When I was studying economics in the 1980s, it was quite vulnerable to the criticism that the entire edifice was built on a shaky assumption: homo economicus. But now that Kahnemann, Thaler et al. have slain h.e., economics is that much stronger.
Once before, the Ambanis (Reliance) disrupted the Indian telecom market, and in the process changed the dynamics of markets across the developing world. This was the “fixed mobility” stunt they pulled off around 2000, when CDMA phones were sold as being usable only within defined areas. But they were actually mobile phones and the company made it possible for the phones to be used across multiple areas. On unintended (or perhaps intended) consequence was to drive down the costs of CDMA network equipment and handsets dramatically. CDMA, which did make sense for Sri Lanka in 1999, made eminent sense in 2003.
Yesterday I was at the launch of a report on cloud computing by the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy funded by Microsoft in Manila. Listening to the presentations and then reading the report, I was surprised that there was no discussion whatsoever on any risks that may come with a move to cloud by developing countries. I had written such a discussion for UNCTAD a few years back and blogged about it subsequently. But it’s too easy to beat up on other people. We should always apply these kinds of tests on ourselves.
When I said on Facebook that I was on my way to Manila to speak at the 2017 International Conference on Sustainable Development Goals Statistics, a colleague said: “Aren’t SDGs an over-rated self-indulgence by the UN system? True, member states have endorsed them but how many are taking them any more seriously than they did those MDGs? How many captains of industry are familiar with SDGs (never mind the public)?” I have been accused of expedient pragmatism. Never considered it an insult because that’s a necessary part of policy engagement.
We wrote about this sometime back, that too referring to the Economist. Seems that Kenneth Cukier and Abu Saeed Khan are interested in the same kinds of things. But earlier, the talk was about reporting rain. Now it’s about predicting, which is way more interesting: Though it is useful to know how much rain is falling right now, forecasting is even better. Telecoms data promise to make this easier as well.
I have been a fan of Daniel Solove’s approach to privacy, where he foregrounds actual harms suffered by individuals rather than derive remedies from abstract principles. I have often said that the informed-consent model is of zero value when people find that their personally identifiable information stored by an organization has been stolen. The US Federal Trade Commission has called for comments on informational harms or injuries. I am tempted to respond. Would if there were 28 hours in a day.
Libertarians believe private property is sacrosanct. But ownership has never been absolute. In some countries ownership of land includes what lies beneath; in others it does not. Servitudes may detract from absolute ownership and so on. The situation is becoming similar with consumer goods it seems.
Two and a half weeks after the Sri Lanka Broadband Summit, the coverage continues, this time in the highest-circulation English language newspaper, the Sunday Times. The Sri Lankan government should be focusing more on investment and not subsidies to develop telecommunications in the country, says Rohan Samarajiva Chairman of LIRNEasia. Addressing the second Broadband Forum held at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo recently Mr. Samarajiva said that the Government said, “The Sri Lankan government should focused more on investment and not subsidies. Taxing incoming and outgoing calls in this day and age is silly.
The significance of opinion leaders and influentials seeing how life is in other countries is under-appreciated. Around 2000, because of my expertise, I started representing Myanmar at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations on technological matters. As I traveled, I saw that neighboring countries were surpassing us. Once, in Cambodia, when I spotted a taxi driver with a cell phone, I thought, “A taxi driver isn’t supposed to have that!” I was also one of the first people in Myanmar to get the internet, and I realized that with just a few clicks, a kid from here could have the same access as one in Silicon Valley.
Galpaya, H.G, Senanayake, D. L, Suthaharan, P. Exploring the challenges faced by Sri Lankan workers in web-based digital labour platforms, CPRsouth 2017, August, 2017.
We have not worked on mobile money in Myanmar. But now that mobile penetration is quite high, time is ripe for mobile financial services. Here is a description of the challenges: The biggest challenge for anyone in this business is the distribution network. Myanmar is such a big country. We’re now in about 70% of townships around the country – to get around and actually see where our outlets are, it’s a lot of travel.
ICTs are what make today’s complex global value chains and global production networks possible. It is the reduction of transaction costs (a central element in many of LIRNEasia’s research projects) that has made these new ways of organizing production emerge. Therefore, I write and talk about GPNs and GVCs. This coming Friday, 29th September, I’ll be speaking on this and participating in a panel discussion at 1800 hrs at Galadari Hotel. The event is organized by the Market Alumni Association.
There was a big kerfuffle about China banning Whatsapp. But when Saudi Arabia did the “beheading” in 2013, much less outrage. Oh well. It helps when you have driven expectation down to the negative range. But anyway, they seem to have figured that there’s a downside in not having these services.
We like to engage with National Statistical Offices. Because they have data we can use and population frames that make our surveys possible. Also because we believe we can help them understand the true potential of big data to complement old style data they’ve been working with for years. Why us? There are plenty of people with slide decks on big data.
Helani Galpaya and Peter Cihon were interviewed on their work on user perspectives on zero-rated content in Myanmar. The article draws on findings from both Mozilla commissioned qualitative research, as well the nationally representative surveys on ICT use and information needs. “In Myanmar and a lot of developing countries, Facebook is the internet, whether it’s free or not,” Galpaya said. Cihon noted that in some cases, Telenor Free users don’t distinguish between Facebook and the rest of the internet. They can access the full range of the social media platform’s features, and because Facebook is a dominant force in the country, people don’t feel incentivized to look for other resources.
Microsoft, Facebook and Telxius have confirmed the completion of 6,600km-long (4,100 miles) subsea cable construction. It spans from Virginia Beach, USA to Bilbao, Spain reaching depths of 11,000 feet below the surface. The cable named Marea, which means tide in Spanish, is the highest capacity cable to cross the Atlantic, offering up to 160Tbps. It is expected to be operational by early 2018. Read more.