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Ankit Fadia,a clean hacker and bred computer security

Appearances are deceptive. Armed with a perennial innocent smile and loaded with technical knowhow on computer security, 25-year-old Ankit Fadia doesn′t give the impression of a geek but an ordinary student who wouldn′t mind sitting in a dhaba across from a girls′ college feigning to be busy with breakfast. But Ankit, a Delhi-born and bred computer security expert, keeps as far away from the topic of girlfriends and marriage as he does from critics who rave on the Internet about how fake he is. He is the one about whom Bill Gates said in a lighter vein, Because of guys like you, Microsoft has problems, when Ankit, then 14, presented him his first book. The news of Chinese′ attempts to hack the computers at the PMO reminds one of this home grown computer security expert, whose services have so far not been sought.   Says Ankit, China is becoming a very powerful nation each passing day. So far, across the world, computer security was controlled by the EU. The attempt by China to hack into the Indian Government′s computer security network is a loud announcement of their arrival to control the network. But at the same time, he says, no…
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Economic models get it wrong: they ignore the animal spirits

In her recent visit to the Royal Society, Queen Elisabeth asked of economists: why werent they able to detect the impending financial debacle and issue a warning? Her question echoes the publics bewilderment. It has become clear that obsessed with modeling and quantitative analysis, some critical link is yet missing from mainstream economics, for whether they were with banks, funds, research institutions or government agencies, few if any models raised red flags until the financial tsunami had hit the shore.George Akerlof and Robert Shiller give this puzzle a shot in their recent book, Animal Spirits (Princeton University Press, 2009).   They challenge one of the most fundamental axioms of economic theory. Akerlof is chair professor of economics at Berkeley and the 2001 Nobel Prize winner in economics; Shiller is chair of economics at Yale and well-known for his work on the Case-Shiller Index of real estate. In the field, an attack launched by them carries more weight than the Queens confusion.     Never rational According to an over-arching assumption in the most dominant economic theories of our times, actors in the market are self-interested and rational. They are assumed to be armed with both the ability to know what…
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Edward de Bono talks about the importance of creative thinking

Dr Edward de Bono took time out during his visit to Malta this week to give a talk on Tuesday to the students and staff of STC Training in Pembroke. The lecture, entitled ‘Creative Thinking in Education’, was timed to mark the closing months of the European Year of Creativity and Innovation 2009, for which Dr de Bono is an official EU ambassador, and to highlight STC’s entry into the teaching of creative thinking   It focused on the need for creative thinking to be included in curricula as a distinct, but parallel subject. The overriding message of his talk was that, since creative thinking could not be thought of as simply an inherent skill or only for those with a talent for it, it could be successfully taught to and used by people of any age, and from all walks of life or cultural background. The Pembroke-based training centre, which currently has some 1,000 students, is known primarily for offering courses from world leaders in the ICT sector, such as Cisco, NCC Education and Microsoft. However, in recent years it has added complementary skills training in areas such as emotional and social intelligence, creative thinking, motivation and assertiveness, confidence…
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Julie Meyer, entrepreneurs call for reduced government

Whitehall is overly bureaucratic and lacks the initiatives to help wealth-creators grow the economy, according to UK entrepreneurs.   When asked how they would improve the current business environment, the most popular response from the UK’s business owners was to reduce the size of government. The research, conducted by business community Entrepreneur Country, revealed that 80% of entrepreneurs believe their confidence would also be lifted with a Tory government. Some 70% of respondents called for single central place where all business grants could be applied for. While another popular proposal was scrapping NI contributions for start-ups during their first two years of trading. Julie Meyer, chief executive of Ariadne Capital and dragon on the BBC Dragons’ Den Online show, said: “The 2010 elections are crucial for our future economy. We need to see more recognition of, and help for, the UK’s entrepreneurs. “Statistical evidence suggests that a vital 6% of high-growth businesses create a full 54% of all new jobs, so it’s absolutely crucial that entrepreneurs are given as much help as possible. We can’t afford to leave them hamstrung by bureaucracy when they’re trying to build global leading firms”.     Julie Meyer: is one of the leading champions for…
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Rahaf Harfoush: ‘An inside look at how social media built the Obama brand’

Obama is still a fascinating topic for journalists and social scientists. Although he is already less popular in the US than before, and although his popularity seems to equal that of other presidents, experts in Europe still try to understand what European politics could learn from Obama’s victory in 2008.   According to many social scientists and journalists, Obama’s of social media is one of the main explanations of his success. They should certainly read the book of Rahaf Harfoush: ‘Yes we did: an inside look at how social media built the Obama brand’. Harfoush explains all the details of the Obama-campaign. The central element in Obama’s strategy was his own social network: my.barackobama.com, also called MyBO. Each account contained a personal profile and a so-called action centre, where members could keep up their activities for Obama, such as going from door-to-door, call other citizens, organise local meetings and raise funds. Members of MyBO could integrate their friends from other online networks into MyBO and make online groups for specific targer groups. Each member had its own activity meter, which showed how active he or she was: how many citizens were called, how many meetings had been organised and how…
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An idea to change lives: Amartya Sen’s idea of justice

Nobel Laureate and Author Amartya Sen has launched his latest book, The idea of justice. The book with the existing theory of justice, which he calls 'transcendental institutionalism'. Speaking to CNBC-TV18's Anuradha Sengupta on the show Beautiful People on perhaps his most challenging work to date, Sen said one can think of it as a utopian institutional approach to justice. "It is primarily a book in philosophy with lots of relevance to practical problems, not just economic but social, cultural and other issues," he added. Q: Your latest book The idea of justice I must admit that I was pretty intimidated by it. Is it fair to say that it is a lifetime study that we see in this book and perhaps your most challenging work to date? A: I don’t know. It’s difficult to say. They are different kind of works. It’s primarily a book in philosophy with lots of relevance to practical problems, not just economic problems that too but social, cultural and other issues. Perhaps it’s certainly probably the longest book I have written in terms of time and also in length as to what it emerged.     Q: In this book, The idea of justice, you have…
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Neil Armstrong remembers dead spacemen 40 years after his Moonwalk

Neil Armstrong paid tribute yesterday to the spacemen who died paving the way for his 1969 Moonwalk as President Obama prepared to honour him and his Apollo 11 crewmates in Washington today for the 40th anniversary of their historic mission.   In a rare public appearance, the first man on the Moon spoke of the spacemen who gave their lives for America’s early space programme and how their sacrifice laid the foundations for his spectacular lunar debut. “Any time you go to a place where everything you see is different than anything you’ve ever seen before in your life, it’s unique and it’s memorable. And that certainly was,” he recalled of the moment that he gazed across the lunar landscape and planted his footprints in the dust. He commemorated the life of Ed White, who in 1965 became the first American spacemen to walk in the vacuum of space but was one of three astronauts killed in a launchpad fire two years later during tests of the pioneering Apollo 1 spaceCraft. The others were Virgil Grissom and Roger Chaffee. Mr Armstrong, 79, said: “Ed had an acute dedication to his work and he was committed to superiority in the conquest of…
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Vint Cerf, words from the father of the internet

If you set your mind to visualising the Father of the Internet, and arrived at a fuzzy notion of a sort of North American Doctor Who, you'd be pretty close to the mark. A snow-bearded and professorial 66-year-old, dressed invariably in a formal three-piece suit, Google vice-president Vint Cerf has a youthful intensity in his eyes and an avuncular, but slightly otherworldly nature: a wise old man who has dropped by from parts unknown to tell you what the future is like from his point of view as the father of the internet.     "I've always been slightly on the formal side," he says of his outfits. They make him an anachronism amidst his Birkenstock-wearing tech colleagues. "I like watching Sherlock Holmes' movies because all the guys wear three-piece suits. I'm a 19th century guy in the 21st century, and I like it," he explains. Even his name seems beamed in from some other dimension: an improbable sci-fi moniker perfect for a champion and conqueror of the digital world. (Actually, he says, it's French.) Vint Cerf, nicknamed the father of the internet, was in Auckland and Wellington last week as the keynote speaker at a conference addressing an impending crisis in…
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Nicholas Stern: The time is approaching for India to take a lead on climate change

India has been viewed by many, in my view unfairly, as an obstacle to progress. Now is the time for India to move into the lead on international discussions of climate change. The world has only just over four months to find an agreement in Copenhagen in December 2009.     India's role will be vital in climate change. There is no more important issue for the well-being of future generations in India and the rest of the world. If Indian emissions were to peak at around five tonnes per capita in 2030 and China's around nine tonnes per capita in 2020, as part of successful global action, historians, looking back in 2050 would have to regard India as a hero . Their emissions, on the road to overcoming poverty would have peaked at five tonnes per capita, compared with China at nine, Europe at 12, and the US at well over 20. This illustrates the consequences of past action by the rich countries in "filling up" the atmosphere and China's growth surge starting a decade or two before India's. Unfortunately, unless India is a hero in this sense, it will not be possible for the overall targets to be…
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Can Governments Till the Fields of Innovation policy?

Innovation policy — the tricky, many-step process by which ideas become products and services — has typically been seen, studied and celebrated at the micro level, as a pursuit for entrepreneurs and clever companies. But governments are increasingly wading into the innovation game, declaring innovation agendas and appointing senior innovation officials. The impetus comes from two fronts: daunting challenges in fields like energy, the environment and health care that require collaboration between the public and private sectors; and shortcomings of traditional economic development and industrial policies.   John Kao, right, a former professor at Harvard Business School, spoke this month at a meeting covering the appropriate government role in creating industries and jobs. Innovation policy, to be sure, is an emerging discipline. It lacks crisp definitions or metrics. The most explicit embrace of it has been outside the United States, though the Obama administration is taking some initial steps. Its new budget directs the Bureau of Economic Analysis to develop statistics that “uniquely measure the role of innovation” in the economy. And the government’s new chief technology officer, Aneesh Chopra, speaks of building “innovation platforms” to spur growth. The rising worldwide interest in innovation policy represents the search to answer…