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On November 20, 2016, ELR1989 commented on Digitization at Walmart :

You mention the Walmart app’s recent expansion and its new functionality including helping with item locations in store, allowing customers to create shopping lists and use digital coupons and facilitating the browsing of the store’s ads and offers. In many respects these are valuable additions for the customer but Walmart must be careful not to use this data in ways that appear ‘creepy’ or intrusive to customers. As the amount of data companies hold on us increases, data integrity and privacy will become more and more important. I would challenge Walmart to use its data in the smartest and most selective way possible without risking alienating customers who may find its more technologically ‘advanced’ practices off putting.

On November 20, 2016, ELR1989 commented on Digitizing Our Homes :

I actually have an Echo in my apartment but I’m with Margaret with my concerns around privacy. At the risk of sounding paranoid, my concern is more focused on Amazon itself. If I’m discussing buying a new toaster at home with my partner and the Echo is listening and collecting this data, what is to stop Amazon increasing the prices of toasters by 5-10% on its site? Detecting such abuse of information would be hard to do (given the small increase in price).

I believe that we as consumers need to be more assertive in protecting our privacy and the regulators need to support private individuals. However, progress here is slow and far behind the pace of innovation. I wonder what it will take to make consumers pay attention and regulators give this nascent technology the guide rails it needs?

On November 20, 2016, ELR1989 commented on e-Estonia: How Estonia is digitalizing an entire country :

Thanks for bringing to my attention such an incredibly innovative and forward looking example of government. Many countries (and the US is a particularly bad offender having recently relocated here) struggle with slow, paper based bureaucracy. Estonia proves that this no longer needs to be the case in 2016. I hope other countries are inspired to adopt some of the same actions that Estonia has towards digitizing interactions between the state and its citizens.

What an interesting read. I didn’t know about uberMOTO before now but the Uber model certainly seems to offer many advantages to the traditional motorbike experience. As Uber continues to develop driverless car technology with a view to eliminating all drivers and thus the associated costs within a matter of years, I wonder what this will mean for the relative attractiveness of the motorbike taxi market ? As far as I am aware, at the moment all the companies engaged in the automated car space are focused on cars only. If Uber remains focused on the automated car space, then the motor taxi market may not be as interesting given the costs associated with motorbike drivers and the regulatory challenges. If however Uber is also developing driverless technologies on other vehicles, then this segment could become even more of an interesting market and worth fighting the regulators on.

As is suggested in this post, Flywheel’s use of technology sets it apart from Soulcycle, it’s biggest competitor and suggests a bright future for the company in an increasingly connected world. I like your suggestions of continuing to improve the app and introducing new hardware such as a heartrate monitor but I think they could go even further and must do so to compete with Peloton. Peloton is leading the charge with ‘virtual spinning’ where you can join a class remotely and experience the same instruction and competition elements from wherever you are (if you have a Peloton bike). Given Flywheel’s focus on its tech enabled ‘tech-pack’, they should have a headstart over SoulCycle in entering this new market of virtual exercise and I think they should look to capitalise on this as soon as possible.

This is a fascinating post. I’m encouraged that there are companies like kountable out there using novel techniques to extend credit to those who have traditionally been unable to to access it. Data integrity feels like a huge issue here though, given their reliance on the depth of the social data to measure businesses, and kountable must focus on developing its technology to detect fraudulent data if it doesn’t want to fall prey to sophisticated scammers in the future.

Yum! Jared – this post is fascinating. I had no idea how much more efficient crickets were as a source of protein vs. beef, however to echo some of the comments on this thread, I’d be keen to see how crickets stack up against soy and other plant based proteins.

This point aside, the environmental arguments seem pretty sound on crickets but my major reservation would be how to change consumer behaviours to want to purchase and eat crickets on a regular basis. Without widespread adoption and consumption, I fear crickets will become another trendy food fad that fails to catch on. This would be a real shame for the environment given the huge benefits greater consumption could offer.

Maybe the trick here would be a Vita Coco/Rihanna style partnership where a key celebrity (and ideally not a vegan one but a strong one – say Hulk Hogan) became a spokesperson for the Exo brand. A long shot perhaps, but necessary I think if crickets are to break the stigma that currently surrounds their consumption.

Great post Pasha. The power of a company to galvanise individuals to action is intriguing and whilst Chipotle hasn’t actively been encouraging its customers or proactively educating them about the challenges behind guacamole procurement, I think this could be an interesting channel for them to tap into. It would allow them to not only stimulate positive conversation and action against climate change but would also allow them to engage with their young clientele in a more meaningful way than just through an large carnitas burrito with extra guacamole.

I am disappointed though by their inaction thus far on climate change despite their acknowledgement of the risks it presents for a core part of their offering. The big question I have is how we collectively (as a society/country/world) can encourage companies to take some responsibility for positive action. If we can’t do this for companies whose business models are already threatened by climate change, I’m not sure how we’ll be able to effect positive change from those who are more insulated from global warming’s effects at present.

On November 7, 2016, ELR1989 commented on Barry Callebaut: I’m in love with the cocoa :

When reading this blogpost, my attentions turned back to coffee bean production given the similar challenges it is facing due to climate change. The adaptation strategies you outline 1) working with farmers to adapt to climate change) and 2) developing and propagating heat resistant forms of cocoa have much in common with coffee bean production and the steps being taken by big players in that industry (like Starbucks) to mitigate the effects of climate change. I wonder whether similar industries like cocoa, coffee beans and any other commodities affected by global warming would achieve more by banding their resources, research and lobbying clout together rather than working towards similar goals in tandem but in isolation.

Food for thought… and now I want some chocolate!

On November 7, 2016, ELR1989 commented on Stylish and Sustainable: Can Zara’s Fast-Fashions be Both? :

Great post, Caroline! I’m shocked that the apparel industry drives 10% of global emissions and assume that this will only grow as our insatiable desire for fast fashion grows which suggests that clothing manufacturers and retailers have an important part to play in reducing their emissions.

I share your scepticism about Zara’s selective practices too and feel given the magnitude of the challenge that industry bodies in conjunction with governments should consider introducing punitive measures for retailers who don’t commit to reducing their emissions. Zara seems to be making some progress but without intervention from on high, I’m not confident that they will have the motivation to reduce their emissions to sustainable levels.

Laax is clearly facing challenges in the years ahead with temperatures forecasted to keep rising. The initiatives undertaken to date (recycling and CO2 neutral energy) signal good intent on behalf of the Weisse Grupe but will not be enough to reverse the challenges of climate change. For me, the only long term solution to protect the ski area is to expand upwards, as you mention, and to move the main skiing holidays to earlier in the year. Unfortunately these initiatives feel unsatisfactory in preserving the long term future of the resort and I fear Laax, along with many other lower resorts, face a very tough future unless they can find a way to make and maintain much more snow than they are currently able.

On November 7, 2016, ELR1989 commented on Whole Foods – Natural & Organic. Sustainable? :

Thanks for such a comprehensive look at the issues WFM faces as a result of climate change. What struck me is that the steps WFM is taking focus primarily on reducing their own operating impact on the environment rather than on securing their raw materials (ingredients/products/fresh produce) as climate change reduces supply and increases prices.

I suspect that this is happening in part because it is much easier for WFM to make their own stores carbon neutral/have electric car charging stations and indeed a more achievable goal, than it is for them to affect positive change on a larger level for their suppliers. I think this is the biggest challenge facing us today; who focuses on and pays for the most impactful actions which will not just benefit one company but everyone. Maybe ‘climate change’ global taxes are the way to go here?