The dawn of a new age in Japan
Japan tends to develop in leaps and bounds – and it looks ready to make another such surge. The transformation of life sciences, Internet of Things, artificial intelligence, robotics and big data will lead to a new age in the country. It has the political will and fewer of the legal hurdles for scientific research than in the West. And crucially, its rapidly aging and shrinking population will require such innovations.
Opinion: The benefits of genetically modified organisms
So-called “genetically modified organisms,” or GMOs, are frequently the subject of controversy, mostly because they are misunderstood. Humans have been genetically modifying plants and animals for millennia. Now, new gene-editing methods hold the potential to cure horrible diseases and make food more nutritious, potentially improving millions of lives. Regulation is holding back some advances though – but the new approaches are more predictable and precise than their predecessors.
Blockchain and its potential for economic disruption
Blockchain – a decentralized ledger of transactions that uses computer technology to link, secure and encrypt records – has the potential to become a hugely disruptive technology, rendering financial intermediaries unnecessary and making money transfers nearly instantaneous. However, it requires huge amounts of computing power and still cannot come close to processing the volume of transactions that modern credit card companies do, for example. But these challenges represent opportunities that are sure to be seized by a cascade of innovations.
Opinion: Defense is essential
Every state above a certain size needs armed forces to defend itself. Methods for their use vary, ranging from the Swiss model of territorial defense to the blue-water navies, foreign alliances and overseas bases deployed by superpowers. The one common element – essential to any sort of effective deterrence – is the political will to fight.
Taxation horrors and Europe’s frustration
The European Union wants to create new, complicated systems to tax technology companies. Doing so will only harm its economy. Instead of engaging in an economic tit-for-tat with the United States, it should look at how Americans have fostered innovation and built tech giants. Good places to start include increasing investment in defense, reducing restrictive regulations and becoming less risk-averse.
China and the automobile’s future
China has become the world’s biggest car manufacturer, but not a global player in the industry. Rapid change in automotive technology, though, provides it with the same challenges and opportunities as it does the industry’s leaders. Chinese companies are investing heavily in electric car and autonomous-vehicle designs. Much more needs to happen, though, both in China and in the global environment, for the Asian giant to be able to go international.
Opinion: Automation, innovation and the arrogance of the elite
The idea of a guaranteed basic income has gained in popularity, with even Bill Gates proposing that such a measure could be funded through a tax on robots. These ideas are misguided: people will be able to adapt to change. And taxing innovation will only slow it down.
Europe’s future depends on investment in innovation
Europe has become very risk averse, focusing on protecting the privileges that have already been accumulated. Regulations meant to provide protection in case of failure sometimes go too far, limiting upside potential. This exchanges freedom for security, and blocks creativity and innovation. But only innovation can help Europe maintain its global competitiveness.
Mixed forecast for Latin America’s economies
Latin America has been slower to rebound after the financial crisis than most of the world. Now, however, some countries in the region seem poised to make progress. Their ability to participate in the global economic expansion will vary. Some, such as Argentina, Peru and Mexico are in a position to benefit. Others will struggle to gain traction.