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On November 20, 2016, Michael commented on Thinking of getting a connected Tesla? Beware the risks. :

Thanks for an interesting read Alan. You reminded me of some medical device manufacturers’ carelessness regarding security and device manipulation: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-10-04/j-j-warns-diabetic-patients-about-hacking-risks-of-insulin-pumps. Robust auditing for vulnerabilities is definitely an important production process step that is sometimes overlooked in the interest of getting a product to market quickly.

I have some concerns around your suggestion to open source Tesla’s software, although I appreciate you suggest ‘portions’ be shared with outsiders and presumably these would be the less commercially sensitive areas so competitors wouldn’t reap too many benefits. Nonetheless, I wonder whether allowing outsiders to gain comprehensive knowledge of certain aspects of Tesla’s code may allow for easier penetration of other, more important areas through the unintended linkages that you point out. In the highly competitive race to viable driverless cars, can Tesla afford to take the risk?

On November 20, 2016, Michael commented on Offshore drillers – change to survive :

Thanks Akanksha – an interesting read.

It sounds like the oil industry has considerable work to do in adapting business models to fully benefit from digitization. I’m interested in how you think the staffing mix may change with the implementation of more digitization and data analysis. Specifically, you mention that in good times contractors have sought to accumulate the most highly skilled engineering talent, driving up operating costs. Do you see a future in which a proportion of this high-skilled engineering talent is replaced by highly skilled data analysis talent? Moreover, does investment in better analytics (and therefore ability to minimize downtime) result in a reduced need for engineering talent in the first place? I can see how pivotal engineers’ experience and instincts are at the initial roll-out of greater data analytics, but I might be more worried for their jobs in the longer-term as their skills are called on less often.

On November 20, 2016, Michael commented on Apple: Digital Healthcare Innovation :

Thanks for this Christian. I fully agree with your concerns about user data protection and privacy. Undoubtedly many smartphone users are now more comfortable than ever with the idea that their personal data is a commodity to be exchanged for goods and services. However, I wonder whether a data privacy catastrophe like that relatively recent iCloud photo hack could undermine customers’ willingness to share highly personal medical data in the future. I would be interested to know what operational steps Apple is taking to ensure that its data collection, transmission and identity protection initiatives can avoid such a scenario.

On November 20, 2016, Michael commented on Can Cellphones be the New Bank for the Unbanked? :

Thanks for this Daniela – really educational article.

I would be interested to understand more about how Millicom obtains creditworthiness data in order to offer its micro-loans and micro-insurance. I remember being really impressed learning about M-Kopa last year (http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-mkopa-solar-in-africa/), which generates its own credit data by leasing solar power units to customers, then extending more credit to those who prove to be good at repaying (not unlike ITC learning about the incomes of different farmers in its network and considering using the data for financial services). Does Millicom use any existing social infrastructure in its operating model to understand creditworthiness, or is this determined in some other way?

On November 20, 2016, Michael commented on Starbucks: A Technology Pioneer :

Thanks for a really interesting article!

Firstly to Mary’s point above – I don’t think that the delivery system is intended to replace the traditional ‘third place’ experience of Starbucks. Specifically, the relatively high $5.99 delivery fee means that your average customer is unlikely to use the service for one or two cups of coffee – think more of the office intern who needs to put in an order for 14 teammates, and derives little benefit from the chic in-store experience.

Secondly, the implementation of the delivery system is interesting (see http://www.geekwire.com/2015/coffee-starbucks-postmates-launch-delivery-seattle-like/). Similarly to Uber, Starbucks attempts to keep delivery times to a minimum by matching orders to the nearest available store, as well as by not printing a ticket to begin the order until the courier is within a certain distance of the store – these steps both increase the overall efficiency of the system (more coffees delivered per hour) and make sure that the coffee arrives hot.

On November 5, 2016, Michael commented on AIG: Underwriting the Risk of Climate Change :

Thanks for this Jess. It is also worth noting that insurance companies are closely connected to some major drivers of climate change. In 2015, AXA announced its intention to divest €500m from companies heavily exposed to carbon emissions, and to triple its green investments by 2020 (see https://www.ft.com/content/f349dbb0-0072-11e5-b91e-00144feabdc0). Companies like AXA and AIG have significant capital to invest and their decisions in doing so set important precedents regarding climate change and sustainability.

In addition, coal-fired power plants and other greenhouse gas-intensive projects are important sources of premiums for the same insurers, further complicating the cost-benefit analysis. It is therefore important that each conducts a balanced assessment the myriad impacts of climate change on their business when deciding which sales and investment practices should continue.

On November 5, 2016, Michael commented on How your Facebook Likes contribute to global warming :

Thanks for this Fabian.

One interesting example of the impact Facebook has had by building its own datacenters is its ‘Cold Storage’ innovation (https://code.facebook.com/posts/1433093613662262/-under-the-hood-facebook-s-cold-storage-system-/)

Under this system the company significantly improves the efficiency with which it is able to store media that is accessed less frequently (e.g. pictures we uploaded many years ago). Rather than having many replications of this data on live servers using power, Facebook developed ‘cold storage’ facilities that are powered up infrequently when needed to access data (e.g. due to disk failures elsewhere). The result is a significant reduction in energy usage without compromising how accessible a user’s data is.

On November 5, 2016, Michael commented on Monsanto: Problem Solver or Problem Creator? :

Thanks for this Zach. I’m interested in whether you think that Monsanto has contributed to a loss of genetic diversity (or as the WWF refer to it ‘genetic erosion’, see http://wwf.panda.org/what_we_do/footprint/agriculture/impacts/genetic_erosion). Crops have lost 75% of their genetic diversity over the last century, largely due to the use of genetically uniform crops. On the one hand, Monsanto is clearly intensively researching new resilient GMO crops, but have Monsanto and companies like it contributed to the need for these resilient crops by undermining the natural diversity that existed before their pursuit of high yield, low intensity varieties?

On November 5, 2016, Michael commented on United: Flying the EcoFriendly Skies :

Thank you for an interesting article. As I understand it a key driver of the fuel efficiency (and thereby overall energy efficiency) of an airline is the age of their fleet, since new aircraft are often considerably more fuel efficient than older ones (for example, the Boeing 787 Dreamliner which has a fuselage made from composite materials). As a result, some of the most significant efficiency improvements can be made earlier in the supply chain, and should be encouraged using pressure from / standards set by airlines’ aircraft buyers.

On November 5, 2016, Michael commented on TESLA: THE CHANGE IS…NOW? :

Thank you for this Iryna – really interesting article.

I’m interested in the implicit risks of Tesla’s commitment to lithium-ion batteries, given the significant investment competitors have made in alternative emissions-reducing fuel sources. For example, Toyota has committed to developing hydrogen fuel cell technology, since they believe that battery-powered cars are impractical due to long charge times and range limitations. It would be interesting to consider whether Tesla is currently involved in a ‘Betamax vs. VCR’ style technology war with other large auto manufacturers. Can lithium-ion, sodium-ion and hydrogen fuel cells exist in parallel, or will we barely remember two of the three technologies in 50 years time?