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Get off my lawn! Pokemon Go tests global property laws

Lin Taylor's picture
The augmented reality mobile game "Pokemon Go"
by Nintendo is shown on a smartphone screen in
this photo illustration taken in Palm Springs,
California U.S. July 11, 2016.

Within one week in July the Sydney suburb of Rhodes was transformed from a quiet neighbourhood to what resident Joyce Wong described as a "place of carnage" with hundreds of people wandering around like "zombies".   

"The car hooting noise was incessant, on weekends you felt like you were under siege and the rubbish and litter all over the public areas was terrible," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by email from her home in the Australian city.

The reason for the constant disturbance? Pokemon Go, the latest craze in augmented reality.

The game took the world by storm this summer as animated creatures began appearing in the most unexpected places - all through the lens of a smartphone.

The global popularity of the game and other video games that put digital "characters" into real places – from private homes to shops, parks and even monuments and museums – has fuelled debate on land rights, the legal boundaries of private property, and what constitutes trespass.

Experts say the inter-section between virtual reality and property law is not clear, and nobody really knows what the rights of property owners are when digital characters or structures appear on their land.

"A lot of people are convinced that because they own their property, they ought to be able to control the virtual space," said Brian Wassom, a lawyer at Michigan's Warner Norcross & Judd LLP with expertise in augmented reality.

"I think they're going to come to the answer which I have come to, which is: no, you can't," he said in a phone interview.

He said land rights only apply when there has been something or someone physically present on the property.

However, this distinction is becoming blurred as more and more examples of the power the digital world can hold over specific geographical spots emerge.

Quote of the Week: Dani Rodrik

Sina Odugbemi's picture
“The main constraint on the global economy right now is not that it is not sufficiently open. It’s very open. The main constraint is really that the system lacks legitimacy."

Dani Rodrik, a Turkish economist and Ford Foundation Professor of International Political Economy at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. He was formerly the Albert O. Hirschman Professor of the Social Sciences at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey. He has made significant contributions and published widely to the areas of international economics, economic development, and political economy. He is best known for his work on industrialization, growth policies, and political economy of globalization. His works include Economic Rules: The Rights and Wrongs of the Dismal Science and The Globalization Paradox: Democracy and the Future of the World Economy. He is also joint editor-in-chief of the academic journal Global Policy.

Was the resource boom more akin to a resource curse for Africa?

Sudharshan Canagarajah's picture

The IMF’s Regional Economic Outlook (REO – April 2016) notes that the region’s dependence on primary commodities has increased since the 1980s with nearly half of the countries in the region subject to commodity price fluctuations. These economies, which contribute 70 percent of the GDP of Sub-Saharan Africa are facing a sharp slowdown in real growth, with many also having to undertake large fiscal retrenchments and/or seek balance of payments support from the IMF.

We review the economic performance of Sub-Saharan Africa’s (henceforth Africa) non-renewable resource producers since the early 2000s, the start of the commodity price boom contrasting this with the economic performance of Africa’s non-commodity exporters over the same period. The negative economic impact of the current slump in commodity prices is indisputable, but it is worth asking whether Africa’s non-renewable resource producers realized any tangible benefits from the commodity price boom. Our conclusion is that they did not, at least in terms of real per capita growth. And here’s why.

Pathways to profits for micro and small enterprises

Bilal Zia's picture

Numerous research studies on micro and small firms from around the world have shown that (a) microenterprises are ubiquitous; and (b) only a very small percentage of such firms scale up to become SMEs.

The obvious question is why?

It is not for want of help. Each year billions of dollars in aid is given to developing economies to help entrepreneurs establish and grow their ventures.  Yet evidence suggests that this money is having little impact in some of the key areas it is directed towards improving.

Take microcredit for example. A recent review of six randomized evaluations from four continents suggests that, while microcredit has some benefits, it has not led to the transformative improvements in business performance and poverty reduction widely expected.

How high-growth firms can reshape the economy

Denis Medvedev's picture

Productivity. Growth. Jobs. These are the outcomes that are at the top of many of our clients’ agendas, and they form a core part of most of our private sector development projects. But where do they come from? Who creates them?

Evidence from high-income countries suggests that the answer might be found in a group of small, young and fast-growing firms that contributes disproportionately to these outcomes at the national level. In the United States, about 50 percent of new firms will have gone out of business before the age of five (Haltiwanger et al, 2013). Among those that do survive, just 12 percent experience output growth in excess of 25 percent, but they account for 50 percent of overall increase in output. Similarly, only 17 percent of surviving firms (less than 10 percent of all that entered) experience employment growth above 25 percent – but they create close 60 percent of new jobs in the U.S. economy (Haltiwanger et al, 2016). There is undoubtedly something special about these few high-growth firms (HGFs).

One key reason that HGFs are able to perform so well is their high productivity. Firms in the 90th percentile of the U.S. productivity distribution create almost twice as much output with the same inputs as firms in the 10th percentile (Syverson, 2004). In developing countries, the gap between firms at the top and bottom ends of the productivity distribution is even larger – up to five times! (Hsieh and Klenow, 2009)

Beyond their own high productivity, HGFs raise national efficiency in several important ways. Their “pull factor” facilitates the convergence of less productive firms to the national frontier (Bartelsman et al, 2008). And when markets for production inputs are competitive, HGFs are able to lift overall efficiency by pulling resources from less productive firms. This is what accounts for their disproportionate contribution to productivity, jobs, and output growth (Haltiwanger et al, 2016).

Capital project and infrastructure spending outlook: Agile strategies for changing markets

Paul da Rita's picture

Photo Credit: hans-johnson via Flickr Creative Commons

A recent report by PwC on the outlook for global infrastructure spending predicts that by 2020, annual global infrastructure spending will reach $5.3 trillion, up from an estimated $4.3 trillion in 2015. This represents a global spending growth of 5% per annum doubling the low rates of growth of just 2% expected this year.

Mental illness is curable, treatable, and preventable: a story of hope from India

Varalakshmi Vemuru's picture
On World Mental Health Day, here’s a fact to reflect on: people with mental illness are among the socially excluded and marginalized groups in society. They are often misunderstood, ignored, or simply invisible.
In India alone, an estimated 70 million people—or 5% of the population—suffer from mental illness. The southern state of Tamil Nadu, for instance, has one million people living mental disorders—about 3-5 cases per village. Meanwhile, the country faces a severe shortage of psychiatrists and psychiatrist nurses, and clinical care is scarce in rural India. Due to deep social stigma related to mental illness, such serious issues are largely invisible at the community level.

That’s why, in 2012, we launched a comprehensive social and clinical care program with the government of Tamil Nadu to inform and educate local communities on mental health issues, as well as to encourage families and people affected by mental illness to seek treatment. Working with leading local health practitioners, we based the campaign on a core message that was simple, powerful, and resonated with the community:
Through a poster on do’s and don’ts of addressing mental illness, the campaign advised the community to
1) seek help from a psychiatrist, 2) start medication, 3) attend counseling sessions, and 4) join self-help groups. (Image: TNEPRP / World Bank)

Book Review: Failing in the Field – Karlan and Appel on what we can learn from things going wrong

David McKenzie's picture

Dean Karlan and Jacob Appel have a new book out called Failing in the Field: What we can learn when field research goes wrong. It is intended to highlight research failures and what we can learn from them, sharing stories that otherwise might otherwise be told only over a drink at the end of a conference, if at all. It draws on a number of Dean’s own studies, as well as those of several other researchers who have shared stories and lessons. The book is a good short read (I finished it in an hour), and definitely worth the time for anyone involved in collecting field data or running an experiment.

Powerful panel weighs progress on financial inclusion

Donna Barne's picture
Event Replay

Government leaders and advocates came together during the Annual Meetings to discuss a major development goal – ensuring everyone has access to affordable financial services such as a bank or mobile money account. While a lot of progress has been made on “financial inclusion,” new rules affecting the flow of funds threatens to slow or even reverse some gains.

Financial Inclusion not Exclusion: Managing De-Risking brought together Queen Máxima of the Netherlands, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew, Zhou Xiaochuan, Governor of the People’s Bank of China, Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Indonesia’s Minister of Finance. Arun Jaitley, India’s Minister of Finance, World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim, and Juan Manuel Vega-Serrano, the president of the Financial Action Tax Force (FATF), which sets international standards for  combating money laundering, terrorist financing and other related threats.

Some 700 million people were brought into the formal financial system between 2011 and 2014 – a major success – but 2 billion people remain cut off, said Queen Máxima, who is the United Nations Secretary-General’s special advocate for inclusive finance for development.

A new challenge to financial inclusion is a trend toward “de-risking” by banks. Many larger banks are increasingly terminating or restricting business relationships with remittance companies and smaller local banks in certain regions of the world. De-risking has therefore made money transfers more difficult for migrant workers and humanitarian organizations working in war-torn places.

Using technology to make everyone count

Arathi Sundaravadanan's picture
Event Replay

Many people don’t think twice when they’re asked to show their ID while opening a bank account or even while waiting in long lines to get a driver's license. Yet for the 1.5 billion people around the world who don’t have a form of identification, this is the first barrier they face completing these basic – but important – tasks.

Harnessing the potential of technology to overcome the challenges of providing unique identification to people across the developing world was the topic of an Annual Meetings seminar on ‘Identification for Development.’ The panel was moderated by the new World Bank Chief Economist Paul Romer, and featured Sri Mulyani Indrawati, Minister of Finance of Indonesia; Ajay Pandey, CEO of the Unique Identification Authority of India; Justin Forsyth, Deputy Executive Director of UNICEF; Tara Nathan, Executive Vice President of Public-Private Partnerships at MasterCard; and John Giusti, Chief Regulatory Officer at the GSMA, an association of 800 mobile operators.