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On December 1, 2017, JR commented on Robocabs Join the Fight Against Climate Change :

I agree with Shreya’s point above that asks whether driverless cars would actually reduce emissions. The Fortune article linked below describes a phenomenon in which people that would typically carpool (sharing a single family car, for example), can now each ride separately, multiplying the number of miles driven. Additionally, living in San Francisco during the rise of Uber and Lyft, anecdotally, I saw the impact of the availability of convenient rides on city-dwellers willingness and likelihood to utilize public transportation systems. With autonomous vehicles, the price for convenient rides will continue to fall (since riders no longer have to pay labor cost for a driver, for example), exacerbating the lost usage of public transport. This could in theory be extrapolated to a world in which cities no longer pay to operate public transport systems at all. The post states that Singapore is still invested in its public system, but would other global cities remain as invested?

It would be interesting to look at the “break-even analysis” for emissions saved from efficiency of AV routing, etc, versus GHG emitted due to increased miles driven as a result of dynamics described above.


On December 1, 2017, JR commented on Cleaning Up Cobalt: Who Is Responsible? :

Tim, you discuss that cobalt demand will increase as a result of proliferation of EVs, but demand is expected to increase to a much greater extent than you let on in your post above. Cobalt is a critical input for lithium-ion batteries, which have many uses in addition to EVs, including, but not limited to, renewable energy storage. Although new battery and storage technologies are being developed, demand lithium-ion batteries will continue to grow, potentially at an increasing rate. While some cobalt miners are “running from the problem” of unethical mining practices, cobalt is a finite metal. If firms stop mining in the DRC, supply will decrease in Canada and prices will rise, impacting prices on various consumer items from cell phones to power.

If industry issues become widely known among consumers, this may lead to incentive for miners in the DRC to clean up their acts, as Shooter discusses, but it may also create an interesting paradox for mining companies that will be able to command higher prices for “clean” cobalt.

Noemie – are you saying that Facebook would need to make the capital investments in local Russian data centers anyway in order to execute their “cache locally” operation? If so, do we know what the incremental cost would be to have the data completely stored in Russia?

If the incremental cost is not so significant, then the key questions are i) what are the PR implications and associated costs of full data storage in Russia, and ii) does splitting data storage between current location(s) and Russia impact other areas of Facebook’s ongoing operations/core competencies (i.e. data analysis and utilization for various initiatives and business strategy), and if so, what are the associated costs of that impact?

There can be a differentiation between importing raw materials and importing finished goods. In the scenario described above, CBN has restricted all imports. However, there are some raw materials that either a) take time to be able to be fully supplied domestically (like CBO), or b) cannot be supplied domestically at all due to various limitations, natural or otherwise. I understand that being so heavily reliant on a single industry (oil production) for national GDP is risky, but concentrating the supply chain of a large business that also contributes to Nigeria’s GDP, leading to questions around its survival, is similarly risky. If the CBN is intent on implementing isolationist policies, they may be better done gradually, allowing for raw material imports in quantities that make sense for long term success of Nigerian companies and companies reliant on the Nigerian economy.

Given EasyJet’s position as the lowest-cost carrier, I wonder if they would care about sharing data if it meant they were able to access data from other carriers. Larger datasets would provide more value to EasyJet as they optimize operations, and they may even earn outsized impact relative to other carriers given their more limited route maps and their tailored value proposition. Could EasyJet consider selling its software products to other airlines and sharing the data more widely across all users? Partners along the supply chain could utilize a broader set of information, allowing EasyJet to remain pure play.

One aspect of the article that interests me is the measurement of effectiveness and ROI. The campaign relates to both supply chain efficiencies and customer service improvement. As the post mentions, for such a big investment, results are critical, and competitors like Zara may only respond if it is clear that Uniqlo is earning a positive ROI. How exactly does Uniqlo intend to measure the efficacy of its various digital initiatives? Some components, such as inventory management, are easily measurable, but other objectives on the customer service side are harder to quantify.