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Showing posts from January, 2015

The Founder no one knows

The first major secessionist movement in American history depended on many things for its success, not the least of which was an unemployed, twice-married tax collector from Thetford, England who had dropped out of school at age 12 to apprentice in his father’s stay-making business.As an adult he stumbled through various unsuccessful occupations while building a reputation as a beer hall debater.
At 37, broke and already close to the end of his life given the statistics for that period, he took a coach to London where he had a chance meeting with Benjamin Franklin.  Franklin was so impressed with his intellect he wrote him a letter of recommendation and urged him to take it to Philadelphia where he might find employment as a tutor.  
Typhus almost killed him on the voyage over, but after a lengthy convalescence he found work as editor of a new magazine, publishing his first article on January 24, 1775.  Foreign vices, he wrote, engaging his poetic flair, should they survive the voyag…

What to do with the fast pace of technology

TIME’s Rana Foroohar is concerned about how technology is making all of us less trusting.It’s moving too fast, she says, at least for the average Joe.

Backing her up is the 2015 Trust Barometer Survey, released every year at the World Economic Forum in Davos that’s ongoing now.  Two out of every three consumers in the 27 countries surveyed said they were unable to cope with the fast pace of technology development.  Ms. Foroohar didn’t mention this, but we’re already on the knee of the technology exponential.  As change moves into the vertical part of the curve and accelerates at a blinding pace, what will consumers do then?  Taking a Trust survey will be pointless.
I suppose this might be why she’s so concerned.  Warning to tech giants: The average Joe, she believes, will line up behind politicians promising to do something about it.  
What might they do? Expect more push back on sharing economy companies that skirt local regulation, a greater focus on the monopoly power of mammoth t…

Kurzweil's Black Swans

What can we expect in 2015?  Global recession and civil disorder top the list, according to what I read.Given the way central banks and governments have sabotaged free markets at every turn, coupled with the belligerent nature of U.S. foreign policy and the militarization of our police, both forecasts strike me as plausible.
But the plausible doesn’t need forecasting, does it?  We need to be reminded of it, certainly, and in that sense it’s critical.  But what we really want to know is: Are any black swans on the horizon?
There are two problems with black swans.  One is predicting them: how do you predict an event that by definition comes as a surprise?  The other is convincing people that this surprising event will in fact occur.  
We all know what happened to the price of oil, but how many prognosticators provided advanced warning of a sharp downturn?  Michael Lynch is one, to an extent.  Are there others who called the drop and who also are not known for making “stopped watch” pred…