Larry Summers: Conscience is the Knowledge That Someone is Watching
With the global financial crisis ongoing, the concept of “short-termism” has emerged as one underlying explanation for our current woes. Larry Summers and Eric Schmidt, among others, tackle this question during a lively panel at The Nantucket Project.
With the global financial crisis ongoing, the concept of “short-termism” has emerged as one underlying explanation for our current woes. As the argument goes, the increasing emphasis on quarterly reports and returns can drive CEOs and investors to make decisions that are not necessarily in the best, long-term interests of companies or the economy as a whole.
The question of short-termism was the subject of a lively panel at The Nantucket Project, a festival of ideas held on Nantucket, Massachusetts this month. The panel was stacked with financial heavyweights Eric Schmidt, Executive Chairman of Google, Larry Summers, Former Treasury Secretary and President of Harvard University, Hedge Fund Manager Eddie Lampert, venture capitalist Stephen DeBerry and Mellody Hobson, President of Ariel Investments. The panel was moderated by Tom Stewart, Chief Knowledge Officer at Booz and Company. The full panel can be viewed here.
The highlights in this post bellow follow an exchange between Larry Summers and Eric Schmidt, in response to Tom Stewart's question about whether it is difficult for a CEO to embrace the long view if he has to live and die quarter-by-quarter. Schmidt immediately turned this question back to the panel and audience, by posing the rhetorical question, "How long is the future?"
Watch Eric Schmidt here:
Next, Moderator Tom Stewart turned to Larry Summers. If the political leadership takes the short-term view of 2 and 4 and 6-year election cycles, as Schmidt argued, is government biased in favor of "jam today or jam tomorrow?"
In defending government action, Summers pointed to examples of great foresight, including national parks, conservation, investments in basic research, war memorials, and the Bill of Rights "that has guided society for 250 years."
Watch Larry Summers respond here:
Is there inadequate accountability in America today, as Summers suggested? If so, how do we get people's interests aligned with the long-term goals we want to achieve? Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt had this response to Summers:
What will influence people to behave responsibly beyond compensation systems?
Larry Summers, paraphrasing Kenneth Galbraith, said that 'conscience is the knowledge that someone is watching.' According to Summers, that applies to President Obama's health care plan, as well as Schmidt's tenure as CEO at Google.
Larry Summers gets the last word here:
Upstreamism advocate Rishi Manchanda calls us to understand health not as a "personal responsibility" but a "common good."
- Upstreamism tasks health care professionals to combat unhealthy social and cultural influences that exist outside — or upstream — of medical facilities.
- Patients from low-income neighborhoods are most at risk of negative health impacts.
- Thankfully, health care professionals are not alone. Upstreamism is increasingly part of our cultural consciousness.
The Bajau people's nomadic lifestyle has given them remarkable adaptions, enabling them to stay underwater for unbelievable periods of time. Their lifestyle, however, is quickly disappearing.
- The Bajau people travel in small flotillas throughout the Phillipines, Malaysia, and Indonesia, hunting fish underwater for food.
- Over the years, practicing this lifestyle has given the Bajau unique adaptations to swimming underwater. Many find it straightforward to dive up to 13 minutes 200 feet below the surface of the ocean.
- Unfortunately, many disparate factors are erasing the traditional Bajau way of life.
We explore the history of blood types and how they are classified to find out what makes the Rh-null type important to science and dangerous for those who live with it.
- Fewer than 50 people worldwide have 'golden blood' — or Rh-null.
- Blood is considered Rh-null if it lacks all of the 61 possible antigens in the Rh system.
- It's also very dangerous to live with this blood type, as so few people have it.
An innovation may lead to lifelike evolving machines.
- Scientists at Cornell University devise a material with 3 key traits of life.
- The goal for the researchers is not to create life but lifelike machines.
- The researchers were able to program metabolism into the material's DNA.
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