CANADA SHOULD TAKE AN INSURANCE APPROACH TO FUTURE DISRUPTION
Policy Options, 15 November 2019
To help Canadians face the technological disruptions of the future, policy-makers should strengthen our education and economic safety nets.
Poker star Jimmy Chou, who has won more than $1 million playing the game, has a new teacher. Pluribus, a new artificial intelligence program, recently defeated Chou, along with a handful of the world’s best poker players, in six-player no-limit Texas hold’em. The strategy was computed in eight days, at a cost of $144 in cloud server power. As Chou graciously noted, “Whenever playing the bot, I feel like I pick up something new to incorporate into my game.” Playing against humans, Pluribus can win around $1,000 an hour, suggesting that online poker tournaments may soon become a thing of the past.
Six-player Texas hold’em now joins a long list of activities at which computers are superior to humans, including checkers (1995), chess (1997), Jeopardy! (2011), facial recognition (2014) and transcribing a telephone call (2016). It’s been two years since Google’s AlphaGo beat the world champion, Ke Jie, in the game of Go. The performance gap between AlphaGo and Ke is now about as large as the gap between Ke and a keen amateur. If Pluribus and AlphaGo were self-aware, they might look at our prowess in their games the way that we regard the intellectual powers of our pets.Read more
THURSDAY, 21 NOVEMBER 2019
SUBJECTS: Superannuation; Innovation + Equality.
ALAN JONES: I spoke last month to the Federal Labor MP Andrew Leigh. We discussed the great Australian athlete Peter Norman, and the price Peter paid for standing in solidarity with the black American athletes John Carlos and Tommie Smith at the Mexico Olympic Games. In the wake of that interview, Dr Leigh dropped me a line about a new book he's co-written with Joshua Gans. It's called Innovation + Equality, with the argument being amongst some that you innovate and you create an unequal society. The thesis here is no, no, no - that's not necessarily the case. The book is subtitled How to Create a Future That Is More Star Trek Than Terminator, which I think is quite funny. The book's being launched tonight. These two blokes have got a few brains. Joshua Gans is a professor of strategic management, and holds the Jeffrey S. Skoll Chair of Technical Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the University of Toronto. Dr Leigh is a Federal Labor MP, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury. But he's a former professor of economics at the Australian National University. He also holds a PhD in Public Policy from Harvard. He has a first class honours degree in Arts and Law from Sydney University, which of course immediately means he is totally disqualified from having any political future. Here's me telling you, Dr Leigh will never, ever make it in politics because you see, he's got brains and ideas, and they are much despised in the world of politics. And that's the great sadness. I'm being ironical here, of course. I hope that people like this do make it to the top. He's bright, he's a thinker. He’s trying to get the rest of us to do the same and read the new book. He's on the line. Dr Andrew, good morning.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Good morning and thank you for the generous introduction.Read more
SKY NEWS NEWSDAY
TUESDAY, 19 NOVEMBER 2019
Subjects: Innovation + Equality; gender pay gap and sexual harassment; Josh Frydenberg’s speech and making older Australians work longer.
TOM CONNELL: Plenty of Australians do feel behind by technological advantages and advances in the economy. But there’s no reason to fear, according to Labor's Andrew Leigh, or at least if we have the policies in place. He's written the book on it, and joins me now here in the studio. Thanks for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Real pleasure, Tom.
CONNELL: I'll give it a free plug, “Innovation + Equality”. So there it is. I'm curious about the title in of itself. Is there a need to write innovation and equality because it's currently unequal or because there's a perception that it's unequal?
LEIGH: It's a great question, Tom. I think some people regard inequality as just being the price of progress. They think that the gap between rich and poor has to rise if we want to have AI and smartphones. But fundamentally, Joshua Gans and I don't think that innovation is because the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow is bigger. We think the real way of getting more innovation is by encouraging more entrepreneurs from unexpected backgrounds. At the moment, only a quarter of our startups are founded by women, and men from affluent backgrounds make up a disproportionate share of entrepreneurs. So if we want to get more innovation, we need to broaden the pool from which our innovators are drawn.Read more
CHARITIES STILL WAITING FOR LEADERSHIP FROM TARDY SESELJA
The sector that Australians trust most is being kept in the dark by Scott Morrison and his charities spokesperson Zed Seselja, as charities wait for the Coalition to improve the transparency and governance of its regulator and free it from costly red tape.
The Australian Charities and Not-for-profits Commission Legislation Review was handed to government on May 31, 2018. That’s nearly 18 months that the sector has waited for a response on the important reforms recommended by the review.Read more
A MORE EQUAL SOCIETY DEMANDS NEW IDEAS
APPS Policy Forum, 18 November 2019
Australia is not doing enough to encourage innovation, but investment in education and support for those institutions that do innovate can create a fairer and more prosperous society, Joshua Gans and Andrew Leigh write.
Australia has an innovation problem. Just eight per cent of Australian firms say they produce innovations that are new to the world – down from 11 per cent in 2013. Innovation collaboration is especially woeful.
Across a sample of around 30 OECD nations, Australia ranked fourth-last for the share of large businesses collaborating on innovation, sixth-last in businesses collaborating with suppliers, and second-last in collaboration between businesses and universities.Read more
2GB RADIO MONEY NEWS
MONDAY, 18 NOVEMBER 2019
Subjects: Innovation + Equality; technology and productivity; unions and innovation.
ROSS GREENWOOD: Well, the interesting subject of this is a new book that's come out and this is actually called ‘Innovation + Equality: How to Create a Future That is More Star Trek Than Terminator’. It's by Joshua Gans and also by Andrew Leigh, the Shadow Assistant Minister for Treasury and Charities, who comes on this program on a regular basis to talk about the economy. And he’s with me now. Andrew, many thanks for your time.
ANDREW LEIGH, SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR TREASURY AND CHARITIES: Always a pleasure to be with you, Ross.
GREENWOOD: Okay. Let's go through this book. It basically goes down on - intellectual property is one of the big things you look at here, about the way in which you create jobs and create value is by creating more intellectual property. And of course that means you're going to have intellectual property, well, either that is capable of being protected or is indeed able to be used for the greater good rather than necessarily being locked up. That's one of your arguments, isn't it?Read more
LIKE IT OR NOT SCOMO, PROTEST MADE AUSTRALIA WHAT IT IS TODAY
Ten Daily, 14 November 2019
In 1960, my father and other Melbourne University students arranged an unauthorised street protest. The police told them they couldn’t march outside the campus. They refused, and walked onto the streets anyway.
Michael Leigh and his friends were protesting the White Australia policy, which was used to restrict non-Europeans from moving to Australia. The spark for the protest had been the Sharpeville massacre in South Africa, where 69 civilians, including 10 children, had been killed. The Labor opposition called on the Menzies Government to pass a censure motion against the South African government. Robert Menzies, who had praised the White Australia policy for helping Australia avoid "the kind of problem they have in South Africa", refused to censor the Apartheid regime.Read more
EQUITY CAN BE THE MOTHER OF INVENTION
Sydney Morning Herald, 13 November 2019
Returning from maternity leave to the traditional world of law, Carly Stebbing quickly discovered that the profession was not set up to embrace people who wanted to work three days a week. So she co-founded Resolution123, an online employment law advice site. Not only was entrepreneurship more flexible than an office law job – it also led to a startup that matches expert support for people facing unfair dismissal, workplace bullying or underpayment.
In theory, anyone can found a startup. In practice, startup founders aren't typically like Stebbing. They are most likely to be young men from affluent backgrounds. This isn’t just inequitable – it’s also inefficient. Society ends up missing out on the productive talents of potential Marie Curies and Albert Einsteins, just because they grow up in disadvantaged circumstances.Read more
THE VALUE OF FREEING IDEAS, NOT JUST LOCKING THEM UP
The Economist, 8 November 2019
Back in the 1960s, Bob Kearns was an engineer working and lecturing in Detroit. Due to an unfortunate wedding night accident involving a champagne cork, he was legally blind in his left eye. When driving in a Michigan rainstorm, Kearns lamented the inability of his wipers to help him see better. In those days, windshield wipers had two settings—fast and slow—and they were always moving. Kearns’s notion was that it should be possible to have a slower setting, in which the wipers paused briefly between each wipe.
Motivated by his own experience, as well as a long-standing desire to work for a big car company like Ford, Kearns spent years working out a way to make wipers pause. His solution relied on electronics—an unusual and innovative thing in those days. He fitted the mechanism to his own Ford Galaxie with most of the contraption inside a black box and drove it down to Ford to show its engineers. They pored over the car and were impressed. Kearns was then given the details of tests he would need to perform to become a Ford supplier. Those took months of work that Kearns completed in his basement. Ford, however, passed on him being a supplier, though the firm did employ Kearns for a brief period. In the meantime, Kearns filed for a patent on his invention.Read more
THE SCIENCE OF SESAME STREET
New York Daily News, 8 November 2019
Oscar the Grouch gives children permission to feel sad. Big Bird questions everything. Mr. Snuffleupagus is the imaginary friend. Count von Count loves mathematics. Grover embodies self-confidence. Ernie delights in practical jokes. Bert has an utterly different personality to Ernie, but is his best friend nonetheless. Zoe proves that girls can be both dainty and strong. Kermit the Frog is always a gentleman.
Nov. 10 marks the 50th anniversary of the moment when “Sesame Street” first aired on television. But it’s not just a day for nostalgia; it’s also a time when we should recall what a remarkable venture the show is, and the extent to which it is grounded in careful science and hard data.