Amous Non

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On November 21, 2016, Amous Non commented on Technology in Transit :

Technology is expensive, but nowhere near as expensive as the capital improvements needed by WMATA. Hopefully, the system pulls through and serves as an example for cities. Beyond transport, I understand there are cities waiting to be built based on WMATA’s expansion plans (Silver and Purple lines). Tremendous economic development could be derailed if this turnaround does not pull through.

On November 21, 2016, Amous Non commented on McKinsey: Dedicated to Digital :

It’s fascinating to see McKinsey et al shift from their “strategy-only” approach to strategy and implementation. This, along with the contract models you mentioned, creates more alignment of incentives with the client. It encourages practical recommendations and long-term investment. Thank you for sharing.

On November 21, 2016, Amous Non commented on “We are not dead yet!” – The Parable of the New York Times :

Interesting article. Even with the paper’s success with the paywall, I think challenges remain as there are so many sources for news. Even premium news is available for free nowadays (e.g. Vox, FiveThirtyEight, and Jon Oliver’s clips on YouTube after airing on HBO).

Perhaps NYT will continue to double down securing big-name authors and editors (such as Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman). The luminaries will always want a central, powerful platform to spread their voices. And I think we can assume that consumers will value these lumninaries. But honestly, who knows?

On November 21, 2016, Amous Non commented on Memorial Sloan Kettering – a digital affair with cancer care :

Thank you for sharing this fantastic article. Most of the innovations you point out seem to be from structured data collected as well as unstructured data from studies. I wonder how far they’ve come using unstructured data from the doctors’ and nurses’ notes. Each patient carries copious amounts of information that is usually ignored, primarily because of the volume. There may be leading indicators we’ve not discovered because humans simply miss them or don’t connect them to future complications. I think there is a lot of value to be gained from looking at data that humans can not analyze at scale.

On November 21, 2016, Amous Non commented on 311 and Beyond: App-Driven Civic Engagement in Boston :

Thank you for writing about this. However, I can only imagine that the city managers feel a certain level of anxiety from this app. Making it easier to complain will just lead to more complaints, right? I applaud Boston for doing the right thing and prioritizing the citizen experience over (inevitable) managerial headaches. As you mentioned, the data from this app could lead to a bigger city budget (higher taxes?).

I also wonder how this could translate to broader civic engagement. How can they get people to volunteer for tutoring, mentoring, and cleanup projects? How can they get citizens to pay attention to and take part in city board meetings and resolutions? This seems like the next frontier and perhaps a more challenging one. Complaints follow a direct process that feels like shopping–make a request and see it fulfilled. Civic engagement is more ambiguous.

It’s amazing that the collusion has held on so strong that dealers are unwilling to compete with each other and offer simple digital tools for consumers. Auto finance is a major profit center and, as Evan mentioned, has a lot of room for exuberance and abuse. Long terms that put owners underwater have become more common. Over the last couple years, CFPB has cited several auto lenders for abusive practices, including the finance organizations of Toyota, Honda, Santander, and Ally.

Some dealers have been willing to compete on the used car front. There’s the longstanding Carmax, which uses a flat commission model. There’s also EchoPark, which promises an iPad guided experience.

On November 21, 2016, Amous Non commented on marrying Technology and Matchmaking :

Ultimately this model is like many that have come before it, albeit in different industries: a marketplace. Just like Kayak, eBay, or Alibaba, it connects two parties for a mutually beneficial transaction. Users find Pareto optimal – the outcome that leaves both parties better than they were before. It exposes people to partners outside of their village or limited social circle. And it allows for market-clearing matches, which is a free market economist’s dream. This way, no one is “screwed over” because lack of access or information.

On November 6, 2016, Amous Non commented on Sinking the Subway: The MBTA Confronts Climate Change :

In these scenarios, organizations are typically reactive rather than proactive. It’s troubling that the MBTA hasn’t been more urgent when signs of threats have appeared in other jurisdictions. For example, the Washington, DC metro recently instituted massive, months long shutdowns of entire rail lines in reaction to maintenance issues exacerbated by recent extreme weather. The city’s metros has seen flooding of entire stations, fires, and deaths. Hopefully Boston can look to DC as a signal to get serious rather than waiting for a local sign.

On November 6, 2016, Amous Non commented on Saving NYC: Can a transportation agency beat climate change? :

The scale of what needs to be done is staggering. It appears the Port Authority has approached this problem with a short term view that focuses on certain key assets. Wouldn’t a more drastic strategy be appropriate for a dense, old city that exists entirely on islands and peninsulas?

On November 6, 2016, Amous Non commented on Blame the Auto Dealers: Why Electric Cars Aren’t Getting Traction :

The power of dealers probably explains why manufacturers haven’t bothered improving their electric vehicles (other than Tesla). It would be disappointing if consumer demand is this easily influenced by irritating salesmen. Of course, cheap gas plays a part in reduced demand for PEVs.

Excellent article, thank you for sharing. Aligning premiums with risks comes with a few concerns. Climate change has diminished the usefulness of historical data for actuarial purposes. Risk is higher, but uncertainty is extreme. This leads insurers to price for radical scenarios, causing much higher prices. We’re already seeing that for property insurance. The effect would be more severe for flood insurance, because claims are almost always total losses.

Flood insurance priced accurately would cost as much as many houses (the median U.S. home costs $189,000). Your recommendation to enforce mandatory flood insurance in prone areas would force massive relocation, because the houses would simply not be worth it. Eliminating these risks would be financially beneficial for the government and insurers. Personally, I think it’s ridiculous that people rebuilt in the bottom of the New Orleans “soup bowl”. But people love their communities. There are serious human and property rights concerns with this proposal, but I think it’s worth an international discussion.

On November 6, 2016, Amous Non commented on As the Maldives sinks, the world plays the fiddle :

The Maldives will go under and become an example of externality in future economics textbooks. The world has shown a reluctance to act on many urgent, massive tragedies. Genocides, epidemics, famine, and slavery are all happening now. Things are being done, but certainly not “enough”. So why should this one be different? Countries will act in their own interests. And the Maldives don’t have much oil or strategic relevance.

The Maldives will be the Lehman Brothers for climate change. When we see one fall, we’ll believe we can be next.

On November 6, 2016, Amous Non commented on Antofagasta Minerals – Let’s change the mining industry :

Salt water is notoriously hard to use and salinate, particularly with metal (you know, rust and all). It’s impressive that Antofagasta has figured this out. Perhaps the company should consider selling this technology to governments, who are keen to bring drinking water to starved areas. Demand for this sort of technology will only increase with climate change.

You make the point that Antofagasta is not doing enough with regard to sustainability. I wonder, given the immense demand for copper that will come with climate change, how strong the company’s incentives are to prevent it. As long as its revenue is increasing, it will face little pressure to cut input costs.

On November 6, 2016, Amous Non commented on Coca-Cola: Sugar water and climate change :

That’s a great idea as long as Coke can protect its signature taste. Alternatively, it could introduce a complementary “Coke Stevia’ product.