Club of Amsterdam Journal, July / August 2021, Issue 234

CONTENT

Lead Article

Homo Economicus
By Peter van Gorsel

Article 01

Toyota's Woven City - A Prototype City of the Future

The Future Now Show

Violence
with Mandar Apte

Article 02

How do I talk to my child about violence? 4 essential reads
By
Alvin Buyinza and Jamaal Abdul-Alim, The Conversation

News about the Future

> Color-Changing Suture
> Schibsted Future Report 2021

Article 03

Why People Hurt People
By Chris Hedges

Recommended Book

The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
By Steven Pinker

Article 04

The Language of Traffic Safety
With Prof. Marco te Brömmelstroet

Climate Change Success Story

Celtic Reptile & Amphibian

Futurist Portrait

Ben Hammersley
Journalist, technologist, and strategic foresight


Tags: Behavioral economics, Children, Cryptocurrencies, Cybercrime, Darknet, ECONOMY, Future City, Hydrogen, Reptile & Amphibian, Sustainable Development Goals, Toyota, Traffic Safety, Traffic Violence, Violence



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Welcome



Felix B Bopp

Website statistics for 2021:
https://clubofamsterdam.com

Visits Januar
y - June: 155,000




Peter van Gorsel: Intellectual curiosity is neither a habit, a hobby or a profession. It is a way of life.

Mandar Apte: A few years ago, I had a key moment of truth - that I would not do anything about any social issue e.g. the mass shootings in US schools, unless and until it directly affected me or happened in my neighborhood school. I was so profoundly disturbed by this realization that I ended up making a documentary film that is now being used to promote nonviolence education in classrooms. The calling was intense and the experience, transformational.

Steven Pinker: By exploring the political and moral colorings of discoveries about what makes us tick, we can have a more honest science and a less fearful intellectual milieu.

Marco te Brömmelstroet: Traffic crashes are all too common and have devastating impacts on contemporary societies. Global traffic fatalities reach up to 1.3 million peyear, with a figure that is ten-times higher for severe injuries. According to the World Health Organization (WHO, 2018), traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for young people around the world. However, we now relatively little of how these crashes are reported in mainstream media

Lead Article

Homo Economicus
By
Peter van Gorsel





There can be no doubt about the importance of economics for many areas of our society. At the most basic level, economics attempts to explain how and why we make the choices we do. Four key concepts: scarcity, supply and demand, costs and benefits, and incentive can help explain many decisions that humans make. But are they all what drives our behaviour? They are rooted in the history of economic thinking. As the world emerges from a corona crisis the argument over the sources of decline and recovery are reigniting a debate among followers of the usual and established economic theories: classical, neoclassical, Keynesian, and Marxian. This is an important and recurring discussion as after 1929 a doubt was cast over the classical economic theory according to which government should not intervene in the economy. The crisis brought deflation, banks going bankrupt and massive unemployment with businesses shutting down in masses. Since the 1930s, four macroeconomic theories have been proposed: Keynesian economics, monetarism, the new classical economics, and supply-side economics. All these theories are based, in varying degrees, on the classical economics that came before the advent of Keynesian economics in the 1930s. All these theories are still based on rational behaviour and theoretical models.

The dismal science

Sometimes economics is called the dismal science, a description coined by Thomas Carlyle, who was inspired by T. R. Malthus's (1798) whose gloomy prediction that population would always grow faster than food, dooming mankind to unending poverty and hardship still props up very once and a while. Even so economics is sometimes like science in that it can be used to improve living standards and but also to make things worse. That partly depends on the priorities of society and what we consider most important. It can help improve living standards and make society a better place. Standard economic theory forces us to think of economics solely in terms of seeking profit, which refers to maximizing an individual's advantage. With An inquiry into the wealth of nations published 1776, Adam Smith installed himself as the leading thinker on economic thought. Currents of Adam Smith run through the works published by David Ricardo, Karl Marx in the 19th century and by John Maynard Keynes and Milton Friedman in the 20th century. Important and great names that still exert a large influence on economic thinking and thus on policy and policymakers.

Neo classical economics

Neo-classical economics has built equilibrium models that have increasingly become divorced from the lives of real people and businesses. Consumers and businesses are both assumed to act rationally, consumers optimize their purchasing power by equating the marginal utility per pound spent, whilst producers seek to maximize profits in both product and labour markets. It has been the dominant force in economic thinking and policy-making for many years formulating precise economic laws regarding production and consumption through the calculation of cost and benefit at the margin where that preciseness doesn't exist. Neo-classical economics believes in the concept of equilibrium and the power of market forces to achieve an efficient allocation of resources. If there are instances of partial and complete market failure, neo-classical it favours the usefulness of conventional interventions such as taxation and subsidy to change incentives by altering relative prices and thus alter behaviour to help align social cost and benefits. But do these interventions align with what we now know from human behaviour because the neo-classical model of behaviour is built on these assumptions:

  • Agents choose independently
  • An agent has fixed tastes and preferences
  • Agents gather complete information on alternatives choices
  • Agents always make optimal choice given his/her preferences

Critics of neoclassical axioms argued that the human brain is unable to evaluate all possible choices, to bring them in a transitive order and evaluate the consequences.

Information failure

The emerging critique of neo-classical economics first came from economists who questioned whether complete information really existed or was really possible. Akerlof and Stiglitz showed that people suffer from information failure, that there are many information asymmetries and this can lead to sub-optimal decisions (aka market failure). But in their work people were still assumed to make the 'best' choice given the information they have. The work of Stiglitz and Akerlof extended the realism of conventional theory and has been widely absorbed into mainstream economics, especially with policies designed to change the information available to consumers when the government is trying to change consumption of merit and de-merit goods. But still the important element of human behaviour seems to be lacking.

Rational man

In an ideal world our decisions would be the result of a careful weighing of costs and benefits and informed by existing preferences; we would make optimal decisions. In the 1976 book The Economic Approach to Human Behavior, the economist Gary S. Becker famously outlined a number of ideas known as the pillars of so-called 'rational choice' theory. The theory assumes that human actors have stable preferences and engage in maximizing behavior. Becker, who applied rational choice theory to domains ranging from crime to marriage, believed that academic disciplines such as sociology could learn from the 'rational man' assumption advocated by neoclassical economists since the late 19th century. The decade of the 1970s, however, also witnessed the beginnings of the opposite flow of thinking, as discussed in the next section. While economic rationality influenced other fields in the social sciences from the inside out, through Becker and the Chicago School, psychologists offered an outside-in reality check to prevailing economic thinking

Bounded rationality

Herbert Simon in a paper published in 1955 added further to the questioning of neo-classical economics with his concept of bounded rationality. People have limited attention spans and computational capacity. As mentioned above people have limited information and lack the computational capacity to evaluate all their alternatives and the consequences. Most consumers and businesses are unable to make fully informed judgements when taking their decisions and the increasing complexity makes life difficult. The later increased by digital transformation and social media.
Bounded rationality suggests that consumers and businesses will opt to satisfice rather than maximize. They will use rules of thumb or heuristics and guesswork when acting across different markets. Behavioural economists point out that bounded rationality is not the same as irrationality, because decisionmakers are still attempting to make as rational a decision as possible. Rationality is bounded and humans may try to achieve aspiration levels - satisfying -- rather than aiming for the maximum.


Behavioral economics assumes that people are boundedly rational actors with a limited ability to process information. Behavioral economics, although producing important insights and regularities is far from a unified theoretical model. Critiques of behavioral economics come from neoclassical economists but also from psychologists who see the approach as excessively output-oriented and guilty of applying the "as-if" assumption.
While a great deal of research has been devoted to exploring how available information affects the quality and outcomes of decisions, a newer strand of research has also explored situations where people avoid information altogether. Information avoidance in behavioral economics people choose not to obtain knowledge that is freely available. Active information avoidance includes physical avoidance, inattention, the biased interpretation of information and even some forms of forgetting. In behavioral finance, for example, research has shown that investors are less likely to check their portfolio online when the stock market is down than when it is up, which has been termed the ostrich effect. While information avoidance is sometimes strategic, it can have immediate hedonic benefits for people if it prevents the negative, usually psychological consequences of knowing the information. It usually carries negative utility in the long term, because it deprives people of potentially useful information for decision making and feedback for future behavior. Furthermore, information avoidance can contribute to a polarization of political opinions and media bias.

Beyond rationality

Most of us know that there is no such thing as an ideal world. Research has shown what was for centuries common knowledge that a lot depends on how people behave and people's behavior is often strikingly at odds with the theories and predictions of standard economic theory and its models. Contrary to the homo economicus view of human motivation and decision making, behavioural economics (BE) does not assume that humans make choices in isolation, or to serve their own interest. Aside from cognitive and affective, emotional dimensions, an important area of BE also considers social forces, in that decisions are made by individuals who are shaped and embedded in social environments.
The disagreement is not over what the economic facts are, but rather, over the operating assumptions about human behavior used to interpret economic facts. Amos Tversky and Daniel Kahneman published a number of papers that appeared to undermine ideas about human nature held by mainstream economics. They show that decisions are not always optimal. In behavioural models:

  • People have limited computational capacity - they aim to satisfice rather than maximise
  • They are strongly influenced by social networks (where copying behaviour is common) and by prevailing social norms
  • They often act reciprocally by making kind and generous gestures
  • They lack self-control and they tend to be present-biased (for example by heavily discounting future benefits in favour of now)
  • They are loss averse - hating losses far more than commensurate gains
  • Their behaviour is strongly attached to existing default choices
  • They are influenced to some extent by persistent cognitive biases. A bias is a systematic deviation from what is believed to be rational choice

The economist Richard Thaler, a keen observer of human behavior and founder of behavioral economics, was inspired by Kahneman & Tversky's. According to him people think of value in relative rather than absolute terms. Systematic deviations from rationality are observed challenging many of the assumptions of conventional thinking. He has popularized the concept of nudges and argued that "the real point of behavioural economics is to highlight behaviours that are in conflict with the standard rational model. His approach brought scientific insights into the world of business and management and they are challenging
classical economics in the workplace, the marketplace and top management.

Living in the moment

Behavioral economics (BE) uses psychological experimentation to develop theories about human decision making and has identified a range of biases as a result of the way people think and feel. BE is trying to change the way traditionally trained economists think about people's perceptions of value and expressed preferences. According to BE, people are not always self-interested, benefits maximizing, and costs minimizing individuals with stable preferences - our thinking is subject to insufficient knowledge, feedback, and processing capability, which often involves uncertainty and is affected by the context in which we make decisions. Most of our choices are not the result of careful deliberation. We are influenced by readily available information in memory, automatically generated affect, and salient information in the environment. We also live in the moment, in that we tend to resist change, are poor predictors of future behavior, subject to distorted memory, and affected by physiological and emotional states. Finally, we are social animals with social preferences, such as those expressed in trust, reciprocity and fairness; we are susceptible to social norms and a need for self-consistency.

Neurofied

Incentives still matter but behavioural economics suggests that the motivations we have when making choices are not those that are taught in orthodox economics. Cognitive overload is common when we are faced with a huge array of choices and people frequently fall back on simple heuristics in these situations. When it comes to addressing persistent economic and social problems such as gambling addiction, rising obesity, anti-social behaviour and the causes of instability in financial markets, behavioural ideas seem to have plenty of validity and there is plenty of room to move when we are faced with problems such as change management, digital transformation etc. In our complex world where uncertainty is the new normal we cannot use a 'one size fits all' model for understanding the economy. Economist Paul Ormerod has argued, "An economist can no longer be said to have a good training in economics if he or she is not familiar with the main themes of behavioural economics." In a modern networked economy dominated by knowledge, information services and digital transformation where networks are vitally important is bit is better to use and implement ideas drawn from behavioural economics. It is exactly here that we need to look at how behaviour and expected behaviour align or not align. It here that we are up against resistance when we work with customers or in approaching prospects. Our science-backed methodology can take on vested interests or build bridges where they are needed. We should also draw on new ideas from other subjects. For example, we are becoming more expert in understanding neuro-economics - how our brain processes decisions and the limitations that our neuro-system imposes on our choices.


About Peter van Gorsel

Publisher, gamification expert, brain & behaviour marketeer, education expert, strategist and free thinker

 



CONTENT

Article 01

Toyota's Woven City - A Prototype City of the Future


At Woven Planet Group, we are on a mission to design a happier planet through secure, connected mobility solutions. Starting business in January 2021, Woven Planet Group is an expansion of the operations of Toyota Research Institute - Advanced Development, dedicated to bringing its vision, “Mobility to Love, Safety to Live” to life. Under this shared goal, our four companies, Woven Planet Holdings, Woven Core, Woven Alpha, and Woven Capital are transforming how people live, work, and move through new innovations and investment in automated driving, robotics, smart cities, and more.



 

 

Toyota's Woven City - A Prototype City of the Future




Hydrogen

ENEOS Corporation (ENEOS) and Toyota Motor Corporation (Toyota) announced that they have agreed on a new partnership to explore the utilization and application of hydrogen energy at Woven City, the prototype city of the future that Toyota has started to develop in Susono City, Shizuoka Prefecture. ENEOS and Toyota, together with Woven Planet Holdings (Woven Planet), a subsidiary of Toyota, leading the Woven City project, intend to conduct testing and demonstration in areas related to a hydrogen-based supply chain, from production, delivery to usage of hydrogen, in and around Woven City. Through this effort, they aim to help achieve a carbon-neutral society by 2050 as Japan and many other countries around the world have committed.

 


CONTENT

The Future Now Show


Violence
with Mandar Apte


Mandar is the Founder & Executive Director of Cities4Peace - a not-for-profit initiative that actively promotes peace in cities worldwide. The flagship program was held in Los Angeles, where over 200 community members including LAPD officers, former gang members and victims of violence were trained as Ambassadors of Nonviolence. Similar programs are now being offered in many other US cities.

 

 

 

 



Credits

Mandar Apte
Executive Director, Cities4Peace
http://www.mandar-apte.com
https://cities4peace.org

The Future Now Show
https://clubofamsterdam.com/the-future-now-show



You can find The Future Now Show also at

LinkedIn: The Future Now Show Group
YouTube: The Future Now Show Channel

Producer of The Future Now Show: Felix B Bopp

CONTENT

Article 02

How do I talk to my child about violence? 4 essential reads
By Alvin Buyinza and Jamaal Abdul-Alim, The Conversation

 

Discussing violence with children can be challenging for a parent. SDI Productions/E+ via Getty Images

Children are exposed to images of violence almost every day, whether through the media or in real life. Consumption of violent imagery can take a harmful toll on a child’s mental and emotional well-being, research shows. Parents, especially those with young children, may be asking themselves how to talk about violence with their kids.

Here are four articles from The Conversation U.S. that offer insight into how to have hard conversations with children about violence.

1. Teach children to be resilient

Vanessa LoBlue, an assistant professor of psychology at Rutgers University-Newark, writes about ways parents can foster a supportive environment to help children develop resilience in stressful situations.

Genuinely listening to children talk about how they feel not only shows care and acceptance for the child, but it also helps them validate and contextualize their feelings, LoBlue writes. Allowing children some autonomy to solve their problems on their own – even if they fail – can help them practice resilience.

“Helping children build resilience is particularly critical now, as Americans face particular turbulence in daily life,” LoBlue writes. “Parents, too, need to guard their mental health in order to provide kids with crucial support: Building resilience isn’t just kid stuff.”

2. Teach kids to think critically about systemic inequality

Perhaps no profession has been under as much public scrutiny lately as that of the police officer. In less than a month’s span in spring 2021, there were at least three high-profile fatal police shootings that claimed the lives of young people: 13-year-old Adam Toledo in Chicago; 20-year-old Daunte Wright in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota; and 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant in Columbus, Ohio.

Not only do such experiences shape how children come to view the police, but those perceptions are formed at an early age, writes Adam Fine, a criminology and criminal justice professor, and Kathleen Padilla, a graduate student of criminology and criminal justice, both at Arizona State University.

“These perceptions don’t just affect individual kids; they affect society too,” Fine and Padilla write, noting that negative perceptions of police can dissuade young people of color from pursuing careers in law enforcement. “As the nation is engaging in critical discussions about the future of policing, part of that introspection should focus on why the pipeline of youth of color entering law enforcement is almost entirely shut off.”

3. Validate how your child feels

Children are, unfortunately, very familiar with violence. In today’s schools, students have active shooter drills and engage in anti-violence movements like March for Our Lives. Kyle Greenwalt, associate director of teacher preparation and associate professor of education at Michigan State University, and five other scholars offer suggestions about how to talk to students about the Jan. 6, 2021 Capitol riot.

Engaging students in discussions around past and current violent events can allow them to express and process what they feel in a safe environment, writes Greenwalt’s co-author, Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, director of the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. “Do not dehumanize any student because of their opinion – but teach them to always consider the intent and impact of their response.”

4. Know what your child is being exposed to

The internet is rife with violent imagery, leaving many children vulnerable to psychological harm. Daniel J. Flannery, director of the Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at Case Western Reserve University, describes how exposure to violence can lead to higher risk of depression, anger and anxiety.

“Parents have an important role to play,” Flannery writes. “Knowing where their children are, what they are doing and with whom are some of the best ways to help support children. That improves their ability to cope with what is going on in the world around them.”



Editor’s note: This story is a roundup of articles from The Conversation’s archives.

By Alvin Buyinza, Editorial and Outreach Assistant, The Conversation and Jamaal Abdul-Alim, Education Editor, The Conversation


This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.



CONTENT

News about the Future


> Color-Changing Suture
> Schibsted Future Report 2021

Color-Changing Suture

Dasia Taylor is a
17-year-old from Iowa City, who used beet juice to create color-changing sutures. Beets change color "very quickly" right around when skin's pH becomes basic, Taylor found, going from a healthy light purple to a darker magenta as pH increased - the "perfect" natural indicator, she said.
Her invention has the potential to save many lives. She invented a revolutionary new type of suture that changes color if surgical wounds become infected. This feature can alert doctors and help prevent fatal infections.
"It's just so amazing to see how I'm already changing the world in really just being myself and having fun and exploring my intellectual horizons," Taylor said. "I just never knew I was gonna do all of this at 17 years old."









Schibsted Future Report 2021

The Schibsted Future Report is our annual outlook on trends within tech, people and business. It’s written by our own people who share ideas and insights on themes we find interesting and important. In Schibsted we believe that being open and having discussions is more important than ever.













CONTENT

Article 03


Why People Hurt People
By Chris Hedges

Why do people commit acts of violence towards themselves and others? What do the opioid crisis, hate groups, suicide, mass shootings all have in common? Chris Hedges explains.










Chris Hedges
is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, New York Times bestselling author, professor at Princeton University, activist and ordained Presbyterian minister. He has written 11 books, including the New York Times best-seller Days of Destruction, Days of Revolt (2012), which he co-authored with the cartoonist Joe Sacco. His other books include Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt (2015), Death of the Liberal Class (2010), Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle (2009), I Don’t Believe in Atheists (2008) and the best-selling American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America (2008). His book War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning (2003) was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award for Nonfiction and has sold over 400,000 copies. He writes a weekly column for the web site Truthdig in Los Angeles, run by Robert Scheer, and hosts a show, On Contact, on RT America. Hedges holds a B.A. in English literature from Colgate University and a Master of Divinity degree from Harvard University. He spent a year studying classics at Harvard as a Nieman Fellow.

 

CONTENT

Recommended Book


The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined
By
Steven Pinker




Believe it or not, today we may be living in the most peaceful moment in our species' existence. In his gripping and controversial new work, New York Times bestselling author Steven Pinker shows that despite the ceaseless news about war, crime, and terrorism, violence has actually been in decline over long stretches of history. Exploding myths about humankind's inherent violence and the curse of modernity, this ambitious book continues Pinker's exploration of the essence of human nature, mixing psychology and history to provide a remarkable picture of an increasingly enlightened world.





Steven Arthur Pinker
is a prominent Canadian-American experimental psychologist, cognitive scientist, and author of popular science. Pinker is known for his wide-ranging explorations of human nature and its relevance to language, history, morality, politics, and everyday life. He conducts research on language and cognition, writes for publications such as the New York Times, Time, and The New Republic, and is the author of numerous books .



CONTENT

Article 04


The Language of Traffic Safety
With Prof. Marco te Brömmelstroet

Traffic Safety or Traffic Violence? Prof. Marco te Brömmelstroet lecture about the importance of carefully choosing he words we use to describe traffic safety and traffic violence.


TheCrashes.org: http://thecrashes.org

Read academic paper

Randell & Braun




 






Credits: Teska Overbeeke

Marco te Brömmelstroet holds the position of Professor of Urban Mobility Futures at the University of Amsterdam (UvA) Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences. His teaching focuses on courses around land use and mobility in the Bachelor and Master program. Marco is the founding academic director of the Urban Cycling Institute that is a part of the Centre for Urban Studies. The Institute leads research into the reciprocal relations between cycling, society and cities and is also actively involved in international dissemination of Dutch cycling knowledge. Examples of latter are the Summer School on Planning the Cycling City, the MOOC Unraveling the Cycling City and the Why We Cycle documentary.


CONTENT

Climate Change Success Story


Celtic Reptile & Amphibian





Here at Celtic Reptile & Amphibian, we breed over 10 species of herptile (amphibian and reptile) for the purposes of conservation, education and commercial applications. Unlike other collections, all of our animals hail from the continent of Europe, meaning we have assembled one of the largest collections devoted to this grouping of animals.

 


Harvey Tweats and Tom Whitehurst are the co-founders of Celtic Reptile and Amphibian, UK based company dedicated to the conservation and education of European herptiles. Together they manage a lot containing several outdoor enclosures that are home to many native species including, Tree Frogs, Agile Frogs, Western Green lizards, Sand Lizards, Eyed Lizards, and more. We discuss keeping replies outdoors year-round, re-wilding, and the importance of amphibians to our planet.

Celtic Reptile & Amphibian is a company that strives for the consolidation of reptile and amphibian species in Europe, leading the way to a more holistic world.

So, why European species?

European reptiles and amphibians have always been central to Celtic Reptile & Amphibian’s philosophy. This was due to the realisation that these exquisite species are largely underrepresented within both the herpetoculture hobby, and interests of conservation. Unlike the ‘exotic’ herptiles which hail from the tropics, these animals are often so close to many of us – they live on, overlooked.

Conservation imperative

The preservation of these precious animals is in our DNA. By forming a viable captive population we can achieve two very important goals; up-close education and a crucial insurance policy.

Having a reliable source of animals allows for education in its many forms. Whether it be personalised, one on one experiences or within a documentary.

By successfully breeding herptiles in captivity, we can also mitigate against extinction. This means that if wild populations of amphibians and reptiles were to dwindle, they can always be replenished with captive individuals, under the right circumstances.


Celtic Reptile & Amphibian




Britain's Rarest Snake




Blue Frogs In The UK!?







CONTENT

Futurist Portrait


Ben Hammersley
Journalist, technologist, and strategic foresight




Ben Hammersley FRSA FRGS (born 3 April 1976) is a British technologist, strategic foresight consultant, futurist, keynote speaker, broadcaster and systems developer, based in New York City. He specializes on Adaptive Futurism and Cognitive Risk from a multidisciplinary perspective.

Hammersley is the founder and principal of
Hammersley Futures, an international strategic foresight consultancy advising corporates and governments on futureproofing and risk planning. Hammersley Futures specializes on how society reacts to technological innovation and the changing nature of the workplace, crime and conflict, and the market, and on tools to adapt to the changes.

Ben is the founder of Agathonic.AI Inc.. Agathonic creates cognitive technologies to enhance the human in knowledge discovery, empower scenario synthesis, and facilitate the non-linear decision making in complex, classified, or confidential situations.

Hammersley has authored or co-authored several books on technology and journalism.

"The era of extreme data, the era of being able to record everything and do massive analyses on it might sound really boring, but the real reason for doing it is that it takes away all of the uncertainties."

"When I'm introduced on stage by the host of a conference, the fact that I'm the inventor of the word 'podcast' always gets the biggest 'oooh' from the crowd," says Hammersley.

“The internet is the dominant platform for life in the 21st century.”



Cybercrimes with Ben Hammersley: Darknets

 





CONTENT

 

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