Former Microsoft CFO Chris Liddell could be Trump’s next top economic adviser

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It could give Silicon Valley more influence in the Trump administration.

Chris Liddell, the former chief finanical officer at Microsoft and a key touchpoint for current tech execs in the Trump administration, could become President Trump’s top economic adviser.

That’s according to reports Saturday that fingers Liddell as the likely next head of the National Economic Council, the policymaking advisory body that is currently led by Gary Cohn. The White House said this week that Cohn would leave his gig soon.

Liddell is currently the White House’s director of strategic initiatives and is said to be a key ally of Jared Kushner in an administration rife with internal feuds. Liddell and Reed Cordish, another businessman and friend of Kushner’s, have been two of the main emissaries from the White House to Silicon Valley. Cordish said last month he was also leaving the White House.

Liddell’s profile would certainly expand if he were take the job — he would be expected to advise Trump on everything from tarriffs to tax cuts to entitlement reform. And it would also likely give tech more access to the White House in the same way that Cohn, a former president of Goldman Sachs, gave Wall Street access to it.

The New Zealand-born Liddell served as CFO at MIcrosoft from 2005 to 2009 before jumping to General Motors.

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Recode Daily: Trump’s top economic adviser is the latest high-profile exit from the White House

How Complete Beginners are using an ‘Untapped’ Google Network to create Passive Income ON DEMAND

Gary Cohn, chief economic adviser to President Trump

Plus, Google is helping the Pentagon build AI for drones, Amazon is elbowing out Instacart for Whole Foods delivery, and Google Street View goes to Disneyland.

President Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, is leaving, becoming the latest in a series of high-profile departures from the White House. Cohn, a free-trade-oriented Democrat and Goldman Sachs vet, heads the National Economic Council, and opposed to the president’s plan to impose across-the-board tariffs on steel and aluminum; watch the market today to see how investors react. [The New York Times]

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Google is helping the Pentagon build artificial intelligence for detecting and identifying objects out of drone video footage. The pilot project with the Defense Department’s Project Maven set off an internal firestorm when Google employees learned of the company’s involvement. Some were outraged that Google would offer resources to the military for surveillance technology; others said the project raised important ethical questions about the development and use of machine learning. [Kate Conger and Dell Cameron / Gizmodo]

Amazon is squeezing out Instacart in its Whole Foods delivery push. San Francisco-based Instacart became Whole Foods’ first national delivery partner in 2014; in 2016, Whole Foods signed a five-year contract making the startup the exclusive delivery provider for most of its merchandise. Instacart declined to comment on whether Whole Foods is violating the deal by allowing Amazon to deliver its goods. [Olivia Zaleski and Ellen Huet / Bloomberg]

BlackBerry is suing Facebook, claiming that many of Facebook’s messaging features infringe on BlackBerry’s patents. The former messaging powerhouse also says that Facebook is using its IP in a number of its products, including Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp and Instagram. [Kurt Wagner / Recode]

Rival chipmakers Qualcomm and Broadcom are in a back-and-forth that can only be described as a soap opera. Yesterday, the U.S. government said Singapore-based Broadcom’s proposed acquisition of Qualcomm could pose a national security risk, and called for a full investigation into the hostile bid. Here’s a refresher on the timeline of this saga, and some thoughts on Qualcomm’s defensive maneuvers. [Ben Bajarin / Recode]

Top stories from Recode

HQ Trivia raised new funding at a $ 100 million valuation and its co-founder apologized for his previous bad behavior.

HQ raised $ 15 million in a round Recode reported was in the works last month.

Netflix is worth more than GE or Ford, and it’s creeping up on Disney.

Here’s how Netflix’s market cap has changed since the beginning of 2017.

Techmeme, the influential tech news aggregator, is launching its own podcast.

Because everyone has a podcast. (That’s a good thing!)

WeWork is acquiring digital marketing startup Conductor.

It’s another move by WeWork to diversify its business model outside renting office space.

Uber’s self-driving trucks have been hired to deliver freight in Arizona.

The company provided little detail on the scale of the operation.

Sheryl Sandberg says Facebook is taking the tech backlash seriously – and it’s doing something about it.

On the latest episode of Recode Decode, the Facebook COO cited economic insecurity as the source of “techlash.”

This is cool

This is the only way I’m going to Disneyland.

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Interview: Driving economic growth in the smart city of tomorrow

Interview: Driving economic growth in the smart cities of tomorrow

How can a smart city best leverage IoT to drive economic growth, Internet of Business asks Vanja Subotic, director of product management at InterDigtal’s Chordant?

Smart city technologies could drive more than 5 percent incremental growth and $ 20 trillion in additional economic benefits over the coming decade. That’s the bold claim made in a new report commissioned by mobile technology R&D specialist Interdigital on behalf of its Chordant smart cities-focused business, and produced in partnership with market research company ABI Research, Roles of Smart Cities for Economic Development. 

Those are some pretty big numbers and presumably involved some fairly complex calculations in the background, so Internet of Business spoke to Vanja Subotic, director of product management at Chordant InterDigtal, to discuss some of the issues raised in the report.

Read more: Cisco announces $ 1 billion smart cities fund

What’s the connection?

Internet of Business [IoB]: Your report makes a strong argument that smart city development is important to the wider economic development of cities – but can you explain the connection?

Interview: Driving economics growth from smart cities
Vanja Subotic of Chordant (InterDigital)

Vanja Subotic: Smart city developments, which include improvements in mobility, infrastructure, established practices and the overall quality of life, are instrumental in attracting businesses and consequently citizens living in those cities and working for those business. It is a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation, where smart city technologies aid in economic development, but increased economic development requires more investments in smart cities.

IoB: And how will open data policies impact the development of smart cities?

Vanja Subotic: Open data policies enable public data sharing among different city departments and outside with individuals and businesses. This in turn allows stakeholders to better understand situations and trends, while solving various challenges. By bringing all data assets into one environment cities can open the door to innovation that will result in efficiencies and benefits to citizens.

Read more: Juniper Research names UK’s top ten smart cities

Hoping it sticks

IoB: InterDigital has already said that this is not a case of deploying technology and ‘hoping it sticks’, but of city administrators making careful, strategic decisions. What do they need to consider in order to maximize their chances of success?

Vanja Subotic: Even in the technology realm, city administrators need to consider standards-based solutions to promote thriving ecosystems. Beyond that, there are other important factors to consider. City administrators will need to ask themselves what kind of cities they want to become and what the priority services and areas should be. This will require city stakeholders to think carefully about public-private partnerships, open data policies, citizen input and participation. This of course won’t be possible without a seamless procurement and execution process.

IoB: Are there any significant pitfalls that smart city administrators should look out for?

Vanja Subotic: Deploying technology isn’t always a simple process, so there are definitely pitfalls to be considered by smart city administrators. For example, not understanding existing governing structure, departments and data can hamper efforts, while struggling to secure funding and failing to apply a priority/phased approach can also significantly reduce the success of smart city projects. City administrators should also take into account working with legacy systems, the needs of citizens and properly ensuring an equitable approach across the socio-economic strata.

Read more: Climate change will be among KPIs for smart cities by 2020, says Gartner

The post Interview: Driving economic growth in the smart city of tomorrow appeared first on Internet of Business.

Internet of Business

Why smart city technologies are set to drive ‘trillions’ in economic growth over the coming decade

Smart city technologies are set to drive the economic development of cities by more than 5% and drive more than $ 20 trillion in additional economic benefits by 2026, according to an ABI Research report.

The report, titled ‘Roles of Smart Cities for Economic Development’, was commissioned by InterDigital on behalf of its Smart Cities-focused business, Chordant. In order to capitalise on the economic benefits, cities must begin preparation and investment now, the report noted.

Jim Nolan, executive vice president, Chordant at InterDigital, said: “These recent findings further emphasize the importance of technology as a driver for economic development in our future smart cities. The benefits are clear: trillions in incremental GDP growth will significantly transform the way we live and how our cities operate. But it’s not as simple as deploying technology and hoping it sticks. Cities will have to become strategic in the way they deploy smart city technology to ensure that it maximizes its potential.”

Smart city technologies are set to impact three dimensions majorly over the next decade. They are Open Data Policies, having a potential incremental GDP growth of nearly $ 1 trillion without investments in physical infrastructure; public investments multiplier effect of up to 10 times, with a potential incremental GDP growth of $ 10 trillion; and structural smart urban economy growth, with an expected increase of 2.8% by 2026, driven by next-generation technologies like AI and blockchain.

Similarly, Cisco is also working towards the smart cities initiative. The company had in November contributed $ 1 billion to the City Infrastructure Financing Acceleration Program, a smart cities fund, wherein Cisco teamed up alongside Digital Alpha Advisors, a private equity firm, and pension fund investors APG Asset Management and Whitehelm Capital. Alongside this, Cisco has also added a new functionality to its Cisco Kinetic for Cities digital platform. Latest from the homepage

Climate Change Places a Major Economic Burden on Future Generations

Climate Stability

It’s no secret that climate change has already started to impact human health. In fact, there is a growing body of research concerned with how rising temperatures will specifically affect humans: from heat stroke to decreased productivity — even an increased risk of violence. It’s becoming clear that climate change will leave a mark on more than just our planet.

A new study is looking even farther ahead at how rising temperatures might affect our children — but not so much in terms of their physical health. Rather, the researchers ask ho might climate change impact their financial health as adults. Published on Monday in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the study was conducted by researchers at Stanford, the University of California, Berkeley, and the U.S. Department of the Treasury. The results lead researchers to conclude there could be a link between heat waves during childhood and lower earnings in adulthood.

The study found that for every day in a child’s life between conception and age one when temperatures rose above 32 ˚C (roughly 90 ˚F) is associated with a 0.1 percent decrease in average income at age 30. It sounds abstract, but this means that too many sweltering days of youth corresponds to a slightly lower chance of ultimately achieving a higher income.

While these findings might seem, at first, possibly coincidental or accidental, as they are so astounding, Patrick L. Kinney, Sc.D., a Beverly A. Brown Professor of Urban Health and Sustainability in the Department of Environmental Health at the Boston University School of Public Health, first reacted to these findings in a phone call to Futurism, stating simply: “that’s bizarre.” But Kinney later explained, in an email to Futurism, that this ” study is very intriguing and as noted in the commentary, is significant in suggesting that climate warming has long-term negative consequences for wage earnings.” He continued that “we know that health is closely tied to economic status.  Until now, most studies only show short-term effects on health outcomes.  The long-term aspect is what’s new. Very interesting and seemingly well-done study.”

As global temperatures continue to rise, we may see this correspondence become a more noticeable phenomenon. The paper notes that fetuses and infants are “especially sensitive to hot temperatures because their thermoregulatory and sympathetic nervous systems are not fully developed.” While the research doesn’t directly explain how this sensitivity leads to financial instability later in life, there is a fairly extensive body of research exploring how the conditions of our early life affect our health later on.

Such research also links exposure to extreme temperatures in that time-frame to lower birth rate and higher infant mortality. While the new study didn’t explicitly conclude the nature of the relationship, that nature could certainly be further explored through existing and continued research.

Facing the Repercussions

UC Berkeley public policy professor Solomon Hsiang, who explored how hotter temperatures will push global inequalities in a 2015 Nature paper, told MIT Technology Review, “We know that high temperatures have numerous damaging consequences for current economic productivity, at the time that the high temperatures occur.”

Our Warming World: The Future of Climate Change [INFOGRAPHIC]
Click to View Full Infographic

These consequences will not only worsen as climate change progresses — they will disproportionately affect poor families and those living in developing nations. Maya Rossin-Slater, a co-author of the study and assistant professor in Stanford’s Department of Health Research and Policy, explained that “In poor countries in hot climates that don’t have air conditioning, we could imagine these effects being even more dramatic.”

If the effects of global warming were presented as an economic issue, perhaps it could nudge lawmakers who do not typically vote in favor of climate-change-fighting movements to consider the issue with due urgency. On a more positive note, the field of renewable resources booming and causing global economic growth. But even with this silver lining to the portentous global climate change cloud, the issue of confronting a real and dangerous impact on our financial security remains. And, if we aren’t motivated by self-interest, we would do well to understand that it is not only our own earning potential under threat — as with so many other things in life, our children may inherit our mistakes.

The post Climate Change Places a Major Economic Burden on Future Generations appeared first on Futurism.


President Trump has disbanded two councils of business leaders advising him on economic issues

Major business leaders had taken great exception to Trump’s comments about Charlottesvile, Va.

President Donald Trump claimed Wednesday that he had disbanded two councils of corporate executives advising him on manufacturing and the U.S. economy, marking a major break between the White House and Wall Street following the president’s controversial comments about the recent incident in Charlottesville, Va.

In the days since the neo-Nazi demonstrations there, nine corporate leaders — including Merck CEO Ken Frazier and Intel CEO Brian Krzanich — had fled Trump’s two teams. Some specifically called attention to Trump’s rhetoric after the president attributed the violence to “many sides,” rather than denouncing white supremacy.

Those companies that remained on board with the White House’s efforts — including the chief executives of IBM, Pepsi, JPMorgan Chase, Walmart, and other banking, energy and tech giants — huddled earlier Wednesday to discuss how best to proceed. They resolved the repeated questions about their continued membership had become a “distraction,” they said in a statement — but not before Trump could tweet his intention to dissolve his councils.

For Trump, the massive exodus of top executives is a political blow: The president specifically has sought to emphasize his proximity to business leaders in order to build support for efforts to lower the corporate tax rate, spur new infrastructure spending, renegotiate trade deals and tackle other economic challenges.

For those executives, however, the departure is an attempt to stave off the sort of criticism that’s haunted them since they began to talk to Trump after his election.

Tech companies in particular have faced heat — from their own employees — for working with Trump as he sought to limit immigration and unwind the Obama administration’s work on climate change. That pressure played no small part in the previous decisions by Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla, and Travis Kalanick, the CEO of Uber at the time, to leave the president’s teams.

A spokesman for the White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Specifically, Trump had two councils. One was a manufacturing initiative, chaired by Andrew Liveris, the CEO of Dow. There, participants included Bill Brown, the CEO of Harris Corporation; Alex Gorsky, the CEO of Johnson & Johnson; and Michael Dell, the leader of the company that bears his name.

The exodus from that council began Monday with Ken Frazier, the chief executive of Merck, who said he had to leave as a matter of “personal conscience.” Intel CEO Brian Krzanich later lamented that politics had prevented the group from accomplishing much work. And by Wednesday morning, they found themselves among a total of eight executives who had walked away from Trump’s manufacturing-focused team.

Trump’s other council was the Strategic and Policy Forum, led by Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of BlackRock. Members included Ginni Rometty, the CEO of IBM; Jack Welch, the CEO of General Electric; and Mary Barra, the CEO of General Motors.

As a group, they decided — along with Trump, they said Wednesday — they had no choice but to disband.

“As our members have expressed individually over the past several days, intolerance, racism and violence have absolutely no place in this country and are an affront to core American values,” they said in a statement. “We believe the debate over Forum participation has become a distraction from our well-intentioned and sincere desire to aid vital policy discussions on how to improve the lives of everyday Americans. As such, the President and we are disbanding the Forum.”

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Expert Argues That Gene Editing Will Widen Economic Class Gap

Designed for Disparity?

“It’s time we provided some critical scrutiny and stopped parroting the gospel of medical progress at all costs,” writes former molecular biologist Dr. David King in a recent Guardian editorial. “…we must stop this race for the first GM baby.”

King wrote in response to the announcement earlier this month that doctors had successfully altered the genomes of single-cell human embryos. Using CRISPR, the doctors removed a gene for hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a common heart disease that can cause sudden cardiac arrest and death. Their results are described in Nature.

Seeing Double: The History of Animal Cloning
Click to View Full Infographic

King is the founder of Human Genetics Alert, an independent watchdog group opposed to certain outcomes of genetic engineering. He argues that genome editing of the type in Nature is not a justified use of medical research dollars, given the ability to avoid the birth of children with such conditions through testing.

“In fact, the medical justification for spending millions of dollars on such research is extremely thin: it would be much better spent on developing cures for people living with those conditions,” King says. He argues that inevitably, even if pioneered for medical reasons, market forces will inevitably push genome editing towards creating “designer babies,” allowing the very wealthy to program desired traits into their unborn children.

King, and others, see this application as unethical and akin to eugenics.

“Once you start creating a society in which rich people’s children get biological advantages over other children, basic notions of human equality go out the window,”  King writes. “Instead, what you get is social inequality written into DNA.”

Weighing the Risks

The advent of CRISPR technology has drastically accelerated the field of genetic engineering, and with it the fears of ethicists like King. Yet many say that these worries are overblown.

“We are still a long way from serious consideration of using gene editing to enhance traits in babies,” Janet Rossant, co-author of a report on human genome editing for the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), told the Guardian. “We don’t understand the genetic basis of many of the human traits that might be targets for enhancement.”

If this changes in the future, King argues that it will be impossible to keep the influence of money from directing how that knowledge is used. He bases this prediction of market-based inequality on existing practices — such as the high price tag of ova donated by “tall, beautiful Ivy League students” and the popularity of the international surrogacy market among those with the means to travel for a baby.

Yet existing regulatory systems may be enough to prevent the future King predicts.

In their report for NAS, Rossant and her co-authors emphasized that while caution and ethical oversight are necessary, the US Food and Drug Administration’s system for evaluating medical products could, too, assess potential uses of genome editing. The authors predict that editing for purposes of enhancement — as they put it, “not clearly intended to cure or combat disease and disability” — would not pass muster.

Additionally, King’s argument largely overlooks the potential of gene editing to help children whose conditions are unlikely to have a cure, or whose parents are unwilling to reject a pregnancy.

genetic engineering genetics health controversy
John Zhang, the doctor responsible for producing the first baby born of three parents through mitochondrial transfer, holds the newborn child. Image Credit: New Hope Fertility Center
Take, for example, the first baby born of three-parent intravenous fertilization, referenced by King as an early form of baby-designing. The parents chose this technique to avoid passing on the mother’s rare genetic disease. Three of their previous children had already died from that disease.
“It’s easy for those unaffected by genetic diseases to dismiss scientific progress as a step towards a future … [with] a design-your-own-baby catalogue,” said writer Alex Lee, who suffers from a rare mitochondrial disease that caused her to go blind, in a contrasting Guardian editorial. Lee’s disease is rare enough that it is very unlikely research dollars will go towards finding a cure, as King suggested they should.
“For people like me…scientific advancements into gene editing and mitochondrial replacement therapy offer nothing but hope.”

For Lee and many others suffering from genetic disease, even a selective regulatory establishment may spell collateral damage for the rest of their lives. But the fact stands that when playing with the very means nature gave us for life, the first concern must be extreme caution and scrupulous oversight.

The post Expert Argues That Gene Editing Will Widen Economic Class Gap appeared first on Futurism.


Tim Cook Discusses ‘Economic Opportunity’ with Trump Administration

President Donald Trump and members of his administration met on Monday with the heads of America’s largest tech-, e-commerce-, and financial-giants to discuss ways the U.S. government can cut waste while improving services, according to a report by Reuters.

The meeting comes off the heels of a conference call held last Friday, during which the President described an “economic opportunity” that could result in the U.S. government saving as much as $ 1 trillion over the course of the next decade by exploring ways in which the government can reduce IT expenses, improve its spending power, and reduce fraud.

Prior to their sit-down meeting with the President, CEOs including the likes of Amazon’s Jeff Bezos, Alphabet’s Sundar Pichai, and Apple’s Tim Cook, met briefly with top Trump administration officials including White House senior adviser, Jared Kushner, to discuss ways the government could accomplish these aforementioned goals. Among the 20 other Chief Executives in attendance will be MasterCard’s Ajaypal Singh Banga, Microsoft’s Satya Nadella, IBM’s Ginni Rometty, Oracle’s Larry Ellison, and others.

According to Axios, Cook will personally use the meetings to address a number of key issues with the Trump administration — most chiefly among them being the implications of the U.S. visa program for bringing highly-skilled foreign workers into the country, as well as addressing four key points of disagreement between the administration and the tech industry. These include waging a disagreement to the notion that immigration drives down wages, arguing in favor of strong encryption, as well as discussing veterans rights and human rights, in general.

The meeting will reportedly be broken down into 10 small-group sessions, led by various, high-ranking members of the administration, including Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, and others, according to Reuters, who went on to explain how the sessions will precede a group meeting with the President, himself, which was scheduled for Monday evening at 5:00 pm EDT.

Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law turned senior adviser, explained what the administration wants to do is “unleash the creativity of the private sector to provide citizen services in a way that has never happened before,” adding that The White House would be doing away with “unneeded cyber compliance rules” in an effort to eliminate the need for most (if not all) of the U.S. government’s 6,100 data centers in hopes of replacing them with a Cloud-based storage system.

The meeting comes amid a turbulent start to Trump and Cook’s personal and professional relationship, which was herniated earlier this year when the President pushed his travel ban executive order limiting immigration from seven Middle Eastern countries, and more recently when Cook criticized the young administration’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the historic Paris climate agreement — although Cook, for his part, vowed that even despite the President’s decision, his company would forge on in its efforts to reduce carbon emissions and promote a myriad of other environmental initiatives.

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