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Technology’s Role in Earth Day

Earlier today, I listened to former President Clinton speak in honor of Earth Day. He was at Fortune Magazine’s Green Brainstorm conference on the importance of upcoming climate change talks (to take place on Copenhagen later this year). He called on everyone in the audience to focus on the economic impact of managing our energy and environmental challenges.He said we must prove it is good economics to change the way we produce and save energy. This made me think more about the role technology can play in doing so.. Read More »

First Latin American ICT Think Tank Takes Momentum

Less than two years ago a small group of academics from the leading ICT Research Centers and Universities from Latin America organized a regional conference on ICT. At the end of the conference in Buenos Aires I mentioned to two of the organizers; Professors Hernan Galperin from Univerisdad de San Andres and Raul Katz from Columbia, that by putting together the conference they had built the foundation to create a regional Think Tank on ICT.And certainly, they did. The small group now transformed into a network of more than 30 world class institutions that seek to advance knowledge on the social, economic and political impact of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) in the Americas. The network, called ACORN-REDECOM will have the III regional conference in Mexico City next month (May 22-23). The program and speakers are outstanding and I am sure it will be a total success.The value ACORN-REDECOM brings to the region … Read More »

Chimpanzees smarter than undergraduates and college professors?

As part of our policy work, I regularly share with governments statistics, studies and other research that help to bring across the need to effect change in a country. Quite accidentally, I recently came across these two video clips featuring presentations by Dr Hans Rosling that blew my mind away about how such data can be presented. In the video, Dr Rosling compared and contrasted national statistics of different countries in a graphical and animated way which I thought brought across his points very well and was most effective in busting some of the commonly held myths about developing countries.Clip 1Clip 2Particularly relevant to our work is the last set of statistics that he showed on Internet penetration in Clip 1 (about 18 minutes into the 20-min clip). His graph showed a correlation between Internet penetration and GDP, and the steady growth of Internet penetration trending towards the flattening of differences between the developed and developing countries. He presented it quite briefly, but you get the idea of how this can be used to draw other conclusions from data presented this way.Why do I raise this? Read More »

No Need to Lock Them in a Room, Mr. Secretary — Use IP

A lot has been said and written this month about the need for speedy adoption of interoperability standards for smart grid, but the simple fact is: Agreeing on interoperability standards doesn’t need to be this hard. Incumbent manufacturers of some niche smart grid technologies based on proprietary protocols and those companies that have built siloed systems using them have every incentive to drag out the process of identifying and agreeing on interoperability standards for smart grid. But, the answer is so obvious; it seems hard for some people to grasp: Use Internet Protocol (IP).At the center of the Internet boom in the 1990s were not only the price declines in computing and telephony, but also the transition from the use of proprietary protocols and standards to the adoption of open protocols and standards — namely IP — that allowed communications devices and systems to interoperate, spurring innovation and promoting competition. IP was an important factor in enabling the market disruption that drove Internet use — all to the benefit of consumers. Without IP, we wouldn’t have YouTube, or Facebook, or Internet banking. Who wants to wait in line at the bank anymore?… Read More »

Latin America Is Going Fiscal At Full Speed

The Challenge is how to Turn Economic Packages Into Opportunities that Create Sustainable Growth and Competitive AdvantageNumerous market indicators already signal that the global economic crisis is now impacting Latin America. Unless the U.S. economic stimulus package (or officially, the American Reinvestment & Recovery Act) works and each country in the region puts in place comprehensive counter-cyclic policies, the crisis’ impact could be even longer and more devastating. Countries across the region are experiencing a reduction in the demand on their exports in varying degree. This reduction has generated rapid increases in trade deficits and difficulties in accessing international financing, a situation that has been exacerbated by the repatriation of funds from foreign investors. These elements have combined to create major pressure to domestic currencies; in just the last six months the Brazilian real has lost 32% of its value. The immediate impact in consumption, investment and employment has been more than evident.To attack the different symptoms, countries in the region have adopted different measures. So far macroeconomic policy has been the medicine of choice. However, the crisis is so deep that for many economists and Governments, it is now clear that monetary policy will not be enough, and that the case for a major fiscal counter-cyclical policy is now essential. Read More »