Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Book Review: Capital in the Twenty-First Century

Dr. Thomas Piketty, a professor at the Paris School of Economics, delves into the new gilded age where a smaller percentage of people accumulate wealth while vast majorities struggle to make ends meet.  The trend is continuing as those who hold capital beyond their daily living expenses continue to become wealthier while the incomes of others have failed to rise substantially to keep pace.  Under current trends the problem will become more pronounced and possibly destructive.

The book discusses the history of wealth and how during World War I the top one percent owned approximately 1/5 of national wealth. That number has dramatically changed over the decades with a much higher concentration of wealth landing into fewer hands. Compounded wealth is becoming limited to fewer people highlighting income disparity. 

The gilded age comment shows how the capital of a society is owned by too few people and this is being passed on from generation to the next versus being earned on performance alone. This means that wealth is not actually earned and those who are influencing the economic system to the highest degrees are not necessarily the most skilled. 

Most theorists do believe we have problem with wealth distribution in society and the book does focus on this idea from an analytical point of view. There are many ways in which such an analysis can be conducted and academics may debate its scientific contribution to the debate.  It is a large issue beyond the bounds of a single work.

Scientific analysis is important but the real contribution is to open new questions, debate outcomes, or develop vantage points. How do we know if we have a problem unless someone thinks about it? This book furthers the argument that additional effort is needed to ensure the masses have real opportunities to succeed. 

A society, much like a business, must have adequate rewards within the system to help ensure that members are working toward the benefits of the nation and themselves. When such incentives no longer exist and excess capital cannot be individually accumulated motivation and trust decline. This creates a difficult situation relived over and over in the small country towns and sprawling cities of the country. 

To add to his arguments for wealth distribution small business has the potential to raise societal innovation, collective intelligence, and wealth on a more uniform level. The political structure is still focused on encouraging large corporations but with some well thought out adjustments both the small business communities and large corporations can both benefit. New opportunities create jobs and further societal motivation to learn, adapt, and develop.

Other Reviews: 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Poem: Small Wonders of Everyday California Life

Call for Papers: Sustainable Development in Business and Supply Chain Research Conference

Date: 27th to 28th November 2014

Location: London, United Kingdom

Brunel University:

ICSBS2014 is an important international gathering of those interested in business and economics, marketing, Logistics, transportation, supply chain and information technology. The focus for academics, researchers, lecturers and students is to attend best practices workshops and review new ideas in research.

Web address: http://www.icbtsconference.com/14808536/call-for-paper

Improving Robotics and Human Intelligence through Online Education

Human intelligence takes a heightened position in the modern age as the use of robotic rescue equipment offers emerging opportunities to enhance military capabilities. Human intelligence matched with robotic equipment creates stronger interfaces between the two that extends human capabilities. Petrisor, et. al. (2013) discusses how e-learning in a digitized battlefield creates cooperation between human and artificial intelligence in obtaining higher performance. 

The idea for developing learning and adapting machines was first introduced in the 1950’s by BF Skinner who wrote The Science of Learning and the Art of Teaching as well as Teaching Machines. As a behavioral psychologist he developed a machine that not only was intrinsically rewarding to students but also rewarded them externally for correct answers. 

The use of machines as well as the platform by which students learn has radically improved. Online learning can do much more than Skinner’s early experiments and now integrates various forms of media, communication tools, and content to produce highly intensive programs for students to learn and develop.  

Online learning is a leading method of integrating various technologies to help operate military robotics. The ability to use information quickly, integrate technology, focus on managing and effectively controlling robots has been tested by the Robo-Security Min-robot Project with significant success. 

The world of robotics is present and we will need military members with high technological skills, theoretical knowledge, and virtual functionality to work within this field. Online education is seen as an important method of training military members who work in these fields and ensuring that they understand how their senses work with virtual information and physical outputs. Programs are still in their infancy and are still in the process of being developed. 

Petrisor, S., et. al. (2013). The robo security mini robot between contemporary military imperatives and the new educational paradigms. Paper Presented: The 9th International Scientific Conference. ELearning and software for education.  Bucharest

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Wine Review: Robert Mondavi Private Selection Merlot

Robert Mondavi Winery Merlot Private Selection California 2012 is a bright wine with smooth cherry, plum and strawberry taste. There is a hint of black olive and spice as indicative of its coastal environment.  It is a dark red wine with a pronounced tannin bite that works well on cool and rainy nights or coming indoors from the chilled evening air.  

The wine is produced in Monterrey County which was named as one of the top ten wine destinations by Wine Enthusiast Magazine (1). The location is ideal soils that receive ripening ocean mist. It is an area of winding roads and cliff side views.  Approximately 85 different vineyards have made their home in the area. Supportive local bars and restaurants offer local varieties. 

As a West Coast locality Monterrey County has a unique history. The founding of the area started with the explorers Fray Junípero Serra, Miguel Costansó, and their band of engineers, Indians, and sailors. On May 24, 1770 they discovered the Bay of Monterrey with a description of the coastal wildlife as (2): 

Having examined the cross they went down to the beach. Thousands of sea lions were about, so close to one another that they looked like a pavement. Two young whales lay together not more than a hundred yards off shore. The waters were as calm as those of a lake. From where they stood Monterey Bay looked like a great "O" just as it had appeared to Vizcaíno (first discoverer). 

California is the wine state hosting a growing industry that is becoming world renowned. Its history with Spanish and American roots has helped the local wine industry grow. Most of the varieties are red by their nature and offer a unique taste when compared to their European cousins. As a lifestyle the wine vineyards fit well with the free spirited nature of the State. Expect to pay under $16 for a bottle of Robert Mondavi Private Collection Merlot.