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Archive for the ‘economics’ category: Page 102

Nov 2, 2015

The world just got closer to a ‘hypersonic space plane’ that will transform ‘the economics of space’

Posted by in categories: economics, space travel

BAE just bought 20% of Reaction Engines. That’s a good indication it’s gonna happen!


BAE Systems, one of the world’s biggest aeronautics and defence firms, just made a significant investment in Reaction Engines.

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Oct 28, 2015

Humanity on a Budget, or the Value-Added of Being ‘Human’

Posted by in categories: automation, economics, futurism, governance, human trajectories, law, philosophy, policy, posthumanism, theory, transhumanism

This piece is dedicated to Stefan Stern, who picked up on – and ran with – a remark I made at this year’s Brain Bar Budapest, concerning the need for a ‘value-added’ account of being ‘human’ in a world in which there are many drivers towards replacing human labour with ever smarter technologies.

In what follows, I assume that ‘human’ can no longer be taken for granted as something that adds value to being-in-the-world. The value needs to be earned, it can’t be just inherited. For example, according to animal rights activists, ‘value-added’ claims to brand ‘humanity’ amount to an unjustified privileging of the human life-form, whereas artificial intelligence enthusiasts argue that computers will soon exceed humans at the (‘rational’) tasks that we have historically invoked to create distance from animals. I shall be more concerned with the latter threat, as it comes from a more recognizable form of ‘economistic’ logic.

Economics makes an interesting but subtle distinction between ‘price’ and ‘cost’. Price is what you pay upfront through mutual agreement to the person selling you something. In contrast, cost consists in the resources that you forfeit by virtue of possessing the thing. Of course, the cost of something includes its price, but typically much more – and much of it experienced only once you’ve come into possession. Thus, we say ‘hidden cost’ but not ‘hidden price’. The difference between price and cost is perhaps most vivid when considering large life-defining purchases, such as a house or a car. In these cases, any hidden costs are presumably offset by ‘benefits’, the things that you originally wanted — or at least approve after the fact — that follow from possession.

Now, think about the difference between saying, ‘Humanity comes at a price’ and ‘Humanity comes at a cost’. The first phrase suggests what you need to pay your master to acquire freedom, while the second suggests what you need to suffer as you exercise your freedom. The first position has you standing outside the category of ‘human’ but wishing to get in – say, as a prospective resident of a gated community. The second position already identifies you as ‘human’ but perhaps without having fully realized what you had bargained for. The philosophical movement of Existentialism was launched in the mid-20th century by playing with the irony implied in the idea of ‘human emancipation’ – the ease with which the Hell we wish to leave (and hence pay the price) morphs into the Hell we agree to enter (and hence suffer the cost). Thus, our humanity reduces to the leap out of the frying pan of slavery and into the fire of freedom.

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Oct 23, 2015

Artificial Intelligence Is A Big Part Of Your Life, Just Don’t Buy The Hollywood Hype

Posted by in categories: automation, business, disruptive technology, economics, robotics/AI

Ask just about anyone on the street to describe artificial intelligence and odds are, they’ll describe something resembling the futuristic science fiction robot they’ve seen in movies and television shows. However, according to Mathematician, Linguist and Artificial Intelligence Researcher Dr. András Kornai, artificial intelligence is a reality right now, and its impact can be seen every day.

“I’d say 35 percent of the total commerce taking place on Wall Street (right now) is driven by algorithms and it’s no longer driven by humans,” Kornai said. “This is not science fiction. (Artificial intelligence) is with us today.”

What we’ve seen so far in the application of algorithm-based artificial intelligence in the financial sector is just the tip of the iceberg, Kornai said. In fact, you don’t even have to own stock to be affected by it.

“I have designed algorithms that will (determine) your creditworthiness, meaning your creditworthiness is now determined by an algorithm,” he said. “We have substituted human-decision making capabilities in favor of better algorithms to pursue this, and we have given up a huge area of human competence, and money is just one aspect of it.”

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Oct 21, 2015

Global Scenarios and National Workshops to Address Future Work/Technology Dynamics are being scheduled by The Millennium Project | PRWeb

Posted by in categories: business, disruptive technology, economics, education, futurism, policy

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“The nature of work, employment, jobs, and economics will have to change over the next 35 years, or the world will face massive unemployment by 2050. This was a key conclusion of the Future Work/Technology 2050 study published in the “2015−16 State of the Future.”

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Oct 13, 2015

Does The Potential of Automation Outweigh The Perils?

Posted by in categories: automation, disruptive technology, driverless cars, economics, military

These days, it’s not hard to find someone predicting that robots will take over the world and that automation could one day render human workers obsolete. The real debate is over whether or not the benefits do or do not outweigh the risks. Automation Expert and Author Dr. Daniel Berleant is one person who is more often on the side of automation.

There are many industries that are poised to be affected by the oncoming automation boom (in fact, it’s a challenge to think of one arena that will not in some minimal way be affected). “The government is actually putting quite a bit of money into robotic research for what they call ‘cooperative robotics,’” Berleant said. “Currently, you can’t work near a typical industrial robot without putting yourself in danger. As the research goes forward, the idea is (to develop) robots that become able to work with people rather than putting them in danger.”

While many view industrial robotic development as a menace to humanity, Berleant tends to focus on the areas where automation can be a benefit to society. “The civilized world is getting older and there are going to be more old people,” he said. “The thing I see happening in the next 10 or 20 years is robotic assistance to the elderly. They’re going to need help, and we can help them live vigorous lives and robotics can be a part of that.”

Berleant also believes that food production, particularly in agriculture, could benefit tremendously from automation. And that, he says, could have a positive effect on humanity on a global scale. “I think, as soon as we get robots that can take care of plants and produce food autonomously, that will really be a liberating moment for the human race,” Berleant said. “Ten years might be a little soon (for that to happen), maybe 20 years. There’s not much more than food that you need to survive and that might be a liberating moment for many poor countries.”

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Oct 5, 2015

MIT’s SOLVE Program Launched 05–08 October 2015

Posted by in categories: economics, education, energy, environmental, food, futurism, health, water


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“Solve is a cross-disciplinary program led by MIT to convene the people and organizations that are addressing the world’s most pressing challenges in healthcare, energy, the environment, education, food & water, civil infrastructure and the economy.”

Live stream

Oct 1, 2015

A Greater Giving Potential: Introducing Micro-Donations in Bytecoin

Posted by in categories: cryptocurrencies, disruptive technology, economics, encryption

Suggests a mechanism to be adopted for any
cryptocurrency that would alter the fee layer to
help fund a new public good.

From ABIS concept

In 2013, following a period of reflection and visioning, I imagined the possibility of completely altering the financial system as we know it. This vision, known as ABIS, will now see its first-ever implementation.

The implementation is now being issued in BCN’s GUI Wallet with the release of v. 1.0.8, where the transaction has been re-envisioned to allow the user new ways to explore the possibilities of transactions and realize greater giving potential, initially through two use cases involving unique forms of donations:

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Sep 25, 2015

The Future of Money

Posted by in categories: bitcoin, cryptocurrencies, disruptive technology, economics, mobile phones, wearables

Money is the primary mechanism for storing and exchanging value, especially in our daily purchases, and it’s heading rapidly into a faster, smarter and more mobile future. Nevertheless, the constant in the midst of change will remain levels of human trust in the proliferating forms of money. That’s because we have an ancient and abiding partnership with money and no relationship is ever sustainable without trust.

It’s a time of accelerated innovation in this field due to the rapid global expansion of digital banking, especially online and mobile financial services. However, while payments and transfer of money shift inexorably towards mobile devices as the consumer technology of choice, digital currencies expand in scope and number and online shopping begins to enter a golden age, cash is still the most successful and popular form of money ever. Its trust level, as public money backed up by a promise to pay from the government which minted and manufactured it, remains extremely high. This is evidenced by the way the Greeks turned to cash during their fiscal and monetary crisis which rocked the whole European Union, as well as by cash’s current 8.9% per annum average global growth rate. Cash is undoubtedly one of the most successful social technologies in history.

In short, the future of money will be mobile, faster in execution and settlement, and yet as heavily dependent on trust as ever. In my view, for that very reason, there’s unlikely to be a cashless world in this century. Nor is such a scenario desirable, unless you’re a fan of a Big Brother society largely dominated and dictated by multinationals more powerful than many national governments. A cashless world would subvert the economic freedom of citizens to choose the form of money and payment they want and, if that weren’t bad enough, it would lead inevitably to even further marginalisation of the world’s poor. Besides, cash is already universally trusted, instant in execution and mobile in nature (that is, just as portable as a smart phone).

That said, digital banking is here to stay and provides massive levels of convenience and efficiency. Financial institutions the world over are fiercely focused on developing omnichannel (“every channel”) strategies to provide seamless customer experiences across all their banking channels.

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Sep 21, 2015

Google’s Larry Page envisions a world with less work

Posted by in categories: economics, futurism

Do you dream of pursuing your passion, but find yourself hindered by a daily work schedule? That might not be a problem in the future, at least not in the future envisioned by Google’s Larry Page, where humans are required to work less while having their needs met.

In a Fireside chat with Vinod Khosla, both Google founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin talked a lot about Google and the world surrounding it, with the entire chat (featured in the video below) lasting a bit over 40 minutes. Among the different topics was discussion about our working future.

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Sep 18, 2015

What if U.S. had raised interest rates?

Posted by in categories: economics, finance, government, policy

At the end of 2015, the US national debt will be 18.6 trillion dollars. With such a big number, it’s tempting to put it in perspective by comparing it with things more easily envisioned. 98e2c31e5c194d21be9fd3922dc45fde9207f454Alas, I can not think of anything that puts such an oppressive and unfair burden into perspective, except to this:

US debt represents a personal obligation of $60,000 for each American citizen. And it is rising quickly. Most of our GDP is used simply to pay down interest on that debt. Few pundits see a way out of this hole.

bretton_woods-aIn my opinion, that hole was facilitated in August 1971, when the US modified the Bretton Woods Agreement and unilaterally terminated convertibility of the US dollar to gold. By forcibly swapping every dollar in every pocket and bank account with the promise of transient legislators, individual wealth was suddenly based on fiat instead of something tangible or intrinsic.

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