Courageous Collaborations: Difficult dialogue moves us forward

Sponsored by the Charles Koch Foundation.


Are you courageous enough to collaborate with your enemies? 

  • Bishop Omar Jahwar has worked beside all kinds of unlikely allies, from Aryan Brotherhood gang leaders to former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
  • What is an enemy? A true enemy is rare, says Bishop Omar. "Enemies come when there is true violation, not true rhetoric... sometimes you have to go beyond the rhetoric so you can see the real."
  • You cannot solve deep problems from the comfort of an echo chamber—it takes courage. The key to courageous collaborations is meeting your so-called enemy to ask: "What do we fiercely agree upon? And let's work like hell to make it happen."

The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.

Why free speech is sacred—even when it's dangerous

  • Suppression of free speech dooms democracy, says law professor Nadine Strossen. We should all be open to hearing dangerous and odious ideas rather than drive them underground.
  • "[P]eople will often say to me, as somebody who is Jewish and the daughter of a Holocaust survivor who barely survived the Buchenwald Concentration Camp: How can I of all people defend the Nazis?" says Strossen. She also says, "And mark my words I would be equally distraught at having voices on the right silenced for a whole lot of reasons, one of which is the indivisibility of all rights."

The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.

Ideology drives us apart. Neuroscience can bring us back together. 

  • How can we reach out to people on the other side of the divide? Get to know the other person as a human being before you get to know them as a set of tribal political beliefs, says Sarah Ruger. Don't launch straight into the difficult topics—connect on a more basic level first.
  • To bond, use icebreakers backed by neuroscience and psychology: Share a meal, watch some comedy, see awe-inspiring art, go on a tough hike together—sharing tribulation helps break down some of the mental barriers we have between us. Then, get down to talking, putting your humanity before your ideology.

The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations

I worked in the prison system for 5 years. Here's what it does to a person.

  • Most people who go to prison are not incorrigible criminals - just normal people who made mistakes.
  • The prison system can become breeding ground for antisocial behaviors.
  • Bishop Jahwar worked with prisoners to help them retain the core of who they were and "take masks off".

The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.

How the marketplace of ideas went rogue

  • The marketplace of ideas is a better metaphor than it's intended to be, notes Eli Pariser. As any good economist will tell you, the best product doesn't always rise to the top.
  • The institutional gatekeepers and experts who once kept checks and balances on the marketplace of ideas have been replaced by social media algorithms that reward emotion and outrage over expertise and truth.
  • How can media institutions like Facebook make this right? By reevaluating the business model that serves advertisers instead of readers, and by clearly stating their values—even if that means losing some of those 2 billion users.

The Charles Koch Foundation is committed to understanding what drives intolerance and the best ways to cure it. The foundation supports interdisciplinary research to overcome intolerance, new models for peaceful interactions, and experiments that can heal fractured communities. For more information, visit charleskochfoundation.org/courageous-collaborations. The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.

Why you should tolerate intolerable ideas

How free speech deepens the quality of good ideas.

Why the U.S. is an anomaly among democracies

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  • "A country is not going to resolve a national crisis unless it acknowledges that it's in a crisis," says Jared Diamond. "If you don't, you're going to get nowhere. Many Americans still don't recognize today that the United States is descending into a crisis."
  • The U.S. tends to focus on "bad countries" like China, Canada and Mexico as the root of its problems, however Diamond points out the missing piece: Americans are generating their own problems.
  • The crisis the U.S. is experiencing is not cause for despair. The U.S. has survived many tragedies, such as the War of Independence and the Great Depression – history is proof that the U.S. can get through this current crisis too.




  • We all think that we're competent consumers of news media, but the research shows that even journalists struggle with identifying fact from fiction.
  • When judging whether a piece of media is true or not, most of us focus too much on the source itself. Knowledge has a context, and it's important to look at that context when trying to validate a source.
  • The opinions expressed in this video do not necessarily reflect the views of the Charles Koch Foundation, which encourages the expression of diverse viewpoints within a culture of civil discourse and mutual respect.
  • Over 50 developing countries' Chinese debt accounts for on average 15 percent of their individual GDP.
  • New report shows that the majority of the world's developing country's debt to China is considered "hidden."
  • China's loans for poor countries are primarily for crucial infrastructure.

China's overseas lending, which was virtually zero before the turn of the century — well, about $500 billion in 2000 — stands today, ostensibly, at around $5 trillion. Indeed, they are now the world's largest creditor, being twice as large as both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, combined.

As much of what China does is under a veiled curtain of secrecy, it's been difficult to track how all the money is flowing. A new comprehensive study though, by Sebastian Horn and Christoph Trebesch of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, and Carmen Reinhart of Harvard University, has provided some new insights about China's official credit lending empire. What did the researchers discover? More than half of China's lending to developing countries is what they term "hidden" money — loans that haven't been reported to any of the international funds, such as the World Bank.

Indeed, economist and author of the report, Tresbesch, recently told Germany's Spiegel in an interview following the release of the study's findings, that compiling all of the information was like "a kind of economic archeology." Their information came from numerous financial world databases, along with some documents provided courtesy of the CIA.

It's no secret that China would like to keep this type of information occluded from the international scene. Opponents of China's secretive lending practices fear that Beijing is engaging in predatory debt diplomacy and using their worldwide Belt and Road Initiative to create a new kind of economic colonialism over Africa and other parts of the developing world.

China’s creditor strategy for economic growth

China is in a state of further economic evolution. Long gone are the days of being the world's impoverished manufacturer. With a thriving consumer market boosted at home, China is now flexing their influence over vast swathes of the world. One of their strategies is by becoming the world's most involved lender to poor countries.

This can be problematic for a number of reasons. Countries that take this deal, end up grossly indebting themselves to China's policies in a number of ways, both monetarily and culturally. An example on the extreme end of the spectrum is Djibouti, whose Chinese debt is equivalent to 70 percent of the country's GDP. On average, the top 50 of China's borrowers owe somewhere near 15 percent of their GDPs, which, still, on a global scale is quite a lot.

The authors also found that China has never officially disclosed any loans to Iran, Venezuela, or Zimbabwe, which on other records it's been shown that China is a major creditor. The report speculates that one of the ways to avoid these international cross-border crediting claims, is by the Chinese government disbursing loans straight to Chinese contractors rather than the developing governments themselves.

A great deal of these loans aren't subject to credit rating agencies, because most of China's foreign loans flow straight from their government. China's lending practices take on another interesting dynamic, as the country is lending much more than just money: it is also helping build crucial infrastructure in these developing nations. In doing so, China exports a healthy dose of its culture and influence.

Growing influence in Africa 

China's investment in Africa takes the form of loans in exchange for infrastructure development. Oftentimes, Chinese companies and citizens reap the benefits and profits of these large projects. While many Africans welcome the much needed investment into their countries, it's not clear how much the continent is benefiting from this Chinese influence.

One major issue a lot of countries are facing is that almost the entirety of their country's debt load comes from China. For example, of Kenya's $50 billion in debt, more than 72 percent of it is from China. In Senegal, highways, industrial parks and other crucial developmental projects for a functioning country are all funded by large, risky Chinese loans. Again, much of this value goes back to China. They're not doing this for humanitarian reasons. The Chinese expect a capital and cultural return.

Tim Wegenast, who wrote a report about Chinese mining in Africa states:

"It's more or less safe to say that Chinese companies employ less local labor than other companies because they bring over many Chinese workers, and when they develop local infrastructure, they provide countries with loans which are being used to pay for it, which is then constructed by Chinese companies and Chinese labor."

A future of Chinese credit

According to The Economist, China's lending prowess is more of a mixed bag. While many new loans from China were offloaded with debt relief by Western creditors after defaulting, China has in the past put forth some debt restructuring plans on 140 of their foreign loans. Although at other times, they've taken their collateral with ruthless abandon, for example when they seized the Hambantota Port in Sri Lanka.

Many Chinese loans have higher extended interest rates and short maturities, with heavy collateral that includes commodities, or even important strategic foreign infrastructure.

The authors of the report note that China has started talking about being more transparent and sustainable on their loans in the future. But no clear evidence of this taking place has yet to materialize.

The future of air travel is… paperless. Or will be, under an initiative introduced by the World Economic Forum.


The Known Traveller Digital Identity (KTDI) programme will allow people to fly document-free between international destinations. Testing for the scheme is underway, and passengers enrolled in the pilot project will be able to travel between Canada and the Netherlands using their mobile phone instead of a passport.

Globally, the air travel system is under pressure as rising passenger numbers outstrip growth in airport capacity. KTDI aims to speed up the flow of passengers through airports and reduce the risk of cross-border identity fraud.

"By 2030, international air arrivals are expected to reach 1.8 billion passengers, up 50% from 2016. Under today's systems, airports cannot keep up with this growth," says Christoph Wolff, Head of Mobility at the World Economic Forum. "This project offers a solution. By using an interoperable digital identity and other KTDI technologies we are offering travellers a holistic answer to secure and seamless travel. This will shape the future of aviation and security."

Go with the flow

Passengers arriving at participating airports will already have their identity data encrypted and stored on their mobile phone, instead of on a passport microchip.

Relevant information is sent to airlines, border authorities and others before passengers reach the airport. Individual consent is needed each time data is sent, which gives travellers more control over their personal data than the existing passport system.

Using biometric technology – such as fingerprinting or facial recognition – passengers can enjoy seamless, and paperless, transit through departures, onto their flight and on arrival at their destination.

A landmark moment

Trials of the KTDI programme will run throughout 2019, with the first digitally documented end-to-end journey expected to take place in 2020.

Speeding the flow of passengers through the world's airports could ease the pressure on an industry facing rapid growth in the coming years.

 Image: UN World Tourism Organisation

As the above chart shows, the number of international tourist arrivals is set to boom over the next decade.

Growth is set to be strongest in the emerging economies of Asia, Latin America, Africa and the Middle East, accounting for 57% of all international arrivals in 2030.

The KTDI programme could help the aviation industry cope with this increase in passenger numbers. But adopting paperless travel on a global scale will not be without its challenges.

Success will rest upon cooperation between world governments, technology providers, the aviation industry, border authorities and others, to establish global security and data protection standards for all stakeholders to comply with.

The pilot scheme represents a unique collaborative effort between stakeholders in Canada and the Netherlands, which could become a model for others to follow and change the way air travel operates.

Reprinted with permission of the World Economic Forum. Read the original article.

Many people who are old enough to have experienced the first moon landing will vividly remember what it was like watching Neil Armstrong utter his famous quote: “That's one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind."


Half a century later, the event is still one of the top achievements of humankind. Despite the rapid technological advances since then, astronauts haven't actually been back to the moon since 1972.

This seems surprising. After all, when we reflect on this historic event, it is often said that we now have more computing power in our pocket than the computer aboard Apollo 11 did. But is that true? And, if so, how much more powerful are our phones?

On board Apollo 11 was a computer called the Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC). It had 2048 words of memory which could be used to store “temporary results" – data that is lost when there is no power. This type of memory is referred to as RAM (Random Access Memory). Each word comprised 16 binary digits (bits), with a bit being a zero or a one. This means that the Apollo computer had 32,768 bits of RAM memory.

In addition, it had 72KB of Read Only Memory (ROM), which is equivalent to 589,824 bits. This memory is programmed and cannot be changed once it is finalised.

A single alphabetical character – say an “a" or a “b" – typically requires eight bits to be stored. That means the Apollo 11 computer would not be able to store this article in its 32,768 bits of RAM. Compare that to your mobile phone or an MP3 player and you can appreciate that they are able to store much more, often containing thousands of emails, songs and photographs.

Phone memory and processing

To put that into more concrete terms, the latest phones typically have 4GB of RAM. That is 34,359,738,368 bits. This is more than one million (1,048,576 to be exact) times more memory than the Apollo computer had in RAM. The iPhone also has up to 512GB of ROM memory. That is 4,398,046,511,104 bits, which is more seven million times more than that of the guidance computer.

But memory isn't the only thing that matters. The Apollo 11 computer had a processor – an electronic circuit that performs operations on external data sources – which ran at 0.043 MHz. The latest iPhone's processor is estimated to run at about 2490 MHz. Apple do not advertise the processing speed, but others have calculated it. This means that the iPhone in your pocket has over 100,000 times the processing power of the computer that landed man on the moon 50 years ago.

The situation is even more stark when you consider that there will be other processing built into the iPhone which looks after particular tasks, such as the display.

What about a calculator?

It's one thing comparing against a state-of-the-art phone, but how did the Apollo 11 computer compare against a classic calculator? Texas Instruments was one of the most famous manufacturers of calculators. In 1998, they released the TI-73, and in 2004, they released the TI-84.

The following tables shows the specification of these two calculators.

Texas Instruments: TI73 and TI-84 Calculator Specifications. (The Conversation).

If we compare the two calculators against the Apollo guidance computer we can note that the TI-73 has slightly less ROM, but eight times more RAM. By the time the TI-84 was released, amount of RAM had increased to 32 times more than the Apollo computer and the ROM was now more than 14,500 times more.

Comparision of TI-73 and TI-84 memory with AGC. (The Conversation)

With regard to processing speed, the TI-73 was 140 times faster than the Apollo computer and the TI-84 was almost 350 times faster.

It's mind-blowing to think about that a simple calculator, designed to help students decades ago pass their exams, was more powerful than the computer that landed man on the moon.

What if Apollo 11 had had a modern computer?

The Apollo computer was state-of-the-art in its time, but what would have been different if the moon landing had the state-of-the-art computers that are available today?

I suspect that the software development time would have been a lot faster, due to the software development tools that are available today. It would have been a lot quicker to write, debug and test the complex code required to deliver a man to the moon.

Apollo Guidance Computer (AGC), Creative Commons

The user interface (called Display Keyboard (DSKY)) had a calculator-type interface where commands had to be input using numerical codes. Today's interface would be a lot easier to use – which could matter in a stressful situation. It would almost certainly not have a keyboard, but would use swipe commands on a touch screen. If that were not possible, due to having to wear gloves, the interface might be through gestures, eye movement or some other intuitive interface.

Surprisingly, one thing that wouldn't be better today is the communication speed with Earth. The actual time it takes to communicate is the same today as it was in 1969 – that is, the speed of light, which means that it takes 1.26 seconds for a message to get from the moon to Earth. But with the larger files we now send – and from greater and greater distances – to get an image from a spacecraft to Earth today will take relatively longer than it did in 1969. That said, it would look much prettier thanks to advances in camera technology.

Perhaps the biggest change we would see is the computer being a lot more artificially intelligent. I am sure that the flying and landing of the space craft would not be put solely into the hands of the computer, but it would have much more information and intelligence and would be able to make many more decisions than the Apollo 11 computer was able to do in 1969. This could be a huge relief for the astronauts. Armstrong did say that, on a worrying scale from one to ten, walking on the moon was about a one – whereas making the final descent to land was about a 13.

So let us end by acknowledging what it took to land people on the moon in 1969 with the limited computing power that was available at the time. It really was a remarkable achievement.The Conversation

Graham Kendall, Professor of Computer Science and Provost/CEO/PVC, University of Nottingham.

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.