In the early 20th century, the world managed to halve the number of people living in extreme poverty, yet the income inequality problem continued to grow and even became the source of tension between regions. In this interview, Tony Atkinson, a professor at the London School of Economics, talks about facing up to one of the defining problems of our time in his book Inequality: What Can Be Done? Atkinson studied poverty and inequality over four decades. He believes that inequality can only be solved through a concerted global effort and offers his views on how China, as a relatively opaque country, can work with global forces to alleviate poverty.
Traffic in major cities around the world is deteriorating. Jerry Sanders, CEO of SkyTran, believes that the solution lies above the road, not on it. SkyTran, a NASA-backed company, has been developing a personal rapid transportation system with small, computer-controlled Maglev capsules running on elevated rails. The capsule-shaped car looks futuristic, but the company has already built a demonstration system in Tel Aviv and is currently building a commercial system in Abu Dhabi. Is elevated transit a practical solution for traffic jams? How will it fit into our cities and existing infrastructure? Will it replace traditional means of transportation?
When was the last time you listened to music on an actual CD? Or read the day’s headlines in a physical newspaper? Chances are it has been years. Digital technology has replaced a lot of things in our lives. According to media futurist Robert Tercek, going forward we’ll see more of ‘vaporization’, a term he has coined to refer to the process of replacing physical things with software that can be downloaded to any device. In this interview, Tercek, the former President of Digital Media at The Oprah Winfrey Network and author of the book Vaporized, talks about how software is disrupting society.
China’s boom times are over. With global investor sentiment slipping, concerns are rising about spillover effects of a faltering Chinese economy on global markets and institutions. Although the facts of the problem are well known, fixing it is another issue—the reach and pace of fundamental economic policy choices have been subject to debate. In September 2015, Willem Buiter, Chief Economist at Citigroup, and his team published a research note stating that it was likely that the global economy would soon slip into recession, caused by sluggish growth in emerging markets, especially China. In this interview, Buiter assesses Chinese economic growth and the potential for global recession.
“As a father, I want our children to know that rhinos are not just pictures in the book,” says Prince Williams, the Duke of Cambridge, in a campaign video on wildlife protection. Behind this campaign is WildAid, an NGO with the catchy slogan: “When the buying stops, the killing can too.” WildAid’s mission is to end illegal wildlife trade and slow down climate change. It focuses on the end consumer hoping that reducing demand would force the supply side to curtail itself. In this interview WildAid’s Chief Representative for China May Mei explains the significance of the emphasis on demand reduction and WildAid’s successes in China so far.
For nearly 25 years now, IDEO has stood at the cutting edge of the possibilities of design. Founded in Silicon Valley in 1991 by David Kelley, an early popularizer of the design thinking methodology, IDEO has grown into a diverse global organization, with experts on tap in disciplines ranging from behavioral service to software engineering. Thirteen years ago, IDEO opened an office in Shanghai. Charles Hayes, a partner at IDEO and Managing Director of IDEO China, talks about the evolution of IDEO China, IDEO’s approach to design thinking in a Chinese context and evolving Chinese business and consumer cultures.
Once upon a time, designers were considered a fairly rarified breed in the corporate world—people with more interesting hair, eyeglasses and talent than the rest of us, but not a key part of the “real” business. Today, however, that’s changing. As more and more companies face the need for constant innovation, design is earning more respect. In fact, these days, many organizations are training their employees to think like designers. Jeanne Liedtka, a professor of strategy and author of three books on design thinking, argues that learning to approach problems the way designers do can be a useful way to spark innovation in almost every company.
Whether you’re working at your dream job or you’ve been plotting your escape for months, chances are you’ve experienced your fair share of days that simply can’t end soon enough. From snarky colleagues to grim commutes, the possibilities for our working day taking a wrong turn are seemingly endless, and remedies aren’t always in sight. Caroline Webb, CEO of Sevenshift, an advisory firm focused on performance in the workplace, has put together a guide for improving our work life with her book How to Have a Good Day. Drawing upon research in neuroscience, behavioral economics and psychology, Webb tells us how we can make our work smarter, productive and satisfying.
In an ‘always on’ world enabled by hyperconnectivity, divisions between office and home, and work and rest are becoming increasingly porous, with a new email notification never far away. But is it really necessary? In her new book The Happiness Track, Emma Seppälä, Science Director of Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education, draws upon the latest research to argue that these high-intensity work styles are fundamentally misguided. As she writes in the book, “We have simply accepted overextension as a way of life.” In this interview, Seppälä sets out why that’s a mistake and what we can do to improve our wellbeing.
Several Latin American countries suffer from acute income inequalities and extreme poverty. For governments, that poses a tricky question: how to lift hordes of people out of poverty? The Latin American experience shows that well-meaning government initiatives often don’t trickle down all the way to the poorest segments of society. Felipe Perez, professor at INCAE Business School, feels that the best way out of this is to rely on Bottom of the Pyramid initiatives that are seeded by the local population at the grassroots. If this were to happen, people who are part of the problem can also be part of the solution.