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Digital Subscriptions > Newsweek International > 2nd September 2016 > BUMP AND GRIND ECONOMICS


In today’s tech-driven economy, it’s the friction, not the motion, that matters


AN ENORMOUS SELLING point of cloud software, artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things and other new technology is that it removes “friction” from business. But as it turns out, much like with sex, the economy isn’t that great if you take away all the friction.

This is why the best news out of our house of horrors presidential campaign might be that both candidates pledged to pump hundreds of billions of dollars into infrastructure projects. A good way to add friction to our hyper-fast software-driven economy would be to invest in painfully slow, physical, local, wasteful infrastructure, like a nice bridge or sewer. “If some parts of our society are going to speed up,” tech philosopher Stewart Brand wrote in The Clock of the Long Now, “then other parts are going to have to slow way down, just to keep balance.”

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THE ART OF THE BAD DEAL: DONALD TRUMP’S BUSINESS FLOPS, EXPLAINED For opponents of Donald Trump’s presidential run, the con-tretemps about American Indians might seem like a distant but familiar echo of the racism charges that have dogged his campaign, including his repeated taunting of Senator Elizabeth Warren as “Pocahontas” because she claims native ancestry. But, in this case, there was more to it than that: Trump, with his tantrum, was throwing away  nancial opportunities, yet another reminder that, for all his boasting of his acumen, the self-proclaimed billionaire has often been a lousy businessman.