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Weekly wire: The global forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

World of NewsThese are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

The Internet
Global Governance Monitor

The Internet has revolutionized communication and radically altered the conduct of business, politics, and personal lives. Information is now widely available and shared through instant message, email, and social media. Businesses can operate internationally with virtually no delay, enabling previously unimaginable opportunities such as providing medical advice across oceans. Moreover, the embedding of sensors, processors, and monitors in everyday products links the physical and virtual worlds, expanding vast streams of data and creating new markets. The Internet has also altered the relationship between governments and societies. Low-cost, nearly ubiquitous communication platforms allow citizens to mobilize and build transnational networks. The speed of communication can make governments more accountable, and open-data initiatives enable the participation of nongovernmental organizations and increased transparency. Though the technology has facilitated unprecedented economic growth, increased access to information, and delivered innovative solutions to historic challenges, the expansion of the Internet has also brought challenges and vulnerabilities.

The 2016 Brookings Financial and Digital Inclusion Project Report, Advancing equitable financial ecosystems
Brookings Institution

The 2016 Brookings Financial and Digital Inclusion Project (FDIP) evaluates access to and usage of affordable financial services by underserved people across 26 geographically, politically, and economically diverse countries. The 2016 report assesses these countries’ financial inclusion ecosystems based on four dimensions of financial inclusion: country commitment, mobile capacity, regulatory environment, and adoption of selected traditional and digital financial services. The 2016 report builds upon the first annual FDIP report, published in August 2015. The 2016 report analyzes key changes in the global financial inclusion landscape over the previous year, broadens its scope by adding five new countries to the study, and provides recommendations aimed at advancing financial inclusion among marginalized groups, such as women, migrants, refugees, and youth.

The power of learning
The Economist

IN “Minority Report”, a policeman, played by Tom Cruise, gleans tip-offs from three psychics and nabs future criminals before they break the law. In the real world, prediction is more difficult. But it may no longer be science fiction, thanks to the growing prognosticatory power of computers. That prospect scares some, but it could be a force for good—if it is done right. Machine learning, a branch of artificial intelligence, can generate remarkably accurate predictions. It works by crunching vast quantities of data in search of patterns. Take, for example, restaurant hygiene. The system learns which combinations of sometimes obscure factors are most suggestive of a problem. Once trained, it can assess the risk that a restaurant is dirty.

When Innovation Goes Wrong
Stanford Social Innovation Review

A pervasive myth holds that the impact generated by social enterprises is the result of innovation. Indeed, prevailing models of social innovation lead people to ask the wrong question about achieving impact in the social sector. They ask: What are the ingredients of successful innovation? They seek to discover “a magic innovation formula” or to define a set of “innovation success factors.” We find it useful to turn this question inside out. Instead of focusing on how innovation succeeds, we look at the dynamics of failure within the innovation process. We ask, in particular: What are the factors that undermine the impact potential of an innovation effort? For the past several years, we have been studying social enterprises in order to determine what enables them to achieve high levels of impact. Innovation, we have concluded, is just one part of a larger social impact creation process. Indeed, we have found that innovation plays a minor—yet very specific—role in allowing highly successful social enterprises to deliver solutions at an appropriate scale. In examining less successful organizations, meanwhile, we have found that what holds them back is not an inability to innovate but a failure to embed their innovation efforts within a robust process for translating those efforts into impact.

How the World Changed Social Media
University College of London

Social media should not be seen primarily as the platforms upon which people post, but rather as the contents that are posted on these platforms. These contents vary considerably from region to region, which is why a comparative study is necessary. The way in which we describe social media in one place should not be understood as a general description of social media: it is rather a regional case. Social media is today a place within which we socialise, not just a means of communication. Prior to social media there were mainly either private conversational media or public broadcasting media. We propose a theory of scalable sociality to show how social media has colonised the space of group sociality between the private and the public. In so doing it has created scales, including the size of the group and the degree of privacy.

Globalization has made our economies more vulnerable to climate change
World Economic Forum

Extreme weather events – droughts, heatwaves, floods or storms – are typically pictured as something certainly devastating but restricted to a particular area and in many cases a far-distant one. It’s what happens to others. Yet, in our age of globalization, the economic effects of climatic extremes are not necessarily locally confined. They can reverberate throughout the world. What happens in a country that we are linked to by trade also happens to us, though of course to a lesser extent.

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