2017/10/22: Parent company Alphabet would provide services in response to data harvested. a city “where buildings have no static use”. Like biomass
Alphabet’s long-term goal is to remove barriers to the accumulation and circulation of capital in urban settings – mostly by replacing formal rules and restrictions with softer, feedback-based floating targets. It claims that in the past “prescriptive measures were necessary to protect human health, ensure safe buildings, and manage negative externalities”. Today, however, everything has changed and “cities can achieve those same goals without the inefficiency that comes with inflexible zoning and static building codes”.
This is a remarkable statement. Even neoliberal luminaries such as Friedrich Hayek and Wilhelm Röpke allowed for some non-market forms of social organisation in the urban domain. They saw planning – as opposed to market signals – as a practical necessity imposed by the physical limitations of urban spaces: there was no other cheap way of operating infrastructure, building streets, avoiding congestion.
For Alphabet, these constraints are no more: ubiquitous and continuous data flows can finally replace government rules with market signals. Now, everything is permitted – unless somebody complains.
Google Urbanism means the end of politics, as it assumes the impossibility of wider systemic transformations, such as limits on capital mobility and foreign ownership of land and housing. Instead it wants to mobilise the power of technology to help residents “adjust” to seemingly immutable global trends such as rising inequality and constantly rising housing costs (Alphabet wants us to believe that they are driven by costs of production, not by the seemingly endless supply of cheap credit).
2018/10/01: hopelessness can undercut individual potential and collective possibility. And nowhere does it loom larger than in the so-called fourth industrial revolution, which threatens to rob many people of their livelihoods, their dignity, their security, and their ambitions.
Too often, discussions about the future of work center on technology rather than on the people who will be affected by it. And they rarely acknowledge how the concentration of political and economic power shapes the way technology is developed and deployed. Instead, the entire discourse is led by champions of technology—management consultants, engineers, venture capitalists, and scientists—and tinged with inevitability, rather than being the product of thoughtful human decision-making, the consequences of which will affect countless lives.
At the same time, it is clear that technology is not the only force or factor threatening the dignity and quality of work, or the security of workers.
Meanwhile, campaign finance laws expand the influence and voice of corporations and the wealthy, while labor is more productive and therefore profitable than ever—in part because of technology—but workers don’t feel they are getting their fair share of the rewards.
2018/09/28: While it is commendable to strive to reduce the ecological footprint of cities some realism is called for. For their provisions and waste disposal, cities need forest, agricultural, marine, and wetland ecosystems on lands many hundred times the area of the city itself.[xxii] If we are serious about feeding the cities more locally, we should look more to the perimeters of the city and to the interplay between cities and their hinterland. It is here that there really is a potential to feed the cities.
Silicon Valley meats Hollywood That is the best description of how we will get food in the future if we would believe the impressive number of food tech start-ups which will produce food without soil or animals. But few of them deliver on their exaggerated promises.
Because of how badly we humans have treated soils and animals it is understandable that people now are looking for other ways of producing food. Under banners of digital ecosystems, open source, individual foods, actionable intelligence, disruptive food systems and digital transformation, there are legions of entrepreneurs (mostly with background in the IT sector) seeking venture capital and researchers looking for grants.
3-D printing of food is expensive, incredibly slow and not capable of making most of the food we like to eat - today. Perhaps it will in the futures. My concern is rather that 3-D printing of food and robocooks seems to be far-fetched solutions to marginal problems, and it certainly has nothing to do with “solving the world’s largest food and farming problems”.
I turn my attention to methods of primary production which are not soil or animal based (I will leave wild foods and fisheries outside of the discussion).
Few people seem to realize that lab-foods also need a feedstock, and the companies marketing the products are mostly silent regarding the raw materials used. To grow maize as a feedstock for ‘artificial’ food or to produce chicken is not so very different. Chicken production, in many parts of the world, is already landless production, a kind of feed converter factory. And it is obvious that you can do a similar thing with fungi or bacteria. It is not obvious, however, that the process will be much more efficient (but possibly more ethically acceptable).
Tissue culture of beef is currently done on a serum extracted from unborn calves and it also involves the use of antibiotics.[v] Other resource demands are rarely documented, so the claims of being resource efficient still needs to be proven.
Though the cultivation of algae using man-made or natural ponds was initially simple, turning it into a viable feedstock has always been problematic. So our industry has always needed a system that could enable higher production levels, lower capital and operating costs, greater biomass density, better environmental control, and above all, industrial scalability.”[vi] Even bio-fuels could be made from algae, but the cost of production is prohibitive and would use enormous areas and water resources. In addition, it is very energy consuming and CO2 emissions caused would be much bigger than for fossil fuels. Therefore, almost all algae entrepreneurs are producing nutritional supplements and other specialty products which have prices two orders of magnitude higher than fuel or staple food.
Much aquaculture today is based on predatory fish, such as salmon, which are fed on undersized caught wild fish, other fish leftovers and fodder from agriculture. There is not a dramatic difference between modern fish farming and broiler production.
For aquaculture to really play a meaningful role in feeding a growing population in a sustainable way, we need systems that integrate aquaculture and farming. Such systems have developed over a long time in Asia where rice, fish and vegetables have been grown in the same system, sometimes also including ducks or pigs. There are also modern versions of such systems under development.
An extreme version of hydroponics are indoor vertical farms in cities. But the fact that it is possible doesn’t mean it is viable on a larger scale, and even less that it will take place in the cities. Vertical hydroponic farms are totally dependent on inputs that will need to be transported in, they are not part of any ecological context in the city, and if they are large, the crops will be put into the normal food distribution networks. In that sense, they are like any other assembly plant. And, like any other assembly plants, they are better located outside of city centres. But the rational for stacking crops on top of each other is gone where land prices are lower.
But it has little relevance for feeding the population, which is underscored by that the commercial application are all about growing baby lettuce, pak choy or herbs, crops which provide almost no food energy or proteins.
those technologies are not integrated into the ecological web of the city, rather the opposite, they need to be sealed off even from the people and the water used mus
2018/9/12: We debate the ethics of driverless cars taking away our jobs, or debate whether people will accept them, as if they are an inevitable reality.
driverless cars have all the makings of a massive cult—the Cult of Technology. This is the idea that technology will somehow solve the problems of human greed, over-population and over-consumption of planetary resources. It preys on our laziness and gullibility and it distracts and deludes us so much that we can’t see basic realities staring us in the face.
folks actually working on the technology say widespread use or deployment of driverless vehicles is a long way off and may never happen at all:
Google often leaves the impression that cars can ‘drive anywhere a car can legally drive.’ However, that’s true only if intricate preparations have been made beforehand, with the car’s exact route, including driveways, extensively mapped.
2018/08/16: The vision is a radical departure from the one-person, one-vote, once-every-year-or-two trip to the ballot box we are familiar with—and by which, in Siri’s view, we are so ill-served. Users of Democracy.Earth’s one-size-fits-all governance platform—code-named Sovereign—would have infinite flexibility to vote on any kind of topic or person, whenever they log on. In the Democracy.Earth future, every day will be election day, and the ballot will include anything that enough of us think should be there.
In this perfect world, Siri argues, the supposedly unhackable and absolutely transparent blockchain will ensure that no centralized election authority is required to tabulate a vote, and no corrupt politician or gridlocked legislature can interfere with the popular mandate. But coming up with a superior form of voting technology is just the beginning; the larger, far more revolutionary goal is to devise a decentralized decisionmaking process that eliminates the necessity for any kind of central government at all.
“We are not in the business of selling e-voting machines or helping modernize governments with internet voting,” Siri says. “We want to empower people down to the individual level without asking for the permission of governments.”
The proposition that new solutions are necessary for our strange new world is hard to argue against. The problem lies in proving that something as complex as Democracy.Earth fixes more than it breaks.
What Siri seemed to be saying is that Sovereign isn’t really intended as a replacement for how the United States elects a president or California passes an initiative. Instead, it's really an exercise in figuring out how to use the blockchain to make group decisions in the crypto-digital domain. Sovereign, in other words, represents government of the crypto-people, by the crypto-people, and for the crypto-people.
2018/09/12: From crops to cattle, developing and refining living organisms through selective breeding is a 10,000-year-old practice. Industrial fermentation is a well-honed tool for converting biology into foodstuffs or commodity compounds. Major global industries routinely transform biomass into flat-pack furniture, cotton T-shirts, and vanilla flavourings.
However, biodesign fans are today repackaging biodesign, describing it as an ecological remedy, a technological breakthrough, an economic opportunity, and a manufacturing and industrial revolution. For this issue, we question whether biodesign can deliver the accompanying social transformation that those dreams imply, and explore how it might otherwise begin to challenge modern industrial, social, and economic paradigms.
Whether it’s Bolt Threads’ biosilk plastic, other companies’ promises of lab-grown “clean” meat ousting ecologically-damaging factory farming, or the development of less toxic textile-dyeing processes to mitigate the impact of fast fashion, drop-in replacements serve to make us feel better for our polluting lifestyles. However, what remains unresolved is the space in which these alternatives still operate in—the capitalist system that demands continual growth—no matter the costs. The over-consumption that industrial design is predicated upon today is under increasing scrutiny.
By designing with biology, start-ups like Bolt Threads can potentially challenge how consumer products are made, their life cycles, and enhance the performance of materials that could improve product lifespans.
Scaling these technologies to reduce environmental impact, these new bioindustrialists still need to access the same instruments of capital and consumption that inhibit systemic change. Herein lies the uncomfortable paradox: whose role is it to link new industrial processes with systemic economic, social, and political change?
Evaluating the impact of ICTs in terms of capabilities thus reveals no direct relationship between improved access to, and use of, ICTs and enhanced well-being; ICTs lead to improvements in people’s lives only when informational capabilities are transformed into expanded human and social capabilities in the economic, political, social, organizational, and cultural dimensions of their lives. The study concludes that intermediaries are bound to play a central, even fundamental, role in this process. They help poor communities to enact and appropriate ICTs to their local socio-cultural context so that their use becomes meaningful for people’s daily lives, enhances their informational capabilities, and ultimately improves their human and social capabilities.
A set of five admirably compact and well-chosen principles that cover a lot of bases: democratic accountability; transparency and auditability; progress harnessed to public service; and an eye for the social dimension of technological decision-making.
The rehearsed smugness of the presenters puts me off the content - which is all about making the simple sound profound
A startup is hemorrhaging cash, and the VCs have yet to agree on terms for a capital infusion. The clock is ticking until deadpool, first weeks away then days. The founders, stress levels increasing to stratospheric levels, continue to sell their company to everyone, whether investors, employees, p
Silicon Valley's culture is hurting our economy.
If our supersmart tech leaders knew a bit more about history or philosophy we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now
2014/06/01: The vision of a free-floating digital cryptocurrency economy, divorced from the politics of colossal banks and aggressive governments, is under threat. Take, for example, the purists at Dark Wallet, accusing the Bitcoin Foundation of selling out to the regulators and the likes of the Winklevoss Twins.
Bitcoin sometimes appears akin to an illegal immigrant, trying to decide whether to seek out a rebellious existence in the black-market economy, or whether to don the slick clothes of the Silicon Valley establishment. The latter position – involving publicly accepting regulation and tax whilst privately lobbying against it – is obviously more acceptable and familiar to authorities.
Kate J. Sim examines how the prevailing cultural notion of sexual assault survivors as liars, and the widely held belief of technological objectivity, converge to instruct the design of anti-rape technologies. Design processes reveal how the developers intended these devices to be used, by targeting ideal users, and prompting users to collect certain kinds of information.
Part libertarian paternalism, part groupthink, the Valley's guiding philosophy was articulated two decades ago
In Eindhoven, Utrecht and Assen smart projects are tackling everything from traffic to street crime. But with privacy laws being flouted and commercial companies in on the act, are things as benign as they seem?
Digital stardust won't magically make future cities more affordable or resilient.
Over the last two years, the capacity to manage mood has been monetised through the sharing of fake news and political feeds atuned to reader preference: you can also make people happy by confirming their biases.