Reconn Reader: March 29, 2019

Each week, I share some of the most interesting articles I’ve come across in the past seven days. Here is this week’s selection. Inclusion does not mean endorsement. -CA

 

World & Politics

Digital India: Technology to transform a connected nation

Global and local digital businesses have recognized the opportunity in India and are creating services tailored to its consumers and unique operating conditions. Media companies are making content available in India’s 22 official languages, for example. And by tailoring its mobile payments and commerce platform to India’s market, Alibaba-backed Paytm has registered more than 100 million electronic “Know Your Customer”-compliant mobile wallet usersand nine million merchants(McKinsey)

Why Brexit Will Damage Europe

Europeans also must ask themselves whether we can agree on a better treaty between the EU and the UK than we have so far. Perhaps there are other ways to reassure Britain that there will be a follow-up treaty acceptable to both sides, under which no one is held hostage permanently. And perhaps there is room for maneuver on freedom of movement within the EU. After all, not only the British government, but also German mayors and town councils want more and better instruments to mitigate the impact of migration on our social-security systems. Freedom of movement does not exclude management of this freedom. (Project Syndicate)

China’s “social credit” scheme involves cajolery and sanctions

In Suqian a person’s score is supposed to rise and fall according to published criteria—20 points for a blood donation, 20 points (at least) deducted for failing to pay a power bill, and so on. A city employee selling bus passes needs a moment to recall the details. She says very few people have enough “credit” to claim a discount on public transport (only 3,000 have, according to state media, in a city of nearly 5m people). When asked about how Xichu Points works, a nurse staffing a blood-donation bus also scratches her head. (The Economist)

Ukrainians Feel West’s Fatigue With Their Chaotic Country

“We’d have been better off without the revolution — people wouldn’t now be obsessed with the national idea,” says Alla Zhilka, 69, a pensioner in Mariupol, 20 kilometers (12 miles) from the conflict zone. “Instead, poor people are hurting, pensions are low and there are no jobs for young people.” (Bloomberg)

ec

Business & Economics

Heading Home: Motherhood, Work and the Failed Promise of Equality

Heading Home is an essential book. Its significance lies in astutely analysing the contradictions and ambivalences of lived experiences and public discourses of motherhood, equality and work, an important task that is often neglected in media and cultural research. Orgad’s book tellingly evidences the force of cultural formations and their expansion into women’s psyches. While the book makes a powerful argument for working on the social conditions that hold patriarchal power structures in place, I was left wondering whether ’conversations’ in the workplace and in families can provide sufficient incitements to regain the spirit of collectively achievable social justice from pre-neoliberal feminist eras. (London School of Economics)

Our Misplaced Fear of Job-Stealing Robots

Technology has always changed rapidly, and that’s certainly the case today. However, there’s often a lag between the time a new machine or process is invented and when it reverberates in the workplace. “The workplace isn’t evolving as fast as we thought it would,” Paul Oyer, a Stanford GSB professor of economics and senior fellow at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, said during a panel discussion at the forum. “I thought the gig economy would take over, but it hasn’t. And I thought that by now people would find their ideal mates and jobs online, but that was wrong too.” (Stanford Insights)

How Gender and Racial Biases Are Hurting Economics

“I was told at the beginning of my career to not protest too much about my ideas being rejected,” said Lisa D. Cook, economics and international relations professor at Michigan State University. “I think there was a certain sense about who has big, original ideas that might make an impact. Typically, those ideas weren’t delivered by people who look like me — a 6-foot-1.5-inch African-American woman. A young woman. I certainly think that things have evolved, but I think they could certainly evolve further.” (Wharton)

WHAT WILL THE WORLD OF WORK LOOK LIKE IN 2035?

Call it Googleville or picture the Amazon rainforest being actually sponsored by Amazon. A new machine age delivers significant improvements in the quality of products and public services, with the cost of everyday goods including transport and energy plummeting. However, unemployment and economic insecurity ramp upwards, and the spoils of growth are offshored and concentrated in a handful of US and Chinese tech behemoths. The dizzying pace of change leaves workers and unions with little time to respond – and any dissent is quashed by flash PR and ‘CSR’ operations. We never stood a chance. (RSA)

 

Sc

Science & Technology

But this latest effort is hamfisted in the extreme, and may have the effect of splintering the internet beyond what seemed possible even a few years ago. In the wake of GDPR’s passage, Europeans couldn’t visit the websites of some US publishers for months as new privacy frameworks were put into place. That sort of thing may be about to become a lot more common. The time has now come to speak of the internets, plural. And to get around, you might just need a passport. (Verge)

Your Online-Shopping Experience Was Grown in a Lab

“As you layer more of the technologies and the more sophisticated they get, the costs increase,” Drummond explained. Most companies opt just for eye-tracking, the least expensive option, often coupled with facial-expression analysis. GSR is useful for longer tasks, he said, while EEG, the most expensive measure, gives the most insight into why people react the way they do. As with any focus group, diversity is key to having a representative sample, Drummond notes, but there’s no evidence that respondents’ race or gender significantly affects their responses. (The Atlantic)

A rights revolution for nature

Rights-of-nature advocates posit that environmental devastation is a moral wrong that ought to be stopped. This claim is not grounded in scientific evidence but is no less valid than the assertion that harming humans is a moral wrong. Neither human rights nor nature rights can be demonstrated through a scientific process, but we can make inferences about what justice requires on the basis of what we know to be necessary for the flourishing of humans or of nature. (Science)

Call it Googleville or picture the Amazon rainforest being actually sponsored by Amazon. A new machine age delivers significant improvements in the quality of products and public services, with the cost of everyday goods including transport and energy plummeting. However, unemployment and economic insecurity ramp upwards, and the spoils of growth are offshored and concentrated in a handful of US and Chinese tech behemoths. The dizzying pace of change leaves workers and unions with little time to respond – and any dissent is quashed by flash PR and ‘CSR’ operations. We never stood a chance. (New York Times)

 

Culture & History

Why the cult of the early riser still captivates

To spare you having to read his 300-page manifesto, it boils down thus: club members must get up as soon as the alarm goes off at 4.45am before launching into “The Victory Hour”, which breaks down into 20 minutes of movement and hard physical exercise, 20 minutes of “reflection”, such as prayer, meditation or journal writing, followed by 20 minutes of “growth”, during which you might listen to “a podcast about leadership” or “consume an audiobook”. (Financial Times)

Temples are not, it should be noted, where Mormons—as members of the LDS Church are commonly known—attend regular services. (They have simpler, often mass-produced chapels for that.) Mormon temples are devoted to the highest sacraments of the faith, and following a public open-house period and dedication ceremonies, only church members who have shown themselves worthy are allowed to enter. This is why building them is a matter of such importance to LDS leaders. (CityLab)

“Frankly, the idea of separate honeymoons may signal the continued evolution of marriage,” said Jessica Carbino, an online dating expert based in Los Angeles who is also a sociologist for the dating app Bumble. “Given the recognition that for most couples today, marriage and partnership is considered all-consuming, with the partner needing to fulfill every role — physical, spiritual, emotional and sexual — perhaps separate vacations is a recognition among some couples that all expectations cannot be met by a single person.” (New York Times)

MEET AMERICA’S BIGGEST MACHINE-GUN ENTHUSIASTS

There’s a surreal, theatrical aspect to the photographs that belies the deadliness of the weaponry and the scale of gun violence in the US, where nearly 40,000 people died by gun in 2017—two-thirds by suicide. “The whole affair is influenced by military culture,” Bouchard says. “You meet a lot of people wearing military fatigues, and there are a lot of veterans. It’s almost like a civic recreation of some aspects of military life. And then, on the other end of the spectrum, it’s pure entertainment value.” (WIRED)

Advertisements
Carlos Alvarenga

Founder and CEO at KatalystNet and Adjunct Professor in the Logistics, Business and Public Policy Department at the University of Maryland’s Robert E. Smith School of Business.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s