Wondering what comes next

The liberal world order has been defined as standing for “greater individual freedom, greater choice, support for democratic forms of government, a fundamental faith in free-market capitalism and private enterprise, a belief in constitutional forms of government with divided powers, an independent judiciary, separation of church and state, a strong support for free trade and an aversion to protectionism, among other things”. Obviously there is a lot to like about these values. Most economists believe that this system is the one that is best suited to the creation of wealth. However the predominance of the liberal world order in the last 30 years has also demonstrated that while the system is good for the creation of wealth overall, it isn’t all that good in the distribution of that wealth. That not only leads to a lot of opposition, but is also somewhat self-defeating in the long run: Concentrated wealth is less good at further powering the economy than distributed wealth.

In the USA and a lot of other places the current main opposition against the liberal world order comes from the right, from nationalism, protectionism, populism, and ethnocentrism. However if you look at those right-wing forces enacting policies like the current US tax reform or the Brexit from the UK, it is likely that the right will not solve the problem of wealth distribution any better than the liberal world order (and will presumably create less wealth in the first place). Blaming foreigners and the media will only get right-wing politicians so far until the people realize that they aren’t in fact “better off than they were four years ago”. It is that, and not the whole lot of unrelated shouting about various values, that ultimately will bring change. The liberal world order failed the people, but the conservative version isn’t doing any better. So I’m wondering what will come next.

One likely answer is in the form of people like Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn. The economic left might one day look like a good answer to people whose main concern is wealth distribution, because the economic left has always stood for redistribution of wealth. However the economic left also has some policies in their book that hinders wealth creation more than necessary for a fair distribution. And they have a long history of ending up with “more equal than others” policies that aren’t in fact much closer to a fair distribution of wealth than the conservative version.

What an optimist could hope for would be a reformed liberal world order, the same values as above but with a priority for wealth distribution and against too much wealth concentration. A vision like in Robert Reich’s Saving Capitalism. However if you look at how the world previously solved excesses of wealth creation, there are only few examples of peaceful solutions (e.g. Theodore Roosevelt) and lots of examples of the wealth ending up destroyed or redistributed through war and revolution. A pessimist would buy gold coins instead of bitcoins.

Better pop-up blocking and video autoplay mute coming to Chrome

  • The Chrome browser version 64 beta has been released for desktop with features targetting illicit web ads
  • These features include a better pop-up blocker and a mute function for auto-playing video
  • The beta can be downloaded now but the features should arrive to the regular version of Chrome in the coming weeks

Ad banners, pop-ups and auto-playing videos might be a necessary part of the online world, but when they’re misused, they can be especially frustrating for users. Google says these are one of the most common user complaints about Chrome for desktop relates to unwanted ad content, and it looks like it’s taking aim at this in the next iteration.

The beta version of Chrome 64 for desktop landed only a few days ago, discussed over on the Chromium Blog. and it introduces some significant changes, with possibly the biggest of these coming in the form of an improved pop-up blocker.

With this, Google wants to quash annoying features like redirects disguised as “play buttons” and “close” buttons that open additional windows. Google says that Chrome will prevent these “abusive experiences” with version 64, but its effectiveness remains to be seen: I suspect it could be mighty difficult to stop this unwanted behavior happening in all cases.

Editor’s Pick

It’s something worth pursuing all the same, and another feature of Chrome 64 sure to please users is an auto-mute option for auto-playing video.

In the site settings menu of Chrome 64 — where you can also disable or enable things like Javascript and Flash (it’s accessed in the green lock area next to the URL in Chrome) — you will find an option to mute videos on websites by default. You will be required to block this on a per website basis, however, you can’t just apply it to all websites, which I think makes less sense than having it automatic for all websites and letting users decide the exceptions.

But I shan’t complain, because, rather than just being an annoyance, I sometimes find those videos absolutely terrifying; usually, if I’ve been sitting in silence with headphones on for a while and then a car ad screeches into my ears. Having such a mute option at all is a blessing.

Meanwhile, other additions coming in the update include HDR support for those in HDR mode on Windows 10 and Split View multitasking features in tablet mode.

The Chrome 64 beta is available now (though not for Android just yet, which is still at beta 63) and you can install it here. The features mentioned above should be hitting regular version of Chrome in the coming weeks.

Oracle Joins the White House in Global Campaign to Empower Girls and Women

Oracle Education Foundation
The Oracle Education Foundation is a nonprofit organization funded by Oracle Corporation. Its mission is to “inspire students globally to think, connect, create and share — using technology to help them dissolve boundaries, fulfill their potential, and create a better society.”
Oracle teamed up with the White House back in April to donate money to support the Obama administration’s Computer Science for All initiative. The goal is to empower and engage student through various computer science programs in over 1,100 US institutions. They hope the money and attention will draw young people around the world into learning about science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM. The company committed $200 million to the cause.

On the heels of Oracle’s $200 million commitment to support Computer Science (CS) Education for All,the White House announced Oracle’s additional $3 million investment to immerse girls worldwide in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The company’s commitment of direct and in-kind funding supports “Let Girls Learn,” a U.S. government initiative aimed at helping adolescent girls around the world go to school and stay in school.

We want more girls focused on building upon science and math fundamentals and we want more women choosing the technical disciplines because they are both prepared to do so and because they believe it will advance their career opportunities,” Oracle’s (female) CEO, Safra Catz, said in a statement.

OWL

Oracle will offer more than 65 educational events and reach over 55,000 young girls globally through a powerful nexus of its corporate social responsibility programs spanning Oracle Academy, Oracle Education Foundation, Oracle Giving and Volunteers, (OWL), and Oracle Diversity and Inclusion. Events will include summer computing camps, codefests, workshops and conferences designed to encourage and inspire adolescent girls to become original thinkers, creative designers and enterprising trailblazers.

The money will help to fund programs to send 55,000 young girls around the world to various summer computing camps, codefests, workshops and conferences. Additionally, Oracle plans to expand its CS efforts in Egypt with an additional investment of nearly $1 million in educational resources and services over the next four years. The commitment is part of a new collaboration between the Ministry of Education in Egypt, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and Oracle Academy, Oracle’s philanthropic educational program that impacts more than 2.6 million students in 106 countries. The partnership will support computing education in nine newly-created STEM schools throughout the country, including one boarding school exclusively for girls which will accept up the top 10 percent of girls across the governorates, reaching 150 girls each year and providing three years of paid education for each girl.
With the donation, Oracle joins several other technology companies which are participating in the White House’s computer science program. Both Google (GOOG, +0.89%) and Salesforce (CRM, +0.17%) (as well as the Cartoon Network) said they would donate in aggregate over $60 million to the program when it was first announced.
As part of the company’s global campaign to support girls and women in technology, Oracle will drive several notable projects:
  • Oracle Academy will team with Arizona State University and others under the USAID Build-IT project to help women in Vietnam develop into IT leaders.
  • Oracle Education Foundation and Oracle Volunteers will team to teach girls coding, electrical engineering and project management through girls-only workshops for Design Tech High School (d.tech), an innovative, free California public high school. Oracle is building d.tech’s new facility at its headquarters in Redwood Shores, Calif., making d.tech the world’s first public high school on a technology campus.
  • Oracle Giving and Oracle Academy will award grants and sponsorships globally to nonprofit organizations striving to increase girls’ access to educational opportunities and encourage them to pursue degrees in computer science and STEM fields.
  • Oracle Giving will continue its support for MentorNet, which engages STEM professionals in the virtual mentoring of undergraduates, 66% of whom are women.
Oracle Academy, a computer science educational program, and Burning Glass Technology, an analytics company, recently did research and found that programming jobs grow 50 percent faster than the market average. As technology is increasingly present in people’s personal and professional lives, there is a need for computer science learning.

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