Government

FCC Chairman Looks to Close Digital Divide by Expanding Lifeline Program

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FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has circulated a proposal within the Commission to dramatically expand the $1.7 billion Lifeline subsidy program designed to ensure all Americans have access to advanced telecommunications services. Lifeline was created in 1985 by the Reagan administration to subsidize landline phone service; in 2008 it was expanded to include cellphones. To qualify for the subsidy a household must, “have an income at or below 135 percent of the federal poverty line, or must participate in a program like Medicaid or food stamps,” according to a recent article in The New York Times.   More

Learning

What if We Treated our Children with the Respect They Deserve?

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If only our country focused on finding the potential in its children, amazing things could happen, as this inspiring article from The New York Times shows. When a committed philanthropist spent a relatively small amount of money, $11 million over 21 years, it completely turned around student educational attainment in a mid-sized predominantly African-American town in Florida. It also had a major positive impact on the community itself. The key was aggressive early-childhood education, along with training for parents.   More

Government Techonomy Events

Reflections from Ross: the American Ideal and Global Governance

As we put the final touches on the program for our first Techonomy Policy conference I’ve been thinking a lot about government, global order, democracy, responsibility, and communities. And of course politics. It’s hard to avoid politics when you live in the U.S. and there’s 18 months to go before the Presidential Election. Apparently it’s never too early to start obsessing over it. In our archives I came across this short talk (beginning at 11:48) from David Liu, co-founder of the XO Group.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

National Academy of Sciences Wades into CRISPR-Cas9 Debate

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In response to growing concerns about the potential application of CRISPR-Cas9 technology, the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine are convening an international summit this fall to “explore the scientific, ethical, and policy issues associated with human gene-editing research." If you think of a genome as a manuscript, full of extraneous, unnecessary, sometimes flat-out harmful material, the CRISPR-Cas9 technique can be likened to an incredibly useful editing tool, fast, cost-efficient, and simple. A snip here, a tuck there, some offensive gobbledygook removed entirely from way over there, and look at the masterpiece you’ve created. In biological circles, the conversation is heated. Some see remarkable opportunities to prevent the kinds of genetic diseases that impact millions of people a year, things like cystic fibrosis, sickle cell, hemophilia, and more. Others see yet another Pandora’s box that could lead to things like designer babies or the unintended genetic mutations that lead to unimaginable consequences.   More

Global Tech Government

A Critical Moment for the Future of the Internet

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The Internet, the greatest invention of our generation—several generations in fact—is in many ways a reflection of the American Dream. It’s vast and open, unlimited in its potential reach. It’s inclusive and welcoming. Anyone can be part of it and make a difference. The fastest growing part of the global economy is Internet-based, and the Internet accounts for a significant and growing portion of global GDP. According to Boston Consulting Group, the Internet is contributing up to 8 percent of GDP in some economies, powering growth and creating jobs. You’d be correct in arguing it’s an American-made innovation. We can trace the roots of the Internet back some 50 years to a U.S. Defense Department research program. But as the Internet has expanded globally, it’s become increasingly clear that one government cannot lay claim to it. The Internet is a worldwide resource. It belongs to everyone.   More

Global Tech Government

Towards a Truly Global Single Digital Market

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Europe is in the midst of a messy negotiation on how to build a single digital market—putting all 28 members of the EU under one set of rules. The potential benefits are clear: consumers will gain access to new services, regulations can be made more consistent and growth enhanced by market norms. According to one study, such efficiencies could give the region an estimated $400 billion economic boost in the first year alone. But the ambitions of Brussels policymakers are too small. A single European digital market should be just the first step in the creation of an open global digital market that will allow companies and individuals everywhere to continue to exploit the Internet’s potential.   More

Global Tech Mobile

Apple Holds China Smartphone Crown

An Apple store in Shanghai. (Image via Shutterstock)

Media are fixated on a new report showing China’s smartphone sales fell for the first time in this year’s first quarter, in a development that shouldn’t surprise anyone due to the market’s supersaturation. But equally impressive in the report is the ongoing surge of Apple, which managed to hold onto its title as the nation’s leading smartphone brand for a second quarter after stealing the crown from the high-flying Xiaomi. Some may say Apple’s surge is due to timing, since it released its latest iPhones in October, fueling a fourth-quarter sales boom that lingered into the first quarter. That may be partly true, though I personally have to applaud CEO Tim Cook for mounting a very focused campaign to woo both Beijing and average Chinese consumers.   More

Analytics & Data

Satellites, Helped by “the Crowd,” Aid Crises in Nepal and Elsewhere

DigitalGlobe's satellites take high definition photographs of areas hit hard by disaster like Nepal, and volunteers then help identify where roads are impassable, survivors' tarps are located, and determine where aid needs to be sent, and how. Other projects include identifying where farmers are starting dangerous and smoky fires in Indonesia in order to clear forest to plant palm oil trees. DigitalGlobe's Bert Turner spoke to Edie Lush of Techonomy partner Hub Culture during the WEF Latin America event in Mexico.   More

Government Techonomy Events

Techonomy Policy June 9 in DC: the Age of Data Exhaust

Last week Techonomy hosted a dinner in New York, and our guests wanted relentlessly to talk about data. Where will society produce it? How much can we manage? Who will control it? What will they do to us with it? How can individuals retain influence over it? These are elemental questions for our era. They are questions that not only citizens, but government itself needs to be methodically asking. The dinner had nothing to do with our impending Techonomy Policy conference on June 9 in Washington, but it's no coincidence that the opening session is entitled "Keeping America Innovative In the Age of Data Exhaust."   More

Techonomy Events

Reflections from Ross: DLD in New York and Policy in DC

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Last week was, as usual, a busy week in New York for the tech, media, and startup community. Burda's DLD conference was in town, as was TechCrunch's Disrupt NY. And it was the Huffington Post's 10th anniversary (celebrated by Arianna and many of her editors at DLD). And, totally unrelated to anything Techonomy, let's not forget the Met Gala. On that DLD session celebrating HuffPo, the editor of HuffPo Canada gave a shout-out to someone they've recently covered—Thiel Fellow, Techonomist, inventor, and entrepreneur Eden Full (who is still only 23 years old). If you haven’t heard of her, check out this short video from Techonomy 2012.   More

Finance

Can Financial Services Use Social Media Right?

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Did you know a tenth of HSBC’s workforce is in compliance? Or that the average corporate fine from the U.K.'s financial industry regulator increased nearly seven-fold from 2010 to 2013? Meanwhile, similar trends are being seen in the U.S. and around the world. The regulatory clampdown is happening at the same time that technology is transforming our world. Just this month, New York State’s top financial regulator granted the first license to a Bitcoin exchange, giving it bank-like status. This is technology literally throwing down the gauntlet to our monetary system. Social media is another case in point.   More

Business

Why Asia Matters for LinkedIn

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As LinkedIn works to connect all the world’s professionals, CEO Jeff Weiner is increasingly setting his sights on a bigger vision—to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. Since Asia accounts for a large portion of that workforce and a rising share of global economic activity, its importance for the professional network is bound to grow. At Techonomy 2014, Weiner envisioned LinkedIn as a platform that connects all the world’s workers, companies, and educational institutions. This is not an impossible dream. LinkedIn already has more than 364 million registered members globally.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Why Genetic Tests May Call For a Second Opinion

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When you get your cholesterol levels after a blood test, you may grumble about the new diet your doctor recommends or the statins you have to take—but you probably don’t wonder whether the levels were wrong. We know clinical lab results are tightly regulated, so we take their accuracy as a given. Assuming the same thing about lab results from a genetic test, however, could be a mistake.   More

Media & Marketing

Empowering Women One Brand at a Time

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Women are everywhere. No surprise, right? They do, after all, make up 50 percent of the world’s population. Yet, everywhere we look, women are a topic of conversation. Michelle Obama’s outfit choices on a recent tour of Japan are proclaimed to break down female stereotypes. Sweaty, jiggling, and fabulous women exercising on our screens chant “This girl can.” A woman’s mob killing in Afghanistan sparks a global #JusticeForFarkhunda movement. The banning of "India’s Daughter," a documentary about the gang rape in Delhi, raises hackles across the globe. Meanwhile, Ellen Pao's lawsuit against venture capital firm Kleiner Perkins sheds light on sexism in Silicon Valley, even if she lost.   More

Analytics & Data Global Tech

How Tech Is Helping Relief Efforts in Nepal

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As Nepal faces the aftermath of April’s devastating earthquake that claimed over 7,500 lives, technologies like drones, people finders, and crowdsourcing platforms are playing a role in disaster relief. Drones, so often associated with the violence of military warfare, are contributing to emergency-response efforts in Nepal by videoing and mapping the disaster zone. Using thermal sensors and ultra-zoom lenses, camera-equipped drones scan the wreckage and identify survivors. And soon, unmanned aerial vehicles might also be able to deliver critical medical supplies, food, and water to hard-to-reach areas.   More

Government Manufacturing

Driverless Cars Debut Soon—But Will We Be Ready for Them?

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Is operating a driverless car legal? With Tesla, Audi, and Cadillac all set to roll out vehicles featuring autonomous functions over the next year—in a legal climate where the federal government and a majority of states lack any regulation at all—the question is difficult to address, but urgently demands an answer. Many automakers say that if a state doesn’t expressly bar hands-free driving, it’s permitted. And legal experts agree. But they also point out that how police officers elect to actually handle driverless cars is another matter.   More

Government Techonomy Events

TE Videos Set Stage for Policy Conference in DC June 9

In June we’re launching a new conference, Techonomy Policy. It will focus on the pressure and friction points created when the speed of tech butts up against the ability of government, governance, regulators, and institutions in general to keep up. We’re trying to regulate things that are completely new, be it the technology itself or the applications it enables. And by the time we start thinking about implications, it’s already too late. Can policy become less reactive and more proactive? And how do you navigate such ethically and politically complex issues with huge economic, social, and moral implications?   More

Government

The Peculiar Charms (and Perils) of Electronic Voting

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It’s remarkable that in a world where it seems everything is becoming more digitized most of the globe still elects their political leaders with pencil and paper. Only a peculiarly-diverse handful of countries—including Belgium, Brazil, India, and Venezuela—use electronic voting machines nationwide. (The U.S. and other countries use them in some areas.) What these countries have discovered is that when you have a robust system the cost of elections falls, people’s votes count more, fraud is cut, and the results are known faster. And, rather extraordinarily, replacing paper with machines can change societies in ways that save lives.   More

Learning

How Tech Fights Problems Caused by Tech

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We live in a time of increasingly obsessive worry that our lives are being worsened by the tech that surrounds us. We are sacrificing our privacy, we hear, as we dwell online. We don't spend enough time with real people and too much instead in virtual interaction. We suffer from shortening attention spans. And on and on. However, there are likely to be endless ways to employ tech to combat the effects of tech that we decide we really do not like. This article in The Chronicle of Higher Education is about tools to reduce distraction while taking online courses. It points toward what's possible. Careful research on students showed that using software to give them incentives not to stop studying really worked.   More

Bio & Life Sciences

Could a Microbe Transplant Make You Thinner? (And Other Amazing Things About Bacteria and Antibiotics)

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We are in the earliest days of understanding the human microbiome—the communities of microbes that live in and on our bodies—but already scientists are getting a sense of the incredible complexity of this ecosystem and its interaction with us. These advances were made possible just in the past decade by the latest DNA sequencers and other technologies that can scan and analyze huge numbers of microbes at a time. This understanding may enable radical new techniques for weight control, among other revolutionary implications.   More