People First
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Can the Digital Economy Ever Be Sustainable?

World Economic Forum

People First is delighted to share work that is relevant to our initiatives. Mei-Lin Fung is a member of the People Centered Internet and an active, founding member of People First.

Read this article at The World Economic Forum as published on September 19, 2017.

Hurricane Harvey dropped 52 inches of rain and 27 trillion gallons of water on Texas and Louisiana. And a new kind of “All-hands-on-deck” response emerged.

Glenn Reynolds, author of An Army of Davids, writes: “But the real difference isn’t citizens getting involved, it’s the willingness of responsible officials to see that involvement as a plus rather than a potential problem … the excellent record of civilian volunteer responders in the post-9/11 record is behind that willingness.”

The Cajun Navy flotilla of private boat owners demonstrated the value of government, the private sector and regular people working together. The value of such cooperation in earlier disasters like Katrina and Sandy increased the ability to coordinate when Harvey struck.

Traditional global governance is failing. Yet the need for effective collaboration, delivering good performance in the face of new challenges has never been greater.

People First
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And Neither Are People

Do you remember The Prisoner?

If you are old enough and you were living in the UK in the 60s, I am sure the answer is a resounding, "Yes!"

I am well aware the TV series was also shown in Canada and the US, but I think it's one of those peculiarly English productions that didn't translate too well. For those of you not old enough (most of you I am guessing), this is a key line from the show that always struck me: "I am not a number—I am a free man!"

Prescient, when you realize, to quote Wikipedia that ...

a major theme of the series is individualism, as represented by Number Six, versus collectivism, as represented by Number Two.... McGoohan [the co-creator of the show], stated that the series aimed to demonstrate a balance between the two points.

Now if that is not a "discussion for our times," I'm not sure what is! And as you can see, this debate has been occupying me for some time. Then, along comes Gaping Void to point out something similar.

innovation is not a number

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Equifax Breach of Trust

On September 07, 2017, Equifax—one of the “big three” credit reporting agencies—shared a quiet investor relations document with information about a security breach that began in May, 2017 and was not discovered until late July:

[Criminals accessed] names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver’s license numbers. [They] also accessed credit card numbers for approximately 209,000 U.S. consumers, and certain dispute documents with personal identifying information for approximately 182,000 U.S. consumers.

It took Equifax another 40 days to let people know outside the company.

The response from Equifax has been “corporately cautious” with little consideration for the effect on people.

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The Future of Work

Artist Jorge Otero Escobar weaving Lomo (Backbone) in 2015

I just read a blog post, The Future of Work – Redux by John Philpin. It provides a nice, short look at what might happen as computers, robots and artificial intelligence become increasingly present in the workplace—what will people do when “all the work is done by robots?” As a result, I will be using computer, robots and AI interchangeably for the rest of this post.

John expresses a view that the future includes people working with robots, not simply people being replaced by robots. I happen to agree with that. I’ve written several blog posts on artificial intelligence (AI) and my skepticism about the capabilities and pace of the introduction of AI systems. AI has enormous potential, but I don’t see AI making humans obsolete any time soon (actually, I don’t see AI making humans obsolete—period).

Computers, and by extension, robots and AI, possess one important capability: they can add and subtract really friggin’ fast. George Boole developed what we now call Boolean Logic and it created an approach that allows us, following in the footsteps of Charles Babbage, Augusta Ada King-Noel Countess Lovelace (nee Byron), Grace Hopper and Claude Shannon, to stick those additions and subtractions together in such a way as to resolve any computable task (à la Alan Turing).

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It Is Up To Us

If we don't care—why should the government or corporations?

Working through the news this morning, my eyes caught three different articles that I felt were pertinent to People First.

David Byrne

A fascinating article—if a tad 'self'-repetitive from the thoughtful David Byrne. The final line from his piece that examines the role of technology is contributing to and detracting from human interaction and engagement. No specific solutions, which is good, since the answers lie with 'we the people'.

“We” do not exist as isolated individuals. We, as individuals, are inhabitants of networks; we are relationships. That is how we prosper and thrive.

Source: David Byrne for Technology Review
(August 15th, 2017)

Federal Unions Disbanded?

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Lost Knowledge

Forty years ago, I belonged to an organization called RILKO. As you can see, they still exist. A friend of mine, Randall Rospond, Posted this to his site today. And it occurred to me that this too is a 'little bit' of lost knowledge that we could so easily regain... with thought.

What do you think?

People First
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People Last

You probably know that we publish articles to the People First Publication on Medium. We just published an article on politics and venture capital funding.

People First is not a politically driven group, but in modern America, it is increasingly hard to keep politics out of business as the two seem to get rammed against each other over and over again.

This article falls into three parts, the first referencing a politically oriented post, the second from a venture capitalist and the third my thoughts about the connection between the two.

Continue reading...

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Start Up Culture

Dan Lyons - Author Of 'Startup Culture'

Dan Lyons shared a video about working in the new tech start-up bubble on his blog.

This made me smile...