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Is despair killing America’s white working class?

Society April 24th, 2017, Angus Deaton / Professor of Economics and International Affairs, Princeton University, Nobel Prize for Economics in 2015

Working class Americans in midlife's mortality rate, after 100 years of declining, has turned the wrong way or at least flattened out. This is not happening to other groups in the US. It’s not happening to Hispanics. It’s not happening to African-Americans. And it’s not happening in any other rich country in the world. Angus Deaton tried to make sense of a trend closely associated with the rise of populism in the US.

The meaning of Facebook

Society April 19th, 2017, Benjamin Hoffmann / Assistant Professor of Literature, Ohio State University

Facebook heralds the advent of a society that mirrors what the social network claims to promote. Not a society of democratic exchange, where people interact within a virtual agora by opposing arguments, but a society divided by antagonism and defiance, one that is partitioned in isolated bubbles; not a society of free sharing of information but of commercial exploitation of the data we deliver each time we visit Facebook. Should we turn away from this social network and all those who promote its paradigm?

The impact of Brexit on the UK’s climate change policy

Society April 5th, 2017, Jan Svoboda / Student, Department of Geography, University of Bristol

Over the last years, the UK has been one of the most active European Union Member States in climate change policy and energy talks and it has often led the way forward. Some policies successfully implemented by the British legislation were later proposed by the European Commission for all the Member States to adopt. But on the 23rd of June 2016, the UK voters declared against the membership in the community and on March 30th Prime minister Theresa May triggered Art. 50. How does this decision affect climate change policy in the UK and in Europe? What could be the outcomes of Brexit in this field?

Digital labor and the limits of critical thinking

Society April 4th, 2017, Dominique Cardon / Associate Professor of Sociology at Medalab, Sciences Po, Associate Researcher at Centre d'études des mouvements sociaux, EHESS/PSL Research University

In the analysis and understanding of the Internet, the role of sociology needs to be defended: facing a widespread tendency to economization, it offers resources and references that allow to change perspectives and view practices from another angle. This difference is healthy. But let's face it: in the way it conceives the Internet, the sociological debate is itself beset with contradictions. Digital labor provides an illustrative case.

The digital revolution and the 5 Ps of medicine

Society March 17th, 2017, Julien Damon / Associate Professor at Sciences Po, President of Eclairs Consulting

In the healthcare industry, the digital revolution affects two major areas: big data and eHealth (digital tools applied to healthcare). The availability of massive volumes of data is a hard fact. This exponential rise has layed the foundation for the medicine of the future, caracterised by 5 Ps: preventive, predictive, participatory, personalized, pertinent.

Very few areas have remained unchanged by the digital revolution. Politics is no exception. In recent years, various initiatives have emerged to harness the possibilities offered by digital technology in order to improve or renew democracy. Amidst the crisis of our Western democracies, undermined by a growing gap between citizens and their representatives, by abstention and by the rise of extremism, civic technology revives the democratic process by improving information, enabling greater citizen participation and empowerment, ultimately improving government transparency.

Is democracy just another market? Can we build a sustainable economic model with the help of digital tools whose purpose is to put citizens at the center of the democratic game? If yes, how? Must these structures be associative by nature or can they embrace a commercial scale while remaining true to their goals? Should they opt for an open source or proprietary logic? This expanding ecosystem raises a number of questions about their financing and business model.

While civic technology undeniably offers promising solutions to the democratic crisis, it also suffers from serious limitations. Even if it reaches millions of people, its primary objective, achieving greater involvement of citizens in democratic life, is far from being reached. Based on an idealized vision of citizenship, civic technology is still struggling to expand beyond its natural public. Lastly, it defends goals of openness, transparency and collaboration that face a fragmentation of information, on social networks and the Internet, dangerous both for our societies and democracies.

Top universities: new players in the global game of power?

Society February 15th, 2017, Cédric Denis-Rémis & Armand Hatchuel / Deputy Director of Mines ParisTech (PSL Université Paris) & Professor at Mines Paristech, Chair of Design Theory and Methodes for Innovation

The term university covers a wide range of institutions. In time, this diversity could narrow down to two main types of universities: a local model, with institutes and Bachelor degrees related to regional development; a global model, including prototypes such as Harvard or Oxford, and emerging players in Europe or China. These world-class universities can be seen as a new type of universal power.

The City and the Valley: how Tech is impacting San Francisco and vice versa

Society January 8th, 2017, Olivier Alexandre / Sociologist, Labex Icca and Cems-Imm/EHESS PSL Research University

The Bay area is not only an economic reality with a level of investments, quantifiable turnover, number of unicorns or tech business stock market. It is also a territory that stages its own history. Stretching over a hundred kilometers, the strip of land running from the North of San Francisco to the South of Jan José can be analyzed as an ice core. Beyond the frantic entrepreneurial energy that runs through it, we could see different architectonic displacements, which keep track of deeper transformations, from Sunnyvale to Cupertino, from Mountain View to Menlo Park, from Palo Alto to San Francisco.

The trend towards increasing personalization of food is the result of the convergence of many scientific and technological advances and a growing demand from consumers for customized products and services, that take into account their health concerns. Opportunities in terms of innovations are huge. This largely explains the current craze around the foodtech industry. Some of these innovations are already on the market or seeking for investors. Others are still under prototyping or laboratory project.

Personalized food is not limited to personalizing food products in order to meet the needs of consumers with the prospect, during the coming decades, of creating a truly personalized diet. Consumers also ask for more control over what they consume and the way they eat it. Some even wish to produce, transform and control their own food in increasingly autonomous and sophisticated ways, according to their own wishes and quality standards. A mix, one could say, of cooking and manufacturing.

Air quality and energy transition: the French case

Society December 12th, 2016, Jean-Luc Legoupil / President, Renard Engineering and Communication

Emissions of air pollutants have plummeted in France since 1990. But progress is yet to be made, especially in urban areas, in industrial zones and paradoxically in the countryside: these pollutants, which have become less visible and more subtle, are carried by winds and across borders. In this area, rigorous scientific analysis is required to allow to devote our collective and individual resources to share the actually most effective actions for our well-being.

Universal basic income: the contradictions of a simple idea

Society December 8th, 2016, Charles Wyplosz / Professor of International Economics and Director of the International Centre for Money and Banking Studies, Graduate Institute, Geneva

While certainly tempting, providing a simple answer to a complicated question is a straight road to failure. Ever since our alleged ancestors, Adam and Eve, were cast out of heaven, we all dream of a world where we will live a happy life, free from material contingencies. This dream is so deeply rooted that we embrace it immediately. Whether left-wing or right-wing, advocates of universal basic income generate a great deal of enthusiasm. Who wouldn't dream of eradicating poverty? Unfortunately, the path to dreams is strewn with pitfalls and overly simple or confusing reasoning gives improper advice.

Network entrepreneurs, or 
how intellectualism works in the digital age

Society December 5th, 2016, Fred Turner / Professor and Chair of the Department of Communication, Stanford University

The digital transformation has begun to reshape traditional literary culture, as well as traditional intellectual culture. Three Americans were central to that process: Norbert Wiener, the celebrated founder of cybernetics, Stewart Brand, a leading hippie figure from the 70s, 
and more recently Tim O'Reilly, who brought us the terms web 2.0 and open source, as well as a few other ways of looking at the world. How do they work as intellectuals?

Bitcoin and central banks: a monetary revolution?

Society November 25th, 2016, Jia Kai / PhD Graduate at School of Public Policy and Management of Tsinghua University, Fullbright Scholar, Visiting Scholar at the University of California at Davis

Digital currency rose to its prominence in 2009, marked by the birth of Bitcoin. The following seven years saw the burgeoning of a 10 billion dollar worth Bitcoin global network, which leads to more discussions from central banks around how to keep up with the trend both systematically and technologically. Debates on the legitimacy of digital currency never end, with speculation around possibilities of its replacement of fiat money, an ensuing prospective governance mechanism and its function akin to that of central banks.

Google, Facebook and Twitter last week vowed to fight fake news, hate speech and abuse in their own ways amid the backlash over how such content may have influenced voting in the U.S. presidential election. Those actions could have come sooner, and many troubling issues persist.

The impact of Internet in rural India

Society November 14th, 2016, Rekha Jain / Professor, Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad

Given the rural context in developing countries, how has the Internet influenced their socialization, economic opportunities and access to knowledge resources? Rural areas do not have educational, communication, and transportation facilities. Job opportunities are not many; information on job opportunities in other locations is not easily available. In emergencies like epidemic breaks or floods it is difficult to contact other organizations for help. Even commerce takes place at a primitive level. Do government initiatives to provide Internet access make a difference? To find out, we asked the people.

Innovation, the Indian Way

Society October 10th, 2016, Richard Robert / Executive Director, Paris Innovation Review

In the global geography of innovation, India is straddling two continents. Its engineers have contributed to the success of the Silicon Valley: the father of the USB socket, the inventor of the Intel Pentium chip, the general manager of Microsoft are Indian, as is part of the senior management at Google. The success of this Diaspora reflects the talents of Indian engineers, but it can also be linked with an original innovation culture, which expresses itself in an amazing ability to reverse concepts. Three meta-innovations illustrate this Indian way.

Who are the serial entrepreneurs behind unicorns?

Society October 4th, 2016, Monique Dagnaud / Emerita Research Director, EHESS, PSL Research University, Institut Marcel Mauss

Over 60,000 US Internet startups have been created over the last decade but only 0.14% turned into unicorns i.e. startup companies with a market capitalization over one billion dollars. Who are the serial entrepreneurs who founded them? This winners club covered 84 entities in 2015 – against 39 in 2013. They have a very distinctive profile.

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