What’s driving Silicon Valley to become ‘radicalized’
By Elizabeth Dwoskin
The Washington Post
Like many Silicon Valley start-ups, Larry Gadea’s company collects heaps of sensitive data from his customers. Recently, he decided to do something with that data trove that was long considered unthinkable: He is getting rid of it. The reason? Gadea fears that one day the FBI might do to him what it did to Apple in their recent legal battle: demand that he give the agency access to his encrypted data. Rather than make what he considers a Faustian bargain, he’s building a system that he hopes will avoid the situation entirely.
If robots are the future of work, where do humans fit in?
By Zoe Williams
All the predictions lead to the same place: the obsolescence of human labour. Even if a robot takeover is some way away, this idea has already become pressing in specific sectors. Driverless cars are forecast to make up 75% of all traffic by 2040, raising the spectre not just of leagues of unemployed drivers, but also of the transformation of all the infrastructure around the job, from training to petrol stations. There is always a voice in the debate saying, we don’t have to surrender to our own innovation: we don’t have to automate everything just because we can. Yet history teaches us that we will, and teaches us, furthermore, that resisting invention is its own kind of failure.
This start-up says it can out secrets by analyzing faces
By Matt McFarland
The Washington Post
An Israeli start-up says it can take one look at a person’s face and realize character traits that are undetectable to the human eye. Faception said it’s already signed a contract with a homeland security agency to help identify terrorists. The company said its technology also can be used to identify everything from great poker players to extroverts, pedophiles, geniuses and white collar-criminals.
SUSTAINABILITY & ENVIRONMENT
My father warned Exxon about climate change in the 1970s. They didn't listen
By Claudia Black-Kalinsky
At Wednesday’s ExxonMobil shareholders meeting, CEO Rex Tillerson will have to answer tough questions about the company’s role in causing climate change, including one from Claudia Black-Kalinsky's family. Attorneys general from several states are investigating when the company knew about the risks of burning fossil fuels–and whether Exxon misrepresented that information to investors and the public. At the same time, shareholders are demanding more transparency on the risks climate change poses to the company. As the daughter of one of the Exxon scientists who first told senior management about greenhouse gases in the 1970s, Black-Kalinsky finds it ironic that the reason for these investigations is the company’s failure to follow the same hard-numbers approach that made Exxon so successful in the first place.
Climate change is making food more toxic
By Nathanael Johnson
Coming soon to a cereal bowl near you: Mycotoxins! Mycotoxins are much scarier than a horror movie. They are poisons produced by fungi and can cause cancer, suppress immune systems, and straight up kill you. They’re already in a quarter of the world’s cereals, but mycotoxins mostly affect people living in the tropics, where warmer weather allows for fungal growth. They haven’t posed a major problem in the cooler latitudes of the northern grain belt. But if you are reading this you’ve probably already guessed: Climate change could change that.
LABOR, TRADE, & ECONOMY
Cuba to legalize small and medium-sized private businesses
By Michael Weissenstein
Cuba announced Tuesday that it will legalize small- and medium-sized private businesses in a move that could significantly expand private enterprise in one of the world's last communist countries. Cuban business owners and economic experts said they were hopeful the reform would allow private firms to import wholesale supplies and export products to other countries for the first time, removing a major obstacle to private business growth. "This is a tremendously important step," said Alfonso Valentin Larrea Barroso, director-general of Scenius, a cooperatively run economic consulting firm in Havana. "They're creating, legally speaking, the non-state sector of the economy. They're making that sector official."
The real threat of artificial intelligence
By Daniel S. Weld
Many people find recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) quite alarming. Indeed, luminaries, ranging from Nobel laureate Stephen Hawking to technology pioneers Elon Musk and Bill Gates, have warned that artificial intelligence technology might be more dangerous to humankind than the atomic bomb. The real AI threat stems not from nefarious actions, but rather from the opposite direction. As AI systems become more capable and more common, they will displace innumerable workers. Robots and intelligent software are outperforming humans at an increasing number of jobs. Mid-career education and retraining may slow this displacement, but digital innovation accelerates exponentially, virtually guaranteeing that social disruption will be faster and more extensive than ever before in history. Consider the example of self-driving cars. Currently, six percent of US jobs are in trucking and transportation. What will these workers do when drivers become obsolete in 15 years?
The impact and evolution of the sharing economy
By Monica Anderson and Aaron Smith
Last week, Pew Research Center released a new report that examined Americans’ usage of and exposure to the sharing economy, as well as their views on a number of issues associated with some of its services. To further examine the potential impact of these new digital services on the future of work, government regulations and the economy as a whole, we interviewed Arun Sundararajan. Sundararajan is a professor of business at New York University, a leading expert on the sharing economy and the author of the new book “The Sharing Economy: The End of Employment and the Rise of Crowd-Based Capitalism.”
GLOBAL CONFLICT & DEVELOPMENT
China’s scary lesson to the world: Censoring the Internet works
By Simon Denyer
The Washington Post
First there was the Berlin Wall. Now there is the Great Firewall of China, not a physical barrier preventing people from leaving, but a virtual one, preventing information harmful to the Communist Party from entering the country. Just as one fell, so will the other be eventually dismantled, because information, like people, cannot be held back forever. Or so the argument goes. But try telling that to Beijing. Far from knocking down the world’s largest system of censorship, China in fact is moving ever more confidently in the opposite direction, strengthening the wall’s legal foundations, closing breaches and reinforcing its control of the Web behind the wall.
The humanitarian revolution: Ensuring the 'dignity' of a job
By Howard La Franchi
Christian Science Monitor
There are 1.3 million Syrian refugees in Jordan and the 60 million refugees and displaced people worldwide–the highest level since World War II. The average length of time that refugees are remaining outside their own country–and away from their careers and employment–is increasing. A 2003 United Nations report estimated that refugees spend an average of 17 years away from home. In neighboring countries and beyond, Syrian refugees have confronted a patchwork of laws and practices concerning employment. Mostly they’ve faced closed doors.But some signs of hope are beginning to emerge for those who want to work, provide for their families, and preserve what experts say is often the last piece of self-worth that male refugees in particular still hold.
US Deported 11,000 Migrants Since October As Children, Families Flee Violent Countries
By Clare Mindock
International Business Times
Amid an ongoing surge of Central Americans crossing into the United States, US Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson has confirmed that 11,000 migrants have been deported since October—a much higher number of people than the 1,100 people who have been allowed to remain in the country under the Central American Minors Program. Johnson confirmed the rate after a trip last week where he met with the leaders of Honduras and El Salvador, President Juan Orlando Hernández and President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, respectively. He reiterated the department’s hard stance on irregular and undocumented arrivals from the countries, which have experienced economic and social turmoil in the past several years.
In Chicago, less than 1% saw a lawyer after arrest
By Rosa Flores
In the past three years, less than half of one percent of people arrested in Chicago saw an attorney while in police custody according to statistics provided by the Chicago Police Department, which represents a possible violation of their constitutional legal rights. The Police Accountability Task Force (PATF) found that the Chicago Police Department generally only provided phone access to arrestees at the end of processing, after interrogation and charging. The task force also noted that individuals report having faced hostility from police while in custody when they attempted to invoke their legal rights to counsel. The PATF has also accused the Chicago Police Department of institutional racism and found that officers have alienated blacks and Hispanics with their use of force.
Geographic Inequality Is Swallowing the Recovery
By Richard Florida
There is much talk about national income inequality, but America continues to suffer from deepening geographic inequality as well. Just 20 large urban counties nationwide—less than one percent of the nation’s 3,000-plus counties—accounted for half of new business establishments, according to a report released today by the Economic Innovation Group. The report uses Census data to examine the number of business establishments and jobs created over the first five years of the most recent recoveries: 1992 to 1996, 2002 to 2006, and 2010 to 2014.
Should Landlords Be Licensed?
By Kriston Capps
Last week, a Toronto City Council committee voted unanimously to endorse a new licensing regime for landlords. The proposal would institute a system for grading landlords of buildings of a certain size for conditions such as mold, bedbugs, working elevators, water cleanliness, and working air conditioning. If the full council proceeds with the idea, landlords will be subject to licensing and, potentially, grades that they will be required to post in building lobbies—the same way restaurants do in some cities.