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Friday, 15 May 2020

Weekend Reading



Here come the Bots

Miquela, the digital avatar and music artist created by an L.A.-based entertainment company has signed as CAA’s first virtual client.

Miquela, aka “Lil Miquela,” launched on Instagram in April 2016 without explanation — and today she has 2.2 million followers, plus almost 550,000 on TikTok. The freckle-faced, CGI-generated teen robot is the invention of startup Brud, which positions her as a “Gen Z tastemaker” and has inked brand partnerships for Miquela with companies including Samsung, Prada, Calvin Klein and YouTube.

CAA said it will work with Miquela (pronounced “mih-KAY-lah”) in all areas, including TV, film, and brand strategy and commercial endorsements, raising the prospect of a movie or show featuring the character.

https://variety.com/2020/digital/news/miquela-virtual-influencer-signs-caa-1234599368/

 

Buffett says, "I don't know"

Between the lines of “You can bet on America” were warnings not to be overconfident in predicting what the future might hold.

His positivity, even during difficult economic moments, always radiated with a clear sense of certainty. After all, he is known as the Oracle of Omaha.

That’s why it was unsettling on Saturday to hear him repeatedly say “I don’t know.” He was careful to say the markets would improve in the long term — though his time frame for certainty was decades, not months or not even necessarily years from now.

He said the $137 billion he had on hand “isn’t all that huge when you think about worst-case possibilities.” Let that seep in. He added: “We don’t prepare ourselves for a single problem, we prepare ourselves for problems that sometimes create their own momentum.” That’s coming from the same man who once famously said, “Every decade or so, dark clouds will fill the economic skies, and they will briefly rain gold. When downpours of that sort occur, it’s imperative that we rush outdoors carrying washtubs, not teaspoons.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/03/business/dealbook/warren-buffett-berkshire-hathaway.html

 

Reinventing the supply chain to optimise security

Industrial machine producers, of the kind that make a huge contribution to the German economy, have begun shifting priorities from making the supply chain as cheap as possible to making it as secure as possible.

When it comes to the use of robotics in industrial production, Germany is among the world leaders, behind such countries as Singapore and South Korea. Even mid-sized companies like Arburg are increasingly embracing them. They can be used around the clock, they don't get sick and they don't have to go on vacation. They also don't have to stay 1.5 meters away from each other in times of pandemic. In short, they make it possible for production to continue in Germany.

https://www.spiegel.de/international/world/future-of-our-global-economy-the-beginning-of-de-globalization-a-126a60d7-5d19-4d86-ae65-7042ca8ad73a

 

China is starting to face a backlash from Europe

If 2019 was the year when Europeans began having serious doubts about Beijing’s geopolitical intentions, 2020 may go down in history as the moment they turned against China in defiance. The EU’s diplomatic service assembled a report on the disinformation campaigns being waged by China and that other usual suspect, Russia. China promptly made a bad situation worse, leaning on the publication’s authors to tone it down. At this, members of the European Parliament took even more umbrage and demanded assurances that the EU will not self-censor under Chinese pressure.

Even before the pandemic, Europeans were becoming disappointed by the one-sided nature of these “partnerships,” both economically and politically. China’s largest trading partner in Europe, Germany, has also put up its guard after several Chinese companies took stakes in German technology firms ranging from a robot maker to a power company. Last year, Berlin tightened the rules on such sensitive acquisitions. The EU followed suit, with a common investment-screening approach taking effect this year. Meant to preserve Europe’s technological and industrial autonomy, it implicitly aims to keep China at bay.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2020-05-07/from-france-to-sweden-china-is-losing-europe

 

A short history of who owns the roads - cars or pedestrians?

"In the early days of the automobile, it was drivers' job to avoid you, not your job to avoid them," says Peter Norton, a historian at the University of Virginia and author of Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City. "But under the new model, streets became a place for cars — and as a pedestrian, it's your fault if you get hit."

One of the keys to this shift was the creation of the crime of jaywalking. Here's a history of how that happened.

This was also part of the final strategy: shame. In getting pedestrians to follow traffic laws, "the ridicule of their fellow citizens is far more effective than any other means which might be adopted," said E.B. Lefferts, the head of the Automobile Club of Southern California in the 1920s. Norton likens the resulting campaign to the anti-drug messaging of the '80s and '90s, in which drug use was portrayed as not only dangerous but stupid.


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