Digital currency rose to its prominence in 2009, marked by the birth of Bitcoin. The following seven years saw the burgeoning of a 10 billion dollar worth Bitcoin global network, which leads to more discussions from central banks around how to keep up with the trend both systematically and technologically. Debates on the legitimacy of digital currency never end, with speculation around possibilities of its replacement of fiat money, an ensuing prospective governance mechanism and its function akin to that of central banks.
Google, Facebook and Twitter last week vowed to fight fake news, hate speech and abuse in their own ways amid the backlash over how such content may have influenced voting in the U.S. presidential election. Those actions could have come sooner, and many troubling issues persist.
Given the rural context in developing countries, how has the Internet influenced their socialization, economic opportunities and access to knowledge resources? Rural areas do not have educational, communication, and transportation facilities. Job opportunities are not many; information on job opportunities in other locations is not easily available. In emergencies like epidemic breaks or floods it is difficult to contact other organizations for help. Even commerce takes place at a primitive level. Do government initiatives to provide Internet access make a difference? To find out, we asked the people.
In the global geography of innovation, India is straddling two continents. Its engineers have contributed to the success of the Silicon Valley: the father of the USB socket, the inventor of the Intel Pentium chip, the general manager of Microsoft are Indian, as is part of the senior management at Google. The success of this Diaspora reflects the talents of Indian engineers, but it can also be linked with an original innovation culture, which expresses itself in an amazing ability to reverse concepts. Three meta-innovations illustrate this Indian way.
Over 60,000 US Internet startups have been created over the last decade but only 0.14% turned into unicorns i.e. startup companies with a market capitalization over one billion dollars. Who are the serial entrepreneurs who founded them? This winners club covered 84 entities in 2015 – against 39 in 2013. They have a very distinctive profile.
The Airbnb community reflects very interesting socio-cultural aspects. Almost 73% of Americans are unaware of collaborative economy, and this consumption pattern appeals primarily to under-45s, university graduates and people with a good level of income. This form of consumption is popular among the upper stratum of society because of the Romantic image it conjures, the ecological label and the art of living together. Simultaneously, it federates the support of young people because of the economic benefits it provides. Collaborative economy is the warhorse of a sort of cultural avant-garde; but this group will grow.
Different hierarchies of needs explain why, in the internet industry and other high-tech industries in China, there are both the Chinese way and the Silicon Valley way of doing business, and why some big American companies have been struggling to make headway here. High-tech sounds high-up, but for online service providers, it all boils down to understanding other people’s ways of thinking and doing things. They have to understand local governments, their employees, business partners, users and clients. Looking back, the U.S. internet giants that failed were simply out of tune with the Chinese market. They didn’t clearly see the importance of understanding Chinese culture; they talked to the wrong people in the wrong ways about the wrong things.
In order to continue to prosper, China as a country and as an economy needs deep and comprehensive reform. President Xi Jinping outlined his view in a long article published on May 10th in Peoples’ Daily, the official party newspaper: reform means that market forces should play a decisive role in resource allocation, and for that to happen there needs to be a level playing field. That in turn requires that all players abide by the same rules, standards and laws, which will not be achieved without strict and equal enforcement. In the field of road transportation, these issues become very concrete, visual and easy to understand.
The public sector has long operated in isolation, developing methods and solutions of its own. In recent decades, however, interactions with the private sector have increased, whether through the growing role of consulting firms or in the form of public-private partnerships. Today, this collaboration is taking on a whole new dimension by integrating other stakeholders, including the users of public services. The emergence of open innovation models is redefining the methods and spirit of public action. Government is reinventing itself as an innovation platform.
Rapid technological upgrades and commercial innovation, coupled with a slow legislative and regulatory process, have given rise to successive social issues and disputes: Should platforms like Uber be legalized or not? Should Apple’s encryption technology be restricted? Should search results be affected by keyword bidding? Such issues not only pose great challenges to state governance, but also arouse intense social debates and controversies.
Urban travel demand has to be understood from the context of differentiated urban growth. To some extent, capacity increase is possible by slight modifications with little or no investments such as signaling changes, widening of roads and extricating encroachments. But what works for one city may not work for the other, though some valuable lessons can be learned.
Sirius has four characteristics. He is strictly rational and insensitive to any emotional stimulus. He is also insensitive to any political or corporate pressure. He ignores all existing health systems worldwide. He has a full capacity of understanding and immediate learning. Were Sirius asked to design a completely new health system, what would it look like?
The recent Directive on the protection of trade secrets sparked widespread criticism. Much has been said on this text, accused of having been written under the influence of multinational companies and of allowing prosecutions against journalists and whistleblowers. A careful reading of the text, however, can dispel most of the expressed concerns. The purpose of the Directive is not to organize the disguise of wrongdoing or unethical behavior. It is, however, aimed at protecting any information that would constitute a competitive advantage, without inducing intellectual property rights.
A request by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation for help from Apple to unlock an iPhone used by a terrorist has quickly grown into full scale battle. The FBI's argument of enhancing national security is countered by the technology industry's fears that a one-off software backdoor could set a precedent for more such demands, compromising consumers’ security and privacy, and negatively impacting business. According to experts, the FBI's case is on uncertain legal ground and the agency ought to empower itself with Congressional backing and in-house resources to cope with technological obstacles such as the one in the latest case.
The Paris Agreement shows the willingness of all nations to combat hand-in-hand the challenges of climate change. However, willingness per se is easily defeated by harsh realities. More than ever, cooperation is needed. But sacrifices will also be asked. How to negotiate them?
Towers Watson has launched HealthVantage, a health management solution that incorporates wearable devices and online applications to give an organization’s workforce a full health refresh. Using technology effectively can present a big opportunity for employers to build a culture of wellness at their organization. How?
The evolution of food demand in different regions of the world will be crucial to ensure food security for all, in quantity and composition. But it is also a key driver for the proper management of natural resources, and as such a central element of the energy transition.
Mathematics and technology are increasingly used in decision-making. The current trend is even to replace human decisions by machine decisions. But in some experiences, technological innovation helps to reinvigorate the most human of all decision process: democracy. This is the purpose of the Democracy 2.1 experiment, launched by the Czech mathematician Karel Janeček: a radical innovation of the voting system, based on mathematical intuitions derived from game theory.
Behind the proliferation of Uber stories hitting the headlines in many countries, the emergence of a sharing economy fascinates, and sometimes worries us, especially because of its blurry boundaries. From the perspective of an economist, it can be described as a market expansion. Exchanges that previously fell within the scope of informal economy are now an integral part of formal economy. It that good news? Yes it is. But this rapid and incomplete transition also raises many problems.
From the perspective of an economist, the sharing economy can be described as a market expansion. Among the downsides, which are now well identified, competition is stronger: but is it still fair competition? And don't the marketplaces that organize this competition find themselves in a situation of monopoly?