Information Flows on Mobiles

The idea to use mobile phones (here and here) to help economic development in the most remote corners of the world is fascinating and definitely smart. For one thing, mobile phones have already reached the Bottom Billion. In 2007 there were 45 subscribers per 100 inhabitants in the developing countries. That means that we can now expect to have one mobile in every family. Everywhere. As well in communities where services like water, electricity, hospitals, schools or transportation are still far away.

What poor people mostly need are functioning institutions. And market is one of these. If market is not working, farmers will pay higher prices for what they buy and got less money for what they sell.  Moreover they could buy or sell at the wrong time and possibly in the wrong place. In the words of the government of Rwanda,

the success of these farmers has been greatly affected by lack of access to pricing information. Many times, farmers speculate what crops to grow and what prices to charge at harvest. Some farmers depend on middlemen to dictate the prices and in most cases the latter exploit the former. For any farmer to earn a decent living from agriculture, easy access to information on market prices is of paramount importance.

Making information flows on mobile phones could

empower farmers to enable them make more informed market pricing decisions and ultimately more successful farming.

The idea of mobile banking goes in the same direction: making a  service so critical for development accessible to almost everyone. That will not end poverty, but  will probably make the task easier.

Thursday, 16 April 2009

Understanding Capitalism

Nobel-winning economist Amartya Sen argues, in an article published on The New York Review of Books, that the way out from the crisis passes through a better understanding of the ideas that contributed to build the actual economic system. Adam Smith, John Maynard Keynes, Arthur Cecil Pigou, should be read, not just quoted. And I quote

Smith viewed markets and capital as doing good work within their own sphere, but first, they required support from other institutions—including public services such as schools—and values other than pure profit seeking, and second, they needed restraint and correction by still other institutions—e.g., well-devised financial regulations and state assistance to the poor—for preventing instability, inequity, and injustice. If we were to look for a new approach to the organization of economic activity that included a pragmatic choice of a variety of public services and well-considered regulations, we would be following rather than departing from the agenda of reform that Smith outlined as he both defended and criticized capitalism.

We must understand how institutions work and make them work better. But not just aiming at economic growth.

There is a critical need for paying special attention to the underdogs of society in planning a response to the current crisis, and in going beyond measures to produce general economic expansion.

A crisis not only presents an immediate challenge that has to be faced. It also provides an opportunity to address long-term problems when people are willing to reconsider established conventions. This is why the present crisis also makes it important to face the neglected long-term issues like conservation of the environment and national health care, as well as the need for public transport (…).

Sunday, 22 March 2009

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Twitter: frbailo

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RSS r-bloggers.com

  • Backcast a Time Series for Covid-19 Truths
    A couple of months ago, Turkey’s Health Minister announced that the positive cases showing no signs of illness were not included in the statistics. This statement made an earthquake effect in Turkey, and unfortunately, the articles about covid-19 I have wrote before came to nothing. The reason for this ... The post Backcast a Time […]
  • The Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on My Walking Behavior in 2020
    In this post, we will take a look back at 2020, and analyze my step count data to understand some of the impacts that the COVID-19 crisis had on my walking behavior during that crazy year. The Data Step Counts & Measurement Devices The step count data come from 2 sources in 2020 - ... […]
  • Share R shiny apps with brightRserver: 70-second sneak-peek
    Building, maintaining, and improving interactive R web apps has never been easier. YakData’s brightRserver seamlessly combines the best-in-class R editor and R web app server with Secure FTP publishing and synchronization. The post Share R shiny apps with brightRserver: 70-second sneak-peek first appeared on R-bloggers.
  • Making a Solar Insolation Map for Alberta (For novices!)
    Been a while since I've blogged here; wrapping up an MSc and moving continents from Europe to North America is all the excuse I need. This blog post is not going to be revolutionary, and obviously it builds on a lot of what others have done before (see... The post Making a Solar Insolation Map […]
  • Counting Missing Values (NA) in R
    To check for missing values in R you might be tempted to use the equality operator == with your vector on one side and NA on the other. Don’t! If you insist, you’ll get a useless results. x The post Counting Missing Values (NA) in R first appeared on R-bloggers.

RSS Simply Statistics

  • The Four Jobs of the Data Scientist
    In 2019 I wrote a post about The Tentpoles of Data Science that tried to distill the key skills of the data scientist. In the post I wrote: When I ask myself the question “What is data science?” I tend to think of the following five components. Data science is (1) the application of design […]
  • Palantir Shows Its Cards
    File this under long-term followup, but just about four years ago I wrote about Palantir, the previously secretive but now soon to be public data science company, and how its valuation was a commentary on the value of data science more generally. Well, just recently Palantir filed to go public and therefore submitted a registration […]
  • Asymptotics of Reproducibility
    Every once in a while, I see a tweet or post that asks whether one should use tool X or software Y in order to “make their data analysis reproducible”. I think this is a reasonable question because, in part, there are so many good tools out there! This is undeniably a good thing and […]

RSS Statistical Modeling, Causal Inference, and Social Science

  • Hierarchical stacking
    (This post is by Yuling) Gregor Pirš, Aki, Andrew, and I wrote: Stacking is a widely used model averaging technique that yields asymptotically optimal predictions among linear averages. We show that stacking is most effective when the model predictive performance is heterogeneous in inputs, so that we can further improve the stacked mixture by a […]
  • The norm of entertainment
    Someone pointed me to a comment that a psychology researcher wrote that he almost never reads our blog and that it “too quickly bores me.” That’s ok. I’m sure that lots of people have stumbled upon our blog, one way or another, and have been bored by it. We don’t have a niche audience, exactly; […]
  • Tessa Hadley on John Updike
    Lots to think about here. To start with, this is the first New Yorker fiction podcast I’ve heard where they actually criticize the author instead of just celebrating him and saying how perfect the story is. This time, they went right at it, with the interviewer, Deborah Treisman, passing along some criticisms of Updike and […]