Why we need the Humanities more than ever

Peter Salovey, President of Yale University, wrote recently that why we need the Humanities more than ever in the training of our leaders. At MENA-Forum, we could not agree more. The study of all aspects of human culture (whether that would be literature, philosophy, history or music) [ . . . ]

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Peter Salovey, President of Yale University, wrote recently that why we need the Humanities more than ever in the training of our leaders. At MENA-Forum, we could not agree more. The study of all aspects of human culture (whether that would be literature, philosophy, history or music) is of the utmost importance to develop leaders’ emotional intelligence, cross-cultural communication skills, and empathy. These modes of expression and their knowledge give us the opportunity to feel a sense of connection to those who have come before us, as well as to our contemporaries.

Here is the extensive piece published on the World Economic Forum (Thursday, March 23rd 2017):

“In our complex and interconnected world, we need leaders of imagination, understanding, and emotional intelligence—men and women who will move beyond polarizing debates and tackle the challenges we face. To cultivate such leaders, we must value and invest in the humanities.

I am a psychologist by training, and I study human emotions. Art, literature, history, and other branches of the humanities are vital for developing our emotional intelligence—essential to understanding ourselves and others. They help us grapple with uncertainty, understand complexity, and empathize.

Consider what happens when you read a novel. Engrossed in the narrative, you are invited to imagine the world from a character’s perspective. You think about the interplay between a person’s desires and her actions. When you listen to music, go to the theater, or visit a museum, you have an emotional response—one that connects you with other people and new perspectives.

We develop our emotional intelligence—and learn skills of empathy, imagination, and understanding—through the humanities. These skills, if cultivated, enable leaders to respond successfully to challenges and opportunities in every sector. Our scientists are better at their work if they read literature; our diplomats and our generals are more effective when they understand languages; our data scientists are able to think beyond algorithms when they experience art and music.

Around the world, we can see the gains of globalization. Debates continue, however, about how to promote more inclusive and equitable growth, embracing a diversity of peoples and cultures and respecting the environment.

The humanities must be part of this conversation. Leadership on these difficult issues demands understanding more than the bottom line; it requires an appreciation of all that makes life meaningful and complete. As Lei Zhang, a successful business leader and Yale alumnus, said, “The humanities are fundamental to reason. Isolating data and technology from the humanities is like trying to swim without water; you can have all the moves of Michael Phelps, but you still won’t end up getting anywhere.” The humanities provide the context—the possibility of real understanding—for all that the future promises.

Reaching across divides

To harness the extraordinary power of the humanities, we must ensure they are widely accessible. Institutions like my own, as guardians of some of the world’s greatest cultural treasures, must work to share the joy and wonder of the humanities with the public. Otherwise, potential leaders of the future will lose out on the opportunity to learn from the humanities.

Last year my colleague and friend, Harvard President Drew Gilpin Faust, wroteeloquently about the importance of scholarship and education in addressing inequality. Cultural and educational institutions can also make the world a more equal and inclusive place through the transformative power of the humanities.

I recently had the privilege of touring the new National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. As I walked through this remarkable space, I was able to see, hear, and imagine the story of African Americans in the United States. I was particularly drawn to an exhibit about the influence of black Americans on music. My hobby and passion is bluegrass music, so I was fascinated by the exchange between African-American blues musicians and old-time Appalachian music played by Scotch-Irish immigrants. Understanding this influence made me listen to music I knew well with new ears—hearing cadences and rhythms I had never heard before.

Museums make such moments of emotional and intellectual awakening possible. Today, technology can help us share these moments even more widely. Scholars at Yale, for instance, have partnered with the Library of Congress to launch Photogrammar, a website that allows users anywhere in the world to peruse, search, and visualize 170,000 photographs created as part of Roosevelt’s New Deal. These iconic images capture the raw emotion of people living through the Great Depression. In another project, Transcribe@Yale, we are “crowdsourcing” the transcription of documents in the Kilpatrick Collection of Cherokee Manuscripts, housed at Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, so we can understand and preserve aspects of Oklahoma Cherokee culture that would otherwise be lost.

Yale Photogrammar – Photos from the FSA organized

Despite the promise of technology to connect people, too often we remain isolated in our own narrow circles. Joining the humanities with new digital tools can help us reach across divides—through time and space—and allow more people to explore our rich cultural resources.

‘The heritage of the human experience is impoverished’

The problems we face today are grave. Poverty, disease, climate change, and threats to national and global security test even our greatest leaders. At such times, it may seem prudent to forget about art, music, literature, and languages.

We have been here before. In 1939, as war raged in Europe and Asia, Yale President Charles Seymour worried that the liberal arts would be neglected. Although the public did not think they were “useful,” Seymour was convinced the humanities were indispensable. “Without them,” he wrote movingly, “the heritage of the human experience is impoverished.”

Now, as then, we must value the humanities even in the midst of conflict and division. Only through the humanities can we prepare leaders of empathy, imagination, and understanding—responsive and responsible leaders who embrace complexity and diversity. Our institutions must also play a leadership role by making the treasures of the humanities widely available. It is our responsibility to prepare the leaders of tomorrow, and to elevate and protect “the heritage of the human experience” that we all share.”

 

Migrant Labour populations Remittances

Any kind of taxation on migrant labour populations remittances (funds that emigrant workers earn and transfer to their home countries) news from say the GCC Countries as well as its potential impact on all recipient countries was a hot subject after the world’s oil and gas prices started dropping back in June 2014. In 2013, 15 million expats in GCC countries send home $80b in remittance every year. [. . . ]

Any kind of taxation on migrant labour populations remittances (funds that emigrant workers earn and transfer to their home countries) news from say the GCC Countries as well as its potential impact on all recipient countries was a hot subject after the world’s oil and gas prices started dropping back in June 2014. In 2013, 15 million expats in GCC countries send home $80b in remittance every year.Taxation of foreign workers’ transfers of money in the Gulf countries begun to be debated as a potentially viable solution to address the respective GCC government budget deficits. So for the sending countries, the short-term economic benefit of taxing this outflow of funds could be somehow taken as some sort of shortcoming by the receiving countries.

The MENA region in this matter is interesting because it holds the top sending as well as top receiving remittances flows in the world.

For instance, the top 10 remittance recipient countries in the MENA were in 2015 Egypt with $20.4 billion, Lebanon with $7.5 billion and Morocco with $6.7 billion.

The top sending ones were in 2014/15, according to the local media Saudi Arabia with about $40 billion, the UAE with $29 billion and Qatar with more than $10 billion.

In 2012, the biggest recipient country was India with $70 billion followed by China with $66 billion and the Philippines with Mexico and Nigeria with more than $21 billion each. A small remark in passing is that the size of remittance flows to developing countries is now much greater than any official development funding. The picture however is not that positive onto both sets of countries socio-economic life as briefly noted below:

  • Outflow of workers from any country normally causes labour shortages with direct consequences on the local economy
  • Large inflows of remittances could affect the local currency exchange rate to appreciate

The proposed article of the following World Bank report although fairly exhaustive is as detailed and as comprehensive as one would want and it does nevertheless lead us to believe that remittances flows one way or the other is a fact of life that whilst sustaining the global economy, it is an increasing trend that is not relevant only to the MENA and the OECD countries. It is world wide and increasing.

Migration and Remittances

The number of international migrants is expected to surpass 250 million this year, an all-time high, as people search for economic opportunity. And, fast growing developing countries have increasingly become a strong magnet for people from other parts of the developing world.

In a demonstration of their economic footprint, international migrants will send $601 billion to their families in their home countries this year, with developing countries receiving $441 billion, says the Migration and Remittances Factbook 2016, produced by the World Bank Group’s Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) initiative.

The United States was the largest remittance source country, with an estimated $56 billion in outward flows in 2014, followed by Saudi Arabia ($37 billion), and Russia ($33 billion). India was the largest remittance receiving country, with an estimated $72 billion in 2015, followed by China ($64 billion), and the Philippines ($30 billion).

“At more than three times the size of development aid, international migrants’ remittances provide a lifeline for millions of households in developing countries. In addition, migrants hold more than $500 billion in annual savings. Together, remittances and migrant savings offer a substantial source of financing for development projects that can improve lives and livelihoods in developing countries,” said Dilip Ratha, co-author of the Factbook.

The report provides a snapshot of latest statistics on immigration, emigration, skilled emigration, and remittance flows for 214 countries and territories. It updates the 2011 edition with additional data on bilateral migration and remittances and second generation diasporas, and recent movements of refugees, collected from various data sources, including national censuses, labor force surveys, and population registers.

It finds that South-South migration is larger than South-North migration. Over 38 percent of the international migrants in 2013 migrated from developing countries to other developing countries, compared to 34 percent that moved from developing countries to advanced countries.

The top 10 migrant destination countries were the United States, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Russia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), United Kingdom, France, Canada, Spain and Australia. The top 10 migrant source countries were India, Mexico, Russia, China, Bangladesh, Pakistan, the Philippines, Afghanistan, Ukraine, and United Kingdom.

Mexico-United States was the largest migration corridor in the world, accounting for 13 million migrants in 2013. Russia-Ukraine was the second largest, followed by Bangladesh-India, and Ukraine-Russia. The latter three are South-South corridors according to United Nations classification.

“There is ample research to demonstrate that migration, both of highly-skilled and low skilled workers, generates numerous benefits for receiving and sending countries. The diaspora of developing countries and return migration can be a source of capital, trade, investment, knowledge, and technology transfers,” said Sonia Plaza, co-author of the Factbook.

Dr. Dweck’s growth mindset explained

Carol Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton professor of psychology at Stanford University and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2007, Ballantine Books). Over 30 years ago, Dr. Dweck and her colleagues became interested in students’ attitudes about failure. They noticed that some students rebounded while other students seemed devastated by even the smallest setbacks. Dr. Dweck’s growth mindset [ . . . ]

Carol Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton professor of psychology at Stanford University and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2007, Ballantine Books). Over 30 years ago, Dr. Dweck and her colleagues became interested in students’ attitudes about failure. They noticed that some students rebounded while other students seemed devastated by even the smallest setbacks. Dr. Dweck’s growth mindset explained here is the result of studying the behavior of thousands of children.

Dr. Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement.

In an Harvard Business Review piece  Carol Dweck explains that “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). This is because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning. When entire companies embrace a growth mindset, their employees report feeling far more empowered and committed; they also receive far greater organizational support for collaboration and innovation. In contrast, people at primarily fixed-mindset companies report more of only one thing: cheating and deception among employees, presumably to gain an advantage in the talent race.”

This basically means that in life, every individual who believes that their intelligence or abilities could be developed (a growth mindset) will outperform those who believed that their abilities or their intelligence is fixed (a fixed mindset). This theory is developed in Dweck’s book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In the book, Dweck shows many exemples of people or companies having a growth or fixed mindset. She also that having a growth mindset is not only a question of making efforts but also of try new strategies and seeking input from others when one is stuck or unsuccessful. Everyone needs a repertoire of approaches—not just sheer effort—to learn and improve. According to Dweck, it is not about “Great effort! You tried your best!” but rather about “Let’s talk about what you’ve tried, and what you can try next.” (Carol Dweck, Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’, Education Week, September 22, 2015).

For Dweck, it is hard work but a useful exercise. Indeed, “individuals and organizations can gain a lot by deepening their understanding of growth-mindset concepts and the processes for putting them into practice. It gives them a richer sense of who they are, what they stand for, and how they want to move forward.”

7 Challenges That Will Make You More Successful

We often reproduce articles from Dr. Bradberry in the MENA-Forum. Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training. In this Huntington Post piece, he observes how successful people approach problems. According to him, “where others see impenetrable barriers, they see challenges to embrace and obstacles to overcome.” Below you will find an extensive excerpt of the article published on March, 25th 2017 as 7 Challenges That Will Make You More Successful “Their [successful people] confidence in the face of hardship is driven by the ability to let go of the negativity that holds so many otherwise sensible people back. Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania has studied this [ . . . ]

We often reproduce articles from Dr. Bradberry in the MENA-Forum. Dr. Travis Bradberry is the award-winning co-author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, and the cofounder of TalentSmart, the world’s leading provider of emotional intelligence tests and training. In this Huntington Post piece, he observes how successful people approach problems. According to him, “where others see impenetrable barriers, they see challenges to embrace and obstacles to overcome.”  Below you will find an extensive excerpt of the article published on March, 25th 2017 as 7 Challenges That Will Make You More Successful

“Their [successful people] confidence in the face of hardship is driven by the ability to let go of the negativity that holds so many otherwise sensible people back.

Martin Seligman at the University of Pennsylvania has studied this phenomenon more than anyone else has, and he’s found that success in life is driven by one critical distinction—whether you believe that your failures are produced by personal deficits beyond your control or that they are mistakes you can fix with effort.

Success isn’t the only thing determined by your mindset. Seligman has found much higher rates of depression in people who attribute their failures to personal deficits. Optimists fare better; they treat failure as learning experiences and believe they can do better in the future.

Maintaining the success mindset isn’t easy. There are seven things, in particular, that tend to shatter it. These challenges drag people down because they appear to be barriers that cannot be overcome. Not so for successful people, as these challenges never hold them back.

1. Age. Age really is just a number. Successful people don’t let their age define who they are and what they are capable of. Just ask Betty White or any young, thriving entrepreneur. I remember a professor in graduate school who told our class that we were all too young and inexperienced to do consulting work. He said we had to go work for another company for several years before we could hope to succeed as independent consultants. I was the youngest person in the class, and I sat there doing work for my consulting clients while he droned on. Without fail, people feel compelled to tell you what you should and shouldn’t do because of your age. Don’t listen to them. Successful people certainly don’t. They follow their heart and allow their passion—not the body they’re living in—to be their guide.

They follow their heart and allow their passion—not the body they’re living in—to be their guide.

When the negativity comes from someone else, successful people avoid it by setting limits and distancing themselves from it. Think of it this way:

If the complainer were smoking, would you sit there all afternoon inhaling the second-hand smoke?

Of course not. You’d distance yourself, and you should do the same with all negative people.

3. Toxic people. Successful people believe in a simple notion: you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Just think about it—some of the most successful companies in recent history were founded by brilliant pairs. Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak of Apple lived in the same neighborhood, Bill Gates and Paul Allen of Microsoft met in prep school, and Sergey Brin and Larry Page of Google met at Stanford.

Just as great people help you to reach your full potential, toxic people drag you right down with them. Whether it’s negativity, cruelty, the victim syndrome, or just plain craziness, toxic people create stress and strife that should be avoided at all costs.

If you’re unhappy with where you are in your life, just take a look around. More often than not, the people you’ve surrounded yourself with are the root of your problems.

4. What other people think. When your sense of pleasure and satisfaction are derived from comparing yourself to others, you are no longer the master of your own destiny. While it’s impossible to turn off your reactions to what others think of you, you don’t have to hold up your accomplishments to anyone else’s, and you can always take people’s opinions with a grain of salt. That way, no matter what other people are thinking or doing, your self-worth comes from within.

Successful people know that caring about what other people think is a waste of time and energy. When successful people feel good about something that they’ve done, they don’t let anyone’s opinions take that away from them.

No matter what other people think of you at any particular moment, one thing is certain—you’re never as good or bad as they say you are.

Don’t ever hold back in life just because you feel scared. I often hear people say, “What’s the worst thing that can happen to you? Will it kill you?” Yet, death isn’t the worst thing that can happen to you…

The worst thing that can happen to you is allowing yourself to die inside while you’re still alive.

6. The past or the future. Like fear, the past and the future are products of your mind. No amount of guilt can change the past, and no amount of anxiety can change the future. Successful people know this, and they focus on living in the present moment. It’s impossible to reach your full potential if you’re constantly somewhere else, unable to fully embrace the reality (good or bad) of this very moment.

1) Accept your past. If you don’t make peace with your past, it will never leave you and it will create your future. Successful people know the only good time to look at the past is to see how far you’ve come.

2) Accept the uncertainty of the future, and don’t place unnecessary expectations upon yourself. Worry has no place in the here and now. As Mark Twain once said,

Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe.

And who knows? Maybe it is. But successful people don’t worry about that because they don’t get caught up in things they can’t control. Instead, they focus their energy on directing the two things that are completely within their power—their attention and their effort. They focus their attention on all the things they’re grateful for, and they look for the good that’s happening in the world. They focus their effort on doing what they can every single day to improve their own lives and the world around them, because these small steps are all it takes to make the world a better place.

They focus their effort on doing what they can every single day to improve their own lives and the world around them…

Bringing It All Together

What other challenges do successful people overcome? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.

After the shock and sorrow come the questions

After the shock and sorrow come the questions as put by The Mirror online this morning. The Mirror goes on :
Were there failings by the security services?
Are we doing enough to detect and monitor those at risk of being radicalised?

After the shock and sorrow come the questions as put by The Mirror online this morning. The Mirror   goes on :
Were there failings by the security services?

Are we doing enough to detect and monitor those at risk of being radicalised?

Is the Government’s Prevent strategy working?

Why, when it was known the authorities always feared a Mumbai-style attack, was not more done to improve security at Parliament’s carriage gates?

So far we know little about Kent-born Khalid Masood.
Only by learning why he committed the atrocity and how, as seems likely, he was radicalised can we prevent others from following his warped and deadly path.
There are also questions for companies such as Google and why terror manuals, including guides to using cars as weapons of destruction, are so readily available online.
In all cases, and as elaborated on by AMEinfo in an editorial that deserves pondering on, there are always causes to such atrocities but also unfortunately consequences.

London attack: 5 shocking ways terrorism affects economies

As the world watched, an unnamed assailant went on a rampage on London’s streets on Wednesday. Four people lost their lives in the deadly attack near the Houses of Parliament.

Financial impact of the ugly incident is yet to be ascertained but one can assume it will be colossal as the metropolis came to a standstill as events unfurled.

Unfortunately, the world continues to lose more money than it invests as terrorism and violence increase grossly.

The economic impact of violence on the global economy in 2015 was $13.6 trillion in purchasing power parity (PPP) terms, according to the figures from Global Peace Index (GPI).

To put this in macroeconomic perspective, the figure amounted to 13.3 per cent of the world’s GDP and it was nearly 11 times the size of global foreign direct investment.

If the lost money was distributed equally across the globe, every person would have received $1,876.

Destruction of infrastructure

Any terrorist activity begins with physical damage to properties. Numerous buildings, roads, railways and airports have been destructed in such incidents. These take a very huge share of governments’ fiscal budgets. Also, factories, machines, vehicles, skilled labourers and other resources are eliminated during the course of violence. In addition, damages to utility resources will have both short-term and long-term impacts on economy.

Uncertainty in markets

Markets are highly vulnerable to any development that catches the attention of investors. After the globalisation, markets have been responding to news-making events even if they are taking place miles away in a different country or a region. Shares in stock markets worldwide had fallen in response to militant attacks in Paris last year.

Investor confidence

Insurgent attacks have the highest potential to dampen the confidence of investors. As risk appetite of businesses wanes, they would turn away from investing in new markets or expanding in existing geographies.

Last year Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan incurred the largest economic impact as a percentage of their GDP at 54, 54 and 45 per cent of GDP respectively, according to the GPI 2016 report.

Peacebuilding spending

Governments spend billions of dollars after militant attacks in order to avoid such occurrence in future. For stepping up military strength and acquiring new weapons and technology as well as boosting intelligence many of the countries across the world allocate nearly half of their budget.

Following a suspected bombing of a Russian plane in Sinai in 2015, Egypt invested some $50 million in airport security.

Tourism

The most immediate impact of any violence will be felt on a country’s tourism sector, which is the backbone of economy in many parts of the world.

In 2010, 14.7 million tourists visited Egypt’s beaches and ancient sites but five years later the number of travellers plunged to just 9.3m as the country witnessed popular uprising and an array of terrorist attacks.

People tend to cancel or postpone their holidays which directly affects airlines, tour operators, hotels, restaurants and retailers.

 

Between 1970 and January 2016, there have been more than 160 terrorist attacks targeted at hotels worldwide. Over the past five years alone, more than 40 hotel terrorist attacks have occurred, according to figures from security consultancy firm Restrata.

Botan Osman Managing Director of Restrata says that hotels have been seen as a soft target for terrorist attacks because they tend to have large, open spaces and attract a high number of visitors, many of whom are often foreigners.

“Hospitality targeted attacks may rise unless the industry takes a harder stance. This can be done whilst balancing the business needs of the hotel.”

“Examining the growth in hotel attacks demonstrates a worrying statistic, with a quarter of all hotel attacks since 1970 occurring in the past five years. Documented attacks within the hotel industry focus primarily on North African states where terror levels are already high, yet research suggests a number of hospitality premises in these areas are lacking in basic security design features,” Osman adds.

 

 

The 3 core Responsibilities of every Government of any Nation

The best way to go about discussing the topic covered by the proposed article written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and Chief Executive Officer, New America and published on Monday 13 February 2017 by the WEF is to recall the failure and eventual collapse [ . . . ]

The best way to go about discussing the topic covered by the proposed article written by Anne-Marie Slaughter, President and Chief Executive Officer, New America and published on Monday 13 February 2017 by the WEF is to recall the failure and eventual collapse of the former Soviet Union and what caused its abrupt end not so far ago. Is it lack of these 3 core responsibilities of every government of any nation discussed here, from the agenda of the successive governments?

Or was it as many see it, like in those MENA’s region so-called republics due to that sprinkle of socialistic orientations in their political strategy of the 60s and 70s ? Any thoughts ?

Or is the whole thing a soft reminder directed towards the new tenant of the White House of his basic duties?

3 responsibilities every government has towards its citizens

The oldest and simplest justification for government is as protector: protecting citizens from violence.

Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan describes a world of unrelenting insecurity without a government to provide the safety of law and order, protecting citizens from each other and from foreign foes. The horrors of little or no government to provide that function are on global display in the world’s many fragile states and essentially ungoverned regions. And indeed, when the chaos of war and disorder mounts too high, citizens will choose even despotic and fanatic governments, such as the Taliban and ISIS, over the depredations of warring bands.

The idea of government as protector requires taxes to fund, train and equip an army and a police force; to build courts and jails; and to elect or appoint the officials to pass and implement the laws citizens must not break. Regarding foreign threats, government as protector requires the ability to meet and treat with other governments as well as to fight them. This minimalist view of government is clearly on display in the early days of the American Republic, comprised of the President, Congress, Supreme Court and departments of Treasury, War, State and Justice.

Protect and provide

The concept of government as provider comes next: government as provider of goods and services that individuals cannot provide individually for themselves. Government in this conception is the solution to collective action problems, the medium through which citizens create public goods that benefit everyone, but that are also subject to free-rider problems without some collective compulsion.

The basic economic infrastructure of human connectivity falls into this category: the means of physical travel, such as roads, bridges and ports of all kinds, and increasingly the means of virtual travel, such as broadband. All of this infrastructure can be, and typically initially is, provided by private entrepreneurs who see an opportunity to build a road, say, and charge users a toll, but the capital necessary is so great and the public benefit so obvious that ultimately the government takes over.

A more expansive concept of government as provider is the social welfare state: government can cushion the inability of citizens to provide for themselves, particularly in the vulnerable conditions of youth, old age, sickness, disability and unemployment due to economic forces beyond their control. As the welfare state has evolved, its critics have come to see it more as a protector from the harsh results of capitalism, or perhaps as a means of protecting the wealthy from the political rage of the dispossessed. At its best, however, it is providing an infrastructure of care to enable citizens to flourish socially and economically in the same way that an infrastructure of competition does. It provides a social security that enables citizens to create their own economic security.

The future of government builds on these foundations of protecting and providing. Government will continue to protect citizens from violence and from the worst vicissitudes of life. Government will continue to provide public goods, at a level necessary to ensure a globally competitive economy and a well-functioning society. But wherever possible, government should invest in citizen capabilities to enable them to provide for themselves in rapidly and continually changing circumstances.

Not surprisingly, this vision of government as investor comes from a deeply entrepreneurial culture. Technology reporter Gregory Ferenstein has polled leading Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and concluded that they “want the government to be an investor in citizens, rather than as a protector from capitalism. They want the government to heavily fund education, encourage more active citizenship, pursue binding international trade alliances and open borders to all immigrants.” In the words of Alphabet Chairman Eric Schmidt: “The combination of innovation, empowerment and creativity will be our solution.”

This celebration of human capacity is a welcome antidote to widespread pessimism about the capacity of government to meet current national and global economic, security, demographic and environmental challenges. Put into practice, however, government as investor will mean more than simply funding schools and opening borders. If government is to assume that in the main citizens can solve themselves more efficiently and effectively than government can provide for them, it will have to invest not only in the cultivation of citizen capabilities, but also in the provision of the resources and infrastructure to allow citizens to succeed at scale.

Invest in talent

The most important priority of government as investor is indeed education, but education cradle-to-grave. The first five years are particularly essential, as the brain development in those years determines how well children will be able to learn and process what they learn for the rest of their lives. The government will thus have to invest in an entire infrastructure of child development from pregnancy through the beginning of formal schooling, including child nutrition and health, parenting classes, home visits and developmentally appropriate early education programmes. The teenage years are another period of brain development where special programmes, coaching and family support are likely to be needed. Investment in education will fall on barren ground if brains are not capable of receiving and absorbing it. Moreover, meaningful opportunities for continuing education must be available to citizens over the course of their lives, as jobs change rapidly and the acquisition of knowledge accelerates.

Even well-educated citizens, however, cannot live up to their full potential as creative thinkers and makers unless they have resources to work with. Futurists and business consultants John Hagel III, John Seeley Brown and Lang Davison argue in The Power of Pull that successful enterprises no longer design a product according to abstract specifications and push it out to customers, but rather provide a platform where individuals can find what they need and connect to whom they need to be successful. If government really wishes to invest in citizen talent, it will have to provide the same kind of “product” – platforms where citizens can shop intelligently and efficiently for everything from health insurance to educational opportunities to business licenses and potential business partners. Those platforms cannot simply be massive data dumps; they must be curated, designed and continually updated for a successful customer/citizens experience.

Finally, government as investor will have to find a way to be anti-scale. The normal venture capitalist approach to investment is to expect nine ventures to fail and one to take off and scale up. For government, however, more small initiatives that engage more citizens productively and happily are better than a few large ones. Multiple family restaurants in multiple towns are better than a few large national chains. Woven all together, citizen-enterprise in every conceivable area can create a web of national economic enterprise and at least a good part of a social safety net. But government is likely to have to do the weaving.

A government that believes in the talent and potential of its citizens and devote a large portion of its tax revenues to investing in its citizens to help them reach that potential is an attractive vision. It avoids the slowness and bureaucracy of direct government provision of services, although efficient government units can certainly compete. It recognizes that citizens are quicker and more creative at responding to change and coming up with new solutions.

But government investment will have to recognize and address the changing needs of citizens over their entire lifetimes, provide platforms to help them get the resources and make the connections they need, and see a whole set of public goods created by the sum of their deliberately many parts.

Further reading recommended by the WEF.

 

The robot is becoming an integral part of the global economy

Chase Johnson, senior at Colgate University majoring in History and minoring in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies wrote this article published on July 13, 2015 on 1776.vc about the prospects of robots and how as he put it: “ The robot is becoming an integral part of the global economy. [ . . . ]

Chase Johnson, senior at Colgate University majoring in History and minoring in Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies wrote this article published on July 13, 2015 on 1776.vc  about the prospects of robots and how as he put it: “ The robot is becoming an integral part of the global economy. For decades, industries have been using fully or semi-automated machines to improve efficiency and decrease labour costs. Every day, new reports and stories come out about innovations in robotics that have the potential to change our lives. Yet, even with all of the coverage and excitement, it remains difficult to gauge the extent of robotic integration in many industries.”

More recently this other article of Dr. Matthew Lynch reproduced here covering the education sector has shed some light on what remain still an non treaded path towards AI.

ROBOTICS, THE NEXT BIG THING IN HIGHER EDUCATION?

Without a doubt, robotics is the next big thing in education. Like it or not, robots and robotics are the future. The sooner we accept robotics in schools and educate our children about robotics, the more prepared they will be for that future. Now, robotics is a reality at universities around the world, but imagine the possibilities if children entered those college programs already equipped with some robotic knowledge.

In this article, we have listed some interesting stories from universities to prove that there is already quite an interest in robotics after high school.

Geoffrey Louie, a former Ph.D. student in the Mechanical and Industrial Engineering Department at Toronto’s University of Toronto, said that he fell in love with robots watching cartoons as a child, and adds that the Star Wars character C3PO was a big part of his life. He is currently developing Tangy, a nursing robot that can provide social and cognitive stimulations to long-term care residents through group based recreational activities. His current goal is to create a robot that can help people both physically and socially. Control and sensing technologies are his areas of expertise, and he uses them to design intelligent and useful systems.

Goldie Nejat, Mechanical Engineering Associate Professor and Director of IRM (Institute for Robotics & Mechatronics) at the University of Toronto, says that innovation and research in robotics have become very popular with students at colleges and universities. IRM includes a various range of disciplines such as industrial, mechanical, and biomedical engineering. Main specialization areas include food processing, healthcare, information, and communications technology (ICT), aerospace, and information.

The university has stellar relations with commercial and industrial enterprises, such as Google, MDA, General Motors, and research facilities and major hospitals.

Nejat says that there are currently 360 students studying industrial and mechanical engineering, but when she was a student, that number was only 50.

At the University of Waterloo, mechanical engineering is one of the most popular programs. Dr. William W. Melek, University Director of Mechatronics Engineering, credits the university as the first to start a mechatronics program (a combination of software and mechanical and electrical engineering) in 2003. The program was created to build and design robots and robotic systems. To date, 300 students, most of whom were international students, have graduated from this program.

Waterloo is opening a new facility called Robohub that will be used for advanced and specialized research of magnetic levitation, humanoid robotics, autonomous ground, and unmanned aerial. The facility is slated to open in either late 2017 or early 2018.

Meanwhile, at the Centennial College of Toronto, the industrial robotics program has been developed to meet new-age industries demands, per Tito Khandaker, program coordinator, and professor at SETAS (School of Engineering Technology and Applied Science).

Khandaker says that graduates learn a lot of theory, math, and physics, and the school also offers practical engineering—an innovative approach compared to other colleges.

The automotive sector has the biggest job market for robotics graduates, along with other sectors such as pharmaceutical companies.

 

Dr. Matthew Lynch is an award winning writer, activist. He spent seven years as a K-12 teacher – an experience that gave him an intimate view of the challenges facing genuine education reform. With that experience behind him, he has focused the second stage of his career on researching topics related to education reform, the achievement gap, and teacher education. What Dr. Lynch has found is that improving teacher education is an essential component in closing the achievement gap. Dr. Lynch’s articles and op eds appear regularly in the Huffington Post, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, and Education Week. He’s also written numerous peer-reviewed articles, which have appeared in academic journals such as AASA Journal of Scholarship & Practice, International Journal of Progressive Education, Academic Leadership Journal, and others. In addition, he has authored and edited a number of books on school reform and school leadership. Please visit his website at www.drmattlynch.com for more information.