For social media and search engines, the law is back in town. Prompted by privacy invasions, the spread of misinformation, a crisis in news funding and potential interference in elections, regulators in several countries now propose a range of interventions to curb the power of digital platforms. A newly published UK inquiry is part of this building global momentum. e Shortly after Valentine’s Day, a committee of the British House of Commons published its final report into disinformation and “fake news”. It was explicitly directed at Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, and it was less a love letter than a challenge to a duel. The report found: Companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like ‘digital gangsters’ in the online world, considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law. The committee was particularly vexed by Zuckerberg himself, concluding: By choosing not to appear before the Committee … Mark Zuckerberg has shown contempt. Its far-reaching recommendations included giving the UK’s Information Commissioner greater capacity to be “… an effective ‘sheriff in the Wild West of the Internet’.” The law is back in town In December 2018, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) handed down its preliminary report into the impact of digital platforms. It tabled a series of bold proposals. e Then, on February 12, the Cairncross Review – an independent analysis led by UK economist and journalist Frances Cairncross – handed down its report, A Sustainable Future for Journalism. Referring to sustainability of the production and distribution of high-quality journalism, “Public intervention may be the only remedy,” wrote Cairncross. “The future of a healthy democracy depends on it.” And a week later, the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee of the House of Commons issued its challenge in its final report on disinformation and “fake news”: The big tech companies must not […]
In the picture: Thais hold candle lights as they pray to celebrate the new year at Sanam Luang park in Bangkok, Thailand January 1, 2017. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom. As the past year has demonstrated, leaders must be responsive to the demands of the people who have entrusted them to lead, while also providing a vision and a way forward, so that people can imagine a better future. True leadership in a complex, uncertain, and anxious world requires leaders to navigate with both a radar system and a compass. They must be receptive to signals that are constantly arriving from an ever-changing landscape, and they should be willing to make necessary adjustments; but they must never deviate from their true north, which is to say, a strong vision based on authentic values. That is why the World Economic Forum has made Responsive and Responsible Leadership the theme for our annual January meeting in Davos. As leaders in government, business, and civil society chart a course for the next year, five key challenges will warrant their attention. Firstly, they will have to come to grips with the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which is redefining entire industries, and creating new ones from scratch, owing to groundbreaking advances in artificial intelligence, robotics, the Internet of Things, self-driving vehicles, 3D-printing, nanotechnology, biotechnology, and quantum computing. These technologies have only begun to show their full potential; in 2017, we will increasingly see what used to be science fiction become reality. But, while the Fourth Industrial Revolution could help us solve some of our most pressing problems, it is also dividing societies into those who embrace change and those who do not. And that threatens our wellbeing in ways that will have to be identified and addressed. Secondly, leaders will have to build a dynamic, inclusive multi-stakeholder global-governance system. […]
Through bold climate commitments, 228 cities around the world are taking the lead on climate action. Over 200 cities have set greenhouse gas reduction goals or targets. Action in these cities, which represent a combined population of 439 million people, could propel countries to meet their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs)—–the national greenhouse gas reduction pledges embodied in the Paris Agreement. According to Can a City Be Sustainable?, the latest edition of the annual State of the World series from the Worldwatch Institute, cities and their inhabitants are playing a lead role in achieving global climate action goals “The challenge over the next several decades is an enormous one,” write Michael Renner and Tom Prugh, contributing authors and co-directors of the report. “This requires not change around the edges, but a fundamental restructuring of how cities operate, how much they consume in resources and how much waste they produce, what they look like, and how they are structured.” Growing numbers of cities have pledged themselves to climate commitments and sustainability goals. The C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group has expanded to over 80 cities. The Compact of Mayors, launched at the 2014 United Nations Climate Summit, is the largest coalition of city leaders addressing climate change. ICLEI-Local Governments for Sustainability works with more than 1,000 cities around the world. Cities today host more than half of the earth’s human beings and represent about 70 percent of global energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. If trends continue, urban populations are expected to increase to 6 billion by 2045, at which point two-thirds of all people will live in urban environments. “If current trends in urbanization continue unabated, urban energy use will more than triple, compared to 2005 levels, by 2050,” write Renner and Prugh. It is no surprise that cities collectively account […]
Take it from the top By *Andrea Bonime-Blanc It’s easy to think the reputational buck stops with the chief executive. But even the CEO is accountable to the board, which needs to keep a close eye on more than just the money, says Andrea Bonime-Blanc. The proliferation of scandals involving executive malfeasance that have graced countless global newspapers, book covers and websites in this century alone is mesmerising. It began with Enron, WorldCom and Parmalat at the turn of the century, continued with Siemens, DaimlerChrysler and Boeing, and culminated (one hopes) over the past five years with almost every financial institution on Wall Street and in the City and beyond creating the second worst global financial meltdown in human history. Scandal and malfeasance may be one of the hallmarks of our time, perhaps only second to the massive disruption of the digital media age. In fact the two are linked, as instantaneous communication has contributed to the uncovering and rapid publicising of massive scandals (Libor comes to mind). So, in such a tumultuous world, who is responsible for creating and maintaining an organisation’s reputation? It starts not just at the top – the chief executive – but at the tippy top: the board of directors. For too long, boards have given themselves a pass on this account, often because the board’s chairman is also the chief executive. It is, however, the board (of any form of organisation – for profit, non-profit, academic or governmental) that must hold the chief executive accountable for achieving the proper financial and reputational results. The proverbial ‘buck’ has to stop somewhere. One thing is clear. Sizeable scandals do not originate at the shop floor or the accounting department, they are not schemes concocted by low- or mid-level employees. They are high-level scandals that begin and […]
The word “love” can have a variety of related but distinct meanings in different contexts. Often, other languages use multiple words to express some of the different concepts that English relies mainly on “love” to encapsulate; one example is the plurality of Greek words for “love.” Cultural differences in conceptualising love thus make it doubly difficult to establish any universal definition. Although the nature of love is a subject of frequent debate, different aspects of the word can be clarified by determining what isn’t love. As a general expression of positive sentiment (a stronger form of like), love is commonly contrasted with hate (or neutral apathy); as a more emotionally intimate form of romantic attachment and as an interpersonal relationship with romantic overtones, love is sometimes contrasted with friendship, although the word love is often applied to close friendships. When discussed in the abstract, love usually refers to interpersonal love, an experience felt by a person for another person. Love often involves caring for or identifying with a person or thing (cf. vulnerability and care theory of love), including oneself (cf. narcissism). In addition to cross-cultural differences in understanding love, ideas about love have also changed greatly over time. Some historians date modern conceptions of romantic love to courtly Europe during or after the Middle Ages, although the prior existence of romantic attachments is attested by ancient love poetry. Because of the complex and abstract nature of love, discourse on love is commonly reduced to a thought-terminating cliché, and there are a number of common proverbs regarding love, from Virgil’s “Love conquers all” to The Beatles’ “All You Need Is Love”. St. Thomas Aquinas, following Aristotle, defines love as “to will the good of another.” Bertrand Russell describes love as a condition of “absolute value,” as opposed relative value. Philosopher […]
Remember the innocent days of the 1980s ethical consumer movement? New Age entrepreneurs rode the green wave into the hearts and malls of the world. The promise? Buying pricey ice-cream or hair rinse made with Brazil nuts (or the stocks of the companies that made those products) would make the world a better place. That myth crashed. Consumers, it turned out, were not willing to buy idealism in a bottle if it came at a premium. Two decades later, green marketing remains with us, more intense than ever. Is green yet more than a fad? The Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability annual survey estimates that 13-19% of American adults are dedicated green buyers Ð a $290bn market. The US-based Cone Communications estimates that 70% of American consumers consider the environmental impact of their purchasing. The UK and Europe show similar numbers. According to marketing experts, however, these figures are wildly overstated, reflecting attitudes, not buying patterns. “Buying green products presents people with a social dilemma: they have to be willing to pay premium prices – not for their own direct benefit, but for the greater good,” says professor Shruti Gupta of Penn State University, a world expert in ethical behaviour. ‘While people love to voice their idealism to survey companies, the cold facts are they almost always put their self-interest first.” Take Elizabeth Romanaux, a consultant from New Jersey interviewed by the American Association of Retired People for a magazine piece about green buying. She considers herself environmentally conscious. She recycles. She composts. But she won’t pay a premium for an eco-friendly hotel room or cleaning products. “It isn’t that I can’t afford them,” she told AARP Magazine. “It just goes against my grain to pay more.” “Consumers will buy pricier green products,” Gupta says, “but only if they are […]
It’s weird, the weather. Or it may just be that it is obvious. Depends on whom you talk to. Climate change has been on the march for a while now, or it may just be a phenomena – what has been happening lately – in the earth’s cycle. –Doug Green, Publisher For example, this week the highest waves ever recorded off the coast of Hawaii; Australia coming to terms (again) with searing heat and the unpredictability of bushfires and extreme temperatures; the USA where a third of the population was recently affected by unrelenting and totally unexpected freezing temperatures and huge snow storms and winds. At the end of 2013 cyclones in The Philippines. Changes in extreme weather threaten human health as well as prosperity. Many societies have taken measures to cope with historical weather extremes, but new, more intense extremes have the potential to overwhelm existing human systems and structures. More frequent and more severe extreme weather events are more likely to destabilise ecosystems and cripple essential components of human livelihood, such as food production, transportation infrastructure, and water management. Death, disease, displacement, and economic hardship may follow, as we have seen with recent hurricanes, floods, heat waves, and droughts. As the earth’s climate has warmed, some types of extreme weather have become more frequent and severe in recent decades, with increases in extreme heat, intense precipitation, and drought. Heat waves are longer and hotter. How can it be that in Australia, for example, they talk of temperatures of 50 degrees being the new normal in some areas? Heavy rains and flooding are more frequent. In a wide swing between extremes, drought, too, is more intense and more widespread. So we adapt – and need to adapt – to move on.
When ASEAN took in Myanmar as a partner, Myanmar’s fate becomes ASEAN’s fate. This review outlines ASEAN’s decisive role, Buddhism in Myanmar, a previous rebellion led by monks and why Than Shwe and his junta must not be overthrown. Buddhist monks holding hostages and then protesting en masse on the streets of Yangon swelling to thousands as other local people joined in was an unprecedented spectacle in recent times that became dubbed as the ‘saffron revolution’. The strong arm tactics by the ruling military junta in crushing dissent was no great surprise; precedents were aplenty, the infamous 1988 crack down is barely forgotten. The number of fatalities, double or three figures and the uncertainty of the numbers that were taken away then and now still remained a mystery. World leaders and general public opinion had appealed for restrained. Almost a deja vu if one recalled Tiannmen of 1989. The generals of Myanmar, like the Communist Party of China, is not going to be bothered with world public opinion or even threats of sanctions. The military leaders in Myanmar are not going to care much whether economic or whatever sanctions are imposed on the country. In fact the more imposition of sanctions the more the ordinary citizen of Myanmar, his wife, children and hand-held baby are going to be the victims and suffer from deprivation. The ‘Saffron revolution’ appeared to be the last resort against recent developments in Myanmar. Ever since the country embraced Buddhism several centuries ago, the religion is pervasive in practically all aspects of daily life. Respect for the sangha, the Buddhist clergy is unquestionable and a fact of life amongst the devout as well as the sundry. Monks are found in every corner of the country, in cities and in remote villages. The daily scene of people […]