Copenhagen Chooses Bikes, The Tech-Government Revolving Door, and How Basic Income Might Work


Photo: Wikimedia

Copenhagen Finds The True Cost of Cars
 It’s difficult–but important–to consider all the costs involved when you’re making a business or policy decision, which makes this report on how Copenhagen is using data to move from cars to bikes (Fast Company) so heartening. When the city makes basic decisions about transportation, it doesn’t just compare the cost of a bikeway to a road for cars, it also includes “the cost of road accidents to society, the impact of car pollution on health, and the cost of carbon emitted to the atmosphere.” As researcher Stefan Gössling from Lund University notes, “If we want people to cycle, then we have to change our approach towards urban infrastructure. Cyclists will only cycle in large numbers when they feel physically safe and when it’s fast.”

The Tech-Government Revolving Door
 There are plenty of high-profile examples of companies challenging governments (most recently Apple and Microsoft), but how can tech truly challenge government when the two are connected by a revolving door? In The Guardian, Danny Yadron traces the Valley’s long and close relationship with the U.S. government and how some are thinking differently about it now that Twitter has hired Kathy Chen, once an engineer for the People’s Liberation Army, to run ad sales and bizdev in China. It’s complicated, of course — you do recall that Twitter is currently banned in China if you don’t have a VPN? But it’s a reminder of how inextricable tech and government, in particular the military part of government, have become.

How Universal Basic Income Might Work
 Most of what we read when we try to figure out how Universal Basic Income might work is either way too academic or way too close to advocacy (or both). Which makes us welcome What Would Happen If We Just Gave People Money? (FiveThirtyEight), which is comprehensive, understandable, and focused on the data. Its 5,000-word length may scare off readers, but it lays out both sides of the issues (author Andrew Flowers notes up top that he supports at least one such initiative, but he’s not here to proselytize) and gets past the dogma both sides express (“It’s socialism!” “No, it’s freedom!”) to extrapolate from the experiments so far and imagine how a system might work at scale. TL;DR: There’s still a lot to figure out but it’s promising.

North Carolina and Mississippi Pay the Price
 First businesses rebelled against anti-LGBT laws in North Carolina and Mississippi. Then came entertainers. The losses in one city alone have topped $2.5 million, according to the Charlotte Regional Visitors Authority. Now prospective tourists are joining in (NYT). And both states are vulnerable: in Mississippi, 117,685 people, or 10.5 percent of workers in the state, are connected to the travel industry. It’s early, so most of the report is anecdotal and it’s clear that the worries of local businesses have not swayed legislators, but now that Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant has started tweeting to hype hotel occupancy rates, you can see that top officials are starting to pay attention.

Startups After Steroids
 Simon Rothman at Greylock looks at today’s startup environment (Medium) and determines that Uber won because it weaponized access to capital. As is becoming common among the technology funders, Rothman declares the era of cheap, plentiful money over — or almost-over. He then imagines a more sustainable “post-steroid” era in which profitability is more important than growth and “the center of gravity will shift from financial to strategic.”

Bad Driver? Blame the Government!
 How do you know a country’s leaders are corrupt? When that country’s drivers stink (Quartz). Traffic fatalities correlate with the World Justice Project’s Rule of Law Index.

Photo: Wikimedia

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