Archive for the “Economics” Category
Here’s a scene that will be familiar to anyone who’s ever taken an introductory economics course. The professor has just finished explaining that in economics, "efficiency" means that there are no possible gains from trade. Then some loudmouth kid in the back raises his hand and asks: "Wait, so if one person has everything, and everyone else has nothing and just dies, is that an ‘efficient’ outcome?" The professor, looking a little chagrined, responds: "Well, yes, it is." And the whole class rolls their eyes and thinks: Economists.
For most of modern history, inequality has been a manageable problem. The reason is that no matter how unequal things get, most people are born with something valuable: the ability to work, to learn, and to earn money. In economist-ese, people are born with an "endowment of human capital." It’s just not possible for one person to have everything, as in the nightmare example in Econ 101.
For most of modern history, two-thirds of the income of most rich nations has gone to pay salaries and wages for people who work, while one-third has gone to pay dividends, capital gains, interest, rent, etc. to the people who own capital. This two-thirds/one-third division was so stable that people began to believe it would last forever. But in the past ten years, something has changed. Labor’s share of income has steadily declined, falling by several percentage points since 2000. It now sits at around 60% or lower. The fall of labor income, and the rise of capital income, has contributed to America’s growing inequality.
via The End of Labor: How to Protect Workers From the Rise of Robots – Noah Smith – The Atlantic.
Will machines one day take over the world?
Yes. In fact, they already have.
I don’t mean auto-trading computers on Wall Street, unmanned weapons systems, Deep Blue and the World Wide Web.
I mean us. We are machines.
From the dawn of our history we have amplified ourselves with tools. We have cultivated skills that take our basic body schema and extend it out into the world with sticks and rakes and then arrows and guns and rails and phones. Where do you find yourself? Spread out all over the universe. And it has always been so, really.
We don’t just change our body-power — what we can do, how we can move, where we can go, how fast, how far, how strong. No, we change our mind-power. Or rather, we ourselves are the result of processes of artificial reorganization of cognition and consciousness.
via The Singularity Is Already Here : 13.7: Cosmos And Culture : NPR.
Will the future be filled with cool technologies and endless opportunities or will our own creations lead to eventual doom? I tend to think the former. Technology has seemingly endless ability to improve the health, freedom, and happiness of our lives. Even optimistic futurists like Ray Kurzweil and James Canton admit, however, that the road to advancing technology is fraught with dangers. Super viruses, artificial intelligences run amok, environmental calamity – science has its threats as well as its promises. Yet there could be one near term problem that even futurists tend to ignore – economic collapse. Martin Ford, a silicon valley computer engineer, entrepreneur, and blogger has written The Lights In The Tunnel, a book which explores the economic implications of a world which is becoming increasingly automated.
Ford proposes that in the upcoming years robots and computer programs will edge human workers out of their jobs and that unless we take drastic actions this will reduce mass market purchasing power, destroy consumer confidence, and shut down the global economy. Ford has the reader envision these changes during a thought experiment where lights in a tunnel represent purchasing power in the mass market (hence the title). Even after discussing the book with the author, I’m not convinced that The Lights In The Tunnel is an accurate prediction of our future, but I wanted to spread the question: what does increased automation mean for our economy?
via Martin Ford Asks: Will Automation Lead to Economic Collapse? | Singularity Hub.
Armed with tens of billions in loans from the Chinese government, Chinese solar companies have scaled at a rate unthinkable only a few years ago. At the end of this year, there will likely be 50,000 megawatts (MW) of manufacturing capacity in place around the world, with much of that new capacity being developed in China and other Asian countries. (In the year 2000, there were only 100 MW of production capacity worldwide.)
In four years, the solar manufacturing sector shifted from being led by a geographically dispersed number of companies to one dominated by Chinese companies. In 2006, there were two companies from China in the list of top ten cell producers. In 2010, there were six, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. There are currently only two non-Asian manufacturers in the top ten, and those companies — First Solar and Q-Cells — have shifted a lot of their production to Asia.
So what happened? How did the Chinese come to completely dominate the solar industry in such a short period of time?
Bryan Ashley, the Chief Marketing Officer for Suniva, an American company that produces high-efficiency solar cells in Georgia, doesn’t mince words.
"The Chinese strategy is very clear. They are engaging in predatory financing and they’re trying to drive everybody else out of the market. When you’ve got free money you can out-dump everybody below cost," Ashley said in an interview with Climate Progress.
via How China dominates solar power | Environment | guardian.co.uk.
Call it better learning through technology — and cheaper…
Click here to access the Fox News report.
Click here to learn more about the future of higher education.
We knew to expect a paradigm shift with the end of the space shuttle program, but this is ridiculous…
Click here to read this report. You may have to scroll down a bit to view it.
Click here to learn more about space exploration.
The BBC is developing an app that will enable reporters to upload images, audio and video directly to the BBC’s servers from an iPhone or iPad…
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Click here to learn more about app development.
This is the new world where bulky software that bogs down your computer is replaced by online services delivered over high-speed wireless networks and onto devices that fire up in seconds instead of minutes. And it’s a place that is increasingly dominated by three public companies and one social networking giant…
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Click here to learn more about cloud computing.
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Click here to learn more about automation, accelerating technology and the economy of the future.
The Federal Communications Commission is developing a national broadband plan to expand access to high-speed Internet in rural America…
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Click here for more information on high-speed Internet.
The first vehicle that was fitted with an internal combustion engine and an electric ignition was actually built back in 1808…
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Click here for more information on the use of lasers.
What will the economy of the future look like?
Where will advancing technology, job automation, outsourcing and globalization lead?
Click here to learn more about The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology and the Economy of the Future, a book by Martin Ford that discusses these questions.
I just completed reading it. You should too.
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Click here for a new report on solar power trends.
Click here for more on the future of solar power.
The new wave of robots for sale is aimed squarely at the office market…
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Click here for more office automation information.
Goldman Sachs’ not-so-secretive document spills beans on site…
Click here to read the entire ComputerWorld report.
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