Electric and / or Self-Driving cars and in which part of the World

Electric and / or Self-Driving cars vs Conventional ones?

The oil and gas giant British Petroleum (BP) predicted in a report that was published last week that although electric cars are increasingly being put on the roads and renewable energy growing at exceptional rates, fossil oil extraction, production, etc. which needless to remind is BP’s main business line, would not only remain in demand but see this latter rise to unprecedented levels.  The reason for this unabated level in demand would be according to this report the greater numbers of the Third World countries (cum Emerging) populations reaching levels of prosperity allowing car ownership.  The question beside that of the validity of fossil oil demand predicted not to decrease in the future, is which direction the automotive manufacturing industry would take in the future.  Would it be Electric and / or Self-Driving cars and in which part of the World would these be on the roads?  And most importantly, which type of energy would be used in which type of vehicle ?

We republish the following Brookings article on driveless cars as these obviously will be marketed mainly in the so-called First World.

Driverless cars are coming: Here are 8 useful facts about them

By Fred Dews / Tuesday, January 24, 2017.

“Driverless cars are a transformative technology that could have important implications for society, national security, the economy, and the environment,” Darrell West and Hillary Schaub wrote in a 2015 piece that outlined a number of challenges, benefits, and policy recommendations related to autonomous vehicles. West, vice president and director of Governance Studies, and Schaub, a program coordinator, addressed specific issues for the continued development of this technology, including: cybersecurity and liability, increasing fuel efficiency and reducing traffic fatalities, and addressing international safety and testability. “The discussion surrounding driverless cars involves a great deal of uncertainty,” West and Schaub observed. “There are huge ethical decisions that must be made regarding these new technologies. It is the responsibility of policymakers to help decide these issues.”

Here are analyses and data about driverless cars drawn from recent Brookings research.

Computers can be considered legal drivers of vehicles

Noting that in early 2016, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration determined that under federal law computers could be considered legal drivers of vehicles, Darrell West and Jack Karsten of the Center for Technology Innovation write that, “With the combined efforts of the technology industry, automakers, and federal regulators, driverless cars could achieve widespread use sooner than many drivers and policymakers might expect.”

With technology companies and automakers continuing to make advances on driverless cars, and with increased federal research, companies like Toyota are saying they aim to deliver driverless vehicles around 2020. Given this pace of development, West and Karsten argue that “creating a national strategy for driverless cars is a crucial task for federal transportation officials.”

Pittsburgh is a leader in driverless car technology research and testing

Bruce Katz, the Brookings centennial scholar, writes of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Mayor Bill Peduto being the first person to hail and ride a driverless taxi. The former steel manufacturing center has become, Katz notes, “the research lab and test bed for this revolutionary technology” due to an “ecosystem” that includes the robotics research unit at Carnegie Mellon University, plus start-ups and large firms, and Uber’s Advanced Technology Center. “But what has made Pittsburgh especially effective,” Katz says, “is public, private and civic leadership that is willing and eager to make the city itself a laboratory for technological invention and testing.”

The U.S. military has an interest in self-driving vehicles

Automated vehicles are not just for civilian passengers. As Nonresident Senior Fellow Kenneth Anderson explains in a Lawfare blog post, “the U.S. military has a keen interest in self-driving vehicles that can be deployed in combat for many possible functions, such as logistics and re-supply.” Anderson discusses some of the unique technological, reliability testing, and regulatory issues the Department of Defense faces as it develops this technology for warfare.

Autonomous vehicles are expected to comprise 25 percent of the global market between 2035 and 2040

In a wide-ranging 2016 paper, Darrell West explores the different types of autonomous vehicles, their impact, and cross-national issues involved with their development. He looks in detail at the technology, budgetary, regulatory, legal, and policy frameworks for autonomous vehicles in China, Europe, Japan, Korea, and the United States. “In each nation,” West argues, “government officials and business leaders have to resolve these matters because within a foreseeable period, the technology will have advanced to the point where intelligent vehicles will spread into key niches such as ride-sharing, taxis, delivery truck, industrial applications, and transport for senior citizens and the disabled.”

“People and businesses will have driverless options for taking them safely to their destinations,” he says, “and it is important for leaders to provide reasonable guidance on how to commercialize advanced technologies in transportation.”

Fragmented regulatory framework the biggest challenge to driverless cars in America

In a briefing paper included in the Election 2016 and America’s Future series, and now part of the “Brookings Big Ideas for America” book meant to inform the new Trump administration, West explains that the “biggest American challenge” for autonomous vehicles “is overcoming the fragmentation of 50 state governments and having uniform guidelines across geographic boundaries. Public officials should address questions such as who regulates, how they regulate, legal liability, privacy, and data collection.”

In the briefing paper, West reviews the benefits and needed policy actions—including better national technical standards, addressing legal liability, and improving data protection and security. “Governments can accelerate or slow the movement towards self-driving vehicles by the manner in which they regulate,” West writes. “Addressing relevant issues and making sure regulatory rules are clear should be high priorities in all the countries considering autonomous vehicles.”

Existing products liability law is adaptable to new issues in autonomous vehicles

John Villasenor, a nonresident senior fellow in Governance Studies, examines the liability issues associated with autonomous vehicles as new technologies continue to advance us into an era of widespread commercial use of vehicle automation. In 2012, Villasenor notes, motor vehicle accidents caused over 33,000 deaths in the United States alone. Just as existing vehicle automation technologies have provided safety improvements, additional automation promises to improve safety even more. In this context, Villasenor argues that “broad new liability statutes aimed at protecting the manufacturers of autonomous vehicle technology are unnecessary.”

In this paper, Villasenor offers a set of guiding principles for legislation. “In short,” he writes, “the liability concerns raised by vehicle automation are legitimate and important. But they can be addressed without delaying consumer access to the many benefits that autonomous vehicles will provide.” He concludes that the U.S. “has a robust products liability law framework that, while certainly not perfect, will be well equipped to address and adapt to the autonomous vehicle liability questions that arise in the coming years.”

The adoption of driverless cars can save thousands of lives each year

Drawing upon research that shows that as unemployment rises, more dangerous drivers drive less and safer ones drive more—thus decreasing traffic deaths—Senior Fellow Cliff Winston and Vikram Maheshri of the University of Houston argue that policymakers “could allow the most dangerous drivers … to continue to have access to an automobile provided it is driverless or at the very least has more autonomy than current vehicles.” Doing so, they say, “will not only save lives but also would “expedite the transition to driverless cars and help educate the public and build trust in the new technology.”

Automated vehicles will save government billions of dollars

As Kena Fedorschak of Arizona State University and Brookings Nonresident Senior Fellow Kevin Desouza observe, state and local governments derive billions of dollars in revenue from speeding tickets, DUIs, towing fees, and other driver-related laws. They argue that while the safety improvements offered by autonomous vehicles will remove these sources of revenue, the technology will save taxpapyers an estimated $10 billion per year by eliminating “inefficiencies” in the transportation system such as congestion, road damage, and deaths.

“Even if the public sector refuses to innovate, government entities will save big bucks from the impending driverless car revolution,” Fedorschak and Desouza conclude. “Billions will be saved as a result of increased safety and the reduction of transportation inefficiencies. The future is bright for autonomous vehicles.”

5 years to change how we Learn, Earn and Care

Saadia Zahidi in perhaps one of her most commendable contributions to the WEF, states here that times are a-changing and that it is up to us to adapt our systems of education, care, etc. so as to maximise our chances of a better future.  For that we have only 5 years to change how we learn, earn and care or even perhaps less than that. 

We may have less than 5 years to change how we learn, earn and care

January 4, 2016

Over the course of the last year, at World Economic Forum and elsewhere, I have asked participants two questions. First I ask for a show of hands on whether they feel confident about their current skills taking them through to the end of their careers – about one in five raise their hands. Then I ask if they feel confident about advising their children on their education to prepare for their own futures: none raises their hand. These are some of the most knowledgeable, leading figures in the world and yet they, like many of us, are uncertain about what the future of labour markets looks like.

This is not surprising.

Globalization and technology are accelerating both job creation and destruction. Some estimates have put the risk of automation as high as half of current jobs, while others forecast a considerably lower value of 9%. Still, all occupations will go through change: we found that on average one-third of the skillsets required to perform today’s jobs will be wholly new by 2020.

job-families-rise-and-decline

At the same time, education and training systems are not keeping pace with these shifts. Some studies suggest that 65% of children currently entering primary school will have jobs that do not yet exist and for which their education will fail to prepare them, exacerbating skills gaps and unemployment in the future. Even more urgent, underdeveloped adult training and skilling systems are unable to support learning for the currently active workforce of nearly 3 billion people.

In addition, outdated cultural norms and institutional inertia already create roadblocks for half of the world’s talent – and are getting worse in the new context. Despite women’s leap forward in education, their participation in the paid workforce remains low; and progress is stalling, with current forecasts for economic parity at 170 years.

The near-term outcomes of these dynamics, compounded through other demographic, geopolitical and economic factors, are profoundly challenging. They include skills gaps in the workforce that are difficult for employers and workers alike, unemployment and job displacement, particularly in blue-collar and services work, rising fear of further technological unemployment, insufficient supply of talent for many high-skill occupations, and loss of female talent and potential. Together these factors are exacerbating income inequality and creating a crisis of identity.

Yet, most of these dire predictions need not be foregone conclusions. If leaders act now, using this moment of transformation as an impetus for tackling long-overdue reform, they have the ability not only to stem the flow of negative trends but to accelerate positive ones and create an environment in which over 7 billion people on the planet can live up to their full potential.

Instead, in several advanced economies, we are seeing the political and social consequences of short-term, emotive – and sometimes disingenuous – thinking. For those who are losing out from the changes underway, fear is an understandable response. But turning away immigrants, trade or technology itself, and disengaging from the world, is a distraction, at best. At worst, will create even more negative consequences for those already losing out – and many more. It is up to courageous, responsible and responsive leaders and citizens to take the long view and set out on the path to more fundamental, relevant reforms, and an inspiring future.

How? By investing in human capital and preparing people for the new opportunities of the fourth industrial revolution. The World Economic Forum has worked with leaders, experts and practitioners to create a common vision and a shared change agenda focused on how we learn, earn and care.

  1. Transform education ecosystems. Most education systems are so far behind the mark on keeping up with the pace of change today and so disconnected from labour markets that nothing short of a fundamental overhaul will suffice in many economies. The eight key areas of action here are early childhood education, future-ready curricula, a professionalized teaching workforce, early exposure to the workplace, digital fluency, robust and respected technical and vocational education, openness to education innovation, and critically, a new deal on lifelong learning.
  2. Facilitate the transition to a new world of work. While there are deeply polarized views about how technology will impact employment, there is agreement that we are in a period of transition. Policy needs to catch up and facilitate this transition. We propose four areas of action: recognition of all work models and agile implementation of new regulations, updated social protection, adult learning and continuous re-skilling, and proactive employment services.
  3. Advance the care economy. Often undervalued and unregulated, care is one of the most fundamental needs among both young and old populations. It has a strong impact on education, and holds potential for job growth. We propose six areas of action: recognize and value care as a vital sector of the economy, professionalize the care workforce, rebalance paid and unpaid work responsibilities, expand high-quality care infrastructure, create new financial provisions to facilitate care, and use technology as a tool for balancing care and work.

how-is-care-valued

Image: World Economic Forum

To do any of this – and to make it pay off – it is critical that policy design includes agile multistakeholder governance, empowerment of the individual, objective measurement, universal access and long-term planning as fundamental tenets.

The rapid pace of change means we need to act urgently. By some estimates the current window of opportunity for action is three-to-five years. This may sound daunting but there are a large variety of robust success stories to learn from and emulate. There are also substantial new commercial opportunities – such as adult education, care services, employment services – that make this space ripe for public-private collaboration.

It’s the harder path to follow, there’s no doubt about it. Transforming education ecosystems, creating a care economy and managing the transition to a new world of work require political will, innovative policy, new financing models and, most importantly, a new mind-set.

But this is also the only viable path if we want to get ahead of the transition underway and turn this moment of flux into an opportunity for revitalizing growth and realizing human potential in the age of the fourth industrial revolution.

The whitepaper on Realizing Human Potential in the Fourth Industrial Revolution: An Agenda for Leaders to Shape the Future of Education, Gender and Work can be found here.  Saadia Zahidi is Head of Education, Gender and Work and Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.

 

UN Arabic Language Day on December 18

 

Today December 18, is Qatar National Day.    UN Arabic Language Day on December 18 is observed annually; it was chosen as the date for the Arabic language as it is “the day in 1973 when the General Assembly approved Arabic as an official UN language:” Wikipedia.

The National posted an article to mark the UN Arabic Language Day on December 18, Anna Zacharias, a former journalist at The National, tells us about her time in Oman.

Tea and culture: my journey to learn Arabic in Oman

Anna Zacharias

December 15, 2016 Updated: December 16, 2016

Last year, I left work in the UAE to study Arabic full-time in Oman. After almost two decades in the Arabian Gulf, I decided it was time.

When I first arrived from Canada at the age 13, Arabic wasn’t offered to me at school. I was told I was too old to learn the language and I should focus on GCSE French. I didn’t mind. I only planned to stay a couple of years in the Gulf.

Years passed. I picked up what academics call Gulf Pidgin Arabic or “taxi Arabic”, a mish mash of Arabic, English, Urdu and Hindi spoken by South Asian labourers, maids and shopkeepers. I had a smattering of Emirati words from majlis sessions but no grammar on which to hang these nouns.

Occasional attempts to fill in the gaps failed. I would register in classes and drop them when teachers, unhappy with my linguistic potpourri, wanted to start from the beginning. Again.

I wanted to study a Gulf dialect in addition to Modern Standard Arabic. A friend recommended a school in Muscat.

Another friend kindly gave me a crash course before I left. He began with the same introduction to Arabic he had received decades before: “Any word in Arabic means what it is. Any word in Arabic also means the opposite.”

In our first two hours, he did not teach me grammar or new vocabulary. Instead, we flipped through his thick, old dictionary. Each Arabic word is based on a two or three letter root, and the meaning changes when this root is fitted into different patterns.

My friend guided me to a favourite, a four-page entry for the root “qbl” and its associate words: to receive, to kiss, a tribe, the Qibla and a hotel reception.

He taught me the grammar that mattered most. “Don’t worry about the dual feminine,” he told me. “Only the stuffiest people will expect you to use it.”

The fourth question on my placement test was about the dual feminine. I did something I had never done in my life – I cheated.

When asked about my education, I wrote 100 words in perfect pidgin: “Ana kalimat. Grammar mafi. Yanni fi, bas mafi ziyada.” A rough translation: “I am words. Nothing grammar. I mean, exists, but not manys.” To fellow pidgin speakers, my response was clear and powerful. Eloquent, even.

When I arrived in Muscat, they ask me to recite the alphabet. I could read but did not know the names for letters. I was placed in a class for absolute beginners. All my cheating had been for nothing. This was my first lesson in Arabic language pedagogy: Arabic is taught sequentially. It is a line dance, not a breakdance.

In most Arabic classrooms, Fusha is king. Fusha is literary Arabic, a term that includes classical Arabic and media (Modern Standard) Arabic. Most classes teach Fusha rather than the Arabic spoken and used in daily life, like Egyptian or Lebanese Arabic.

For scholars and journalists, learning literary Arabic makes sense. For people interested in travel and chit-chat, it’s like learning Latin for a trip to Europe. Will you be able to learn other Romance languages quickly after you master Latin? Yes. Is it the best way to prepare for that trip to France? Probably not.

Part of the Fusha fixation is in deference to its beauty. But it’s easier to sell Arabic classes marketed as the world’s fifth most-spoken language.

Shortly after my programme began, the American students arrived with backpacks, baseball caps and clear Fusha. They came from universities across the United States. They had beautiful handwriting and some had studied Arabic for years. They loved to talk about how difficult Arabic was. “As hard as Chinese.” I heard this at least once a day.

The new students also came with an extensive political vocabulary. They knew words like “diplomat” and “United Nations” and “draft resolution”. But in our first conversation class, many did not understand when the teacher asked whether they preferred tea or coffee.

Textbooks focus on politics at the expense of culture. This is unforgivable in a language built on social eloquence. More worrying is the reinforced association of Arabic and the Arab with violence and politics. In all my years, I’ve had exactly one conversation in Arabic about a car bomb. I’ve had about 5,793 on tea. Words for tea are not in the textbooks. Nor are words for politely refusing a third serving of mandi.

There is much talk of Arabic being at risk, of a decline in usage. Meanwhile, conversations about the best form of Arabic are still more common than discussions on how to best engage students or present Arabic in a way that reflects the diversity and warmth of contemporary Arab cultures.

The best way to preserve a language is to share it. Our teachers in Oman understood this. My teachers were poets, familiar with both high Arabic and the banter of the Gulf. Our classes were filled with frankincense, our bellies with luqaimat dumplings, our ears with verses of pre-Islamic love poetry or first hand tales of djinn. My teachers knew the truth: the only rocket students should learn about is the rocket shawarmah.

Anna Zacharias is a former journalist at The National.