Mathematical Model Reveals the Patterns of How Innovations Arise

Innovation is one of the driving forces in our world. The constant creation of new ideas and their transformation into technologies and products forms a powerful cornerstone for 21st century society. Indeed, many universities and institutes, along with regions such as Silicon Valley, cultivate this process.

And yet the process of innovation is something of a mystery. A wide range of researchers have studied it, ranging from economists and anthropologists to evolutionary biologists and engineers. Their goal is to understand how innovation happens and the factors that drive it so that they can optimize conditions for future innovation.

This approach has had limited success, however. The rate at which innovations appear and disappear has been carefully measured. It follows a set of well-characterized patterns that scientists observe in many different circumstances. And yet, nobody has been able to explain how this pattern arises or why it governs innovation.

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Forget A.I. ‘Remote Intelligence’ Will Be Much More Disruptive

 

Getty Images, A remote surgeon on an InTouch robot at the European Institute of TeleSurgery. Strasbourg, France. Jan. 12, 2009.

Globalization can usefully be thought of as a form of arbitrage driven by the simple fact that some things are cheaper in one country than another. In today’s world, we have large international differences in wages and salaries. So far, it is quite difficult to arbitrage wage differences.

And widespread political resistance to mass migration means that low-wage workers are mostly stuck at home. But what if workers in poor nations could sell their labor in rich nations without leaving home? What if the services provided by labor could cross borders without the laborers?

Telerobotics is the technology that overcomes the current need for physical presence in many jobs. These are robots that are controlled not by artificial intelligence but by remote intelligence ― a faraway human operating the robot.

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3 Ways Data Dashboards Can Mislead You

Executives love dashboards, and why wouldn’t they? Single-screen “snapshots” of operational processes, marketing metrics, and key performance indicators (KPIs) can be visually elegant and intuitive. They show just-in-time views of what’s working and what isn’t — no need to wait for weekly or monthly reports from a centralized data center. A quick scan of a dashboard gives frontline managers transparency and, ideally, the opportunity to make rapid adjustments.

But dashboards aren’t the magic view some managers treat them as. Although they can convey snapshots of important measures, dashboards are poor at providing the nuance and context that effective data-driven decision making demands.

Data analytics typically does a few things:

  • describes existing or past phenomena
  • predicts future events based on past data
  • prescribes a course of action

Most dashboards, though, only cover the first — describing what has happened. Moving from description to prediction to action requires knowledge of how the underlying data was generated, a deep understanding of the business context, and exceptional critical thinking skills on the part of the user to understand what the data does (and doesn’t) mean. Dashboards don’t provide any of this. Worse, the allure of the dashboard, that feeling that all the answers are there in real time, can be harmful. The simplicity and elegance can tempt managers to forget about the all-important nuances of data-driven decision making.

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Questionable “Young Blood” Transfusions Offered in U.S. as Anti-Aging Remedy

Jesse Karmazin is the entrepreneur who made the practice possible, by launching a clinical trial on the potential of “young blood” through his startup Ambrosia. He says that within a month, most participants “see improvements” from the one-time infusion of a two-liter bagful of plasma, which is blood with the blood cells removed.

Several scientists and clinicians say Karmazin’s trial is so poorly designed it cannot hope to provide evidence about the effects of the transfusions. And some say the pay-to-participate study, with the potential to collect up to $4.8 million from as many as 600 participants, amounts to a scam.

What’s certain is that it’s based on some intriguing if inconclusive science. Karmazin, a 32-year-old Princeton graduate and competitive rower, says he was inspired by studies on mice that researchers had sewn together, with their veins conjoined, in a procedure called parabiosis.

Over the last decade or so, such studies have offered provocative clues that certain hallmarks of aging can be reversed or accelerated when old mice get blood from young ones. Yet these studies have come to conflicting conclusions. An influential 2013 paper in Cell showed that a particular component in young blood, GDF11, increased muscle strength, for example, but other researchers could not replicate the finding.

Further, parabiosis experiments offer little insight into how Ambrosia’s one-time transfusions will affect people. “In our study, circulation between the young and old mouse was maintained for nearly four weeks,” says Amy Wagers, a professor of regenerative biology at Harvard University and an author on the Cell report.

 

Despite such uncertainties, the potential of young blood to treat disease is being explored in a number of clinical trials. One test sponsored by the University of California, San Francisco, is examining the effects of transfusions in patients with a degenerative disorder called progressive supranuclear palsy. A study under way in China investigates whether young plasma alleviates the neurologic deficits induced by acute stroke.

In 2014, Stanford University neuroscientist Tony Wyss-Coray demonstrated that old mice had increased neuron growth and improved memory after about 10 infusions of blood from young mice. That prompted Wyss-Coray to launch a small company, Alkahest, based in Menlo Park, California, to test transfusions of plasma from young people in the treatment of Alzheimer’s disease.

Alkahest’s clinical study is more conventional than Ambrosia’s: it does not charge participants, it expects to enroll only 18 volunteers, and it is initially looking at how well the elderly can tolerate small doses of plasma. Wyss-Coray says the company’s initial funding was provided by a billionaire in Hong Kong who felt that a plasma transfusion had helped his grandfather combat Alzheimer’s. In March 2015, the plasma company Grifols invested $37.5 million in the startup.

Like several other researchers and bioethicists, Wyss-Coray worries about the fact that Ambrosia’s trial is funded by participants rather than investors. “People want to believe that young blood restores youth, even though we don’t have evidence that it works in humans and we don’t understand the mechanism of how mice look younger,” Wyss-Coray says. “I think people are just attracted to it because of vampire stories.” He mentions a Hungarian tale of a wealthy woman who bathed in the blood of virgins to retain her youth.

 

As of December 15, Karmazin says, Wright had infused 25 people with young blood. Karmazin claims his participants are seeing miraculous results; a patient with chronic fatigue syndrome, for example, “feels healthy for the first time” and “looks younger.” Such anecdotes could help market the study, but they’re no proof the plasma infusions work, and would-be patients shouldn’t believe them.

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Weaponized AI, digital espionage and other technology risks for 2017

A recent wave of high-profile cyber-attacks — with objectives ranging from disrupting critical infrastructure to influencing the US presidential election — has heightened attention around the need for stronger security and governance measures in the public domain. Technological advances have also facilitated a significant uplift in industrial espionage, which could grow further in an era of state-sponsored use of cyber technology. Meanwhile, the future weaponization of AI and robotics by rogue states or terrorists and the scope for hacking global satellite systems are also firmly on the radar of security specialists.

A padlock is displayed at the Alert Logic booth during the 2016 Black Hat cyber-security conference in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S. August 3, 2016.

Image: REUTERS/David Becker

As businesses embrace innovation, they also take on new risks. Not only are companies buying and employing technology that creates new exposure, their IT systems are becoming increasingly connected to those of other companies in their value chain, such as suppliers, customers and utilities. Additionally, more IoT devices are being deployed to improve productivity or increase safety. This expanding interconnectedness, often facilitated by devices with limited security, creates additional points of vulnerability to cyber-attack and makes assessing the risk permutations that much more difficult.

Other innovations in the technology landscape, such as the migration of data and software to the Cloud and the use of AI and robotics in commercial applications, are also shifting the nature of cyber risk. At the same time, companies implementing innovations may be assuming, through legacy contracts, new liabilities where legal precedent is embryonic at best, along with vulnerabilities they will find challenging to mitigate or transfer into insurance markets.

Digital restrictions

Cross-border data flows are being slowed by a rise in government intervention. Some measures are aimed at consumer protection. For example, the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GPDR) is driven primarily by privacy concerns on personal data. Other initiatives are aimed at state protection, driven by heightened security concerns. These measures enforce a range of protectionist policies, including prohibitive technical standards, censorship, surveillance and data localization. China, for instance, has joined Russia in tightening the requirements placed on foreign companies to store information within national borders. Increasing regulation is complicating the space for business to work in and aggravating “splinternet” tendencies.

These trends may present significant challenges for businesses. Compliance with new regulation could be costly, and failure to comply could result in significant sanctions. Restricted access to digital supply chains and markets will create complexities for firms with global operating models. In an era of heightened nationalism, this direction could threaten open global competition.

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Dreadful dads

Parenting authentically also involves coming to terms with what children are really like. They are not angels or hellions, sweethearts or monsters: they are little people who, as Kierkegaard suggests, are both angelic and beastly. This banal platitude expresses a deep truth about the human condition, namely that we are the sorts of creatures, perhaps the only ones, who possess radical freedom. Most of adult life is geared to ignoring this aspect of human nature, and modernity sets artificial constraints on behaviour, pretending that these constraints are God-given. Of course, for an existentialist, as for a child, all of this is nonsense – nothing is God-given. The boundaries that define civilised life are, more often than not, self-imposed, which is to say radically contingent. A child knows, in a way that most parents intentionally forget, that the range of life’s possibilities is always profoundly open. And the difficulty of life is to choose for oneself which possibilities should become actual.

Image result for Father and daughter, 1961. Erich Hartmann/Magnum

 

Dreadful dads — Few of the great existentialists had children. How can their philosophy help with the anxiety and dread of fatherhood? https://www.munkdebates.com/debates/progress

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Bacterial Pac Man molecule snaps at sugar

(Source: Universität Bonn )

Many pathogens use certain sugar compounds from their host to help conceal themselves against the immune system. Scientists have now analyzed the dynamics of a bacterial molecule that is involved in this process. They demonstrate that the protein grabs onto the sugar molecule with a Pac Man-like chewing motion and holds it until it can be used. Their results could help design therapeutics that could make the protein poorer at grabbing and holding and hence compromise the pathogen in the host.

More https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/01/170110121055.htm

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