The Canadian Federal Government under Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has legalized recreational cannabis (pot) as of October 17th, 2018. As a result of this legalization, cannabis companies have been massively expanding their traditional indoor facilities to meet the expected new demand. Indoor hydroponic facilities offer very good security protections but Read more…
Let’s be clear that General Motors and all automobile manufactures do NOT want government regulation to mandate a Zero Emissions, Zero Crashes and Zero Congestion world, but they do want laws that: approach those achievable goals are shared in many jurisdictions apply to everyone In the video below GM President Read more…
Support for the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline continues to rise and now has the support of more than 2/3rds of Canadians. Further, another poll released on May 18 2018 shows support for the expansion has also continued its surge in BC, now sitting at more than 60% of BC residents. However, the media has Read more…
You would expect that if petroleum products can not be efficiently transported to world markets, that there would be an oil and gas oversupply in Canada and that would drive the prices down. However, it turns out that two factors cause that not the be the case: the majority of Read more…
On its face, this seems like a good idea. Simplistically, if decrease the ability of other countries to export their steel to the US will result in the creation of more US steel jobs. However, the world is not a simple place and what actually happened was:
Few new US steel jobs were (or will be) created as steel foundries take time to expand and most of that expansion will be done with… wait for it… automation, not direct jobs
The cost of goods produced in the US has to go up to accommodate that tariff. That is a particularly ugly reality for US consumers that like things made with lots of steel, like cars
Some important civic projects like steel intensive bridges have their costs increase or projects delayed so long (because engineers now spec required US steel that is back-ordered) that they are cancelled outright or don’t get completed in a timely fashion.
The five points above are well documented oft discussed in the media. The video below however, points out two fascinating unintended consequences that we had not thought of:
Alberta is used to energy shocks and can quickly adjust to the environment, especially an oversupply. BC gets 80% of its gasoline from Alberta which cannot possibly be replaced with tanker trucks from the US… because BC does not have any pipelines their either. Also, yesterday the Premier of Saskatchewan Read more…
The current Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline debacle agonizingly demonstrates that even medium scale infrastructure projects are easily stalemated in Canada. This has scared away vast sums of foreign direct investment as investors look for easier, more reliable places to put their money. This is a crisis and it appears Read more…
Should the Province of Alberta buy the Trans Mountain Pipeline from Kinder-Morgan if they want to walk away from the project? That question was posed to Alberta Premier Rachel Notley today and she responded with an emphatic ‘Yes!’.
It has become abundantly clear, whether you are for or opposed to this particular pipeline or not, that having the relatively simple twinning of the existing Trans Mountain pipeline fail to be built would signify the end of even medium scale infrastructure projects in Canada.
There will always be interest groups and affected people that have some legitimate claim against a large project. The standard for projects should not be keeping everyone happy. The standard for infrastructure projects MUST be if they are in the national interest. That national interest contains a giant list important factors including:
In the last decade the Dutch have reduced prison inmate populations by 50% and those sentences average to about 90 days in jail. Many people expected this drastic reduction of inmates to lead to a notable increase in crime because:
Dangerous, proven criminals are being quickly released back onto the street
There is virtually no deterrent effect to being jailed in the Netherlands
Contrary to this expectation the fact is that Dutch system has also reduced crime by nearly 40%.
As you can see in the image to the right, the Dutch now use their old prisons as temporary housing for some refugees.
How can that be? In simple terms, it turns out that after thousands of years of trying different forms of incarceration and punishment that Europeans have figured out:
In the aftermath of the Facebook / Cambridge Analytica scandal, Facebook has upped the reported number of user profiles included from the original number 50 million to 86 million. Most of those users profiles were from Americans but 660,000 of them were Canadian. Those are some big numbers. To give Read more…
GDPR is the acronym for Europe’s “General Data Protection Regulation” which is the toughest set of personal privacy regulations in the world. You can see from the GDPR Timeline on the right that companies have had about 3 years to get their systems into compliance, and it comes into full Read more…
There is a crisis at Facebook because of the constant negative media coverage of the Cambridge Analytica scandal causing users to question staying on the product and that has caused Facebook stock drop a truly staggering $70B in value in 11 days. It’s founder, Mark Zuckerberg, owns 28.2% of the company so he has lost $20B personally.
There is a also crisis being experienced by some Facebook users that have finally realized Facebook and nearly all other ‘free’ online services are harvesting personal data to allow others to micro-target advertising at them. WHO DIDN’T KNOW THIS ALREADY? Apparently millions of people thought Facebook was some benevolent do-gooder, that provided a complex service for free because they were nice people.
The only ethically questionable behavior by Facebook in this current crisis, was corrected way back in the spring of 2015. That issue was the ability of users to share not only their own information, but that of their friends (if those friends had not changed default privacy settings).
Facebook made USD$40B in 2017 and that was another record amount for them. They did this by monitoring you, figuring out what you might be interested in and then allowing advertisers to target you personally, just like they said they would.
The along came Cambridge Analytica who used a large set of Facebook user data and figured out patterns they could use to apply to other Facebook users. Cambridge Analytica organized the social media efforts for the Donald Trump Presidential campaign and now it is a political crisis too.
The US congress now has an Artificial Intelligence “Caucus” considering regulating how Artificial Intelligence (AI). One the items they are looking into is figuring out if citizens should have a right to know that they are talking / chatting with an Artificially Intelligent piece of software or a human.
Many people feel tricked when they find out that they have been talking or chatting with an AI when the default assumption has been that people are talking or chatting with human representatives of the company in question. Given the situation today and the obvious fact that AI conversations are going to become more and more human like, it is understandable that governments want to consider the implications.
This 8 minute video covers the FUTURE OF AI ACT that has just been introduced in the US Congress, which focuses on the military and is more broader than our narrow discussion about rights, but it does give you a sense of what is being considered.
After some careful consideration however, the only scenario we could come up with in which a human really needs to understand that they are not talking to a human representative, was emergency services like 911. The argument with emergency services is simply that during a crisis (shooting, heart attack…) there may be nuances (tone, slurred speech…) that a human can take from a conversation that AI’s cannot.
We are not suggesting that AI’s can not be very useful in emergency services communications (think about alerts, routing… that can all be done much faster, more accurately and more calmly by an AI than a human). We are suggesting that in real emergencies human callers should know if they are talking to an AI or another human.
After limited debate the US Senate overwhelmingly approved a further reduction in “Dodd-Frank” banking regulations introduced in 2010 to avoid another 2008 style bank generated economic collapse.
Dodd-Frank‘s primary mechanism for doing this was to require financial institutions that were “too big to fail” to withstand stress tests. The idea being that if your bank was going to need a government bail out in the event of failure, effectively making you and me the banks insurance company, that such banks need to prove that they can withstand large economic downturns by keeping enough cash (and near cash) on hand to cover their immediate debts.
If banks pass the stress test, and ALL did in June 2017, they can issue dividends and buy back their own stock (financial engineering to raise their own stock price). If they fail, they can’t. The results and some key details are published so both the markets and individual investors know which banks are stable and which ones are not.
The principle Dodd-Frank change passed in March 2018, was to increase the threshold needed to be included in the stress test, from $50B to $250B.
Banks and other large financial institutions are not evil corporations but they are run by greedy people just like you and me. When those people are given massive incentives to bring in large amounts of income to the banks, they are likely to take risks that are absurd in retrospect, just likely they did in the 2000’s.
When the money that is risked belongs only to shareholder, employees, and board members, there is not public issue with those risks; even ‘crazy’ ones. The problem occurs when the company (bank) in question is so large that if it fails it will bring down the countries (globe’s?) economy. This is also called “systemic risk“. Such a failure cannot be allowed to occur, so governments step and transfer your tax money to those companies.
Put simply, if you are ‘too big to fail’, the public has a right to validate your stability.
While laws must be periodically updated to keep up with the products offered for sale and global political / financial environment, the problem with the March 2018 changes is that they are all reductions: