terça-feira, novembro 07, 2006
The Atlas of Ideas
We used to know where new scientific ideas would come from: the top universities and research laboratories of large companies based in Europe and the US. While production was dispersed among global networks of suppliers, it was assumed that more knowledge-intensive tasks would stay at home.
All that is changing fast. As globalisation moves up a gear, ideas are emerging in unexpected places and flowing around the world as easily as money and commodities, carried by mobile diasporas of knowledge workers.
This shift is most visible in countries such as China, India and South Korea, which are fast becoming world-class centres for research, particularly in emerging fields such as stem cell biology and nanotechnology.
Since 1999, China’s spending on R&D has increased by more than 20 per cent each year. India now produces 260,000 engineers a year and its number of engineering colleges is due to double to 1,000 by 2010. According to Thomson ISI, Asia's share of the world’s scientific papers rose from 16 per cent in 1990 to 25 per cent in 2004. At the same time, there is a growing flow of multinational R&D to the new knowledge centres of Shanghai, Beijing, Hyderabad and Bangalore.
These shifts in global knowledge production are likely to be every bit as significant as the shifts in manufacturing that occurred in the 1970s and early 1980s. The big question is how we should respond. Some view Asia’s growing scientific strengths with alarm, fearing it will mean the loss of highly-skilled jobs in Europe and the US. But innovation is not a zero-sum game: more in Asia does not mean less in Europe or the US.
Demos | Projects | The Atlas of Ideas | Overview
segunda-feira, novembro 06, 2006
Britain's privacy watchdog sounded the alarm over growing state and commercial intrusion into people's lives as a report on Thursday ranked the country alongside Russia and China as "endemic surveillance societies".
Richard Thomas, the UK's independent information commissioner, said clear lines needed to be drawn about the extent to which government agencies and businesses could hoard information on people's movements and buying habits.
"Two years ago I warned that we were in danger of sleepwalking into a surveillance society. Today I fear that we are in fact waking up to a surveillance society that is already all around us," Thomas said.
Civil liberties group Privacy International, in a survey of 37 countries, named Britain alongside Russia, China, Malaysia and Singapore as countries practising "endemic" surveillance against the individual.
Only slightly better were the United States, Thailand and the Philippines, described as "extensive" surveillance societies".
Thomas said that while some forms of surveillance could help combat crime and terrorism, others risked undermining trust and fostering a climate of suspicion. He voiced concern about commercial as well as government intrusion.
"Every time we use a mobile phone, use our credit cards, go online to search on the Internet, go electronic shopping, drive our cars, more and more information is being collected," he told the BBC. "Humans must dictate our future, not machines."
A report for a London conference hosted by Thomas predicted surveillance would be ramped up even more in the next 10 years.
Among its forecasts: satellite navigation devices in cars would help police to monitor speed and track selected vehicles; employees would be screened for future health problems and their impact on productivity; monitoring of people's movements would intensify, with the use of unmanned aircraft and street-level security cameras with facial recognition technology.
KKR put up €40bn offer for Vivendi
KKR’s move demonstrates the scale of the power buy-out firms now wield in the global mergers and acquisition markets and will put on alert some of the world’s largest companies, which might have thought their size would protect against private equity interest.
So far this year, buy-out groups have raised more than $320bn, with leverage that would equate to deals worth more than $1,000bn. Private equity groups often finance deals with three parts debt to one part equity.
FT.com / Companies / Financial services - KKR put up €40bn offer for Vivendi
O Apagão Comunitário
An overload in Germany's power network triggered outages leaving millions without electricity on Saturday night.
Romano Prodi said there was a "contradiction" in having a unified power network but no central authority.
Power failed first in Cologne, Germany, before shutting down across parts of France, Italy, Spain and Austria.
Belgium, the Netherlands and Croatia were also affected.
"My first impression is that there is a contradiction between having European networks but not having a central European authority. It is somewhat absurd," Mr Prodi said.
"We weren't very far from a European blackout," a senior director with French power company RTE said.
Most electricity supplies were restored within two hours of the outage, and so far no injuries or accidents have been reported.
The worst recent power blackout struck Italy in 2003, plunging the country into darkness for 18 hours between 28 and 29 September.
BBC NEWS | Europe | Bid to overhaul Europe power grid
domingo, novembro 05, 2006
Climate Change - the best policy is action
Repent, for the end of the world is nigh. That is a warning one would expect to come from an evangelical preacher or an environmental doomsayer, not from a sober economist. Yet that is, in essence, what Sir Nicholas Stern, author of the British government’s new report on climate change, is saying. The tone may be sober, but the conclusion – act now before it is too late – is not.
Hitherto many economists, business-people and politicians, particularly in the US, have argued that, given both the uncertainties and the high costs of taking possibly unnecessary action, the best policy is to wait, see and, if necessary, adapt. The contribution of this report is to reverse that logic. It argues that, given these very same uncertainties and the relatively low costs of acting now, the best policy is action.