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words: 49,604

The Weightless World: Strategies for Managing the Digital Economy by Diane Coyle


barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, blue-collar work, Bretton Woods, clean water, computer age, Corn Laws, cross-subsidies, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, Diane Coyle, Edward Glaeser, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, financial deregulation, full employment, global village, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, income inequality, informal economy, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, laissez-faire capitalism, lump of labour, Marshall McLuhan, McJob, microcredit, Network effects, new economy, Nick Leeson, night-watchman state, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, pension reform, pensions crisis, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, spinning jenny, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, Tobin tax, two tier labour market, very high income, War on Poverty, winner-take-all economy, working-age population

The key is dematerialisation. The value in our economy — whatever it is we are willing to pay money for — has less and less physical mass. Whether it is software code, genetic codes, the creative content of a film or piece of music, the design of a new pair of sunglasses or the vigilance of a security guard or Introduction xiii helpfulness of a shop assistant, value no longer lies in three-dimensional objects in space. We will pay for amusement, for style, for convenience, for speed, for creativity, for beauty — but when it comes to things, commodities, we have turned into skinflints, and want the cheapest possible. We will buy either a cheap T-shirt made in Macau or Morocco, or we will buy a designer shirt for 20 or 50 times the price. One of the characteristics of dematerialised output is that its use by one person does not preclude its use by another.

According to the cyber-guru William Gibson, ‘The Internet could one day be seen as being something terrifically significant, something akin to the building of cities ... It’s postnational and postgeographical’.2 Danny Quah, a professor at the London School of Economics, and one of the pioneers of weightless economics, writes: ‘Dematerialised commodities show no respect for space and geography’.3 This is due to a property that he calls ‘infinite expansibility’. Put simply, this means that the use of a dematerialised object by one person does not prevent another from using it. Other people can simultaneously use the word processing code I use as I type this. It is an economic good whose ownership cannot be transferred or traded, but simply replicated — and at almost no transmission cost, in almost no time. Trade in such goods is not an exchange, but nearly costless reproduction.

It is also true for any profession where the expertise of the stars can be reproduced using the new technologies — for instance, surgeons who can operate, advise or teach through video links and software; or successful currency traders, like George Soros, who can leverage the amount of business they do in the financial markets and the degree to which those markets move in their favour when their trades become known. The fact that there are widespread ‘network externalities’, or benefits from using something that grows with the number of users, in the dematerialised industries will reinforce the superstar trend. For example, the Apple Macintosh operating system has always been acknowledged as better than Microsoft’s by industry experts. But Apple has never broken out of its market niche whereas almost everybody uses Microsoft’s Windows. If almost everybody does, almost everybody always will because it makes life much simpler. The externality put the billionaire into Bill. The mitigating factor in the winner-takes-all trend, Danny Quah notes, is that dematerialisation is also helping to reduce the costs and difficulty of becoming a superstar. You do not need to be born with a great bone structure or have the huge amount of capital needed to start up a pharmaceuticals company.


The Future of Money by Bernard Lietaer


agricultural Revolution, banks create money, barriers to entry, Bretton Woods, clean water, complexity theory, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, diversification, fiat currency, financial deregulation, financial innovation, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Gilder, German hyperinflation, global reserve currency, Golden Gate Park, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invention of the telephone, invention of writing, Lao Tzu, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, Norbert Wiener, North Sea oil, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, post-industrial society, price stability, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, the market place, the payments system, trade route, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, working poor

What are the consequences of these characteristics for a society that uses information as its primary economic resource? First, such an economy is literally dematerialising. In 1996, Alan Greenspan noted: 'The US output today, if measured in tons, is the same as one hundred years ago, yet the GDP?" has multiplied by a factor of twenty over that time.' The average weight of one real dollar's worth of US exports is now less than half of what it was in 1970. Even in 'manufactured' goods, 75% of the value now consists of the services embedded in it: research, design, sales, advertising, most of which could be 'delocated' anywhere in the world and transmitted via highspeed data lines. Along with the other factors, this dematerialization process makes it much harder for governments or regulatory agencies to measure, tax or regulate what is going on.

Once upon a time, when money was mostly gold and silver coins, banks started issuing pieces of paper that stated where the metal was kept. The sentence 'I will pay the bearer the sum of one Pound Sterling' which adorns the Pound bill is still a reminder of the weight and silver content of the metal currency. The next step in the disappearing act is already well under way. The vast majority of our paper money has further dematerialized into binary bits in computers belonging to our bankers, brokers, or other financial institutions, and there is serious talk that all of it may soon join the virtual world. Should we wait until the last paper bill has disappeared into a cyber-purse to wake up to the true non-material nature of money? A working definition of money Our working definition of money can now be very straightforward: Money is an agreement, within a community, to use something as a means of payment.


pages: 405 words: 117,219

In Our Own Image: Savior or Destroyer? The History and Future of Artificial Intelligence by George Zarkadakis


3D printing, Ada Lovelace, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, anthropic principle, Asperger Syndrome, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, British Empire, business process, carbon-based life, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, continuous integration, Conway's Game of Life, cosmological principle, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Edward Snowden, epigenetics, Flash crash, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, income inequality, index card, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jacquard loom, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John von Neumann, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, millennium bug, natural language processing, Norbert Wiener, On the Economy of Machinery and Manufactures, packet switching, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, post-industrial society, prediction markets, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Coming Technological Singularity, the scientific method, theory of mind, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

Following this logic, the software program that codes our consciousness can be extracted from its biological substrate, downloaded on to a computer and transmitted to the end of the universe at the speed of light. We can thus become immortal and be uploaded to a higher, ethereal, digital plane of existence. Perhaps, then, the ‘purpose’ of a material universe is to arrive at a time when intelligent beings like us can dematerialise it, after they have first dematerialised themselves. This is a curious conclusion. There is something profoundly teleological and apocalyptic about it. In fact, it looks like a rehashed belief in the afterlife for atheists and agnostics. At the gates of digital heaven The Christian resurrection narrative has subtly changed over the centuries. In the past, Christians believed that the soul would return to the body on Judgement Day, and that resurrection meant the literal reunion of body and soul.18 The dead would actually rise from their graves like zombies in the movies – only looking and behaving a lot better.

But let me return to vitalism and dualism one last time, because their most significant legacy lies not in the proliferation of websites promising magical cures using crystals. They still influence the way we think today of the mind as something separate from the body. Until the time of Galen, the mind was considered a physical thing. There was no disconnection between mind and body. They were one and the same. After Descartes, the mind became disembodied. It dematerialised. Vitalism was the scientific manifestation of dualism. But although vitalism was discredited, dualism was not. The disambiguation of the mind persisted, and became even more pronounced in new metaphors for the brain, as the nineteenth century ushered in technologies that permitted messages to be transmitted from a distance. The brain as a computer In 1838, Sir William Fothergill Cooke and Charles Wheatstone established the first commercial telegraph in the world along the Great Western Railway by connecting Paddington station to West Drayton.

Could there be two natures in reality – a materialistic one and a non-materialistic one – just like the dualist Descartes suggested? And, if so, which one has prevalence? Do numbers exist before we count something? The British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell certainly thought as much, and he was not the only one. But, if so, where is the abode of numbers? Is there another reality beyond the one we perceive with our senses? Diametrically opposed to the mathematical dematerialis-ation view of the cosmos and of the mind sit the doubting Thomases who believe exclusively in a purely materialistic world. The mind, they claim, is a biological phenomenon; it is what living, vigilant brains housed inside craniums create. Nothing else exists beyond what we can observe with our senses and our scientific instruments. These people are called materialist monists. Idealist monists believe the exact opposite: that the material world is an illusion; only minds are real, they say, because everything that we can possibly know about the world is filtered through our minds.


pages: 353 words: 91,211

The Shock of the Old: Technology and Global History Since 1900 by David Edgerton


agricultural Revolution, anti-communist, British Empire, conceptual framework, deglobalization, dematerialisation, desegregation, deskilling, global village, Haber-Bosch Process, interchangeable parts, knowledge economy, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, means of production, megacity, microcredit, new economy, post-industrial society, Productivity paradox, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, spinning jenny, Upton Sinclair, urban planning, V2 rocket

The usual story of production goes like this: there has been a shift in employment and output from agriculture to industry and then to services. The first is labelled the industrial revolution. The second is called a transition to post-industrial, knowledge or information societies, linked to what many called post-modernism, what some Marxists called ‘new times’, and, what capitalist Wall Street gurus called the ‘new economy’.1 In one version peddled in the 1990s, modern economies are becoming ‘weightless’ and ‘dematerialised’. Such accounts resurrect an old argument, as if it had never been made before, that in future it will not be land or capital which will have power, but knowledge. They promise, again, a world where ‘intellectual property’ and ‘human capital’ rule. Yet this stage theory of history, focusing on shares of employment, easily misrepresents the whole. In the twentieth century the output of agriculture expanded enormously and it continues to do so.

Even in Britain more cars are produced today than ever before, and at world level production is not only increasing, but is still dominated by North America, Europe and Japan. Service industries There is no doubt that the rise of employment in the service industries in the rich countries is one of the major economic changes of the last thirty years. A number of analysts have, perversely, identified this growth in service employment with the rise of an ‘information society’, with connotations of weightlessness, or indeed the ‘dematerialised’ economy. This was a fashionable, and misleading, way of saying little more than that service industries now account for very large proportions of GDP and employment.56 This is partly the result of mis-specification because services include a vast range of activities, many of them far from weightless or indeed new. Services include transportation, by road, rail, water and air, telecommunications and postal services, the retail sector, as well as banking and finance, and small creative industries.

Culture has not lagged behind technology, rather the reverse; the idea that culture has lagged behind technology is itself very old and has existed under many different technological regimes. Technology has not generally been a revolutionary force; it has been responsible for keeping things the same as much as changing them. The place of technology in the undoubted increase in productivity in the twentieth century remains mysterious; but we are not entering a weightless, dematerialised information world. War changed in the twentieth century, but not according to the rhythms of conventional technological timelines. History is changed when we put into it the technology that counts: not only the famous spectacular technologies but the low and ubiquitous ones. The historical study of things in use, and the uses of things, matters. Notes Introduction 1. Michael McCarthy, ‘Second Century of Powered Flight is heralded by jet’s 5,000mph record’, Independent, 29 March 2004, pp. 14–15. 2.


pages: 478 words: 126,416

Other People's Money: Masters of the Universe or Servants of the People? by John Kay


Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Bernie Madoff, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, bitcoin, Black Swan, Bonfire of the Vanities, bonus culture, Bretton Woods, call centre, capital asset pricing model, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, cognitive dissonance, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, cross-subsidies, dematerialisation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elon Musk, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, financial intermediation, fixed income, Flash crash, forward guidance, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, George Akerlof, German hyperinflation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Growth in a Time of Debt, income inequality, index fund, inflation targeting, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, invention of the wheel, Irish property bubble, Isaac Newton, London Whale, Long Term Capital Management, loose coupling, low cost carrier, M-Pesa, market design, millennium bug, mittelstand, moral hazard, mortgage debt, new economy, Nick Leeson, Northern Rock, obamacare, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shock, passive investing, peer-to-peer lending, performance metric, Peter Thiel, Piper Alpha, Ponzi scheme, price mechanism, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, railway mania, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, regulatory arbitrage, Renaissance Technologies, rent control, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, road to serfdom, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Schrödinger's Cat, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, Spread Networks laid a new fibre optics cable between New York and Chicago, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, The Great Moderation, The Market for Lemons, the market place, The Myth of the Rational Market, the payments system, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Tobin tax, too big to fail, transaction costs, tulip mania, Upton Sinclair, Vanguard fund, Washington Consensus, We are the 99%, Yom Kippur War

We should put an end to the seemingly endless proliferation of complex rulebooks which are even now beyond the comprehension of the far too numerous regulatory professionals. The objective of reforming the finance industry should be to restore priority and respect for financial services that meet the needs of the real economy. There is something pejorative about the phrase ‘the real’ – meaning the non-financial – economy, and yet it captures a genuine insight: there is something unreal about the way in which finance has evolved, dematerialised and detached itself from ordinary business and everyday life. If buying and selling in the City not only absorbs a significant amount of our national wealth but also occupies the time of a high proportion of the ablest people in society, Humbert Wolfe’s complacency – ‘since it contents them … they might as well’ – can no longer be easily justified. In the final chapters of this book I shall describe how we might focus attention on a more limited finance sector more effectively directed to real economic needs: making payments, matching borrowers with lenders, managing our money and reducing the costs of risk.

You begin with the assets you can see: a house, a rack of goods in a warehouse, an electricity line. But you will also want to include many assets that are valuable and even tradable, but which are not things you can easily touch and feel: a copyright, part of the radio spectrum, an entitlement to walk across someone’s land or to emit smoke or extract water. Some assets – such as software – are on the borderline between the tangible and the intangible. Many goods and services have dematerialised. Possession of knowledge is as important as the ownership of physical property. These intangible assets have far greater significance today than Marx imagined (with wideranging implications). But this extension of the concept of capital should not – at least for present purposes – be taken too far. Economists talk about ‘human capital’, derived from education and training, which although not tradable is manifestly valuable.

Perhaps significantly, countries with large financial sectors – such as Britain and the USA – seem to have been slower to innovate in payment systems. Plans to eliminate the use of paper in Britain failed when it became clear that the banks had given little thought to the effect of the change on their customers.8 The revolution will come. Institutional inertia can slow technological change, but can rarely prevent it altogether. The complete dematerialisation of payments potentially deprives governments and established banking institutions of their traditional mechanisms of control: monopoly of currency issue and access to physical records. The invention of the credit card means that it is no longer necessary to have cash or deposits to make a payment, only a certificate of anticipated future resources sufficient to settle the transaction: a change that is potentially the end of money as we have known it.


pages: 411 words: 80,925

What's Mine Is Yours: How Collaborative Consumption Is Changing the Way We Live by Rachel Botsman, Roo Rogers


Airbnb, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, bike sharing scheme, Buckminster Fuller, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, Community Supported Agriculture, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, dematerialisation, disintermediation,, experimental economics, George Akerlof, global village, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, information retrieval, iterative process, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late fees, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, Menlo Park, Network effects, new economy, new new economy, out of africa, Parkinson's law, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, pre–internet, recommendation engine, RFID, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Simon Kuznets, Skype, slashdot, smart grid, South of Market, San Francisco, Stewart Brand, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thorstein Veblen, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, traveling salesman, ultimatum game, Victor Gruen, web of trust, women in the workforce, Zipcar

When a song is downloaded from iTunes or we listen to a track on Spotify (a library of millions of songs hailed as the “twenty-first-century jukebox”), we are experiencing the benefits of “dematerialization.” We are turning products into services, even if we’re not conscious of it. Chris Arkenberg, a regular blogger on technology and culture, wrote, “For the past 20 years, millions upon millions of CDs, DVDs, cases and printed inserts have been consuming resources, fixing materials into unrecoverable or ‘downcycled’ hard media and filling landfills. Apple has fundamentally rewritten this paradigm by dematerializing the content.”3 But the benefits of dematerialization are not just convenience and choice. A recent study conducted by Intel and Microsoft comparing the environmental impact of various forms of music delivery showed that purchasing music digitally on the Internet reduced the carbon footprint and energy usage associated with delivering music to consumers by 40 to 80 percent compared with buying a CD at a retail outlet.4 Another instance of unintended consequences: Most people’s reason for downloading music isn’t environmental friendliness; but nevertheless, downloading is environmentally friendly.

Brown, Lewis Brown, Tim Bruce, Sandra Bruhn, Wilhelm Buckmaster, Jim Burke, Edmund buy now, pay later Cahn, Edgar Campbell, Colin Cardon, Dominique Carlin, George Carnegie, Andrew Carroll, Lewis car sharing cell phones Chameides, David Chase, Robin Chesky, Brian Chevrolet Cialdini, Robert cigarettes, advertising of Clark, Shelby Climate Collaboration Clinton, Bill Clothing Exchange clothing swaps, critical mass in Coase, Ronald coincidence of wants collaboration mass shift from consumerism to stigmas and stereotypes about see also cooperation collaborative consumption: benefits and uses of demographics of evolution and rise of four principles of implications of participant mind-set and role of brand in role of design in rooted in social networks social proof as vital to sustainability as consequence of values redefined by ways to participate in see also mass collaboration collaborative consumption systems designing revenue models for collaborative design longevity as central to collaborative lifestyles coordination in defining of as expanded by Internet peripheral relationships from trust required for commons-based society historical roots of online and off-line as self policing see also belief in the commons; collaborative lifestyles; community communal living community: alternative forms of collaborative individualism balanced with reestablishment of see also collaborative lifestyles; commons-based society Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs Connect & Develop conspicuous consumption see also hyper-consumption consumer choice doctrine of in non-ownership transactions consumer-generated advertising see also Dyfedpotter consumerism doctrine of choice in environmental impact of Etsy as throwback false promises of negative consequences of product lifecycles and PSS as efficient shift to collaboration from social habits of see also hyper-consumerism consumer mind-set: changing of Millennials see also values consumers, dematerialization of Consumption Dreaming Activity cooperation see also collaboration CouchSurfing co-working Cradle to Cradle (Braungart) craigslist Creative Commons credit and credit cards critical mass crowdsourcing see also mass collaboration cul-de-sac communes Cycles Devinci Dallaire, Michel Damour, Jdimytai Daniels, Susan DaveZillion Davis, Bruce Death of a Salesman (Miller) Decisive Moment, The (Lehrer) decoupling Deep Economy (McKibben) deforestation Delanoë, Bertrand Dell, Adam dematerialization design of product lifecycles de Waal, Frans B. M. Diderot, Denis Diderot Effect Dim Dom Diners Club disposable goods mass production of obsolescence and diversified access Dixie Cups dolphins, as collaborative Duvall, Richard Dyfedpotter Easterbrook, Greg eBay Ecology of Commerce, The (Hawken) Economist Eco-Patent Commons Eldredge, Niles Ellmer, Rich enhanced communications environmental impacts: of consumerism of critical mass of dematerialization of redistribution markets of reuse and recycling Etsy extended-life PSS Facebook fairness Fake, Caterina farmers’ markets farming and gardening FarmVille Fast Company Fenton, Casey Fight Club Flanner, Ben Flickr fluidity of use food economy, collaborative shifts in Ford, Bill Ford, Henry Ford Motor Company Forshaw, Rob Fournier, Susan Foursquare Freecycle Freud, Sigmund Friedman, Milton Friedman, Thomas From Counterculture to Cyberculture (Turner) Fromm, Erich FutureShop (Nissanoff) Gallop, Cindy GDP fetishism Gebbia, Joe General Electric General Introduction to Psychoanalysis, A (Freud) General Motors Gettaround Gill, Rosemary Gladwell, Malcolm GNU project Goetz, Thomas GoGet GoLoco Goodwin, Liz Gorenflo, Neal Gould, Stephen Jay Gourdeau, Michel Great Depression Great Pacific Garbage Patch Great Washing Machine Debate Green Party (UK) Growing Chefs Gruen, Victor Gruen Transfer Guiry, Michael Güth, Werner Haidt, Jonathan Hamilton, Clive Hamilton Credit Corporation happiness, linked to consumption see also Haidt, Jonathon Haque, Umair Hardin, Garrett Hastings, Reed Hat Factory Hawken, Paul HearPlanet Heiferman, Scott Heinla, Ahti Hexamer, Mark Hierarchy of Needs Hill, Yvonne Hoffer, Dan Homer, Chris Howe, Jeff Hub Culture Hughes, Chris Humphrey, Stephen Hunnicutt, Benjamin Hunt, Bertha Hunt, Tara Huxley, Aldous Hyatt Rolling hyper-consumption rise of satisfaction and see also consumerism; materialism idling capacity individualism, ownership and Industrial Revolution In the Bubble (Thackara) Intel Interface Internet: bartering efficiently on collaborative lifestyles and community re-establishment via dematerialization of goods via as democratic and decentralized and evolution of collaborative consumption idling capacity and mass collaboration on as modern commons peer-to-peer markets on reputation trail on swap trading expanded by transaction costs cut by iPod Irby, Weldon ITEX iTunes Jarvis, Jeff Jeffreys, Bruce Jevons, William Stanley Jordan, Chris Jumo Just One More Factor Kalin, Rob Kaminsky, Peter Kellogg, W.

Charles Leadbeater, We-Think: Mass Innovation Not Mass Production (Profile Books, 2008), 4. 1. Kevin Kelly, “Better Than Owning,” posted on his blog Technium (January 21, 2009), 2. We discussed the ideas of “use by association” in an interview with Robin Chase, founder of Zipcar, in May 2009. 3. Chris Arkenberg, “Dematerialize: Change the Ways We Relate to Product & Ownership,” posted on his blog urbeingrecorded (March 27, 2009), 4. Christopher L. Weber, Jonathan G. Koomey, and H. Scott Matthews, “The Energy and Climate Impacts of Different Music Delivery Methods,” Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Stanford University (August 17, 2009), 5.


pages: 371 words: 108,317

The Inevitable: Understanding the 12 Technological Forces That Will Shape Our Future by Kevin Kelly


3D printing, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, AI winter, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, bank run, barriers to entry, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bitcoin, blockchain, book scanning, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, cloud computing, computer age, connected car, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, Downton Abbey, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Filter Bubble, Freestyle chess, game design, Google Glasses, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, index card, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, Internet Archive, Internet of things, invention of movable type, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, linked data, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Minecraft, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, placebo effect, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, slashdot, Snapchat, social graph, social web, software is eating the world, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Ted Nelson, the scientific method, transport as a service, two-sided market, Uber for X, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Review

Five deep technological trends accelerate this long-term move toward accessing and away from ownership. Dematerialization The trend in the past 30 years has been to make better stuff using fewer materials. A classic example is the beer can, whose basic shape, size, and function have been unchanged for 80 years. In 1950 a beer can was made of tin-coated steel and it weighed 73 grams. In 1972 lighter, thinner, cleverly shaped aluminum reduced the weight to 21 grams. Further ingenious folds and curves introduced yet more reductions in the raw materials such that today the can weighs only 13 grams, or one fifth of its original weight. And the new cans don’t need a beer can opener. More benefits for just 20 percent of the material. That’s called dematerialization. On average most modern products have undergone dematerialization. Since the 1970s, the weight of the average automobile has fallen by 25 percent.

The ratio of mass needed to generate a unit of GDP has been falling for 150 years, declining even faster in the last two decades. In 1870 it took 4 kilograms of stuff to generate one unit of the U.S.’s GDP. In 1930 it took only one kilogram. Recently the value of GDP per kilogram of inputs rose from $1.64 in 1977 to $3.58 in 2000—a doubling of dematerialization in 23 years. Digital technology accelerates dematerialization by hastening the migration from products to services. The liquid nature of services means they don’t have to be bound to materials. But dematerialization is not just about digital goods. The reason even solid physical goods—like a soda can—can deliver more benefits while inhabiting less material is because their heavy atoms are substituted by weightless bits. The tangible is replaced by intangibles—intangibles like better design, innovative processes, smart chips, and eventually online connectivity—that do the work that more aluminum atoms used to do.

All these questions apply not only to clouds and meshes but to all decentralized systems. • • • In the coming 30 years the tendency toward the dematerialized, the decentralized, the simultaneous, the platform enabled, and the cloud will continue unabated. As long as the costs of communications and computation drop due to advances in technology, these trends are inevitable. They are the result of networks of communication expanding till they are global and ubiquitous, and as the networks deepen they gradually displace matter with intelligence. This grand shift will be true no matter where in the world (whether the United States, China, or Timbuktu) they take place. The underlying mathematics and physics remain. As we increase dematerialization, decentralization, simultaneity, platforms, and the cloud—as we increase all those at once, access will continue to displace ownership.


pages: 368 words: 96,825

Bold: How to Go Big, Create Wealth and Impact the World by Peter H. Diamandis, Steven Kotler


3D printing, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, deskilling, Elon Musk,, Exxon Valdez, fear of failure, Firefox, Galaxy Zoo, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, industrial robot, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, Jono Bacon, Just-in-time delivery, Kickstarter, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, loss aversion, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, Mars Rover, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, minimum viable product, move fast and break things, Narrative Science, Netflix Prize, Network effects, Oculus Rift, optical character recognition, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, performance metric, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, pre–internet, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, rolodex, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, skunkworks, Skype, smart grid, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, telepresence, telepresence robot, Turing test, urban renewal, web application, X Prize, Y Combinator

This list goes on and on. More critically, because demonetization is also deceptive, almost no one within those industries was prepared for such radical change. Dematerialization. While demonetization describes the vanishing of the money once paid for goods and services, dematerialization is about the vanishing of the goods and services themselves. In Kodak’s case, their woes didn’t end with the vanishing of film. Following the invention of the digital camera came the invention of the smartphone—which soon came standard with a high-quality, multi-megapixel camera. Poof! Now you see it; now you don’t. Once those smartphones hit the market, the digital camera itself dematerialized. Not only did it come free with most phones, consumers expected it to come free with most phones. In 1976, Kodak controlled 85 percent of the camera business.

But if the goal is to avoid Kodak’s errors (if you’re a company) or to exploit Kodak’s errors (if you’re an entrepreneur), then you need to have a better understanding of how this change unfolds—and that means understanding the hallmark characteristics of exponentials. To teach these, I have developed a framework called the Six Ds of Exponentials: digitalization, deception, disruption, demonetization, dematerialization, and democratization. These Six Ds are a chain reaction of technological progression, a road map of rapid development that always leads to enormous upheaval and opportunity. So let’s follow the chain reaction. The 6 Ds of Exponentials: Digitalization, Deception, Disruption, Demonetization, Dematerialization, and Democratization Source: Peter H. Diamandis, Digitalization. This idea starts with the fact that culture makes progress cumulative. Innovation occurs as humans share and exchange ideas. I build on your idea; you build on mine.

This kind of disruption is a constant. For anyone running a business—and this goes for both start-ups and legacy companies—the options are few: Either disrupt yourself or be disrupted by someone else. The Last Three Ds Digitalization, deception, and disruption have radically reshaped our world, but the chain reaction we’re tracking is cumulative. Thus the three Ds that follow—demonetization, dematerialization, and democratization—are far more potent than their predecessors. Demonetization. This means the removal of money from the equation. Consider Kodak. Their legacy business evaporated when people stopped buying film. Who needs film when there are megapixels? Suddenly one of Kodak’s once-unassailable revenue streams came free of charge with any digital camera. In one sense, this transformation is the downstream version of what former Wired editor-in-chief Chris Anderson meant in his book Free.


pages: 323 words: 90,868

The Wealth of Humans: Work, Power, and Status in the Twenty-First Century by Ryan Avent


3D printing, Airbnb, American energy revolution, autonomous vehicles, Bakken shale, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, BRICs, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, collective bargaining, computer age, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, deskilling, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, Edward Glaeser, Erik Brynjolfsson, eurozone crisis, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Ford paid five dollars a day, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, future of work, gig economy, global supply chain, global value chain, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, indoor plumbing, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, invisible hand, Jacquard loom, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph-Marie Jacquard, knowledge economy, low skilled workers, lump of labour, Lyft, manufacturing employment, means of production, new economy, performance metric,, price mechanism, quantitative easing, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, reshoring, rising living standards, Robert Gordon, Ronald Coase, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, single-payer health, software is eating the world, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, The Nature of the Firm, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, very high income, working-age population

Advanced manufacturing techniques were on the rise, leading to the automation of large numbers of jobs in automotive plants, to give but one example. Computers were present in the workplace in a way they had never been before. Telephone calls became cheaper and industry took its first big steps towards the use of mobile phones. The result was a world that was far more globalized, but also one in which the production and trade of rich economies became ‘dematerialized’. But that makes it sound like the boats full of shipping containers crossing the oceans held nothing but vapour. In fact, dematerialization boiled down to the increase in the share of the value of the things being produced that was attributable to services.11 Cars crossed the ocean, but much of the value of the cars being produced derived from the designers and engineers and coders who made the car run much more efficiently, reliably and safely than it had in the past.

The classic example of the phenomenon is the iPod: while components for the iPod were sourced across several countries and final assembly took place in China, most of the value accrued to American firms and workers, and the largest share to Apple itself. Apple did none of the manufacturing, but it did do the design and engineering work. It created the knowledge embodied in the product, which was the most valuable part of it.12 The dematerialization of production represents the rise of know-how and the increased importance of knowing what can be done and how it should be done, relative to the doing itself. In a dematerialized economy, information flow is everything. Social capital is the human coding that governs the flow of information. It can be difficult to distinguish several closely related but fundamentally distinct concepts relevant to work and economic growth. Human capital, for example, is valuable knowledge, accumulated through the investment of personal time and energy, but which is not especially context-dependent: a clear understanding of algebra, say, is useful in many different contexts.

Historically, successful economic development virtually always meant industrialization. It is not clear whether there is an alternative strategy. Supply-chain trade, which allows low-wage economies to manufacture goods without building the broad set of capabilities once associated with industrialization, leaves poorer countries vulnerable to the premature loss of industry as wages rise. But the increasing dematerialization of economic activity described in Chapter 6 is also undercutting the industry-based approach to development that was the closest thing to a reliable ticket out of poverty in the era before hyperglobalization. The value in the goods and services we trade and consume is increasingly derived from the knowledge used to create or provide them, rather than the material or capital equipment or labour used in their production.


pages: 309 words: 78,361

Plenitude: The New Economics of True Wealth by Juliet B. Schor


Asian financial crisis, big-box store, business climate, carbon footprint, cleantech, Community Supported Agriculture, credit crunch, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, deskilling, Edward Glaeser,, Gini coefficient, global village, income inequality, income per capita, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, life extension, McMansion, new economy, peak oil, pink-collar, post-industrial society, prediction markets, purchasing power parity, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, sharing economy, Simon Kuznets, single-payer health, smart grid, The Chicago School, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, too big to fail, transaction costs, Zipcar

Some consumer theorists argue that the emergence of a symbolically driven economy implies that when people crave images and social meaning, the materiality of goods becomes unimportant, which in turn can produce dematerialization. The idea is that we consume images, rather than material products. Virtual possessions in the computer environment Second Life can substitute for offline “stuff.” Others predict the material impact of spending will be reduced through technological change. These are comforting thoughts, because material impact is what drives ecological degradation. The consumer theorists are certainly right about one thing. Symbolic value has become far more important. Expanded expenditures on advertising and marketing, the growth of brand value as a corporate asset, and the emergence of fast fashion are all evidence for that view. But, in opposition to theorists of dematerialization, the materiality paradox suggests that the rising importance of symbolic value increases, rather than reduces, pressure on the planet.

Improvements in efficiency and technology have been unable to outstrip the rising material volume of accelerated acquisition. And while weight-reducing innovation is occurring in some products—electronics and camping equipment are obvious cases—not everything is getting lighter. Vehicles, refrigerators, and homes got bigger and heavier. The promise of dematerialization also didn’t take into account the enormous expansion of demand for materials from what has come to be known as the Global South, the countries outside the wealthy Western nations that lack the funds to purchase the latest and most resource-efficient technologies. More generally, dematerialization has been stymied by the failure to incorporate ecological costs, especially for fossil fuels. Western Europe’s relative success in containing material flows is due to smart energy policies that raised taxes and reduced consumption. North America, with its subsidies for coal, oil, and gas, has been far more voracious.

Perhaps the globalization of production partly explains this. It’s easier to believe we’ve left the manufacturing era if sooty factories and mining operations no longer dot the landscape. But examining the data on material flows through the economy and across the globe reveals a far less comforting picture than one gets from the talk about a postmaterial future. Material Economics In contrast to predictions of dematerialization, the volume of materials used globally, as well as in each individual region of the world, is rising. The extraction and transformation of resources like fuels, wood, sand, gravel, minerals, and biomass create the pulse of an economy. Until recently, scholars paid relatively little attention to how these materials move through and across economies. But that is changing. One of the most interesting metrics is called material flow analysis.


pages: 417 words: 109,367

The End of Doom: Environmental Renewal in the Twenty-First Century by Ronald Bailey


3D printing, additive manufacturing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, autonomous vehicles, Cass Sunstein, Climatic Research Unit, Commodity Super-Cycle, conceptual framework, corporate governance, credit crunch, David Attenborough, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, diversified portfolio, double helix, energy security, failed state, financial independence, Gary Taubes, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, invisible hand, knowledge economy, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, peak oil, phenotype, planetary scale, price stability, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, rent-seeking, Stewart Brand, Tesla Model S, trade liberalization, University of East Anglia, uranium enrichment, women in the workforce, yield curve

pollution turning point: Anil Markandya et al., “Empirical Analysis of National Income and SO2 Emissions in Selected European Countries.” Environmental and Resource Economics 35 (2006): 221–257. “If consumers dematerialize”: Jesse H. Ausubel and Paul Waggoner, “Dematerialization: Variety, Caution, and Persistence,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 105.35 (September 2, 2008): 12774–12779. modern technology enables: Vaclav Smil, Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization. New York: Wiley, 2013. the amount of energy: Ramez Naam, The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet. Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2013. significant gains in energy productivity: Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy, “History of Energy Efficiency.”

The ASE study also cited data from the energy conservation think tank the Rocky Mountain Institute suggesting that “if energy productivity had remained constant since 1970 [when about 68 quadrillion Btu (Q or quad) were consumed], the U.S. would have consumed 207.3 quadrillion Btu in 2007, when it actually only consumed 101.6 quads.” A quad is roughly equivalent to 170 million barrels of oil. While the ever more efficient use of energy and materials results in relative dematerialization—less stuff yielding more value—the overall trend has been to extract more and more materials from the earth and the biosphere. “There can be no doubt that relative dematerialization has been the key (and not infrequently the dominant) factor promoting often massive expansion of material consumption,” writes Smil. “Less has thus been an enabling agent of more.” For example, the 11 million cell phones in use in 1990 each bulked about 21 ounces for total overall mass of 7,000 tons.

The difference is that the environmental movement uses scare stories to raise money for their campaigns: no crisis, no money, no movement. In other words, Americans believe that air pollution is getting worse, as cynical as it sounds, because activists make a living peddling fear. Doing More with Less Jesse Ausubel, head of the Program for the Human Environment at Rockefeller University, and his colleagues point out: “If consumers dematerialize their intensity of use of goods and technicians produce the goods with a lower intensity of impact, people can grow in numbers and affluence without a proportionally greater environmental impact.” In fact, that is happening. Modern economic growth is generally the result of constantly figuring out how to do more with less. University of Manitoba natural scientist Vaclav Smil points out that modern technology enables humanity to create ever more value using less and less material.


pages: 259 words: 73,193

The End of Absence: Reclaiming What We've Lost in a World of Constant Connection by Michael Harris


4chan, Albert Einstein, AltaVista, Andrew Keen, augmented reality, Burning Man, cognitive dissonance, crowdsourcing, dematerialisation,, Filter Bubble, Firefox, Google Glasses, informal economy, information retrieval, invention of movable type, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, James Watt: steam engine, Jaron Lanier, jimmy wales, Kevin Kelly, Loebner Prize, Marshall McLuhan, McMansion, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, pre–internet, Republic of Letters, Silicon Valley, Skype, Snapchat, social web, Steve Jobs, the medium is the message, The Wisdom of Crowds, Turing test

But we should not forget that often in the scientific discovery process the greatest challenges are to ask the right question rather than answer a well-posed question and to correlate facts that no one thought of connecting. The existence of many available facts somewhere in the infinite ocean of the Internet is no help in such an endeavor. Others argue that future generations will learn to make new connections with facts that aren’t held in their heads, that dematerialized knowledge can still lead to innovation. As we inevitably off-load media content to the cloud—storing our books, our television programs, our videos of the trip to Taiwan, and photos of Grandma’s ninetieth birthday, all on a nameless server—can we happily dematerialize our mind’s stores, too? Perhaps we should side with philosopher Lewis Mumford, who insisted in The Myth of the Machine that “information retrieving,” however expedient, is simply no substitute for the possession of knowledge accrued through personal and direct labor.

When you have one hundred thousand students reading and editing the same Wiki lecture notes, the result is a higher quality of text than I could create on my own. Bugs are rapidly squashed.” I ask whether the same principle that works for his engineering classes would work for classes on art history or creative writing. Ng pauses for a beat before replying: “I haven’t seen any evidence that would suggest otherwise.” Nevertheless, MOOCs and the attendant dematerialization of the education process are creating a certain crisis of authenticity. A large Pew Research Center survey found that most people believe we’ll see a mass adoption of “distance learning” by 2020, and many are wondering whether that will brush aside the sun-dappled campuses, shared coffees, and lawn lolling that pre-Internet students considered so essential to their twenty-something lives. There are also more concrete points to consider.

What’s interesting to me about cabinets of curiosities and the method of loci is that they are both attempts—devised when the idea of memory existing in “the cloud” would have seemed preposterous—to pull a world’s worth of material into a small, navigable space, one that is privately owned. One can imagine the necessary memory palaces growing larger and larger with each generation, wings and turrets getting stapled onto the sides as we attempt to hold ever more preposterous loads of information. Similarly, the cabinets of curiosities buckle beneath the weight of our discoveries. Both endeavors, though, are very different from the dematerialized and unholdable “cloud” memories championed by Wikipedia and Google. To remember, goes the earlier assumption, you must first digest the outside world and carry it around with you. This assumption pervaded our thinking until very recently. Consider the case of Sherlock Holmes, who described his own prodigious (and pre-Internet) memory in his debut appearance, an 1887 novel called A Study in Scarlet.


pages: 219 words: 63,495

50 Future Ideas You Really Need to Know by Richard Watson


23andMe, 3D printing, access to a mobile phone, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, BRICs, Buckminster Fuller, call centre, clean water, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, computer age, computer vision, crowdsourcing, dark matter, dematerialisation, digital Maoism, Elon Musk, energy security, failed state, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, germ theory of disease, happiness index / gross national happiness, hive mind, hydrogen economy, Internet of things, Jaron Lanier, life extension, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, natural language processing, Network effects, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peak oil, personalized medicine, phenotype, precision agriculture, profit maximization, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Florida, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, semantic web, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, smart transportation, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, supervolcano, telepresence, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Malthus, Turing test, urban decay, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, women in the workforce, working-age population, young professional

the condensed idea More people living alone timeline 2014 40 percent of British adults live alone 2015 Tax benefits for grandparents living with grandchildren 2016 Walmart discontinues “family packs” in USA 2017 Banks offer 100-year cross-generational mortgages 2018 60 percent of 30-year-olds still living at home 2019 Social networks start to establish physical communities 2024 Social robots in 30 percent of single-person households 2026 People living alone own 90 percent of all pets in China 27 Dematerialization The global economy is becoming dematerialized. What this means is that many things that have, or create, value no longer exist in a physical domain. The currency of this new economy is still money, but it’s digital money generated by ideas and information. Furthermore, this shift from physical manufacturing to digital services and virtual experiences has barely begun. Digitalization represents a significant shift in terms of how things are made, and it’s changing how, where and what people consume.

ISBN 978-1-62365-195-4 Distributed in the United States and Canada by Random House Publisher Services c/o Random House, 1745 Broadway New York, NY 10019 Contents Introduction POLITICS & POWER 01 Ubiquitous surveillance 02 Digital democracy 03 Cyber & drone warfare 04 Water wars 05 Wane of the West ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT 06 Resource depletion 07 Beyond fossil fuels 08 Precision agriculture 09 Population change 10 Geo-engineering THE URBAN LANDSCAPE 11 Megacities 12 Local energy networks 13 Smart cities 14 Next-generation transport 15 Extra-legal & feral slums TECHNOLOGICAL CHANGE 16 An internet of things 17 Quantum & DNA computing 18 Nanotechnology 19 Gamification 20 Artificial Intelligence HEALTH & WELL-BEING 21 Personalized genomics 22 Regenerative medicine 23 Remote monitoring 24 User-generated medicine 25 Medical data mining SOCIAL & ECONOMIC DIMENSIONS 26 Living alone 27 Dematerialization 28 Income polarization 29 What (& where) is work? 30 The pursuit of happiness TOWARD A POSTHUMAN SOCIETY 31 Human beings version 2.0 32 Brain–machine interfaces 33 Avatar assistants 34 Uncanny Valley 35 Transhumanism SPACE: THE FINAL FRONTIER 36 Alt.Space & space tourism 37 Solar energy from space 38 Moon mining 39 Space elevators 40 Alien intelligence DOOMSDAY SCENARIOS 41 Cell phone radiation 42 Biohazards & plagues 43 Nuclear terrorism 44 Volcanoes & quakes 45 The sixth mass extinction UNANSWERED QUESTIONS 46 The Singularity 47 Me or we?

Moreover, digitalization means that jobs can be broken down into smaller parts, which people can then bid to work on from across the globe, although this often means that price, alongside quality, is driven down to the point where skills become mere commodities. One issue to watch seriously is what this all means for intellectual property. As more and more becomes digitalized and virtualized, there is greater opportunity for abuse, although I would expect the area of copyright eventually to catch up with this. Another example of dematerialization is cloud computing—rather than physically owning or storing something at a set physical location you can simply pay to gain access to it “from the air” on any device you like whenever you need it. This might be business information or it could be films, games, photographs and many other items that used to be physically owned and kept by individuals or institutions. Hence, a more general shift away from individual ownership to shared access, which, coincidently, links with a shift from products in general to the more ethereal world of experiences.


pages: 476 words: 132,042

What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Buckminster Fuller,, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, charter city, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, computer vision, Danny Hillis, dematerialisation, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping,, Exxon Valdez, George Gilder, gravity well, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, John Conway, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, life extension, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, out of africa, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, Picturephone, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, refrigerator car, Richard Florida, Silicon Valley, silicon-based life, Skype, speech recognition, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Ted Kaczynski, the built environment, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

Today, 40 percent of U.S. exports are services (intangibles) rather than manufactured goods (atoms). We are steadily substituting intangible design, flexibility, innovation, and smartness for rigid, heavy atoms. In a very real sense our entry into a service- and idea-based economy is a continuation of a trend that began at the big bang. The Dematerialization of U.S. Exports. In billions of dollars, the total annual amount of both goods and services exported from the United States between 1960 and 2004. Dematerialization is not the only way in which exotropy advances. The technium’s ability to compress information into highly refined structures is also a triumph of the immaterial. For instance, science (starting with Newton) has been able to abstract a massive amount of evidence about the movement of any kind of object into a very simple law, such as F = ma.

Likewise, Einstein reduced enormous numbers of empirical observations into the very condensed container of E = mc2. Every scientific theory and formula—whether about climate, aerodynamics, ant behavior, cell division, mountain uplift, or mathematics—is in the end a compression of information. In this way, our libraries packed with peer-reviewed, cross-indexed, annotated, equation-riddled journal articles are great mines of concentrated dematerialization. But just as an academic book about the technology of carbon fiber is a compression of the intangible, so are carbon fibers themselves. They contain far more than carbon. The philosopher Martin Heidegger suggested that technology was an “unhiding”—a revealing—of an inner reality. That inner reality is the immaterial nature of anything manufactured. Despite the technium’s reputation for dumping hardware and material gizmos into our laps, the technium is the most intangible and immaterial process yet unleashed.

Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 67 “precisely because it evades chemical imperatives”: Paul Davies. (1999) The Fifth Miracle: The Search for the Origin and Meaning of Life. New York: Simon & Schuster, p. 256. 67 “financial and legal advice, and the like”: Richard Fisher. (2008) “Selling Our Services to the World (with an Ode to Chicago).” Chicago Council on Global Affairs, Chicago: Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. 68 The Dematerialization of U.S. Exports: Data from “U.S. International Trade in Goods and Services Balance of Payments Basis, 1960-2004.” U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration. 69 rather than manufactured goods (atoms): Robert E. Lipsey. (2009) “Measuring International Trade in Services.” International Trade in Services and Intangibles in the Era of Globalization, eds.


pages: 292 words: 85,151

Exponential Organizations: Why New Organizations Are Ten Times Better, Faster, and Cheaper Than Yours (And What to Do About It) by Salim Ismail, Yuri van Geest


23andMe, 3D printing, Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Baxter: Rethink Robotics, bioinformatics, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, Burning Man, business intelligence, business process, call centre, chief data officer, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive bias, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, corporate social responsibility, cross-subsidies, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, Dean Kamen, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, distributed ledger, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk,, ethereum blockchain, Galaxy Zoo, game design, Google Glasses, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, gravity well, hiring and firing, Hyperloop, industrial robot, Innovator's Dilemma, Internet of things, Iridium satellite, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Law of Accelerating Returns, Lean Startup, life extension, loose coupling, loss aversion, Lyft, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, means of production, minimum viable product, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, offshore financial centre, p-value, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel, prediction markets, profit motive, publish or perish, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, risk tolerance, Ronald Coase, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, speech recognition, stealth mode startup, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, subscription business, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, telepresence, telepresence robot, Tony Hsieh, transaction costs, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, urban planning, WikiLeaks, winner-take-all economy, X Prize, Y Combinator

Lately, I’ve begun to teach about what I call the 6Ds: Digitized, Deceptive, Disruptive, Dematerialize, Demonetize and Democratize. Any technology that becomes Digitized (our first “D”) enters a period of Deceptive growth. During the early period of exponentials, the doubling of small numbers (0.01, 0.02, 0.04, 0.08) all basically looks like zero. But once its hits the knee of the curve, you are only ten doublings away from 1,000x, twenty doublings get you to 1,000,000x, and thirty doublings get you a 1,000,000,000x increase. Such a rapid rise describes the third D, Disruptive. And, as you shall see in the pages of this book, once a technology become disruptive it Dematerializes—which means that you no longer physically carry around a GPS, video camera or flashlight. All of them have dematerialized as apps onto your smartphone. And once that happens, the product or service Demonetizes.

Exponential Organizations Let’s begin with a definition: An Exponential Organization (ExO) is one whose impact (or output) is disproportionally large—at least 10x larger—compared to its peers because of the use of new organizational techniques that leverage accelerating technologies. Rather than using armies of people or large physical plants, Exponential Organizations are built upon information technologies that take what was once physical in nature and dematerialize it into the digital, on-demand world. Everywhere you look you see this digital transformation taking place: In 2012, 93 percent of U.S. transactions were already digital; physical equipment companies like Nikon are seeing their cameras rapidly being supplanted by the cameras on smartphones; map and atlas makers were replaced by Magellan GPS systems, which themselves were replaced by smartphone sensors; and libraries of books and music have been turned into phone and e-reader apps.

Every one of us, with or without skills, becomes a master designer and manufacturer, in much the same way that Microsoft Word makes us all perfect spellers. Level III: As mentioned in the book, in this decade the number of digitally connected people on Earth will grow from two billion in 2010 to at least five billion by 2020. The addition of three billion new minds entering the global economy will have a powerful impact, but importantly, three billion people will be fully empowered with dematerialized, demonetized and democratized technologies ranging from mobile phones to Google to online 3D printing, AI techniques, medical diagnostics and synthetic biology. They will have access to technologies that only a decade ago were only available to the largest corporations and government labs. What will that enable? What will they build? Level IV: We have seen that the rate of innovation on Earth increases as a direct effect of people concentrating in cities (moving from the rural areas).


pages: 306 words: 78,893

After the New Economy: The Binge . . . And the Hangover That Won't Go Away by Doug Henwood


accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, capital controls, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, credit crunch, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, deskilling, ending welfare as we know it, feminist movement, full employment, gender pay gap, George Gilder, glass ceiling, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, half of the world's population has never made a phone call, income inequality, indoor plumbing, Internet Archive, job satisfaction, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, labor-force participation, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, manufacturing employment, means of production, minimum wage unemployment, Naomi Klein, new economy, occupational segregation,, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ralph Nader, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, statistical model, structural adjustment programs, Telecommunications Act of 1996, telemarketer, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, total factor productivity, union organizing, War on Poverty, women in the workforce, working poor, Y2K

Apparendy the Asian crisis of 1997, like the Gulf War, didn't reaUy happen. But the weightlessness discourse infects even highly admirable w^riters like Fredric Jameson, who argues in his essay "Culture and Finance Capital" (1998) that capital has become both deterritoriaUzed and dematerial-ized in this "globaHzed" era. AH the weighdess postindustrial nostrums are represented: "profit without production"—in fact, the disappearance of production, except for "the two prodigious American industries of food and entertainment"—and "globaHzation," defined as "rather a kind of cyberspace in which money capital has reached its ultimate dematerial-ization," as messages which pass instantaneously firom one nodal point to another across the former globe, the former material world. GlobaHzation here becomes the triumph of nothingness, and finance capital becomes "deterritorialized," and "like cyberspace can live on its own internal me-taboHsm and circulate without any reference to an older type of content."


pages: 700 words: 201,953

The Social Life of Money by Nigel Dodd


accounting loophole / creative accounting, bank run, banking crisis, banks create money, Bernie Madoff, bitcoin, blockchain, borderless world, Bretton Woods, BRICs, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, computer age, conceptual framework, credit crunch, cross-subsidies, David Graeber, debt deflation, dematerialisation, disintermediation, eurozone crisis, fiat currency, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial repression, floating exchange rates, Fractional reserve banking, German hyperinflation, Goldman Sachs: Vampire Squid, Hyman Minsky, illegal immigration, informal economy, interest rate swap, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kula ring, laissez-faire capitalism, land reform, late capitalism, liquidity trap, litecoin, London Interbank Offered Rate, M-Pesa, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, mental accounting, microcredit, mobile money, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, paradox of thrift, payday loans, Peace of Westphalia, peer-to-peer lending, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, postnationalism / post nation state, predatory finance, price mechanism, price stability, quantitative easing, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, remote working, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Satoshi Nakamoto, Scientific racism, seigniorage, Skype, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, trade liberalization, transaction costs, Wave and Pay, WikiLeaks, Wolfgang Streeck, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

What makes Goux’s approach novel and intriguing, however, is its use of the categories of the real, imaginary, and symbolic (drawn from the work of the psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan) to describe this sequence of stages: the real is the state of nature from which we have been severed because of our entry into language; the imaginary is the mirror stage, in which the child misrecognizes itself; and the symbolic is the order of language, through which the rules and dictates of society are given. Goux describes the era of financial capitalism in terms of the third stage, whereby society is dominated by the logic of the token, or the purely symbolic (Goux 1994). According to him, the dematerialization of money therefore reflects deeper changes in the relationship between language and the world, or the symbolic order. It is no accident that money’s dematerialization and the emergence of a “radically nominalist” conception of monetary media have coincided historically with a deepening preoccupation with language theory, a profound concern with the philosophical status of language, and “an unprecedented rupture in the mode of representation” (Goux 1999: 115). The present-day monetary economy has common cause with philosophical idealism: both belong to the same dominant societal mode of symbolizing.

After de Saussure, language theory sought to come to terms with an understanding of meaning as entirely relational: words mean something not because they name things but because they occupy a position within a system of differences. Likewise, in monetary theory the question of value in general, and monetary value in particular, has been progressively wrenched away from an underlying substance: money’s value has increasingly been understood as relational, not intrinsic. The de Saussurian characterization of money comes into its own in the age of dematerialization, and this notion is demonstrated with particular clarity in the work of Goux. Goux’s work on money combines the de Saussurian, or structuralist, approach to language, as used in anthropology, psychoanalysis, and literary analysis,35 with an idiosyncratic interpretation of Marxism, focusing especially on Marx’s account of the genesis of the money form in Capital.36 Goux’s thesis is that, through money, we can understand society’s dominant mode of symbolizing.

Goux tries to capture this correspondence through the notion that in any given society there exists a mode of symbolizing, which he calls its symbology (Goux 1990: 113). This symbology is the structure through which all processes of exchange and valuation are constituted.37 Thus the connection between money and language is not simply a useful tool of theoretical comparison (as it is in de Saussure’s work, for example) but a “real sociohistorical occurrence” (Goux 1990: 96). On the face of it, this is conventional narrative of dematerialization. Goux describes three stages (from gold, through paper, to the era of credit money) until money emerges as a “pure” token with no connection to an underlying material substance (Goux 1994). What makes Goux’s approach novel and intriguing, however, is its use of the categories of the real, imaginary, and symbolic (drawn from the work of the psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan) to describe this sequence of stages: the real is the state of nature from which we have been severed because of our entry into language; the imaginary is the mirror stage, in which the child misrecognizes itself; and the symbolic is the order of language, through which the rules and dictates of society are given.


pages: 317 words: 107,653

A Place of My Own: The Architecture of Daydreams by Michael Pollan


A Pattern Language, back-to-the-land, Benoit Mandelbrot, dematerialisation, Frank Gehry, interchangeable parts, Marshall McLuhan, Mercator projection, place-making, Stewart Brand, telemarketer, The Great Good Place, urban renewal

It fell to Frank Lloyd Wright to realize Thoreau’s dream of a centrifugal house without forsaking the satisfactions of shelter that Bachelard describes. Wright designed houses with strong, compelling centers (“It comforted me,” he said in accounting for his love of massive central hearths, “to see the fire burning deep in the solid masonry of the house itself”) that nevertheless unfolded outward, pushing into the surrounding landscape and dematerializing their walls—metaphorically scraping off Thoreau’s regretted plaster in order to admit nature once again, though on our own terms now. Outdoor nature for Bachelard is something the archetypal house girds against, or offers refuge from. For Thoreau and Wright and generations of American house builders, the land is what the house wants to embrace. It must have been some such sense of American space that compelled me to situate my dream of a hut out in the woods, first as a child and then, some thirty years on, as a parent-to-be.

Turning to the picture of the Caribbean porch with the thatched roof and nonexistent walls, he talked about the sharp juxtaposition of the low, sheltering roof line and the wide open spaces underneath it. “Isn’t this fantastic? It reminds me of putting the top down on a convertible, that explosion of light and space you get the moment the roof flies up, only here it’s the walls that vanish. Makes me think of Frank Lloyd Wright, too, the way his strong roofs meet those light, dematerialized walls so that the space seems to race outward, right through them. We could do something like that.” I realized that the reason vernacular shacks and barns could cohabit so happily in Charlie’s booklet with examples of sophisticated architecture is that, for him, when they work, both draw on the same elemental feelings about space. I asked Charlie about this. “People do seem to have some very basic responses to places and kinds of spaces,” he said, picking his words with care as he stepped gingerly out onto the ice of architectural theory.

The primitive hut had said that the forms and meaning of architecture were derived from nature; House VI was a virtuoso display of architecture as the pure product of culture—of whatever sign system the architect chose to deploy. The primitive hut said that architectural structure was an expression of its materials and how it was made; both the structure and materials of House VI were perfectly silent; there’s no way to tell that there’s a conventional balloon frame under the building’s “dematerialized” surface, a surface that at various times has been clad in stucco and acrylic. The purpose of the primitive hut was to shelter us, to minister to our needs; House VI seeks to destabilize the notion of shelter, to shake us out of our needs. In fact these two contending dreams of architecture were equally unreal; this much now seemed clear. To claim that nature was the source of all architectural truth was just as absurd as the postmodernist’s claim that architecture rested on no foundation whatsoever, that it was culture all the way down.


pages: 350 words: 100,822

Limits to Growth: The 30-Year Update by Donella H. Meadows, Jörgen Randers, Dennis L. Meadows


agricultural Revolution, Buckminster Fuller, clean water, Climatic Research Unit, conceptual framework, dematerialisation, demographic transition, financial independence, game design, income per capita, informal economy, means of production, new economy, purchasing power parity, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, University of East Anglia, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Review

(Source: Klein Goldewijk and Battjes; U.S. Bureau of Mines; USGS; U.S. CRB.) There are signs that the world is learning the lesson. Figure 3-17 shows the recent world production history of steel. Something happened in the mid-1970s to interrupt what had been smooth exponential growth trends. There are several theories to explain that reduction in growth rate. All of them appear partially correct. • The emerging trend toward "dematerialization" was driven by economic incentives and the technological possibility to do more with less. • The oil price shocks in 1973 and again in 1979 made the prices of energy-intensive metals rise sharply, strengthening the incentives to save on energy and materials in all applications. • The same higher prices, plus environmental laws and solid waste disposal problems, encouraged materials recycling

But the data presented in chapter 3 show no indication of the whole global economy achieving such gains so quickly. If nothing else would prevent such rapid changes, the lifetime of capital plants-the time it takes to replace or retrofit the vehicle fleet, building stock, and installed machinery of the global economy-and the ability of existing capital to produce that much new capital so fast make this "dematerialization" scenario unbelievable to us. The difficulties of achieving this infinity scenario would be magnified in "real life" by the many political and bureaucratic constraints preventing the price system from signaling that the needed technologies can be profitable. We include this run here not because we think shows you a credible future of the "real world," but because we think it tells you something about World3 and something about modeling.

To change the system so that it is sustainable and manageable, the same structural features have to be reversed: • Growth in population and capital must be slowed and eventually stopped by human decisions enacted in anticipation of future problems rather than by feedback from external limits that have already been exceeded. • Throughputs of energy and materials must be reduced by drastically increasing the efficiency of capital. In other words, the ecological footprint must be reduced through dematerialization (less use of energy and materials to obtain the same output), increased equity (redistribution from the rich to the poor of the benefits from using energy and materials), and lifestyle changes (lowering demands or shifting consumption towards goods and services that have fewer negative impacts on the physical environment). • Sources and sinks must be conserved and, where possible, restored


pages: 102 words: 33,345

24/7: Late Capitalism and the Ends of Sleep by Jonathan Crary


augmented reality, Berlin Wall, dematerialisation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Fall of the Berlin Wall, invention of movable type, Kevin Kelly, late capitalism, megacity, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, V2 rocket

Everywhere one encounters the complacent and preposterous assumption that these systemic patterns are “here to stay,” and that such levels of technological consumption are extendable to a planetary population of seven going on ten billion. Many who celebrate the transformative potential of communication networks are oblivious to the oppressive forms of human labor and environmental ravages on which their fantasies of virtuality and dematerialization depend. Even among the plural voices affirming that “another world is possible,” there is often the expedient misconception that economic justice, mitigation of climate change, and egalitarian social relations can somehow occur alongside the continued existence of corporations like Google, Apple, and General Electric. Challenges to these delusions encounter intellectual policing of many kinds.

One endlessly consumed products that inevitably failed to fulfill their original, if fraudulent, promises. At present, however, the idea of a divergence between a human world and the operation of global systems with the capacity to occupy every waking hour of one’s life seems dated and inapt. Now there are numerous pressures for individuals to reimagine and refigure themselves as being of the same consistency and values as the dematerialized commodities and social connections in which they are immersed so extensively. Reification has proceeded to the point where the individual has to invent a self-understanding that optimizes or facilitates their participation in digital milieus and speeds. Paradoxically, this means impersonating the inert and the inanimate. These particular terms might seem deeply unsuited to providing an account of emulation and identification with the shifting and intangible events and processes with which one becomes technologically engaged.


pages: 412 words: 113,782

Business Lessons From a Radical Industrialist by Ray C. Anderson


Albert Einstein, banking crisis, carbon footprint, centralized clearinghouse, clean water, cleantech, corporate social responsibility, Credit Default Swap, dematerialisation, distributed generation, energy security, Exxon Valdez, fear of failure, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Indoor air pollution, intermodal, invisible hand, late fees, Mahatma Gandhi, market bubble, music of the spheres, Negawatt, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, renewable energy credits, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, six sigma, supply-chain management, urban renewal, Y2K

DuPont puzzled out an answer, and to everyone’s amazement, that 4 percent reduction freed up enough equivalent energy on an annualized basis (nega-energy) to run our entire factory for half a year. Today the actual reduction in nylon for that plant’s products averages 17 percent, and the nega-energy generated each year (to the earth’s great benefit) will run that factory for more than two years, for in the meantime the factory has also reduced its energy usage. Strictly speaking, this is not waste control. This is a very careful redesign effort, and it has its own name: Dematerialization through Conscious Design. Incidentally, we do not count our suppliers’ nega-energy in our GHG reductions either. I began by saying that some folks still think there is no business case for sustainability. But it seems to me that there is no business case to be made for ignoring sustainability. Here’s the thing. As you just saw, it is not only imaginable but quite possible that a serious waste-control program will not only pay its own way, but can also offset much—perhaps even all—the energy used at your manufacturing facility.

Our Southern California operation is even reactivating an old abandoned siding, so they can use rail day in and day out. And since transportation costs and energy are both dependent on the weight of the goods being shipped, all efforts to reduce the weight of carpet tiles to save materials and energy, while maintaining—or improving—their performance, pay off in lower transportation costs, too. Dematerialization by conscious design works to reduce transportation impacts as well as upstream energy usage. Our principal designer, David Oakey, has spearheaded this effort. “I was a design consultant for a decade before coming to Interface,” said Oakey. “And while most designers concentrate on the look and feel of their creations, I was just as interested in combining the aesthetics with finding ways to make my clients more profitable.

When that number is applied theoretically across the entire product line, it turns out that eliminating just 4 percent of the nylon used each year saves enough energy (not used by DuPont) to run the designer’s entire factory for half a year. I have seen that savings grow over the years, until that theoretical 4 percent reduction now stands at a real 17 percent, and it even has a name all its own: dematerialization through conscious design, a concept with far-reaching implications for a voracious industrial system. I’ve seen a multidisciplinary team of engineers, production people, and product designers collaborate to find a new way to produce patterned carpet. The old way was to print the pattern on a plain-colored carpet base. But printing was very water intensive and required harsh dyes, steam (think energy) to fix the dyes, washing to remove the excess (where the dyes become chemically hazardous waste), energy-intensive drying to remove the wash water, and chemical treatment to the wash water and dyes before they could be released into a river.


pages: 212 words: 68,754

Thinking in Numbers by Daniel Tammet


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Anton Chekhov, computer age, dematerialisation, Edmond Halley, four colour theorem, Georg Cantor, index card, Isaac Newton, Paul Erdős, Searching for Interstellar Communications

A museum for contemporary art, it had sent me a preview invitation to its upcoming exhibition ‘Mathematics: A Beautiful Elsewhere’: the first in Europe to showcase the work of major living mathematicians in collaboration with world-class artists. The timing seemed doubly auspicious: October 2011 happened to be the two-hundredth anniversary of Galois’s birth. The museum stands in the fourteenth arrondissement at the lower end of one of the long boulevards that diagram the city. It is an ostentatiously modern building, all shiny glass and geometric steel, bright and spacious, an example of ‘dematerialised’ architecture. Reflected in the glass, scraggly trees denuded of their summer foliage appeared twice. I looked up at the symmetrical branches as I passed and entered. Mathematics and contemporary art may seem to make an odd pair. Many people think of mathematics as something akin to pure logic, cold reckoning, soulless computation. But as the mathematician and educator Paul Lockhart has put it, ‘There is nothing as dreamy and poetic, nothing as radical, subversive, and psychedelic, as mathematics.’


pages: 369 words: 98,776

The God Species: Saving the Planet in the Age of Humans by Mark Lynas


back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Haber-Bosch Process, ice-free Arctic, invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, moral hazard, Negawatt, New Urbanism, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, peak oil, planetary scale, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, special drawing rights, Stewart Brand, University of East Anglia

This differential is helping to reduce global inequality too, in stark contrast to the fears expressed a few years ago by the anti-globalization movement. But even in rich countries, zero growth is not a viable option. Another piece of good news is that as economies grow they tend to become less resource-intensive per unit of output. In other words, we are constantly getting relatively more efficient in our use of the world’s resources even as the overall level of human consumption grows. This trend toward dematerialization is positive for several planetary boundaries. In the area of nitrogen, for example, Chinese food production rose by nearly 200 percent between 1981 and 2007, for only a 50 percent increase in fertilizer.10 Another study, looking at the same multi-decadal period, found that a 45 percent more affluent world used only 22 percent more crops and 13 percent more energy.11 Of course, in both these cases, absolute resource use went up even as relative use went down—because of economic growth.

But this is not always the case. Some basic resources are even being used at lower absolute levels as humanity gets more affluent: Between 1980 and 2006, for instance, a richer world actually used 20 percent less wood. Looking further out into the future, it is perhaps possible to envisage a world economy that enjoys constant growth even as its use of materials is static or even declining, thanks to dematerialization. Technology will help: In consuming music electronically via downloads rather than plastic CDs, we use less oil. E-books and online information dissemination will hopefully eventually reduce paper consumption too. At a conceptual level, what we must surely aim for is a closed-loop economy, where rates of recycling come as close to 100 percent as practically possible, and what is not recycled can be regenerated naturally within the biosphere.

U.K. emissions in 2009 were 520 million tonnes, while those of Spain and Ireland were 330 and 40 respectively. Figures from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, via,&syid=2005&eyid=2009&unit=MMTCD. 10. J. Guo et al., 2010: “Significant Acidification in Major Chinese Croplands,” Science, 327, 5968, 1008–10. 11. J. Ausubel and P. Waggoner, 2008: “Dematerialization: Variety, Caution, and Persistence,” PNAS, 105, 35, 12774–9. 12. Bloomberg, 2010: “China Beats U.S. on Renewable-Energy Investor Ranking,” September 8, 2010. 13. Global Wind Energy Council, 2011: “Global Wind Capacity Increases by 22% in 2010—Asia Leads Growth,” February 2, 2011. INDEX aerosols boundary; sky color and; Asian Brown Cloud; human suffering from air pollution; hydrological cycle and; black carbon; sulfur emissions; solar radiation management Africa: hominids in; endangered animals in; poverty in solar power in shortage of fertilizer; genetic engineering in; safe drinking water in; climate change in; monsoon in growth of economy in agriculture: invention of; threatens rain forest; nitrogen boundary and; organic; Green Revolution; genetic engineering; no-till; intensification of; land use; high-yield; irrigation; water use; pesticides; see also under individual pesticide name agroforestry air travel/aviation Allen, Myles Alliance for Responsible CFC Policy Altamont Pass Wind Resource Area Amazon rain forest Amazon River ammonia production Amu Darya An Appeal to Reason: A Cool Look at Global Warming (Lawson) Andes Andreae, Meinrat Antarctic Anthropocene aquaculture aragonite Aral Sea Archer, David Arctic: plastic waste in; habitat destruction in thaw of; tundra; toxics accumulate in; ocean acidification and Argentina Argonne National Laboratory Asia: tsunami, 2004; Homo neanderthalensis; animal extinction and; poverty in wind power in; nitrate pollution in; genetically engineered crops in; protected areas in; urbanization; storm surges in; aerosol pollution in Asian Brown Cloud Aswan Dam Atlantic Ocean: global warming destabilizes circulation of Atlantic Wind Connection Atomic Energy Agency atrazine Australia: extinction in; climate change in; solar power potential; virtual water Great Barrier Reef Australoptihecus Austria Baker, Robert Baltic Sea “Bank of Natural Capital” BASF Berlins, Marcel Better Place “BioBanking” scheme, Malua “Biodiversity Conservation Certificates” biodiversity loss; boundary; accounting systems for; “biodiversity credits” extinction and; Pleistocene overkill; eliminating alien species from islands; and the Earth system; keystone predators; habitat loss; “paper parks”; valuing of natural systems; global “tipping point”; planetary boundary on; offsets; protection measures; biodiversity “hot spots” biofuels biomass BioScience biosphere: monetary value of black carbon Borneo Bosch, Carl Boyles, Justin BP brain: evolution of Brand, Stewart Brazil British Airways Broecker, Wally Brown, Gordon Bush, George W.


pages: 204 words: 67,922

Elsewhere, U.S.A: How We Got From the Company Man, Family Dinners, and the Affluent Society to the Home Office, BlackBerry Moms,and Economic Anxiety by Dalton Conley


3D printing, call centre, clean water, dematerialisation, demographic transition, Edward Glaeser, extreme commuting, feminist movement, financial independence, Firefox, Frank Levy and Richard Murnane: The New Division of Labor, Home mortgage interest deduction, income inequality, informal economy, Jane Jacobs, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, late capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, McMansion, mortgage tax deduction, new economy, oil shock, PageRank, Ponzi scheme, positional goods, post-industrial society, Post-materialism, post-materialism, principal–agent problem, recommendation engine, Richard Florida, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, statistical model, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Great Moderation, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transaction costs, women in the workforce, Yom Kippur War

For example, when I download an audiobook from, the additional (or marginal) cost to Audible or the publisher is close to nil as compared to a physical copy of a book, which costs additional paper, binding, printing, and shipping. Classic economic theory tells us that price should equal marginal cost in a competitive market. Of course, there has never been a pure market as described in Econ 101; but only in this totally dematerialized product setting do we approach a situation where the marginal cost of selling one more of something truly approaches zero. The price-value ratio, then, seems elusive. But, at least on the retail side, we can assess how much we enjoyed the product and how much use we got out of it. However, the situation is even worse for big corporate transactions. Here the problem relates to the second factor: a difficulty in assessing the impact of a service purchased.

It is through this magical endowment of material objects with the powers of relative position that we think we have solved the problems inherent in mass consumption of positional goods—if only fleetingly Never mind the credit card bill that is to come: For now, the magical object has done its job, and we are satisfied (if not quite happy, since the actuality of the thing may be disappointing compared to the idea of owning it in the abstract). So, when people talk about the dematerialization of the economy, what they should be really calling it is a de-necessitation of the economy, as in a deemphasis on basic, physical necessities; or, alternatively, a luxurification or positionification.1∗ This view of the role of goods and services in the new economy stands in sharp contrast to that offered by folks like Chris Anderson, for example, in The Long Tail: Why the Future of Busi- ness Is Selling Less of More.


pages: 232 words: 67,934

The Immortalization Commission: Science and the Strange Quest to Cheat Death by John Gray


Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-communist, dematerialisation, laissez-faire capitalism, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, Nikolai Kondratiev, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, the scientific method

The aim of the psychical researchers was not only to show that the human mind was active after the death of the body. It was to enable the dead to make contact with the living. In the cross-correspondences the aim was even larger. The dead were given the task of saving the living; the posthumously designed messiah would save humanity from itself. The world might be sliding into anarchy, but progress continued on the Other Side. In Russia there was no Other Side. An entire civilization had dematerialized, and the after-world had disappeared along with it. Weakened by the Great War in Britain, belief in gradual progress was destroyed in Russia. The step-by-step improvement beloved of liberals was simply not possible any more. But the idea of progress was not abandoned. It was radicalized, and Russia’s new rulers were strengthened in their conviction that humankind advances through catastrophes.

In the materialist version of Gnosticism promoted by the Bolsheviks, salvation was collective and physical; the aim was to deliver humankind from Nature. The result was the largest destruction of material goods in modern times (aside from that wreaked during Mao’s Great Famine (1958–62)), possibly in all of history. The devastation of the land by agricultural collectivization exceeded anything experienced in the Civil War, while Soviet industrialization wasted natural resources on a colossal scale. Materialism in practice meant the dematerialization of the physical world. An integral part of this process was the destruction of human life. The Bolsheviks began a type of mass killing not seen before in Russia. The loss of life between 1917 and the Nazi invasion of 1941 cannot be measured precisely. Estimates vary, with figures ranging from a conservative 20 million to upwards of 60 million. Aiming to create a new type of human no longer subject to mortality, the Soviet state propagated death on a vast scale.


pages: 368 words: 32,950

How the City Really Works: The Definitive Guide to Money and Investing in London's Square Mile by Alexander Davidson


accounting loophole / creative accounting, algorithmic trading, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, capital asset pricing model, central bank independence, corporate governance, Credit Default Swap, dematerialisation, discounted cash flows, diversified portfolio, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Elliott wave, Exxon Valdez, forensic accounting, global reserve currency, high net worth, index fund, inflation targeting, interest rate derivative, interest rate swap, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, market fundamentalism, Nick Leeson, North Sea oil, Northern Rock, pension reform, Piper Alpha, price stability, purchasing power parity, Real Time Gross Settlement, reserve currency, shareholder value, short selling, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, value at risk, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

The process has not always worked as well as it does now through CREST. Until August 1996, the LSE handled its own settlement of share trades, but not very efficiently. Following the 1986 market deregulation known as Big Bang, trading volumes exploded through the late 1980s, which put extra pressure on the LSE’s Talisman settlement system. The LSE decided to replace Talisman with Taurus, which was designed to bring about compulsory dematerialisation of all UK corporate securities. Critics said it tried to satisfy too many conflicting market interests. On the advice of two management consultants, the LSE abandoned Taurus in March 1993 and decommissioned Talisman in April 1997. At the LSE’s request, the Bank of England established a securities settlement task force chaired by its director Pen Kent, which recommended a phased introduction of more cost-effective settlement for UK equities, including the introduction of rolling settlement.


pages: 370 words: 102,823

Rethinking Capitalism: Economics and Policy for Sustainable and Inclusive Growth by Michael Jacobs, Mariana Mazzucato


3D printing, balance sheet recession, banking crisis, Bernie Sanders, Bretton Woods, business climate, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collaborative economy, complexity theory, conceptual framework, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, crony capitalism, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Detroit bankruptcy, double entry bookkeeping, Elon Musk, energy security, eurozone crisis, factory automation, facts on the ground, fiat currency, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, forward guidance, full employment, Gini coefficient, Growth in a Time of Debt, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, Internet of things, investor state dispute settlement, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labour market flexibility, low skilled workers, Martin Wolf, Mont Pelerin Society, neoliberal agenda, Network effects, new economy, non-tariff barriers, paradox of thrift, price stability, private sector deleveraging, quantitative easing, QWERTY keyboard, railway mania, rent-seeking, road to serfdom, savings glut, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, the built environment, The Great Moderation, The Spirit Level, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, total factor productivity, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, universal basic income, very high income

In transport, this will mean almost complete electrification of vehicles, and/or the widespread use of hydrogen fuel cells, both based on clean energy sources. To accommodate much higher energy demand, the efficiency of energy consumption in all its uses will have to increase dramatically. This will mean major shifts in patterns of production, distribution and consumption, using digital and information technologies to manage energy demand and ‘dematerialise’ economic output. The design and functioning of buildings and transport systems, and the patterns of towns and cities as a whole, will have to change very significantly. To reduce the demand for energy to extract and transport physical resources, in agriculture and in the manufacture and transport of industrial and consumer products, major changes will be needed in almost all sectors. As Carlota Perez argues in her chapter in this volume, all this will add up to a technological revolution on a par with those which have disrupted and transformed economic systems in the past.


pages: 339 words: 57,031

From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism by Fred Turner


1960s counterculture, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, Apple's 1984 Super Bowl advert, back-to-the-land, bioinformatics, Buckminster Fuller, Claude Shannon: information theory, complexity theory, computer age, conceptual framework, Danny Hillis, dematerialisation, distributed generation, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, From Mathematics to the Technologies of Life and Death, future of work, game design, George Gilder, global village, Golden Gate Park, Hacker Ethic, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, informal economy, invisible hand, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, market bubble, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, Menlo Park, Mother of all demos, new economy, Norbert Wiener, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, Productivity paradox, QWERTY keyboard, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, Richard Stallman, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, South of Market, San Francisco, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Ted Nelson, Telecommunications Act of 1996, theory of mind, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, Yom Kippur War

In the 1990s, as a number of critics have noted, Kelly’s doctrine of cyberevolutionism gave a potent ideological boost to executives seeking to outsource labor, automate industrial processes, and decrease the stability of their worker’s employment.64 Throughout his book, Kelly underplayed the work of embodied labor, celebrated intellect and the collaborative styles associated with intellectual institutions, and so offered a model of a world inhabited exclusively by freelancing elites. In the early 1990s, as in the late 1960s, that turn away from the material world helped legitimate the authority of those who controlled information and information systems by rendering invisible those who did not. Networking the New Economy [ 205 ] At the same time, the turn toward imagining the world in terms of dematerialized networks of information helped assuage the increasing sense of helplessness among executives themselves. On the one hand, like scientists at the Rad Lab a half century earlier, executives could call on the rhetoric of cybernetics to justify the pursuit of their professional goals. Like the cold warriors who had long ago scanned their computer screens for signs of incoming bombers, they could imagine the world as an information system and themselves as monitors of that system.

A systems perspective, wrote Burnham, required that artists “solve problems . . . on a multileveled, interdisciplinary basis. Consequently some of the more aware sculptors no longer think like sculptors, but they assume a span of problems more natural to architects, urban planners, civil engineers, electronic technicians, and cultural anthropologists” (34). See also Burnham, Beyond Modern Sculpture; and Chandler and Lippard, “Dematerialization of Art.” For later assessments of this shift, see Woodward, “Art and Technics”; and Burnham, “Art and Technology.” For a fascinating evaluation of 1960s art and its relationship to shifts in communication technology, as well as an incisive reading of Jack Burnham’s criticism, see Lee, Chronophobia. For an account of post– World War II avant-garde art and literature and their relationship to cold war liberalism and, to some extent, science and technology, see Belgrad, Culture of Spontaneity.

The Rise of the Network Society. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell, 1996. Ceruzzi, Paul E. A History of Modern Computing. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1998; 2nd ed., 2003. Chandler, Alfred Dupont, and James W. Cortada. A Nation Transformed by Information: How Information Has Shaped the United States from Colonial Times to the Present. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000. Chandler, John, and Lucy Lippard. “The Dematerialization of Art.” Art International, February 20, 1968. Cheal, David J. The Gift Economy. London: Routledge, 1988. Coate, John. “Cyberspace Innkeeping: Building Online Community.” January 1998 (rev. 1992, 1993, and 1998). (accessed February 15, 2001; site now discontinued). Coate, John, and Cliff Figallo. “Farm Stories (From the True Confessions Conference on the WELL).”


pages: 299 words: 19,560

Utopias: A Brief History From Ancient Writings to Virtual Communities by Howard P. Segal


1960s counterculture, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, complexity theory, David Brooks, death of newspapers, dematerialisation, deskilling, energy security, European colonialism, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, future of journalism, garden city movement, germ theory of disease, Golden Gate Park, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John von Neumann, knowledge economy, Louis Pasteur, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Nicholas Carr, Nikolai Kondratiev, out of africa, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, transcontinental railway, traveling salesman, union organizing, urban planning, War on Poverty, Whole Earth Catalog

As portrayed in the Star Trek television programs and movies, the transporter locks on a target, scans the image to be transported, “dematerializes” it, puts it in a “pattern buffer” for some time, and finally “transmits the ‘matter stream’ in an ‘annular confinement beam’ to its destination.” “The matter along with the information” is sent out. As Krauss laments, 202 The Resurgence of Utopianism Building a transporter would require us to heat up matter to a temperature a million times the temperature at the center of the Sun, expend more energy in a single machine than all of humanity presently uses, build telescopes larger than the size of the Earth, improve present computers by a factor of 1000 billion billion, and avoid the laws of quantum mechanics.29 According to a 2008 article in Discovery Channel Magazine, phenomena such as Star Trek’s vanishing spaceships, faster-than-light travel, and dematerialized transport were mere dreams when the original series aired but might yet come about.


pages: 419 words: 124,522

Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thubron


Ayatollah Khomeini, British Empire, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, failed state, invention of gunpowder, invention of the telescope, Lao Tzu, Pax Mongolica, South China Sea, trade route

Then out of the wastes, where the last camel-thorn died and a range of pure sand surged across the skyline, I saw what appeared to be a scatter of low buildings high on the dunes, with a thicket of prayer-flags above them. Someone had tried to re-excavate a well in a hollow at the dune’s foot–this must have been the spring which Stein had noted–but the sand was sliding in again, and when we loosed the donkey it found nothing to drink. As we climbed the long, soft slopes, the buildings dematerialised before our eyes. Like fantastical theatre-sets they thinned into skeletal fences enclosing graves. Their frames had shredded into fragments, or toppled wholesale. Some ancient storm might have raged and subsided there. Now the slope was bathed in a stark brightness. In front of us the flagpoles multiplied over the hill, sunk in the sand like the pennants of drowned tents. The only sound, beyond the slurr of our footsteps–sand falling, settling, falling–was the rasp of stiffened flags in the breeze.


pages: 586 words: 159,901

Wall Street: How It Works And for Whom by Doug Henwood


accounting loophole / creative accounting, affirmative action, Andrei Shleifer, asset allocation, asset-backed security, bank run, banking crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, central bank independence, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, currency manipulation / currency intervention, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, diversification, diversified portfolio, Donald Trump, equity premium, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental subject, facts on the ground, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, floating exchange rates, full employment, George Akerlof, George Gilder, hiring and firing, Hyman Minsky, implied volatility, index arbitrage, index fund, interest rate swap, Internet Archive, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, Joseph Schumpeter, kremlinology, labor-force participation, late capitalism, law of one price, liquidationism / Banker’s doctrine / the Treasury view, London Interbank Offered Rate, Louis Bachelier, market bubble, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, microcredit, minimum wage unemployment, moral hazard, mortgage debt, mortgage tax deduction, oil shock, payday loans, pension reform, Plutocrats, plutocrats, price mechanism, price stability, prisoner's dilemma, profit maximization, Ralph Nader, random walk, reserve currency, Richard Thaler, risk tolerance, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, shareholder value, short selling, Slavoj Žižek, South Sea Bubble, The Market for Lemons, The Nature of the Firm, The Predators' Ball, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, women in the workforce, yield curve, zero-coupon bond

Creditors can take pleasure in "being allowed to vent [their] power on one who is powerless, the voluptuous pleasure 'defaire le malpour leplaisir de la faire, 'the enjoyment of violation." Nietzsche might have enjoyed these pleasures. For Brown, debt is a sickly tribute paid by the present to the past. (Of course, we postmoderns often see — consciously or not — credit as a way to steal from the future.) But for a partisan of the body. Brown was nonetheless guilty of the ancient psychoanalytic habit of dematerializing its needs. As the eady analyst Paul Schilder (1976) — who rightly lamented the absence of a psychoanalysis of work — noted, "When one looks over large parts of the psychoanalytic literature one would not conceive the idea that one eats because one is hungry and wants food for sustaining one's life but one would rather suppose that eating is a sly way of satisfying oral libido.... Silberer once said...

Money, Brown said, is but part of the "commitment to mathematize the world, intrinsic to modern science." But modern science has mathematized money. Aside from doomsayers, survivalists, and other goldbugs, the monetary functions of dehydrated filth are all but forgotten. Even paper money is getting scarce — only about 10% of the broadly defined money supply (M2). Most money now lives a ghostly electronic life. With this dematerialization of money has come at least a partial banishment of the guilty sadomasochism of the anus. That banishment was seen at its fullest in the 1980s, when fantasy ruled the financial scene; in the early 1990s, the repressed made a partial return, but the mid-1990s saw a relapse of exuberance. But the psychological dethronement, however complete or incomplete, of anality and guilt has an interesting analogue in the cultural and social transformations that so trouble American reactionaries.


pages: 497 words: 144,283

Connectography: Mapping the Future of Global Civilization by Parag Khanna


1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, 9 dash line, additive manufacturing, Admiral Zheng, affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Airbnb, Albert Einstein, amateurs talk tactics, professionals talk logistics, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Asian financial crisis, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, Black Swan, blockchain, borderless world, Boycotts of Israel, Branko Milanovic, BRICs, British Empire, business intelligence, call centre, capital controls, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, complexity theory, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, credit crunch, crony capitalism, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, data is the new oil, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, deglobalization, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Detroit bankruptcy, diversification, Doha Development Round, edge city, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, energy security, ethereum blockchain, European colonialism, eurozone crisis, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, family office, Ferguson, Missouri, financial innovation, financial repression, forward guidance, global supply chain, global value chain, global village, Google Earth, Hernando de Soto, high net worth, Hyperloop, ice-free Arctic, if you build it, they will come, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, informal economy, Infrastructure as a Service, interest rate swap, Internet of things, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, John von Neumann, Julian Assange, Just-in-time delivery, Kevin Kelly, Khyber Pass, Kibera, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, LNG terminal, low cost carrier, manufacturing employment, mass affluent, megacity, Mercator projection, microcredit, mittelstand, Monroe Doctrine, mutually assured destruction, New Economic Geography, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil rush, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, openstreetmap, out of africa, Panamax, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, Peter Thiel, Plutocrats, plutocrats, post-oil, post-Panamax, private military company, purchasing power parity, QWERTY keyboard, race to the bottom, Rana Plaza, rent-seeking, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Robert Shiller, Robert Shiller, Ronald Coase, Scramble for Africa, Second Machine Age, sharing economy, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, six sigma, Skype, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, South China Sea, South Sea Bubble, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spice trade, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, sustainable-tourism, TaskRabbit, telepresence, the built environment, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, transaction costs, UNCLOS, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, WikiLeaks, young professional, zero day

Due to an anomaly stemming from the 1783 Treaty of Paris, the 120 residents of Angle Township in Minnesota actually live within Canadian territory and use a phone booth jointly run by U.S. and Canadian customs to report their comings and goings. 7. See “More Neighbours Make More Fences,” The Economist, Sept. 15, 2015. 8. “Why Walls Don’t Work,” Project Syndicate, Nov. 13, 2014. 9. Vaclav Smil, Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization (MIT Press, 2007), p. 157. 10. Ron Boschma and Ron Martin, “The Aims and Scope of Evolutionary Economic Geography” (Utrecht University, Jan. 2010). 11. Michio Kaku, Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 (Anchor, 2012). 12. In the dense but influential treatise Empire (Harvard University Press, 2000), the American scholar Michael Hardt and the Italian dissident Antonio Negri posit globalization as an unregulated and all-consuming force that has no fixed locus. 13.

One World: The Ethics of Globalization. Yale University Press, 2004. Singer, P. W., and Allan Friedman. Cybersecurity and Cyberwar: What Everyone Needs to Know. Oxford University Press, 2014. Slaughter, Anne-Marie. A New World Order. Princeton University Press, 2005. Smil, Vaclav. Energy in Nature and Society: General Energetics of Complex Systems. MIT Press, 2007. ———. Making the Modern World: Materials and Dematerialization. Wiley, 2013. Smith, Laurence C. “New Trans-Arctic Shipping Routes Navigable by Mid-century.” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 110, no. 13 (2013). Smolan, Rick, and Jennifer Erwitt. The Human Face of Big Data. Against All Odds Productions, 2012. Soll, Jacob. The Reckoning: Financial Accountability and the Rise and Fall of Nations. Basic Books, 2014. Spence, A. Michael. The Evolving Structure of the American Economy and the Employment Challenge.


pages: 209 words: 58,466

Breakfast of Champions by Kurt Vonnegut


Albert Einstein, British Empire, dematerialisation, Maui Hawaii, traveling salesman

“You are the only one I am telling. For the others, tonight will be a night like any other night. Arise, Mr. Trout, you are free, you are free.” He arose shamblingly. I might have shaken his hand, but his right hand was injured, so our hands remained dangling at our sides. “Bon voyage” I said. I disappeared. • • • I somersaulted lazily and pleasantly through the void, which is my hiding place when I dematerialize. Trout’s cries to me faded as the distance between us increased. His voice was my father’s voice. I heard my father—and I saw my mother in the void. My mother stayed far, far away, because she had left me a legacy of suicide. A small hand mirror floated by. It was a leak with a mother-of-pearl handle and frame. I captured it easily, held it up to my own right eye, which looked like this: Here was what Kilgore Trout cried out to me in my father’s voice: “Make me young, make me young, make me young!”


pages: 162 words: 42,595

Architecture: A Very Short Introduction by Andrew Ballantyne


dematerialisation, Frank Gehry, Guggenheim Bilbao, late capitalism, means of production, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Stewart Brand, the built environment

Everything here was conceived for the sake of its theatrical effect, so every detail was considered as part of the whole, and there is no room for standard fixtures and fittings. The pulpit seems to float on air in an agitated way, and even the pews are ornately carved so that they seem to go along with the general exaltation of the spectacle. It is a total all-enveloping work of art – the German word for it is Gesamtkunstwerk. There is the same concern for precious things and for dematerialization of the architecture as in the medieval era, but it is pursued here in a different architectural language, with different technical means. Behind and beneath all the ornament there is still an idea of classical order – Roman columns and entablatures are in there somewhere, giving a basic discipline, which then seems to have been stretched, shaken, and draped with festoons. It is a style of architecture that developed at royal courts in the 17th century, and was showy in a way that the lesser nobility could not match because it was so expensive to build.


pages: 168 words: 47,972

Vagabonding: An Uncommon Guide to the Art of Long-Term World Travel by Rolf Potts


dematerialisation, Exxon Valdez, financial independence, follow your passion, Lao Tzu, large denomination, personalized medicine, Ralph Waldo Emerson, the map is not the territory

Less Is More: The Art of Voluntary Poverty — an Anthology of Ancient and Modern Voices Raised in Praise of Simplicity, edited by Goldian Vandenbroeck (Inner Traditions, 1996) Quotes and essays on the value of simplicity, from the likes of Socrates, Shakespeare, Saint Francis, Benjamin Franklin, and Mohandas Gandhi, as well as the Bible, The Dhammapada, Tao Te Ching, and The Bhagavad Gita. Dematerializing: Taming the Power of Possessions, by Jane Hammerslough (Perseus Books, 2001) An examination of “possession-obsession” and how it negatively affects our personal growth, creativity, and relationships. Walden, by Henry David Thoreau The philosophical account of Thoreau’s experiment in antimaterialist living. An American literary classic for over 150 years. BUDGETING AND MONEY MANAGEMENT The Pocket Idiot’s Guide to Living on a Budget, by Peter J.


pages: 144 words: 43,356

Surviving AI: The Promise and Peril of Artificial Intelligence by Calum Chace


3D printing, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, brain emulation, Buckminster Fuller, cloud computing, computer age, computer vision, correlation does not imply causation, credit crunch, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, discovery of the americas, disintermediation, don't be evil, Elon Musk,, epigenetics, Erik Brynjolfsson, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, Flash crash, friendly AI, Google Glasses, industrial robot, Internet of things, invention of agriculture, job automation, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, life extension, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, means of production, mutually assured destruction, Nicholas Carr, pattern recognition, Peter Thiel, Ray Kurzweil, Rodney Brooks, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Skype, South Sea Bubble, speech recognition, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, strong AI, technological singularity, theory of mind, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, Wall-E

Diamandis talks about the Six Ds of digital disruption, arguing that the insurgent companies are: Digitized, exploiting the ability to share information at the speed of light Deceptive, because their growth, being exponential, is hidden for some time and then seems to accelerate almost out of control (we will look at exponential growth in chapter 5) Disruptive, because they steal huge chunks of market share from incumbents Dematerialized, in that much of their value lies in the information they provide rather than anything physical, which means their distribution costs can be minimal or zero Demonetized, in that they can provide for nothing things which customers previously had to pay for dearly Democratized, in that they make products and services which were previously the preserve of the rich (like cellphones) available to the many.


pages: 238 words: 73,824

Makers by Chris Anderson


3D printing, Airbnb, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Apple II, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, Buckminster Fuller, Build a better mousetrap, business process, crowdsourcing, dark matter, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, death of newspapers, dematerialisation, Elon Musk, factory automation, Firefox, future of work, global supply chain, global village, industrial robot, interchangeable parts, Internet of things, inventory management, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, job automation, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Lean Startup, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, Menlo Park, Network effects, profit maximization, race to the bottom, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Ronald Coase, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, slashdot, South of Market, San Francisco, spinning jenny, Startup school, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, The Nature of the Firm, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transaction costs, trickle-down economics, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize, Y Combinator

Today the vast majority of the Web is built by amateurs, semipros, and people who don’t work for big technology and media companies. We talk a lot about the “weightless economy,” the trade in intangible information, services, and intellectual property rather than physical goods (the weightless economy consists of anything that doesn’t hurt your foot if dropped upon it). Yet as big as the economy of bits may be, that dematerialized world of information trade is a small fraction of the manufacturing economy. So anything that can transform the process of making stuff has tremendous leverage in moving the global economy. That’s the making of a real revolution. Let’s return to Manchester to consider how that might work in the real world. Manchester, yesterday and tomorrow Manchester is a city defined by its rapid rise long ago, and an agonizingly slow fall ever since.


pages: 255 words: 68,829

How PowerPoint Makes You Stupid by Franck Frommer


Albert Einstein, business continuity plan, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, hypertext link, invention of writing, inventory management, invisible hand, Just-in-time delivery, knowledge worker, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, new economy, oil shock, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, union organizing

In its 2008 study of the level of household computer ownership, the Centre de Recherche pour l’Étude et l’Observation des Conditions de Vie (CREDOC) showed that “two thirds of the French population has least one computer at home (66 percent), and 17 percent even have several.”45 Whereas more than 90 percent of upper-level households are well supplied, only 61 percent of workers are. This suggests that for almost one child of a worker out of ten, the paperless class is not for tomorrow, that the virtual school will leave them by the roadside. The two teachers also discuss the way digital workplaces call into question their own profession in the sense of dematerializing exchanges, a gradual obliteration of the time and space of the school, which is becoming a school “without walls.” Then there’s the “Big Brother” aspect of these exchanges, which will eventually make it possible to record and store information on students and their parents, transferable to any government department beyond the education service if the need arises. In this world of control, evaluation, and performance from early childhood,46 some teachers have trouble recognizing themselves: The injunction to use digital tools and the fact they will soon be obligatory reveal a purely bureaucratic logic.


pages: 634 words: 185,116

From eternity to here: the quest for the ultimate theory of time by Sean M. Carroll


Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, Columbine, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix,, gravity well, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, John von Neumann, Lao Tzu, lone genius, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener,, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Schrödinger's Cat, Slavoj Žižek, Stephen Hawking, stochastic process, the scientific method, wikimedia commons

When shown through a projector, it would be incomprehensible—on the screen it would look like random static. Presumably there is some French avant-garde film that has already used this technique. The real universe is not an avant-garde film. We experience a degree of continuity through time—if the cat is on your lap now, there might be some danger that she will stalk off, but there is little worry that she will simply dematerialize into nothingness one moment later. This continuity is not absolute, at the microscopic level; particles can appear and disappear, or at least transform under the right conditions into different kinds of particles. But there is not a wholesale rearrangement of reality from moment to moment. This phenomenon of persistence allows us to think about “the world” in a different way. Instead of a collection of things distributed through space that keep changing into different configurations, we can think of the entire history of the world, or any particular thing in it, in one fell swoop.

—Richard Wagner, Parsifal Everyone knows what a time machine looks like: something like a steampunk sled with a red velvet chair, flashing lights, and a giant spinning wheel on the back. For those of a younger generation, a souped-up stainless-steel sports car is an acceptable substitute; our British readers might think of a 1950s-style London police box.76 Details of operation vary from model to model, but when one actually travels in time, the machine ostentatiously dematerializes, presumably to be re-formed many millennia in the past or future. That’s not how it would really work. And not because time travel is impossible and the whole thing is just silly; whether or not time travel is possible is more of an open question than you might suspect. I’ve emphasized that time is kind of like space. It follows that, if you did stumble across a working time machine in the laboratory of some mad inventor, it would simply look like a “space machine”—an ordinary vehicle of some sort, designed to move you from one place to another.


pages: 372 words: 107,587

The End of Growth: Adapting to Our New Economic Reality by Richard Heinberg


3D printing, agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, banks create money, Bretton Woods, carbon footprint, Carmen Reinhart, clean water, cloud computing, collateralized debt obligation, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, currency manipulation / currency intervention, currency peg, David Graeber, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, Elliott wave,, energy transition, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Fractional reserve banking, full employment, Gini coefficient, global village, happiness index / gross national happiness, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, income inequality, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Kenneth Rogoff, late fees, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, mortgage debt, naked short selling, Naomi Klein, Negawatt, new economy, Nixon shock, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, Ponzi scheme, post-oil, price stability, private military company, quantitative easing, reserve currency, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, short selling, special drawing rights, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, trade liberalization, tulip mania, working poor

This is not to say these countries have only smooth sailing ahead (Japan in particular is facing a painful adjustment, given its very high levels of government debt), but they are likely to fare better than other nations that have high domestic levels of economic inequality and that have gotten used to high growth rates. Sweden is now home to a number of eco-municipalities. Inspired by economist Torbjörn Lahti and by Karl-Henrik Robèrt, founder of the Natural Step Movement, these formerly depressed industrial towns have made an official and deliberate commitment to “dematerialize” their economies and to foster social equity.45 Övertorneå, Sweden’s first eco-municipality, saw a 20 percent unemployment rate during the recession of the early 1980s and lost 25 percent of its population (prior to becoming an eco-municipality), but now boasts a thriving ecotourism economy based on organic farming, sheepherding, fish farming, and the performing arts. The town has reached its 2010 goal of being a free of fossil fuels.


pages: 311 words: 94,732

The Rapture of the Nerds by Cory Doctorow, Charles Stross


3D printing, Ayatollah Khomeini, butterfly effect, cognitive dissonance, combinatorial explosion, complexity theory, Credit Default Swap, dematerialisation, Drosophila, epigenetics, Extropian, gravity well, greed is good, haute couture, hive mind, margin call, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, rent-seeking, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, telepresence, Turing machine, Turing test, union organizing

The whole thing was as perfunctory and one-sided as you could hope for, and my presence there sealed the deal for the other side. So, basically, you murdered me, kidnapped me, imprisoned me, and sent me into a kangaroo court for nothing.” Huw grinds her not-teeth. “Actually, not nothing. Worse than nothing. You did all that and managed to make things worse for the entire human race, assuming you haven’t murdered everyone else in order to get them to testify about how they should be spared dematerialization and coercive uploading. Nice work, Bonnie.” Bonnie looks suitably stricken. Huw feels one tiny iota better. “Good-bye, Bonnie,” she says, and sets off across not-space. Somewhere in this shard, there’s bound to be a way out, or at least a helpfile. * * * Of course, as Huw eventually realizes, going in search of a helpfile is only the start of an interesting and distracting quest for enlightenment that is likely to end in tears, a nervous breakdown, or a personal reboot.


pages: 317 words: 87,566

The Happiness Industry: How the Government and Big Business Sold Us Well-Being by William Davies


1960s counterculture, Airbnb, business intelligence, Cass Sunstein, corporate governance, dematerialisation, experimental subject, Exxon Valdez, Frederick Winslow Taylor, Gini coefficient, income inequality, invisible hand, joint-stock company, market bubble, mental accounting, nudge unit, profit maximization, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, road to serfdom, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, science of happiness, sentiment analysis, sharing economy, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia, Steve Jobs, The Chicago School, The Spirit Level, theory of mind, urban planning

This is the monistic philosophy of the twenty-first century manager: each worker can become better, in body, mind and output. The political hope that perhaps the human benefits of dialogue and workplace empowerment might be more thoroughly recognized turns into disappointment, as performance management and health care are fused into a science of well-being optimization. And yet there are radical political economists for whom the de-materialization of contemporary work represents an opportunity for a whole new industrial model.36 The shift towards a ‘knowledge-based’ economy, in which ideas and relationships are key sources of business value, could be the basis of entirely new workplace structures in which power is decentralized and decisions taken collaboratively. There are good reasons to suspect that such models might produce fewer psychosomatic stresses; in that sense, they may be more efficient than the status quo.


pages: 380 words: 104,841

The Human Age: The World Shaped by Us by Diane Ackerman


23andMe, 3D printing, additive manufacturing, airport security, Albert Einstein, augmented reality, back-to-the-land, carbon footprint, clean water, dark matter, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, epigenetics, Google Earth, Google Glasses, haute cuisine, Internet of things, Loebner Prize, Louis Pasteur, Masdar, megacity, microbiome, nuclear winter, personalized medicine, phenotype, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, skunkworks, Skype, stem cell, Stewart Brand, the High Line, theory of mind, urban planning, urban renewal, Whole Earth Catalog

Many scientists predict that, at the pace we’re going, about half of all the world’s plants and animals will vanish by 2100. But, for a change, we know the exact causes of the extinction, having created them ourselves—climate change, habitat loss, pollution, invasive species, big agriculture, acidifying the oceans, urbanization, a growing population demanding more natural resources—and we’re in a position to stop them, if we set our collective mind to it. So, as species dematerialize around us, worldwide efforts are under way to collect and protect the DNA of as many as possible before it’s too late. Two brave doomsday efforts have been leading the way. One is the Svalbard Global Seed Vault, a remote and heavily guarded underground cavern tucked four hundred feet inside a sandstone mountain on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen, in the secluded Svalbard archipelago, which lies about eight hundred miles from the North Pole—a James Bond destination safe from both man-made and natural disasters, even melting ice caps (it’s 430 feet above sea level), tectonic activity, or nuclear war.


pages: 351 words: 100,791

The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction by Matthew B. Crawford


airport security, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, collateralized debt obligation, David Brooks, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, digital Maoism, Google Glasses, hive mind, index card, informal economy, Jaron Lanier, large denomination, new economy, new new economy, online collectivism, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Richard Thaler, Rodney Brooks, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, the built environment, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Walter Mischel, winner-take-all economy

Schüll quotes an industry innovator saying, “This didn’t just slow down play, it suggested a kind of closure, an end to the game … it tempted the customer to cease the play and walk out the door with his winnings.” On the other hand, a hopper full of coins was more likely to be fed back into the machine, so the gambler could “gather the wagering momentum critical to the flow of their play experience.” Cashless gambling, in which money has been dematerialized into magnetic swipe cards, has “further helped to overcome impediments to play associated with money insertion.”9 Access to the zone is a function of access to cash, and though Nevada law prohibits the integration of ATM functions into the slot machine itself, other jurisdictions are more forward-looking and allow limitless transfers from the gambler to the casino at the site of play, as long as funds (or credit cards) are available.


Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television by Jerry Mander


Alistair Cooke, conceptual framework, dematerialisation, full employment, invention of agriculture, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, placebo effect, profit motive, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, Stewart Brand, the medium is the message, trickle-down economics

As we study how the TV images are formed, it is possible to understand how Edelson's description might be keenly accurate. I have described the way the retina collects impressions emanating from dots. The picture is formed only after it is well inside your brain. The image doesn't exist in the world, and so cannot be observed as you would observe another person, or a car, or a fight. The images pass through your eyes in a dematerialized form, invisible. They are reconstituted only after they are already inside your head. Perhaps this quality of nonexistence, at least in concrete worldly form, disqualifies this image information fronl being subject to conscious processes: thinking, discernment, anal- ysis. You may think about the sound but not the images. Television viewing may then qualify as a kind of wakeful dreaming, except that it's a stranger's dream, from a faraway place, though it plays against the screen of your mind.


pages: 362 words: 97,862

Physics in Mind: A Quantum View of the Brain by Werner Loewenstein


Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, complexity theory, dematerialisation, discovery of DNA, Gödel, Escher, Bach, Henri Poincaré, informal economy, information trail, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Norbert Wiener, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, stem cell, trade route, Turing machine

Photons, like other quantum particles, have a ghostlike character. They can suddenly disappear and just as suddenly reappear. A photon, for example, visible as it comes from the sun to us, becomes invisible when it strikes an atom; its energy is used up for shifting an electron of the atom to a farther orbit. And it’s not just a matter of becoming lost to sight. The photon particle actually changes character and converts into a virtual photon—a dematerialized one, as it were. And when the electron shifts back to a near orbit, the photon rematerializes and is given off by the atom as a visible particle. Figure 5.1. The Photon Spectrum. The electromagnetic wavelengths are given in meters (m) and angstroms (Å) on a logarithmic scale. Atomic radii are of the order of 10-10 m. Right: The visible waveband on an expanded linear scale in nanometers (nm). 1 nm = 10-9 m = 10 Å.


pages: 1,079 words: 321,718

Surfaces and Essences by Douglas Hofstadter, Emmanuel Sander


affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, Benoit Mandelbrot, Brownian motion, Chance favours the prepared mind, cognitive dissonance, computer age, computer vision, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Douglas Hofstadter, Ernest Rutherford, experimental subject, Flynn Effect, Georg Cantor, Gerolamo Cardano, Golden Gate Park, haute couture, haute cuisine, Henri Poincaré, Isaac Newton, l'esprit de l'escalier, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Norbert Wiener, place-making, Silicon Valley, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, theory of mind, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl

His “instinctive sense of cosmic unity”, as Hoffmann dubbed it, eventually led him to the radical notion that nature’s internal consistency — that is, the uniformity and simplicity of the laws of physics — required that any material object (i.e., any normal mass), whether an electron or a cannonball, should be able to “melt” into strange mass carried off by escaping light rays, much as does the inert energy stored in a battery, or much as the frozen assets latent in an estate might turn into liquid cash. This was truly a shocking idea, because it meant not only that solid, massive physical objects could literally dematerialize and vanish (or, if we run the scenario in reverse, that such objects could materialize out of nowhere), but also that any such metamorphosis would necessarily be accompanied by the sudden, simultaneous appearance (or disappearance) of a phenomenal amount of energy. Indeed, it was the phenomenal amounts of energy involved that made the newly-revealed full meaning of Einstein’s equation stunning and even surrealistic.

Newton’s law — the lone equation that was then known to apply to gravity — did not predict that gravity could propagate across space. Thus, far from emerging as a consequence of known equations, the “speed of gravity” was an unheard-of notion; to suggest that gravity had a speed was to verge on spouting absurdities. For this reason, a physicist of that era might well have declared, “It wouldn’t be necessary to wait eight minutes for the bad news to reach us. Mother Earth would react immediately to the sudden dematerialization of the sun. After all, it would have no reason to continue to follow its quasi-circular orbit around a star that had ceased to exist and thus would no longer be exerting any tug on it. The earth would be like a dog whose leash had suddenly been cut: instant freedom!” On the other hand, another physicist of the era might well have argued the exact opposite — namely, that it would take time to detect the far-away sun’s demise, a conclusion based on the intuitive belief that no event can have an instant effect on objects arbitrarily far away from it.


pages: 641 words: 153,921

Eon by Greg Bear


dematerialisation, Menlo Park, Ralph Nader, urban renewal

Outside the Thistledown, black space and stars and Moon and poor battered, burned, winter-besieged Earth, where few if any were even thinking of the asteroid or the possibility of rescue. How could there be rescue from such total misery and death? History had passed them by. The asteroid’s overhauled Beckmann drive engines prepared for. their part in the drama, stockpiling reaction mass to be slung out and dematerialized in the combined beams. They would reduce the kick of the separation, and the combined kick and counter-thrust would maneuver the Thistledown into a circular orbit around the Earth, at an altitude of some ten thousand kilometers. The precincts of Axes Thoreau and Euclid began their acceleration, in an apparent suicide run to smash themselves against the seventh chamber cap. Within, twenty-nine million human beingscorporeal and otherwisedid the various things humans do while waiting to see if they will live or die.


pages: 441 words: 135,176

The Edifice Complex: How the Rich and Powerful--And Their Architects--Shape the World by Deyan Sudjic


Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, call centre, colonial rule, Columbine, cuban missile crisis, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, Donald Trump, Frank Gehry, glass ceiling, Guggenheim Bilbao, haute couture, haute cuisine, megastructure, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, New Urbanism, oil shock, Ronald Reagan, Socratic dialogue, urban planning, urban renewal, V2 rocket, Victor Gruen

And it was Couturier who put forward Le Corbusier’s name for the two great religious commissions of his career: the pilgrimage church of Ronchamp in south-eastern France, and the Dominican monastery of La Tourette. Together, they served to set a new model for contemporary religious architecture, with strongly sculptural forms and a sense of sanctuary and enclosure, as well as an appropriation of natural light to reveal and conceal architectural forms, creating a sense of dematerialization, and mystery. Couturier’s commissions encouraged Catholic dioceses around the world to experiment with more challenging architects. And the Catholic Church has shown continuing interest in attempting to present itself as part of the contemporary world in architectural terms. It’s an impulse that can be seen in the Vatican’s celebration of the second millennium with Richard Meier’s Dio Padre Misericordioso jubilee church in suburban Rome, after an international competition in which other architects, including Frank Gehry and Peter Eisenman, were also asked to compete, or in the monks of Novy Dvur in the Czech Republic, who commissioned John Pawson to build Eastern Europe’s first new monastery in a century.


pages: 637 words: 128,673

Democracy Incorporated by Sheldon S. Wolin


affirmative action, Berlin Wall, British Empire, centre right, collective bargaining, colonial rule, corporate governance, cuban missile crisis, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Fall of the Berlin Wall, full employment, illegal immigration, invisible hand, mutually assured destruction, new economy, offshore financial centre, Ralph Nader, Ronald Reagan, school vouchers, single-payer health, stem cell, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thorstein Veblen

The propaganda of business interests depicted the combination of social democracy and political regulation of the economy as simple socialism and therefore the blood relative of communism.24 The new state would continue to promote business but without requiring it to be socially responsible. Rearmament would be financed to an important extent by cuts in social spending, while the costs of national security would be largely borne by the less well-off.25 The lasting effects of the Cold War encounter included not only the elimination of the USSR but also the containment and rollback of the social and political ideals of the New Deal. The unifying ideology for the masses was a “dematerialized” one, a combination of patriotism, anticommunism, and—in the new nuclear era—fear. The Democrats, the party most closely identified with New Deal social and economic reforms, were the original, most enthusiastic cold warriors. A new species of liberalism came into being: the “Cold War liberal” who was resolutely anticommunist and convinced that “national security” constituted the nation’s highest priority.26 The Cold War liberal even discovered the political utility of a civil religion.


pages: 462 words: 150,129

The Rational Optimist: How Prosperity Evolves by Matt Ridley


23andMe, agricultural Revolution, air freight, back-to-the-land, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Madoff, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, collateralized debt obligation, colonial exploitation, colonial rule, Corn Laws, credit crunch, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Glaeser,, everywhere but in the productivity statistics, falling living standards, feminist movement, financial innovation, Flynn Effect, food miles, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, Hans Rosling, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute cuisine, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, income per capita, Indoor air pollution, informal economy, invention of agriculture, invisible hand, James Hargreaves, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, John Nash: game theory, joint-stock limited liability company, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, Kula ring, Mark Zuckerberg, meta analysis, meta-analysis, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, Northern Rock, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, packet switching, patent troll, Pax Mongolica, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Plutocrats, plutocrats, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, race to the bottom, Ray Kurzweil, rent-seeking, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, spice trade, spinning jenny, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, technological singularity, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thorstein Veblen, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Vernor Vinge, wage slave, working poor, working-age population, Y2K, Yogi Berra

Ian Pearson, 8.9.08: p. 345 ‘human energy use over the past 150 years as it migrated from wood to coal to oil to gas’. Ausubel, J.H. 2003. ‘Decarbonisation: the Next 100 Years’. Lecture at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, June 2003. p. 346 ‘Jesse Ausubel predicts’. Ausubel, J.H. and Waggoner, P.E. 2008. Dematerialization: variety, caution and persistence. PNAS 105:12774–9. See also: p. 346 ‘carbon-rich oceanic organisms called salps’. Lebrato, M. and Jones, D.O.B. 2009. Mass deposition event of Pyrosoma atlanticum carcasses off Ivory Coast (West Africa). Limnology and Oceanography 54:1197–1209. Chapter 11 p. 349 IPCC projections for world GDP graph.


pages: 404 words: 131,034

Cosmos by Carl Sagan


Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, Arthur Eddington, clockwork universe, dematerialisation, double helix, Drosophila, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, spice trade, Tunguska event

Such a set of rules would comprise a new physics standing over the existing physics. Our language is impoverished; there seems to be no suitable name for such a new physics. Both “paraphysics” and “metaphysics” have been preempted by other rather different and, quite possibly, wholly irrelevant activities. Perhaps “transphysics” would do. *If a fourth-dimensional creature existed it could, in our three-dimensional universe, appear and dematerialize at will, change shape remarkably, pluck us out of locked rooms and make us appear from nowhere. It could also turn us inside out. There are several ways in which we can be turned inside out: the least pleasant would result in our viscera and internal organs being on the outside and the entire Cosmos—glowing intergalactic gas, galaxies, planets, everything—on the inside. I am not sure I like the idea.


pages: 458 words: 137,960

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline


Albert Einstein, call centre, dematerialisation, fault tolerance, financial independence, game design, late fees, pre–internet, side project, telemarketer, walking around money

I made my decision and summoned my courage. “Sorrento,” I said, trying to hide the fear in my voice, “I want you and your bosses to know something. You’re never going to find Halliday’s egg. You know why? Because he was smarter than all of you put together. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or who you try to blackmail. You’re going to lose.” I tapped my Log-out icon, and my avatar began to dematerialize in front of him. He didn’t seem surprised. He just looked at me sadly and shook his head. “Stupid move, kid,” he said, just before my visor went black. I sat there in the darkness of my hideout, wincing and waiting for the detonation. But a full minute passed and nothing happened. I slid my visor up and pulled off my gloves with shaking hands. As my eyes began to adjust to the darkness, I let out a tentative sigh of relief.


A Voyage Long and Strange: On the Trail of Vikings, Conquistadors, Lost Colonists, and Other Adventurers in Early America by Tony Horwitz


airport security, Atahualpa, back-to-the-land, Bartolomé de las Casas, Colonization of Mars, Columbian Exchange, dematerialisation, diversified portfolio, Francisco Pizarro, Hernando de Soto, illegal immigration, joint-stock company, out of africa, Ralph Waldo Emerson, trade route, urban renewal

Descending to the ground floor, we became lost in a warren of dark offices. Stumbling into one, we found a man in a suit with a scale model of the Faro on his desk. This turned out to be the Faro’s administrator, Teódulo Mercedes, one of the many people I’d phoned repeatedly without success. He seemed as startled to see us as we were to find him: an official caught in the act of doing his official job. Worried he might somehow dematerialize, I jumped straight to the object of my quest. Who, I asked, was buried in Columbus’s tomb? Teódulo chuckled. “It is Columbus, this is certain,” he said, without specifying Christopher or Diego. “But let us talk of other things.” The Faro’s 45,850 cubic yards of concrete, for instance, and 125 bathrooms. Incredibly, the original design had called for the building to be a third larger. An engineer by training, Teódulo went on for half an hour, cataloguing the Faro’s immensity.


pages: 478 words: 131,657

Tesla: Man Out of Time by Margaret Cheney


AltaVista, dematerialisation, fudge factor, invention of radio, luminiferous ether, Menlo Park

The belief in these is the natural outgrowth of intellectual development. Religious dogmas are no longer accepted in their orthodox meaning, but every individual clings to faith in a supreme power of some kind. We all must have an ideal to govern our conduct and insure contentment, but it is immaterial whether it be one of creed, art, science or anything else, so long as it fulfills the function of a dematerializing force. It is essential to the peaceful existence of humanity as a whole that one common conception should prevail. “While I have failed to obtain any evidence in support of the contentions of psychologists and spiritualists, I have proved to my complete satisfaction the automatism of life, not only through continuous observations of individual actions, but even more conclusively through certain generalizations.”5 He said that whenever friends or relatives of his had been hurt by others in a particular way, he himself felt what he could only characterize as a “cosmic” pain.


pages: 476 words: 120,892

Life on the Edge: The Coming of Age of Quantum Biology by Johnjoe McFadden, Jim Al-Khalili


agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, bioinformatics, complexity theory, dematerialisation, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, Ernest Rutherford, Gödel, Escher, Bach, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Louis Pasteur, New Journalism, phenotype, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, theory of mind, traveling salesman, uranium enrichment, Zeno's paradox

However, quantum biology researchers now claim that these vibrations are so-called “driving motions” whose primary function is to bring atoms and molecules into close enough proximity to allow their particles (electrons and protons) to quantum tunnel.11 We will be returning to this topic, one of the most exciting and fast-moving fields of quantum biology, in the last chapter of the book. So does this establish the quantum in quantum biology? Enzymes have made and unmade every single biomolecule inside every living cell that lives or has ever lived. Enzymes are as close as anything to the vital factors of life. So the discovery that some, and possibly all, enzymes work by promoting the dematerialization of particles from one point in space and their instantaneous materialization in another provides us with a novel insight into the mystery of life. And while there remain many unresolved issues related to enzymes that need to be better understood, such as the role of protein motions, there is no doubt that quantum tunneling plays a role in the way they work. Even so, we should address a criticism made by many scientists who accept the findings of Klinman, Scrutton and others, but nevertheless claim that quantum effects have as relevant a role in biology as they have in the workings of a steam train: they are always there but are largely irrelevant to understanding how either system works.


pages: 476 words: 148,895

Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation by Michael Pollan


biofilm, bioinformatics, Columbian Exchange, correlation does not imply causation, dematerialisation, Drosophila, energy security, Gary Taubes, Hernando de Soto, Louis Pasteur, Mason jar, microbiome, peak oil, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Steven Pinker, women in the workforce

It called for a tremendous number of egg whites whipped to an airy froth. The albumen proteins in the whites of eggs can hold air much like gluten does, allowing the cells of gas whipped into it to expand dramatically when heated. For the base, instead of calling for an equivalent number of yolks to carry the flavor, or cream, the recipe called for yogurt, which made for a soufflé (the word of course means “blown”) even more dematerialized than usual. Its flavor was powerful yet largely illusory, the result of the way the essential oils played on the human brain’s difficulty in distinguishing between information obtained by the sense of taste and that provided by the sense of smell. Each weightless bite amounted to a little poem of synesthesia—a confusion of the senses that delighted. It made for a fitting end to an effervescent evening.


pages: 433 words: 127,171

The Grid: The Fraying Wires Between Americans and Our Energy Future by Gretchen Bakke


Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, demand response, dematerialisation, distributed generation, energy security, energy transition, full employment, illegal immigration, indoor plumbing, Internet of things, laissez-faire capitalism, Menlo Park, Negawatt, new economy, post-oil, profit motive, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, smart grid, smart meter, the built environment, too big to fail, washing machines reduced drudgery, Whole Earth Catalog

The future promises an even more thorough integration of electricity into our lives, more data (which is after all, just electricity), more “smart” things (coming to populate the Internet of Things), and the elimination of fuel from cars, necessary if we’d like to stop global warming before it exceeds the 2-degrees-Celsius disaster line. Most important, we’d like this means of “being electric” to come from nothing, to be transmitted by nothing, to cause no damage, and to work always and wherever. This abiding cultural attachment to electricity only makes the unwieldy ways in which we have to move in order to access it all the more salient. If only we could dematerialize the infrastructure while simultaneously making power ambient—ever present, never sought—then perhaps we’d have an electricity system better suited to the present and better oriented toward a future that meshes with the data-driven and data-dependent beings we are becoming. The question is, of course, how to do this. Especially since our everyday desires for the future of electricity have relatively little to do with what the vested interests pursue in their attempts to maintain the technological and fiscal viability of the current system.


pages: 523 words: 143,139

Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions by Brian Christian, Tom Griffiths


4chan, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, algorithmic trading, anthropic principle, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, Bill Duvall, bitcoin, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, constrained optimization, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, Danny Hillis, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, diversification, double helix, Elon Musk, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, Firefox, first-price auction, Flash crash, Frederick Winslow Taylor, George Akerlof, global supply chain, Google Chrome, Henri Poincaré, information retrieval, Internet Archive, Jeff Bezos, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, knapsack problem, Lao Tzu, linear programming, martingale, Nash equilibrium, natural language processing, NP-complete, P = NP, packet switching, prediction markets, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, RFC: Request For Comment, Robert X Cringely, sealed-bid auction, second-price auction, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, sorting algorithm, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, stochastic process, Thomas Malthus, traveling salesman, Turing machine, urban planning, Vickrey auction, Walter Mischel, Y Combinator

—LEWIS CARROLL We often think of the Internet as a flat, independent, and loosely connected network. In fact, it’s none of those things. A quarter of all Internet traffic at present is handled by a single corporation, one that manages to stay almost entirely out of the headlines. This Massachusetts-based company is called Akamai, and they’re in the caching business. We also think of the Internet as abstract, dematerial, post-geographic. We’re told our data is “in the cloud,” which is meant to suggest a diffuse, distant place. Again, none of these are true. The reality is that the Internet is all about bundles of physical wires and racks of metal. And it’s much more closely tied to geography than you might expect. Engineers think about geography on a tiny scale when they design computer hardware: faster memory is usually placed closer to the processor, minimizing the length of the wires that information has to travel along.


pages: 538 words: 138,544

The Story of Stuff: The Impact of Overconsumption on the Planet, Our Communities, and Our Health-And How We Can Make It Better by Annie Leonard


air freight, banking crisis, big-box store, blood diamonds, Bretton Woods, California gold rush, carbon footprint, clean water, Community Supported Agriculture, dematerialisation, employer provided health coverage, energy security, European colonialism, Firefox, Food sovereignty, Ford paid five dollars a day, full employment, global supply chain, income inequality, Indoor air pollution, intermodal, Jeff Bezos, job satisfaction, McMansion, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, Ralph Nader, renewable energy credits, Silicon Valley, special economic zone, supply-chain management, the built environment, trade liberalization, trickle-down economics, union organizing, Wall-E, Whole Earth Review, Zipcar

Adaptable: Instead of chucking our cell phones, laptops, etc. when new features become available, these items can have removable, update-able components, like lenses on a camera. The initial extra material or financial investment to make this change systemwide will be far outweighed by the costs saved on reduced extraction of new materials. Our most brilliant minds can and should be let loose on cutting-edge industrial design that focuses not on improving just speed and style, but on dematerializing—using fewer resources. For example, digital music has replaced tons of vinyl records, plastic cassettes, and CD jewel cases. Sleek flat-screen TVs and monitors are replacing old washing machine-sized ones. Packaging has been made thinner, lighter. In lots of arenas, resource use per product is decreasing. (Unfortunately this progress can be canceled out if overall consumption rates don’t likewise slow down.) 2.


pages: 725 words: 221,514

Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber


Admiral Zheng, anti-communist, back-to-the-land, banks create money, Bretton Woods, British Empire, carried interest, cashless society, central bank independence, colonial rule, corporate governance, David Graeber, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, double entry bookkeeping, financial innovation, full employment, George Gilder, informal economy, invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, joint-stock company, means of production, microcredit, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, moral hazard, oil shock, payday loans, place-making, Ponzi scheme, price stability, profit motive, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, short selling, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, too big to fail, transaction costs, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, tulip mania, upwardly mobile, urban decay, working poor

Surely it means something that even those who feel they are responsible for keeping the current global economic system running, who just a few years ago acted as if they could simply assume the current system would be around forever, are now seeing apocalypse everywhere. In this case, the IMF has a point. We have every reason to believe that we do indeed stand on the brink of epochal changes. Admittedly, the usual impulse is to imagine everything around us as absolutely new. Nowhere is this so true as with money. How many times have we been told that the advent of virtual money, the dematerialization of cash into plastic and dollars into blips of electronic information, has brought us to an unprecedented new financial world? The assumption that we were in such uncharted territory, of course, was one of the things that made it so easy for the likes of Goldman Sachs and AIG to convince people that no one could possibly understand their dazzling new financial instruments. The moment one casts matters on a broad historical scale, though, the first thing one learns is that there’s nothing new about virtual money.


pages: 829 words: 229,566

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. The Climate by Naomi Klein


1960s counterculture, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, big-box store, bilateral investment treaty, British Empire, business climate, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, Climategate, cognitive dissonance, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, crony capitalism, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Donald Trump, Downton Abbey, energy security, energy transition, equal pay for equal work, Exxon Valdez, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, financial deregulation, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, hydraulic fracturing, ice-free Arctic, immigration reform, income per capita, Internet Archive, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, market fundamentalism, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, patent troll, planetary scale, post-oil, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rana Plaza, Ronald Reagan, smart grid, special economic zone, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, structural adjustment programs, Ted Kaczynski, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, transatlantic slave trade, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, wages for housework, walkable city, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

Our public institutions are disintegrating, while the institutions of the traditional left—progressive political parties, strong unions, membership-based community service organizations—are fighting for their lives. And the challenge goes deeper than a lack of institutional tools and reaches into our very selves. Contemporary capitalism has not just accelerated the behaviors that are changing the climate. This economic model has changed a great many of us as individuals, accelerated and uprooted and dematerialized us as surely as it has finance capital, leaving us at once everywhere and nowhere. These are the hand-wringing clichés of our time—What is Twitter doing to my attention span? What are screens doing to our relationships?—but the preoccupations have particular relevance to the way we relate to the climate challenge. Because this is a crisis that is, by its nature, slow moving and intensely place based.


pages: 659 words: 203,574

The Collected Stories of Vernor Vinge by Vernor Vinge


anthropic principle, back-to-the-land, dematerialisation, gravity well, invisible hand, Machinery of Freedom by David Friedman, spice trade, technological singularity, unbiased observer, Vernor Vinge

The black-haired woman turned as though she could see him. “What do you mean you—” “I know that man too!” Another dark face appeared. “From Sharn, from the empire. But … after ten thousand years, how can he be the same … Aydricks! Remember the Primitive Arts man, he was famous, he spent …” the voice blurred, “ … got to get him out of the comm system! He knows the comm-sat codes, he can—” The ghostly face dematerialized entirely. Aydricks looked wildly at the unmoving peddler, back at the remaining governors. Wim saw more faces appear, and another face flicker out; the same man … “Stop him, Aydricks!” The woman’s voice rose. “He’ll ruin us. He’s altering the comm codes, killing the tie-up!” “I can’t cut him off!” “He’s into my link now, I’m losing con—”The red-haired ghost disappeared. “Stop him, Aydricks, or we’ll burn out Fyffe!”


pages: 843 words: 223,858

The Rise of the Network Society by Manuel Castells


Apple II, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, borderless world, British Empire, capital controls, complexity theory, computer age, Credit Default Swap, declining real wages, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, edge city, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial independence, floating exchange rates, future of work, global village, Hacker Ethic, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, illegal immigration, income inequality, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, intermodal, invention of the steam engine, invention of the telephone, inventory management, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, job-hopping, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, labour market flexibility, labour mobility, laissez-faire capitalism, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, packet switching, planetary scale, popular electronics, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Robert Gordon, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social software, South China Sea, South of Market, San Francisco, special economic zone, spinning jenny, statistical model, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson, the built environment, the medium is the message, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, transaction costs, urban renewal, urban sprawl

Thus, the showcase of networking production, the Italian knitwear multinational firm, Benetton, was overtaken in 1995 by its American competitor Gap mainly because of its inability to follow Gap’s speed in introducing new models according to evolving consumer taste: every two months, as compared with twice a year for Benetton.30 Another example: in the software industry in the mid-1990s firms started to give away their products for free, over the line, in order to attract customers at a faster pace.31 The rationale behind this final dematerialization of software products is that profits are to be made in the long term, mainly out of customized relationships with users over development and improvements of a given program. But the initial adoption of such a program depends on the advantage of solutions offered by a product over other products in the market, thus putting a premium on the quick availability of new breakthroughs, as soon as they are generated by a firm or an individual.


pages: 903 words: 235,753

The Stack: On Software and Sovereignty by Benjamin H. Bratton


1960s counterculture, 3D printing, 4chan, Ada Lovelace, additive manufacturing, airport security, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Amazon Web Services, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, bioinformatics, bitcoin, blockchain, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, call centre, carbon footprint, carbon-based life, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, charter city, clean water, cloud computing, connected car, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, dark matter, David Graeber, deglobalization, dematerialisation, disintermediation, distributed generation, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk,, Eratosthenes, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, Flash crash, Frank Gehry, Frederick Winslow Taylor, future of work, Georg Cantor, gig economy, global supply chain, Google Earth, Google Glasses, Guggenheim Bilbao, High speed trading, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, industrial robot, information retrieval, intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Thiel, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Sand Hill Road, self-driving car, semantic web, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Slavoj Žižek, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, software studies, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, special economic zone, spectrum auction, Startup school, statistical arbitrage, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, Stuxnet, Superbowl ad, supply-chain management, supply-chain management software, TaskRabbit, the built environment, The Chicago School, the scientific method, Torches of Freedom, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

In the meantime, we note that many of the most important positive potential effects of ubiquitous computationally intensive, point-to-point energy flows are on “non-Stack” industries. The Climate Group's Smart2020: Enabling the Low Carbon Economy in the Information Age report issues confident, sunny scenarios for carbon savings from ICT in five critical areas: smart grids, transportation, dematerialization, buildings, and information management. The key interventions include the more nimble transmission grids as discussed above, distributed energy storage systems, congestion pricing, vehicle-to-grid charging and energy storage, teleconferencing, desktop virtualization, building and facility management, fine-grain metering, and supply chain and logistical optimization. The conclusion of the report is that if ICT is more deeply integrated into the fabric of industrial economies, especially in China and India, it would realize a total carbon savings that is five times greater than the sector's direct footprint based on projected growth (ICT's direct footprint is estimated to be 1.4 GtCO2e in 2020, but the total ICT-enabled abatement is estimated to be a savings of 7.9 GtCO2e).


pages: 695 words: 219,110

The Fabric of the Cosmos by Brian Greene


airport security, Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, Brownian motion, clockwork universe, conceptual framework, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, dark matter, dematerialisation, Hans Lippershey, Henri Poincaré, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Murray Gell-Mann, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman, Stephen Hawking, urban renewal

So, rather than speculating on the likelihood of what may be, in this chapter I’ll describe how far we’ve actually gone, in both theory and practice, toward realizing teleporters and time machines, and what it would take to go further and attain control over space and time. Teleportation in a Quantum World In conventional science fiction depictions, a teleporter (or, in Star Trek lingo, a transporter) scans an object to determine its detailed composition and sends the information to a distant location, where the object is reconstituted. Whether the object itself is “dematerialized,” its atoms and molecules being sent along with the blueprint for putting them back together, or whether atoms and molecules located at the receiving end are used to build an exact replica of the object, varies from one fictional incarnation to another. As we’ll see, the scientific approach to teleportation developed over the last decade is closer in spirit to the latter category, and this raises two essential questions.