Slowing the Solar Revolution

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The Hidden Cost of Credit Ratings


The NY Times’ “The Hidden Cost of Trading Stocks” paints a concise and damning picture of yet another malpractice in financial services.  This has been a recurring theme.   

Another storm may be brewing – this time for the credit ratings industry.  

It is standard practice for issuers to hire ratings agencies to rate their securities.  This practice has lead to incentives to give higher ratings when trying to get business from securities issuers, putting the ratings agencies in the position of representing the issuers when they are given special status to serve and protect investors.  They are not even required to disclose the conflict of interest.  The closest we get to protection is a lawsuit when they explicitly advertise objectivity.

It now looks like 16 states will each get their chance to sue individually.  This may be the beginning of a big and positive change.  If conflicts of interest did influence credit ratings, it would shift capital and damage economic efficiency even when it is not misdirecting pension money into a mortgage bubble.  I wonder if we will see a social media movement to influence reform like we are seeing with network neutrality and “common carrier” status.  I hope so.


A carbon solution

Aligned Carbon Nanotubes3D printing may be a long term solution to the carbon problem.

Carbon fiber is a mechanical engineer’s dream.  It has great properties for building physical things.  3D printers will improve toward using carbon fiber and substrates because of the combination of physical properties and the simplicity of a supply of carbon.

Imagine a world in which we can have carbon fiber skyscrapers and vehicle parts — buildings and physical things that cost little to produce from carbon collected from the environment, possibly the air.

MIT is already able to print a building with a sandwiched layer of concrete and insulation.  In a decade, this will be possible on a commercial scale.  In two decades, smart machines will offer choices of building materials and be easily customizable from libraries of public designs.

I’m not suggesting that we should ignore the carbon problem.  I’m suggesting that a good solution might be to invest in carbon demand.  Specifically:

  • Carbon collection system: collect, purify, and prepare carbon fiber from CO2.
  • Carbon fiber printing system: build up structures with fibers running in the right directions.

How is it possible that radio ads are unsearchable?!

All the incentives are aligned: advertisers want to connect with customers and customers are typing search terms, hunting for the phone number of web site of the radio ad they just heard. What was that special deal they said to mention? Where can I hear the ad again?

Google should open “ad search” and let advertisers submit audio, video, transcriptions, and links along with optional metadata like format, media outlets, etc.

Then search could handle things like ‘radio ad’, ‘tv commercial’, etc.

The advertisers do the work of populating the content and everybody wins.


Boston has grown on me

This gallery contains 11 photos.

Longstanding commitment to learning and teaching Museum of Science delivery, 1984 . . . World class institutions of learning MIT Media Lab, 2013 . . . Curious and brilliant people New England AI . . . Fresh, clear thinking A … Continue reading