Trends

Offshore Wind Moves Into Energy’s Mainstream 

New York Times: “…offshore wind, once a fringe investment, with limited scope and reliant on government subsidies, is moving into the mainstream.”

“Offshore wind has several advantages over land-based renewable energy, whether wind or solar. Turbines can be deployed at sea with fewer complaints than on land, where they are often condemned as eyesores. But the technology had been expensive and heavily dependent on government subsidies, leaving investors wary. That is now changing. Turbines today are bigger, produce much more electricity and are deployed on much larger sites than in the past. The result is more clean power and extra revenue.”

“The industry is not without challenges. Governments have been cutting financial support for clean power in a bid to balance their budgets, while President Trump’s administration seems likely, based on his promises during his election campaign, to forcefully support fossil fuels.”

Even in a Digital World, Globalization Is Not Inevitable

Pankaj Ghemawat: “…a significant number of experts continue to believe in the virtually unlimited potential of globalization. Most of them focus on digitalization specifically and on communications technology, though some attention continues to be paid to transportation infrastructure (e.g., Parag Khanna’s Connectography).”

“I like to refer to such exaggerated perceptions of globalization as ‘globaloney,‘ a term coined in the 1940s by Clare Boothe Luce. Thomas Friedman’s famous proposal that, thanks to the internet, the ‘world is flat’ (advanced in a 2005 book bearing that title) articulates this idea in a way that is clear and simple — and wrong.”

“While I agree that digitalization can facilitate globalization in certain respects (e.g., by making it easier for small firms to export) here are eight reasons why I am unconvinced that digital technologies are sufficient, given everything else that is going on in the world, to drive globalization forward…”

Is the U.S. Economy Too Dynamic, or Not Dynamic Enough?

New York Times: “The economy has become too volatile and uncertain. Perhaps the dissatisfaction is driven by globalization, automation and the decline of employers’ implicit promises to offer workers jobs through thick and thin. These factors have made it harder for people to get good-paying jobs and to hold onto them for decades. High levels of inequality mean many of the benefits of growth don’t accrue for people at the middle and bottom of the pay scale.”

“Robert Johnson, the president of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, argues that the cumulative impact of rapid technological change and shifts in work can have downsides that economists should try to account for more rigorously… In short, one could summarize this set of complaints as the economy’s having become too dynamic for its own good.”

“But a different line of research offers an alternate theory.”

“A new report from the Economic Innovation Group, a research outfit funded largely by technology executives, suggests that the real problem isn’t too much dynamism but too little. The authors describe trends that have blocked the formation of new businesses and jobs and that are having a stultifying effect on the economy.”

What Science Tells Us About How to Combat Fake News

Michael Pasek: “In a 2011 study published in the journal Media Psychology, psychologists Melanie Green and John Donahue give a small window into the human psyche that explains why fake news is so powerful. The authors asked two questions: (1) How do we respond when we learn someone has misled us, and (2) do we change our beliefs and attitudes when we find out that something we read is fake?”

“The researchers used random assignment to place people in one of four conditions. Everyone was asked to read a narrative. One group was informed from the beginning that the narrative was false. The second and third groups were told—only after reading the story—that the narrative was false and informed that the problem was either (1) an accidental error, or (2) intentional deception. The fourth and final group was not given any reason to doubt the veracity of the story.”

“The findings shed light on the impact of fake news. All readers who learned that they were provided with false information responded negatively to the information source. But, despite learning after the fact that this information was false and even being upset when they learned this, readers continued to be influenced by the contents of the narrative. The story changed participants’ attitudes and this attitude change persisted even after they learned that they had been deliberately mislead.”

Blame Technology, Not Longer Life Spans, for Health Spending Increases

“American life spans are rising, and as they are, health care spending is, too. But longevity is not contributing to the spending increase as much as you might think… The real culprit of increased spending? Technology,” Austin Frakt writes for The New York Times.

“Every year you age, health care technology changes — usually for the better, but always at higher cost. Technology change is responsible for at least one-third and as much as two-thirds of per capita health care spending growth. After accounting for changes in income and health care coverage, aging alone can explain only, at most, a few percentage points of spending growth — a conclusion reached by several studies.”

Trump May Be the News Industry’s Greatest Opportunity to Build a Sustainable Model

“As we feel the ever-louder banging on the doors of a free press, we should also hear, weirdly, another knocking. That’s the knocking of opportunity,” Ken Doctor writes for the Nieman Journalism Lab.

“It’s not just the ‘journalistic spring’ that Jack Shafer predicts as the conflicts and controversies of the Trump administration prove fertile ground for investigation. It’s the opportunity to rewrite the tattered social contract between journalists and readers, a chance to rebuild a relationship that’s been weakening by the year for a decade now.”

“My simple proposition: More Americans will pay more for a growing, smarter, and in-touch local news source if they are presented with one. As the local newspaper industry has shriveled, most readers have never been presented with that choice. Rather they’ve had to witness smaller and smaller papers, and then less and lower-quality digital news offerings.”

We Don’t Gradually Glide Into Corrupt Behavior—We Jump Head First

Tom Jacobs: “It is widely believed that losing one’s moral compass is a gradual process. Breaking a small ethical rule gives us license to break a larger one, and then a still larger one, until unethical behavior gradually feels normal.”

“But newly published research asserts this ‘intuitively compelling notion’ is inaccurate. In four experiments, participants were more likely to engage in large-scale unethical behavior if the opportunity came out of the blue, rather than after they had previously given in to minor temptations.”

Researchers Created Fake News. Here’s What They Found.

Neil Irwin: “Some new research from two economists throws at least a bit of cold water on the theory that false news was a major influence on the election result. They offer some hard data on how pervasive voters’ consumption of fake news really was during the 2016 election cycle. The research also reveals some disturbing truths about the modern media environment and how people make sense of the incoming gush of news.”

“That’s a strong indication about what is going on with consumers of fake news. It may be less that false information from dubious news sources is shaping their view of the world. Rather, some people (about 8 percent of the adult population, if we take the survey data at face value) are willing to believe anything that sounds plausible and fits their preconceptions about the heroes and villains in politics.”

The U.S. Media’s Problems Are Much Bigger than Fake News and Filter Bubbles

“The media did exactly what it was designed to do, given the incentives that govern it. It’s not that the media sets out to be sensationalist; its business model leads it in that direction. Charges of bias don’t make the bias real; it often lies in the eye of the beholder. Fake news and cyberattacks are triggers, not causes. The issues that confront us are structural,” Bharat N. Anand writes for Harvard Business Review.

Did Media Literacy Backfire?

Danah Boyd: “Anxious about the widespread consumption and spread of propaganda and fake news during this year’s election cycle, many progressives are calling for an increased commitment to media literacy programs. Others are clamoring for solutions that focus on expert fact-checking and labeling. Both of these approaches are likely to fail — not because they are bad ideas, but because they fail to take into consideration the cultural context of information consumption that we’ve created over the last thirty years. The problem on our hands is a lot bigger than most folks appreciate.”

“Media literacy asks people to raise questions and be wary of information that they’re receiving. People are. Unfortunately, that’s exactly why we’re talking past one another.”

The Origin of Your TV Set Is a Simple Lesson in the Dangers of Ignoring Globalization

Quartz: “Donald Trump is right. The US doesn’t make TV sets anymore, and it’s mind-boggling that an industry that once supported as many as 100 American manufacturers churning out millions of devices each year went from startup to standard-bearer to extinction in 50 years’ time.”

“But the US president-elect is wrong when he casts the sector’s demise as a failure of globalization. US television manufacturing wasn’t killed by bad trade deals or competition from cheap labor abroad. It was done in by its own inward focus on the domestic market and its own failure to see the global opportunities at hand—and it won’t be resurrected by protectionist trade policies that encourage businesses to repeat these mistakes.”