Yesterday, I Wrote about the speed at which change is likely to occur this century. Paradigm shifts will happen regularly, in stark contrast to the past, where paradigms had a long shelf life. From health and education to energy and transport, paradigms will shift. The energy transition is big discussion topic today, and rightfully so. The most transformative periods in history have been tied to energy transitions. While renewable energy dominates the dialog, rapid increase in energy demand can negate those gains. This short video captures parts of this dialog. Visit this YouTube Channel to join the discussion.
When looking at possible futures, one domain seems to intersect with them all. Whether we are discussing the environment, food, mobility, or energy, one common denominator is materials science. Wikipedia Defines it as an interdisciplinary field focused on the design and discovery of new materials, particularly solids. Materials science incorporates elements of physics, chemistry, and engineering. The Wikipedia page reflects on why it intersects with so much:
“Many of the most pressing scientific problems humans currently face are due to the limits of available materials and how they are used. Thus, breakthroughs in materials science are likely to affect the future of technology significantly.”
A recent book explores aspects of a broader Convergence story. The book – 2030: How Today’s Biggest Trends Will Collide and Reshape the Future of Everything – was authored by Mauro F. Guillen. In exploring a number of trends, he shows how the only effective way to understand the global transformations underway is to think laterally. Said another way, we need to think at the systems level. Understanding pieces in isolation blinds us to the combinatorial nature of change. The book abstract says it this way:Continue reading
I just finished another book and added it to my Library. Author Daniel Yergin explores the convergence of energy, climate change, and a world where an existing power is confronted by an emerging power. The New Map helps us understand global dynamics, historical perspectives, the entrenched role of oil and gas, the forces that are driving an energy transition, and the impact of a raging pandemic.
Daniel Yergin is a highly respected authority on energy, international politics, and economics, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling author. He is vice chairman of IHS Markit, one of the leading information and research firms in the world, a member of the board of the Council on Foreign Relations, a senior trustee of the Brookings Institution, and has served on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board under the last four presidential administrations.Continue reading
By now, readers of my Blog know that I have been researching the catalysts of human action for over 18 months. I have used a poll to gather insights from the community. I posted Results a while back, and am providing an update via this post. As a reminder of the topic, here is an excerpt from a Post back in April 2019:Continue reading
More votes have come in since I last reported on my poll. The question based on history is this: what catalysts drive human action in the future? It took two world wars and a great depression to drive humans to act in ways that prevented reoccurrence and advanced human development. In a world that looks eerily similar to that era, we once again wonder about catalysts. Here are the current results.Continue reading
As I mentioned in a recent Post, the global pandemic has altered how we think about our world. However, one thing is constant if not amplified by it: society needs to act if we hope to shape a future that advances human development. The rapid pace of innovation – riding on antiquated institutions – required our attention pre-pandemic. In a post-pandemic world, both of those factors are amplified. The inadequacies of our institutions are more visible now than ever; and innovation that may have unfolded over years is realized in months.Continue reading
Seems like an eternity has past since I first launched this Poll on the catalysts that drive human action. As I mentioned back then, one of our Lessons from History was the presence of catalysts that drove actions that ultimately shaped our future. The major catalysts of the second revolution were astounding levels of innovation, World War One, The Great Depression, World War Two, and the eventual democratization of innovation. The question I asked in the poll was: What catalysts force stakeholder actions that ultimately shape our emerging future?
My Post yesterday revisited the intersections that shape our future. Convergence across multiple domains sets these intersections in motion. In this context, convergence refers to a virtuous cycle where events in one domain spur action in another. The great inventions (electricity, telephone, and internal combustion engine) were clustered together at the end of the 19th century, forming a virtuous cycle that drove a period of astounding innovation. Several Catalysts drove an enabling convergence across the economy, science, technology, business, geopolitics, and a broader set of societal issues.
This research on the likely acceleration driven by the pandemic is a must read. Per their Website, Mehlman, Castagnetti, Rosen & Thomas is a full-service, bipartisan government relations firm whose partners and principals have decades of political and policy experience. The presentation is U.S. centric and a little heavy on politics. However, it captures many of the issues that are converging across multiple domains (business, society, science, technology, environment, philosophy, economics, and geopolitics). I believe it captures one of the most impactful aspects of the current COVID-19 crisis: the acceleration of forces that were already in play. It is a quick walk through of the following topics:
Last week. I posted about modern monetary theory (MMT) and how it challenges conventional wisdom regarding deficits. In her recent book titled The Deficit Myth , Author Stephanie Kelton – Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Stony Brook University – explores the tenets of the theory and its implications to government spending. Progressive agendas aimed at solving the challenges of education, healthcare, climate change and others look at modern monetary theory as a possible solution. In contrast to borrowing money or raising taxes, the monetisation of government expenditure (its financing by the central bank’s creation of money) is costless, in that the government does not have to pay interest on cash.
The attention garnered by MMT has drawn its share of critics. In the interest of understanding both sides of this debate, I read a book titled Modern Monetary Theory and its Critics. The book is a series of essays edited by Edward Fullbrook and Jamie Morgan. As the authors state: in the wake of the decade of fiscal austerity following the Global Financial Crisis, and the apparent exhaustion of standard monetary policy strategies and the ever-increasing income disparity, interest in MMT has grown beyond academia. The skeptics provide a different point of view. As we search for answers to our pressing issues and strive to think differently, it’s prudent that we keep an open mind to these new ways of thinking, while at the same time, understanding their limitations. I recommend the book, which I have added to my Book Library.
In a recent Article via the World Economic forum, author Saemoon Yoon identified 17 ways that technology could change the world by 2025. While the current pandemic exposed our vulnerabilities, it also shows what is achievable through collaboration. While efforts to collaborate globally must improve, a heightened visibility to the issues combined with an appreciation for the power of science and technology is a step in the right Direction. Here are snippets from the article that captures insight from 17 experts related to the world of 2025.
I wrapped up another great book. This one focused on government deficits as viewed through the lens of Modern Monetary Theory. Author Stephanie Kelton addresses the topic in her recent book titled The Deficit Myth. In this best seller, Ms. Kelton – Professor of Economics and Public Policy at Stony Brook University – explores the role of currency issuers (U.S., Japan, U.K., Australia, etc.) versus currency users. From the book:
“The distinction between currency users and the currency issuer lies at the heart of Modern Monetary Theory. And as we will see in the pages ahead, it has profound implications for some of the most important policy debates of our time, such as health care, climate change, Social Security, international trade, and inequality.”
I recently added a new book to my Book Library. Authors Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler explore the acceleration of technology and the Upheaval we are likely to experience in the coming decade. Diamandis and Kotler investigate how exponentially accelerating technologies converge and impact both our lives and society as a whole. They ask key questions like: how will these convergences transform today’s legacy industries? What will happen to the way we raise our kids, govern our nations, and care for our planet?
In a recent Article by Bryan Walsh, he describes the mega-trends that are likely to shape this century. These trends are driven by the Acceleration of innovation and a growing set of Societal Factors. In describing the seriousness of these trends, our author points to a forthcoming book titled “The Precipice”. In the book, author Toby Ord of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute gives one in six odds that humanity will suffer an existential catastrophe during the next 100 years — almost certainly due to our own actions.
In the book The Fourth Turning, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe illuminate the past, explain the present, and reimagine the future. They offer an utterly persuasive prophecy about how America’s past will predict its future. Here is what they had to say:
In a post back in 2018, I described a phenomenon that contributes to the rapid Acceleration of innovation and scientific breakthroughs. Peter Diamandis coined the term Techno-Philanthropists and compared and contrasted them to the Robber Barons of a different era. Billionaires get a lot of negative press these days – but one thing is clear: their wealth is both accelerating the pace of innovation and addressing some of the world’s greatest challenges. Stories described by Articles like this one highlight the point.
In his book titled Homo Deus, Yuval Harari provides a look into possible futures; he echoed those themes as he addressed the attendees of this years annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. I encourage everyone to read his Address, as it touches on the three existential threats that he believes humanity faces: nuclear war, ecological collapse, and technological disruption. Given the attention paid to the first two, Mr. Harari focused his address on technological disruption.
The global population is projected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 – up from 7.6 Billion today. This population growth along with city expansions are having major consequences, driving a lack of growing space and food in many parts of the world. Add to this the concerns of extreme weather events that will disrupt food production, and you have a scenario that forces us to find creative solutions. According to various statistics, 795 million people don’t have enough food; and keeping pace with population growth requires a focused effort on realizing food abundance.
Although we spend a lot of cycles debating climate change, some have placed economic development above ideology. You wouldn’t expect a state tied economically and in the American imagination to oil, gas and coal, to lead the U.S. in wind power generation. Less restrictive zoning, taxation systems that encourage building, and robust transmission lines can enable this type of progress.
I found a very refreshing Article today describing Japan’s vision for the fifth iteration of society. Our hunter-gatherer days represent the first iteration, with agriculture coming in as number two and the industrial and information revolutions rounding out the next two. I’ve written about the Tipping Points in human history – and this vision of a future society is aligned with my point of view on the next tipping point. With each tip, we have experienced Unintended Consequences. Big visions such as these would be wise to ensure a balancing of the Opposing forces of Innovation.