Four Technology Fallacies That Need to Die

As any historian, psychologist, sociologist, or scientist will tell you, the truth of an idea has very little to do with how fast it spreads and how well it’s believed.

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Europe is wrong to take a sledgehammer to Big Google (Evgeny Morozov in FT)

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It is the continent’s favourite hobby, and even the European Parliament cannot resist: having a pop at the world’s biggest search engine. In a recent and largely symbolic vote, representatives urged that Google search should be separated from its other services — demanding, in essence, that the company be broken up.

This would benefit Google’s detractors but not, alas, European citizens. Search, like the social networking sector dominated by Facebook, appears to be a natural monopoly. The more Google knows about each query — who is making it, where and why — the more relevant its results become. A company that has organised, say, 90 per cent of the world’s information would naturally do better than a company holding just one-tenth of that information.

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Profitability without accountability (M. V. RAMANA, SUVRAT RAJU in Mint, Feb 16,2015)

In its efforts to promote nuclear commerce with the United States, the Narendra Modi government has run into a dichotomy that lies at the heart of this industry. While multinational nuclear suppliers, such as G.E. and Westinghouse publicly insist that their products are extraordinarily safe, they are adamant that they will not accept any liability should an accident occur at one of their reactors. The joint announcement by Mr. Modi and U.S. President Barack Obama last month raised concerns that the government would move to effectively indemnify suppliers, contrary to the interests of potential victims. The list of “frequently asked questions” (FAQs) on nuclear liability released by the Ministry of External Affairs on February 8 confirms the suspicion that the Modi government is trying to reinterpret India’s liability law by executive fiat in order to protect nuclear vendors.

The government has disingenuously suggested that it achieved the recent “breakthrough” by establishing an insurance pool to support suppliers. However, to focus on this arrangement is to miss the wood for the trees as even a cursory analysis of the economics of nuclear plants shows.

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The quiet revolution that’s changing the way we use energy

There is a quiet revolution underway in the way we produce and consume energy.

This revolution has been kickstarted by laws, regulations and the arrival of new technologies. It’s been influenced by people – no less passionate than those protesting on the streets – who’ve chosen to engage in the existing economic system to divert it toward more sustainable ends.

It’s not glamorous, and can be slow and technical, but more people are applying themselves to the task internationally – and it is producing results.

This quiet revolution began in the UK in 1990 with the first regulations supporting renewable electricity. The rules obliging energy companies to support non-fossil-fuel-based electricity were originally conceived to support nuclear power after privatisation, with renewable sources such as wind power added subsequently. Twenty-five years and a couple of policy re-designs later, including significantly the Climate Change Act passed by Ed Miliband, the UK has a renewables sector which, though still dependent on subsidies, is starting to make serious in-roads into conventional energy systems.

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Poor internet for poor people: Why Facebook’s Internet.org amounts to economic racism

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Perhaps you’ve been following the news from the digital front in India—there’s been a significant movement in support of net neutrality.

This is the concept that holds, among other things, that all bits and bytes should be treated the same on all telco and carrier networks, so that all users can have their experience of exactly the same internet, with no bias for or against any site for any reason.

Over 750,000 emails have been to the Telecom Authority of India (TRAI), the telecom regulator, from http://savetheinternet.in in the last week. This in itself is unprecedented. (Savetheinternet.in is a webpage created as a platform for consumers to send their responses to TRAI.)

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