We’re in a new gilded age of wealth and power similar to the first gilded age when the nation’s antitrust laws were enacted. Those laws should prevent or bust up concentrations of economic power that not only harm consumers but also undermine our democracy — such as the pending Comcast acquisition…
“Without a doubt, the ability to connect the dots is rare, prized and valuable. Connecting dots, solving the problem that hasn’t been solved before, seeing the pattern before it is made obvious, is more essential than ever before. Why then, do we spend so much time collecting dots instead? More facts, more tests, more need for data, even when we have no clue (and no practice) in doing anything with it.”—Seth’s Blog: Connecting dots (or collecting dots)
As head of his village, Prajob Naowa-opas battled to save his community in central Thailand from the illegal dumping of toxic waste by filing petitions and leading villagers to block trucks carrying the stuff — until a gunman in broad daylight fired four shots into him.
A year later, his three alleged killers, including a senior government official, are on trial for murder. The dumping has been halted and villagers are erecting a statue to their slain hero.
But the prosecution of Prajob’s murder is a rare exception. A survey released Tuesday — the first comprehensive one of its kind - says that only 10 killers of 908 environmental activists slain around the world over the past decade have been convicted.
The report by the London-based Global Witness, a group that seeks to shed light on the links between environmental exploitation and human rights abuses, says murders of those protecting land rights and the environment have soared dramatically. It noted that its toll of victims in 35 countries is probably far higher since field investigations in a number of African and Asian nations are difficult or impossible.
“Many of those facing threats are ordinary people opposing land grabs, mining operations and the industrial timber trade, often forced from their homes and severely threatened by environmental devastation,” the report said. Others have been killed over hydro-electric dams, pollution and wildlife conservation.
The rising deaths, along with non-lethal violence, are attributed to intensifying competition for shrinking resources in a global economy and abetted by authorities and security forces in some countries connected to powerful individuals, companies and others behind the killings.
Interesting that the investigators found that “authorities and security forces” (e.g., government) are complicit. I wonder how they found this information (or if they assumed it)?Anyone have this report? If so, can you kindly send it to me?
I have just put up the second post in a longer series on the major disruptors of the next decade. The first two posts focus on the driverless car including:
"Global implementation of driverless cars will mean sweeping changes to the car manufacturing system due to a number of key factors:
If we do not own cars then we are likely to be less concerned about the models of cars that we use and we will have far less model ranges. The experience will be far more focused on what happens when we are in the car from the point of view of connectivity, entertainment, safety and our capacity to work while in motion than they will an emotional attachment to a car model.
Cars will be driven far more than they currently are. Cars are currently used on 4-6% of their daily life. If we reduce the number of cars on the road by 60-70% then the mileage done by most cars will be much higher than it previously was. In fact some uses may be five times as high if a model is adopted where a basic car model is the workhorse of the system and we use other cars less for specialty occasions such as moving stuff or a luxury dinner night.
This means that it is likely that the number of car models will reduce significantly and the focus will be on durability and reliability and a faster changeover of the life of cars measured in time while they last longer in terms of kilometres traveled. So while there may be a bloodbath in car manufacturing as these adjustments are made there is the capacity to have significant reductions in the costs of car manufacturing and running costs based on improved model volumes and increased durability from improved design, and more rapid innovation cycles”
“Unlike a rusting highway bridge, digital infrastructure does not betray the effects of age. And, unlike roads and bridges, large portions of the software infrastructure of the Internet are built and maintained by volunteers, who get little reward when their code works well but are blamed, and sometimes savagely derided, when it fails. To some degree, this is beginning to change: venture-capital firms have made substantial investments in code-infrastructure projects, like GitHub and the Node Package Manager. But money and support still tend to flow to the newest and sexiest projects, while boring but essential elements like OpenSSL limp along as volunteer efforts. It’s easy to take open-source software for granted, and to forget that the Internet we use every day depends in part on the freely donated work of thousands of programmers. If open-source software is at the heart of the Internet, then we might need to examine it from time to time to make sure it’s not bleeding.”—The Internet’s Telltale Heartbleed : The New Yorker (via new-aesthetic)
“Remember, the customer doesn’t even pay a driver, the payment goes through Uber. What are these drivers going to do when Uber totally controls the market? Sue? Ha, not if they want the algorithm, I mean the market pricing, to ‘reward’ them. And let’s be clear, when a company offers low cost financing for capital investment for independent contractors and controls all aspects of the transaction and customer relationship, these are no longer independent contractors. They are employees. Only in this case, they are employees who have taken on debt to work for Uber. Uber has figured out that it is cheaper to trick people into thinking they are independent contractors and get them to risk their capital. Then Uber can happily take the profits. I guarantee you, if Uber thought its capital would be best used to run a fleet of cars, it would simply hire people straight out to be drivers. That it’s not doing that suggests something.”—Uber’s Algorithmic Monopoly: “We are not setting the price. The market is setting the price. We have algorithms to determine what that market is.” (via iamdanw)
“You might ask, who really cares if some luxury-sedan maker has to sell through dealers? But what the New Jersey ban exemplifies is the tendency for businesses to use state power to divide the economy between insiders and outsiders. This discourages innovation, raises prices, and makes life hard for people trying to start new businesses—or even just get a new job.”—James Surowiecki on Tesla vs. the auto dealers: http://nyr.kr/1kQDg2M (via newyorker)
I’ve been following Anne Marie McEwan from afar for a few years, and it seemed like a good time to pull her into the Socialogy series, especially in light of her 2013 book, Smart Working: Creating the Next Wave.
AMSTERDAM (AP) — The Dutch government is facing an unusual crisis: Prison undercrowding. There are now more guards and other prison staff than there are prisoners in the Netherlands for the first time, according to data released by the Justice Ministry on Friday. Crime rates have fallen slightly in recent years, but aren’t notably lower in the Netherlands than in neighboring countries, and many Dutch people think sentences for violent offenders are too light. In 2008, there were around 15,000 inmates, in a country of 17 million. As of March of this year, there were just 9,710 inmates remaining, compared with 9,914 guards. And the number of inmates included 650 Belgian criminals the Netherlands is housing as part of a temporary deal. In the U.S., the figure is more like one guard or staff member per five prisoners. The overall U.S. incarceration rate is more than 10 times higher.
“I think if Dickens was alive today, he’d have been working for the BBC, until HBO offered him much more money.”—Roddy Doyle discusses television and his short story in this week’s issue of the magazine: http://nyr.kr/1mUhHxZ (via newyorker)
Thought provoking piece by Al Jazeera guest writer questions the limits of perpetual economic growth. What do you think?
“Aggressive growth is impossible ecologically and implausible economically. We need economic strategies at the local, state and national levels that prioritize community benefit over corporate gain, and which presume a need for local resiliency instead of depending on uncontrolled growth. We also need to develop new strategies to democratize wealth in the face of extreme inequality.
Like the programs developed in “the state and local laboratories of democracy” that led to the New Deal, numerous experiments percolating across the country in the “new economy” — building cooperative and community-owned businesses, developing locally focused supply chains at a municipal and regional level, building new forms for public ownership of essential services like banking and power generation — may just point the way.
The end of growth poses a long-term systemic challenge, and such explorations suggest that a new direction may be quietly being explored in the midst of economic and ecological degradation. It is a direction that is likely to accelerate as economic and social pain of the decaying economic system continues to force Americans to explore solutions that take us beyond the tired nostrums of the past.”
—Gar Alperovitz is a professor of political economy at the University of Maryland and a founder of the Democracy Collaborative. He is the author of “What Then Must We Do?: Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution.”
I have started a long form blog post series on major disruptors of the next decade and their effects on our global society and economies.
The first one focuses on some effects of the wide-scale implementation of driverless cars including:
The obvious one here is that car insurance as an industry would shrink enormously due to the reduction in accidents but there are a number of other interesting angles:
What happens to insurance of a vehicle where you are not driving – where do the risks lie and how do you insure those risks? If an accident is due to the failure of an algorithm then who is to blame if that algorithm has reduced the risk by 90% but still causes the accident? There is a case here for a comprehensive insurance of the system as a whole.
If there is wide scale implementation of driverless cars what does it cost to insure your car if you still want to drive? If you are 10 times more likely to have an accident or kill someone will anybody share those risks? If the government has implemented wide-scale adoption and is relying on the business case of reduced medical costs to fund that change are you liable for any costs incurred, including all medical costs? If so would only the super rich be allowed to drive and would we actually allow it?
Up to 30 percent of heart attack patients suffer a new heart attack because cardiologists are unable to control inflammation inside heart arteries — the process that leads to clots rupturing and causing myocardial infarction or stroke.
But a report in Nature Communications [abstract] by Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai scientists showcases the development of a new technology that may provide a solution to this high risk of repeat heart attacks — and potentially help save more lives.