Current Affairs

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ObamasReadingHabits2-Blog

Think 24 hours isn’t enough time in your busy day? Try being a world leader. Yet even the most powerful people in the world sometimes need to relax and temporarily get away from it all. Reading is a source of pleasure for many of us – world leaders included – whether it be educational, inspirational or merely a fictional escape.

A week before he left office, Barack Obama explained to The New York Times the pivotal role that books played during his presidency and how they enabled him to “maintain my balance during the course of eight years,” “slow down and get perspective” and “get in somebody else’s shoes.”

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HowAlgorithmsRuleOurWorkingLives-Blog

Whether you’ve just graduated from school or you’ve had it up to here in your current position, looking for a job can test the limits of your patience. It can actually be downright discouraging. Your well-written, error-free cover letters rarely solicit a response. On those rare occasions when you’re granted an interview, you show up on time wearing nice, conservative clothing and generally make a strong impression. The interview goes well and you’re certain you’ll hear from the company.

Days go by … and nothing. Self-doubt starts to creep in. Maybe you’re not as qualified as you think.

In fact, you may very well be an ideal candidate, but computer programs designed to evaluate information gleaned from job applications, personality tests and social media unceremoniously reject you. A growing number of organizations are depending on algorithms to help shape their hiring practices, yet some observers believe it’s a mistake to rely so heavily on technology.

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FacebooksRaceToDominateAI-Blog

Regardless of how frightening or exhilarating the prospect, there’s no avoiding artificial intelligence. As we indicated in our last blog, AI marches inexorably forward, transforming our reality and challenging our imagination. Pandora’s technological box has been flung wide open and the possibilities appear mind-boggling.

AI developments often come in surprise packages. For instance, you might think Facebook is just an innocuous way of disseminating information and socializing with family and friends. In reality, Facebook is a technological juggernaut with vast financial resources that’s on a mission to overtake Google, Apple and Microsoft and emerge as the force in artificial intelligence. Though Facebook is a relative newcomer to the AI field compared with the Big Three, the company has identified its objectives and how to achieve them.

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AI-3-2016-Blog

Some 40 years ago, a long-running series of iconic TV commercials featured the E.F. Hutton investment firm. Typically in a crowded setting like a party or on an airplane, someone would mention that his broker was E.F. Hutton. Suddenly there was dead silence; no one moved a muscle. “When E.F. Hutton talks, people listen,” the announcer intoned.

When it comes to computer science, we tend to pay particularly close attention to those we regard as experts and visionaries in the field. So it’s significant that Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates would endorse a couple of books that address the most fascinating and controversial topic of our time – artificial intelligence.

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Invisible Money

2016/8/12

DonTapscott-Blockchain-Blog

You can’t tuck them into your wallet or pocketbook. You can’t use them in a parking meter or to pay your bar tab. Casinos won’t exchange them for chips. You can’t even hold them in your hand, yet people invest in them and their value is increasing.

Welcome to the fascinating and often shadowy world of bitcoin – a completely electronic currency that isn’t backed by anything physical, like gold. Though you may have heard of bitcoin, the concept is tricky to grasp, especially for those of us who find it challenging to replace the AA batteries in our TV remotes. Even technologically savvy individuals could find terminology such as “public and private key cryptography, blockchains and mining pools” a tad unsettling.

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Pokemon Go at the Office

Let’s be frank – we go on the Internet at work for a thousand different reasons: checking e-mail, watching YouTube videos, shopping on-line, following your favorite team, the list goes on and on. Companies understand that it’s nearly impossible to enforce policies that prohibit personal computer use during business hours. It’s just a fact of life.

Mobile devices merely compound the electronic chatter …Instagram, Twitter, Facebook. The lure is so compelling that otherwise intelligent individuals actually take their eyes off the road to text – even while traveling at high speeds. Hey, smartphones can’t cure stupidity.

Apparently, we have now crossed over into a relatively new dimension — “augmented reality” – thanks to the Pokémon Go phenomenon. In less than a month, Niantic’s Pokémon Go has eclipsed Candy Crush Saga as the most popular mobile game in US history with roughly 21 million daily users. Don’t be shocked if someone zig-zags past your cubicle in hot pursuit of Dratini or Snorlax. At this rate, Pokémon Go may soon join tobacco on your company’s short list of banned indoor activities.

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Brexit-Blog-ENG

Last week, it came as a great shock to many people worldwide that a majority of British voters – 52% – supported leaving the European Union.

Now that Brexit is moving closer toward becoming a reality, getAbstract recommends this comprehensive reading list to all those seeking to understand the consequences of the “Leave” vote and to anyone concerned about migration, monetary policy and other major issues the EU faces.

Free Reading List: Brexit and The Future of The European Union

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Soccer and Money

2016/6/9

MoneyAndSoccer2-Blog

Sports fans typically have only a passing interest in their favorite team’s financial state of affairs. They don’t really care if the billionaire owner can afford to upgrade his yacht or whether the front office convinces a sponsor to purchase one of those plush corporate suites.

Sports fans simply are looking for entertainment from athletes who try hard, hopefully win more than they lose and may even occasionally challenge for a title. Soccer, for example, is the world’s most popular sport, yet many professional clubs struggle to meet their financial obligations, according to Stefan Szymanski, author of Money and Soccer. They’ll never win a championship and can’t afford the star players that could really make a difference, but are loved by their adoring followers anyway.

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2016CulturalDiversity-ENG-Blog

Is it possible to be completely objective and non-judgmental about others? If you see co-workers with dreadlocks, tattoos or a yarmulke, do you automatically make certain assumptions? What races through your mind when a disabled person navigates a supermarket aisle? How about the elderly lady who slowly and carefully backs out of a parking space … very, very slowly and very, very carefully?

Don’t worry – it’s perfectly normal to have a whole range of feelings about your fellows. You’re not prejudiced, intolerant or ignorant – you’re just human.

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WorldBookNight2016-Blog

Since we’re in the business of education, it’s only natural for getAbstract to applaud those committed to expanding literacy and knowledge while encouraging more adults to read.

Since 2011, organizers and volunteers with World Book Night have distributed free books to roughly 2.5 million people, mostly throughout the UK and Ireland. World Book Night 2016 will be celebrated this Saturday, April 23, generally believed to be the date of William Shakespeare’s birth and death.

In honor of World Book Night, getAbstract is going to award one-year Business Gold memberships to three lucky people. That’s a $299 value that entitles you to unlimited access to our business book, business article and talk summaries. All you have to do is tell us what you’re reading these days. Share your recommendations via Facebook or Twitter using the hashtag #worldbooknight and tagging @getabstract. You can post your reads until Sunday night.

Who knows, maybe your selection is already in getAbstract’s library – or will be someday.

In With the New

2016/4/15

ENG-BusinessArticles1-Blog

You would be hard-pressed these days to find a getAbstract summary that doesn’t warn against the curse of complacency. The evidence is overwhelming – ask any clear-thinking executive or consultant. Not even the world’s most successful organizations can afford to be satisfied with the status quo. Last year’s profits and products are old news. “Now” is the only thing that matters. Competition has never been as fierce, making innovation an absolute priority.

getAbstract has been an industry leader for years because we constantly look for new and better ways to serve our clients. So we’re excited to announce our latest product – business article summaries – a collection of the most relevant reports, articles and white papers from leading think tanks and bloggers worldwide. You won’t have to wait until important information appears in a book, publication or video. Material from prestigious organizations such as the World Economic Forum and the Brookings Institution will be at your fingertips.

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Easter2016-ENG-Blog

People love holidays such as Easter because it means getting away from the office and pursuing leisurely activities. Families have special meals together and enjoy each other’s company. There’s usually lots to talk about – current events, politics, sports, movies, etc.

If you’re a getAbstract subscriber, then it’s almost a sure bet you’ve recently read or listened to something thought provoking. And if you haven’t yet committed to joining the best online service for compressed knowledge, here’s just a little of what you’re missing from among our newest selections: Read the rest of this entry »

Go+AI-ENG-Blog

Yes, those footsteps behind you are getting louder and closer. Artificial Intelligence continues to close the gap on human intellect. And while advances in AI are ongoing, some are particularly remarkable and represent significant breakthroughs.

Computers have beaten people in chess, checkers and Jeopardy, but experts were skeptical that a machine could defeat a human being in Go, an ancient Chinese board game that requires intuition to master complex strategic variables. Well, chalk one up for the tech heads.

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Pump It Up

2016/2/23

TheBigShort-ENG-Blog

Pulling up to the gas pump these days is not the painful experience of a couple of years ago. Prices in most U.S. states are under $2 per gallon – the lowest since 2009. Yet the average American really doesn’t know why fuel costs have plunged so dramatically. One may venture that the oil supply is more plentiful, or that we have become less dependent on the Arabs. But the financial complexities of oil prices lie far beyond the grasp of the typical consumer.

Same thing with food prices. Why is that can of coffee 20 cents more this week? Did it rain too much in Brazil? Did the farmer have to hire additional workers? Did your local supermarket have to compensate for losses in another area?

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Dollars and Sense

2015/12/11

BestPerformingCEO2015-LarsSørensen-Blog

Show us the money!

For years, a CEO’s performance was based on profitability. Is the company meeting or exceeding expectations? Are shareholders getting satisfactory returns? Is the board of directors happy? The bottom line was the bottom line.

Business is still about making money, of course, but the metrics for assessing a CEO are changing – and that’s a good thing. Look no further than the recently released Harvard Business Review annual ranking of the world’s leading chief executives. No. 1 on the list is Lars Sorenson of Novo Nordisk, a Denmark-based healthcare corporation that focuses on diabetes treatment. Yes, Novo Nordisk boasted some very impressive numbers, but the company also drew high marks for its proactivity concerning social and environmental issues.

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