For those with an interest in geopolitics, The Economist (a publication I generally avoid) has a backward look at the Berlin Wall, what it meant, what its fall meant (it has now been gone longer than it was in place) and the emerging role of Germany in Europe. Read here
This is all about how technophiles (those with a belief that tech will solve pretty well everything) believe that machine learning and "computer vision" will transform our cities. It entails blanketing an entire neighborhood with cameras and sensors so that human behaviour can be modelled, and algorithms developed to make cities better serve people and be more efficient. At least that's the theory. I have my doubts, but decide for yourself by reading here
If, like me, you are somewhat dubious about AI, its lack of transparency and its overhyped benefits, then you will initially hope that this article removes these concerns, particularly since it's in a reputable source - the NYT. It doesn't. Instead it causes extreme annoyance that someone would be so clueless about the risks of this technology. It happens to be written by a venture capitalist who invests in AI companies - 'nuff said. Read here to get an idea of the lack of intellectual rigour behind some of the thinking about AI. Maybe you see it differently. If so, love to get your comments.
As many of you know, I am interested in theories of civilizational collapse. Here is an article that postulates that we are in deep trouble in our modern civilization - on a track to collapse. Not in some nutbar publication but in the Guardian. Quite interesting perspective - it's all about how we are polluting the planet rather than nuclear war or climate change. Read here
We're number 22!! Actually, we should be seriously worried when Bloomberg in its annual innovation rankings, places us 22nd behind such luminary countries as Belgium, Austria and Italy, as well as our traditional rivals, Australia. It indicates that we still have a long way to go to transform from our "rocks and trees" economy. The hype about us being leaders in AI and other technologies is just that - hype. The U.S. also fell out of the top 10. So much for Silicon Valley which is just a hyper-capitalist money and distraction machine, not engaged in really meaningful research like the countries that take innovation seriously as a way of changing lives for the better. Read about who is really making a difference here. Your comments are welcome!
The world's biggest investor is demanding that companies find a social purpose beyond profit. How real is this? Read here
The huge public-privatee developer and outsourcer, Carillion has gone bankrupt, putting at risk a large number of government services in the UK. This finally puts the nail in the coffin of government outsourcing and public-private partnerships. This disgusting and totally discredited practice is one of the largest rip-offs of the public ever dreamt up by large corporations. Read here
Here is a point of view (see link below to article) that the Trump is right to eliminate aid to the Palestinians. I actually agree that something needs to be done to break the impasse. Pretending that a "two-state solution" is ever going to happen is doing nothing to solve this problem. Rather, bring on a crisis in the occupied territories and let Israel have to deal with it. Have a de facto single state with several million disenfranchised people with no rights, no money and effectively no political status at all. Then the world will insist on some resolution, likely a single state with rights for all. Read article here
We ran a course on Iran in the fall. It is a fascinating and very important country. Many of the Western views on Iran are myths propagated by conservative media and a political establishment that cannot handle the idea of a country that does not play by U.S. rules. The analysis in the linked article is excellent - provides insight into Iranian politics and its possible futures. Read here
There are numerous smartphone software used to control industrial plants. Many firms let staff manage machines via smartphones. But a study of 34 industrial control apps found 147 security holes, and only 2 apps free of flaws
Read more here