For his IBCP Sustainability group, Mr. Corbin asked students to write an article for 'The Economist' evaluating the role of GDP/ GNI as a measure of a county's success
and recommending alternative indicators which might be more sustainable.
What do you think?
We encourage Econ/ Geo/ Business/ Sustainability classes to discuss these ideas in their classes and respond to them in the comment section below!
By Greta ADRIAN
Model of Economics
We are currently ruled by the neoclassical/classical model of economics,
where the prosperity of an economy is measured as the economic growth of a
country. Meanwhile an environmental/ecological model of economics
focuses on nature and how it cannot grow infinitely. It acknowledges this and
therefore works by keeping the economy working at a stable economic level.
Our current model is flawed as it believes economic growth can continue
forever. Thanks to research we have been able to see that this is not true and
we are starting to deplete the amount of resources we have come to depend
on to live.
The classical model is a “macroeconomics” concept, founded by Adam
Smith, who is known as the father of modern economics. This concept is
where the economy is viewed as a whole, instead of the behavior of
individuals, firms, or markets. Meanwhile the neoclassical model is
“microeconomics”, focused on individual markets within an economy. Both
these models have one thing is common; they believe prosperity is achieved
through economic growth and believe it can continue forever. Supporters of
the neoclassical model think that when resources run out, incentives for
technological change will save the day. This is related to the Boserup theory,
which believes humans will never run out of resources as we will always find
other means of sustaining ourselves. The neoclassical model additionally aligns with technocentricism. This is a value systems which has complete
faith in technology, firmly believing humans have control over nature.
These models cannot be disregarded as completely useless, as they have
been working for the past few hundred years. Economic growth has helped
increase the prosperity of economies when they needed help. The issue is
that because of economic growth, our need for resources has increased
drastically which has created a deficit in resources.
On the other hand, environmental economics is a subset of the
neoclassical model. This model considers services from nature like flood
prevention, water filtration, pollination, etc. and assigns it a monetary value.
These figures are then incorporated into the market. This helps pose the
question “Can we afford not to conserve and protect the natural world?”.
The ecological model sees macroeconomics as a subsystem within the
biosphere which it depends on, therefore does not treat nature as a type of
waste disposal facility. It is now more relevant in a heavily populated world,
7.3 billion in 2018, since there are no longer limitless discoveries and
resources. This model acknowledges that indefinite growth is impossible and
so aims to keep the economy at a ‘steady state equilibrium’.
The current method of measuring a country’s prosperity, GDP, is also
flawed as it does not take into account wellbeing, only calculates a country’s
economic activity. An example of the problem with GDP is Alaska, who
suffered a massive oil spill in 1989. Yet the GDP increased, due to work effort
needed to fix the disaster. Should our environment really have to suffer to
keep our economy’s prosperity?
It could be replaced by Index of Sustainable Economic Welfare (ISEW) or
the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI).
These methods incorporate well being of people to calculate how well a country is doing.
To conclude, our economic
model is clearly flawed, and will
not be able to continue to provide for future generations. The
environmental/ecological models clearly are a good alternative, which will
allow economies to continue without having to later suffer the consequences.
By Komron ARIPOV
Hackathon: an event, typically lasting several days, in which a large number of people meet to engage in collaborative computer programming.
Since the start of 9th grade, I was interested to learn more about Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence. The articles written on this website were not only articles, but also an initiative I’ve taken to learn more about this field. As it happened, Python, the programming language of my choice, has an enormous community of users interested in this exact same field.
So in an adventure to learn something I couldn’t find courses for at CDL, nor any institution nearby (or so I thought), my eyes have turned towards Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs). While they offered very good material, they were best suited for the more older students who had a strong background in statistics, calculus and linear algebra. The thought of having to also learn all of the previously mentioned mathematics sounded interesting, yet would take the effort I never had.
That is until I stumbled upon courses offered by the EPFL Extension School, owned by the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. The courses were opened for people from any age group to sign up, and the platform allowed the ability to talk to teachers when dealing with a problem and still be have most of the material online. It was also self-paced, and very flexible, so I sent them an email showing my interest in the course.
After about a week, I got a reply from Laura Downhower, the executive director of the EPFL Extension School, inviting me to join them at an SRG hosted hackathon with a topic: “Media and Artificial Intelligence”. I was thrilled! The absences board gave the permission to be absent from school for two days, and the ticket was sitting in my backpack.
So, on a Thursday morning, when a snowstorm hit Geneva, I came 20 minutes late to the event, but still made it on time as others were even more late. There were croissants and drinks, while everyone in the room were introducing themselves. At that point, I was more than sure that I was the youngest participant and gave the room a quick glance to find the Extension School. They were sitting at one table, to which I walked and introduced myself.
At 10:00 the ideas for projects were pitched by a couple of volunteers and half an hour was given so others join the people with the pitches to form teams. Unsurprisingly, I joined the team with two teachers from the Extension School who taught Applied Machine Learning. The rest of the afternoon was spent working on our pitch: “Understanding Switzerland through its news”. We toyed around with the SRG database of news articles and videos, and found some very interesting patterns and structures.
The next morning, on 2nd of March we finished off with a machine learning algorithm and made nice graphs of the data that we explored. We were the first team to present our idea in Geneva, following a transmission of the same exact event from Zurich.
Sadly, our team didn’t win, but the experience, the people I’ve met and the knowledge I’ve gained will forever stay with me.
By Mohammad Ali
Prior to introducing the teams’ new sidepod designs and improvements, it is important to touch upon the concept of a sidepod and the benefits it brings to F1 cars.
Sidepods bring numerous advantages to a F1 racer. Firstly, it acts as a safety measure, housing major crash structures to protect the drivers in the case of a side impact. Secondly, sidepods can provide aerodynamic advantages by channeling the air onto the floor to produce more downforce, an example of this was on Ferrari’s 2017 iteration the SF-70H, when its bizarre sidepod design caused much discussion in the paddock; it was thought that their design optimised the aerodynamic efficiency of the car. Lastly, and perhaps the most obvious reason is the cooling capacity which accompany the sidepods themselves. Inside the sidepods are radiators to provide cooling for the engine, and more recently intercoolers have been positioned there as well to provide cooling for the turbochargers. In recent years, the size of sidepods has grown significantly. This has been due to the introduction of turbocharged F1 engines, that need intercoolers to keep them cool, which are housed within the sidepods. In recent years, there has a been a greater concentration by the teams on the cars’ aerodynamic ability, rather than only creating the fastest engine. The heightened attention to aerodynamic efficiency could also explain the increased size of the sidepod.
For the new 2018 season, Formula 1 teams have focused their energy on improving the sidepod design. More lenient regulations on bodywork design and structure has lead to very innovative concepts; this was highlighted on the SF-70H in the 2017 season. This time round, the other F1 teams have followed suit. At its core, only two concepts exist, Red Bull, Haas, Sauber, Williams, and Renault all took a leaf out of Ferrari’s book, separating the side impact structure, and the sidepod, positioning the impact structure ahead of the sidepod. This design, allows for the disrupted air flowing from the front wheels a greater distance to re-laminate onto the side of the car’s body for greater aerodynamic performance. This concept was exhibited by Ferrari in the 2017 season and is now being used by most of the paddock. However, there is another approach to achieve similar results, which has been displayed by Mercedes, and for the 2018 season, McLaren have also adopted this concept. Both Mercedes and McLaren have moved the position of the front axle away from the sidepod, essentially increasing the racers’ wheelbase. In the end though, these two philosophies bring the same results for the same reason, greater aerodynamic efficiency by giving the turbulent air more time to laminate itself, by increasing the distance it has to travel to sidepod.
Amongst the teams, there are great variations between the radiator inlets: their position, shape, and size. The positioning of the radiator inlets is the most important. If the inlets have a high position, this allows for a steeper undercut to the lower section of the sidepod. A car with this setup creates a low pressure at the bottom which the air races to fill, hence increasing the air speed at the bottom of the sidepods, and down the side of the car, towards the aerodynamic components at the back of the car, thus generating more downforce. However, there are downsides to this system. Positioning the radiator inlets so high means that the car’s bodywork is also raised, and this increases the car’s centre of gravity, placing extra load on the tyres when cornering. Yet, all F1 teams have opted for this system this season, with Mercedes switching from the low radiator inlet mounting position from the 2017 season in favor of this one for the 2018 season, so the positives must outweigh the negatives. With the first race of the season just around the corner, we will find out soon.
Mr Penrose asks the judges (Juli Suleymanova and Heather Jones) about the winners of the writing competition. Click below to listen to the discussion.
This Tuesday, the winners of the writing contest got the opportunity to follow a workshop by the great Matt Dickinson. The following video will give you an impression of the workshop. Congrats to the winners!
By Mohammad Ali
The automotive world was shocked when Lamborghini claimed the Nurburgring production car lap time record. The reason for that disbelief was the car that it beat, the most advanced road car to ever grace the ring, the Porsche 918 Spyder. The Huracán Performante paled in comparison to the previous record holder. The Porsche has a hybrid powertrain system to eliminate the combustion engine’s lag when accelerating out of corners and shifting gears. The hybrid powertrain also gives the 918 an extra 200 horsepower. From a technological perspective, the Lamborghini could not have beaten the Porsche. This record-breaking lap was shrouded with mystery, many condemned the Huracán Performante’s lap time, stating that the footage was edited and the lap was actually faster than what it appeared. It was only when Porsche reclaimed that record six months later beating the Huracán by another five seconds did the public accept the dark arts of aerodynamics. Like the Lamborghini, the GT2 RS was only equipped with a combustion engine and a big rear spoiler. Both of these cars were able to beat the time of the 918, due to the big wing; more specifically the air pushing down on the big wing.
The Huracán’s dominance of the Nurburgring Nordschliefe can be attributed to an all-new aerodynamics system developed by Lamborghini; Aerodinamica Lamborghini Attiva (ALA). This system provides perfect aerodynamic conditions for all driving scenarios. This technology, reduces drag in a straight line by opening flaps underneath the spoiler, and opening flaps on the front wing. These measures allowed the Huracán to reach a higher velocity in a straight line. However, when the all of the flaps are closed, the Huracán’s aero package acts like a normal rear wing and front splitter. The added aero dynamical advantages of the Huracán Performante over the regular Huracán allows the latter to generate an extra 750% of maximum downforce, highlighting the effect of aerodynamics.
Downforce is the force acting on a moving vehicle in a downwards direction due to an aerodynamic package installed on the vehicle. Increasing the downforce generated by a vehicle will increase the weight pushing down on the vehicle, allowing the vehicle to have more grip. The increased grip results from the increased vertical forces on the tyres.
A rear wing is able to generate downforce, due to the pressure difference which it generates. In order for a rear wing to generate downforce, the air travelling over the wing must be travelling at a slower velocity than the air travelling underneath the ring wing, to exert a greater pressure. As pressure is directly proportional to force, a net downwards force is generated.
There are a multitude of other factors which affect the downforce generated such as the vehicle’s velocity and the area of contact between the aerodynamic components and the wind. The Porsche 911 GT2 RS was able to shatter the record, beating both the Lamborghini and the 918, as it was able to maintain a higher velocity through the corners and the straights. The GT2 is around 200 kg lighter and produces 100 horsepower more from its combustion engine than the 918, and it produces 70 hp more than the Huracán, however, is around 80 kg heavier.
The GT2’s extra power allows it to have a higher peak velocity in straights, and it also allows it to accelerate faster out of corners, all of which enabling to generate more downforce. When comparing both the Huracán and the GT2 RS the differences become apparent. At the end of the Nordschliefe’s main straight, the Performante reached a speed of 303 km/h, whereas the GT2 RS peaked at 311 km/h. This difference in speed was visible throughout the whole track, the Porsche was also able to carry more speed through the corners, resulting in 5 seconds being taken off the record time.
Aerodynamics obviously was not the only factor which enabled both cars to better the 918 Spyder’s time. Both cars were substantially lighter than the Porsche. Although both the 918 Spyder and the GT2 RS were fitted with Michelin’s Pilot Sport Cup 2, the one on the 918 was a compound developed four years before that of the GT2 RS. Michelin’s improvements regarding these tyres has allowed the GT2 RS to produce more mechanical grip than the 918.
It would be foolish to disregard the role that aerodynamics plays in the time it takes for a car to get around a circuit. Historically, aerodynamics has been crucial in motor racing, especially in the world of Formula one. Pre- rear wings and front splitters, F1 racers were designed to look like a rain drop or a bullet, for aerodynamic efficiency. Currently, every single body panel of the cars is placed to harness the dark arts of aerodynamics.
By Komron Aripov
The author of this article hopes you are having a great day today, for he wouldn’t say so. On December 14, 2017, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the net neutrality rules it had set two years ago. These rules restrained ISPs from discriminating your content: throttling services of competitors, prioritizing and blocking any content they wish to, with the only restriction being that these changes need to be publicly declared.
Although this article applies to the US, one cannot simply overstate the importance of net neutrality rules. They guarantee freedom on the internet, which is today, something people take for granted. Back in 2015, it was questionable whether net neutrality was going to be implemented, but with the support of Barack Obama, and some major tech companies like Netflix, the FCC has gone beyond by classifying telecommunications services under Title II of the Communications Act, giving it strong legal tools to back up the policy.
"The action that we take today is an irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one, whether government or corporate, should control free and open access to the internet," Wheeler said back in 2015, and two years later, all this progress seems to be undone. Ajit Pai, the chief commissioner of the FCC, wasn’t on board with this decision back then, and today, delivered his speech against net neutrality.
“The internet wasn't broken in 2015. We were not living in some digital dystopia,” said he. While it is true, repealing net neutrality does not help the creation of a digital utopia.
So, what could this mess of politics and bureaucracy mean to you? Most probably, nothing drastic. This court decision is applicable only to the US, and even if you do happen to live there, this vote is almost guaranteed to be followed by a lawsuit, which I hope is successful in putting the regulations back in place. Otherwise, the major US carriers could slowly change their plans in all anti-competitive ways to earn more money, for example, offering faster speeds on the internet services they provide and throttle the ones of their components.
One thing for sure, is that the retraction of net neutrality will play strongly in favor of giant conglomerate companies, making it extremely hard for new startups and innovations to succeed, which as we all know – is unhealthy for the country’s economy.
By Saina Sharma
Listen to the refugee story by Saina Sharma below.
By Michal Nowacki
You may or may not have heard this. On the 19th October 2017, astronomers at the Pan-STARRS survey telescopes in Hawaii discovered the first truly interstellar object currently in the Solar System.
Until now, interstellar space is something that the space community dared not to talk about because we don't know much about it, it's far away, and it's dark and empty and strange. But now, we have just a tiny, yet still significant, outlook on this strange place.
The object in question, adequately named 'Oumuamua, (Hawaiian for 'a visitor from afar arriving first') is totally bizarre. It is a cigar shaped, red asteroid coming from another star system, possibly from across the galaxy. It's not like any other asteroid we've ever seen. Its detailed follow-up observations and appearance were detailed in this paper
This strange object is now long gone from the Solar System (sorry amateur astronomers), because its parabolic trajectory meant that when it was passing the sun, it gained speed quickly and left even faster than it came. However, this doesn't mean that we can't visit it before it's out of our reach. A project started by a group of scientists called "Project Lyra" (in reference to the constellation the object appears to be coming from) aims to send a probe to the asteroid to study it. Not only in the interest of science and the data, but also the development of technologies that will come with such a mission.
This is all just the beginning of out journey to find out even more about this mysterious visitor.
By Komron Aripov
It’s cliché, however still stands true: if someone asked you 20 years ago whether you are going to use a mysterious entity under the name of “Google” to get answers to your questions, or maybe publish your pictures to an audience of 1.3 billion users on a platform named “Facebook”, would you answer yes?
No, because you most probably weren’t alive 20 years ago, but that’s not the point.
The point is, it gets exponentially harder to predict the future as you keep adding years to your estimates. We have many theories of what the next fifty years will hold, and the singularity is one of them.
In a nutshell, it’s the point in time when computer intelligence will surpass human intelligence to unfathomable amount. Imagine a computer is built, that can upgrade itself in cycles. As the goal of such a machine is to improve itself faster, these cycles will become shorter and the upgrades getting smarter as the computer is also improving. At some point, this will result in infinite upgrade cycle and the explosion of intelligence that will far surpass that of humans and alter it in ways we couldn’t have imagined. *evil laugh*
The general outcomes are distinct though. It will be either human versus machine, or human plus machine and if the latter happens, our civilization will have the resources to sustain itself for an eternity. What we really don’t know is when it’s going to happen – in 20 years, 30 years, a century, or maybe never.
POPULATION OF GENIUSES
Imagine this theory holds true. It could either go very wrong, but it also could go very well. The great geniuses like Einstein, who analyzed and opened a whole new world in their respective fields could be anyone of the billions of people on Earth. We could have revelations on the level of the general theory of relativity made daily and that is just the beginning of what technological singularity could offer.
People who would have “upgraded” to such intelligence would essentially become gods on a level of thinking that is incomprehensible to biological life form.
If that scares you – you are not alone. It scares me too.
Of course, this all sounds too good to be true. One of the most recognized people in this field of futurism is Ray Kurzweil. In his vision, he tells us these events will take place in 2045, exactly 28 years from now. However, one thing I think he and his followers fail to understand is that the functions of the human brain are still very much unknown, and until neurobiologists fully understand how the brain works, singularity will be just a funny sounding word.
To the people that agree more with a prominent figure than a fourteen-year-old: “The Singularity is Near” by Ray Kerzweil is a great book on the topic and this article is just my 2 cents. Just to give you some perspective: this idea of an “intelligence super explosion” dates all the way back to the 1950s, and trust me on this one, it’s long from over.
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