Weekly Selection 24 January 2020

What Will the World Look Like in 2030?

(The New York Times, December 26, 2019)

This is almost a month old, but worth posting now and read against the background of what came out of Davos (our subscribers can request our Davos report - it will be available on Monday). Shortly before the end of last year, the NYT asked 13 public figures for their predictions on the best and worst to come. Very US-focused which doesn’t make it less interesting! (reads in 10 min+).

Nathan Heller, Is Venture Capital Worth the Risk?

(The New Yorker, January 20, 2020)

This article, which starts with an intriguing analogy, argues that the big-risk-big-reward ethos of startups is fuelled by venture capitalists who know that they won’t be the ones to go broke - about eighty percent of venture investments don’t pay off, but occasionally there is a wild success. However, doubt about VC is spreading: a study in 2012 found that the average venture capital fund in the previous two decades had scarcely broken even, and now a looming question is whether venture capital has become too large for its own good (reads in about 10 min).

Richard Layard, How to make the world happier – and why it should be our first priority

(The Guardian, January 19, 2020)

This is a short extract from “Can We Be Happier? Evidence and Ethics”. The response is yes! The founder and ‘tsar’ of the discipline of “Happiness Economics” has just published this new book in which he argues that wellbeing should be pursued both as a personal goal and as a political one. He elaborates on why it’s possible for people to act for the greater good – at work, at home and in the community, and posits that in less than 40 years from now, the culture of gentleness could displace the dominant culture of excessive individualism (reads in about 15 min).

Linda Krueger, A Transformative Deal for Nature

(Nature, January 16, 2020)

The rapid loss of biodiversity that we are witnessing is about much more than nature because the collapse of ecosystems will threaten the wellbeing and livelihoods of everyone on the planet. Accordingly, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity (due to meet in China next October) will have to move beyond traditional notions of “conservation” to engage with all relevant sectors of the economy and civil society (reads in 6-7min).

Beatrice di Caro, The best and worst parenting advice I've heard, by a leading psychologist

(World Economic Forum)

On the fringe of the Davos meeting, the psychologist Adam Grant shares some of his insights on parenting. In a nutshell: (1) the worst parenting advice: when kids do something wrong, they need to be punished; (2) the best: giving children a sense that others rely on them will boost their confidence; and remember: explaining the principle behind a rule is crucial (reads in 4-5 min).