Monthly Archives: February 2016

An economy for our shared future

Allan: Irving Wladawsky-Berger writes a very good post about current and future economic challenges. Put aside the debate as to whether this is best characterized as the third or fourth industrial revolution, and instead focus on what we all need to do to cope with these changes and build an inclusive society. Inside this post are many good references, which I would also encourage people to read. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman, World Economic Forum, writes:

We stand on the brink of a technological revolution that will fundamentally alter the way we live, work, and relate to one another. In its scale, scope, and complexity, the transformation will be unlike anything humankind has experienced before. We do not yet know just how it will unfold, but one thing is clear: the response to it must be integrated and comprehensive, involving all stakeholders of the global polity, from the public and private sectors to academia and civil society.

For those that read this Blog, you know that I have long been concerned about challenges that will face the workforce between now and 2025. Irving Wladawsky-Berger references a Pew Research Center study, Digital Life in 2025, that predicts the impact of the Internet on humanity by 2025. This is a perfect follow-up, and this study makes expert predictions that can be, “grouped into 15 identifiable theses about our digital future – eight of which we characterize as being hopeful, six as concerned, and another as a kind of neutral, sensible piece of advice that the choices that are made now will shape the future.” The most important conclusion, I think, is #15:

Foresight and accurate predictions can make a difference; ‘The best way to predict the future is to invent it.’

The issues are extremely complex; nevertheless, the future is ours to build.

Originally posted February 23, 2016
Irving Wladawsky-Berger: The Fourth Industrial Revolution

The Fourth Industrial Revolution: what it means, how to respond was the central theme of the 2016 World Economic Forum (WEF) that took place earlier this year in Davos, Switzerland.  The theme was nicely explained by Klaus Schwab, WEF founder and executive chairman, in the lead article of a recently published Foreign Affairs Anthology on the subject.

Dr. Schwab positions the Fourth Industrial Revolution within the historical context of three previous industrial revolutions.  The First, – in the last third of the 18th century, – introduced new tools and manufacturing processes based on steam and water power, ushering the transition from hand-made goods to mechanized, machine-based production.  The Second, – a century later, – revolved around steel, railroads, cars, chemicals, petroleum, electricity, the telephone and radio, leading to the age of mass production.  The Third, – starting in the 1960s, – saw the advent of digital technologies, computers, the IT industry, and the automation of process in just about all industries.

“Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third, the digital revolution that has been occurring since the middle of the last century,” he noted.  “It is characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres.”

Most everyone agrees that there was a major qualitative distinction between the First and Second Industrial Revolutions.  While some believe that the Fourth is merely the evolution of the Third, Schwab argues that they’re qualitatively different for 3 major reasons:

  • Velocity: Compared to the previous three revolutions, “the Fourth is evolving at an exponential rather than a linear pace.”
  • Scope: Disruptions are taking place in “almost every industry in every country.”
  • Systems impact: “The breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management, and governance.”

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Conversations with Bob Livesay

IMG_0445On February 4, 2016, I flew to Corvallis, OR to visit with my 91-year-old father-in-law, Robert Benton Livesay, Jr. Bob lives at Timberhill Place, which is a 10 minute drive from his son Dave, and his wife Maggie. During retirement, Bob and his late wife Louise wrote a substantial number of stories about their lives, which I read ahead of time. At 91, Bob’s physical activities are limited, but his mind remains sharp and he enjoys conversation. As I was visiting Bob, Dave and Maggie for four full days, I decided that Bob and I should do a project together. With his agreement, I recorded a series of conversations where we discuss his life. In this post, I collect his writings and these recordings.


Air Force Plane

Let me begin with my collection of Bob Livesay’s writings:

  • My Father: Bob talks about his father and best friend, Robert Benton Livesay
  • Great Depression: Bob describes the great depression through his eyes, as an eight year old boy
  • My First Car: Bob reflects on his 1936 Chevrolet coupe after learning to drive in 1940
  • Brown outs and black outs, World War II — Beginnings: Bob describes how people in California cope with the break out of World War II, as seen through the eyes of a high school senior
  • My Hidden Talent: Bob talks about being the star of the high school play, “Incognito” in 1942
  • Incognito Playbill: A high school production where Bob Livesay plays the lead, Fred Collins
  • The Import of Pearl Harbor: Bob describes how the bombing of Pearl Harbor, in the summer of 1941, changed his life
  • Learning to Fly: Bob shares his impressions and feelings as an 18-year-old man, who had enlisted in the Army Air Corps on March 1, 1943
  • Joy: Bob reflects on how the birth of two sons, Robert and David, fills him and Louise with joy
  • A Christmas Story: Bob and Louise each tell their story of a difficult pregnancy that ultimately resulted in a special Christmas gift: the birth of a daughter, Luanne
  • The Hat: Bob attempts to adjust to New York City customs while working for Texaco, and buys his first (and only) “top of the line” Stetson hat
  • My Retirement Toy: After retiring from Texaco in 1987, Bob embarks on off-road adventures in a Jeep Cherokee with Louise
  • A Visit Evokes Memories: In August, 2004, Bob and Louise visit the newly dedicated World War II memorial
  • Grandad’s Hair -o- wing Experience: A story written for Devon by Grandad Robert Livesay
  • Smoked Turkey Breast: Bob shares secrets for making smoked turkey breast
  • A Letter from Bob Livesay: June, 2010, Bob writes to Rob and Jo, Dave and Margaret, and Allan and Luanne to express appreciation for a trip to the east coast
  • A Sushi Experience – Up Close and Personal: Bob and Louise learn to make sushi from their friend Vi Omoto

Next, here is a series of the four conversations that we had during my visit.

As an aside, since this is my first attempt at incorporating an audio format into the blog, I uploaded the audio files to two sites, Soundcloud and Mixcloud. I will likely settle on one or the other for future projects, but for these interviews you have a choice. Here are links to the playlists, as well as the individual tracks.

Talking about Bob’s life would be incomplete without including the writings of his wife Louise. They were married two weeks shy of 65 years. Here are Louise’s writings.


Louise Livesay

Talking to Bob and collecting this material was a lot of fun for both of us. Being able to speak from 91 years of experience gives Bob and unique and valuable perspective on the world. He and Louise lived dignified lives that enriched the world through their actions, as well as through their children and grandchildren. As an aside, by compiling all their information here, it will be included in the internet archive, which is a non-profit internet library. Thus, historians, researchers and scholars will have access to this post, and the contents of all the links, for years to come.