There are obviously huge benefits to the expanded use of these technologies, however they do create some additional risks. A study released in 2015 that focused on 14 years of robotic surgeries in the US showed:
“1,166 cases of broken/burned parts falling into patients’ bodies, which contributed to 119 injuries and one death.
Uncontrolled movements and spontaneous powering on/off of the machines are said to have caused 52 injuries and two deaths.
Electrical sparks, unintended charring and damaged accessory covers are linked to 193 injuries, including the burning of body tissues.
And the loss of quality video feeds and/or reports of system error codes are said to have contributed to a further 41 injuries and one death.” (http://www.bbc.com/news/technology-33609495)
In comparison to the total number of surgeries these numbers are very small. The benefits may actually outweigh the risk, but it is important to note there clearly are some new risks. If you are forced to train surgeons on how to deal with technical problems, it is just another thing that could distract them from their main purpose. Hopefully technical glitches can be minimized going forward.
Privacy is certainly one of my major concerns with these programs. As these companies amass more and more data with these opt-in programs, they seem to gain an advantage to being able to lock in safe drivers. Admiral Insurance seems to be taking the next step in information gathering using Facebook posts and likes to look for “risky” traits and price policies (https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/nov/02/admiral-to-price-car-insurance-based-on-facebook-posts). This almost seemed inevitable, but you have to worry how accurate can a program such as this be? Writing shorter sentences means you are more responsible and therefore should get a lower policy? It sounds like a stretch to me. And although Admiral has stated it will not look at photos, I am sure that will become a public relations nightmare in the near future. It is nice to reward safe drivers, but punishing others for not giving up data or on the fuzzy premise of a single Facebook post could be a slippery slope.
As you noted, network effects are very important for this data to be valuable. How do you get the first people to complete this test when it will be much more valuable for people to do it in several years after thousands of others have already done so? I believe your suggestion of a lower price is a good start, but I think the company must go even further. If HLI followed up with patients several years post-test based on their improved data sets I think their initial value to the patients would be much larger. In addition, this could also be used as a carrot to get patients to return for another test. Ultimately, their price seems to be totally inaccessible at this point and unless they can figure out a way to get insurers to pay for at least some portion of the cost they will be fighting quite an uphill battle.
This is a very interesting technology, and I certainly understand its validity in the situation in Mongolia. However, if people do not have smartphones, how will they be able to look up the 3 word location and get directions there? In addition, in developed countries that already have addresses it can add another level of specificity to locations, but I imagine the uptake will be much lower because it does not seem necessary in most circumstances. Could it partner with any major map apps? These 3 word addresses exist but if no one knows about them then how will it be used? I think they will need a major marketing effort in order to make people aware of this technology and if an app like Google Maps gave people a notification that it existed it would certainly be a step in the right direction.
This seems to be a step in the right direction, but the possibility of these tags getting ripped off the bag still exists. Qantas sells flyers RFID bag tags, which should save the airline on cost but at $23 may have a low uptake rate (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-lost-luggage-delta-20160831-snap-story.html). I think that in the future almost all baggage will be sold with RFID tags inside, which prevents the risk of the tag being ripped off and saves the airline on cost. Maybe Delta could partner with luggage companies to make this transition faster.
Separately, I am not sure the data set created by RFID will be much larger than the old tags. The baggage is still going through the same old system with checkpoints in the same places, the only difference being a higher likelihood of being correctly scanned. The data may be a little more precise, but in the old system Delta should still have been able to identify its main problem points and handoffs.
Boeing Commerical Airplanes and Boeing Defense, Space & Security are essentially two separate companies that are combined under one umbrella, which can help with some technology efficiencies. Military aircraft typically place performance, in terms of range and speed (and agility and stealth for fighters) as the first priority and fuel burn is a fallout of the equation. Some products are a combination product such as the P-8 Poseidon, which is a modified 737 for anti-submarine warfare and intelligence, and the KC-46 tanker which benefit from the fuel burn improvements of the commercial plane.
In terms of PIPs, historically it is shared benefits between aerodynamic and weight improvements and engine improvements as seen recently with the 777 PIP (http://aviationweek.com/advanced-machines-aerospace-manufacturing/boeing-ge-define-777-performance-upgrade). The 747 PIP (https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/boeing-conducts-test-flight-of-747-8-with-pip-386173/) was largely engine based as you noted. Boeing and the engine manufacturers partner incredibly closely in order to integrate the full product as tightly as possible. Biofuels benefit the entire industry, so Boeing has partnered with airlines like Alaska Airlines (http://boeing.mediaroom.com/Port-of-Seattle-Partners-with-Alaska-Airlines-and-Boeing-on-Plan-to-Supply-Sustainable-Aviation-Biofuel-at-Sea-Tac-Airport), engine companies and really anyone involved in the supply chain.
Phil, this technology is very intriguing and it is certainly attempting to address an important need in both water usage and public health (as Taki noted). In addition to the marketing and physical cost of the toilet, I think the size and complexity of the entire system would be a major barrier. It would appear to require a very serious undertaking to be able to install this toilet in terms of skill and also space available. I think the skill issue would be a barrier in developing countries, while the space issue would more likely be a problem in developed countries. In addition, high complexity would also most likely lead to higher maintenance costs which would also lend to it being untenable for the developing nations that are in desperate need of a solution. The intent of this product is good and a step in the right direction, but without serious innovations on cost and complexity it seems almost certain to remain a niche product and therefore a minimal contributor to turning the tide against climate change.
Kat, thank you for this post on an increasingly important issue. I think regulation obviously be a very important tool in terms of incentivizing or forcing positive action. In this case, it seems to me that the intent of France’s regulation is to aggressively force companies to innovate for better environmental outcomes. As you noted, compostable cutlery does exist, but it does not meet the exact standards of being able to compost in-home. This should indicate that it is not a major technological leap from current technology to France’s future standards. In addition, by giving several years of runway in their 2020 implementation timeline I think that it makes it a more reachable goal. In terms of the cost of the new cutlery, I think that continued innovation will bring the cost down in time. Initially, businesses may bear the larger proportion of increased cost, but I do agree that it could initally hurt low-income families. Overall, I think France made the right decision to be a leader to force better environmental outcomes, and if this legislation has to be revisited closer to final implementation because the technology is truly not achievable then that would be fine. Hopefully it will influence the entire EU to adopt similar regulation, rather than the EU stifling these goals.
As Luke’s Lobster expands from 19 to 60 stores, its geographic diversity will increase as well. According to its website (http://www.lukeslobster.com/), a location in Miami will be opening this fall. Luke’s Lobster will either need to bear the increased costs and emissions from shipping its lobsters from its trusted Maine suppliers or partner with new suppliers closer to these locations. I think it will be very difficult to try to grow local supply chains quickly (and in some locations in the future there is obviously no opportunity for local lobster fishing), so they will be forced to ship lobsters from Maine to Florida. This would be an energy intensive endeavor that would contribute emissions to climate change. Luke’s Lobster’s growth plan seems to be at odds with causing minimal environmental impact.
At this point it seems that economics come first for Delta (and most of the airlines industry). Until they move towards a newer, more fuel efficient fleet it will be hard for me to believe they are fully committed to fighting climate change.
Dimitris, this was an incredibly interesting read. It is certainly sad to read about the increased melting of polar ice, but I do agree that it is only logical that businesses such as Dynagas take advantage of this opportunity. One aspect of the data that I was wondering about is why did the number of vessels using the NSR drop precipitously after 2013? Is it because of a fluctation in energy prices that made the route unviable again? One possibility could be a difficulty in obtaining permits after the the Russian government created a Northern Sea Route Adminisitration that governs this passage. In addition, these permits add cost as the infrastructure of the route is built and the ships are required to accept Russian icebreaker assistance (http://www.businessinsider.com/russia-intensifies-control-over-shipping-route-2013-9). It will be intriguing to see if the number of ships using the NSR begins to rise again.
Thank you for this thoughtful post! When looking at major weather events in the past, it is clear that they can have a massive negative impact on an airline’s route structure for several days. One aspect that you didn’t touch on was Delta’s fleet strategy. Comparatively to many legacy airlines they buy a large number of used airplanes, such as recently purchasing most of the remaining 717s on Earth, which inherently have much lower fuel efficiency (http://news.delta.com/deltas-fleet-strategy-driven-opportunity-flexibility). Do you think this policy will change as they take climate change more seriously or they will continue to focus strictly on the economics?