Ideological divisions in Economics undermine its Value to the Public

In October Russell Roberts, a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution,tweeted that if told an economist’s view on one issue, he could confidently predict his or her position on any number of other questions. Prominent bloggers on economics have since furiously defended the profession, citing cases when economists changed their minds in response to new facts, rather than hewing stubbornly to dogma. Adam Ozimek, an economist at Moody’s Analytics, pointed to Narayana Kocherlakota, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis from 2009 to 2015, who flipped from hawkishness to dovishness when reality failed to affirm his warnings of a looming surge in inflation. Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason, published a list of issues on which his opinion has shifted (he is no longer sure that income from capital is best left untaxed). Paul Krugman, an economist and New York Times columnist, chimed in. He changed his view on the minimum wage after research found that increases up to a certain point reduced employment only marginally (this newspaper had a similar change of heart).

Economists, to be fair, are constrained in ways that many scientists are not. They cannot brew up endless recessions in test tubes to work out what causes what, for instance. Yet the same restriction applies to many hard sciences, too: geologists did not need to recreate the Earth in the lab to get a handle on plate tectonics. The essence of science is agreeing on a shared approach for generating widely accepted knowledge. Science, wrote Paul Romer, an economist, in a paper* published last year, leads to broad consensus. Politics does not.

Nor, it seems, does economics. In a paper on macroeconomics published in 2006, Gregory Mankiw of Harvard University declared: “A new consensus has emerged about the best way to understand economic fluctuations.” But after the financial crisis prompted a wrenching recession, disagreement about the causes and cures raged. “Schlock economics” was how Robert Lucas, a Nobel-prize-winning economist, described Barack Obama’s plan for a big stimulus to revive the American economy. Mr Krugman, another Nobel-winner, reckoned Mr Lucas and his sort were responsible for a “dark age of macroeconomics”.

 

Moreover, hard sciences are not immune from ideological rigidity. A recent study of academic citations in the life sciences found that the death of a celebrated scientist precipitates a surge in publishing from academics who previously steered clear of the celebrity’s area of study. Tellingly, papers by newcomers are cited far more heavily than new work by the celebrity’s former collaborators. That suggests that shifts of opinion in science occur not through the changing of minds so much as the displacement of one set of dogged ideologues by another.

Agree to Agree

But even if economics is not uniquely ideological, its biases are often more salient than those within chemistry. Economists advise politicians on all manner of important decisions. A reputation for impartiality could improve both perceptions of the field and the quality of economic policy.

Achieving that requires better mechanisms for resolving disputes. Mr Romer’s paper decried the pretend “mathiness” of many economists: the use of meaningless number-crunching to give a veneer of academic credibility to near-useless theories. Sifting out the guff requires transparency, argued John Cochrane of the University of Chicago in another recent blog post. Too many academics keep their data and calculations secret, he reckoned, and too few journals make space for papers that seek to replicate earlier results. Economists can squabble all they like. But the profession is of little use to anyone if it cannot then work out which side has the better of the argument.

 

Sources:

Mathiness in the theory of economic growth“, Paul Romer, American Economic Review, Papers and Proceedings, 2015.

The macroeconomist as scientist and engineer“, Gregory Mankiw, Journal of Economic Perspectives, 2006.

The moral narratives of economists“, Anthony Randazzo and Jonathan Haidt, Econ Journal Watch, 2015.

Political language in economics“, Zubin Jelveh, Bruce Kogut and Suresh Naidu, Columbia Business School Research Paper Number 14-57, 2015.

How politically diverse are the social sciences and humanities? Survey evidence from six fields“, Daniel Klein and Charlotta Stern, Academic Questions, 2004.

Does science advance one funeral at a time?“, Pierre Azoulay, Christian Fons-Rosen and Joshua Graff Zivin, NBER Working Paper 21788, 2015.

Books and longreading: a farewell to Prometheus

By Andrey Mir writing for Human-As-Media:

Book reading as fire usage: What is more important, the result or the process?

Long reading was previously considered a way of transferring knowledge. But nowadays linear reading is becoming much shorter. The culture of information consumption is changing, along with the format of knowledge accumulation, transfer and perception. At the emotional level this is seen as cultural degradation.

But do we really need long texts for storing and transferring knowledge? Maybe it is nothing more than an old habit?

In his book The Gutenberg Galaxy: The Making of Typographic Man, Marshall McLuhan analyses a quotation from Geoffrey Chaucer according to which the status of a student in the 14th Century was gauged by the number of books he has… written. In fact, the “books” the medieval students “wrote” were notes of what their professors said. The more summaries a student made, the more highly educated he was considered. Real books were very expensive, and so the cheapest way to have a book in the prepress era was to write down what wise men said or copy wise thoughts from other [written] books. Books were the product and the certificate of one’s diligence. Universityvstudentsvstillvtake notes during lectures.

When the first books were printed, professors denounced their appearance as the degradation of education. McLuhan mentioned that professors were horrified: Imagine that students no longer need to take down notes because they can buy a book instead! They denounced this as the desecration of knowledge. It was impossible to imagine that one could acquire knowledge without spending long hours writing down every word the professors said, but simply by buying a book. Nowadays it’s like downloading a research paper from Google instead of going to a library for reference material.

In fact, you can get as much knowledge by reading a printed book as by writing down what your professor says, but quicker and in a different way.

This could be a side effect of the progress of civilization: You get the same result in a simpler way. The best example is fire and the way we use it. It is said that the use of fire is what distinguishes men from animals. Mowgli from The Jungle Book may be weaker than some animals, but he is stronger than all of them because he can handle fire. The fire which Prometheus gave to the people contrary to the gods’ will allowed the human race to rise above all others on Earth.

Today we hardly ever use open fire in our life. We don’t use open fire to warm ourselves or to cook food. Ancient men would be outraged to see that we get fire by clicking a lighter. They believed that this sacred procedure should be preceded by two days of ritual dancing and the whispering of incantation to a heap of twigs. Omitting this process was simply not the done thing, but now it is, this disregard for open fire does not cause a culture shock because its gradual withdrawal from our life took a long time. Thousands of years passed from the time when lives depended on fire to the era when people see open fire several times a year and hardly ever use it.

So culture could be said to represent the long hours of a solemn ritual involving twigs and sparks. Culture grows out of the trouble we take to acquire a desired technology. Culture is the gap between a need and its satisfaction. Technology is narrowing this gap, and in the process it affects culture, or at least culture as it was understood in the past, culture that was associated with long rituals. That’s what causes the feeling that we have lost the fundamental essentials.

But what if long reading is like making fire: no longer necessary? What if we can get a comparable result quicker, which is very important, considering the uppermost importance of time?

New forms of packaging knowledge were created by multimedia and journalism, the first profession to face the digital challenge. Moreover, social media now offer super-fast and super-simple ways of information acquisition and transfer which the long text cannot rival. The long text and thick books are still seen as attributes of the intellect and knowledge. But statistically, the new synthetic format, which can be described as fast’n’fun because it does not have a permanent carrier, is rapidly winning the battle with the long text for people’s time and attention.

In the past, the long text had the monopoly on conveying a meaning primarily for technical reasons. When information is transmitted through physical media such as paper, it is easier to systematize and store in the form of books (scrolls are a different matter; the use of scrolls or books for transferring information predetermined the path of civilization’s development).

The print-era man can easily visualize an average book, a “thin” book (an entertainment book or magazine) and a “thick” book (which is usually an intellectual book the meaning of which is difficult to understand). “Thick” volumes were the most valuable kind of books. This content hierarchy showed that valuable content was inaccessible for ordinary people (“thick” books were expensive and difficult to read). In other words, the value of the long text supported the monopoly of palaces and temples. Monopoly on the long text equaled monopoly on power.

These technical parameters gave rise to the idea that the long text/book is a sacred object. At the everyday level, this implied that thick books contained important information. This can explain the awe for the long texts. Because of the books’ format, education was a long and difficult process, and so the long text also symbolized the diligence of those who manage to read books through to the end. Diligence and the ability to focus one’s attention on any particular subject for a long time are important characteristics of the value hierarchy of the hard-copy era.

But technology has moved forward. Everything has become fast’n’fun, but the sanctity of the long text continues to govern our behavior and opinions.

The focus on the long text of the print era is waning. The multimedia are reviving the audiovisual perception of life that was prevalent in the prepress era, though at a higher level of development. Audiovisual information and even long stories are now easier to store and propagate, something which the prepress people could not do and which we learned to do thanks to the invention of paper and books.

The transition period will not be easy. There will be an inevitable loss of knowledge due to the change of formats and carriers. Not everything that could be put in the long copy can be transformed into the fast’n’fun format. Will anyone even try? The new language of culture is being used to produce a new meaning rather than to convey the past knowledge. Long reads will become like Latin, the dead language of classical knowledge.

People will find it difficult to accept this change, because for the past 5,000 years the humankind used the long text as the main carrier of knowledge. But progress logically moves towards simplification. Evolution is not a mountain you climb, but a vortex that sucks you in. You can and must resist this. I would even say that it is the duty of all people of the long-copy era. But any efforts to do so will be in vain. Books will survive as part of the vintage fashion and an element of elite consumption. But they will lose – they are already losing – their role as the main carrier of knowledge.

In a more distant future, the gadgetization of the human body will lead to the creation of a third signal system, the elements of which we can see in the growing interactivity in infographics, visual semantic objects, augmented reality, and the like. And then it will not be the word that will be the semantic carrier (actually, the word is a rather awkward intermediary between the mind and the meaning), but the directly induced emotion or sensory perception of the semantic object. Our future is being created in the experiments with induced perception at 4D and 5D cinemas, not to mention cognitive interfaces.

Is there a place for books in this future? Now Prometheus has given people a device connected to the web.

Source: http://human-as-media.com/2014/05/16/books-and-longreading-a-farewell-to-prometheus/

The open source revolution is coming and it will conquer the 1% – ex CIA spy

The man who trained more than 66 countries in open source methods calls for re-invention of intelligence to re-engineer Earth
 A businessman tries to break through a line of Occupy Wall Street protesters who had blocked access to the New York Stock Exchange area in November 2011.
A businessman tries to break through a line of Occupy Wall Street protesters who had blocked access to the New York Stock Exchange area in November 2011. Photograph: Don Emmert/AFP/Getty Images

Robert David Steele, former Marine, CIA case officer, and US co-founder of the US Marine Corps intelligence activity, is a man on a mission. But it’s a mission that frightens the US intelligence establishment to its core.
With 18 years experience working across the US intelligence community, followed by 20 more years in commercial intelligence and training, Steele’s exemplary career has spanned almost all areas of both the clandestine world.

Steele started off as a Marine Corps infantry and intelligence officer. After four years on active duty, he joined the CIA for about a decade before co-founding the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, where he was deputy director. Widely recognised as the leader of the Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) paradigm, Steele went on to write the handbooks on OSINT for NATO, the US Defense Intelligence Agency and the U.S. Special Operations Forces. In passing, he personally trained 7,500 officers from over 66 countries.

In 1992, despite opposition from the CIA, he obtained Marine Corps permission to organise a landmark international conference on open source intelligence – the paradigm of deriving information to support policy decisions not through secret activities, but from open public sources available to all. The conference was such a success it brought in over 620 attendees from the intelligence world.

But the CIA wasn’t happy, and ensured that Steele was prohibited from running a second conference. The clash prompted him to resign from his position as second-ranking civilian in Marine Corps intelligence, and pursue the open source paradigm elsewhere. He went on to found and head up the Open Source Solutions Network Inc. and later the non-profit Earth Intelligence Network which runs the Public Intelligence Blog.

Robert David Steele
Former CIA spy and Open Source Intelligence pioneer, Robert David Steele speaking at the Inter-American Defense Board in 2013

I first came across Steele when I discovered his Amazon review of my third book, The War on Truth: 9/11, Disinformation and the Anatomy of Terrorism. A voracious reader, Steele is the number 1 Amazon reviewer for non-fiction across 98 categories. He also reviewed my latest book, A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization, but told me I’d overlooked an important early work – ‘A More Secure World: Our Shared Responsibility, Report of the UN High-Level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change.’

Last month, Steele presented a startling paper at the Libtech conference in New York, sponsored by the Internet Society and Reclaim. Drawing on principles set out in his latest book, The Open-Source Everything Manifesto: Transparency, Truth and Trust, he told the audience that all the major preconditions for revolution – set out in his 1976 graduate thesis – were now present in the United States and Britain.

Steele’s book is a must-read, a powerful yet still pragmatic roadmap to a new civilisational paradigm that simultaneously offers a trenchant, unrelenting critique of the prevailing global order. His interdisciplinary ‘whole systems’ approach dramatically connects up the increasing corruption, inefficiency and unaccountability of the intelligence system and its political and financial masters with escalating inequalities and environmental crises. But he also offers a comprehensive vision of hope that activist networks like Reclaim are implementing today.

“We are at the end of a five-thousand-year-plus historical process during which human society grew in scale while it abandoned the early indigenous wisdom councils and communal decision-making,” he writes in The Open Source Everything Manifesto. “Power was centralised in the hands of increasingly specialised ‘elites’ and ‘experts’ who not only failed to achieve all they promised but used secrecy and the control of information to deceive the public into allowing them to retain power over community resources that they ultimately looted.”

Today’s capitalism, he argues, is inherently predatory and destructive:

“Over the course of the last centuries, the commons was fenced, and everything from agriculture to water was commoditised without regard to the true cost in non-renewable resources. Human beings, who had spent centuries evolving away from slavery, were re-commoditised by the Industrial Era.”

Open source everything, in this context, offers us the chance to build on what we’ve learned through industrialisation, to learn from our mistakes, and catalyse the re-opening of the commons, in the process breaking the grip of defunct power structures and enabling the possibility of prosperity for all.

“Sharing, not secrecy, is the means by which we realise such a lofty destiny as well as create infinite wealth. The wealth of networks, the wealth of knowledge, revolutionary wealth – all can create a nonzero win-win Earth that works for one hundred percent of humanity. This is the ‘utopia’ that Buckminster Fuller foresaw, now within our reach.”

The goal, he concludes, is to reject:

“… concentrated illicitly aggregated and largely phantom wealth in favor of community wealth defined by community knowledge, community sharing of information, and community definition of truth derived in transparency and authenticity, the latter being the ultimate arbiter of shared wealth.”

Despite this unabashedly radical vision, Steele is hugely respected by senior military intelligence experts across the world. As a researcher at the US Army War College’s Strategic Studies Institute, he has authored several monographs advocating the need for open source methods to transform the craft of intelligence. He has lectured to the US State Department and Department of Homeland Security as well as National Security Councils in various countries, and his new book has received accolades from senior intelligence officials across multiple countries including France and Turkey.

Yet he remains an outspoken critic of US intelligence practices and what he sees as their integral role in aggravating rather than ameliorating the world’s greatest threats and challenges.

This week, I had the good fortune of being able to touch base with Steele to dig deeper into his recent analysis of the future of US politics in the context of our accelerating environmental challenges. The first thing I asked him was where he sees things going over the next decade, given his holistic take.

“Properly educated people always appreciate holistic approaches to any challenge. This means that they understand both cause and effect, and intertwined complexities,” he said. “A major part of our problem in the public policy arena is the decline in intelligence with integrity among key politicians and staff at the same time that think tanks and universities and non-governmental organisations have also suffered a similar intellectual diminishment.

“My early graduate education was in the 1970’s when Limits to Growth and World Federalism were the rage. Both sought to achieve an over-view of systemic challenges, but both also suffered from the myth of top-down hubris. What was clear in the 1970s, that has been obscured by political and financial treason in the past half-century, is that everything is connected – what we do in the way of paving over wetlands, or in poisoning ground water ‘inadvertently’ because of our reliance on pesticides and fertilisers that are not subject to the integrity of the ‘Precautionary Principle,’ ultimately leads to climate catastrophes that are acts of man, not acts of god.”

He points me to his tremendous collection of reviews of books on climate change, disease, environmental degradation, peak oil, and water scarcity. “I see five major overlapping threats on the immediate horizon,” he continues. “They are all related: the collapse of complex societies, the acceleration of the Earth’s demise with changes that used to take 10,000 years now taking three or less, predatory or shock capitalism and financial crime out of the City of London and Wall Street, and political corruption at scale, to include the west supporting 42 of 44 dictators. We are close to multiple mass catastrophes.”

What about the claim that the US is on the brink of revolution? “Revolution is overthrow – the complete reversal of the status quo ante. We are at the end of centuries of what Lionel Tiger calls ‘The Manufacture of Evil,’ in which merchant banks led by the City of London have conspired with captive governments to concentrate wealth and commoditise everything including humans. What revolution means in practical terms is that balance has been lost and the status quo ante is unsustainable. There are two ‘stops’ on greed to the nth degree: the first is the carrying capacity of Earth, and the second is human sensibility. We are now at a point where both stops are activating.”

Robert Steele - preconditions for revolution
Former CIA officer’s matrix on the preconditions for revolution

It’s not just the US, he adds. “The preconditions of revolution exist in the UK, and most western countries. The number of active pre-conditions is quite stunning, from elite isolation to concentrated wealth to inadequate socialisation and education, to concentrated land holdings to loss of authority to repression of new technologies especially in relation to energy, to the atrophy of the public sector and spread of corruption, to media dishonesty, to mass unemployment of young men and on and on and on.”

So why isn’t it happening yet?
“Preconditions are not the same as precipitants. We are waiting for our Tunisian fruit seller. The public will endure great repression, especially when most media outlets and schools are actively aiding the repressive meme of ‘you are helpless, this is the order of things.’ When we have a scandal so powerful that it cannot be ignored by the average Briton or American, we will have a revolution that overturns the corrupt political systems in both countries, and perhaps puts many banks out of business. Vaclav Havel calls this ‘The Power of the Powerless.’ One spark, one massive fire.”

But we need more than revolution, in the sense of overthrow, to effect change, surely. How does your manifesto for ‘open source everything’ fit into this? “The west has pursued an industrialisation path that allows for the privatisation of wealth from the commons, along with the criminalisation of commons rights of the public, as well as the externalisation of all true costs. Never mind that fracking produces earthquakes and poisons aquifers – corrupt politicians at local, state or province, and national levels are all too happy to take money for looking the other way. Our entire commercial, diplomatic, and informational systems are now cancerous. When trade treaties have secret sections – or are entirely secret – one can be certain the public is being screwed and the secrecy is an attempt to avoid accountability. Secrecy enables corruption. So also does an inattentive public enable corruption.”

Is this a crisis of capitalism, then? Does capitalism need to end for us to resolve these problems? And if so, how? “Predatory capitalism is based on the privatisation of profit and the externalisation of cost. It is an extension of the fencing of the commons, of enclosures, along with the criminalisation of prior common customs and rights. What we need is a system that fully accounts for all costs. Whether we call that capitalism or not is irrelevant to me. But doing so would fundamentally transform the dynamic of present day capitalism, by making capital open source. For example, and as calculated by my colleague JZ Liszkiewicz, a white cotton T-shirt contains roughly 570 gallons of water, 11 to 29 gallons of fuel, and a number of toxins and emissions including pesticides, diesel exhaust, and heavy metals and other volatile compounds – it also generally includes child labor. Accounting for those costs and their real social, human and environmental impacts has totally different implications for how we should organise production and consumption than current predatory capitalism.”

So what exactly do you mean by open source everything? “We have over 5 billion human brains that are the one infinite resource available to us going forward. Crowd-sourcing and cognitive surplus are two terms of art for the changing power dynamic between those at the top that are ignorant and corrupt, and those across the bottom that are attentive and ethical. The open source ecology is made up of a wide range of opens – open farm technology, open source software, open hardware, open networks, open money, open small business technology, open patents – to name just a few. The key point is that they must all develop together, otherwise the existing system will isolate them into ineffectiveness. Open data is largely worthless unless you have open hardware and open software. Open government demands open cloud and open spectrum, or money will dominate feeds and speeds.”

Robert Steele
Robert Steele’s vision for open source systems

On 1st May, Steele sent an open letter to US vice president Joe Biden requesting him to consider establishing an Open Source Agency that would transform the operation of the intelligence community, dramatically reduce costs, increasing oversight and accountability, while increasing access to the best possible information to support holistic policy-making. To date, he has received no response.

I’m not particularly surprised. Open source everything pretty much undermines everything the national security state stands for. Why bother even asking vice president Biden to consider it? “The national security state is rooted in secrecy as a means of avoiding accountability. My first book, On Intelligence: Spies and Secrecy in an Open World – which by the way had a foreword from Senator David Boren, the immediate past chairman of the Senate Select Committee for Intelligence – made it quite clear that the national security state is an expensive, ineffective monstrosity that is simply not fit for purpose. In that sense, the national security state is it’s own worst enemy – it’s bound to fail.”

Given his standing as an intelligence expert, Steele’s criticisms of US intelligence excesses are beyond scathing – they are damning. “Most of what is produced through secret methods is not actually intelligence at all. It is simply secret information that is, most of the time, rather generic and therefore not actually very useful for making critical decisions at a government level. The National Security Agency (NSA) has not prevented any terrorist incidents. CIA cannot even get the population of Syria correct and provides no intelligence – decision-support – to most cabinet secretaries, assistant secretaries, and department heads. Indeed General Tony Zinni, when he was commander in chief of the US Central Command as it was at war, is on record as saying that he received, ‘at best,’ a meagre 4% of what he needed to know from secret sources and methods.”

So does open source mean you are calling for abolition of intelligence agencies as we know them, I ask. “I’m a former spy and I believe we still need spies and secrecy, but we need to redirect the vast majority of the funds now spent on secrecy toward savings and narrowly focused endeavors at home. For instance, utterly ruthless counterintelligence against corruption, or horrendous evils like paedophilia.

“Believe it or not, 95% of what we need for ethical evidence-based decision support cannot be obtained through the secret methods of standard intelligence practices. But it can be obtained quite openly and cheaply from academics, civil society, commerce, governments, law enforcement organisations, the media, all militaries, and non-governmental organisations. An Open Source Agency, as I’ve proposed it, would not just meet 95% of our intelligence requirements, it would do the same at all levels of government and carry over by enriching education, commerce, and research – it would create what I called in 1995 a ‘Smart Nation.’

“The whole point of Open Source Everything is to restore public agency. Open Source is the only form of information and information technology that is affordable to the majority, interoperable across all boundaries, and rapidly scalable from local to global without the curse of overhead that proprietary corporations impose.”

Robert Steele
Robert Steele’s graphic on open source systems thinking

It’s clear to me that when Steele talks about intelligence as ‘decision-support,’ he really does intend that we grasp “all information in all languages all the time” – that we do multidisciplinary research spanning centuries into the past as well as into the future. His most intriguing premise is that the 1% are simply not as powerful as they, and we, assume them to be. “The collective buying power of the five billion poor is four times that of the one billion rich according to the late Harvard business thinker Prof C. K. Prahalad – open source everything is about the five billion poor coming together to reclaim their collective wealth and mobilise it to transform their lives. There is zero chance of the revolution being put down. Public agency is emergent, and the ability of the public to literally put any bank or corporation out of business overnight is looming. To paraphrase Abe Lincoln, you cannot screw all of the people all of the time. We’re there. All we lack is a major precipitant – our Tunisian fruit seller. When it happens the revolution will be deep and lasting.”

The Arab spring analogy has its negatives. So far, there really isn’t much to root for. I want to know what’s to stop this revolution from turning into a violent, destructive mess. Steele is characteristically optimistic. “I have struggled with this question. What I see happening is an end to national dictat and the emergence of bottom-up clarity, diversity, integrity, and sustainability. Individual towns across the USA are now nullifying federal and state regulations – for example gag laws on animal cruelty, blanket permissions for fracking. Those such as my colleague Parag Khanna that speak to a new era of city-states are correct in my view. Top down power has failed in a most spectacular manner, and bottom-up consensus power is emergent. ‘Not in my neighborhood’ is beginning to trump ‘Because I say so.’ The one unlimited resource we have on the planet is the human brain – the current strategy of 1% capitalism is failing because it is killing the Golden Goose at multiple levels. Unfortunately, the gap between those with money and power and those who actually know what they are talking about has grown catastrophic. The rich are surrounded by sycophants and pretenders whose continued employment demands that they not question the premises. As Larry Summers lectured Elizabeth Warren, ‘insiders do not criticise insiders.'”

But how can activists actually start moving toward the open source vision now? “For starters, there are eight ‘tribes’ that among them can bring together all relevant information: academia, civil society including labor unions and religions, commerce especially small business, government especially local, law enforcement, media, military, and non-government/non-profit. At every level from local to global, across every mission area, we need to create stewardship councils integrating personalities and information from all eight tribes. We don’t need to wait around for someone else to get started. All of us who recognise the vitality of this possibility can begin creating these new grassroots structures from the bottom-up, right now.”

So how does open source everything have the potential to ‘re-engineer the Earth’? For me, this is the most important question, and Steele’s answer is inspiring. “Open Source Everything overturns top-down ‘because I say so at the point of a gun’ power. Open Source Everything makes truth rather than violence the currency of power. Open Source Everything demands that true cost economics and the indigenous concept of ‘seventh generation thinking’ – how will this affect society 200 years ahead – become central. Most of our problems today can be traced to the ascendance of unilateral militarism, virtual colonialism, and predatory capitalism, all based on force and lies and encroachment on the commons. The national security state works for the City of London and Wall Street – both are about to be toppled by a combination of Eastern alternative banking and alternative international development capabilities, and individuals who recognise that they have the power to pull their money out of the banks and not buy the consumer goods that subsidise corruption and the concentration of wealth. The opportunity to take back the commons for the benefit of humanity as a whole is open – here and now.”

For Steele, the open source revolution is inevitable, simply because the demise of the system presided over by the 1% cannot be stopped – and because the alternatives to reclaiming the commons are too dismal to contemplate. We have no choice but to step up.

“My motto, a play on the CIA motto that is disgraced every day, is ‘the truth at any cost lowers all other costs'”, he tells me. “Others wiser than I have pointed out that nature bats last. We are at the end of an era in which lies can be used to steal from the public and the commons. We are at the beginning of an era in which truth in public service can restore us all to a state of grace.”

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, ZERO POINT. ZERO POINT is set in a near future following a Fourth Iraq War. Follow Ahmed on Facebook and Twitter.

Source: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/earth-insight/2014/jun/19/open-source-revolution-conquer-one-percent-cia-spy

Robots And Software Eating Jobs? Let Them, You Can Create Your Own

LinkedInHomepage
LinkedIn (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

New technologies are eating jobs. Big deal, you might say. After all, the steam engine, cotton gin, sewing machine, and automobile all eliminated jobs. The fact is that new technologies have long created many more new jobs than they have eliminated.

But today is different. In the past, innovation advanced slowly enough that people had time to recognize and adapt to new opportunities before many of the old jobs disappeared. Today, innovation is advancing so quickly that jobs are being destroyed and new opportunities are being created faster than many people can recognize them or adapt to them. Today, we need to recognize those opportunities and adapt to them ever more quickly. The good news is that anyone can do this, and best of all, anyone can create his or her own job. Including you. In this article, we’ll see how.

Jobs Are Delicious Meat
Three noted scholars and friends of mine have written on technology eating jobs:

· In his seminal 2010 The McKinsey Quarterly article, “The Second Economy,” Santa Fe Institute’s Brian Arthur predicts that in about two decades, a “second economy” of software, servers, and sensors will rival the size of the human economy, in value added if not in revenue. This autonomous economy is already automating formerly human tasks, such as airline passenger management (reservations, check-in, security, baggage, and billing) and international shipping (registration, tracking, and forwarding).

· In Race Against the Machine (2011), MIT’s Erik Brynjolfsson observes that software and automation are eating away at low- to mid-level desk jobs like accounting and customer service, a trend that will eventually extend to high-skilled professions like medicine and engineering, on the one hand, and trades like hairdressing and plumbing, on the other. Google driverless cars will replace human drivers, and IBM Watson-like technology with sensors will replace physicians’ medical diagnoses.

· Most recently, in Average Is Over (2013), George Mason University’s Tyler Cowen writes that the above trends will lead to stagnant or falling wages for much of the United States. Future employment will require skills to collaborate with and complement machines to avoid competing with and being replaced by them.

The Oxford Martin School concurs, concluding that 45% of American jobs are at high risk of being taken by computers within the next two decades.[1] Most vulnerable are jobs in transportation/logistics, production labor, and administrative support; next are services, sales, and construction; last will be management, science and engineering, and the arts.

Reports of Employment’s Death Have Been Greatly Exaggerated
In the early 19th century, the automated loom, famously protested by the Luddites, took jobs away from weavers. Later, electricity and the light bulb took away jobs from wood-burning stove and candle makers. The automobile took away jobs from buggy makers. Digital computers and switches took jobs away from their human counterparts. But in each case, new technologies provided many more jobs than they eliminated, in two ways. The first, more modest way was through the development, manufacture and maintenance of the new technologies, be they looms or light bulbs. The second, more significant way was through the leveraging and combining of the technologies in new, often unexpected applications and business arrangements that could not have existed without the technologies. The cotton gin and automated loom enabled large-scale production of soft, comfortable clothing, making it affordable for millions of people for the first time. Steam engines and railroads enabled goods to be shipped to distant markets, which in turn made Sears & Roebuck mail order catalogs and later department stores possible. Electricity enabled the global power grid and electrical appliances. Digital computers and switches enabled IT, telecommunications, software, the Internet, and mobile applications.

We can see easily when jobs disappear, but creating jobs takes work: it means recognizing, exploring, and adapting to needs and opportunities. As I discussed in my last column ,[2] every new product or service (i.e., solution) not only satisfies a need, but also creates new needs in three ways:

1. The new solutions themselves can be improved upon (e.g., shoes can be made more comfortable; laptops and smart phones can be made smaller, lighter, and more powerful; software can be made faster, easier to use, and more reliable)

2. The providers of those new solutions have needs (e.g., sales, marketing, accounting, software, equipment, customer and competitive intelligence, food and cleaning services)

3. New solutions create new needs around them (e.g., mobile phones need holsters; cars need navigation, keyless entry, and camera systems; video games need virtual money; electric vehicles need re-charging stations).

In his modern classic, The Origin of Wealth,[3] Eric Beinhocker estimated the number of individually coded products[4] available to New York City residents in 2006 to be on the order of tens of billions. With this mushrooming range of products and ever-faster pace of innovation, needs and opportunities are coming at us faster than we can recognize or adapt to them.

To become or stay employed in this environment, we’ll first see how to land an existing job (one someone else has created); then, how to create your own job.

Landing an Existing Job
Rather than recount job search techniques here – leverage LinkedIn, research companies you are interested in, network, adopt good grooming habits – let’s see how to make innovation work for, rather than against you in landing a job:

1. Master the very technologies that are eating jobs. Someone has to design, implement, test, build, maintain, market, sell, and apply that software and automation. That someone could be you. MIT/Harvard edX, Coursera, Udacity and CodeCademy offer free Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) in programming, AI, machine learning, and databases.

If you are new to IT, HTML and Javascript are a good place to start.[5] Knowing these languages will let you create and maintain simple web sites, help you market yourself online and find full-time or part-time work, even if your career plans are outside of software development. CodeCademy has free courses.

To start a career in software development, consider Python. It’s interactive, exposes and introduces you to essential programming concepts, and easily integrates into existing web services, enabling you to leverage others’ work. Job opportunities abound: see www.python.org/community/jobs/ .

Next, consider developing a web service to demonstrate your skills or to offer to others. See www.programmableweb.com/apis/directory for examples. This will require using a server-side language, likely Python, PHP, Ruby on Rails, or if you are more ambitious, Java or C++, then deploying it on one of the cloud computing ecosystems such as Amazon Web Services or Google Cloud Services. Yet another path is creating a mobile app for iPhone or Android and connecting to your own or others’ web services.

Veteran software developer Ervan Darnell, who has worked for both Facebook and Google, reiterates that free tools and courses are available for all of the above, and further notes that the software industry weighs talent more heavily than titles or university degrees. That’s good news. Titles and degrees require entrance qualification exams and tens of thousands of dollars for tuition and expenses. In contrast, MOOCs are free and open to everyone. Increasingly, all you need to get a quality education is initiative, self-discipline, and hard work.

2. Become an early adopter of new technologies and apply them in your work. With the accelerating pace of technology, adopting new technology even slightly ahead of the mainstream of your field will give you more and more of an advantage in productivity and competitiveness. If staying one year ahead gave professionals a 10% advantage in 1992, doing so might give them a 20% advantage in 2014.

This principle applies to all trades and professions. Electricians can use new meters and testers that improve their efficiency and accuracy, and learn to install and maintain computer networks in addition to wiring and components. Plumbers can apply technologies such as SeeSnake, a video camera for inspection and diagnosis of clogged pipes. Dentists, hairdressers, and auto repair shops can use free online software to enable their clients to self-schedule for appointments. Taxi drivers can use GPS to efficiently combine deliveries with passenger service. Real estate agents can use Google Maps to customize displays of listings for clients. These innovations free up time to make trades people and professionals more productive, allow them to offer higher-quality or differentiated services, or both.

ACA (“Obamacare”) incentivizes employers to convert many jobs from full-time to part-time. Fortunately, new online services empower even those without technology skills to find part-time work, for example, as drivers for Lyft, or running errands with TaskRabbit. Going still further, Amazon Mechanical Turk is enabling those in the world’s poorest developing countries to earn income by performing simple tasks (like responding to surveys or tagging everyday items in photos) from wherever they are and whenever they are able.

3. Choose a career in strong demand. Liberal arts are vitally important, but if you are in college, landing a job after graduation is almost certainly urgent. You have a lifetime to learn about arts and the humanities, but only two to four years to prepare to support yourself. Besides IT and automation, fields generally in demand include bio-tech, nursing, network security, welding, medical technology, and analytics. Find out which are both in greatest demand and most interest you. Far more people are studying the arts and the humanities than will find jobs in those fields. If you choose arts or the humanities and find yourself underemployed or unemployed, see 1 or 2 above, and “Create Your Own Job” below.

21-year-old Daniel Trujillo, a student at NCP College of Nursing in Hayward, CA, is learning how Google Glass can provide real-time, mobile, hands-free patient charts and histories bedside. He will be among the first generation of hospital practitioners using wearable IT. By learning leading-edge technology in a highly demanded field, I predict he will easily find a job.

Create Your Own Job
Muhammad Yunus, Nobel Peace Prize winner, micro finance pioneer and founder of the Grameen Bank says:

All human beings are entrepreneurs. When we were in the caves, we were all self-employed…finding our food, feeding ourselves. That’s where human history began. As civilization came, we suppressed it. We became “labor” because they stamped us, “You are labor.” We forgot that we are entrepreneurs.[6]

Anyone who wants to can create his or her own job. Our ancestors – hunters, gatherers, farmers, craftspeople, and traders – knew no other options. If we were all entrepreneurial once, we can still invoke that inner strength today.

Creating your own job lets you do what you are passionate about; lets you make a long-term investment in you, your own business and brand rather than someone else’s; and lets you address opportunities that are unique to you—no one else has your unique combination of skills, knowledge, relationships, and strengths. So why don’t more people create their own jobs today? It is not that they can’t. In some cases, other paths are easier or have shorter-term pay-offs, such as landing an existing job or going on unemployment. In other cases, regulation raises major hurdles to addressing opportunities, as I discussed in a previous column .[7] I don’t promise that creating your own job will be easy. I do promise that it will expand the boundaries of your world, and possibly profoundly enrich your life.

Here is one approach to creating your own job. Choose any product or service in an area you are passionate and knowledgeable about. The area may be aerospace, boats, cars, cooking, education, electronics, fashion, fiction, films, fitness, gadgets, gardening, health, history, math, merchandising, music, politics, scuba, space, sports, statistics, travel, woodworking, you name it. Now think of limitations of the product or service you selected. For example:

· My running shoes don’t tell me how far or fast I have run, nor details of my stride or gait.

· None of the pharmacies in my neighborhood make home deliveries.

· Arthritis can prevent elderly people from using an iPhone or iPad.

· Airline ground crews lack real-time information during boarding about how many and which overhead bins have open space, sometimes requiring that bags be checked when they could be carried aboard and stowed.

If you are passionate about the product or service, you’ll recognize its limitations before others do. Limitations are simply potential needs. If those needs are shared by many others and don’t already have solutions – both of these require research to validate – bingo! – you have identified an unsatisfied customer need. That’s the first step towards creating a job for you.

Next, brainstorm possible solutions, ideally with your potential customers, that you could provide in whole or in part using the resources at your disposal. Acquiring knowledge of new technologies in the field will expand your possibilities. With whom could you team up or partner, if necessary, to enable the solution? Answering those questions is the second step towards creating your job.

Next, can you get a customer to pay you for your solution, even if rudimentary, incomplete, or unpolished, possibly on the understanding that their early payment will enable you to develop and deliver the full product or service to them? That’s the third step. If so – you have created a job! Assume that you won’t get paid for some or much of the time and effort you invest to win this first customer. After you have successfully delivered what you promised and created your first satisfied customer, find other customers you could similarly serve, refine your solution based on what you have learned, and repeat.

My video Unleash Your Inner Company has many more suggestions for creating your own job and starting your own business. Now imagine tens of millions of people throughout the U.S. and the world similarly searching for unsatisfied needs in areas they are passionate about, assessing which needs they are best suited to satisfy in whole or in part, and designing and building products or offering and delivering services that satisfy those needs. Suddenly, tens of millions of jobs are being created. Many of these efforts will take a second, third, or fourth attempt before they are successful. Every attempt increases your likelihood of success; perseverance is a necessary part of success. A small percentage of these businesses will create not just one but many jobs. This bottom-up approach to satisfying needs and creating jobs is scalable, sustainable, and has hugely raised living standards and quality of life over the decades.

So software and robots are eating jobs? Not yours.

[1]Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology . See also www.technologyreview.com/view/519241/report-suggests-nearly-half-of-us-jobs-are-vulnerable-to-computerization/ )

[2] “As Entrepreneurs Keep Reminding Us, They Lied To Us In Econ. 101 ,” September 10, 2013, Forbes.com

[3]The Origin of Wealth: Evolution, Complexity, and the Radical Remaking of Economics , Eric D. Beinhocker, Harvard Business School Press (2006). This magnificent work marries economics and complexity science and imparts deep understanding of the current state and future of economics. I think of it as a modern-day Wealth of Nations. It deserves a wide audience and a prominent place in any economics library.

[4]Stock keeping units (SKUs).

The author is a Forbes contributor. The opinions expressed are those of the writer.

Source: http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnchisholm/2013/12/12/robots-and-software-eating-jobs-let-them-you-can-create-your-own/

7 Technologies that Could Revolutionize Education

student-ipad-225x300With all the technology being developed these days, it’s easy to imagine how this technology can transition into classrooms.  But no, most classrooms are still the same as when we were kids, and even when our parents were in grade school.

Equipped with one or two blackboards or whiteboards, chairs with tables for students, some art on the wall, books on shelves and other whatnots found in common classrooms,  could the lack of technological improvements in classrooms attribute to how poorly students are doing in today’s economy?

During The Next Web Conference Europe, Pearson Chief Digital Officer Juan Lopez-Valcarcel talked about how 46 percent on US college students do not graduate, and those that do, 40 percent are told that they do not have the right skills for a job they are applying for.  this may be due to the fact that while tuition has increased by 70 percent in the last 10 years, the value of the degree has declined by 15 percent in the same time frame.  But the biggest problem is, for in-demand jobs today and in the future, pertinent courses are not being offered in universities or colleges.  For instance, if someone wants to be Data Scientist – you won’t find a school offering  a course specific to that job.

So how can things change?  How can technology help transform the state and quality of education?

7 technologies that could revolutionize education 

  • Invisible Computers

Though some schools are equipping students with tablets to facilitate their learning, the device still poses as a barrier as it could be a distraction for some students. And more problems occur when a tablet is left at home, misplaced or broken.  What happens to students in this scenario?  Lopez-Valcarcel proposes a future with invisible computers, where classroom objects, like a desk, will serve as a computer and all the data is available whenever needed.  Teachers can give assignments to students and not worry about the student not being informed about it.

  • Body Language Assessment

Today, some use analytics to predict how well a student will do in an exam based on previous tests or class participation.  With that, the teacher can do something about it, like offer to tutor the student before the exam, so the student’s chance of failing is reduced.

In the future, Lopez-Valcarcel proposes that instructors use body language assessment to determine whether a student is able to follow the discussion.  If a student is writing slowly, keeps wrinkling his forehead, stares blankly at the board – these may be signs that a student is struggling to understand, signs that a teacher needs to be aware of.  By becoming aware, the teacher can stop and explain things further before going to a new topic or ending the discussion.

  • Robot-Assisted Learning

Though some students curse their teachers, sometimes they still need help.  Though Lopex-Valcarcel talked about an MIT project that equipped Ethiopian children with tablets and no instructions but they were able to learn on their own, not everything will come as easily.  He made an example of Korea, where instead of hiring people to teach kindergarten students the English language, since there’s a scarcity in English teachers in Korea, classrooms were equipped with robots that facilitate assisted learning of the language.  Why robots?  Because kids respond better with robots than a tablet.

  • Global Rockstar Teachers

Massively Online Open Courses seem to be a hot commodity these days.  This allows you to take courses online and earn a degree online.  Some courses just offer reading lists that you need to study and take an exam, while others have videos that students can download.  What the future holds is an array of Global Rockstar Teachers – teachers that impart their knowledge online, either via live streaming or one on one sessions.  This means that the best teachers will be available for anyone in the world, these teachers will no longer be confined in the top schools that are insanely hard to get in.

  • Stealth Learning

Educational games are boring and they may soon go the way of the dinosaur.  So how can you make learning more fun, or how can you use it as a tool to use for training and hiring?  Make popular games more educational.  Players won’t even have to know about it.  Wouldn’t it be more fun to go to school and be asked by your teachers to play your favorite game for the whole period?  At first you’d probably think there’s a catch, but haven’t you noticed how you retain more information about the things you like effortlessly?  Perfect example, my little brother passed a test regarding Dante’s Inferno by playing the game on PS3.

  • Social Learning

Almost everyone is on some kind of social platform.  There’s Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Google+ and numerous others.  Teens use these to communicate about anything that’s happening in various aspects of their lives.  Some use social networks to ask their classmates if there are any assignments, or if they have any questions regarding a project.  If educators could take social media a step further and use it to deliver educational material to students, it could help students engage and learn more.

  • Open Hardware

There are many devices available for consumers these days and some are currently only available to developers.  What if Google Glass was made available to students?  Can they make something better for it, or with it?  If students are given access to developer-aimed devices, could they possibly be the next big name in Silicon Valley?

Will technology teach or distract in the classroom?

But could these technologies really help in education or will they just cause more problems for students?  Joining Kristin Feledy in this morning’s NewsDesk is NewsDesk Director Winston Edmondson to give his Breaking Analysis on whether technology is really something that schools need or if all these issues have a deeper root.

“The biggest barrier is actually the culture within a school district.  Before I talk about invisible education, let’s talk about invisible administration.  You can look at two examples like  Lewisville Independent School District where they brought in Dr. Stephen Waddell who had as very open minded technology.  He actually instituted changes that are embracing all these technology trends .  So you’re seeing education actually changing before your eyes.  So that’s probably the biggest barrier.  You need to have an administration that’s willing have some of these exciting, yet disruptive, technologies,” Edmondson stated.

For more of Edmondson’s Breaking Analysis, check out the NewsDesk video below:

Technology Trends that are Changing the Face of Education – Breaking Analysis

Student Loans: Another Federal Debacle

By JAY BOWEN for The Freeman:
Even if you aren’t considering going back to school, you’re about to pick up the tab for a college education. The same cast of characters that brought you the housing crisis, a post office hemorrhaging billions, and a school system that gets more expensive as it gets worse has now brought us a student loan crisis.

A recent report from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York says the value of student loans outstanding is now close to $1 trillion, making it the largest and fastest-growing share of non-mortgage consumer borrowing. Unlike other forms of consumer debt, which have fallen, total student loans have grown by 75 percent since 2007.

The federal government has pushed relentlessly to expand access to college by cutting out the private sector in loan programs and by altering repayment terms for borrowers via executive order. It bears an eerie resemblance to the obsession with homeownership that got us into our current straits.

Like potential homeowners, students have been encouraged to borrow with impunity. It continues to intensify: The Department of Education lent $133 billion in 2010 and $157 billion in 2011. Late payment trends are also following a similar pattern to the subprime mortgage crisis. With new programs geared toward “income based” repayment plans and forbearance timetables, it is increasingly likely that the federal government and thus the taxpayer will eventually be on the hook for tens of billions of dollars of loans that will never be repaid.

This phenomenon has real social consequences. With two-thirds of college graduates possessing student loan debt of at least $25,000 and 53 percent of recent college graduates either unemployed or acutely underemployed, unproductive economic dislocations—putting off the purchase of a home or delaying marriage, for example—are rampant.

This misguided policy approach has produced more than a student loan bubble that could damage the economy. It has also triggered an inflationary spiral in tuition costs and provided college bureaucracies with incentives to become bloated and inefficient. As one critical report recently stated, “In no other industry would overhead costs be allowed to grow at this rate—executives would lose their jobs.”

The billions of dollars sloshing around the system have triggered the classic definition of inflation: Too much money is chasing too few goods. It has also lent further credence to Milton Friedman’s claim that inflation is always and everywhere a monetary phenomenon. Since 2000, tuition at public, four-year colleges has risen by an inflation-adjusted 72 percent, and over the past 25 years, it has increased at an annual rate 6 percentage points higher than the cost of living. When prices rise, government loans increase to effectively subsidize the difference, allowing colleges to continue increasing tuition, thus completing the cycle.

One beneficiary is online education. While it will never completely replace the college campus, current economic realities make it a legitimate alternative. It provides an avenue of highly individualized instruction at a fraction of the cost of the traditional model.

Overspending on higher education has reached a tipping point. Just as aggressive government intervention in the housing market led to a variety of economic distortions and ultimately cost the taxpayers billions, the student loan problem is destined for similar results unless substantial reforms are implemented.

The government must exit the lending arena and be replaced by an active and innovative private market with legitimate underwriting standards. A variety of arrangements would be possible in this environment, including contractual agreements between businesses and students that revolve around the future employment and cash flows of of the borrower.

Before we can get to that point, however, it is essential that we grasp as a nation how unproductive and costly it is when federal authorities try to dictate outcomes by aggressively intervening in the marketplace.
We must return to first principles and continuously ask ourselves what the proper role of government is in a free society.

Source: http://www.fee.org/the_freeman/detail/student-loans-another-federal-debacle#axzz2JHDZHmMV

Newly Discovered ‘Plastic Island’ Shows Global Epidemic Worsening

By Lauren McCauley:‘Even if everyone stopped putting garbage in the ocean today, giant garbage patches would continue to grow for hundreds of years.’

New research shows that the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch’ is just the tip of the iceberg (Photo:Lindsey Hoshaw via Spot.us.)Floating patches of humanity’s garbage have become a permanent feature in the world’s oceans and a new discovery in the South Pacific shows that this woeful trend has worsened, not improved, since the phenomenon was first discovered nearly two decades ago.

As new research by the 5 Gyres Institute shows, the existence of a new plastic island has been found swirling with junk in ocean currents running near Easter Island in the South Pacific, marking the first documented garbage patch in the Southern Hemisphere.
The new study, published in the journal Marine Pollution Bulletin, documents the first evidence of a defined oceanic “garbage patch,” an accumulation zone of plastic pollution, floating in the area designated as the South Pacific subtropical gyre.

Conducting the first ever sampling of the southern gyre, the research team, led by 5 Gyres Institute Executive Director Dr. Marcus Eriksen, “recorded increased density of plastic pollution with an average of 26,898 particles per square kilometer, and a high of 396,342 km/m2 in the center of the predicted accumulation zone [based on ocean current models].”

“Without a doubt, we have discovered a previously unknown garbage patch in the South Pacific Subtropical Gyre,” said Dr. Eriksen.

Also, a recent investigation by a team of Australia researchers found that “humans have put so much plastic into our planet’s oceans that even if everyone in the world stopped putting garbage in the ocean today, giant garbage patches would continue to grow for hundreds of years.” No matter where plastic garbage enters the ocean, the group said, it will inevitably end up in any of the five ocean basins.

These findings were the result of research done by the Australian Research Council Center of Excellence for Climate System Science who employed drifter buoys to determine how these giant ocean garbage patches form as a result of ocean currents.

“There are five known garbage patches in the subtropical oceans between each of the continents. Each contains so much plastic that if you were to drag a net through these areas you would pull up more plastic than biomass,” said lead author Dr. Erik van Sebille.

The 1997 discovery of the ‘Great Pacific Garbage Patch,’ brought initial attention to the severe problem of plastic and plastic waste, particularly in how it affects our ocean ecosystems, but these findings show that “plastic pollution isn’t just a North Pacific phenomenon but rather a global problem with global implications for fisheries, tourism, marine ecosystems and human health.”

In the video below, Dr. Erik van Sebille discusses his research on oceanic plastic pollution with animations that illustrate the movement of plastic through the oceans:

Charting the garbage patches of the sea

Source: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/01/18-3/