Another Casualty of Climate Change: Endangered Languages

Grist: “Though it’s not a perfect measure, language is one of the best ways we know to gauge cultural diversity. And that diversity is in danger. Linguists predict in the next 100 years, half of the 7,000 languages currently spoken in the world will vanish.”

“If you’re well versed in the effects of climate change, that list will sound familiar. As the world heats up, we’re on track to see more intense storms, rising seas, prolonged droughts, and the spread of infectious diseases — all of which can, in turn, lead to chaos, armed conflicts, and migration. And when people settle in a new place, they begin a new life, complete with new surroundings, new traditions, and, yes, a new language.”

Bitcoin-Style Security May Soon Guard US Nukes and Satellites

Defense One: “DARPA, the storied research unit of the US Department of Defense, is currently funding efforts to find out if blockchains could help secure highly sensitive data, with potential applications for everything from nuclear weapons to military satellites.”

“The case for using a blockchain boils down to a concept in computer security known as ‘information integrity.’ That’s basically being able to track when a system or piece of data has been viewed or modified. DARPA’s program manager behind the blockchain effort, Timothy Booher, offers this analogy: Instead of trying to make the walls of a castle as tall as possible to prevent an intruder from getting in, it’s more important to know if anyone has been inside the castle, and what they’re doing there.”

“The prospect of the US military using a blockchain to secure critical data could spark a boom in uses of the technology outside finance… In an age of mega-hacks on corporations and political organizations, an indelible record that detects tampering has its attractions.”

Could America’s Smallest State Lead the Way Toward the Next Energy Age?

Brookings Institution: “The tiny state of Rhode Island is at a crossroad, facing major decisions on investing in fossil fuel infrastructure or turning sharply to renewable energy.”

“The contrast between two major projects—a huge natural gas-fired power plant and towering offshore wind turbines—could not be greater, and the long-term implications of the decisions for the state and the country are far-reaching. Depending upon which road it takes, tiny Rhode Island could be a leader of a new energy age for the U.S., or a middling actor locked into fossil fuel infrastructure for decades.”

How a Slum in India Built a Billion Dollar Economy

Place: “Malik Abdullah’s plastic recycling business in Dharavi, the sprawling slum in Mumbai that is among the largest in Asia, has survived fire, building collapses, and the criminal underworld for decades. Now, it is threatened by development.”

“Thousands of small businesses like his thrive in Dharavi, creating an informal economy with an annual turnover of $1 billion by some estimates.”

“‘People think of slums as places of static despair as depicted in films such as ‘Slumdog Millionaire’,’ said Sanjeev Sanyal, an economist and writer, referring to the Academy Award-winning movie that exposed the gritty underbelly of Dharavi.”

“‘If one looks past the open drains and plastic sheets, one will see that slums are ecosystems buzzing with activity… Creating neat low-income housing estates will not work unless they allow for many of the messy economic and social activities that thrive in slums,’ he said.”

By 2025, the Majority of Donald Trump’s Tax Cuts Would Go to the Wealthiest 1% of Americans

Washington Post: “By 2025, about 51 percent of the benefits of Trump’s tax plan would accrue to the wealthiest percentile of taxpayers, according to the Tax Policy Center’s analysis. Those wealthy taxpayers would save $317,000 on average each year, increasing their incomes by more than 14 percent.”

“Reducing taxes on the grand scale that Trump has proposed would mean far less revenue for the federal government. The government would have to either reduce spending, or borrow more to make up the difference.”

The Coming Human-Machine Partnership in Creativity

Sam Arbesman: “Awash in the many tools of our technological society, we are seeing a new type of tool on the horizon, one which is similar in some ways to what has come before and in other ways quite different. These are tools that augment human creativity. We are increasingly, as a society, building tools to help assist human creativity, whether in art, design, or even scientific discovery.”

“Here is a small sampling of what is increasingly possible:”

Poetry from pictures

“Creativity has always been a collaborative act. We can now increasingly count machines as members of our team as well.”

Why the Military Should Set Up a “Digital ROTC”

Defense Tech: “The military should consider setting up a ‘Digital ROTC’ to attract cyber experts and also try harder to appear ‘cool’ to a new generation of potential recruits, a defense panel said.”

“Board member Marne Levine, chief operating officer of Instagram, said the Defense Department should consider offering tuition payments for students who commit to joining a ‘Digital ROTC’ to pursue high-tech positions in the military. Students in those programs would focus on cyber operations and cyber defense.”

“The Digital ROTC would be one way for the Defense Department to compete with the private sector for cyber talent, Levine said.”

Millennials Aren’t Big Spenders or Risk-Takers, and That’s Going to Reshape the Economy

Los Angeles Times: “As they emerge this year as the United States’ largest demographic group — some 75 million strong — millennials are taking up the mantle as the most impactful generation since the baby boomers.”

“For starters, millennials are not big spenders, at least not in the traditional sense… Instead of material wealth, millennials show off through their travels, hobbies and even meals, which get photographed and posted on Facebook, Instagram and other social media.”

“Another key difference with their predecessors, particularly Generation X, is that millennials are not big risk takers. That seems especially true when it comes to starting businesses.”

Russians and Saudis Pledge Joint Effort to Limit Oil Production

Bloomberg Markets: “Saudi Arabia and Russia, the world’s two largest crude oil producers, said they’re ready to cooperate to limit output, helping send prices to a one-year high in London.”

“Coordinated output curbs by Russia and the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, who together pump about half the world’s oil, could boost fuel prices for consumers and revive the fortunes of a battered energy industry. While Putin’s comments are the firmest indication yet that such an agreement is possible, Russia is still pumping at record levels and has stopped short of a commitment to pull back. OPEC members also have many hurdles to overcome before implementing their first cuts in eight years.”

To Fight Climate Change, Institute a Four-Day Workweek

Quartz: “A reduction in working hours generally correlates with marked reductions in energy consumption, as economists David Rosnick and Mark Weisbrot have argued. In fact, if Americans simply followed European levels of working hours, for example, they would see an estimated 20% reduction in energy use—and hence in carbon emissions.”

“With a four-day week, huge amounts of commuting to and from work could be avoided, and electricity used running an office could be saved. At a point when we need to massively cut back our carbon outputs, instituting a three-day weekend could be the simplest and most elegant way to make our economy more environmentally friendly.”