Monday, December 28, 2015

The Top Topics of 2015

I’m feeling pretty lazy this week. You know, with the food coma and all. It would be pretty easy to simply list the ten most read blog posts of the year.  After all, Google provides and your faithful blogger abides.

But, wouldn’t it be better to focus for just a few minutes on the topics that most resonated with you, my faithful readers, this year?

It’s a rhetorical question; so here goes…

The impact of robotics and artificial intelligence is on the minds of many.  Will new technology take our jobs?  Well, it always has.  In “Our Future:  Educated People or Just Educated Robots?” I explored the impact of robotics on the job market and speculated that our greatest risk was our inability to educate workers fast enough to fill the new jobs that will result from this incipient disruption.

I have managed call centers for a fair share of my career.  So when I read about Mattel’s development of artificial intelligence for a new Barbie doll, I jumped to the potential impact on call centers.  In “What if Barbie Could Pass the Turing Test?” I imagined Barbie replacing the voicemail tree that plagues us all when we call our bank or medical insurer. 

The most widely read of this series was “Advice to Give Your Kid in the Age of AI”.  I cited studies that have identified superior social skills combined with math skills as “the most important element in adapting to a future where Artificial Intelligence replaces people doing routine work”.  Robots are the most visible manifestation of the new age of AI; however, it will be advanced sensing devices and data analytics that drive the need for employees with the right combination of social and math skills.

Perhaps consistent with that theme was a series on the obsolescence of the current university model.  As a follow up to a 2014 post titled “Don’t Send Your Kids to College” I wrote about how “The Free Market for Education is Adapting”.  In a later post titled “It’s Time to Replace Our Universities with…” I wondered “how we as a society can sustain” the current model. The most widely read of the series asks the question “When Will the University Bubble Burst?

While these topics seem to have resonated with many of you, there was one single post that was the mostly widely read in 2015.  My post criticizing Bernie Sanders, “Let’s understand just what socialism means to us”, generated the most clicks, the most comments and the most vicious attacks on me personally.  Interestingly, no matter how intense the response, no one refuted the premise that free market capitalism is the best economic system to ensure prosperity for all.

One astute reader pointed out that Sanders is not a socialist.  He is a “democratic socialist”.  What’s the difference?  Well, in a purely socialist system, the government would confiscate all private property.  In a so-called democratic socialist system, private ownership would be permitted but profits would be taxed at a very high rate.  In Sanders’ view, the highest rate should be 90%.

So, if an investor risks personal capital and the enterprise fails, that would be his or her loss.  However, a big gain would be taxed away.  Oh yeah!  That would work?



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