Sunday, 30 December 2007

Four luxurious wishes for 2008

Beyond the macro challenges I work with, like climate change, destruction of the planet, poverty, WMD, manipulation with the gene-pool, tensions between different ideologies, geopolitical changes, etc, there is another world. In this world I feel there is important work to be done by clever people. Here are the things I hope that I do not need to spend time on next year this time. As you might guess I have been trying to clean up my storing spaces today to get things in order for 2008:

- Receipts:
I do not know how much money that I do not claim for expenses, I started to count a few of the piles but stopped after a while… Why not have a system that the payment with cards can go straight into a database and where you just fill in the relevant information for the expenses. Is it that hard?

- Different currencies:
While I like diversity the fact that the world still have different currencies have resulted in an ever increasing piles of bills from all over the world that I forget to bring on the next trip. Why not introduce a global “standard bill” that everybody have to accept everywhere. In order to not encourage crime the bills would have to be small and have a limited lifetime (maximum 100€ and lifetime of one year).

-Standard connections.
Long live USB! It is the best standard so far, but chargers and other connections is a sad chapter. Trying to keep everything that is needed to keep all the gadgets alive is a nightmare that most have experienced. Let USB be the one that also power the gadgets and connect sound and vision equipment…

- Washing and the dishes:
Why is the washing machines the best we have? I want something that I put my clothing in and then find it folded/ironed on the drawer again. How much do I have to pay? Same with dishes, I want to leave the table and when I’m coming back I want everything out away in the right place.

I strongly believe that the macro challenges and micro are linked. For most people it is a struggle to find time with all the “small things” and this makes it harder to focus on the big challenges (including personal development and hobbies). For those very rich that have people working for them and often take important decisions this is not a challenge so they do not see a need for innovation (instead they can focus on arguing for cheaper labor for these services). As the vast majority on the planet is still very poor this can seem like a tempting path, but I believe that this will stop innovation and turn society into a more closed mind and less innovation. It is also not sustainable as the lifestyles of the rich (including 99% of those that will read this) require too much natural resources.

As my contribution I hope during 2008 to :

- Explore how the relation between increased income and use of natural resources can be changes so that increased income will allow you to live a more sustainable life.

- Explore the balance between robots/intelligent solutions and services provided by humans under different sustainable scenarios.

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Chen Deming and the worlds energy future

Today, the same day Chen Deming, formally was appointed new commerce minister it was up on Wikipedia. Would like a little more analytical parts on Wikipedia, but apart from this it is an amazing tool.

This might be one of the most important person on the planet when it comes to a sustainable energy future. The fact that he's been called both "the most powerful – yet least known – figure in China’s booming energy sector" and "technology geek" is something I hope will make the upcoming reports about ICT and reduction of a billion tonnes CO2 something he will take a closer look at...

Few in the energy sector manage to both understand how the energy system works and also understand that the challenges/opportunities are on the demand side (not the production side). With Chen we could get a strategic person who focus more on sustainable construction and smart controlling of energy use and less on construction of coal power plants. Is the world ready?

Friday, 28 December 2007

The small things that change the world - Microtrends

It is part fun and part frustration when you read Mark Penn’s book, “Microtrends”. On the one part it he has a few bright moments when some possible triggers for significant change are discussed, but most of the time it is a few (often American) numbers that is the base for some not so reflected thoughts.

For people engaged in work that require significant change (read paradigm shift, transformative change, (re-)evolution, etc) it is a valuable reminder to not forget the small, fast changing and often quite strong undercurrents in our world. We know that a number of macro trends will converge over the years to come and as tensions rise it will most certainly be a few of these undercurrents that tip the scale and send us off on new trajectory.

On a regular basis go through a number of “positive” (what you might hope for) and “negative” (what you probably do not want to see) possible small undercurrents is a healthy exercise.

Top three on the "positive side" the 28th of December 2007 (for me)
1. Ethics related to food
Both animal rights and poverty issues can surge as the desperation to support an unsustainable western lifestyle meet reality, especially as the "food" is used for energy and "wood/paper/pulp".
2. Living without external energy supply
Small decentralized options, that already exist could get a boom if a few profiles lead the way and people see how vulnerable our society is...
3. The interaction between humans-machines/AI
2008 will see a few new things on the market that could allow us to rethink our egocentric society, both mechanic and mental links is in the pipeline.

Top three on the "negative side" the 28th of December 2007 (for me)
1. The one person war
Someone with "brain" takes on parts of society with biotech and knowledge about the infrastructure, instead of shooting in all direction and then kill themselves as quite a few seem to to today. This could be the end to individual rights as we know it.
2. Plastic surgery, without the surgery
people drifting further in denial and narcissism as new medicines
3. Mental surgery
As Prozac nation is slowly turning into Prozac world, even better drugs and the acceptance for "smart food" is increasing we could see the first "soma" nations emerging. Maybe the reemergence of India is more than a coincidence (for most westerners it is not known that "soma" is something that Huxley found in the Indian texts "Rig Veda" and "Avesta").

For those who needs inspiration/frustration “Microtrends” might do the trick, but then again books like “The Tipping Point” and “Critical Mass” have done this kind of simple overview before and are a bit more inspiring I think. But it is the small things that matter... ;)

Thursday, 27 December 2007

Christmas Inspiration - Blind Faith

Ben Elton has an eye for things that are so dominating in society that we seem to ignore them...

Blind Faith is not as funny as Stark, but well worth a read, if for no other reason to remind us how brilliant Huxley "Brave new world" is.