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Bleeding Edge Roundup

DISRUPTIVE TECHNOLOGY

Why Learning To Code Won't Save Your Job
By Douglas Rushkoff
Fast Company

Looking for job security in the knowledge economy? Just learn to code. At least, that’s what we’ve been telling young professionals and mid-career workers alike who want to hack it in the modern workforce. And judging by the proliferation of coding schools and bootcamps we’ve seen over the past few years, not a few have eagerly heeded that instruction, thinking they’re shoring up their livelihoods in the process.

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A programming language for living cells
By Anne Trafton
Phys.org

MIT biological engineers have created a programming language that allows them to rapidly design complex, DNA-encoded circuits that give new functions to living cells. Using this language, anyone can write a program for the function they want, such as detecting and responding to certain environmental conditions. They can then generate a DNA sequence that will achieve it.

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SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT

Google, Apple, Microsoft, and Amazon voice support for Obama’s Clean Power Plan
By Harrison Webber
VentureBeat

Yes, you read the title correctly.  A joint brief filed by Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon is in support of Obama’s Clean Power Plan to empower the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions from power plants across the United States. One of the reasons mentioned in the brief is “Using More Renewable Energy Mitigates Climate Change and Makes Good Business Sense.” Judging by the success of these companies, this is probably accurate.

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5 signs sustainability is the new engine for global economic growth
By Tim Nixon
GreenBiz

It makes sense that sustainability is what will continue to facilitate economic growth in the future.  Long term growth and less risk is an enticing business strategy.  The real driver here is self interest. Economic growth that improves environmental and social conditions is good for business owners, workers, consumers, investors and the planet.

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LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY

Blue-collar Americans say trade is killing them
David Goldstein
Tribune Washington Bureau

Wisconsin has lost more than more than 68,000 manufacturing jobs since the mid-1990s when the first of several trade agreements with Mexico, China and other nations took hold. About 76,000 Wisconsin workers in various fields lost their jobs because of imports or the work they do being shipped overseas, according to the U.S. Labor Department.

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Will minimum wage hikes lead to a huge boost in automation? Only if we're lucky.
By Matthew Yglesias
Vox

As states like California and cities like Seattle boost their minimum wages up to $15 an hour, critics warn that job losses will be inevitable. In particular, one major line of criticism from outlets like the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Forbes's Tim Worstall is that big increases in pay floors only lead to job loss via automation. Both critics point to initiatives at McDonald's and Wendy's to automate more of the service process, and warn that robots, rather than workers, will be the real winners if liberals succeed in boosting minimum pay. This is doubly wrong.

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Jobs and Trade on the Campaign Trail
By the Editorial Board
The New York Times

While trade with other countries benefits the economy overall, it creates winners and losers. In recent decades, the winners have included consumers who are able to buy cheaper clothes, electronics and other imported goods, and companies like Boeing and General Electric that have been able to sell more of their products overseas. The losers have primarily been businesses and workers who face greater competition from foreign factories that can produce similar goods at lower prices.

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GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT

Not an April Fool joke: UK pharma giant won’t patent its drugs in poorer countries
By Glynn Moody

ArsTechnica

The UK pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has announced that it will not be routinely patenting its drugs around the world. Instead of applying for patents on its medicines in all regions, it will now take into account the economic development of the country before deciding whether to seek monopoly protection there. As a result, a poorer country can encourage local manufacturers to create cheaper generic versions of GSK's products, and thus provide them to a greater number of its population, potentially saving many lives.

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Tens of thousands of Colombians stage anti-government protest
AFP

Tens of thousands of people protested in more than 20 cities across Colombia against President Juan Manuel Santos and his government's peace process with the FARC guerrillas. The demonstrations come just days after Bogota launched peace talks with the country's second-biggest guerrilla group, the National Liberation Army (ELN), setting its sights on a total end to a bloody half-century conflict.

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Saudi Arabia Plans $2 Trillion Megafund for Post-Oil Era
By John Micklethwait
Bloomberg

Saudi Arabia is getting ready for the twilight of the oil age by creating the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund for the kingdom’s most prized assets. Over a five-hour conversation, Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman laid out his vision for the Public Investment Fund, which will eventually control more than $2 trillion and help wean the kingdom off oil. As part of that strategy, the prince said Saudi will sell shares in Aramco’s parent company and transform the oil giant into an industrial conglomerate. The initial public offering could happen as soon as next year, with the country currently planning to sell less than 5 percent.

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AMERICAN COMMUNITIES

Devolution for an urban age: City power and problem-solving
By Bruce Katz
Brookings

Centralized, hyper-specialized, one-size-fits-all approaches are fundamentally ill-suited for today’s challenges. 21st century problems demand rapid, locally-tailored solutions that take a holistic approach to problem solving—approaches that deploy the expertise, capacity, and resources of the public, private, and civic sectors in collaboration.These collaborative networks are inventing a wide array of innovative approaches to problem solving. They are quietly modernizing and creating new instruments, intermediaries, and institutions to enable the investments necessary to overcoming our greatest challenges—investments in human capital,  sustainable infrastructure, transformative redevelopment, clean energy and energy efficiency, and innovative urban technologies. This process is gradually but fundamentally transforming our notions of city governance.

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White Teachers Expect Less Than Black Teachers From Black Students
By Emily Deruy
The Atlantic

In yet another sign that the lack of teacher diversity is a pressing issue, a new study suggests that white teachers expect less academic success from black students than black teachers do from the same students.The study, conducted by Johns Hopkins University, found that when a white teacher and a black teacher consider the same black student, the white teacher is 30 percent less likely to think the student will graduate from a four-year college and nearly 40 percent less likely to think their black students will graduate from high school. These beliefs, when communicated even subconsciously to students, weigh heavily on how those student feels about their future and perhaps the effort they put into doing well in school.

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Voting is already hard for people with disabilities. Voter ID laws make it even harder.
By S.E. Smith
Vox

It’s well-known that such laws disproportionately affect people of color and low-income people. According to the American Bar Association, the one in seven people in the US of voting age who have a disability lag behind at the polls considerably in contrast with their non-disabled counterparts, and this is largely due to a growing number of voter identification laws. Such laws are a looming issue for disabled voters, who are generally less likely to have identification. This is yet another barrier to an already disenfranchised community being able to vote for policies and affect political change that could potentially increase their quality of life.

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Bleeding Edge Roundup

Bleeding Edge Roundup