Thinks 1050

WSJ: “The technological revolution triggered by the Ukraine war, Europe’s biggest conflict in nearly eight decades, is calling into question the feasibility of some of the basic concepts of American military doctrine. Combined-arms maneuvers using large groups of armored vehicles and tanks to make rapid breakthroughs—something that Washington and its allies had expected the Ukrainian offensive this summer to achieve—may no longer be possible in principle, some soldiers here say. The inevitable implication, according to Ukrainian commanders, is that the conflict won’t end soon. “The days of massed armored assaults, taking many kilometers of ground at a time, like we did in 2003 in Iraq—that stuff is gone because the drones have become so effective now,” said retired U.S. Army Sergeant First Class Bradley Crawford, an Iraq war veteran who is now training Ukrainian forces near Bakhmut in a private capacity.”

Economist has a special report on  slowing human ageing. “Ageing seems quite simple. Bodies are machines, and machines wear out. But unlike most machines, bodies both make themselves and repair themselves. So why do they not do so perfectly? One answer is that the machines’ designer, evolution, is interested in reproduction, not longevity. Life is a matter of genes and environment, and the environment, in the form of accidents, predators and diseases, is what kills most creatures. Genes with benefits that show up only over a longer lifespan than the environment allows are not likely to do particularly well unless they provide other benefits. Genes that offer a successful and fertile youth are onto a winner. Indeed, evolution may be actively plotting against old age. If a gene helps an animal breed when young but endangers it when it is old, the odds are that it will spread. There is some evidence that one variant of a particular gene involved in Alzheimer’s disease provides reproductive advantages to young people.” More: “Living to 100 today is not unheard of, but is still rare. In America and Britain centenarians make up around 0.03% of the population. Should the latest efforts to prolong life reach their potential, living to see your 100th birthday could become the norm; making it to 120 could become a perfectly reasonable aspiration. More exciting still, those extra years would be healthy. What progress has been made in expanding lifespans has so far come by countering the causes of death, especially infectious disease. The process of ageing itself, with its attendant ills such as dementia, has not yet been slowed. This time, that is the intention.”

HT: “India is all set to become the third largest economy in the world and its private sector has some of the largest and most successful companies as well as new-age start-ups today. What has not changed, however, and this is perhaps the reflection of deeply entrenched feudal values in our collective feudal and caste-ridden psyche, is the fact that we continue to lack a basic dignity for labour. This is exactly what makes even a government peon’s job more attractive than a plumber’s or carpenter’s job despite the fact that there is an acute shortage of people who can perform the latter kind of job with skill — this is a running refrain among large companies or rich households living in bigger cities who need such workers — and make much more money. Nothing else explains the fact that even middle-class students are happy to perform part-time blue-collar jobs when they go and study in western countries but cannot even think of doing this in India.”

Tim Hartford: “With the notable exception of jury service, we do not usually draw lots to allocate duties, jobs or privileges. Perhaps that is a mistake. Why not — bear with me here — allocate academic funding by lottery? Traditionally, a grant-maker would have a pot of money, invite applications, then rank them all and give grants to the best. But an alternative is to deploy a simple cut-off: every application that seems credible enough to take seriously goes into the pot and the grants are distributed at random…Whenever there is an idea, policy, treatment or procedure of uncertain value, randomly giving it to some and not to others is the ideal way to figure out what its effects truly are. Again and again, we have assumed that expert judgment is enough, only to find that the experts didn’t really know.”

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.