After 25 years adoption of complex digital technologies remains slow

The McKinsey Global Institute recently published Twenty-Five Years of Digitization, a report offering insights to help business leaders navigate this still relatively new digital world.

McKinsey quantified the pace of digitization in the U.S., Europe and China, and found that, on average, all three economies have achieved only around 20% of their total digital potential. Adoption of complex digital technologies remains slow. One of the reasons cited for this is that:

The typical observation is that technology takes time to spread globally; for instance, it took more than 40 years for the first car to be used in most countries. In general, however, the adoption rates of new technologies have decreased significantly in recent years with the newest technologies only needing a few years to diffuse in all countries. What is more crucial for the impact of technology on productivity is the integration of that technology into new workflow and business practices.

In other words: the problem is us. You and I simply aren’t adopting new technologies fast enough. Makes you wonder how the world can still go around while we remain stuck in our ways.

Americans spend over $300 billion annually on illicit drugs and alcohol

A new RAND study claims that Americans spend nearly $15o billion a year on illicit drugs. Another study finds that Americans spend $158 billion a year on alcohol. Imagine: over $300 billion a year just to get high, or low, if your’e into that. That is almost half of the amount the US spends on education per year ($706 billion).

Missing from the report is how US spending compares to the rest of the world, like Latin America or the EU. That would have been interesting to know. My preliminary research shows that Americans are world champions in both areas: illegal drugs and alcohol. Add to that the estimated 250 to 300 million guns owned by private individuals and the US is the undisputed drug, alcohol and gun capital in the world. Is that the eigendynamik that keeps the US going? Is the Chinese plan of undermining the US by pumping in fentanyl through Mexico failing? Are illegal drugs making us stronger in some twisted Darwinian way by weeding out the illegal drug users through premature deaths?   In 2016, approximately 174 people died every day from drug poisoning, outnumbering deaths by firearms, motor vehicle crashes, suicide and homicide. Let that sink in for a while.

On another front one can see the tax numbers dancing in the eyes of certain politicians: if only we could declare these drugs legal, like we did for marijuana, we could tax the hell out of them and realize our dream: free everything for all!

That day will come, maybe sooner than you think. Already, a judge in Mexico has legalized recreational use of cocaine. These drugs could be declared legal just like the federal regulations allow “emotional support animals” on airplanes, including pigs and rats. I look forward to somebody making the connection between needing illegal drugs for emotional support while citing the emotional support animals case as legal precedence and finding a federal judge crazy enough to support that motion.

Just connecting some dots here…

Think before you share!

Misinformation, that is.

Purveyors of disinformation—content that is intentionally false and designed to cause harm—are motivated by three distinct goals: to make money; to have political influence, either foreign or domestic; and to cause trouble for the sake of it.

Those who spread misinformation—false content shared by a person who does not realize it is false or misleading—are driven by sociopsychological factors. People are performing their identities on social platforms to feel connected to others, whether the “others” are a political party, parents who do not vaccinate their children, activists who are concerned about climate change, or those who belong to a certain religion, race or ethnic group. Crucially, disinformation can turn into misinformation when people share disinformation without realizing it is false.

Tatler report: The rise in class A drug usage at British schools

In an exceptional report, British Tatler magazine writes about the rise of class A drug use in British boarding schools. The report is exceptional for two reasons: first, the topic is the complete opposite of the usual Tatler menu of snippets about Britain’s high society, royalty, fashion, lifestyle, and where to summer, and, second, it openly and unabashedly describes the drug scene at British boarding schools. Again, very unusual for Tatler.

As a long time subscriber to the print issue (one of my small vices, being a secret royalist) I was at first slightly taken aback at the “affront” of having a real world issue rear its ugly head in my escapism window, but then applauded Tatler for its audacity. You might think that audacity it too strong a word for a report that in its style and topic appears almost weekly in magazines like Rolling Stone, Pacific Standard or Quartz, but you have to understand that Tatler, a more than 300 year old publication, is supposed to be all about gossip and having fun and parties. Writing about how the offspring of its upper-middle-class readership is wasting its youth on drugs (some drug users start at age 13) is startling and extraordinaire.

As interesting and informative as the report is, I have my misgivings about it appearing in Tatler. It soiled my happy vicarious dreamlettes of hobnobbing with Kate Middleton, the Duchess of Cambridge, or the the best rosés to drink this summer, and how the Royal Family are spending their summer holidays.

To each his own. I prefer my British Tatler bubbly and lighthearted, as served at the Royal Champagne hotel and spa. Leave the grunge to those who wallow in it.

Tatler, 1709

China issues white paper on Xinjiang, home of the Uighur people

China issued a white paper on historical matters concerning Xinjiang, home of the Uyghur people. The white paper said “Xinjiang has long been an inseparable part of Chinese territory and has never been the so-called East Turkistan. The Uygur ethnic group came into being through a long process of migration and integration, it said, adding that the region is part of the Chinese nation.”

In the 2000 census, Han Chinese made up 40% of the population, as well as large numbers of troops stationed in the region. The Han Chinese are said to be given the best jobs and the majority do well economically, something that has fuelled resentment among Uyghurs.

The white paper said “different cultures and religions coexist in Xinjiang and ethnic cultures had been fostered and developed in the embrace of the Chinese civilisation. But the surge in religious extremism around the world has caused a rise in religious extremism in Xinjiang and has resulted in an increasing number of incidents of terror and violence.”

As a result, more than one million ethnic Uighurs are believed to be held in internment camps. The authorities call them “re-education through labour camps”, but victims say the reality is forced indoctrination for Uighurs held in alarming conditions.

The Chinese government, however, claims that the camps are merely vocational and training centers intended to combat extremism, and that they’re teaching detainees useful and valuable skills.

The Uighurs are subject to intense surveillance by the Chinese government. Cameras and police check points are everywhere. Uighurs have to install a mandatory app on their mobile phones that monitors all calls. The Chinese are tracking the movements of at least 2.5 million residents in Xinjiang.

The white paper indicates that China has every intention to continue the surveillance and indoctrination regime. One of the reasons why is that the city of Kashgar in Xinjiang is the northern bridgehead of the China Pakistan economic corridor (CPEC). The CPEC is intended to promote connectivity across Pakistan with a network of highways, railways, and pipelines accompanied by energy, industrial, and other infrastructure development projects to address critical energy shortages needed to boost Pakistan’s economic growth.

Although Beijing is quick to downplay geostrategic motivations behind the CPEC, many commentators have noted that over the long run, an overland link across Pakistan to the Arabian Sea could help alleviate the “Malacca dilemma,” China’s vulnerability to the fact that roughly 85 percent [PDF] of its oil imports travel through the single chokepoint of the Strait of Malacca.

Now it all falls into place, doesn’t it? China needs to keep the oil flowing and if there is the potential that a couple of million Uighurs could disrupt the flow then they will be dealt with in China’s time-proven fashion. Just to be sure.

I wonder how the Pakistani Muslims reconcile their indifference to the mistreatment of their Muslim brothers and sisters in Xinjiang with the Surah An-Nahl 16:90 of the Quran: “Surely Allah enjoins justice, kindness and the doing of good to kith and kin, and forbids all that is shameful, evil and oppressive.”

United Kingdom: cash-for-passports scandal

Russian and Chinese millionaires can buy access to British passports by exploiting a flawed Home Office scheme fast-tracking the super-rich, an investigation has revealed. The scheme — which requires a minimum £2m investment in a UK company — has admitted more than 11,000 people since it was set up in 2008. Officially called the tier 1 investor visa, the scheme gives wealthy foreigners the right to live in the UK and the chance to apply later for full citizenship and a passport. Unlike other nations, the UK does not ask visa applicants to pay any of the £2m sum to the government or stipulate that the money should create British jobs or boost areas of deprivation. It does not stop investors taking the money back offshore after they have secured the right to live permanently in Britain.

Sobering Up: Booze-Free Social Spaces

The healthcare giant Kaiser Permanente has an article on the national trend of boozeless bars and the nonalcoholic beverage movement in general. It describes a bar in Austin, Texas, called “Sans Bar” which draws a largely female crowd all along the sobriety spectrum, from those in recovery to the “sober curious.” People gather for hours to sip handmade mocktails, talk, dance and listen to speakers and sober musicians.

I applaud this effort, and not only because I lost a close relative to alcoholism. I see this as the faint beginning of America’s return to civility. America is a country founded on ideas. Its time for new ideas in socializing.