Microsoft Invests and Does Well

Microsoft are investing $1 billion into security. This is a very good move. Microsoft are doing very well at present. The focus on cloud computing has been a marvellous strategy, and this investment will help it offer a robust and secure cloud and enterprise offering.

The company has also diversified into mobile with its own suite of mobile apps and premium hardware, with its own computers. Its mobile strategy has been paying off big time, but I still am a bit reticent to praise its hardware efforts. It still feels like a mistake to try to take on Apple and other companies in the hardware stakes, though if they get a little success it may be worth it.

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Poem: What Next for The World?

What next for the world,

What next for us?

What next for the world,

Is it written on a bus?

What next for the world,

What next for the good?

What next for the bad,

What will happen –

What should?

Could,

Would,

Be,

Is it time for us to live the future free?

The Effect of Technology on Future Employment

The effect of technology on future employment, as highlighted by business leaders at Davos, is profound. More and more software, computers and robots will be replacing human workers, and some of it has already happened (think the lack of as many human cashiers in supermarkets).

One answer to the increased joblessness and lack of expendable income is a “spending wage” for citizens for doing no work at all. This would stimulate the economy by allowing people to purchase consumer goods, though it may not solve the self-esteem issue of people not feeling that they have a purpose in life, or that they at least have a diminished purpose in life.

The Branding of Juventus and Pogba

Like it or loathe it, Juventus’ new logo is another sign of the branding and commercial focus of soccer clubs nowadays. Juventus is up against all the other big clubs and they need to make an effort to stand out. Even if I happen to like the new logo, the announcement was full of the usual marketing mumbo jumbo, so it quickly became annoying and pretentious.

It may also be a mistake. Juventus’ logo is recognised by millions so to change it seems like a silly waste of money and, more importantly, branding capital. They have to start from scratch with this new logo. It helps that it features a capitalised “j”, but still. Much more important, however, is the players this club can attract and what it can achieve on the pitch.

Paul Pogba spent a bit of time getting “p”s shaved into his head and having two capitalised “p”s bleached a greenish yellow colour to signify “Paul Pogba” on his noggin alongside getting his own Twitter emoji. Considering his performance against Liverpool on Sunday he should probably be focusing on how to get the best performance out of himself for his club. Though I think it has become clear to a lot of people that his choice to move to Manchester United was driven as much by commercial and branding ambitions as soccer ones.

The Nintendo Switch and the Video Gaming Industry

You get the feeling that the Nintendo Switch will only be a middling success. The price of the console is too high and it doesn’t look like there are many games that would make the purchase worthwhile. I really think that Apple TV and Android TV is the future of hardcore gaming, though as yet they don’t have enough top-notch studios making games for them. This will soon change, as consumers will be drawn to cheaper games with good gameplay on both platforms.

The Nintendo Switch doesn’t have enough third-party support to make it a viable console. And sure it is more portable than the Wii U, the PS4 and Xbox One but I don’t think that is much of a draw nowadays what with smartphones, phablets and tablets. It will be a bit sad to see Nintendo lose and have to give up on hardcore home-based gaming consoles but it has to do so. And anyway, the 3DS and 2DS along with their mobile games will keep their company relevant in the gaming world, though Nintendo will have to accept that they must downsize their company and besides focusing on the 3DS, 2DS and the successor to those portable gaming consoles, they will have to become a gaming studio in the main. This means their profit will most likely decline but it could be a good opportunity for innovation at the company in terms of video game franchises and new iterations of established franchises.

Nintendo will have to work harder to survive and thrive but this could revitalise the company. In the future they may also learn to embrace change quicker and adapt to changes in gaming industry well as a result. My two cents is that Nintendo are a Japanese company and Japanese companies don’t like to admit failure as they have a cultural issue with admitting failure in their honour culture.

Companies like Valve don’t have this type of cultural flaw holding them back so it looks like American companies will dominate the gaming industry going forward. Valve will survive and do well because they have an established PC base of gamers and they may have some success with their efforts to create a console base of gamers too.

It’s going to be fascinating to see who pulls out of the hardcore gaming industry, Sony or Microsoft. Possibly Microsoft will because they don’t make money out of their gaming endeavours with their hardcore gaming offerings. They will have a small future in mobile gaming, perhaps. Sony may have to also pull out eventually, but they are making an effort to establish themselves in the mobile gaming market. This is their future – a highly diminished one. But this could be good news for gamers, as Apple TV and Android TV hardcore games will be much cheaper.

Co-opism is What’s Best for the Future of Humanity

Now I want to share an idea of mine of a new political ideology that could help humanity have a better future. I call it “Co-opism”. This ideology would still fall under the umbrella of capitalism technically, as it would still be about the profit motive in a capitalist economy, but with the benefits of a co-operative structure, like better pay, better conditions and more engagement with the company, and thus happier employees who are more motivated to outdo the purely capitalist competition because they are happier and because they have a stake in the company.

This simple idea can be put into place in countries all over the world. And the world will have to fight politically to put this idea into place by incentivising the founding of co-operatives and helping co-operatives in state policy and penalising and not helping non-co-operative companies. Now, I am aware that there is a system that is even better for the average citizen than co-opism and that is workers self-directed enterprises (WSDEs), as outlined by Richard D. Wolff on his website http://www.democracyatwork.info/ but I don’t think it is realistic to jump straight from pure capitalism to WSDEs. It is more realistic to work with the co-operatives that are in your country now and that are part of a culturally well-understood system.

One reason why I think Co-opism will work and that it as an idea will inevitably be put into action is that it is a nice halfway house between communism and capitalism. It gives better benefits for workers like communism but still has the healthy profit motive of capitalism.

So, here’s the part where I try to inspire you to take action. Put co-opism into place by founding a co-operative-focused political party! Spread co-opism elsewhere by simply sharing this blog post or by communicating the idea to others! Rise up against pure capitalism and neo-liberalism!

All Publicity is Good Publicity in US Politics

This opinion piece: http://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/kathy-sheridan-the-media-got-it-right-on-trump-but-nobody-cares-1.2877809 is clearly just one angle rather than a comprehensive assessment of why Trump won. This is partly because The Irish Times wants to write more than one article about Trump.

Anyway, the US media made Trump. The Irish Times and the rest of the Irish media are obsessed with Trump – just like the US media.

Of course the media, as a group, want to say they had no part in Trump’s victory, but it’s just not true. What Trump understands about publicity is that all publicity is good publicity in US politics. People, after having a candidate thrust into their faces for a year and a half, forget why they know the candidate’s name but they sure as hell remember that person’s name, and hey, what’s he promising? Change? That doesn’t sound bad to them.

Trump Will Bring Change for the Worse

trump

So Trump is president. This may be like watching a car crash in slow motion. Trump is an empty vessel. But the policies that his compatriots in government will put forward for him to implement will wreak the country. Half of the American people may believe that Trump can bring forth change. However, what they did not consider is that things could change for the worse.

Getting into those right-wing policies though, an example being his plausible pledge to cut taxes. What Americans need to understand is that they need a high level of taxes to provide good social services and to have a budget for spending, in order to invest in the country and improve it. As said by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.: Taxes are the price we pay for civilisation.

These tax cuts will most likely be applied to the wealthy and the corporations too. And it should be obvious that the rich need to pay much more to society. However, I’m sure they squirrel away their money away to tax havens in any case. But the symbolism matters.

Four years from now, it may still not be clear to Americans that the economy has worsened. He may get elected again. Who knows. But he may not have brought the change the American people want. They may start to see him as akin to a politician: willing to promise the world to people and then not follow through on those promises.

And a new outsider might appear to promise radical change for Americans (my hunch is that Americans may vote for radical politicians until they get better jobs and higher wages).

In short, Trump may be trumped by another populist, perhaps – and hopefully, a very left-wing Latina.

 

 

 

 

Tesla Death Is Tragic but Cars That Self-Drive Are Still Needed

tesla-autonomous-driving-car

The first fatality in a car that is self-driving is tragic. Joshua Brown was an unlucky guinea pig, who was putting his full trust in his Tesla Model S’s Autopilot mode – an unfortunate mistake. Tesla have said that the driver must remain alert while trying out this mode. From news reports it appears he didn’t, as he was watching a Harry Potter movie while in the car. The Autopilot mode is still in beta but Tesla also claimed that it is “getting better all the time”.

It should have much fewer problems as time goes on when the mistakes and errors are rooted out of the software. And Tesla even went as far as saying that statistically speaking, if a driver remains alert and ready to grab the wheel, driving in Autopilot mode is still a good bit safer than regular driving.

Sadly, there will be more deaths caused by cars self-driving in the future. This particular instance is just a short-term setback for Tesla, and for the self-driving car industry as a whole. In the future the statistics may add up showing that cars in a self-driving mode still result in far fewer deaths or indeed accidents than cars with human drivers. I suppose one can’t help be sympathetic to peoples’ fears of cars being able to self-drive as a consequence of this accident. We clearly are in a transition period which may last many years, and every accident will keep people nervous about trusting self-driving cars. It may be a case of people needing to try them out to ease their nerves.

But frankly, given the amount of road accidents that lead to horrific injuries and deaths that could be preventable with future itineration’s of self-driving car software, it seems that the future of widespread self-driving cars is still sorely needed.

Brexit Will Have Painful Lessons

FT_Brexit_01

So the unthinkable happened: Brexit. It appears that the fear and accompanying hatred of immigrants and the promise of a better Britain overcame the fear of leaving the EU. For Ireland and Britain, other countries and the global economy this is most definitely bad news. It’s a cultural tragedy that Ireland and Britain will now not be as European as each other. This decision will cause a mini recession in Britain, quite probably.

It will have a negative effect on Ireland’s economy. Britain might become weaker economically and politically and very ironically have a big reliance on outside countries to help it limit the economic and political damage. The country may descend into right-wing politics before the younger generation – and disaffected citizens generally – decide to vote for left-wing parties.

Most likely it will be a lesson some of the British public will have to learn: Britain is stronger economically and politically in the EU. Another one would be to not let the media and politicians take advantage of you; be a critical thinker. The tabloid media generally were arguably the cheerleaders of Brexit for their own agenda of selling papers and perhaps for tax and lack-of-EU-oversight reasons. They possibly heightened British peoples’ fear of immigrants and some even explicitly came out in favour of Brexit. Even the rest of the media were somewhat complicit in allowing the “Leave” side to win by allowing the referendum debate to be centered on immigration and not arguing in favour of immigrants in terms of what they add to Britain.

And the politicians in favour of Brexit were conceivably more motivated by their own possible political gain in backing Brexit than they were motivated to do something good for their citizens. If the half of the British public led astray learn these lessons and decide, years from now, to rejoin the EU, it may be on the EU’S terms, as Britain would be in a weak bargaining position. They may have to join the euro, for instance. Perhaps then the British public will stop blaming the EU for its problems and instead reform its own country. Examples may be creating enough better-paying jobs, breaking up its banks to end “too big to fail” and improve service and reforming its political system.

Johnson, Farage and Gove, along with the tabloid media generally, may be detested in the years to come by the half of the public that was on their side (alongside the other half, of course). And the rest of the media may not be seen in a favourable light either.

Scotland and possibly Northern Ireland may soon seek to extricate themselves from the United Kingdom. This could deal more economic damage to England and Wales. Scotland leaving could hurt the Labour Party in Britain, as they derive a lot of their support from that country. And the Queen will not be amused to see her empire crumble. And maybe if what’s left of Britain declines economically some of the public may blame the immigrants who are already in the country for their woes once again.

But it may be all alright. The world moves on. We will all adapt.