Britain Breaks Up Europe


Photo of soon-to-be-former British Prime Minister David Cameron: Number 10

Today’s Top Stories

Exit Britain: The country votes to leave the European Union … for now.

Third Man Records Finds Its Way Home: White Stripes stalwart Jack White opens shop in his old neighborhood.

Don’t Count on Technology for Everything: There’s a limit to what it can do for a local economy.

Ethical Artificial Intelligence: An approach to making the future of machine learning more human

How Portable Benefits Might Work: A think tank looks to New York for a promising model.

The Race to Deliver the Driverless Car: Silicon Valley and Detroit are moving fast, together and separately.

Exit Britain. It wasn’t even all that close. By a margin of more than a million voters, British voters have decided to leave the European Union (NPR). Prime Minister David Cameron will resign after his big gamble failed and markets are responding to this great uncertainty as you’d expect, with the English pound falling to a 30-plus-year low against the dollar. There are many reasons to be concerned about the viability of both Europe (NBC) and the United Kingdom (BBC) as united regions, not to mention a potential global recession (Guardian). But now might be a good moment to consider one possible long view. According to a YouGov poll days before the referendum, more than half of those over 65 planned to vote Leave but 64 percent of 18–to-24 year-olds intended to vote Remain. Britain’s past wants out of Europe; Britain’s future wants in. Yes, that’s only one poll, but this isn’t over. It’s unclear how it will play out, but it is certain that there will be a lot of unnecessary sorrow along the way.

Third Man Records Finds Its Way Home. Our executive editor looks at how Jack White’s Cass Corridor storefront plugs into a growing maker movement in his hometown Detroit.

Don’t Count on Technology for Everything. Neil Lee, a researcher at the London School of Economics and Political Science, finds that the tech economy helps everyone but the truly poor (Quartz). Wages go up but so does the cost of housing and everything else, which disproportionately impacts those at the bottom of the pyramid. Tech isn’t the sole villain here, but this is another example of how high-tech helps communities but only goes so far.

Ethical Artificial Intelligence. When it comes to machine learning, what is it that we want the machines to learn? Joi Ito, director of the MIT Media Lab, has a fascinating post on society-in-the-loop artificial intelligence (Medium), which is the notion that by understanding what society wants we can develop truly ethical AI systems. After playing out some scenarios, Ito concludes that the best way to deploy artificial intelligence in ways that save lives and advance justice “will most likely require making the tools of machine learning available to everyone … and redistribute the power that will come from advances in artificial intelligence, not just figure out ways to train it to appear ethical.” In other words, AI will succeed best the more frankly human and democratic its perspective.

How Portable Benefits Might Work. There’s a consensus emerging that portable benefits works and must work as the percentage of people toiling on a “gig” or “on-demand” capacity increases. But there’s not so much agreement on how such a regime would be implemented. A new report for the Aspen Institute Future of Work Initiative, “Portable Benefits in the 21st Century: Shaping a New System of Benefits for Independent Workers,” takes a crack at spelling that out. In a Medium post drawn from the report, the authors consider what can be learned from existing models. In particular, they look at the Black Car Fund, which provides workers compensation coverage for Lyft, Uber, and taxi drivers in New York. The Fund is funded by a mandatory 2.5% transaction fee; the authors see that as “an effective mechanism of collecting pro-rata contributions from multiple companies.”

The Race to Deliver the Driverless Car. Looking for a weekend read? Here’s one on the future of cars. Level four autonomy, the ability to summon a vehicle that goes from here to there without human interference is estimated to be a generation away. Who will get us there? Fortune details the race between Detroit and Silicon Valley to deliver the driverless future, and it looks at both the players we all know about (GM, Ford, Google, Tesla) and those not-so-well-known (Zoox, Cruise). If you’ve been paying close attention to this, there’s likely not much new here. If not, here’s a useful primer, and one in which the author almost gets into two ugly accidents.

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