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Data News: The Intersection of Behavioral Economics and Machine Learning, and More

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Data News: The Intersection of Behavioral Economics and Machine Learning, and More

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In two recent columns I explained how to save France and the UK. Now that’s done, it’s time to save America. The solution is obvious. The US needs to model itself on its most sanctified institution: the military. I speak from experience. In 2007 and 2008 I spent time on a US military base in a southern state, giving seminars to officers. Being a typical pinko anti-war European, I’d expected to hate the place. Instead I found it idyllic, intellectual and safe. Pottering about the base, I saw several things that the US could learn from its military:

1. Build socialism. Life in the US military is much like life in Sweden (unless you’re off in Afghanistan spreading democracy). The officers in my seminars spent a quarter of their careers in education, because the US military believes in life-long learning. The military also provides socialised healthcare, subsidised childcare, early pensions etc. I’ve never seen a socialist paradise like it, and I grew up in the Netherlands in the 1970s. Most of the military’s entitlements will survive the budget cuts now being proposed by Chuck Hagel, the defence secretary.
2. Ban guns. I was surrounded by fearsome warriors yet I felt perfectly safe, partly because hardly anyone is allowed to carry guns on US military bases. The “right to bear arms” just doesn’t apply there.
3. Believe in science. Any institution that spends its time firing drones from Nevada at pedestrians in Yemen is going to be pro-science. The Pentagon frets about climate change, and the army aims to be “net zero energy” by 2030. The superhero-like Navy Seals are already fuelled partly by solar power. [read more...]

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