Can the Digital Economy Ever Be Sustainable?

World Economic Forum

People First is delighted to share work that is relevant to our initiatives. Mei-Lin Fung is a member of the People Centered Internet and an active, founding member of People First.

Read this article at The World Economic Forum as published on September 19, 2017.

Hurricane Harvey dropped 52 inches of rain and 27 trillion gallons of water on Texas and Louisiana. And a new kind of “All-hands-on-deck” response emerged.

Glenn Reynolds, author of An Army of Davids, writes: “But the real difference isn’t citizens getting involved, it’s the willingness of responsible officials to see that involvement as a plus rather than a potential problem … the excellent record of civilian volunteer responders in the post-9/11 record is behind that willingness.”

The Cajun Navy flotilla of private boat owners demonstrated the value of government, the private sector and regular people working together. The value of such cooperation in earlier disasters like Katrina and Sandy increased the ability to coordinate when Harvey struck.

Traditional global governance is failing. Yet the need for effective collaboration, delivering good performance in the face of new challenges has never been greater. Continue reading

Artist Jorge Otero Escobar weaving Lomo (Backbone) in 2015

The Future of Work

Artist Jorge Otero Escobar weaving Lomo (Backbone) in 2015

I just read a blog post, The Future of Work – Redux by John Philpin. It provides a nice, short look at what might happen as computers, robots and artificial intelligence become increasingly present in the workplace—what will people do when “all the work is done by robots?” As a result, I will be using computer, robots and AI interchangeably for the rest of this post.

John expresses a view that the future includes people working with robots, not simply people being replaced by robots. I happen to agree with that. I’ve written several blog posts on artificial intelligence (AI) and my skepticism about the capabilities and pace of the introduction of AI systems. AI has enormous potential, but I don’t see AI making humans obsolete any time soon (actually, I don’t see AI making humans obsolete—period).

Computers, and by extension, robots and AI, possess one important capability: they can add and subtract really friggin’ fast. George Boole developed what we now call Boolean Logic and it created an approach that allows us, following in the footsteps of Charles Babbage, Augusta Ada King-Noel Countess Lovelace (nee Byron), Grace Hopper and Claude Shannon, to stick those additions and subtractions together in such a way as to resolve any computable task (à la Alan Turing).

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