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Great post. Another interesting concern about autonomous cars is that they will get bullied by human drivers: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/oct/30/volvo-self-driving-car-autonomous. As the rule-abiding nerds of the road, autonomous cars will yield to aggressive drivers in their surrounding area. This phenomenon could potentially create a safety concern. How do you think regulation or infrastructure changes might help to address this problem?

On November 20, 2016, MB commented on Evolution of the Smart Pig :

Great post. I’d be interested to know whether the industry is combining pigging data with weather and topographical data to see whether there are correlations so that pipeline companies might better understand where to focus maintenance efforts in the future. Are these same companies (or the oil companies) developing smart cleaning or repair technology that might be able to do maintenance inside the pipeline once problem areas are identified?

On November 20, 2016, MB commented on Stockless Stores and Hassle-Free Clothes :

These stores provide both a valuable customer service and marketing opportunity for Bonobos as described here by the WSJ: http://www.wsj.com/articles/warby-parker-bonobos-have-big-plans-for-physical-stores-1475767980. I recently visited a Bonobos store and wonder if their product offering is high quality enough to earn long-term customer retention. The clothes are certainly not inexpensive, but they don’t strike me as high quality enough to be viewed as investment pieces. I’ll be interested to see whether Bonobos will introduce a high end line that might help them to retain young professionals as they progress in their career (and wardrobe sophistication).

My main concern about blockchain is about security risks to assets and information. How would a blockchain system vulnerabilities compare to the system that our financial institutions are currently using? If there are new operational security risks, which parts of the system will be responsible for security failures?

Great post. What do think the future value proposition of big banks will be? Do you see banks becoming one stop shopping for all financial needs like insurance, personal banking, wealth management, and mortgages? If consumers aren’t permanently tied to a bank’s ecosystem and don’t feel like they are getting a good deal, then it seems that banks will be likely to lose customers to innovators in the financial industry.

On November 20, 2016, MB commented on Should Central Banks Issue Digital Currencies? :

My main concern about a shift to digital currency is privacy. Consumers already share a lot of personal information with financial institutions through their use of credit cards and online banking transactions. I’d be interested to know how much more information would be collected with the introduction of a digital currency. This WSJ article indicates that in the US cash is still the most common method of payment: http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2016/11/03/with-a-flurry-of-new-ways-to-pay-cash-hangs-on/. What do you think that governments would have to do to convince citizens that digital currency is reliable and secure?

On November 7, 2016, MB commented on Climate Change and Cosmetics: It’s Going to Get Ugly :

This strikes me as an interesting example of how difficult it is for the average American consumer who buys lots of processed food and goods to discern what one should and should not buy. I’d like to hear ideas from experts about how this information could be communicated to consumers in a usable and not overly onerous way. Social media seems like an interesting way to educate consumers about ingredient concerns with respect to large consumer brands. To work the writing would have to be simple, easy to understand, and perhaps humorous. I’m imagining a teenager telling his friends to buy one item instead of the other because of the rain forest and pointing to his Instagram feed.

On November 7, 2016, MB commented on Fish in troubled waters :

American Seafood Group, as a power player in the industry, should lobby to develop and Organic/Fair Trade like stamp or classification system that will certify the type of fish and its origin in a reliable way. Mislabeling of seafood is a significant problem in the Unites States (http://www.npr.org/sections/thesalt/2013/02/21/172589997/one-in-three-fish-sold-at-restaurants-and-grocery-stores-is-mislabeled). So, not only is it difficult for consumers to figure out what kinds of fish are best to eat from a sustainability perspective, even when armed with that information it is difficult to then make sure only to eat those kinds of fish. Conscious consumers might pay a premium for certified (by type and origin) fish.

On November 7, 2016, MB commented on Your Google Searches Are Contributing to Global Warming :

I agree that Google is in a strong position to educate consumers about smart energy use. The challenge for Google will be to engage consumers on the issue without losing customers, revenue, or dinging the brand. Google will likely be unwilling to paint itself as a giant energy consumer, so it will want to pair consumer education with information about how Google in investing in alternative energy at large scale. These concerns may delay Google’s efforts to empower its customers to be smart users of its technology.

The point on cutting city programs is a bit hasty. The real problem with regard to the budget in D.C. is that Congress has not set aside sufficient funds for plowing although it is important to continuing government operations. The lack of planning and concurrence between the city and federal government highlights a critical friction point in environmental readiness planning that will be pertinent for a range of climate change related problems in the future.

Hilton’s reductions in emissions and energy use are impressive at face value, but I wonder if that large initial improvement was from low hanging fruit. For example, this large hotel chain, as an enormous consumer of resources, may have gone from unmitigated resource use to some level of awareness. If that was the case, then the change described above would have been from reducing wanton waste, which while important is a far cry from establishing a green industry standard. I’d be interested to see a multi-layered long-term plan that includes investments in energy efficient materials and equipment.

The ocean engineering part of this problem is very interesting. Beyond seawalls, I would like to learn more about the government’s long-term R&D projects. It would also be helpful to see the data on projected sea level changes to look at this problem against time. While tourism and the economic survival of the population is important in the present, the larger concern is that the Maldives is likely to disappear during this century.