As usual, super-interesting set of data on Global Education in “Our World in Data”. A very interesting figure is shown below, from a UNICEF report on Education, on the direct cost of education directly paid by families. All other data can be found at the original link here.
With Google’s Tensor Processing Units (version 3). Full article
Questa foto da qualche giorno gira sui social network. È Jeff Bezos alla sua scrivania, nel 1999. E il significato che viene dato nei commenti alla foto è: “anche se tutto sembra andare male, non devi arrenderti mai“. 19 anni dopo, Bezos è l’uomo più ricco del mondo.
Ma il senso della foto è diverso: “anche se sei sulla carta uno degli uomini più ricchi del mondo, rimani frugale e non smettere di pedalare“. Nel 1999 Amazon valeva già 30 miliardi di dollari, era quotata in borsa da più di due anni e Bezos possedeva circa un quarto delle azioni. Altro che non arrendersi mai, stava già vincendo tutto. La foto è tratta dal servizio che fece il programma CBS 60 minutes nel quartier generale di Amazon a Seattle. L’understatement è completamente intenzionale. Il servizio completo è qui sotto.
David Mamet’s in Bambi vs Godzilla on the perfect films:
They start with a simple premise and proceed logically, and inevitably, toward a conclusion both surprising and inevitable.
This is really universal: it works also for the perfect scientific papers and the perfect jokes.
From Philip Ball’s piece on Quanta Magazine: Quantum Theory Rebuilt From Simple Physical Principles
The basic premise of the quantum reconstruction game is summed up by the joke about the driver who, lost in rural Ireland, asks a passer-by how to get to Dublin. “I wouldn’t start from here,” comes the reply.
Where, in quantum mechanics, is “here”? The theory arose out of attempts to understand how atoms and molecules interact with light and other radiation, phenomena that classical physics couldn’t explain. Quantum theory was empirically motivated, and its rules were simply ones that seemed to fit what was observed. It uses mathematical formulas that, while tried and trusted, were essentially pulled out of a hat by the pioneers of the theory in the early 20th century.
Quantum mechanics is at the basis of the operation of solid-state electronics and optoelectronics, and therefore enables the whole ICT and Internet world.
However, it is still introduced to students as a new science, a revolution with respect to “classical” science, and as something that is basically strange and unintuitive. This is because the historical view of the birth of quantum mechanics is still dominant, after all these years. So all new attempts at rebuilding the foundations of quantum physics are welcome (and I admit I still very much like David Bohm’s view).
Again on the topic of too few new tech companies in Europe, and especially in Italy.
The Atomico report on the “State of European Tech 2017” shows a list of all tech companies, either private, public, or acquired funded since 2003 with a valuation higher than one billion dollars.
The total number is 41:
16 are private
16 are public
9 have been acquired.
The breakdown per country is familiar:
A quick look at the private companies with a valuation in excess of 1 billion dollars backed by venture capital (the so-called “unicorns”) shows that very few come from Europe (and none from Italy). They are not yet real valuations, but they can be a good proxy in terms of continent or country share.
These data are taken from the dedicated page on the WSJ website, considering valuations in January 2018.
- 103 companies from the US
- 46 from Asia (which means mostly China, then India)
- 15 from Europe
- 6 from Other (Canada, Australia, Africa)
As a breakdown of the 15 companies from Europe we have:
- 6 from the UK (Oxford Nanopore, Farfetch, TransferWise, Deliveroo, Shazam, Funding Circle)
- 3 from Germany (Auto1Group, HelloFresh, CureVac)
- 2 from Sweden (Spotify, Klarna)
- 1 from The Netherlands (Adyen)
- 1 from France (BlaBlaCar)
- 1 from Luxembourg (Global Fashion Group)
- 1 from Czech Republic (Avast Software)
Then only 1 from Israel (IronSource) as of today.
One can discuss the reasons for this distribution, but I do not have a simple answer and have to look at some more data.
This figure is self-explanatory and is taken from the December 2017 McKinsey Global Institute report Jobs lost, jobs gained: Workforce transitions in a time of automation. The main prediction is that between 20% and 27% of work activities (measured in units of time) will be displaced due to automation in 2030 in advanced economies. Countries with an aging population will be affected the most. This is only one part of the equation. The other (missing) part is the number of new jobs, in order to understand whether they will be able to offset the displaced jobs. Nobody knows the answer because it depends on the structure and the choices of institutions.
I love listening to podcasts while driving, running, or doing chores. Here I just want to share a few links to some recent episodes I really enjoyed.
- Season 2 of Malcolm Gladwell’s podcast Revisionist History is fantastic. The Basement Tapes is one of my preferred episodes [link]. Deep, thoughtful, surprising, and perfectly done. At the level of some of the best stories in The Tipping Point [link]
- Episodes 14 and 15 of Reed Hoffman’s Masters of Scale podcast, with a long interview with Barry Diller [link].
- The Ezra Klein long interview with Paul Krugman on politics, Trump, incentives [link]
- Episode 131 of the Exponent Podcast [link] where Ben Thompson and James Allworth discuss disruption and the critical differences between today’s world and the scenario discussed in Clayton Christensen’s classic book The Innovator’s Dilemma [link]
Questa è una breve intervista nella trasmissione Community del canale Rai Italia, dedicato agli italiani all’estero. Mi piace sempre cercare di comunicare il senso della ricerca che facciamo al pubblico generale (che indirettamente paga il conto).
La cosa difficile per me è evitare affermazioni senzazionali e allo stesso tempo non essere troppo noioso, essere accurato ma non apparire pedante, far capire che è normale che solo una piccola frazione della ricerca di frontiera porti a una innovazione tecnologica nel mondo reale.
Sopratutto, narrazione a parte, nell’evoluzione della scienza e della tecnologia ciascun gruppo di ricerca in realtà dà un piccolo contributo a una storia molto più grande, a cui partecipano decine di migliaia di persone. Lavoriamo da alcuni anni sulla nanoelettronica con materiali bidimensionali e ancora lavoreremo, esaltati dalle grandi potenzialità e alle prese con i numerosi problemi.