November 26th, 2011
02:00 AM ET

Sachs: Services without tears

Editor's Note: Jeffrey D. Sachs is Professor of Economics and Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University. He is also Special Adviser to United Nations Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals. For more from Sachs, visit Project Syndicate or follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

By Jeffrey D. SachsProject Syndicate

A famous claim in economics is that the cost of services (such as health care and education) tends to increase relative to the cost of goods (such as food, oil, and machinery). This seems right: people around the world can barely afford the rising health-care and school-tuition costs they currently face – costs that seem to increase each year faster than overall inflation. But a sharp decline in the costs of health care, education, and other services is now possible, thanks to the ongoing information and communications technology (ICT) revolution.

The cost of services compared to the cost of goods depends on productivity. If farmers become much better at growing food while teachers become little better at teaching kids, the cost of food will tend to fall relative to the cost of education. Moreover, the proportion of the population engaged in farming will tend to fall, since fewer farmers are needed to feed the entire country. FULL POST

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Topics: Innovation
America's foreign-born scientists and engineers
November 23rd, 2011
06:24 PM ET

America's foreign-born scientists and engineers

The GOP presidential candidates sparred Tuesday night on national security, but there was at least one point of agreement among them, or at least between Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney.

“I think that we ought to have an H-1 visa that goes with every graduate degree in math, science and engineering so that people stay here,” said Gingrich.

“I'd staple a green card to the diploma of anybody who's got a degree of math, science, a Masters degree, Ph.D,” said Romney.

The candidates explained that keeping foreign-born students who study science, technology, engineering or math in the U.S. was an important step in creating new technologies, new industries and new jobs.

The U.S. Census Bureau recently released a report on foreign-born bachelor’s degree holders living in the U.S. The numbers give some sense of how U.S. universities remain magnets for those seeking to study science, math or engineering. There are now 4.2 million foreign-born science and engineering bachelor's degree holders in the U.S., a number double the population of Houston, Texas, for comparison.

FULL POST

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Topics: Daily Fact • Education • Immigration • Innovation • Uncategorized
The jobless economy
Watson, a computer, has already won the title of Jeopardy champion. How might technology beat us next? (Getty Images)
November 11th, 2011
02:26 PM ET

The jobless economy

Editor's Note: Martin Ford is the author of  The Lights in the Tunnel: Automation, Accelerating Technology, and the Economy of the Future.  For more, visit Project Syndicate or follow it on Facebook and Twitter.

By Martin Ford, Project Syndicate

Nearly all economic forecasts agree that high unemployment in much of the developed world will most likely persist for years to come. But could even this dire projection underestimate future unemployment rates?

As improvements in computers, robotic technologies, and other forms of job automation continue to accelerate, more workers are certain to be displaced, and job creation will become even more challenging. Most economists dismiss concern that this might lead to long-term structural unemployment. Indeed, the idea often elicits outright derision. The conservative media in the United States recently mocked President Barack Obama for suggesting that automation might hurt employment growth. But Obama was right to raise the question. FULL POST

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Topics: Economy • Innovation • Internet
November 6th, 2011
10:47 AM ET

The promise of networked schools

Editor’s Note: Robert J. Hutter is Chairman of Edmodo, which aims to "help educators harness the power of social media to customize the classroom for each and every learner", as well as a Managing Partner of Learn Capital, a venture capital firm concentrating on the global education sector. The views expressed in this article are solely those of Robert J. Hutter.

By Robert J. Hutter - Special to CNN

Technology has long had its supporters and detractors in K-12 education. But until recently, regardless of one’s view, technology has had a minor role to play in the everyday work of K-12 schooling. This is now changing at rapid speed.

Advances in easily portable computing devices and the growing presence of wireless Internet access in schools have quietly worked to create a genuine tipping point that classroom educators are now leveraging to change the very scope of their ability to teach.

FULL POST

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Topics: Education • Innovation • Technology
How technology helped spur a quiet revolution in emergency aid
Flood-displaced Pakistanis receive food at a distribution point at an Air force relief camp in Sukkur on August 18, 2010.
October 24th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

How technology helped spur a quiet revolution in emergency aid

Editor's Note: Vishnu Sridharan is Program Associate in the Global Assets Project at the New America Foundation. This post is part of the Global Innovation Showcase created by the New America Foundation and the Global Public Square.

By Vishnu Sridharan - Special to CNN

Since July, at least 745 people have been killed and 8 million affected by monsoon rains and flooding across Southeast Asia. In response to the floods of the past week, a number of countries pledged assistance: U.S. Marines arrived in Bangkok last Saturday with equipment and sandbags; China has provided 64 rescue boats and water-purifying equipment; Japan has come forward with tents, blankets, mattresses and electricity generators. In addition to the provision of these ‘in-kind’ goods, however, Australia and the Philippines stepped in with a kind of aid that only a couple years ago was considered controversial: cold, hard cash.

FULL POST

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Topics: Aid • Innovation • Natural Disaster
James Dyson: To compete, U.S. must take risks
James Dyson with vacuum cleaner. (Getty Images)
October 10th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

James Dyson: To compete, U.S. must take risks

Editor's Note: Sir James Dyson is a British industrial designer and founder of Dyson Company. Fareed Zakaria recently interviewed 

By James Dyson - Special to CNN

When it comes to taking risks, governments are notoriously reluctant. But in times of global economic uncertainty, it’s important to look beyond the short term. Debt reduction is necessary, but it’s not an economic cure all. Without fueling new ideas, long-term growth will stall. Investments are needed in new technology and infrastructure - expansive (and expensive) projects. Taking a risk requires brave decisions.

I had to borrow $900,000 to start up my vacuum cleaner company. It was a serious gamble. None of the major manufacturers were interested in my technology and I was already knee deep in debt. But I took a chance. And within 18 months I had the best selling vacuum cleaner in the United Kingdom. It was a risk, but one I had to take. FULL POST

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Topics: Competitiveness • Economy • Innovation
October 7th, 2011
09:21 PM ET

Listen Up, America! World reflections on Steve Jobs and American innovation

Editor's Note: Every week, the Global Public Square brings you some must-read editorials from around the world addressed to America and Americans. The series is called Listen up, America!

Australia—“Thousands protested against capitalism yesterday in New York and Washington, and millions supported their anti-corporate message online,” says an editorial in the Sydney-based Australian.

“At the same time, thousands of people placed flowers and candles at Apple stores, and millions more posted messages online, to mourn the death of one of the most successful corporate leaders we have seen.”

Germany—“The 20th century was called the American Century, not least by Americans themselves. The reasons had mostly to do with political power,” says an editorial in the Munich-based Süddeutsche Zeitung.

"The 21st century also began as an American Century, but mostly because of companies like Microsoft and Apple and figures like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Gates has always stood for software that influences a large portion of the new world. Jobs, on the other hand, has created a significant group of devices that define the first phase of the digital era, in style as well as popular thought."

FULL POST

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Topics: Innovation • Listen up!
Learning at leisure: Using entertainment education to empower the poor
(Getty Images)
October 4th, 2011
03:56 PM ET

Learning at leisure: Using entertainment education to empower the poor

Editor's Note: Mahmoud Mohieldin is a World Bank Managing Director, responsible for the Bank’s knowledge development. This post is part of the Global Innovation Showcase created by the New America Foundation and the Global Public Square.

By Mahmoud Mohieldin – Special to CNN

What does a TV program showcasing Bollywood film songs have to do with India’s development? Viewers don’t typically sit in front of the television expecting to be empowered with knowledge that helps them improve their lives. But if writers and producers are provided with substantive information about critical topics, could television be transformed into more than just entertainment? Could popular programs be used to subtly yet effectively deliver information that convinces audiences to change their behavior and improve their lives – or, in the case of same language subtitling, helps them learn to read?

That was the idea behind The World Bank’s Development Marketplace grant program in financing an innovative pilot led by Brij Kothari at PlanetRead Literacy for a Billion. The pilot added Hindi subtitles to a popular television program that showcased Bollywood film songs, with striking results. As compared to a control group, levels of illiteracy were cut in half, and the percent of children who were learning to read and became good readers more than doubled. FULL POST

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Topics: Development • Education • Innovation
Using technology to stop "cattle-rustling"
Maasai tribesman with traditional Maasia knife next to his cell phone. (Courtesy: Sarah Arkin)
September 28th, 2011
10:14 AM ET

Using technology to stop "cattle-rustling"

Editor’s Note: Sarah Arkin is a freelance journalist and a graduate student at Georgetown University. This post is part of the Global Innovation Showcase created by the New America Foundation and the Global Public Square.

By Sarah Arkin - Special to CNN

“We don’t steal cattle,” said Benson, a Maasai in the south of Kenya. Instead, he explained, they merely recover them. The Maasai believe that Ngai, their God, blessed the Maasai people with cattle “herding,” and only they are allowed to do it. Of course, the government of Kenya, not to mention other pastoralist tribes throughout the country who also rely on cattle and other livestock for their way of life, don’t find this a compelling argument.

Cattle-rustling, a catch-all term which in includes the pillaging and pilfering of cattle, sheep, goats and camel is pervasive throughout Kenya, and in the Rift Valley in particular. Though pastoralists have been stealing each other’s livestock in a never-ending pattern of “revenge attacks” for centuries, the introduction of small arms, primarily AK-47s and other unreliable soviet-era weapons has increased violence and the death toll of such raids. FULL POST

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Topics: Africa • Animals • Innovation
Responding to John Kao on innovation in China
An inkblot pattern similar to those used in the Rorschach inkblot test, a test used in psychology to determine underlying personality structure.
September 19th, 2011
04:00 PM ET

Responding to John Kao on innovation in China

Editor’s Note: Adam Segal is the Ira A. Lipman Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Advantage: How American Innovation Can Overcome the Asian Challenge. He blogs at Asia Unbound.

By Adam Segal, CFR.org

John Kao has a six-part series over at CNN's Global Public Square on China as an innovation nation. Just back from a study trip, Kao is a little breathless in his admiration of Chinese policymakers’ embrace of innovation.  At least in my view, he doesn’t add very much to the debate about how innovative the country truly is.  In fact, he seems pretty torn himself since he sees China’s ambitious planning and government intervention as great both a strength and a major pothole.  The whole series is a kind of Rorschach test: those already skeptical will find further evidence of weakness in the Chinese system, those sure of China’s rise will find some new awe-inspiring stories. FULL POST

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Topics: China • Innovation
Engage China with guarded openness
A policeman patrols on the renovated Bund against the skyline of Lujiazui Financial District in Shanghai, China. (Getty Images)
September 19th, 2011
08:00 AM ET

Engage China with guarded openness

Editor's Note: John Kao, dubbed "Mr. Creativity" by The Economist, is the chairman for the institute of large-scale innovation and author of Innovation Nation. You can follow John on TwitterFacebook and at www.johnkao.com. This post is the final of six pieces by John about his recent trip to China. 

By John Kao - Special to CNN

Over the past week, I have posted five pieces on the state of innovation in China.  First, in “China as an Innovation Nation,” I provided a portrait of China’s innovation drive, describing its scale and success model.   Next, in “Why is innovation so important to China?” I laid out the historical context for the centrality of innovation in China’s national strategy  (After all, this is the country that invented the compass, gunpowder and printing.) The third piece, “Chinese innovation – paper tiger or king of the hill?” attempted to go beyond the “black or white” rhetoric that characterizes much of the current debate on how real and significant China’s innovation drive is in order to shape the conversation about how others need to respond to it. Given the importance of the entrepreneur in driving the innovation process, I wrote “In search of the Chinese entrepreneur,” with profiles of Aigo’s Feng Jun and Sundia’s Xiochuan Wang and added a discussion of Chinese entrepreneurship as an innovation asset or bottleneck.   The last piece, "Innovation war or innovation peace?" looked at the potential for both conflict and cooperation in the U.S.-China innovation relationship.. FULL POST

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Topics: China • Innovation • United States
Career advice for a 16-year-old American
(Getty Images)
September 16th, 2011
11:37 AM ET

Career advice for a 16-year-old American

Editor's Note: Bruce Katz is the vice president and founding director of the Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution (follow him on twitter @bruce_katz). He is responding to the question: "What advice would you give a sixteen-year-old about how to prepare for the future U.S. economy? Where the jobs will be?"

By Bruce Katz, Special to CNN

Get ready for a wild ride.  The U.S. economy is restructuring from one characterized by consumption, debt and waste to one driven by exports (to take advantage of rising global demand), powered by low-carbon technology (to lead the clean energy revolution) and fueled by innovation (to spur growth through new ideas and production).

So how can you succeed in the next economy?

First, get educated. Our changing economy has created an iron law of wages: namely, the more you learn, the more you earn.

Between 1990 and 2009, median annual earnings fell for workers with a high school education or less and grew for those with a bachelor's degree or more. Workers with a BA or higher earned nearly 80 percent more than those with just a high school diploma in 2009. FULL POST

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Topics: Innovation • Jobs • Youth
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