tried to map and to categorise the different players in the market. Please find below a landscape mapping and thereafter the full list of companies as well as some brief comments...[more]