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Posts from 2018 January
January 17th, 2018 · 11 comments
A Diamond in the Economic Rough
Two weeks ago, the American Economic Association held its annual meeting in Philadelphia. Spread over three days and two different hotels, this conference included over 500 sessions.
Buried in the program, during the morning on the last day, was a grab bag paper session titled Radically Rethinking Economic Policy. The final paper discussed in this session should command our attention, because its coauthors include, in addition to four well-respected economics researchers, someone who I’ve long promoted as one of the most brilliant and outrageous thinkers pondering the digital world: Jaron Lanier.
The paper, which is titled “Should We Treat Data as Labor? Moving Beyond ‘Free’,” translates the basic premises of Lanier’s 2013 book, Who Owns the Future?, into more precise economic terminology.
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January 13th, 2018 · 20 comments
The First Stirrings of a New Activism
The investment funds run by Jana Partners and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System hold a combined $2 billion in Apple stock. This ensured the business community took notice when earlier this week, these investors sent a letter to Apple expressing concern about the impact of the tech giant’s products on young people.
To quote the letter:
“More than 10 years after the iPhone’s release, it is a cliché to point out the ubiquity of Apple’s devices among children and teenagers, as well as the attendant growth in social media use by this group. What is less well known is that there is a growing body of evidence that, for at least some of the most frequent young users, this may be having unintentional negative consequences.”
The investors go on to make several recommendations, including the convening of a committee of experts to study the issue, the introduction of better parental controls, and the funding of more research.
This letter received significant coverage this week so I don’t want to belabor its points or overhype its significance ($2 billion doesn’t provide that much leverage against a $900 billion Apple market cap).
But I’ve been asked about it quite a bit, so I thought I would share a few initial reactions…
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