What we've been reading: land value tax, Pixar and Steve Jobs

What we've been reading
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Good morning, dear readers. Another week is nearly consigned to the history books. More importantly, Summer is drawing nearer and nearer.

As is tradition on BusinessZone, ever Friday I select some of the best articles we've read this week from other publications.

I hope you enjoyed as much as I did.

The way we tax businesses is mad

Who doesn't hate business rates? Well, your hatred of it (especially if you're a London startup, barely clinging on) will burn even brighter when you know there's a potential, logical solution:

The land value tax.

Now, tax isn't sexy - but it's vital. And here we have a policy that has broad support across the political spectrum because of its undeniable efficiency. Besides, who couldn't do with a tax cut?

I'll let the Raphael Hogarth explain in this video.

How Pixar lost its way

I don't want to be part of the "it used to better but they went mainstream" brigade. But yeah, Pixar used to be better but they went mainstream.

If you want to remember Pixar at its pinnacle, go watch the four minute "Married Life" segment of Up. It's a virtuosic bit of cinema.

And somewhere along the line, Pixar has lost that. (I mean, Cars 3 is coming out soon).

Pixar's decline is, at its essence, a business that has lost touch with what made it great, to begin with. Theme park rides, merchandise and sequels, sure - but along the way, they lost their spirit. 

Silicon Valley has idolized Steve Jobs for decades—and it’s finally paying the price

Steve Jobs was a jerk. It's a well-documented fact. He was quick to anger, treated his employees with thinly veiled contempt; an ex-Apple employee called him the "abusive husband of the company".

He's also worshipped and revered. What to make of this? "Whether it’s the 19th-century railroad industrialist George Pullman or Mr. Spacely from The Jetsons, CEOs have always been a surly bunch," writes Erin Ungerboeck in Quartz. "But in recent years, it seems that being an asshole has become an aspirational trait."

The assholish CEO shouldn't be an ideal. Okay, it worked for Jobs - but Jobs (and Apple) is such an extreme example. I'll leave the rest to Ungerboeck:

"Somewhere along the way, it seems that Silicon Valley decided that internet connectivity matters more than human connectivity; that a surfeit of technical intelligence can make up for a dearth of emotional intelligence."

Here's the unofficial Silicon Valley explainer on Artificial Intelligence

AI is one of those things most people know about - but don't really understand. The term has seeped into the public discourse because of how potentially transformative it is.

So here we sit, AI being bandied about willy-nilly. Elon Musk warns it could end the human race, IBM's Watson is writing songs. Cars, ladies and gentlemen, can now drive themselves.

If you're feeling overwhelmed then this article might be a good starting point. Andreessen Horowitz partner Frank Chen offers a basic grounding in this mysterious subject. 

About Francois Badenhorst


Francois is the deputy editor of BusinessZone and UK Business Forums.


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