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Leadership in an Age of Globalization

Question: Will the financial crisis change the way leaders behave?

Miller:    I guess… I think one of the biggest problems we face now is that business leaders who I think are our critical constituency for a lot of the things that need to happen, business leaders of global enterprises have less of a stake in the quality of public policy in the United States than they used to.  What do I mean by that?  If you’re running a multinational firm and half your sales are outside the United States today, and in the next five years most of your growth is coming from outside the United States, if the US education system is failing, it may be a pity for your country, but it may not be a big problem for your business, and if we’re honest about that, and I think most business leaders don’t like to conceptualize it in those terms, but if we have an honest conversation about that as a country, it helps explain why, you know, business leaders today will say, well, you know, if the Kentucky school system isn’t good, I can hire the engineers and site the manufacturing place I need in Singapore.  And that changes the conversation, and I think what we need, and one of the things I urge in my book, is really a resurgence of what I think of as patriotic US based business leaders who can step outside some of their traditional incentives or the polls that they fill now globally to say time out, you know.  As Americans, we need to get our house in order, and we need to do what we need to, and I’m prepared, as a business and with other business leaders, to step up and be a constituent for the changes that we need to make so that all Americans have a chance to thrive.  I think, you know, unless we have business leaders actually take greater ownership of some of these public issues, then we’re going to have a hard time solving them.  So, I’m hopeful on the sense that I think that, once appealed to, business leaders can actually step up in this way, because they had before.  After World War II, the martial plan, the whole economic recovery, business leaders played an enormous part in that in the US, but I think they haven’t been summoned really to step up in a way that they need to, and I think, if they are, I’m hopeful they’ll answer the call.

Question: Do CEO’s need to rebrand themselves less as leaders and more as icons?

Miller:    I’m not sure if I’m thinking of it so much in the sense of the superstar CEO and, you know, the brand of the company, though that’s, you know, in the media age, that seems to be, you know, a trend that continues, but I think we’re going to need, we’re certainly going to need a good list of name brand CEOs, people who are known to the public and who have clout, to step up on some of these public issues, to help say, you know, business wants to solve this, and right now business ends up, business approaches all its issues as if they were an [asylum].  There’s the trade issue.  We want free trade or we want protectionism, depending on the business you’ve got.  There’s taxes and we deal with that.  There’s, you know, different state level issues, etc.  I think what business, what too many CEOs don’t understand is that all these things meld together now in an era when ordinary Americans feel tremendous anxiety about their economic future, and unless business as a constituency views these issues in an integrated way and realizes that business needs to be an advocate for changes in the social contract that we’re talking about, then the consensus for markets and capitalism, etc., is going to erode and there’ll be a real backlash against the values that most business leaders care about.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Forbes editor Matt Miller envisions the post-crisis CEO.

Does conscious AI deserve rights?

If machines develop consciousness, or if we manage to give it to them, the human-robot dynamic will forever be different.

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  • Does AI—and, more specifically, conscious AI—deserve moral rights? In this thought exploration, evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins, ethics and tech professor Joanna Bryson, philosopher and cognitive scientist Susan Schneider, physicist Max Tegmark, philosopher Peter Singer, and bioethicist Glenn Cohen all weigh in on the question of AI rights.
  • Given the grave tragedy of slavery throughout human history, philosophers and technologists must answer this question ahead of technological development to avoid humanity creating a slave class of conscious beings.
  • One potential safeguard against that? Regulation. Once we define the context in which AI requires rights, the simplest solution may be to not build that thing.

A new hydrogel might be strong enough for knee replacements

Duke University researchers might have solved a half-century old problem.

Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Getty Images
Technology & Innovation
  • Duke University researchers created a hydrogel that appears to be as strong and flexible as human cartilage.
  • The blend of three polymers provides enough flexibility and durability to mimic the knee.
  • The next step is to test this hydrogel in sheep; human use can take at least three years.
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Hints of the 4th dimension have been detected by physicists

What would it be like to experience the 4th dimension?

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Physicists have understood at least theoretically, that there may be higher dimensions, besides our normal three. The first clue came in 1905 when Einstein developed his theory of special relativity. Of course, by dimensions we’re talking about length, width, and height. Generally speaking, when we talk about a fourth dimension, it’s considered space-time. But here, physicists mean a spatial dimension beyond the normal three, not a parallel universe, as such dimensions are mistaken for in popular sci-fi shows.

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Predicting PTSD symptoms becomes possible with a new test

An algorithm may allow doctors to assess PTSD candidates for early intervention after traumatic ER visits.

Image source: camillo jimenez/Unsplash
Technology & Innovation
  • 10-15% of people visiting emergency rooms eventually develop symptoms of long-lasting PTSD.
  • Early treatment is available but there's been no way to tell who needs it.
  • Using clinical data already being collected, machine learning can identify who's at risk.

The psychological scars a traumatic experience can leave behind may have a more profound effect on a person than the original traumatic experience. Long after an acute emergency is resolved, victims of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) continue to suffer its consequences.

In the U.S. some 30 million patients are annually treated in emergency departments (EDs) for a range of traumatic injuries. Add to that urgent admissions to the ED with the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. Health experts predict that some 10 percent to 15 percent of these people will develop long-lasting PTSD within a year of the initial incident. While there are interventions that can help individuals avoid PTSD, there's been no reliable way to identify those most likely to need it.

That may now have changed. A multi-disciplinary team of researchers has developed a method for predicting who is most likely to develop PTSD after a traumatic emergency-room experience. Their study is published in the journal Nature Medicine.

70 data points and machine learning

nurse wrapping patient's arm

Image source: Creators Collective/Unsplash

Study lead author Katharina Schultebraucks of Columbia University's Department Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons says:

"For many trauma patients, the ED visit is often their sole contact with the health care system. The time immediately after a traumatic injury is a critical window for identifying people at risk for PTSD and arranging appropriate follow-up treatment. The earlier we can treat those at risk, the better the likely outcomes."

The new PTSD test uses machine learning and 70 clinical data points plus a clinical stress-level assessment to develop a PTSD score for an individual that identifies their risk of acquiring the condition.

Among the 70 data points are stress hormone levels, inflammatory signals, high blood pressure, and an anxiety-level assessment. Says Schultebraucks, "We selected measures that are routinely collected in the ED and logged in the electronic medical record, plus answers to a few short questions about the psychological stress response. The idea was to create a tool that would be universally available and would add little burden to ED personnel."

Researchers used data from adult trauma survivors in Atlanta, Georgia (377 individuals) and New York City (221 individuals) to test their system.

Of this cohort, 90 percent of those predicted to be at high risk developed long-lasting PTSD symptoms within a year of the initial traumatic event — just 5 percent of people who never developed PTSD symptoms had been erroneously identified as being at risk.

On the other side of the coin, 29 percent of individuals were 'false negatives," tagged by the algorithm as not being at risk of PTSD, but then developing symptoms.

Going forward

person leaning their head on another's shoulder

Image source: Külli Kittus/Unsplash

Schultebraucks looks forward to more testing as the researchers continue to refine their algorithm and to instill confidence in the approach among ED clinicians: "Because previous models for predicting PTSD risk have not been validated in independent samples like our model, they haven't been adopted in clinical practice." She expects that, "Testing and validation of our model in larger samples will be necessary for the algorithm to be ready-to-use in the general population."

"Currently only 7% of level-1 trauma centers routinely screen for PTSD," notes Schultebraucks. "We hope that the algorithm will provide ED clinicians with a rapid, automatic readout that they could use for discharge planning and the prevention of PTSD." She envisions the algorithm being implemented in the future as a feature of electronic medical records.

The researchers also plan to test their algorithm at predicting PTSD in people whose traumatic experiences come in the form of health events such as heart attacks and strokes, as opposed to visits to the emergency department.

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