Category Archives: Business

Financialization in telecom


By George Mattathil – With all these things going on, one would think that there would be an earnest effort to find out what is wrong.

Instead, the preoccupation in the media and industry is with “net neutrality” confusion, which the FCC Chairman summed up: “the idea of net neutrality has been discussed for a decade with no lasting results.” more> http://wp.me/p4erPG-5j

How We Think


BOOK REVIEW

How We Think, Author: John Dewey.

By Maria Popova – What separates thinking, a basic human faculty we take for granted, from thinking well?

What it takes to train ourselves into mastering the art of thinking, and how we can channel our natural curiosity in a productive way when confronted with an overflow of information.

A subject urgently relevant today, in our age of snap judgments and instant opinions. more> http://tinyurl.com/knfc3fz

Updates from GE


Honey, I Shrunk the World: How Materials Scientists Made the Globe Smaller

GE – Composites are made from alternating layers of fiber and sheets of carbon, plastic or ceramics, kind of like industrial-grade baklava.

When joined together, composites can be tougher and lighter than steel or titanium. “This was a huge, expensive and risky project,” says Shridhar Nath, who leads the composites lab at GE Global Research. “We planned to replace titanium with what is essentially plastic. We were starting from scratch and we did not know how carbon fiber blades would respond to rain, hail, snow and sand, and the large forces inside the engine.”

The bet paid off and GE has, over time, invested billions more in materials science. The composites research delivered a new line of large, fuel efficient jet engines like the GE90 and GEnx, that changed the economics of aviation forever. “The engines essentially opened the globe up to incredibly efficient, twin-powered, wide-body planes,” says David Joyce, president and CEO of GE Aviation.

The latest engine in that family, the GE9X, will power Boeing’s next-generation 777X long-haul jets. Light-weight carbon composites allowed engineers to design an 11-foot fan that can suck a maelstrom of 8,000 pounds of air per second inside the engine. The air will flows into the combustor, where it meets parts made from ceramic matrix composites (CMCs), another breakthrough material developed by GE scientists.

Carbon fiber composites work with cold air at the front of the engine. But CMCs operate in the engine’s hot section, at temperatures where even metals grow soft. The extra heat gained by the ceramics gives the engine more energy to work with and makes it more efficient.

CMCs also have twice the strength and just a third of the weight of their metal counterparts. This allows designers to make parts from them thinner and much lighter, further reducing the weight of the engine. more> http://tinyurl.com/lt5wlnn

A Principled Fight Against Surveillance


By Katitza Rodriguez – Years before Edward Snowden leaked his first document, human rights lawyers and activists have been concerned about a dramatic expansion in law enforcement and foreign intelligence agencies’ efforts to spy on the digital world.

It had become evident that legal protections had not kept pace with technological – that the state’s practical ability to spy on the world had developed in a way that permitted it to bypass the functional limits that have historically checked its ability to spy.

  • It’s time to move beyond the fallacy that information about communications (metadata) does not pose as serious a threat to privacy as the content of communications
  • In a world of highly integrated digital networks, where individual interactions and data routes defy any semblance of territorial correspondence, such distinctions are meaningless
  • “Law” implies certain minimum qualitative requirements of clarity, accessibility, and predictability. Laws limiting human rights cannot be secret or vague enough to permit arbitrary interference
  • Laws should only permit communications surveillance by specified State authorities to achieve a Legitimate Aim that corresponds to a predominantly important legal interest that is necessary in a democratic society
  • Any restrictive measure which undermines the essence or core of a right is inherently disproportionate and a violation of that right
  • No law should impose security holes in our technology in order to facilitate surveillance
  • Notification must be the norm, not the exception. Individuals should be notified that access to their communications has been authorized with enough time and information to enable them to appeal the decision, except when doing so would endanger the investigation at issue
  • Governments should not bypass national privacy protections by relying on secretive informal data sharing agreements with foreign states or private international companies. Individuals should not be denied privacy rights simply because they live in another country from the one that is surveilling them. Where data is flowing across borders, the law of the jurisdiction with the greatest privacy protections should apply

It’s clear that under the cloak of secrecy, malfunctioning oversight and the limited reach of outdated laws, the practice of digital surveillance in countries from the far north to the far south, have overrun the bounds of human rights standards. more> http://tinyurl.com/l7qj7td

Related>

Don’t Be Rude, You Loser


By Noah Smith – In other words, civility gives an unfair advantage to bad arguments. Being polite to someone can easily be mistaken for taking their idea seriously — and many ideas simply don’t deserve to be taken seriously.

But there’s an important question that I think Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig fails to consider:

What if your own viewpoint is wrong? more> http://tinyurl.com/kzvs6ul

Updates from GE


Das Instant Auto: Say Hallo to a Hot Rod Powered by Water

GE – The intriguingly named Quant e-Sportlimousine has been making a splash in Europe, where it was just approved for road use. The electric vehicle can go from 0 to 62 miles per hour in a ridiculous 2.8 seconds, reach a projected top speed of 217 mph, and has a range of 370 miles for one charge, according to its manufacturer, Liechtenstein-based NanoFlowCell AG. Oh, and it’s powered by a saltwater-filled battery.

Unlike traditional batteries, which use solid materials to store and release electricity, flow batteries use charged liquids kept in separate tanks. The charged liquids come into close proximity only during power generation, greatly reducing the possibility of fire. “The safety is much higher and the electrode materials degrade much less during service,” Dr. Grigorii Soloveichik says. “You can re-use them many, many times.”

Soloveichik says flow batteries could hold “tens of kilowatt-hours and up” of energy, since it is the size of the tanks that determines how much power the batteries can store. Besides cars, flow batteries could be used as backup power for commercial and residential systems, store electricity from renewable sources of energy, and also support the power grid. “They can store energy from wind, for example, so power companies can use it when they need it,” Soloveichik says. more> http://tinyurl.com/l5cuos2

The Rise (and Likely Fall) of the Talent Economy


BOOK REVIEW

Playing to Win: How Strategy Really Works, Author: Roger L. Martin.

By Roger L. Martin – Another, less well-known mechanism that has boosted income for the possessors of talent is the notorious “2&20 formula.”

Its roots lie in a 2,000-year-old practice whereby Phoenician ship captains would take 20% of the value of a cargo successfully delivered.

In 1949, when a fee of 1% to 2% of assets under management was typical in the investment management field, Alfred Winslow Jones, the first acknowledged hedge fund manager, adopted the Phoenician formula. He set himself up as the general partner of what would come to be referred to as a private equity firm and charged the limited partners who invested in his fund a 20% cut of the profits that he generated (“carried interest,” in industry parlance) on top of a 2% asset management fee. more> http://tinyurl.com/o2fndol