How to Do Infrastructure Spending the Right Way

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry: “In many ways, Washington, D.C., is like a fantasy land. Sometimes there are seemingly magic words that, when spoken, yield a magical effect. One example? ‘Infrastructure spending.'”

“So, what should we do? Here are a few pointers.”

“The internets! The one place where America’s infrastructure most inexcusably lags is high speed internet.”

“Nukes! Nuclear power is the best form of power there is. It’s clean. It’s safe. It’s long-lasting. It just works.”

“Research innovative infrastructure ideas. A lot of people, including Hillary Clinton, talk about an ‘infrastructure investment bank,’ which sounds kind of appealing, kind of business-y, kind of national-y, but always ends up being cronyist nonsense. If I’m going to use a buzzword, how about this: a ‘DARPA of infrastructure.'”

The Man Who Helped Give Free Trade a Bad Name Says His Research Was Misinterpreted

Quartz: “Branko Milanovic, a Serbian-American economist whose work helped give globalization a bad name, wants to set the record straight on the merits of global trade. The problem isn’t trade itself, which overall is a force for good, he says. It’s that countries don’t design smart policies to help the losers adjust to a globalized world.”

“Milanovic and his colleague Christoph Lakner, both inequality experts, created “the elephant chart” (pdf) in 2012, which shows how incomes have changed in the past few decades… The data, which suggests that rich countries’ middle classes have lost out as global trade and globalization have ramped up, has been pounced on to explain populist movements.”

Milanovic: “Trade and globalization are forces for good. The problem is that in many instances globalization is implemented in a way that makes the playing field slanted in favor of the rich. Also the gains from globalization are never likely to be even for all the participants.”

How Artificial Intelligence Is Replacing Human Decision Making on the Battle Field

Defense One: “The Pentagon’s oft-repeated line on artificial intelligence is this: we need much more of it, and quickly, in order to help humans and machines work better alongside one another. But a survey of existing weapons finds that the U.S. military more commonly uses AI not to help but to replace human operators, and, increasingly, human decision making.”

“The report from the Elon Musk-funded Future of Life Institute does not forecast Terminators capable of high-level reasoning. At their smartest, our most advanced artificially intelligent weapons are still operating at the level of insects … armed with very real and dangerous stingers.”

“So where does AI exist most commonly on military weapons? The study, which looked at weapons in military arsenals around the world, found 284 current systems that include some degree of it, primarily standoff weapons that can find their own way to a target from miles away. Another example would be Aegis warships that can automatically fire defensive missiles at incoming threats.”

Sweden Wants To Fight Our Disposable Culture With Tax Breaks For Repairing Old Stuff

Fast Company: “How often have you taken a gadget or a pair of shoes in for repair and found out that fixing it will cost more than buying a new version? Too often, that’s how often. And Sweden is trying to fix this, by halving the tax paid on repairs and increasing taxes on unrepairable items.”

“The proposed legislation would cut regular tax on repairs of bikes, clothes, and shoes from 25% to 12%. Swedes would also be able to claim half the labor cost of appliance repairs (refrigerators, washing machines and other white goods) from their income tax. Together, these tax cuts are expected to cost the country around $54 million per year. This will be more than paid for by the estimated $233 million brought in by a new ‘chemical tax,’ which would tax the resources that go into making new goods and computers.”

Ahead of Debates, Many Voters Don’t Know Much About Where Trump, Clinton Stand on Major Issues

Pew Research Center: “The first presidential debate Monday night offers Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton an opportunity to explain their positions on important issues facing the country. Two months after the party conventions, only about half of voters (48%) say they know “a lot” about where Clinton stands on important issues, while even fewer (41%) say this about Trump.”

How the New Driverless Car Rules Could Cost Lives

Real Clear Policy: “Three numbers: 35,200 people were killed in auto accidents last year; 94 percent of car crashes are due to human error; 613,501 lives have been saved by advances in auto safety over the past 50 years. These numbers form the basis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration head’s argument for autonomous vehicles and a friendly regulatory environment.”

“In a speech on Monday at the Automated Vehicles Symposium in San Francisco, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said that his agency’s goal is to create ‘a framework that will speed the development and deployment of technologies with significant lifesaving potential.’ However, the very next day, his agency released the long-promised NHTSA guidelines for autonomous vehicles, proposing two new authorities that would do the exact opposite.”

“The problem is that approving every single model for every single manufacturer would be a monumental task — and a slow one. Do we really want an FDA-style premarket approval process when delays could cost lives?”

“‘If we wait for perfect, we’ll be waiting for a very, very long time,’ Rosekind said of autonomous vehicle technology in general. ‘How many lives might we be losing while we wait?”