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They aren't good questions for, say, a software engineer, but they might be useful for executives, which is how the Times article says they were used. If you're going to be analyzing potential business opportunities you probably should have a sense of different markets, their size, their relative strengths and weaknesses, etc. You should probably have a basic idea of where we get products and materials from and a basic sense of what different types of materials do. In our post-industrial society we don't care so much about sulphur and rubber and borax, but would you hire a tech executive who didn't know where electronics are manufactured? Would you hire someone who couldn't identify the regions of the US where the tech industry has a large presence? Would you hire someone who couldn't identify "six big businessmen in the United States"? If you can't answer these questions than you don't know anything about the industry and you probably aren't curious or engaged enough to keep yourself well informed.

If we updated this list to include things that are relevant to today's world, I would expect that a well-educated, well-informed person would be able to answer most of these questions.




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