On Learning and Education

I don’t want to keep learning.
I want to keep getting smarter.

Being smart or intelligent can be summarized to two abilities:
  1. The ability to accurately predict consequences and outcomes.
  2. The ability to make decisions to keep as many open alternatives as possible.

 

News: The UN’s cost-effective guide to A Better World by 2030, by the Copenhagen Consensus Center

In 2015, the UN’s Millennium Development Goals are expiring and the international community will set new goals. The Post-2015 Consensus brings together the world’s top economists, NGOs, international agencies and businesses to identify the goals with the greatest benefit-to-cost ratio for the next development agenda.

The Copenhagen Consensus Center interviewed 32 of the world’s top economists to assess each of the 1000+ goals submitted. Each goal was then rated based on the expected benefit-to-cost ratio: evidence for benefits more than 15x higher than costs were considered Phenomenal.

This study is particularly fascinating because it highlights what economists deem as the developmental contributions with the highest return on investment.

Below are some examples of Phenomenal goals and Poor goals.

By 2030 ensure universal access to sexual and reproductive health care services, including for family planning, information and education, and the integration of reproductive health into national strategies and programmes

Rating: PHENOMENAL – Robust evidence for benefits more than 15 times higher than costs
Explanation for rating: Family planning interventions are inexpensive with clear benefits. Kohler, 2012 shows that this has a very high BCR ($150 back on every dollar).

By 2030, expand international cooperation and capacity-building support to developing countries in water and sanitation related activities and programmes, including water harvesting, desalination, water efficiency, wastewater treatment, recycling and reuse technologies.

Rating: PHENOMENAL – Robust evidence for benefits more than 15 times higher than costs
Explanation for rating: International cooperation on water related technology has been occurring for many years and there is growing international recognition of the importance of distributing WASH technologies. The costs of cooperation are low and the benefits tangible and much larger than costs. For example, municipalities from all over the world have been sharing technologies on how to treat and extract water and energy from fecal sludge, which, with the use of private sector capital and involvement, has provided large
resource benefits.

By 2030 ensure equal access for all women and men to affordable quality technical, vocational and tertiary education, including university.

Rating: POOR – The benefits are smaller than costs or target poorly specified.
Explanation for rating: Literature suggests that vocational training does not provide large benefits relative to costs (Psacharopoulous, 2014). For tertiary education we have plenty of evidence that in all countries the poor pay for the higher education of the rich. This because the rich send more of their children to higher education relative to the taxes paid by the two groups. The solution is to introduce tuition fees for the rich and scholarships for the poor.

By 2030 increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix.

Rating: POOR – The benefits are smaller than costs or target poorly specified.
Explanation for rating: The costs to achieve this will be large and the impact on climate change will be very small, especially since total global energy consumption will increase in the future (increase in denominator).
Subsidies, and other inducements such as feed-in-tariffs (FITs) and renewable portfolio standards (RPSs), have been shown to be extremely cost ineffective and have not impacted emissions as hoped.

 

 


 

I hope you’ve read enough to be interested in the goals and the analysis. Continue reading for the full story and links to the reports.

3-minute video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u5BDIBRwQ88

 

UN’s Millennium Development Goals

“In 2015, the UN’s Millennium Development Goals are expiring and the international community will set new goals.The next development goals are extremely important. They will drive priorities and influence up to $700bn in foreign aid over 15 years. This opportunity has energized the international community to set a vision that will make the world better by 2030. The level of engagement is incredible – at the moment, there are more than a thousand proposed goals for the next development agenda!

But which ones should we choose? How do we even begin to prioritize all these suggestions? Which ones can we realistically achieve in the shortest time, with the fewest inputs, and which will do the most good?

The Post-2015 Consensus brings together the world’s top economists, NGOs, international agencies and businesses to identify the goals with the greatest benefit-to-cost ratio for the next development agenda. We’ll take this information to the top decision makers – UN missions and governments — to make sure the next goals are based on clear evidence of what will do the most good by 2030.

We all want a better future, so it’s important we focus on the goals that are the most effective. Just think, if we could replace a goal that saves one life for every $500,000, with a goal that saves 10 lives for the same amount, how much more good we could do over the next 15 years!

We have a once-in-a-generation chance to set a vision for the future. Let’s make the most of it.

Learn more at http://www.post2015consensus.com

 

Preliminary Benefit-Cost Assessment of Final ‘Open Working Group’ Targets

“This report assesses the targets in the OWG’s Final Outcome Document from 19 July 2014.

The assessments were put together by interviewing 32 of the world’s top economists in their respective fields. The benefits and costs do NOT solely reflect money. In line with standard welfare economics principles, all benefits and costs have been considered (such as improved health and improved environmental impacts) – which have subsequently been converted into a dollar value.”

The key for assessments are:
PHENOMENAL – Robust evidence for benefits more than 15 times higher than costs
GOOD – Robust evidence of benefits between 5 to 15 times higher than costs
FAIR – Robust evidence of benefits between 1 to 5 times higher than costs
POOR – The benefits are smaller than costs or target poorly specified (e.g. internally inconsistent, incentivizes wrong activity)
UNCERTAIN – There is not enough knowledge of the policy options that could reach the target OR the costs and benefits of the actions to reach the target are not well known.

 

Full PDF of Report, Goals, and Assessments:
http://www.copenhagenconsensus.com/publication/preliminary-benefit-cost-assessment-final-owg-targets

Learn more at http://www.post2015consensus.com

Review your good swing

Learning from failures is powerful. So fail often.
But just as important is learning from success.

Learning from Mistakes

Last week I played golf with a group of people I had never met before. Besides having a great time learning and in conversations, this let me observe our behavior.

In retrospect, this is nothing new. But the implications are helpful.

After messing up a shot, they would go back and review their swing. What went wrong? Some people get furious and swing around, others Continue reading Review your good swing

The Inevitable Future

ro·man·ti·cize (v) – Deal with or describe in an idealized or unrealistic fashion; make (something) seem better or more appealing than it really is.

Feel Humanity with your Action

U2 is a band who feel humanity. Today’s 360 Tour show had a scene where we can see the eye of a person, a woman. As her face is shown, you can tell she is middle eastern because her head and neck are covered. Her expression is similar to the Mona Lisa. As Sunday Bloody Sunday starts, her mouth and nose are covered with a green cloth. The Tunisian flag is shown, then the Iranian flag, and following the lyrics to the song it is Continue reading The Inevitable Future

Shopping in your Store

Short story on the evolution of libraries and stores

Before the 1800s, books were kept in libraries and bookstores, the librarian (and owner, usually the same person) would more or less know what books they have, and where they were.

As more and more books were kept in one place, you couldn’t rely on their memory. So the Dewey Decimal Classification was established so that librarians could organize their books, and customers walk in and have an easier time finding books by following conventions.

These conventions are heavily biased, because of the nature of the libraries they were created for. For example, Christianity holds 70 classes (#220-#289) in the system, while all Indian religions hold one (#294).

Amazon, eBay came along, and now Continue reading Shopping in your Store

Why Life is Hard – And how to deal with it

Life can be hard because of 2 factors: what’s Inside (it’s all in your head), and what’s Outside. This post is about preparing for the Outside.

The Minimum Viable Day: is it Viable?

Here’s a minimum of what I need daily to stay healthy and happy, in order of importance.
Continue reading Why Life is Hard – And how to deal with it

How to Fail as a Startup

“Startups don’t fail because they lack a product; they fail because they lack customers and a proven financial model.” – Steve Blank, 4 Steps to the Epiphany

So, what is a startup? A startup is a concept in search of customers and scalable business model.
Once these are obtained, the startup turns into a company. The focus is on executing the company’s services.

 

Focus of a Startup

While still a startup, the founders have a vision of the product, customers, pain, business model, etc. The goal is to find Continue reading How to Fail as a Startup

CUSTOMER DISCOVERY: 4 Steps to the Epiphany, Steve Blank

4 Steps to the Epiphany, Steve Blank
CUSTOMER DISCOVERY

 

  • Have we identified a problem a customer wants solved?
  • Does our product solve these customer needs?
  • If so, do we have a viable and profitable business model?
  • Have we learned enough to go out and sell?

 

Find customers who buy into the Continue reading CUSTOMER DISCOVERY: 4 Steps to the Epiphany, Steve Blank

OVERVIEW: 4 Steps to the Epiphany, Steve Blank

4 Steps to the Epiphany, Steve Blank
OVERVIEW

 

“Products with senior management out in front of customers early and often – win.”

Difference between “Fire, Ready, Aim” and “Ready, Fire, Aim”

 

Product Development: The Path to Disaster: Continue reading OVERVIEW: 4 Steps to the Epiphany, Steve Blank

Using Facebook’s Success Strategy

Did Facebook succeed because of exclusivity?

I don’t think so.

Facebook succeeded because of density.

 

Density for achieving Network Effect

And density is an important concept for products looking to achieve a the network effect.

Density in the sense that there are a lot of people, near each other, Continue reading Using Facebook’s Success Strategy