Author Archives: Tom Burroughs

Coping with Robots


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6/18/18 – Amid concerns about the impact of robots on the workplace, an economic analyst described in Issues his study of first principles: what skills do robots have or may soon acquire, and what jobs can robots with those skills perform. The conclusion: robots and advanced information technologies can likely handle 80% of current jobs. Emerging […]

Flagship School Seeks Foreign Students


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6/17/18 – The University of New Hampshire has become the first flagship state school in the United States to adopt an admissions test that may make it easier for students from China to enroll, bringing along the more than $45,000 they will pay for tuition and housing each year. But recruiting more higher-paying foreign students, along […]

Google Bans AI Development for Weapons


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6/12/18 – The technology giant Google will not develop artificial intelligence (AI) for use in weapons or other applications “that cause or are likely to cause overall harm,” its chief executive has announced in setting forth a set of principles to guide the company’s work in the field. The move aligns with a recent exploration […]

NASA Eyeing Privatization of Space Station


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6/10/18 – More countries and private companies are pursuing activities in space, an analyst recently noted in Issues. But in actions that would seemingly push even this expanded envelope, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is considering “a range of options” to privatize the International Space Station, including having a global team of corporations take over […]

Coal Comfort


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6/5/18 – Coal is in the news for reasons seemingly at odds. In Issues recently, a longtime analyst showed that coal has declined as an energy source over the past century primarily because of technology innovation, social forces, and price decreases of other forms of energy. Yet the Trump administration has announced plans to stop the […]

Feds Seek to Block Immigrant Entrepreneurs


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6/4/18 – Immigrants outpace US residents in forming new start-up companies, especially in technical fields, as observers have documented in Issues (here) and elsewhere (here). But in what some groups see as a shortsighted move (here and here), the Trump administration wants to end an Obama-era program that lets young foreign entrepreneurs remain in the […]

A Conservative Shade of Green


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6/1/18 – In a challenge to her political party, a young conservative says that addressing environmental challenges, including climate change, must become a priority. But, she adds, solutions will require “trusting businesses to do what is best for their bottom line and for the ecosystem without government intervention.” In this vein, a scholar of conservative […]

Flashback: Remember the Draft


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5/25/18 – Universal conscription—the draft—ended 45 years ago, and NPR is marking the milestone with a new series on the shift to an all-volunteer military. In Issues, two analysts have taken an even deeper look, concluding with a call for return of the draft. “Our thesis is simple,” they said. “We believe it is neither […]

Let’s Call It Meat


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5/24/18 – After examining progress in growing meat in the laboratory, two environmental scholars argued in Issues that it is time to “start thinking about how factory-grown meat might transform our food system, the environment, and even our culture.” Well, thinking has started—and is getting a bit contentious. Missouri may soon become the first state […]

Vaccines Losing a Bit of Shine


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5/23/18 – US residents are losing some confidence in the value and safety of vaccinations for measles and other diseases, according to a new survey, with 70% now saying vaccines are very important, down from 80% a decade ago. Why a decline? In Issues, a philosopher and data analyst recently noted that opinions about vaccines […]

Facing Reproducibility Fears


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5/23/18 – Current fears of a “reproducibility crisis” in research are shortsighted, a quartet of scientists and philosophers say, because a key part of scientific inquiry is in fact the integration of conflicting observations and ideas into a coherent theory. But even as failures may lead to success, a longtime science reporter recently argued in […]

Sorry, Bob, We Do Need a Weatherman


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5/17/18 – With this year’s US hurricane season approaching and damage from last year’s storms still vivid, the nation has “not fixed the underlying major problem, which is an utterly nonresilient infrastructure that at the end of the day will determine how much suffering there is after a large storm,” says an expert on disaster […]

Is a College Degree Always a Good Idea?


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5/17/18 – In arguing that college may no longer be worth it for many students, a Boston-based professor says many jobs don’t really require a college degree. So “why do employers demand a degree for jobs that don’t require them?” she asks. “Because they can.” In Issues, a longtime workforce scholar recently foreshadowed this assessment, […]

Expanding Public Participation in Policy Making


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5/15/18 – The Open Government Partnership, created to bring citizens and governments closer in policy-making, just released a new “toolkit” that details best practices and action plans proven to work in projects around the world and explains how other groups can use the lessons in pursing open government reforms. In Issues, a self-described “change maker […]

Trade Deal May Miss Opportunity


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5/12/18 – Negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement have reportedly hit a snag that may make it impossible to reach agreement on a new deal by a fast-approaching deadline for gaining approval from the US Congress. But in a broader look behind the scenes, an economic analyst has argued in Issues that the […]

Fake News Hitting Mexico


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5/11/18 – An Arizona-based scholar of emerging technologies recently described in Issues what he called weaponized narratives, or the use of communication tools and services to spread stories intended to undermine an adversary’s resiliency. Even as he saw the United States being particularly vulnerable, the threat has now reached into Mexico, with a variety of false […]

Puerto Rico’s Infrastructure Woes Continue


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5/9/18 – Months after Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico, some rural areas of the island still lack electricity, and even restored sections of the power grid face regular outages. Such disruptions of basic infrastructure by extreme weather events are likely to become more common with climate change, a trio of analysts recently noted in Issues, […]

Caution Light Flashing for Self-Driving Cars


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5/7/18 – Recent accidents involving self-driving cars have rekindled debate about regulating their use and prompted one state to require companies testing them to more fully report glitches that occur. In Issues, an analyst who focuses on governance of emerging technologies recently took a deep look at how self-driving cars may change the world in […]

Looking Behind Vow to End “War on Coal”


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5/5/18 – The administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency recently told a New York radio show that he planned to end what he called the Obama administration’s “war on coal,” declaring that the government should not use its regulatory power to pick “winners and losers” in the energy industry. But in Issues, the head a […]

US Leadership Needed on Pandemic Preparedness


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4/30/18 – Entrepreneur and philanthropist Bill Gates says the US government needs to develop an overarching strategy and new tools to prepare the nation and the world for the “significant probability of a large and lethal modern-day pandemic occurring in our lifetimes.” One challenge will be counteracting the misinformed texts, tweets, e-mails, blogs, and videos that […]

How Global Conservatives See Climate Change


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4/25/18 – Around the globe—except in the United States—climate change is a nonpartisan issue even among conservatives, says a video report in the New York Times. And as Issues has presented, even as US political waters roil there are a number of ways to address climate change that could find political and public support across […]

Rocket Business Taking Off


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4/24/18 – Not long ago in Issues, a space analyst described how private industry was moving increasingly into the space business, adding that the shift would require the US government to adjust its space programs and policies accordingly. Well, that trend is only gaining altitude, says a report in the Washington Post, as an expanding roster […]

The Real Factors Driving Coal’s Decline


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2/26/18 – Three signals recently sounded for the coal industry, according to an opinion article in the New York Times, with all of them suggesting that coal-fired power in the United States is in trouble and likely won’t be making a significant comeback. In Issues, an experienced environmental consultant has laid out a timeline of […]

Migratory Animals Face Increasing Perils


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2/23/18 – Migratory herds of animals, the lifeblood of many landscapes in the western United States, face increasing perils, says a researcher who tracks them, but in a ray of hope, government and private groups have proposed a variety of creative ways to help these wanderers. In an earlier analysis in Issues, a specialist in […]

US Charges Russians with Political Interference


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2/20/18 – In Issues recently, a scholar who studies the ethical and social dimensions of emerging technologies laid out the ways that nations and groups can use “weaponized narratives” to undermine the common values and beliefs of their adversaries. Now, the concept has struck home, with the US Justice Department indicting a group of Russian […]

New Way for the Highway


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2/15/18 – President Trump just called for lawmakers to raise the federal fuel tax to help pay for the nation’s roads and bridges, but the proposal met fierce opposition and its fate remains uncertain. There may be a better mousetrap anyway. In Issues, an engineer who studies technological adaptation recently proposed shifting to a vehicle […]

Infrastructure for All


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2/14/18 – The Trump administration just announced its long-awaited infrastructure plan, which is light on federal spending and heavy on expected investments from the private sector. But in Issues, two scholars recently detailed how private investors in past efforts to deploy three major types of infrastructure—railroads, electricity, and the internet—initially targeted communities that were already […]

Arrests of Immigrants Gaining Speed


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2/13/18 – Arrests of immigrants in the United States surged by 40% during the past fiscal year, with the biggest jump occurring among immigrants who had committed no crime other than being in the country illegally. This marks one of many ways that government has defined millions of people as being “outside of civil society,” […]

Nuclear Energy at Tipping Point


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2/9/18 – The United States is at a “tipping point” with its fading nuclear power sector, a federal official told a US congressional committee, adding that its future will depend on developing advanced reactors that are cheaper to build and safer to operate. Issues has recently taken several deep dives into these waters, with experts […]

HUD Says Storm Recovery Must Account for Rising Seas


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2/8/18 – The US Department of Housing and Urban Development just announced that states receiving federal funding for recovery following last year’s three major hurricanes must take into account projected rises in sea level when building in flood-prone areas. The rule aligns with proposals offered recently in Issues as analysts detailed why the nation needs […]