Solving Big Problems: Innovation is Not Creativity

What happened to the future?

What Happened to the Future? is the title of the manifesto of the Founders Fund. The subtitle is “We Wanted Flying Cars, Instead We Got 140 Characters.” Jason Pontin in the MIT Technology Review wrote an article entitled “Why We Can’t Solve Big Problems:”
[B]ig problems that people had imagined technology would solve, such as hunger, poverty, malaria, climate change, cancer, and the diseases of old age, have come to seem intractably hard….
Max Levchin, [a] cofounder of PayPal, says, “I feel like we should be aiming higher. The founders of a number of startups I encounter have no real intent of getting anywhere huge … There’s an awful lot of effort being expended that is just never going to result in meaningful, disruptive innovation.”

Juicero

The idea that “there’s an awful lot of effort being expended that is just never going to result in meaningful, disruptive innovation” is brought to life in a Guardian article by Ben Tarnoff, “America has become so anti-innovation – it’s economic suicide:”
Juicero made the perfect punchline: a celebrated startup that had received a fawning profile from the New York Times and $120m in funding from blue-chip VCs such as Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Google Ventures was selling an expensive way to automate something you could do faster for free. It was, in any meaningful sense of the word, a scam.
Juicero is hilarious. But it also reflects a deeply unfunny truth about Silicon Valley, and our economy more broadly. Juicero is not, as its apologists at Voxclaim, an anomaly in an otherwise innovative investment climate. On the contrary: it’s yet another example of how profoundly anti-innovation America has become.

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Seven Magazine: Stop Mass Incarceration & Endless War

Stop Mass Incarceration & Endless War

Jeff Sessions ordered federal prosecutors to “charge and pursue the most serious, readily provable offense” — a move that marks a significant reversal of Obama-era policies on low-level drug crimes.
The two-page memo, which was publicly released Friday, May 12th, lays out a policy of strict enforcement that rolls back the comparatively lenient stance established by Eric Holder, one of Sessions’ predecessors under President Barack Obama.
“This is a disastrous move that will increase the prison population, exacerbate racial disparities in the criminal justice system, and do nothing to reduce drug use or increase public safety,” Michael Collins, deputy director at the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a statement emailed to NPR. “Sessions is taking the country back to the 1980s by escalating the failed policies of the drug war.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions addresses the Sergeants Benevolent Association of New York City at an event Friday, May 12, in Washington, D.C. During his speech, Sessions said federal prosecutors “deserve to be unhandcuffed and not micromanaged from Washington.” Win McNamee/Getty Images

The memo also drew a long, scathing rebuke from Holder himself.
“The policy announced today is not tough on crime. It is dumb on crime,” he said in a statement. “It is an ideologically motivated, cookie-cutter approach that has only been proven to generate unfairly long sentences that are often applied indiscriminately and do little to achieve long-term public safety.”
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