Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A shock for everyone interested in brands

Havas Media, the global media network of the French company, Havas, conducted another annual survey, this time involving online panels with 50,000 consumers, in the period March to June 2011, in 14 markets – France, Spain, UK, Germany, Italy, USA, Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, China, Japan and India.

The results are, if not shocking, at least eye-opening:

* For the 4th year running consumer expectations of companies’ responsible behaviour continue to rise

* Nearly 85% of consumers worldwide expect companies to become actively involved in solving these issues (an increase of 15% from 2010)

* Those prepared to reward responsible companies by choosing to buy their products is up 11% from last year to now more than half of all consumers (51%)

* Those who would pay a 10% premium for a product produced in a responsible way is up once again, also now to more than half – from 44% last year to 53% in 2011

* The percentage of consumers who would punish irresponsible companies has also increased to 44% (from 36% in 2010)

* Only 28% of consumers worldwide think that companies today are working hard enough to solve our social and environmental challenges

* Only 20% trust companies when they communicate about their social/environmental commitments and initiatives

* For the second year running: most people would not care if 70% of brands ceased to exist.

As a response, Havas Media has launched “Meaningful Brands,” a global framework that offers a new index, analysis and proprietary tools to measure and build brand value in the context of changing consumer expectations.

The Meaningful Brands index(MBi)connects brands with our quality of life and well-being by measuring the perceived impact of brands on our health, fitness, happiness, values, social relationships, financial security, lifestyles, communities, societies and the environment.

The MBi's ten top brands are: Ikea, Google, Nestlé, Danone, Leroy Merlin, Samsung, Microsoft, Sony, Unilever and Bimbo.

I must confess that Leroy Merlin and Bimbo surprise me. Leroy Merlin is French, and we might suspect a slight French bias there, but Bimbo is Mexican.

The next ten are also interesting: LG, Philips, Apple, P&G, Mars, Volkswagen, L’Oreal, Wal-Mart, Carrefour, Coca-Cola.

The surprises here are Apple and Coca-Cola.

Apple because it is so far below Google and Nestlé, and only just above a chocolate manufacturer and a household products company (both relatively old industries).

Coca-Cola because it pips Pepsi here - and I am interested to learn that it really adds to the sum of human well-being. Sphere: Related Content

Poem written some two years ago, on approaching my 60th birthday

published at: http://guptarasindia.blogspot.com/2011/11/poem-written-some-two-years-ago-on.html Sphere: Related Content

What are the prospects for business in the first half of 2012?

One indication might be that American Airlines decided yesterday to file for bankruptcy. Though that is of course a very general indication in relation to a specific airline

Here is another: Swiss has announced special (cheap or discount) fares to the following destinations, which might indicate that bookings are looking low to and from at least these destinations in relation to Switzerland:

Hong Kong
New York
Sao Paulo
Tel Aviv
Tokyo (NRT)

That seems to me like almost everywhere except India...

Sphere: Related Content

Poem written in April 2011, on a visit near Lucknow

Available at: http://guptarasindia.blogspot.com/2011/11/poem-written-in-april-2011-on-visit.html Sphere: Related Content

Monday, November 28, 2011

investment/ loan opportunity

Investment/ loan opportunity for proposed new branch of King's Kurry in Altstetten Zurich:

an information meeting will be held on this coming Wednesday (Nov 30) and Thursday (Dec 1, 2011), from 1145 to 1300h, at Badenerstrasse 575 (the futuristic building is at the crossing with Flurstrasse, right by the Bus and Tram Stop called Käppeli)

Entry is free, and no reservation is needed. Sphere: Related Content

More and more impressive: Forward Press magazine (Delhi)

http://guptarasindia.blogspot.com/2011/11/more-and-more-impressive-forward-press.html Sphere: Related Content

Friday, November 25, 2011

What is the TPP - and should it be welcomed?

The first question is easier to answer than the second.

So, first, what is the TPP? It is the Trans-Pacific Partnership – a new free trade community being negotiated by ten countries (Australia, Brunei, Chile, Japan Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, Peru, the US, and Vietnam). Initially signed in 2005 by Brunei, Chile, New Zealand and Singapore, it came into effect in 2006. The other countries are negotiating to join.

The TPP hit the world's attention almost without preparation because President Obama lifted it from obscurity, at the recent APEC summit, by suddenly announcing that the TPP is the keystone of his economic programme.

He even called it a "next-generation" trade agreement and suggested that the nations involved commit to concluding it in 2012.

That brings us to the second question: Should the TPP be welcomed? I guess we could take the cue from President Obama and ask the related question: is the TPP a next-generation trade agreement?

Well, the TPP is actually an advance on most current multilateral trade agreements, in the sense that it not only seeks to immediately start reducing tariffs but also to remove them by 2025. However, that sort of thing is normal in free trade agreements. What is “next generation” is that TPP encourages governments to improve market regulation and internal competition, improve market transparency, root out corruption, create a level playing field for private and state-owned companies, allow foreign companies to compete for national or state projects, curb the use of subsidies and credit to support domestic industries – and give companies (not merely governments) the right to seek legal action against unfair practices. Most important, TPP puts in place a requirement for labor rights and environmental protection.

While all that is revolutionary, and takes the TPP to a level far above that of the WTO, the question arises whether, by going beyond the WTO, it does not create a clash between them – for example, WTO specifically prohibits environmental and social considerations from being taken into account. However, if the WTO is going to fall by the wayside, as seems likely or at least possible at present, then TPP provides a much better blueprint for the sort of global organization which should replace that.

I do have one caveat: labour rights are not the same as human rights. While labour rights can be under- or over-protected, human rights are fundamental. President Obama’s avoidance of this issue is worrying. For the New Zealand government’s blockage of this consideration, see http://tppwatch.org/2011/09/04/human-rights-commission-rejection-of-trans-pacific-partnership-audit-latest-blow-to-democratic-process

There are other considerations too – for example, on health-related considerations, see http://www.ip-watch.org/weblog/2011/07/12/trans-pacific-partnership-agreement-did-us-move-threaten-public-health

I conclude that the TPP will be a good thing for the countries concerned. The questions regarding it are whether it will override or be overridden by the WTO, and whether the TPP will sufficiently guard human rights, health and related concerns. Sphere: Related Content

The new China that is ahead

I have been thinking about President Hu's comments at the recent APEC summit, in which he seemed to say that the new generation of Chinese leaders are committed not only to a greater liberalization in the Chinese economy, but also to transform the government so that it is bound by the rule of law and genuinely serves the people.

On the last matter: there is little doubt that, in spite of all the corruption there is in the Chinese system, the system has tried more or less successfully, to serve the people at least at some minimal level.

But I wonder whether the new generation of leaders will really be able to submit themselves to the rule of law. Historically, in Chinese culture, with very few exceptions, law is what the rulers have made for others to be subject to - not for themselves to be subject to...

Premier Wen went further when he promised that the State would retreat from spheres that should be regulated by the market, by civic groups, by industry groups or by trade groups.

These are most encouraging statements. However, in Chinese culture, what is said for public consumption is not necessarily what is really going to happen. So let us be thankful that at least the sentiments at this time are in the right direction. But we have to wait and see what the new generation of Chinese authorities, who take over in 2012, actually do.

If they deliver on these sorts of sentiments, then China will have finally started moving in the direction of being, not merely a country that plays fast and loose according to whatever benefits itself, but a country worth counting as a modern civilized nation which will do what is right even when it is costly to itself.

Civilization is built only when people stop looking at what is in their own short-term interest, and start being willing to pay the cost of doing what is right. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Is the Future of the Euro now in doubt ...and is the US dollar now doubly secure?

Following reports in the press and on the grapevine this week, I have changed my view of the future of the Euro.

I used to think that the chances of the Euro breaking up were 10 for a breakup versus 90 against. Now, I think the chances are 50:50

If Chancellor Merkel really believes that the Euro cannot bring the markets to heel, then the markets will certainly not be brought to heel - and that means the slow or rapid disintegration of the Euro project.

Not guaranteed, of course, because a week is a long time in politics and in monetary history - and anything could happen to drive the recalcitrant Euro-periphery and other countries into the line that is necessary for greater economic and financial integration in the Eurozone - and that is in turn necessary for the Euro to be healthy.

In any case, a breakup is not something that is going to happen tomorrow (though things do move much more swiftly nowadays). In "normal" times, one would expect the disentanglement of the Euro to take place over some years.

Whether slow or rapid, it remains true that the breakup of the Euro will bring enormous costs for all Eurozone countries: Germany will be hit as its exports become more expensive because a revived Deutschmark or equivalent, released from the burden of the rest of the Eurozone will shoot up in value. German exports will also be hit because demand from the rest of the Eurozone (which will be badly hit by the breakup) will dry up. So will demand from most other countries - indeed, we should expect all export oriented countries to be further hit, and expect commodity prices to fall.

All that will, in turn, will provide a fillip for the fortunes of the US dollar (as well as for the UK Pound, which should anyway begin its swing back in the next 12 to 18 months). The question is how far the upswing will go. Sphere: Related Content

Friday, November 18, 2011

my post on Zhong's research relating cheating to deliberation

is posted today 18 November 2011 as "Cheating, Rationalism, Rationalisation and Rationality" at my Indian blog http://guptarasindia.blogspot.com/2011/11/cheating-rationalism-rationalisation.htmlhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif Sphere: Related Content

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Nods, winks, peer pressure and boss pressure: their role in the current crisis

My view is and has been that the current crisis could not have come into being had the existing rules been followed.

I have publicly stated that nods and winks on the part of elected officials "steered" people in responsibility towards taking their responsibilities less seriously than they might have done - ffor example, laying the cultural and market basis for the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act.

I see that Justin M. Ross of Indiana University's School of Public and Environmental Affairs has demonstrated the role of political influence in what might seem, at first glance, to be the "objective" domain of the assessment of the value of property:
http://ideas.repec.org/a/sej/ancoec/v771y2010p776-794.html Sphere: Related Content

Unemployment in the USA

Now that youth unemployment in the USA has reached similar levels to the "Arab Spring" countries, you might find it interesting to note the following:

"Increasingly long periods of high unemployment have followed the US
recessions of the last two decades. From 1945 to the 1980s, employment
rebounded roughly six months after GDP did. But in the wake of the
1990–91 and 2001 recessions, it recovered 15 and 39 months,
respectively, after GDP had returned to the prerecession peak. At recent
rates of job creation, the lag this time will be upward of 60 months". To
learn more, click:

In my view of course, the US recovery will be far swifter - provided the US adopts the right policies. Sphere: Related Content

Is there an IMF warning on China?

Though various headlines today suggest there is an IMF warning on the Chinese economy, regrettably the IMF has chosen to whitewash the prospects for the Chinese economy.

If you read the report, you will see that the IMF is sanguine about the Chinese economy even if its growth rate falls to 4%.

This is simply idiotic.

At present, the IMF does not see any real estate bubble, any over-investment in infrastrucure, nothing to worry about in the bad loans in the banking sector....

All the IMF wants China to do, in order to avoid whatever little danger it sees even in the case of the most extreme imaginable financial crisis scenario, is to simply liberalize its financial sector - and, presto, no one needs to worry about any problems in the Chinese economy any more!

Is that a rat I smell? Sphere: Related Content

Support for my view on the US economy?

readers who enjoyed my post titled "A Final Chance?: The Economic Crisis and the Future of the USA", will be interested in the following post from Bloomberg today

You might like to keep in mind that you read about the revival of US manufacturing here first. Sphere: Related Content

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Raymond Learsy on Oil and Finance

OIL AND FINANCE is the title of Raymond J Learsy's second book, which has been published recently.

His first book was titled OVER A BARREL, published in 2007. In that book he set out how the US became addicted to oil, and why geopolitics makes that dependence dangerous. Exploring the social, economic, and political effects of oil discoveries on the major oil producing countries, he suggests an inverse relationship between the "oil countries" (my term), and their incredibly repressive regimes with consequently low rates of political participation, and slow development of a civil society, so that these countries are virtual time bombs waiting for revolution or the birth of the next bin Laden. That is because these countries have developed systems whereby a few at the top enjoy incredible wealth, while vast corruption and repression is the fate of most people. While the elite indulge in degenerate Western lifestyles at Monte Carlo, Geneva, London and New York, they finance Wahhabism as the opiate of the masses in order to forestall modernity and keep their populations locked in feudalism. Having sold our collective soul to such dislikable and unsustainable regimes, we are stuck with the unpleasant fact that part of the profit from every gallon of petrol one buys is likely to end up helping to finance some extremist group or the other. Learsy concludes by proposing solutions including: renewing a focus on nuclear power, busting OPEC, taxing big oil’s profits, and investing in bio-fuels and other alternative forms of energy.

In his second book, Learsy brings together his blog entries from The Huffington Post over the period 2006 to 2010, organised chronologically under headings that reflect the concerns of his first book.

The first section is "Enemies Foreign" - in which the culprits, are, principally, OPEC in general, but specifically the Saudis and the Russians, as well as the US elite which has found its way to entrenching its interests in the country's political system.

The second section therefore turns to "Enemies Domestic", excoriating policymakers and the big oil companies, attacking the proponents of Peak Oil as the witting or unwitting agents of Big Oil, and relating all this to the current global financial and economic crisis.

In the third section "How we can fight back", he argues for the right use of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, pleads for us to reduce our consumption of oil, and encourages us to invest in alternative energy production (including nuclear).

The book's "real-time commentaries" on the events of the last five years are a useful record. Chronicling "the corruption of a commodity that is essential to the world's economic well-being", Learsy asks us to wake up to what lies ahead as other "core commodities" such as food products are subjected to "political, monopoly, marketing and financial manipulation". He is clear that prices are manipulated through "glaring speculation on our trading exchanges", through "the lack of oversight by our regulatory agencies; and the abject opportunism of our financial sector, especially of large banks abetting and grossly profiting from rising oil prices much to the detriment of households struggling with escalating heating bills and gasoline costs".

Americans, particularly, will be interested to know that he is most concerned by "what has become... the greatest threat to our nation and to the world - the transfer of literally trillions of dollars ... to oil interests and terror-sponsoring despots (who) have helped to destabilize today's world, lubricating the clash of civilizations and ... radicaliz(ing) the young and vulnerable in all corners of the globe with the destructive ethos of jihad and intolerance".

Altogether, OIL AND FINANCE documents and condemns the continuation of a system "that is barely functioning, responsive not to the general weal nor to the basic economic laws of supply and demand but rather to the influence, lucre and access of the few and their special interests".

Observing that President Obama, having promised to change things, has been no more effective in bringing the oil lobby to heel than was President Bush, Learsy raises a chilling question on the last page of this book: "Could it be that corruption and complacency are now too deeply entrenched to be reversed?"

In fact, corruption and complacency can be reversed, as I have argued through the example of the work of William Wilberforce and other reformers who were fighting corruption and complacency that were much more deeply entrenched in their own societies, which had the additional disadvantage, from the reformers' point of view, of being more like today's "oil countries" than like today's democracies. However, cultural transformation does take huge cultural and spiritual resources, as is documented in Vishal Mangalwadi's THE BOOK THAT MADE YOUR WORLD. Certainly, books such as this one, analysing the malaise will not be enough. It will require today's cultural gatekeepers in the US and Europe to accept the kind of resources Mangalwadi documents if corruption and complacency are going to be fought once again in our modern world. Sphere: Related Content

Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Secularist Censorship in the USA

Tony Carnes, Publisher & Editor, A Journey through NYC religions (www.nycreligion.info) kindly gives me permission to reproduce the following long excerpt from his latest message to subscribers:

"Last summer, high buzz was generated in the city's literary circles with the publication of Alfred Kazin's journals. Kazin, who held forth at The New Yorker & elsewhere as the most powerful reviewer in America, had a secret life that was now going to be made public. The unexpurgated sections of the journals revealed that Kazin's hidden life was...religion.

"'From adolescence onward, Kazin was engrossed in a spiritual and sometimes mystical inner life that he never talked about, 'wrote the reviewer for New York Review of Books. 'None of his friends or lovers seems to have been aware of it.' It was far more hidden than his sex life.

In the late Twentieth Century, secularity in the city was so powerful that even the powerful hid their religious impulses. Whenever Kazin dared to write on his religious notions he did so pseudonymously through others. "Much of what he had to say in his essays about other people's religion was secretly about his own...The journals make clear that his long introduction to The Portable Blake (1946) was disguised self-portrait, with Blake's Christianity standing in for Kazin's Judaism."

We have stumbled forward out of that secularist stupor, but we still have a long ways to go. Perhaps, one reason A Journey strikes a chord with many people is that it allows people to explore hidden inner religious impulses that they can't do among their friends. For some A Journey is a place to heal from bad religion without giving up hope for good religion. Some of our secular friends see A Journey as an antidote to "secularism" that is a sort of illness of the intellectual faculties that make one unable to realistically and empathetically understand "religious others." Sphere: Related Content

Monday, November 07, 2011

The text of my talk at the Indian Institute of Foreign Trade, on "Surviving and Succeeding as a Business Executive"

Your Excellencies, Professor Dr Mrs Vijaya Katti, Professor Dr Ravi Shanker, Mr R K Mitra IFS, Dr Biswajit Nag, Honoured Representatives of Foreign Embassies and High Commissions, other Distinguished Guests, Respected Faculty, dear Participants in the IIFT programmes, and Comperes Mr Rajiv Mishra and Mrs Kanupriya Saigal:

My thanks to you, Kanupriya, for that kind introduction, and my thanks also to the Committee that has organized this event, especially to Mr Mukesh Kumar who has I guess led the team, for the invitation to speak here today. I am always delighted when I discover "initiatives for good" undertaken by anyone in our society, and especially if the initiative is taken by people such as you, who are already leaders in your fields and want to grow further as leaders.

My topic today is “Surviving and succeeding as a business executive”, which has certain similarities to surviving and succeeding as an entrepreneur (I know that some of you are executives and some are entrepreneurs – but I will leave you who are entrepreneurs to work out what applies and what does not apply to you, and the many additional aspects there are to being a successful entrepreneur).

May I start my talk by asking if you know what recruiters look for in possible employees? And what we should look for in employees?

You know of course that first comes technical or professional competence. If you have a Second Class degree from IIFT, you are unlikely be selected in preference to someone who has a First Class degree from IIFT.

The second thing that you look for is relational competence – is this applicant the sort of person who will fit into the team? Will they even contribute to the team? Between two candidates, both of whom have First Class degrees, the one who is perceived to have more relational competence will be more likely to be chosen.

The final, and most important consideration when selecting an employee at the managerial or executive level is this: is the candidate HUNGRY? DOES S/HE WANT TO GO PLACES? Is he/she a SELF-STARTER? Does he/she have INITIATIVE? Even LEADERSHIP? We want people with FIRE IN THEIR BELLY – there are various expressions that are used to indicate the quality that is looked for – but let’s settle for HUNGER.

SO, if you want to make an impact in the marketplace, you need to have:
- A HUNGER FOR PERSONAL EXCELLENCE – notice: NOT merely ambition for as much money as possible as quickly as possible…

Well, folks, I don’t know what you are like, but when I go to a conference, I am happy if there is one key thought that I can go away and think about and apply, if I have two such key thoughts that’s great, and if I have three that’s like a banquet – and I really can’t cope with more than that!

So, it may be that God has already given you the key thought that you need to hear – but that’s what you need to be listening out for, not how incredibly stupid or sensible, dull or entertaining I am….

On the other hand, it is possible that you haven’t yet got your key learning from this session, so let’s press on.

Let’s imagine that you have been able to convince the recruiters and the company executives that you are technically competent, that you are right for their team, and that you are keen, enthusiastic, hungry, with fire in your belly and the rest.

So you have been selected, and you have received the congratulations and blessings of family and friends, and celebrated, and so on.

Now you are just headed to your first day at work.

What should be your first goal?

It is to establish your credibility! How do you do that? Through reliability, being on time, performing to budget, to quality. And, if possible, OUTPERFORMING on timing, budget and quality. THE ABILITY TO LOOK AND SOUND GOOD MAY GET YOU INTO A JOB, or even into tasks within a company, but it is only your ability to keep delivering to time, budget and quality that will keep you in your job – and, if you want to have a career and grow in your company, focus on outperforming (not the others in the company) but outperforming on the criteria of time, budget and quality.

I guess that point quite simple: The first thing is to establish your credibility!

What’s the 2nd thing? RAISE YOUR VISIBILITY. Once you have established your credibility, if your company is any good, it will be looking for good workers, workers with potential, to train and use at higher levels in the organization. ASK QUESTIONS, RAISE CONCERNS, PROPOSE SOLUTIONS, TAKE LEADERSHIP WITH OTHERS IN ORDER TO DO WHATEVER NEEDS TO BE DONE, WHETHER IT IS ORGANISING A BIRTHDAY PARTY FOR A COLLEAGUE, OR A SPECIAL GIFT FOR SOMEONE WHO IS IN DIFFICULTY, OR CREATING A TEAM TO MANAGE AN OFFICE OR WORK CRISIS.

Raising your profile also has to do with ensuring that others in the company, and specially your boss, know what you are doing and what you are contributing to the company, including your thoughts and concerns and questions, AND that you always have an up to date CV so that you are ready to move departments or companies in case you are fired – yes, bad things do happen to good people, and the Scout Motto is: Be Prepared!



Once you have established your credibility and are raising your visibility, your 3rd task is before you: ADDING VALUE TO THE COMPANY.

There are actually two main ways in which you can add value to a company, either CUTTING COSTS or CREATING REVENUES. Cutting costs is easier, not that any thing is easy, but it is relatively speaking easier in the current climate. Look around you to see how work could be more efficiently organized without compromising quality – actually, it might even enhance quality. Are there steps in the work flow that are redundant or could take place in parallel? Would reorgansing the workspace produce things in less time? Would having an ice machine or a coffee machine increase interaction and informal discussion and therefore improve teamwork, specially across divisions or department?

Of course you might retort that there’s been so much cost-cutting in my company that its easier to grow revenues! Well, so much the better – any company is always looking for new ideas to increase revenue. But there’s a bit of a catch here. You will always increase revenue most sustainably when you identify customer needs that are not met, and find a way of serving those needs. So don’t THINK “revenue” or you will go down the wrong road, as so many companies do. THINK “unmet customer needs” and you will then no doubt figure out a reasonably good way of increasing revenues with it.

So what is the first thing you have to do to be able to impact the marketplace? Establish Credibility.

The second? Raise Visibility.

The third? Add Value by cutting costs or serving unmet customer needs.

Now we come to what is nearly the most important thing you can do for a company: ENHANCING REPUTATION AND BRAND VALUE.

Brand value is the premium that is attracted to a brand from customers who are willing to pay extra for it.
• The Brand Finance plc. Global Intangible Financial Tracker League Table (GIFT) is a 10 year study of the intangible asset values of all public stock exchanges worldwide
• GIFT is released in January each year but due to the exceptional economic conditions it has been updated as of 24th August 2011
• Further panic in world stock markets has resulted in a 25% ($6.3 tn) reduction in intangible asset values.
• Despite the fall recorded in GIFT, this update of the Brand Finance Global 100 brands shows that there has only been a 2.4% drop in their combined value! That’s ONE TENTH of the average drop in brand value!

How much are these top 100 brands worth anyway? Roughly 25 trillion USD, or nearly the total value of goods and services produced in the entire United States over TWO years!

That’s only the top 100 brands!

So you can see that reputation is worth a lot. A good name, a good reputation is worth a lot. And it isn’t built by advertising, though that helps. A reputation is built by being clear WHAT reputation you are trying to build - and then crafting, aligning, monitoring, controlling, refining and reorganising all the systems and procedures, all the policies and incentives, and everything else, to make sure that the company consistently and continually delivers on what it promises.

So, from all the above, the question for us this afternoon is: what ideas, what initiatives, what moves, can you think of that would add to the reputation of the company, its good name? What can you suggest, and more important, eventually actually DO to ensure that quality, reliability, precision, value for money, ethics, customer satisfaction, environmental concern, social justice or whatever other values your company wants to stand for - are firmly associated in the customer’s mind with your company?

So what was the first thing you have to do in any job? ESTABLISHING CREDIBILITY


That is easier to do in some cultures than in others. Easier to do in North European and North American cultures than in almost any other culture in the world. But of course the reality is that it has become more difficult than it used to be thirty years ago even in Northern European and North American cultures, while it has become more easy here in our culture than it used to be thirty years ago. Why has it become more difficult in Northern Europe and North America – and why has it become easier in India? Because we have come more into line with international standards as a result of globalization influenced by standards that derive eventually from the Bible rather than from any other source, while Northern Europe and North America are already suffering the cultural consequences of their rejection of Biblical values – and those consequences will come here too, unless we are careful.

But those are broader questions than we have time for right now – though you may want to take up such matters in the question and answer time that we have before us.

Meanwhile, I hope that I have provided some food for thought.

Thank you. Sphere: Related Content

Robots that teach themselves...

Further to my earlier blogs on the subject of the latest developments in robotics and the economic, social and political threat they represent to humanity as a whole:

For the first time in the world, Tokyo Institute of Technology's Associate Professor Osamu Hasegawa, has developed a system that allows robots to look around their environment and combine that with research on the Internet, enabling them to "think" how best to solve a problem.

Naturally, we expect robots to process and perform the tasks they are preprogrammed to do, but the Self-Organizing Incremental Neural Network, or "SOINN," is an algorithm that allows robots to use their knowledge to infer how to complete tasks they have been told to do but NOT programmed to do. By the way, that includes learning and performance in relation to objects they have never encountered earlier.

Self-learning in relation to material objects will soon be followed by self-learning in relation to some (and then all) aspects of animal and human behaviour....

How long before these self-learning robots teach themselves to decide to do tasks they are not asked to do? Sphere: Related Content