Benchmark Blog

Trump’s deplatforming is the Oversight Board’s most dangerous decision

With the Facebook Oversight Board still in its infancy, the Board’s cases and its decisions could be seen by some as inconsequential. But contrary to this belief, the Board’s move to provide a decision on the Trump deplatforming case poses an existential risk of eliminating the Board’s “independence” and credibility.
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Reinvigorating communities will take more than broadband

There is a bipartisan push to make high-speed broadband a key component of an infrastructure bill. President Biden promised to support cities and towns wanting to build broadband networks during his campaign, saying it “will encourage competition among providers, to increase speeds and decrease prices in urban, suburban, and rural areas.” Ultimately, Biden concludes, “high-speed internet access […]

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How platforms broke antitrust analysis

This post is part one of a series that explores the current Big Tech antitrust cases. The case against Google filed by the Department of Justice (DOJ) finds its roots in a common theory about platforms. As the complaint summarizes, Most general search engines do not charge a cash price to consumers. At least one, […]

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30 by 30

The 30 by 30 initiative provides a feasible step toward preserving nature and combating climate change that has the potential to attract bipartisan support.
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Why are we holding immigrants back?

Imagine you are born outside of the United States. You work hard, get an education, and work in a well-paying job. After 10 years of experience, you decide you want to move to the United States. You would like to keep working in the same field you’ve been in for years, but you are not […]

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Debunking the myths surrounding the COVID-19 vaccines

Last week, BioNTech and Pfizer announced that their COVID-19 vaccine had shown efficacy in human trials, and this Monday, Moderna did the same. No one was sure this point would ever be reached. Both groups have submitted applications to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for emergency approval, paving the way for the vaccines to be distributed beginning […]

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What you should know about the Google antitrust case

The Department of Justice (DOJ) has now filed its long-awaited case against Google, taking aim at the company for its “anticompetitive tactics to maintain and extend its monopolies in the markets for general search services, search advertising, and general search text advertising.” The primary focus of this case is narrower than expected, alleging that Google “entered into […]

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The biggest no-brainer in all of energy policy

It’s hard to overstate the importance of the shale revolution. Unconventional oil and gas wells have made the United States a net energy exporter for the first time since the 1950s. The revolution has been a rare bright spot in U.S. economic productivity growth, which has stagnated since the 1970s. And indeed, as geopolitical strategist Peter Zeihan argues, […]

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The hazards of immigrant detention during a pandemic

For most, COVID-19’s emergence has meant some level of distancing from friends and families. Yet for immigrants detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has been difficult. Immigrant detention centers across the country have been hotspots for COVID-19. ICE has taken a few actions to mitigate risks, […]

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Workers don’t fit into two neat categories

The battle over how gig economy workers should be classified continues to rage on in California. Last month California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a bill that exempts more workers from the requirements of AB5 — a controversial law that went into effect at the beginning of this year that makes it more difficult for companies to classify […]

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The curious case of Romanian broadband

Photographers often lament taking pictures in Romania. Taking a clear photo of centuries-old homes and city centers is difficult because of the wires. Everywhere they are strung, breaking up the views. Part of the reason for these dense nests of wires comes as a result of Romania’s wired broadband networks, which had their genesis in […]

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Valuing rooftop solar is tricky

How much is rooftop solar worth? This simple question has stimulated a raging debate between electric utilities and solar advocates, both in Utah and around the country.
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Blame and vertical integration

Have you ever experienced a blue screen of death? Nobody likes it when his computer crashes, but the BSoD, the screen that is displayed when Windows crashes, features a particularly frustrating problem: It is difficult to know who is to blame for the crash. An operating system can crash for a number of reasons. The […]

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Is data nonrivalrous?

A recent paper published in the American Economic Review has reignited interest in data property rights. In “Nonrivalry and the Economics of Data,” economists Charles I. Jones and Christopher Tonetti generate insights on data property regimes by beginning first with a simple model of data. After articulating the idea within a model of the economy, the authors […]

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Re-thinking nuclear waste disposal

In March, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission proposed some changes regarding the disposal of radioactive waste in the US. Two months later, an article from The Guardian asserted these proposed changes could “allow dangerous amounts of radioactive material to be disposed of in places like municipal landfills, with potentially serious consequences to human health and the environment.” This […]

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DIY vaccines and citizen science

In 1717, Lady Mary Montagu was living in Turkey as the wife of the British ambassador. There, she witnessed Turkish women practicing variolation, a method of smallpox inoculation that involved transferring fluid from an infected person’s smallpox pustules into an uninfected person’s open wound. Though the practice was common throughout Africa and Asia, it was uncommon in Europe. Before […]

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What The Office teaches us about immigrants

Hidetoshi Hasagawa, or Hide, is a warehouse worker in NBC hit comedy, The Office. Of course, fans may better know him as the number one heart surgeon in Japan. As Hide reveals, he left Japan to escape from the Yakuza after killing one of the Yakuza’s bosses. The warehouse foreman, Darryl Philbin, gave Hide a job working […]

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Xeriscaping the West

Air conditioning units and sprinklers are still humming across most of the U.S. as the dog days of summer start to wind down. For the driest areas in America, sweltering days with soaring temperatures mean high rates of water use. And the future will likely bring even more demand for water. Western states like Idaho, […]

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Let’s become a nation of bettors

If we are going to improve public discourse, we must at the outset confront a tricky question: What if people prefer their polarized beliefs? If they are going to line up behind their preferred ideas no matter the facts, we aren’t going to get very far by better educating our ideological opponents. There will always […]

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A modernized approach to nuclear energy

The US Department of Energy (DOE) wants to help colonize space, and they want to do it with nuclear energy. Late last month, DOE released a notice that they are seeking information about the challenges and feasibility of using reactors to power future missions. The goal is to design a microreactor — with greater than 10 kilowatts […]

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