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I agree with “cmaug” on motorcycle taxis. They are brilliant for the price and convenience, but the safety aspect is of concern as motorcycle accidents can be fairly high, and even higher if the driver is driving a motorcycle while trying to check his/her Uber app for directions or to see where “hot spots” are for finding rides. The driving while looking at a screen is challenging and dangerous enough for a car driver, but for motorcycles this is exponentially worse and isn’t even a statistic for most common motorcycle accident types in the US [1], likely because it is nearly impossible to do safely. How is Uber planning on having a mobile platform that a motorcycle rider can interface with safely?

[1] Kathleen Michon, “Motorcycle Accidents: Common Causes,” Nolo, http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/motorcycle-accidents-common-causes-30330.html, accessed November 20 2016.

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

Continuing on the thought from the previous comment, with Walmart as a low-cost operator appealing to a range of consumers, is there a compelling argument for Walmart to invest so heavily to look like Amazon? From a logistics standpoint this is a logical move to streamline and use existing autonomous machines to do easy and repetitive labor tasks, but from a consumer lifetime value (CLV) point of view, would they not be commoditizing their brand of every day low price (EDLP) and the brand of Walmart in favor of just another online retailer? Amazon can target middle to higher-end consumers with the requirement for a credit card and stable shipping address, but Walmart provides an in-store opportunity for the more liquidity constrained consumers that can’t be lost. Amazon is disrupting Walmart’s incredible status in the way that Walmart disrupted other consumers [1], but should all of those technological advances be applicable to Walmart, or should they differentiate in another way and stick with their core consumer?

[1] Laura Heller, “The Battle Between Walmart and Amazon Will be Epic”, Forbes, October 30, 2016, http://www.forbes.com/sites/lauraheller/2016/10/30/the-battle-between-walmart-and-amazon-will-be-epic/#1a526e9b5da3, accessed November 20, 2016.

Taking the idea of an IoT cycling platform one step further, what about adding a social impact aspect to further differentiate? Would it not be even more exciting if Flywheel could show that the energy that individual participants put out was going toward reducing the energy bill of the studio and thus creating a “greener” studio? Technology exists that can be added to spinning bikes to use them to take the energy created from the spinning wheel and store that energy for use by the gym [1]. Though it might not be a way to create significant energy (claims are that within a few months the system has good ROI [2]), it is a mechanism for creating a net-zero atmosphere and building in a “feel good” social impact story that will use the existing software and tracking technology to create a more digital disruption of the fitness space.

[1] “Boston MA Gym Powered by Spin Bikes,” Bike Radar, http://www.bikeradar.com/us/beginners/news/article/boston-ma-gym-powered-by-spin-bikes-33573/, accessed November 20, 2016
[2] “Gym Uses Indoor Cycling Classes to Generate Power,” Earth 911, http://earth911.com/eco-tech/gym-uses-indoor-cycling-classes-to-generate-power/, accessed November 20, 2016

On November 20, 2016, FD commented on Fishing for Fish Data: Digitizing Aquaculture :

Great article on a unique company looking at the fisheries business. Their idea for a drifter farm is interesting, but I wonder about the limits of the technology. Technology already exists for the tracking of the pods (or ships or airplanes) across oceans, so is the technological limit based more on geofencing and trying to keep the pods within an acceptable limit? Due to fishing laws having a lot to do with location and ensuring boats are in international waters and not infringing on the fishing rights of individual nations by getting to close to their shores, this would seem a specific threat to a drifting model. There are some new technologies to establish a marine-based geophone that can alert if a boat or other object with the tracker leaves the assigned area [1]. This could be good for keeping the fish within an acceptable habitat, or keeping them within waters where the company can ensure others will not try to harvest their fish. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) is concerned with US fisheries and ensuring their practices are both sustainable and economically sound and supported by regulation [2]. They and would likely be in favor of a balanced drifting approach of allowing the pods to go with the oceans, so long as they stay at depths that keep them from being a danger to other vessels and don’t stray into the waters of other nations. Geofencing could go a long way to help with their model.

[1] “Keeping your Boat Inside a Geofence,” Ocean Navigator, http://www.oceannavigator.com/January-February-2011/Keeping-your-boat-inside-a-geofence/, accessed November 20, 2016.
[2] “Guidance for Conducting Economic and Social Analysis for Regulatory Actions,” NOAA, http://www.nmfs.noaa.gov/sfa/laws_policies/economic_social/index.html, accessed November 20, 2016.

The work that Palantir is doing with the Polaris Project is nothing short of remarkable, in aggregating so much data from call-in hotlines and finding patterns in the data to see the trends. What I struggle with understanding is the execution. On Polaris’s website it mentions a three-step plan of action. The first is to respond to single calls, which is very important, but a small step that requires a partnership with local law enforcement from each area where a call may be placed. Second is a preventative step through education and the third is to “disrupt the business of human trafficking through targeted campaigns”.[1] While there is a sensitivity in the route they are taking to combat this, I am curious what legal arm they are using and to which entities the data is flowing. Are they working with domestic agencies such as the FBI, or internationally focused ones to move beyond the boarders of the United States? How are other countries understanding this use of technology to spy on their own citizens? While it would seem natural that law enforcement agencies would be natural partners, there are always privacy concerns that an independent business will view differently than a public entity which will have wide ranging legal ramifications. With outdated laws that have not kept up with the pace of technology, specifically with encryption and cloud-based technology, even with the best data [2], will there be a way to make a long term difference in this fight beyond a few flashy headlines and responding to specific hotline calls for individuals, leaving the vast majority still enslaved? Not that they should not continue, only that the international legal and enforcement framework must be in place to support meaningful action so that it doesn’t stay just patterns within data.

[1] “Our Model,” Polaris Project, https://polarisproject.org/theory-change#Model, accessed 11/20/2016.
[2] “Law Enforcement and Data Privacy; A Forward Looking Model,” Yale Law Journal 125:2, http://www.yalelawjournal.org/comment/law-enforcement-and-data-privacy-a-forward-looking-approach, accessed 11/20/2016.

Monsanto has moved in many different directions to diversify their holdings over seed production for farmers, however have any advancements been made to combat the increasing salinity of water and soil in areas that will be more prone to coastal flooding with rising ocean levels? The impact of higher salinity on soil microorganisms is significant [1] and one of the common ways to adapt to that is by using the microbes from areas already adapted to these levels. With the acquisition of Novozymes will Monsanto actually commit to this potentially small market of non-GMO crops, or do you think there are some synergies that can be made between the two? With the strict European standards for GMOs this acquisition and focus on microbes may increase Monsanto’s marketshare significantly as they are able to branch into new markets with more resistant seeds and gain even more ground as climate change cause different needs from traditional farming sources, especially in areas affected by changes in ocean levels.

1 Yan et al., Science Direct, “Influence of salinity and water content on soil microorganisms,” http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S209563391530112X accessed November 6, 2010.

With the increase in technology of finding Clear Air Turbulence (CAT), how does that help with Delta’s efficiency? It will make it more profitable in the long run with higher customer satisfaction rating, however it should be noted that when there is known turbulence passenger aircraft are usually routed around such turbulence for safety and comfort reasons. This additional routing, above, below or around the turbulence will cause additional fuel to be expended by going away from the most direct route [1]. The aviation industry has made huge changes in the last 20 years to decrease the cost of air travel and to be more fuel-efficient, however with climate change and increasing CO2, increasing temperatures and increasing Jetstream size and speeds, this is working against the efficiencies made. Though there are great safety reasons for identifying CAT while in the air, this cannot replace the need for pilots continuing to report turbulence so that when other pilots are preparing for a flight they can build in a plan around known turbulence at the onset and try to avoid being re-routed in-flight.

1 Soo Kim, “Climate Change to Influence Turbulence, Flight Times, and Fares,” The Telegraph 12 May 2016, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/news/climate-change-to-increase-turbulence-flight-times-and-costs/ accessed November 6, 2018.

On November 6, 2016, FD commented on In Vino Veritas? :

Shifting climate patterns will clearly leave agricultural winners and losers as different areas become more acceptable for certain grape varietals to be harvested. Are there any other locations with a more traditional history of grape production that can use similar efficiencies of moving away from single varietal bottling in favor of a blend that can be adapted based on that season’s yield? The effect of oceans rising cannot be ignored in this conversation as well as this will impact areas that will continue to have an acceptable climate, but could be effected by costal flooding. Areas such as Bordeaux, Portugal, New Zealand, and Australia are particularly at risk [1]. Rising sea levels could also increase the risk for earthquakes in certain areas which would impact the growing regions of Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Chile, Argentina, and New Zealand [2]. All of these areas are in danger with climate change, and it would be a smart idea for unaffected areas to start diversifying their production and looking into similar constructions of blend varieties in order to build a brand that can weather the oncoming storm.

1 Michelle Renée Mozell, Liz Thach, “The impact of climate change on the global wine industry: Challenges & solutions,” Science Direct , Vol 3:2, December 2014, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212977414000222 accessed November 6, 2016.
2 Ibid.

On November 6, 2016, FD commented on Netafim: Grow More With Less :

The opportunity that is offered with micro-drip irrigation is irrefutable, however the cost of implementing of such technology is not mentioned. In the US 88% of farms are small family-owned farms [1] without a lot of revenue to be investing in expensive irrigation technologies when up until recently they have been lucky enough to have access to large amounts of clean water. Drip irrigation has been around for decades, yet few farmers in the US have picked it up. As of 2000 the US Geological Survey shows that only 7% of family farmers were using this technology [2], however after the drought hit California and the issue became more prevalent numbers increased significantly but there are still many holdouts, despite the clear advantages of micro-drip irrigation over the more common spray irrigation [3]. Would a tax incentive encourage farmers to make this investment sooner? What do you think it would take to hasten the advancement of this technology into the US family farm?

1 US Department of Agriculture, “Family Farms are the Focus of New Agriculture Census Data,” http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdamediafb?contentid=2015/03/0066.xml&printable=true, accessed November 6, 2010.
2 US Geological Survey, “Irrigation: Drip/Microirrigation,” http://water.usgs.gov/edu/irdrip.html accessed November 6, 2016.
3 David Cay Johnston, “California Farms are Slow to Adopt Water Saving Technologies,” Newsweek. February 13, 2014 http://www.newsweek.com/2014/02/14/california-farms-are-slow-adopt-water-saving-technology-245516.html, accessed November 6, 2016.

The transportation industry has been slow to adapt, but is making considerable changes in how they transport goods in order to cut costs and reduce emissions. One of the main reasons is the investment in infrastructure such as cars and airplanes is significant and these investments are expected to be in use for years. With aircraft in particular, the newer aircraft have more carbon fiber and honeycomb parts than older generation aircraft, however airplanes are used in the industry can have long lifespans of over 25 years [1] if they are on longer distance flights. By waiting until the next generation of aircraft are being produced, the newest models have carbon fiber frames and are seeing far more fuel savings than previous hybrid models [2]. There are not many accessories that can be left off long-haul carriers as they are generally as empty as possible to accommodate extra weight and sizes of packages. Other efficiencies that are less capital intensive than purchasing all-new aircraft could be retrofitting legacy aircraft with winglets to decrease drag off the wing [3], or decreasing the amount of fuel on board at take off by doing better winds-aloft calculations. Each extra pound of weight at takeoff is extra fuel needed to take it off, and the majority of the weight on a cargo carrier is the fuel itself. So by figuring out the exact needs for fuel consumption, excess fuel to divert, 30 minutes of emergency fuel, airlines could see significant fuel and cost savings by cutting down on the weight of fuel at take off to closer to what they will be needing. This is already done by the airline industry and military aviation, however some cargo carriers still have higher allowances for fuel in the name of standardization so that it is easier to fuel a fleet of aircraft to the same level, instead of fueling them just-in-time based off the weather conditions at the time of flight. Additional efficiencies can be found with flight planning at optimum altitudes and airspeeds that may not be as quick to reach the destination, but are at a reduced speed that is more efficient for the engines.

[1] Air&Space Magazine, “What Determines an Airplanes Lifespan,” http://www.airspacemag.com/need-to-know/what-determines-an-airplanes-lifespan-29533465/?no-ist, accessed November 6, 2016.
[2] University of Pittsburgh, “Carbon Fiber Aircraft Frames and Their Effect on the Aviation Industry,” http://www.pitt.edu/~ntv5/engineeringtrends.html, accessed November 6, 2016
[3] NASA Spinoff, “Winglets Save Billions of Dollars in Fuel Costs,” https://spinoff.nasa.gov/Spinoff2010/t_5.html, accessed November 6, 2016.