glomc00 - The Global Millennium Class
Topic: agriculture & rural development | authors | business & finance | design | economy | education | entrepreneurship & innovation | environment | general | healthcare | human resources | nonprofit | people | policy & governance | publishing | reviews | science & technology | university research
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'Technology will create superteachers, not replace them' | Independent Education Today, 05 nov 2019
How healthcare organizations tackle population health strategy: 5 insights | Becker's Hospital Review, 05 nov 2019
Decline of motor industry drives global economic slowdown | Financial Times, 05 nov 2019
Personal Development Scaling In Online Education | Forbes, 04 nov 2019
Evolving Technology: Transforming a Decades-Old Approach to Healthcare | HealthTechZone, 04 nov 2019
'We Only Trust Nurses to Fix the Healthcare Crisis,' Says America | Florence Health, 04 nov 2019
The Next Hot Tech Career? Farming. | Thrive Global, 04 nov 2019
Balancing Friendship and Entrepreneurship | Entrepreneur, 03 nov 2019
Rights group: Iraq education system on brink of collapse | Aljazeera, 02 nov 2019
Tracking the Forces Threatening the World's Hottest Economies | Bloomberg, 29 oct 2019
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 14 nov 2019
Achieving global food security is a challenge that requires all humanity to participate and work together. It is imperative to improve food production and distribution, tackle environmental degradation and climate change, alleviate poverty and resolve conflicts through peaceful means. Prof. Miguel Altieri of University of California at Berkeley focuses his research on the concepts of agroecology. His group's research and publications aid in the emergence of agroecology as the discipline that provides the basic ecological principles for how to study, design, and manage sustainable agroecosystems that are both productive and natural resource conserving, and that are also culturally-sensitive, socially-just and economically viable. He explains that urban agriculture has potential to enhance food security in US cities. According to him, 'I believe that raising fresh fruits, vegetables and some animal products near consumers in urban areas can improve local food security and nutrition, especially for underserved communities.' US Dept. of Agriculture estimates that for 1 out of 8 citizens food insecurity is a near-term risk. The current food distribution system in cities of Califormia, where large population resides, requires enormous amounts of energy and generates significant greenhouse gas emissions. Prof. Altieri says, 'The food it delivers fails to reach 1 of every 8 people in the region who live under the poverty line - mostly senior citizens, children and minorities. Access to quality food is limited both by poverty and the fact that on average, California’s low-income communities have 32.7% fewer supermarkets than high-income areas within the same cities.' In the past 30 years, urban farming has grown by more than 30% in the US. Moreover, it is estimated that urban agriculture can meet 15 to 20% of global food demand. But, it is yet to be seen what level of food self-sufficiency it can realistically ensure for cities. There are limitations and challenges. According to a survey, 51 countries do not have enough urban area to meet a recommended nutritional target of 300 grams per person per day of fresh vegetables. Moreover, it estimated, urban agriculture would require 30% of the total urban area of those countries to meet global demand for vegetables. Land tenure issues and urban sprawl could make it hard to free up this much land for food production. Prof. Altieri explains, 'Although urban agriculture has promise, a small proportion of the food produced in cities is consumed by food-insecure, low-income communities. Many of the most vulnerable people have little access to land and lack the skills needed to design and tend productive gardens.' Cuban model of urban farming can be applied, where local urban farmers were trained to use well-tested agroecological methods to cultivate diverse vegetables, roots, tubers and herbs in relatively small spaces. In Cuba, over 300000 urban farms and gardens produce about 50% of the island's fresh produce supply, along with 39000 tons of meat and 216 million eggs. Most Cuban urban farmers reach yields of 44 pounds (20 kilograms) per square meter per year. Access to land and unaffordable water for irrigation are critical challenges for urban farming in US. Discounted water rates and land reforms specifically for urban farming can provide a boost to the concept. Prof. Altieri says, 'Cities have limited ability to deal with food issues within their boundaries, and many problems associated with food systems require action at the national and international level. However, city governments, local universities and nongovernment organizations can do a lot to strengthen food systems, including creating agroecological training programs and policies for land and water access. The first step is increasing public awareness of how urban farming can benefit modern cities.' Read on...
How urban agriculture can improve food security in US cities
Author: Miguel Altieri
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 aug 2019
According to Wikipedia, 'Place branding (including place marketing and place promotion) is a new umbrella term encompassing nation branding, region branding and city branding. Place branding is the process of image communication to a target market. It is invariably related to the notion that places compete with other places for people, resources, and business...A place brand is a network of associations in the place consumers' mind based on the visual, verbal, and behavioral expression of a place and its' stakeholders. These associations differ in their influence within the network and in importance for the place consumers' attitude and behavior (Erik Braun, Sebastian Zenker; 2017). It therefore aims to affect the perceptions of a place and position it favourably in the minds of the target groups. Place branding can even be considered as a governance strategy for projecting images and managing perceptions about places (Erik Braun, Jasper Eshuis, Erik-Hans Klijn; 2014).' Bill Baker, veteran place brander and author of the recent book, 'Place Branding for Small Cities, Regions and Downtowns: The Essentials for Successful Destinations', while speeking with Bobby McGill, founder and publisher of Branding in Asia, shares insights based on his long experience in destination marketing and tourism development. Mr. Baker says, 'Tourism can play a very positive role as part of an economic development strategy. However, locations around the world are recognizing that there is the need for a tourism masterplan to balance the marketing of the destination with the need for sustainable and harmonious development to meet community values and aspirations while meeting the needs of external audiences.' Explaing some of the mistakes in place branding, he says, 'The most common mistake or weakness that we see in place branding very often relates to positioning. Defining the brand position for a city, downtown or region is, without a doubt, the most important and trickiest part of the entire process. If they don't get this part right, everything else will miss its mark, since it's the positioning and its relevance to target audiences that informs and shapes all other elements of the brand. Compounding this is the challenge of dealing with the many competing voices of stakeholders.' He also cautions, 'Place branding can be a perilous journey. Some do a great job with defining their brand identity, but soon falter or fail when it comes to deployment and brand management, and the consistency needed to follow the agreed strategy. Others are unable to sustain the leadership, funding, personnel, and partner enthusiasm required to succeed...Our experiences have shown that a lack of understanding about branding, particularly among key decision-makers can be the Waterloo or graveyard for a place branding initiative. Unless staff and committees can get beyond thinking in terms of logos and taglines, or mistaking a snappy campaign theme, then their efforts to define and deploy a genuine, unifying place brand will likely fail.' Regarding the book, he says, 'The focus of my book is on smaller cities and regions, and their focus may not be on tourism alone. Instead, their brand development may be centered on an overarching brand to embrace tourism, economic development, education, relocation and inward investment. Developing an overarching brand often brings to the table many participants who may not be familiar with branding, or in some cases, marketing.' He suggests, 'A multitude of stakeholders will be, or at least should be, involved in revealing a city or downtown brand, and this will depart from the accepted path for branding corporate products and services. One reason for this variation is the composite nature of places. They are a compilation of many independent and competing businesses, products, and experiences that are owned and managed by many different entities. There's no single custodian or owner of the brand. Community leaders who are aware of the differences in branding places and consumer goods are in a much better space to adapt to these challenges when they become evident...One of the leading determiners regarding who will lead the effort comes down to who is funding the project. Place branding frequently involves a single source of funding...Economic development organizations and DMOs (Direct Marketing Organizations) are usually the best-situated entities to plan, coordinate, and manage a place branding initiative...Determining the lead organization can involve balancing acts...Hence, the calls for DMOs to broaden their roles within communities and bring all parties together.' Read on...
Branding in Asia:
Q&A: Insights from Veteran Place Branding Guru Bill Baker
Author: Bobby McGill
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 aug 2019
Social enterprises tackle societal and environmental issues utilizing business concepts for the larger interest of the society and reinvest profits back to sustain themselves. They support in building inclusive economy. According to the most recent statistics, there are around 5600 social enterprises in Scotland with an economic contribution of around £2 billion, ranging from community co-operatives to housing associations, enterprising charities and more. Duncan Thorp, policy and communications manager at Social Enterprise Scotland, explains how social enterprises are contributing to Scotland's economy and advocates collaborations between them and private sector for greater economic and social benefits. He explains why engaging social enterprises with private sector is win-win - 'Firstly, social failure is bad for business. Unemployment, homelessness, drug addiction and other issues negatively impact on businesses. People without work and opportunity don't have money to spend on goods and services. Social enterprises work at the frontline to solve these social problems. Private sector businesses should also engage with social enterprises because they bring real benefit in terms of opening up new markets and new business opportunities. Joint bids for public contracts and similar partnership working are options too. Businesses can contract social enterprises into their supply chains. This could be a catering contract, graphic design, meeting space hire or something else. It's also about private sector employees volunteering in social enterprises, in a skills exchange, for learning and personal development.' He advocates three key areas of partnership work - consumer demand, supply chains and contracting and procurement. He suggests that building mutually beneficial relationships between social enterprises and private sector businesses paves the way for knowledge exchange, positively influencing business culture and build an economy that benefits all. Read on...
Social enterprise is good for business - Duncan Thorp
Author: Duncan Thorp
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 mar 2019
Scot Henney (GVP of sales at SAP) and Marcus Venth (GVP of market development at SAP) discussed the importance of customer experience in the digital age with John Furrier and Dave Vellante, co-hosts of theCUBE at IBM Think event in San Francisco, US. Mr. Henney says, 'A new customer-experience domain is open up called the "experience economy". It brings the front office and back office together and adds in "experiential data" on end-users.' As more companies shift from products to subscription-based services, customer-experience becomes crucial. Digital provides more power to consumers and ease of switching brands. Customer feedback becomes valuable. According to Mr. Henney, '80% of customers have switched brands because of poor CX (customer experience) and companies that deliver better customer experience have more than 200% more shareholder value.' Mr. Venth adds, 'The 360 customer view that leads to stellar CX is not achieved with applications, data and professionals in silos. One of the biggest challenges we see [is]...where we have a highly customized environment with lots of disparate applications that really are poorly integrated.' Read on...
Analytics mine consumer brains in new 'experience economy'
Author: R. Danes
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 15 jan 2019
According to the recent report published by the British Council and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), 'Developing an Inclusive and Creative Economy: The state of social enterprise in Indonesia', millenials are leading a surge in the creation of business that are working to create positive social and environmental impact. More than 70% of a surveyed sample group mentions that the social enterprises started in the last two years and about 50% of the social entrepreneurs are aged between 25 and 34 years. The reports estimates that there are more than 342000 social enterprises in the region. In Indonesia more than 1/5th of social enterprises work in the creative industries, contrary to other countries in Aisa-Pacific region, such as the Philippines, Sri Lanka and India, where agriculture, education and health dominate. Ari Susanti, a senior program manager for the British Council in Indonesia, says, 'Many young people want to work in an area where they can make change, not just earn a salary.' According to the World Bank, Indonesia is an emerging middle-income country that, over the last 20 years, has seen growth in GDP at the same time as poverty has been cut in half. These conditions are enabling the growth of social enterprises. Armida Salsiah Alisjahbana, executive secretary of UNESCAP, says, 'UN body would support the development of social enterprise as a key means of building an inclusive and creative economy. Social enterprise is an opportunity for Indonesia...This report provides a solid evidence base to inform future policies and strategies.' These social enterprises mainly support and benefit local communities, women and young people. Moreover, they have also become a substantial source of employment - the number of full-time workers employed by social enterprises increased by 42% from 2016 to 2017. The rise in social enterprises is also proving good for gender equality - the social enterprise workforce is estimated to be made up of 69% women and is responsible for a 99% increase of full-time female employees in 2016-17. Government, corporations and universities have all come together to offer their support to social enterprises. Bambang P. S. Brodjonegoro, economist and the Minister of National Development Planning of Indonesia, wrote in the introduction of the report, 'The government aims to be an active partner of social entrepreneurs and is committed to continue building and nurturing the social entrepreneurship ecosystem.' Read on...
Millennials lead social enterprise surge in Indonesia
Author: Lee Mannion
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 28 jul 2018
Collaborative partnerships between local government, community, nonprofit organizations, academia and businesses can do wonders to enhance the various aspects of localities, cities and regions. An old factory site being rehabilitated as a business park in Lackawanna (New York, USA) is an example of sustainable redevelopment and the impact a local government can have on climate change. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz, Deputy Executive Maria Whyte and others officials visited Conrnell Universuty campus and discussed the redevelopment project with faculty and shared county initiatives focused on sustainability and economic growth, quality of life and building strong communities. Mr. Poloncarz says, 'Strong partnerships and sustainable practices are essential to progress, giving more people a say in their community and making responsible use of our resources to effect change that benefits generations yet to come.' Basil Safi, Executive Director of the Office of Engagement Initiatives at Cornell, says, 'The event was organized as a launching point to further community-engaged research and learning collaborations with Erie County', seeding ideas for potential projects involving Cornell students and faculty.' Initiatives for a Smart Economy (I4SE) is an economic development strategy Erie County enacted in 2013 and updated last year as I4SE 2.0. It contains 71 initiatives and is focused on inclusion and creating shared opportunities for all residents, to address persistent poverty and underemployment. Max Zhang, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Cornell, says, 'I can envision that students team up with community partners to address specific challenges they are facing.' Rebecca Brenner, a lecturer at the Cornell Institute for Public Affairs, began a project in spring 2017 in Buffalo (NY) on improving communications during an emergency for that city's diverse, multilingual refugee population, and creating an emergency notification plan with nonprofit resettlement agencies as community partners. Erie County has about 300 current strategic initiatives led by county departments with community partners. They include fostering hiring of disadvantaged residents in high-poverty areas for construction jobs amid Buffalo's building boom; exploring the feasibility of a new convention center to spur tourism; creating an agribusiness park in rural southern Erie County; supporting health and human services agencies and energy programs targeting low-income households; and infrastructure and environmental remediation in county parks. Shorna Allred, associate professor of natural resources at Cornell, says, 'I was quite impressed and intrigued by what they are doing in Buffalo...We are similarly trying to bring together a partnership of people to work on sustainability issues across the city...' Read on...
Sustainable economic strategies spur engaged research interest
Author: Daniel Aloi
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jun 2018
Food waste is a global concern and innovative solutions are needed to overcome it. Recent data from National Resources Defense Council found that the average American throws out 400 pounds of food a year, meaning that up to 40% of food grown on the farm bypasses the fork and ends up in a landfill. Globally, impact of food waste can be seen in terms of lost resources, wasted water (70% of fresh water is consumed in agriculture), increased levels of climate-change-producing gases, and diverted food that could contribute to alleviating hunger. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) - It is estimated that annually over 60 trillion gallons of water are used to grow food that is ultimately wasted; Roughly 1/3 of the food produced for human consumption every year - approximately 1.3 billion tons - gets lost or wasted, representing nearly US$1 trillion. The cost of producing, harvesting, transporting, and disposing of this food isn't just financial - food waste accounts for about 8% of global climate pollution, more than the nations of India or Russia. According to one report, food waste throughout the US accounts for more than 60 million tons of waste, which translates into US$ 160 billion of produce and, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), represents over 21% of all waste in landfills. Adequate government policy alongwith solutions from for-profit and nonprofit sectors can successfully tackle this challenge. Sherri Welch, writing in Crain's Detroit, highlights two food-box subscription companies that sell produce and other food that retailers won't touch in the Detroit market. One is the Baltimore-based Hungry Harvest; the other is Toronto-based Flash Food. They are both for-profit companies. Denver's We Don't Waste is a nonprofit working on similar lines. Other nonprofits are working with hunger relief organizations and give their customers the option to buy a box of imperfect produce and donate it to a family in need. Phillip Knight, executive director of the Food Bank Council of Michigan, says, 'At this point, I think we are all working together to feed hungry neighbors, reduce waste and lessen the impact on the environment.' Other solutions include processing food waste as bioenergy. In the Pacific Northwest, Impact Bioenergy develops and manufactures bioenergy products that allow communities and commercial food waste generators to lessen their environmental footprint and conserve local soil resources while also reducing their waste disposal and energy costs. Policy approaches can also play an important role to shift the amount of food entering the waste stream. A May 2017 paper published by Harvard Law School's Food Law and Policy Clinic looks at the 2018 Farm Bill as a portal for changing the national conversation on food waste by integrating strategies and initiatives to support diversion efforts. Policy is a major focus on ReFed, one of the nation's leading nonprofits dedicated to addressing food waste. One of their initiatives in partnership with the Food Law and Policy Clinic is the US Food Waste Policy Finder, a tool that provides research on current food waste policy. Another promising approach is to incorporate the reuse of food that has been rejected by the conventional market into social enterprises. DC Central Kitchen is a job-training catering social enterprise that buys food seconds from farmers and uses that produce in the meals it serves to students in schools and catering event guests, even as the nonprofit also addresses the cycle of hunger. According to ReFed's 'Roadmap to Reduce US Food Waste by 20 Percent', an estimated 15000 permanent jobs could be created through policy initiatives alone. 'Wasted! The Story of Food Waste', a documentary produced by the late Anthony Bourdain, offer a glimpse of ways that nonprofits can expand their missions and collaborate with others to reduce food waste while improving the health and well-being of those in need. Read on...
For-Profit and Nonprofit Firms Devise Creative Ways to Reduce Food Waste
Author: Derrick Rhayn
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 jun 2018
According to Korn Ferry's 'The Salary Surge' report, India would be the only economy that will not face an upward revision of wages by 2030, as it has a talent surplus, bucking the global trend of a talent crunch. For organizations around the world lack of highly skilled talent supply will drive up salaries for the most in-demand workers and is expected to add more than US$ 2.5 trillion in annual labour costs by 2030. The Global Talent Crunch analysed global demand for labour at three key milestones, 2020, 2025 and 2030, in 20 markets, including in India, across three sectors, financial and business services, technology, media and telecommunications (TMT) and manufacturing. Wage premiums by 2030 - US (US$ 531 billion); Germany (US$ 176 billion); Japan (US$ 468 billion); China (US$ 342 billion) Asia Pacific (US$ 1 trillion); Singapore and Hong Kong (10% of 2017 GDP). Wage premium per worker per year by 2030 - Asia Pacific (Average US$ 14710); Hong Kong (US$ 40539); Singapore (US$ 29065); Australia (US$ 28625). Dhritiman Chakrabarti, Head of rewards and benefits for the APAC region at Korn Ferry, says, 'The new era of work is one of scarcity in abundance, there are plenty of people, but not enough with the skills their organisations will need to survive. While overall wage increases are just keeping pace with inflation, salaries for in-demand workers will skyrocket if companies choose to compete for the best and brightest on salary alone.' Manufacturing, one of the sector that is a critical driver of growth for emerging economies, may be stalled by the huge impact of the salary surge. Read on...
The Economic Times:
India to be lone economy facing suppressed wages by 2030: Study
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 30 sep 2017
Data can be gold for those who can mine and transform it into a valuable form. Mastercard is giving a new meaning to it and evolving a concept of 'data philanthropy.' Shamina Singh, president of the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth, explains the idea of data philanthropy and how data can be utilized for social good and social impact. She says, 'The initiative first came up through a partnership with DataKind in the United States. They were set up to galvanize data scientists from around the world and plug them into social impact work. And so a number of our Mastercard data scientists signed up to DataKind programs, and this gave us the opportunity to form a much more lasting and strategic partnership between the organizations. It opened a new conversation about data for good, what it could look like, and who was doing what in this space. It was also around this time that we had the United Nations opening up to data and data initiatives, and companies like Microsoft thinking about data for good.' Explaining some of the elements of data philanthropy Mastercard is focused on, she says, 'One is working with actual Mastercard data and trying to figure out if there are uses with anonymized and aggregated data that will not only respect the rules of the road around privacy, but can be used for research. We first opened our data for use by Harvard University, who approached us with a proposal to use the data to understand how economies grow, with a specific focus on tourism data and understanding how tourism dollars move in a country. Using Mastercard transaction data, we were able to provide new insights into this area...The other area of data philanthropy is around data analytics. What we have found is that many social impact organizations or NGOs do not need Mastercard data at all. Instead, they need to understand their own data, but often don't have the capacity or resources to help themselves. In those instances, we provide either a grant to hire a data scientist, fund an expert consultant, or provide our own data scientists to build their capacity and ability to learn. The inspiration for this element of data philanthropy came from our work with an organization called DoSomething...' Providing information on how Mastercard data scientists are internally looking for insights, she says, 'We started something called the charitable donations insight, and that is something that one of our colleagues is doing where she is using Mastercard data and drawing insights to help nonprofits understand charitable giving. We asked what a spending poll would look like for not-for-profits and social impact organizations, and insights is the first attempt at that...What she realized is that a lot of the not-for-profits have to raise their own funds, but there is not a lot of science behind potentially where and how they should be doing this. So she thought if she could unlock some of the data around the charitable contributions that we know of, she could offer insights to assist them. The other thing we did, which was very interesting, was we created a dataset that organizations could pull down if they want to, and mix it with your own data to self-regulate your own work.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 09 aug 2017
Research paper 'Secular Trends and Technological Progress' by Prof. Enrico C. Perotti and Robin Döttling (Ph.D. student) from University of Amsterdam (Netherlands) finds intangible capital or assets have played a key role in shaping growth, asset prices and inequality in recent decades. Researchers explain, 'The transition to a knowledge-based economy and the associated shift from physical to intangible capital is a primary cause for the rising excess savings over productive investment in advanced economies, presented in the 'secular stagnation' hypothesis. Falling interest rates and rising long-term asset values can be interpreted as a direct consequence of this gradual process. Critically, the approach also allows (us) to interpret the growing share of income gained by innovators, the progressive reallocation of credit from productive to asset financing uses (primarily for housing) and the rise in household leverage.' Secular stagnation, with its low inflation and low growth, can be understood by the growth of information economy and the expansion of intangible assets. In the information economy companies rely more on intangible assets and over the years they have boosted their investment in intangibles like intellectual property from about 30% of company capital in 1980 to nearly 70% today. According to the researchers, both intangible capital and skilled labor have outpaced the broad economy in productivity growth. James Saft explains the implications of the research findings - Secular stagnation may be here to stay, at least until the intangible economy starts coming up with projects that require huge capital investment; Monetary policy may be fighting a losing battle to spark investment and build inflation and lower-skilled wage growth; Taxation and redistribution may end up the only way to let the market work in producing innovation and also reach a democratically acceptable allocation of the proceeds. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 08 aug 2017
According to Prof. Pritam Singh, Oxford Brookes University (UK), BRICS nations will lead the global economy and play vital role in spatial shift of the global capitalist economy. While speaking at expert session on 'Global Economic and Environment Crisis Faced by BRICS Economies' at Chandigarh University, Prof. Singh said, '...By 2050, if the Indian economy continues to maintain the current growth pace (GDP growth 7%), it will be the dominant global supplier of services while China would dominate the global manufacturing industry...' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 may 2017
According to design experts at 'ASEAN Creative Cities Forum and Exhibition' (Philippines), creative industry plays an important role in a country's economic growth. Some of the experts that participated include Prof. John Howkins (Author of the book 'The Creative Economy'), Nora K. Terrado (Chairperson, ASEAN 2017 Committee on Business and Investment Promotion-CBIP), Paolo Mercado (Nestle Philippines), Andrew Erskine (Tom Fleming Creative Consultancy), Katelijn Verstraete (British Council East Asia), Kenneth Cobonpue (Philippines), Anon Pairot (Thailand) and Colin Sean (Singapore). Ramon Lopez, Secretary of Department of Trade and Industry (DTI), says, 'The goal of the event is to channel these (creative) assets into innovation , employment, trade opportunities, and mobilizing it to drive each of the economies in the whole Southeast Asian region.' Rhea Matute, executive director of Design Center of the Philippines, says, 'We really are committed to develop the creative quotient of the Philippines...This is really an important opportunity by which our designers, our creatives, can branch out beyond our borders to have a more open system of having dialogue with our ASEAN partners in view also of the ASEAN integration.' Moreover, the event was also intended to initiate a movement to have at least one Philippine city to be a member of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). UCCN currently have 116 cities from 54 countries covering seven creative fields: Crafts and Folk Art, Design, Film, Gastronomy, Literature, Music and Media Arts. It's goal is 'to promote cooperation with and among cities that have identified creativity as a strategic factor for sustainable urban development.' Following are some takeaways from the forum: (1) Working in the creative industry is a lucrative career. (2) The road to success is challenging yet fulfilling. (3) Always look around you, and be original. (4) Standing up with your decisions. (5) Government plays a big role in developing the creative industry. (6) School plays an important role, too. According to Colin Seah, Singapore-based architect and Ministry of Design's Founder and Director, 'At the school level, I'm not saying you need to train everyone to be a creative but if you introduce design education at an early stage, then what you do is two fold - you unlock any potential for people who may be seeking these professions. Secondly, you train and educate people who will eventually become patrons and consumers...then it becomes a cycle. You have good creatives, and you get people who can pay for creatives.' Read on...
ASEAN Forum - Creativity is the driving force in economic growth
Author: Romsanne Ortiguero
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 19 mar 2017
Tony Bacigalupo, founder of New Work Cities, on his website (Whatiscoworking.com) explains 'Coworking' as - 'The word "coworking" as it is known today originates with a concept put forth by Brad Neuberg in 2005...It is directly related to Neuberg's original concept and had since evolved into a decentralized movement centered around a core set of shared values: Community, Openness, Collaboration, Accessibility, and Sustainability...A Coworking Space is generally a phrase used to describe a business or organization that is dedicated to the full Coworking concept. These spaces represent a critical foundation of infrastructure for a new and growing workforce of people who work where, when, how, and why they want. A coworking space's relationship with its members is one that is primarily predicated on the values that drive the Coworking Movement, in direct and deliberate contrast to a more traditional relationship predicated on renting space from a landlord.' Kara Kavensky, President of Absolutely Consulting, shares how the coworking space 'The Refinery Center' in Marion (Indiana, US), created by Shelby Bowen (VP of Development at Envoy Inc.), is helping economic development of the city along with establishing a sense of community in local population. The space was developed with financial support from the Community Foundation and Indiana Wesleyan University. Jim Swan, owner of the building that was transformed, understood the concept and worked with The Refinery on their financial constraints of starting a coworking space. The Refinery offers low-cost monthly access without long-term leases. The amenities include Wi-Fi, a professional environment with other like-minded people, conference rooms, dedicated workspace, and an on-site cafe. According to Mr. Bowen, 'We listened to the needs of the community. We have not taken a cookie cutter approach to the coworking space. We offer very affordable monthly memberships starting at US$ 30/month and host a lot of meetings here at no charge. We are also a community center in addition to a work space.' Entrepreneurial events at The Refinery are facilitated by Indiana Wesleyan University with the help of the grant from Lilly Endowment. Carol Brown, Associate Dean of Life Calling & Career at Indiana Wesleyan University, says, 'This program is funded through the Lilly Endowment's "Accelerate Indiana" grant, which seeks to encourage entrepreneurial activity among students and local entrepreneurs. We fund internships, even if the company is a student-run business with the goal of creating jobs in Indiana.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 oct 2016
In the world of charitable giving, generally 20% givers use techniques and expert knowledge to maximize their effectiveness, while the remaining 80% are unaware and together pay millions in taxes that would otherwise be used for charitable work. Robert G. Collins, Tampa Bay President of NCF (9th largest US charity), provides specialist philanthropic advice and shares some valuable tools and techniques to enhance value of giving - (1) Use a donor-advised fund (DAF): DAF works like charitable account where the giver gets a charitable deduction when assets are contributed. It is also similar to private grantmaking family foundations without the work and expenses of running a corporation. DAF enables the giver to give when it's convenient for them and decide the amount, timing and recipient of the gift at a later date. (2) Stop writing checks: Giving with cash are after-tax dollars exchanged for a charitable giving. Gift appreciated assets to gain a fair market value deduction, but avoid the capital gains taxes embedded in the asset. This way you get a double benefit i.e. giving pre-tax dollars and still getting the charitable deduction. (3) Plan ahead for tax events: Capital gains taxes are optional taxes - you don't have to pay them if you don't want to. If you are charitable and you have a taxable event expected in future, explore your charitable options today. (4) Have a charitable shareholder: Consider gifting a partial interest in your business or income-producing real estate to your DAF. It is critical that the DAF or charity you are giving to has expertise in taking in business interests. (5) Give generously through your estate: Check out givingpledge.org to find out reasons why many respected business leaders are leaving a charitable legacy. A DAF is a simple, easy solution for a family foundation legacy, but ask the fund sponsor whether they have rules about appointing successors. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 06 oct 2016
According to the IMF's October 2016 'World Economic Outlook' report, global economic growth will remain subdued this year (3.1%), as US slowdown and Brexit happened. Moreover, persistent stagnation in advanced economies could further give rise to anti-trade sentiments and populist call for restrictions on trade and immigration. Maurice Obstfeld, IMF chief economist, says, 'Such restrictions would hamper productivity, growth and innovation. t is vitally important to defend the prospects for increasing trade integration. Turning back the clock on trade can only deepen and prolong the world economy’s current doldrums.' IMF suggests - For near term growth, central banks in advanced economies should maintain easy monetary policies; Governments should spend more on education, technology, and infrastructure to expand productive capacity while taking steps to alleviate inequality; Many countries also need to counteract waning potential growth through structural reforms to boost labor force participation, better match skills to jobs, and reduce barriers to market entry. IMF found emerging markets and developing economies as the only bright spots, where growth will accelerate for the first time in 6 years to 4.2%. They are expected to grow 4.6% next year. Although, prospects differ sharply across countries and regions. Growth in emerging Asia, and especially India, continues to be resilient. India's GDP is projected to expand 7.6% this year and next, the fastest pace among the world's major economies. Sub-Saharan Africa's largest economies continue to struggle with lower commodity revenues, weighing on growth in the region. While, economic activity slowed in Latin America, as several countries are mired in recession, with recovery expected to take hold in 2017. Middle East remains in challenging conditions due to subdued oil prices, civil conflicts and terrorism. Commenting on the policy challenge, Mr. Obsfeld concludes, 'By using monetary, fiscal, and structural policies in concert - within countries, consistent over time, and across countries - the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 aug 2016
According to Wikipedia, 'Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) became popular in 1960s and is a form of corporate self-regulation integrated into a business model. CSR policy functions as a self-regulatory mechanism whereby a business monitors and ensures its active compliance with the spirit of the law, ethical standards, and national and international norms.' While BusinessDictionary.com defines CSR as 'A company's sense of responsibility towards the community and environment (both ecological and social) in which it operates. Companies express this citizenship - (1) Through their waste and pollution reduction processes. (2) By contributing educational and social programs. (3) By earning adequate returns on the employed resources.' According to a Global CSR Study conducted by Cone Communications/Ebiquity, 91% of global consumers expect companies to do more than make a profit but also operate responsibly to address social and environmental issues. From integrating a social mission into cross-departmental activities to engaging in sustainability practices, there are myriad ways in which organizations can adopt both a good business and commerce-driven model. A new report from PSFK Labs, 'Impact Debrief', explores how brands can innovate around this decades-old concept of CSR to elevate their social impact and influence. The study provides 5 key ingredients for creating social innovation - (1) Identify And Unite Around A Relevant Social Problem. (2) Promote Cross-Functional Integration. (3) Incentivize And Empower Employees. (4) Create Value By Maximizing Sustainability Efforts. (5) Deliver Transparency. Read on...
The 5 Fundamentals For Corporate Social Innovation
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 jul 2016
Prof. Henry Chesbrough of University of California at Berkeley, coined the term 'Open Innovation' in his book "Open Innovation: The New Imperative for Creating and Profiting from Technology" that was published on 2003. According to website OpenInnovation.net, 'Open Innovation is a paradigm that assumes that firms can and should use external ideas as well as internal ideas, and internal and external paths to market, as the firms look to advance their technology.' Organizations are now more commonly adopting open innovation. As Prof. Chesbrough suggested in his research few years ago that nearly 80% of organizations were already dabbling with open innovation in some form or other. In 2015, Carlos Moedas (European Union's Commissionar for Research, Science and Innovation), outlined the goals for his organization as 'Open Innovation, Open Science and Open to the World'. Recently EU published a paper to highlight its commitment to an open and transparent approach to innovation and related policy initiatives. In terms of supporting open innovation throughout Europe, the EU's focus is in four key areas - PUBLIC SECTOR: By providing a regulatory framework that supports and incentivizes open knowledge and cooperation; FINANCIAL SECTOR: By ensuring that innovation-friendly funding is available; INNOVATIVE BUSINESSES: By reducing market fragmentation throughout Europe to help companies commercialize their work; ACADEMIA: By supporting the development of co-creation capabilities and the ease with which research finds its way into business. Supporting 'Open Science' is a key part of the EU's desire for more effective and open innovation as it facilitates the free movement of knowledge throughout the continent. In this regard, EU is focusing efforts in five key policy areas - Fostering and creating incentives for open science; Removing barriers to open science; Mainstreaming and further promoting open access policies; Developing research infrastructures for open science; Embedding open science in society as a socio-economic driver. The final component of EU's open innovation strategy is to foster international cooperation in research and innovation. Horizon 2020, is one such program in the direction of making open science a norm globally. Moreover, international cooperation is key to tackle issues like climate change, driverless technology etc. The paper concludes, 'Science and innovation are global endeavours and researchers should be able to work together smoothly across borders, particularly on large-scale common challenges. The strategic approach to EU international cooperation aims to develop common principles and adequate framework conditions for engaging in cooperation.' Read on...
Open Innovation, Open Science And Open To The World
Author: Adi Gaskell
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 29 jun 2016
There are almost 50 million people living in poverty in the United States, almost 15 percent of the population. Although there are continuous efforts by governments, organizations and individuals to eradicate poverty, but the challenge is huge and at times results are not what are expected. Sometimes there is also lack of coordination between nonprofit agencies and difference in approaches to tackle poverty, even in same locations and dealing with same people. Kavitha Cardoza of WAMU shares her views on poverty with Morning Edition host Matt McCleskey. She says, 'As someone who grew up in India, where you interact with tons of poor people every day. But here (US), poverty is so hidden. Think of people who work minimum wage jobs - office cleaners come in overnight; if you have a maid at home, she comes in when you're at work. And if you think of say, a McDonald's, everyone is wearing a uniform and looks the same. We have sanitized poverty.' She explains, 'We tend to see poverty as fixed when it's really fluid. Of course it's about not having enough money, but we tend to forget all the challenges that go along with that. It becomes about food and housing and transportation and healthcare. And each of those problems leads to more problems.' Moreover, owning a cell phone, a TV or a kid having fancy sneakers, shouldn't be questionable in a poor situation, as they may serve a purpose contrary to typical perceptions. She quotes Greg Kaufmann, Editor of Talk Poverty, who says, 'Put yourself in a poor parent's place. People don't want their children to seem poor, they don't want to seem poor. Clearly, we have so much stigma attached to poverty. Kids get teased. Again as a parent, you can't get what middle class kids get - the sports camp or the music class, and so wouldn't you want to try to do something for your kid? And maybe actually that pair of sneakers is the cheapest thing you could do.' Speaking on lack of coordination and cooperation among charities that are helping poors, she says, 'There isn't a lot of incentive to collaborate...Part of it is each has different ideas about tackling the same problem, they want to do it their way and they all have different governance structures. And different ways of measuring success.' She quotes Bruce McNamer, President and CEO of the Community Foundation for the National Capital Region, which works with lots of human services organizations throughout the area, who says, 'The biggest challenge is charities compete with each other for funds. And that does sometimes create incentives for people not to work as closely or to be jockeying among themselves for the attention of funders...And the funding models that are in place to fund nonprofits in some sense encourage that inefficiency.' She quotes Katherine Boo, author of 'Behind the Beautiful Forevers', a book about poverty in Mumbai, who says, 'Journalists often cover poverty by going to a nonprofit and doing a story on someone who is doing well, they've had challenges, now they're fine. The story ends with everything tied up in a neat little bow. That's doing listeners a disservice because then they think that's how it is. There are no relapses, no challenges, no one who doesn't make it. And that's just not true.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 23 jun 2016
According to the survey by U.S. Trust (a subsidiary of Bank of America), of 684 high net worth (HNW) individuals, all with investable assets of US$ 3 million or more, there is increasing interest and activity in social impact investing, particularly among women, Millennials and Gen Xers. The survey also found the 7 out of 10 HNW Americans have more confidence in the private sector to solve social and environmental problems than the public or nonprofit sector. Moreover, another 6 in 10 believe that private capital invested in social and public programs can produce superior outcomes, all while ownership and interest in impact investing climb. Jackie VanderBrug, Managing Director of U.S. Trust, says, 'Understanding how and why individuals make impact investments is an increasingly important component of nonprofit management. I think that nonprofit executives that look at impact investing as a trend to be welcomed and embraced are going to be the ones ahead of the curve. Impact investing is not going away. It's fundamentally changing how investments are being made by individuals and fund managers. Understanding that and what it means to your donor base, constituency and board members is an important part of a nonprofit executive's job.' The survey report also finds that, environmental protection and sustainability is the issue that matters most to HNW investors, followed by healthcare equality and access; disease prevention, treatment and cure; access to education; and assistance for veterans. Ms. VanderBrug further adds, 'This is not about confusing philanthropy. Our clients are extremely philanthropic and we don't think that that should stop. My experience is that most individuals who are interested in impact investing are also very philanthropic. They understand that all sectors of the economy need to work.' Read on...
The NonProfit Times:
Big Donors Losing Faith In Charity To Solve Problems
Author: Andy Segedin
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 06 jun 2016
According to the new research by Prof. Eliza Forsythe of University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, when hiring slows during recessions, the brunt of job losses is borne by job-seekers in their twenties and early thirties. Prof. Forsythe is an expert in labor economics. She says, 'Younger workers are less likely to be hired during recessions and, when they are hired, they tend to find lower-quality jobs and earn lower wages. More-experienced workers see neither of these effects. In fact, the evidence indicates that these more-experienced workers actually crowd young workers out of the labor market during recessions.' Prof. Forsythe explains that this disproportionate affect on young workers during recession make it difficult for them to acquire skills and experience, and establish their careers. Moreover, it also has negative effects on overall economy. It can become difficult for firms to get trained workers when older workforce retires. Explaining the plight of students who graduate during recession, Prof. Forsythe gives an example of Great Recession when the market for new lawyers collapsed. She says, 'In more recent years, hiring has recovered, but firms prefer to hire new graduates rather than those who happened to graduate during the recession and couldn't find jobs.' Prof. Forsythe suggests that clear understanding of hiring patterns and labor market mechanism during recession, is crucial for the design of effective labor market policies. She says, 'Since there are these long-term consequences, it means we might need to do more active interventions for young workers during recessions to make sure that they're not left behind.' Read on...
Illinois News Bureau:
Research - Young workers hit hardest by slow hiring during recessions
Author: Phil Ciciora
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 22 may 2016
According to the latest report by PwC, 'Connecting the World: Ten Mechanisms for Global Inclusion', providing internet connectivity to the remaining 4.1 billion people and bringing them online would increase global economic output by US$ 6.7 trillion. It will lift 500 million people out of poverty over five years. The report says that affordability, rather than infrastructure and availability, is the main barrier to internet adoption in most areas. Therefore, the report suggests that improvement of existing technology or even simply installing existing technology in developing nations, will be sufficient to achieve the essential cost reduction. The report was prepared for Facebook, that itself advocates cost reduction through Internet.org project. Facebook's approach of limiting the low-cost access to a subsection of the web, giving access to select sites like Wikipedia and Facebook, termed as 'zero rating', has critics in 'net neutrality' advocates like Tim Berners-Lee, who says, 'I tend to say 'Just say no.' In the particular case of somebody who's offering...something which is branded internet, it's not internet, then you just say no.' On the other hand, Jonathan Tate of PwC argues, 'Facebook's approach is worth it in the long term. While zero rating provides access to a slimmer version of the internet than the full web, it's a crucial stepping stone to full access. The important thing here is to get things moving.' Efforts like Google's Project Loon and Facebook's Aquila, are geared to achieve total connectivity by creating 'disruptive technologies'. Read on...
Connecting everyone to internet 'would add $6.7tn to global economy'
Author: Alex Hern
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 03 may 2016
Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web and founder of the Web Foundation, is concerned about governments not providing open access to their data online. He says, 'The lack of free access to government data - or 'data poverty' - is contributing to widening inequality around the world...Inequality and poverty are about more than income. They are also about information.' Openly published data can help fight corruption and improve services for citizens. It can also be of value in understanding and fighting global warming and related issues like deforestation, floods, fall in crop yields etc. The study by the Web Foundation found that that more than half of the 92 countries it studies now have open data initiatives in place. Moreover, fewer than 10% of the datasets surveyed were open, and most of these are in the rich world, and almost non in African countries. Anne Jellema, CEO of the Web Foundation, says, 'Trying to use traditional data sources to tackle complex development challenges like climate change and hunger is like tunnelling through rock in the dark with a teaspoon. It takes ages and you may come out in the wrong place. Making development data open is vital for fast and accurate collaboration on the SDGs (United Nations Sustainable Development Goals), and the urgency now is to move from promises to implementation.' Read on...
Sir Tim Berners-Lee - Data poverty is the next frontier of inequality
Author: Ben Rossi
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 25 apr 2016
According to a recent study by Prof. Leanne Cutcher of the University of Sydney Business School, a leading expert on intergenerational employment, ageism in the workforce is built on a faulty premise and the most innovative companies are the ones where the age of employees does not matter. Prof. Cutcher says, 'When we say baby boomers are not good with technology and Generation Y don't have enough experience, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because people who have good ideas then don't share them because they have been told they are too old. But you are just going to replicate the same ideas where you start labelling people as either too old or too young for a role. Where that is happening, it is stifling knowledge exchange.' Michael Shaw, Executive Vice President Healthcare at Siemens Australia, comments, 'Siemens takes the best people for the job. Personally, for me it's not important if the person is in their 20s or in their 60s, I am simply looking for the best minds with the best attitude.' Another study by Australian Seniors Insurance Agency (ASIA), based on survey of 1200 people across Australia, found that age discrimination at workplace is rife. According to the study, close to half the Baby Boomer respondents claimed they have been turned down for a job since they turned 40, and 3 out of 5 people over 50 said that they faced substantial obstacles in attempts to find a job. The research also found that more than 3/4 of Baby Boomers adapt well to technological innovations, and 73% are actively seeking training opportunities. According to Simon Hovell, spokesman for ASIA, 'The findings point to what many organisations, academics and economists have known all along - Baby Boomers are a real asset to the workplace.' Read on...
The Sydney Morning Herald:
Companies that use older workers are the most innovative - New research
Author: Anna Patty
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 07 apr 2016
This year's World Health Day, that falls today (07 April 2016), has the theme 'Beat Diabetes!'. The World Health Organization has singled out tackling diabetes as one of the most critical healthcare challenge but at the same time tried to give a strong message that it is not too hard to manage if people can put their thoughts and actions in the right direction. Alex Jones, health economist at the social enterprise Oxford Policy Management and researcher at University of the West Indies, provides historial perspective on how international health organizations and governments over time have developed and implemented different types of policies in tackling global health issues. Sometimes they have utilized a single disease approach and at others they have been more holistic and tried to improve health systems around the world. He further explores two approaches and provides opinion on their long-term benefits. According to him, 'A quick look back through history reveals a disturbingly cyclical pattern: As an international community we've been flip-flopping between the two approaches - vertical and horizontal - for at least the last century.' He explains, 'As far back as the 1920s, the sector saw the growth of what was known as the 'Social Medicine Movement' - based on the consideration that ill health could actually be a consequence of poor social conditions...Throughout the first half of the 20th century the Rockefeller Foundation became one of the most influential organisations in global health, implementing programmes in over 80 countries...it always kept the aim of combating specific diseases through targeted campaigns. Post-war politics saw the creation of a number of international agencies that pursued similar vertical programmes...The failure of the GMEP (WHO's Global Malaria Eradication Project) and the relative success of Mao Zedong's community-led 'Barefoot Doctors' programme in China both helped to swing the global health pendulum towards a more horizontal 'systems' approach. In 1975, the WHO launched its Primary Health Care strategy and in 1978 (after sustained advocacy from the Soviet Union) the famous Alma-Ata conference was held...this was a pledge to build up basic health systems around the world...and heralded the birth of the 'Health for All'...The beginning of the 80's, however, saw the pendulum swing firmly back towards vertical interventions...the last ten years have seen a swing back to the ideals of Alma-Ata and the mantra of putting people - rather than pathogens - front and centre of health initiatives...In 2012, the United Nations General Assembly formally recognised and unanimously endorsed the idea of Universal Health Coverage (UHC).' While explaining the current state of health policy focus and interventions, he comments, 'Given the benefit of hindsight, there's a strong risk that today's current focus on UHC might not survive the constant push towards seemingly more feasible, targeted interventions. This apparently inevitable swing to the vertical, however, misses the point on two key fronts: First, history shows us that morbidities are integrated, both with each other and with our ways of life. Second, when something new comes along, a health sector built around a few target pathogens simply cannot deal with it.' Finally, he suggests, 'Let's continue to focus resources where significant advances in disease eradication are possible, partnering with those who can make this happen - but let's take care not to do this at the expense of overall systems strengthening.' Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 04 jan 2016
Economic predictions are hard to make and it is even harder to guarantee their correctness. Falling of oil prices since summer of 2014 and sharp decline in China's economic growth that started recently, were events that analysts hardly predicted and took the world by surprise. And just now the escalating tensions between Saudi Arabia, largest producer of oil, and Iran, may see another swing in the oil prices. But there are signs and signals that can be observed to make a studied judgement regarding the direction of the global economy and how to be prepared in the best possible way to cushion against the shocks. Here are the top five new economic trends for 2016 - (1) The Global Economy Will Continue to Be Powered by America: With other developed economies growing even more slowly and collapse of economic growth in China, US seems to be a ray of hope. As US has largest trade deficit in the world, the other big economies depend on it. (2) China Will Stay Stuck in Second Gear: China's capital investment, both government and private, was enabled by growing debt, rather than profits. The wealth in China must shift to Chinese households, and away from powerful government officials and managers of public enterprises. Which is politically hard to happen soon. (3) Commodities Will Be Cheap: Bloomberg commodities index fell 26% in 2015. Collapse in Chinese growth is the main reason. (4) Europe will edge closer to crisis: European debt crisis continues. Unemployment rate for euro area remains at 10.7%. Imbalances that caused the crisis still are there. Euro binds together diverse set of economies, giving unfair advantage to some. (5) India will become the new growth king: IMF expects Indian economy to grow at 7.3% in 2016. It has advantage of demographics with large workforce and in next 10 years it will grow larger than the Chinese workforce. Read on...
These 5 Trends Will Shape the Global Economy in 2016
Author: Chris Matthews
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 18 dec 2015
Although government of UK states that the creative industries in the country now equal £76.9 billion per year, and the design sector seeing the biggest growth. But there is another debate brewing in UK regarding the condition of design and creative education. According to John Sorrell, founder of London Design Festival and Creative Industries Federation, 'Schools in UK saw a 50% decrease in students taking design and technology GSEC (General Certificate of Secondary Education) subjects in the 10 years leading upto 2013, and 25% drop in other craft-related GCSEs between 2007 and 2013.' He says that the government is reducing investments in creative education that would eventually lead to inadequate development of the next generation of creative talent. He explains, 'It is the government's calling card everywhere in the world...it's this amazing work we're part of which makes Britain so loved by the rest of the world - our creativity.' He further adds, 'If we can get our act together and work together we can take advantage of the opportunities in international development that certainly China is going to be doing in the next 20 years.' Similar sentiments were recently voiced by this year's London Design Medal winners, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby, who said 'UK government doesn't value the role of creativity.' Another angle to this debate was provided by inventor James Dyson, who criticized the UK government's steps regarding the foreign students to return home after completing their education. This immigration plan will threaten UK's status as a global design and architecture center. Read on...
Mohammad Anas Wahaj | 13 dec 2015
It has been observed in many cases that science fiction writers have talked about products that became reality later on. For example earbud headphones were first mentioned by Ray Bradbury in his classic novel 'Fahrenheit 451'. Emphasis on technological development and advancement is also part of economic agendas of many nations. Japan is one country that gives siginificant importance to merging technology with social and economic development. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his economic roadmap, often termed as 'Abenomics', puts technologies like Internet of Things (IoT), big data, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) at the core of his revitilization strategy. Japan leads the world with its strength in robotics by bringing out the first personal robot 'Pepper'. But the robot lacks the expected intelligence as it couldn't pass the Turing Test which is a benchmark in AI to determine how close the machine thinks like humans. Although Japan's strength in industrial robotics is visible but it lags the advancements in IoT, big data and AI. According to Prof. Mitsuru Ishizuka of Waseda University and University of Tokyo, 'Japan is considerably behind the United States in 'deep learning', a central technology in AI, although the country is working hard to catch up...These companies (Google, Facebook, IBM etc) can invest big money in AI and add the resulting new values to their services. In Japan, there are much smaller companies with specific AI technologies.' IBM developed Watson, an AI computer, and over the years it has evolved into multiple applications. The computer's core framework reflects human decision-making (observe, interpret, evaluate, decide) but its data crunching abilities are incomparable. William Saito, Japanese entrepreneur and professional cook, utilized Watson to prepare some unique recipes. Citing Watson's strengths in IoT, big data and AI, Mr. Saito comments, 'Combine Watson with a refrigerator, for instance. You go to your refrigerator and it gives you a recipe based on the food in the fridge prioritized by expiration date.' Japan's focus on creating cyborgs (humans with mechanical parts) is also understandable considering its ageing population and growing need for assisted living. Toyota is collaborating with Stanford and MIT on technologies with emphasis on creating automobiles that assist the driver for safer travel, contrary to the approaches of Google and Tesla Motors that are working on driverless cars. Mr. Saito believes that Japan has to come out of its 'Galápagos Syndrome' and strike a balance between logic and creative thinking and move from electro-mechanical robotics to thinking and self-learning machines. Prof. Masakazu Hirokawa, AI researcher at University of Tsukuba, expresses similar views on Japanese model that focuses more on technology that addresses social issues and is less about creating global solutions. He comments, 'We have the hardware to be able to do it, but the important thing is developing the software...I'm trying to create algorithms that help robots learn and predictively determine what and how humans want them to act through experience-based inferences.' Read on...
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