planetary scale

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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, basic income, Benevolent Dictator For Life (BDFL), 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, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk,, Eratosthenes, Ethereum, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Jacob Appelbaum, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Markoff, Joi Ito, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Khan Academy, liberal capitalism, lifelogging, linked data, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, McMansion, means of production, megacity, megastructure, Menlo Park, Minecraft, MITM: man-in-the-middle, Monroe Doctrine, Network effects, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, packet switching, PageRank, pattern recognition, peak oil, peer-to-peer, performance metric, personalized medicine, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, phenotype, Philip Mirowski, Pierre-Simon Laplace, place-making, planetary scale, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, reserve currency, RFID, Robert Bork, 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, undersea cable, universal basic income, urban planning, Vernor Vinge, Washington Consensus, web application, Westphalian system, WikiLeaks, working poor, Y Combinator

The model does not put technology “inside” a “society,” but sees a technological totality as the armature of the social itself. It does not focus on computation in the service of governance, or in resistance to governance, but rather on computation as governance. In the first chapter, I propose that we view the various types of planetary-scale computation (e.g., smart grids, cloud computing, mobile and urban-scale software, universal addressing systems, ubiquitous computing, and robotics, and so on) not as isolated, unrelated types of computation but as forming a larger, coherent whole. They form an accidental megastructure called The Stack that is not only a kind of planetary-scale computing system; it is also a new architecture for how we divide up the world into sovereign spaces. More specifically, this model is informed by the multilayered structure of software protocol stacks in which network technologies operate within a modular and interdependent vertical order.

The continuing emergence of planetary-scale computation as metainfrastructure and of information as a historical agent of economic and geographic command together suggest that something fundamental has shifted off-center. But global transformations of hard and soft systems brought by computation have disturbed neat arrangements in ways that Clinton struggles to articulate and we struggle to describe and design for. While trade and migration perforate borders, state sovereignty and supervision over information flows are also dramatically reinscribed and reinforced. The possible architectures at work now and in the future seem twisted and torqued in the extreme. In this context, this book proposes a specific model for the design of political geography tuned to this era of planetary-scale computation. It works from the inside out, from technology to governing systems.

It lets us see that all of these different machines are parts of a greater machine, and perhaps the diagrammatic image of a totality that such a perspective provides would, as theories of totality have before, make the composition of alternatives—including new sovereignties and new forms of governance—both more legible and more effective. As the shape of political geography and the architecture of planetary-scale computation as a whole, The Stack is an accidental megastructure, one that we are building both deliberately and unwittingly and is in turn building us in its own image. While it names the organization of a planetary-scale computing infrastructure, my purpose is to leverage it toward a broader program for platform design. In the depiction of this incipient megastructure, we can see not just new machines but also still-embryonic geopolitical institutions and social systems as well. For these, The Stack is powerful and dangerous, both remedy and poison, a utopian and dystopian machine at once (it can go either way, and as Buckminster Fuller said, it will be touch and go until the last instant).

pages: 369 words: 98,776

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

Airbus A320, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), 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, undersea cable, University of East Anglia

To put this in context: Worldwide, 60 percent of the 227 largest rivers have been fragmented by man-made infrastructure, and the total number of dams blocking the natural flow of the planet’s watercourses is estimated at 800,000.1 These impound approximately 10,000 cubic kilometers of water—a quantity so substantial that it measurably reduces the rate of sea level rise (by about half a millimeter a year for the last half-century2) and even changes the mass distribution of the planet sufficiently to alter its axis and slightly increase the speed of its rotation.3 The sheer scale of human engineering activity on rivers has been extraordinary: On average we have constructed two large dams per day over the last fifty years, half of those in China alone.4 Humans have affected the water cycle in less visible ways too: Deforestation and irrigation are altering water-vapor flows over the planet’s surface;5 changes in land use and climate are increasing total planetary river runoff.6 Human engineering can have large-scale impacts—agriculture in Pakistan’s dry Indus Basin, supported by the largest irrigation network of canals and dams in the world, probably has a direct effect on the region’s monsoon.7 Due to the globe-girdling reach of modern human civilization, these regional and planetary-scale changes are perhaps unsurprising, for humanity has always had an umbilical connection with rivers and fresh water. Imperial capitals throughout history have lined major watercourses, from Nanjing on the Yangtze to London on the Thames. When water became scarce or was misused—as in ancient Mesopotamia or during Central America’s Classic Maya period—great civilizations could come crashing down, leaving little trace behind as their once unconquerable cities were reclaimed by sand or forest. Today we face the danger of overusing water resources on a planetary scale, and the consequences for our advanced civilization may be just as significant in the long run. TURNING ON THE TAP It would be foolish to neglect the enormous benefits that water engineering and control have delivered to humanity.

Today, with the worldwide language of science, that problem has finally been overcome. Venter and his team have seemingly proved that all life is reducible to chemistry—there is nothing more to it than that. No essential life force, no soul, no afterlife. With the primacy of science, there seems to be less and less room for the divine. God’s power is now increasingly being exercised by us. We are the creators of life, but we are also its destroyers. On a planetary scale, humans now assert unchallenged dominion over all living things. Our collective power already threatens or overwhelms most of the major forces of nature, from the water cycle to the circulation of major elements like nitrogen and carbon through the entire Earth system. Our pollutants have subtly changed the color of the sky, while our release of half a trillion tonnes of carbon as the greenhouse gas CO2 into the air is heating up the atmosphere, land, and oceans.

It is too late for that now, and—as my uncle always says—one must move with the times. Instead, the overwhelming weight of scientific evidence suggests that we are fast approaching the point where our interference in the planet’s great biogeochemical cycles is threatening to endanger the Earth system itself, and hence our own survival as a species. To avert this increasing danger, we must begin to take responsibility for our actions at a planetary scale. Nature no longer runs the Earth. We do. It is our choice what happens from here. This book aims to demonstrate how our new task of consciously managing the planet, by far the most important effort ever undertaken by humankind, can be tackled. The idea for it came to me in a moment of revelation two years ago in Sweden, during a conference in the pretty lakeside village of Tällberg. I was invited to join a group of scientists meeting in closed session to discuss the concept of “planetary boundaries,” a term coined by the Swedish director of the Stockholm Resilience Centre, Professor Johan Rockström.

pages: 409 words: 129,423

Mapping Mars: Science, Imagination and the Birth of a World by Oliver Morton

Colonization of Mars, computer age, double entry bookkeeping, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, Mercator projection, nuclear winter, planetary scale, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, sexual politics, the scientific method, trade route, undersea cable, V2 rocket, Works Progress Administration

The mixture of strength and subtlety in the sparse landscape between the tree line and the snows clearly entrances him; when a version of that same postglacial landscape first makes its appearance on Robinson’s Mars, about a third of the way into the second volume, his delight lifts the description from the page. While many other living landscapes grace the books from then on, it is always this alpine biota, at once so enduring and so seemingly fragile, that lives in the imagination most fully, establishing a new bridge between the books’ personal and planetary scales. There’s a seeming contradiction here. The surface of Mars is extraordinarily ancient; the High Sierras are relatively young mountains, and the postglacial fell-fields above their tree lines are among the youngest of the landscapes they have to offer. But that’s the delight of Robinson’s vision. Bringing life to Mars makes it new again. There is no need, in Robinson’s world, to give Mars hidden life or ancient secrets or long-lost civilizations to provide some sort of payoff (his books are almost the only major Mars fiction that does not involve any significant discoveries about the planet’s past at all).

This is not that surprising. Changes in the extent of continental ice cover mean that the Earth’s seas are surrounded by fossil shores above and below the current ones. During the next Ice Age, today’s shores will be anything up to a hundred yards above sea level. In some places on Mars, Parker saw half a dozen shorelines parallel to each other. Most of them, though, could not be traced for long distances. At the planetary scale there were just two: “Contact 1,” which kept close to the highland-lowland boundary, and “Contact 2,” which was farther out into the lowlands. Parker saw the two contacts—to call them shorelines in print would have been a breach of geological mappers’ objectivity—as evidence that the Martian ocean, like Lake Bonneville, had died in stages. What Parker was seeing was dramatic enough to be slightly scary.

Clifford had imagined melt water from the poles filling the nooks and crannies of the megaregolith up to the same level all around the planet: The water table would be a sort of underground sea level and so it would be flat. The surface of Mars, though, is far from flat. It has a distinct slope, with the south pole about six miles higher than the northern plains. So if the water were to find its level on a planetary scale, that level could easily be deep beneath the southern highlands—and a few miles above the northern plains. The ocean’s shore would mark the contour at which the ground dipped below the water level in the aquifer. Northern ocean and southern aquifer would be part and parcel of the same thing. An ocean would not necessarily mean a warm climate, with clouds and rain and such. Parker and Clifford imagined it to have been covered with ice from close to its inception.

pages: 239 words: 68,598

The Vanishing Face of Gaia: A Final Warning by James E. Lovelock

Ada Lovelace, butterfly effect, carbon footprint, Clapham omnibus, cognitive dissonance, continuous integration, David Attenborough, decarbonisation, discovery of DNA, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Henri Poincaré, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), mandelbrot fractal, mass immigration, megacity, Northern Rock, oil shale / tar sands, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, short selling, Stewart Brand, University of East Anglia

There was nothing ‘unnatural’ in this; other organisms have been massively changing the Earth since life began 3.5 billion years ago. Without oxygen from photosynthesizers, for example, there would be no fires. Organisms change their world locally for purely selfish reasons: if the advantage conferred by the ‘engineering’ is sufficiently favourable it allows them, their progeny and their environment to expand until dominant on a planetary scale. Our use of fires as a biocide to clear land of natural forests and replace them with farmland was our second act of geoengineering. Third was industry for the last 200 years. Together these acts have led us and the Earth to evolve to its current state. As a consequence, most of us are now urban and our environment is an artefact of engineering. During this long engineering apprenticeship we changed the Earth, but until quite recently, like the photosynthesizers, we were unaware that we were doing it; still less were we aware of the adverse consequences.

The sun was 0.5 per cent cooler and there was no agriculture anywhere, so that natural vegetation was free to regulate the climate. Another difference was that the world was not then experiencing global dimming – the 2 to 3 degrees of global cooling caused by the atmospheric aerosol of man‐made pollution. PLANETARY MEDICINE AND ETHICS What are the planetary health risks of geoengineering intervention? Nothing we do is likely to sterilize the Earth, but the consequences of planetary‐scale intervention could hugely affect humans. Putative geoengineers are in a similar position to that of physicians before the 1940s. In his book The Youngest Profession the physician Lewis Thomas beautifully described the practice of medicine before the Second World War. There were only five effective medicines available: morphine for pain, quinine for malaria, insulin for diabetes, digitalis for heart disease and aspirin for inflammation, and very little was known of their mode of action.

These changes are at least as devastating as was the interglacial shift and will affect a world that is already hot and dry. When they do mass migration is inevitable. The recognition that we are the agents of planetary change brings a sense of guilt and gives environmentalism a religious significance. So far it is no more than a belief system that has extended the concept of pollution and ecosystem destruction from the local to the planetary scale. Maybe it will grow into a faith but it is still nascent and its dogma not yet properly codified. An environmentalist with a religious inclination might ask, ‘Was the discovery and use of fire our original sin? Were we sinful to continue to pollute the planet?’ For most of us the contrite expression of ‘Mea culpa!’ in a deep green voice is not appropriate. We know that we have made appalling mistakes but we have cast aside the old idea that we are born evil and now acknowledge that the whims of our fickle natures were amplified by technology, so that like a drunkard driving a tank we have accidentally trashed our world.

pages: 469 words: 142,230

The Planet Remade: How Geoengineering Could Change the World by Oliver Morton

Albert Einstein, Asilomar, British Empire, Buckminster Fuller, Cesare Marchetti: Marchetti’s constant, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, Columbian Exchange, decarbonisation, demographic transition, Elon Musk, energy transition, Ernest Rutherford, germ theory of disease, Haber-Bosch Process, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, John von Neumann, late capitalism, Louis Pasteur, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, Philip Mirowski, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, renewable energy transition, Scramble for Africa, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, smart grid, South China Sea, Stewart Brand, Thomas Malthus

If nothing else, I think there is a particular appreciation of the wonder of the earthsystem that can be gained only by imagining how it could be changed. The ultimate challenge is not just to picture what an earth-system subject to some level of deliberate design might be like. It is to picture a world in which you would feel happy about such a design being realized. It is about finding happiness and exercising compassion on a planetary scale – a project that will have to be as political as it is scientific or technological. The goal is to help you imagine a world attractive enough that many would welcome it, but robust and provisional enough that its creation does not require everyone to agree on every aspect of it; a world that requires neither uniformity of outlook nor the suppression of dissent, but offers ways for justice and sympathy to spread out through the human world and into the earthsystem beyond

The stratosphere, then and now, offered the sublime in heady drafts. After the Second World War, flights to the stratosphere became much more common, and wing-borne to boot. They became less about what lay beyond, and more about what sat below; they also became much more predominantly American. In partially taming some droplets of Heard’s ocean of energy, the Manhattan Project changed the way strategists thought about power on a planetary scale. They found in the stratosphere a frontier-free high ground from which the warriors in charge of the new nuclear arsenals could look down; America’s first great expression of global power, the B-52 bomber, was accordingly named the Stratofortress. The nuclear age also realigned the interests of the military and those of scientists. Geophysicists, aware that, unlike other physicists, they were largely bereft of laboratories, had come to think of the upper atmosphere as something akin to a replacement, a natural laboratory, and the military, impressed by what physicists had put into the bomb bays of its Stratofortresses, proved happy to offer them better access to it, with rockets and new sorts of aircraft.

To Lowell it was obvious. He believed Mars to be an older planet than the Earth, and thus both a drier one – he subscribed to a theory that all planets tended to dry out as they aged – and one with inhabitants further along the evolutionary road of progress than humans had yet travelled. Humans were already using canals to join oceans and sunder continents; Martians were advanced enough to build them on a planetary scale in order to irrigate their increasingly arid planet. The motives of the Martian canal builders, Lowell thought, were as clearly seen through the telescope as the surface of the planet itself. In his refusal to distinguish astronomical observation from sociological explanation, if nothing else, he prefigured the hybridization of the human world and the earth-system that characterizes the Anthropocene.

pages: 254 words: 68,133

The Age of Illusions: How America Squandered Its Cold War Victory by Andrew J. Bacevich

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, anti-communist, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, clean water, Columbian Exchange, Credit Default Swap, cuban missile crisis, David Brooks, deindustrialization, Donald Trump, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, friendly fire, gig economy, global village, Gordon Gekko, greed is good, illegal immigration, income inequality, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, Marshall McLuhan, mass incarceration, Mikhail Gorbachev, Monroe Doctrine, Norman Mailer, obamacare, Occupy movement, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Potemkin village, price stability, Project for a New American Century, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Saturday Night Live, school choice, Silicon Valley, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, WikiLeaks

Confident that an era of unprecedented U.S. economic, military, and cultural ascendancy now beckoned, members of an intoxicated elite threw caution to the winds. They devised—and promulgated—a new consensus consisting of four elements. The first of these was globalization or, more precisely, globalized neoliberalism. Stripped to its essence, globalization was all about wealth creation: Unconstrained corporate capitalism operating on a planetary scale in a world open to the movement of goods, capital, ideas, and people would create wealth on a hitherto unimagined scale. The second element was global leadership, a euphemism for hegemony or, more simply still, for empire. At its core, global leadership was all about order: Unchallengeable military might would enable the United States to manage and police a postcolonial yet implicitly imperial order favorable to American interests and values.

Yet absent extreme laziness or outright stupidity, the competition was ours to win.8 During the Cold War, the West had provided a venue for experimenting with the concept of globalization on a limited scale. In effect, the so-called Free World served as a prototype for the way a globalized world might work, with barriers to trade, travel, and investment reduced and norms governing interaction between states and citizens codified. By fostering a shared (if uneven) prosperity, these arrangements had enabled the United States and its allies to best the Soviets and their allies. Replicating on a planetary scale the success achieved during the Cold War seemed an obvious next step. What had worked in the West would surely work in the East and the South as well. Although in the near term the embrace of globalization might create winners and losers, losers would have both incentive and opportunity to retool and get with the program. Truth to tell, no real alternative existed. So, at least, august figures insisted.

Perhaps the answer to Rabbit’s question, if there is one, might be found in realigning that traditional sense of mission with current conditions. When the Cold War ended, American elites had their chance to do just that and failed miserably. They misread the conditions and propagated a set of deeply flawed policies. Seduced by the perception that history had reached its intended conclusion, members of that elite persuaded themselves that neoliberalism implemented on a planetary scale, an approach to global leadership centered on the use or threatened use of armed force, and the abandonment of individual self-restraint—all of this unfolding under the aegis of presidents able to decipher the signs of the times—would deliver humankind to the Emerald City of prosperity, peace, and perfect freedom. Among that city’s residents, they fully expected Americans to enjoy more than their fair share of the benefits, as was their due.

pages: 396 words: 117,149

The Master Algorithm: How the Quest for the Ultimate Learning Machine Will Remake Our World by Pedro Domingos

Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Arthur Eddington, basic income, Bayesian statistics, Benoit Mandelbrot, bioinformatics, Black Swan, Brownian motion, cellular automata, Claude Shannon: information theory, combinatorial explosion, computer vision, constrained optimization, correlation does not imply causation, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, Danny Hillis, data is the new oil, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter, Erik Brynjolfsson, experimental subject, Filter Bubble, future of work, global village, Google Glasses, Gödel, Escher, Bach, information retrieval, job automation, John Markoff, John Snow's cholera map, John von Neumann, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, lone genius, mandelbrot fractal, Mark Zuckerberg, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, Narrative Science, Nate Silver, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, NP-complete, off grid, P = NP, PageRank, pattern recognition, phenotype, planetary scale, pre–internet, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Richard Feynman, scientific worldview, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, speech recognition, Stanford marshmallow experiment, statistical model, Stephen Hawking, Steven Levy, Steven Pinker, superintelligent machines, the scientific method, The Signal and the Noise by Nate Silver, theory of mind, Thomas Bayes, transaction costs, Turing machine, Turing test, Vernor Vinge, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, white flight, zero-sum game

Various research groups have used Alchemy or their own MLN implementations to solve problems in natural language processing, computer vision, activity recognition, social network analysis, molecular biology, and many other areas. Despite its successes, Alchemy has some significant shortcomings. It does not yet scale to truly big data, and someone without a PhD in machine learning will find it hard to use. Because of these problems, it’s not yet ready for prime time. But let’s see what we can do about them. Planetary-scale machine learning In computer science, a problem isn’t really solved until it’s solved efficiently. Knowing how to do something isn’t much use if you can’t do it within the available time and memory, and these can run out very quickly when you’re dealing with an MLN. We routinely learn MLNs with millions of variables and billions of features, but this is not as large as it seems because the number of variables grows very quickly with the number of entities in the MLN: if you have a social network with a thousand people, you already have a million possible pairs of friends and a billion instances of the formula Friends of friends are friends.

If the world is a Lego toy, we can break it up into individual bricks, remembering which attaches to which, and group the bricks by shape and color. If the world is Wikipedia, we can extract the entities it talks about, group them into classes, and learn how classes relate to each other. Then if someone asks us “Is Arnold Schwarzenegger an action star?” we can answer yes, because he’s a star and he’s in action movies. Step-by-step, we can learn larger and larger MLNs, until we’re doing what a friend of mine at Google calls “planetary-scale machine learning”: modeling everyone in the world at once, with data continually streaming in and answers streaming out. Of course, learning on this scale requires much more than a direct implementation of the algorithms we’ve seen. For one, beyond a certain point a single processor is not enough; we have to distribute the learning over many servers. Researchers in both industry and academia have intensely investigated how to, for example, do gradient descent using many computers in parallel.

., 34–38 Machine learning, 6–10 analogy and, 178–179 bias and variance and, 78–79 big data and, 15–16 business and, 10–13 chunking, 223–227 clustering, 205–210 dimensionality reduction, 211–217 effect on employment, 276–279 exponential function and, 73–74 fitness function and, 123 further readings, 297–298 future of, 21–22 impact on daily life, 298 effect on employment, 276–279 meta-learning, 237–239 nature vs. nurture debate and, 29, 137–139 Newton’s principle and, 65–66 planetary-scale, 256–259 politics and, 16–19 principal-component analysis, 211–217 problem of unpredictability and, 38–40 reinforcement learning, 218–223, 226–227 relational learning, 227–233 relationship to artificial intelligence, 8 science and, 13–16, 235–236 significance tests and, 76–77 as technology, 236–237 Turing point and, 286, 288 war and, 19–21, 279–282 See also Algorithms Machine-learning problem, 61–62, 109–110 Machine-translation systems, 154 MacKay, David, 170 Madrigal, Alexis, 273–274 Malthus, Thomas, 178, 235 Manchester Institute of Biotechnology, 16 Mandelbrot set, 30, 300 Margins, 192–194, 196, 241, 242, 243, 307 Markov, Andrei, 153 Markov chain Monte Carlo (MCMC), 164–165, 167, 170, 231, 241, 242, 253, 256 Markov chains, 153–155, 159, 304–305 Markov logic.

pages: 519 words: 136,708

Vertical: The City From Satellites to Bunkers by Stephen Graham

1960s counterculture, Berlin Wall, Boris Johnson, Buckminster Fuller, Buy land – they’re not making it any more, Chelsea Manning, Commodity Super-Cycle, creative destruction, deindustrialization, digital map, drone strike, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, energy security, Frank Gehry, ghettoisation, Google Earth, Gunnar Myrdal, high net worth, housing crisis, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, Indoor air pollution, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Jane Jacobs, late capitalism, low earth orbit, mass immigration, means of production, megacity, megastructure, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, oil shale / tar sands, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-industrial society, Project Plowshare, rent control, Richard Florida, Right to Buy, Ronald Reagan, Skype, South China Sea, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, trickle-down economics, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, white flight, WikiLeaks, William Langewiesche

Air: Lethal Domes Air … from Johannesburg to Tehran, to Delhi to Jakarta, isn’t about aesthetics, or even possible climate change at some point in the future: it’s about life and death now – Timothy Doyle and Melissa Risely, Crucible for Survival, 2008 Humans, increasingly, manufacture their own air. For a species which expires without breathable oxygen within two or three minutes, this human manufacture of air is of incalculable importance.1 Human existence comes only after breath.2 The process of the machinic manufacture of air happens in a variety of related ways. On a planetary scale, three centuries of rampant urban-industrial growth mean that the earth’s atmospheric composition is radically different from what it was in the mid eighteenth century. Greenhouse gas data provides the most startling examples here: CO2 levels in 2011 were 40 per cent higher than those in 1750; nitrous dioxide levels were 20 per cent higher; atmospheric methane rates were 150 per cent higher.

The national pollution crises in the summers of 2013 and 2015 in Singapore and other parts of Southeast Asia, for example, were caused by Sumatran slash-and-burn forest fires in Indonesian rain forests to create space for palm oil plantations.39 In 2015, Indonesian fires created such smoke problems in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand that states of emergency were declared and half a million acute respiratory tract infections were reported in these countries. At first sight the airscapes above European, Japanese and North American cities appear to be cleaner and less deadly than those in Asia. On a planetary scale, this has been achieved partly through a massive geo-economic shift across the horizontal terrain of the earth’s surface. The huge and filthy extractive and manufacturing complexes that sustain consumption in North American and European cities is now largely offshored – strung out across China, East and Southeast Asia, Africa, Latin America and even Australia. A major report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change in 2013 concluded that such wholesale offshoring from the West to East Asia was a key reason that global emissions of carbon dioxide and the other greenhouse gases increased twice as fast between 2000 and 2010 as they had during the previous three decades.

They are exemplars of a widening range of efforts, at a variety of scales, to try and make good air privately available to those who can afford it, amid an increasingly lethal exterior.76 Crucial questions surround such an incremental and haphazard privatisation of urban air through the spread of air-conditioned spaces and enclaves designed against a deteriorating exterior. Clearly, such projects inevitably become self-defeating at the urban and planetary scales. Beyond their sometimes negative impacts on those inside – who can succumb to poor health through problems such as ‘sick-building syndrome’ – these interiorised capsules of privatised air contribute disproportionately to the deterioration of the planetary climate outside their engineered bubbles. The sheer contradiction between the mass and density of the inevitably public city and dreams of controlled, hermetic microclimates shaping the inherently mobile air around mobile individuals inevitable breaks down.77 ‘People feel very strongly that their private constructions of immunity are endangered by the presence of too many constructions of immune spheres’, Sloterdijk writes.78 Such bubble-like worlds are ‘pressed against each other and destroy each other.’79 Thus, city-dwellers increasingly feel compressed and crowded within and between archipelagos of privatised interiors and deteriorating exteriors organised based on principles of extreme inequality.

pages: 326 words: 97,089

Five Billion Years of Solitude: The Search for Life Among the Stars by Lee Billings

addicted to oil, Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, California gold rush, Colonization of Mars, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, Dava Sobel, double helix, Edmond Halley, full employment, hydraulic fracturing, index card, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Kuiper Belt, low earth orbit, Magellanic Cloud, music of the spheres, out of africa, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, planetary scale, profit motive, quantitative trading / quantitative finance, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, random walk, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, selection bias, Silicon Valley, Solar eclipse in 1919, technological singularity, the scientific method, transcontinental railway

The duo decided to run a modest electric current through a sealed vessel of hydrogen, methane, ammonia, and water vapor—a mixture of gases thought at the time to mimic Earth’s ancient atmosphere. After only a week the Urey-Miller experiment had synthesized a “primordial soup” of organic compounds—sugars, lipids, and even amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. Acting over millions of years on a planetary scale, such reactions could easily synthesize the organic ingredients for life from inorganic chemical precursors. On our own planet, the fossil record suggested that life must have already been thriving only a few hundred million years after our planet cooled from its formation; it seemed to have appeared as soon as it possibly could. Calvin argued forcefully that on geological timescales the emergence of simple, single-celled life was a certainty on any habitable world.

Mercury astronaut John Glenn, the first American to orbit the planet, predicted that within a century we would have linked atomic power plants to “anti-gravity devices,” fundamentally rewriting the laws of physics and revolutionizing life and transportation on Earth and in the heavens alike. Another Mercury astronaut, Scott Carpenter, expressed his hope that the anti-gravity “scheme” would help humans colonize the Moon, the Martian moon Phobos, and Mars. The prominent astronomer Fred Whipple suggested that Earth’s population would have stabilized at 100 billion, and that planetary-scale engineering of Mars would have altered the Red Planet’s climate to allow its 700,000 inhabitants to be self-sufficient. The director of NASA’s Office of Manned Space Flight, Dyer Brainerd Holmes, suggested that in 2063 crewed vehicles would be reaching “velocities approaching the speed of light,” and that society would be debating whether to send humans to nearby stars. A majority of the twenty-nine respondents predicted a peaceful world, harmoniously unified under a democratic world government and freed from resource scarcity.

But he posited that the reason our planet had avoided a runaway greenhouse early in its life was that photosynthetic organisms had pulled the excess CO2 out of the air and locked it away in buried organic carbon at precisely the right rate to stabilize Earth’s temperature. In his view, it was life itself that actively, unconsciously maintained the Earth’s habitability by closely coupling and coevolving with the world’s geophysical systems. The coupling was so close, he argued, that at the largest scales differences between living things and their inanimate environs became indistinct, and the world could rightly be viewed as a complex system analogous to a planetary-scale organism. He called this union of the biosphere and the rest of the Earth “Gaia” after the goddess of Mother Earth in Greek mythology. With a collaborator, the American biologist Lynn Margulis, Lovelock went on to author a large body of literature further developing the theory. Kasting’s contribution to this debate came from his study of carbon cycles for his PhD thesis, which was on the rise of oxygen on the prebiotic Earth.

pages: 371 words: 108,317

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

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, commoditize, 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, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lifelogging, linked data, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Minecraft, Mitch Kapor, multi-sided market, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, new economy, Nicholas Carr, old-boy network, peer-to-peer, 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, uber lyft, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Whole Earth Review, zero-sum game

There is a solar-powered mini-relay on my roof that communicates with the other relays on nearby rooftops so that we—the Greater World builders—can’t be kicked off a company’s network. We collectively run the network, a network no one owns, or rather everyone owns. Our contributions can’t be sold, nor do we have to be marketed to while we make and play games within one extended interconnected space. The Greater World is the largest co-op in history, and for the first time we have a hint of a planetary-scale governance. The game world’s policies and budget are decided by electronic votes, line by line, facilitated with lots of explaining, tutorials, and even AI. Now over 250 million people want to know why they can’t vote on their national budgets that way too. In a weirdly recursive way, people create teams and co-ops within the Greater World to make stuff in the real world. They find that the tools for collaboration improve quicker in the virtual spaces.

The average bit effectively becomes anonymous, almost undetectable, when measured against the scale of planetary data. In fact, we are running out of prefixes to indicate how big this new realm is. Gigabytes are on your phone. Terabytes were once unimaginably enormous, yet today I have three terabytes sitting on my desk. The next level up is peta. Petabytes are the new normal for companies. Exabytes are the current planetary scale. We’ll probably reach zetta in a few years. Yotta is the last scientific term for which we have an official measure of magnitude. Bigger than yotta is blank. Until now, any more than a yotta was a fantasy not deserving an official name. But we’ll be flinging around yottabytes in two decades or so. For anything beyond yotta, I propose we use the single term “zillion”—a flexible notation to cover any and all new magnitudes at this scale.

What is happening to disrupt the ancient impossible/possible boundary? As far as I can tell, the impossible things happening now are in every case due to the emergence of a new level of organization that did not exist before. These incredible eruptions are the result of large-scale collaboration, and massive real-time social interacting, which in turn are enabled by omnipresent instant connection between billions of people at a planetary scale. Just as fleshy tissue yields a new, higher level of organization for a bunch of individual cells, these new social structures yield new tissue for individual humans. Tissue can do things that cells can’t. The collectivist organizations of Wikipedia, Linux, Facebook, Uber, the web—even AI—can do things that industrialized humans could not. This is the first time on this planet that we’ve tied a billion people together in immediate syncopation, just as Facebook has done.

pages: 403 words: 111,119

Doughnut Economics: Seven Ways to Think Like a 21st-Century Economist by Kate Raworth

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, Asian financial crisis, bank run, basic income, battle of ideas, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, Branko Milanovic, Bretton Woods, Buckminster Fuller, business cycle, call centre, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cass Sunstein, choice architecture, clean water, cognitive bias, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, David Ricardo: comparative advantage, dematerialisation, disruptive innovation, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart,, energy transition, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Eugene Fama: efficient market hypothesis, experimental economics, Exxon Valdez, Fall of the Berlin Wall, financial deregulation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, full employment, global supply chain, global village, Henri Poincaré, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, Hyman Minsky, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Arrow, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, land reform, land value tax, Landlord’s Game, loss aversion, low skilled workers, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, market fundamentalism, Martin Wolf, means of production, megacity, mobile money, Mont Pelerin Society, Myron Scholes, neoliberal agenda, Network effects, Occupy movement, off grid, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, Paul Samuelson, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, price mechanism, quantitative easing, randomized controlled trial, Richard Thaler, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, smart cities, smart meter, Social Responsibility of Business Is to Increase Its Profits, South Sea Bubble, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, The Chicago School, The Great Moderation, the map is not the territory, the market place, The Spirit Level, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Torches of Freedom, trickle-down economics, ultimatum game, universal basic income, Upton Sinclair, Vilfredo Pareto, wikimedia commons

The effects of this dramatic intensification of human activity are clearly visible in an array of indicators that monitor Earth’s living systems. Since 1950 there has been an accompanying surge in ecological impacts, from the build-up of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere to ocean acidification and biodiversity loss.24 ‘It is difficult to overestimate the scale and speed of change,’ says Will Steffen, the scientist who led the study documenting these trends. ‘In a single lifetime humanity has become a planetary-scale geological force … This is a new phenomenon and indicates that humanity has a new responsibility at a global level for the planet.’25 This Great Acceleration in human activity has clearly put our planet under pressure. But just how much pressure can it take before the very life-giving systems that sustain us start to break down? In other words, what determines the Doughnut’s ecological ceiling?

The scale of biodiversity loss is severe: species extinction is occurring at least ten times faster than the boundary deems safe. No wonder that, since 1970, the number of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish worldwide has fallen by half.31 Although the global scale of chemical pollution has not yet been quantified, it is of great concern to many scientists. And human pressure on other critical Earth-system processes – such as freshwater withdrawals and ocean acidification – continues to rise towards planetary-scale danger zones, creating local and regional ecological crises in the process. This stark picture of humanity and our planetary home at the start of the twenty-first century is a powerful indictment of the path of global economic development that has been pursued to date. Billions of people still fall far short of their most basic needs, but we have already crossed into global ecological danger zones that profoundly risk undermining Earth’s benevolent stability.

From the UK to South Africa, Oxfam has published national Doughnut reports, revealing how far each nation is from living within a nationally defined safe and just space.39 In Yunnan Province, China, research scientists have made a Doughnut analysis of the social and ecological impacts of industry and farming around Lake Erhai, the region’s key source of water.40 Companies ranging from Patagonia, the US-based outdoor clothing manufacturer, to Sainsbury’s supermarkets in the UK, have used the Doughnut to help rethink their corporate strategies. And in Kokstad, South Africa – the fastest-growing town in KwaZulu Natal – the local municipality has teamed up with urban planners and community groups in using the Doughnut to envision a sustainable and equitable future for the town.41 Initiatives like these are ambitious experiments in reorienting economic development, but is the Doughnut’s planetary scale simply too ambitious for economics to handle? Not at all: it is a scale whose time has come. Back in Ancient Greece when Xenophon first posed the economic question, ‘How should a household best manage its resources?’ he was literally thinking about a single household. Towards the end of his life he turned his attention to the next level up, the economics of the city state, and proposed a set of trade, tax and public investment policies for his home town of Athens.

pages: 437 words: 126,860

Case for Mars by Robert Zubrin

Charles Lindbergh, Colonization of Mars, gravity well, Johannes Kepler, Kevin Kelly, low earth orbit, Mars Rover, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, planetary scale, skunkworks, spice trade, telerobotics, uranium enrichment

No, if you want to find yourself a fossilized dinosaur, or Martian stromatelite, you better be prepared to do quite a bit of travel>LiAnd if you want prove that they’re not there, you’ll have to travel even more, because the ability to demonstrate a convincing negative result will depend upon a search of virtually the planet’s entire surface. In the end, the mobility requirements of Martian exploration are profoundly simple: to explore a planet you need mobility on a planetary scale. It’s a simple but often overlooked point. So how will the crew of our first piloted Mars mission get around? The battery-powered Lunar rover used during the Apollo program had a one-way range of about 20 kilometers, giving it a sortie range of 10 kilometers from the landing site. A manned Mars expedition equipped with equivalent transportation would be able to explore only about 300 square kilometers, regardless of the length of its surface stay, and nearly half a million such missions would be required to examine the entire surface of Mars just once.

Where I live in Colorado, it can be winter on the north side of the house while it is summer on the south side, and it is not uncommon even on a blistering, mid-August day to come across snow nestled in a shady depression of a hill’s northern side. Without a doubt in some cold crevice, lava tube, or cavern on the north face of some hill on Mars there is ice to be found, and in regions where planetary-scale climate models say it can’t be. If you want to harvest some, though, bring dynamite. Ice at Martian temperatures can be pretty tough stuff. Still, a pure ice deposit in a nonpolar region would be a rare find. It’s much more likely that Martian explorers would come across permafrost, or frozen mud. Permafrost can be very strong. In fact for some applications it’s the ideal material for construction on Mars.

(Artwork by Michael Carroll) A mature base, established over a geothermal energy source, will provide a testbed for establishing technologies crucial to settling Mars. (Artwork by Carter Emmart) Ballistic NIMF. (Artwork Robert Murray, courtesy Lockheed Martin) NIMF Rocketplane. (Artwork Robert Murray, courtesy Lockheed Martin) NIMFs—Nuclear Rockets using Indigenous Martian Fuels—as rocketplanes or as ballistic spacecraft would afford Mars explorers and later colonists unlimited mobility on a planetary scale. Exploration team on a partially terraformed Mars. (Artwork by Michael Carroll) The New Created World. (Artwork by Michael Carroll) Liquid water once coursed over the face of Mars and, given the technological capabilities of the twenty-first century, it may once again. Several decades of terraforming could transform Mars into a relatively warm and slightly moist planet suitable some day for explorers without space-suits, although breathing gear would still be required.

pages: 464 words: 127,283

Smart Cities: Big Data, Civic Hackers, and the Quest for a New Utopia by Anthony M. Townsend

1960s counterculture, 4chan, A Pattern Language, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, anti-communist, Apple II, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Burning Man, business process, call centre, carbon footprint, charter city, chief data officer, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, computer age, congestion charging, connected car, crack epidemic, crowdsourcing, DARPA: Urban Challenge, data acquisition, Deng Xiaoping, digital map, Donald Davies, East Village, Edward Glaeser, game design, garden city movement, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global supply chain, Grace Hopper, Haight Ashbury, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, jitney, John Snow's cholera map, Joi Ito, Khan Academy, Kibera, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, load shedding, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, megacity, mobile money, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, Occupy movement, off grid, openstreetmap, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Parag Khanna, patent troll, Pearl River Delta, place-making, planetary scale, popular electronics, RFC: Request For Comment, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social graph, social software, social web, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stuxnet, supply-chain management, technoutopianism, Ted Kaczynski, telepresence, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, too big to fail, trade route, Tyler Cowen: Great Stagnation, undersea cable, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, working poor, working-age population, X Prize, Y2K, zero day, Zipcar

., a veteran of RJR Nabisco and American Express, embarked on a radical transformation plan. The new IBM would focus solely on services and integration of large-scale, complex information systems. In 1995 the company abandoned its famously strict employee dress code. A decade later, in 2004, it was ready to jettison the personal-computer division that had so recently defined it. The new IBM wasn’t a staid purveyor of hardware; it was a general contractor for planetary-scale computing. Less than three years before the centennial, in 2008, company chairman Sam Palmisano had launched IBM’s Smarter Planet campaign in a speech to the Council on Foreign Relations.22 If Siemens and Cisco aim to be the electrician and the plumber for smart cities, IBM’s ambition is be their choreographer, superintendent, and oracle rolled into one. While Smarter Planet is a snazzy spin on a new marketing push, IBM has a long history of building truly globe-spanning computer systems.

In one chapter full of maps he detailed the ebbs and flows of telephone traffic up and down the Eastern Seaboard, arguing that the telephone was the means by which great cities like New York and Washington exerted economic, political, and social dominance over the nation. These cities placed vastly more calls than they received, as their residents gathered information and disseminated decisions from headquarters to the hinterlands. In the 1980s New York University’s Mitchell Moss expanded the analysis to the whole world, using similar data to show how Wall Street banks and Midtown media giants were extending this informational trade imbalance to a planetary scale, exploiting new telecommunications technologies to consolidate and dominate entire global markets.26 In 2008 MIT’s SENSEable City Lab brought these studies into the supercomputer age. The “New York Talk Exchange” visualized a year’s worth of phone traffic between New York and the world carried over AT&T’s global network. On a 3-D rendering of a spinning globe, glowing lines map the flow of calls arcing up from the Big Apple and raining down onto subordinate cities around the world.

My answer is always the same. “The one you live in.” It sounds glib, but I’m serious. The idea of a single, utopian design for the smart city has kept us from the hard work of building a rich and varied collection of ones that we can actually live with. Since 2008, the vision of our urban future has come to be dominated by companies that would repeat the cookie-cutter city designs of the twentieth century on a planetary scale, powered by the technology of global enterprise. Our mayors are putting their own spin on these designs, but they can’t solve all of our problems. The answer lies at the grass roots. I see it blossoming everywhere as we take these tools out into the streets and use them to reimagine and remake our world. We thought the Internet was about transcending the globe, and then it took a hyperlocal turn and became about swapping reviews of restaurants and getting free coupons for the local shop.

pages: 394 words: 85,734

The Global Minotaur by Yanis Varoufakis, Paul Mason

active measures, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bretton Woods, business climate, business cycle, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collateralized debt obligation, colonial rule, corporate governance, correlation coefficient, creative destruction, credit crunch, Credit Default Swap, credit default swaps / collateralized debt obligations, debt deflation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, endogenous growth, eurozone crisis, financial innovation, first-past-the-post, full employment, Hyman Minsky, industrial robot, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, Kickstarter, labour market flexibility, light touch regulation, liquidity trap, London Interbank Offered Rate, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, money market fund, mortgage debt, Myron Scholes, negative equity, new economy, Northern Rock, paper trading, Paul Samuelson, planetary scale, post-oil, price stability, quantitative easing, reserve currency, rising living standards, Ronald Reagan, special economic zone, Steve Jobs, structural adjustment programs, systematic trading, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, urban renewal, War on Poverty, WikiLeaks, Yom Kippur War

Simple: the rest of the world! How? By means of a permanent tsunami of capital that rushed ceaselessly across the two great oceans to finance America’s twin deficits. The twin deficits of the US economy thus operated for decades like a giant vacuum cleaner, absorbing other people’s surplus goods and capital. While that ‘arrangement’ was the embodiment of the grossest imbalance imaginable on a planetary scale, and required what Paul Volcker described vividly as ‘controlled disintegration in the world economy’, nonetheless it did give rise to something resembling global balance: an international system of rapidly accelerating asymmetrical financial and trade flows capable of creating a semblance of stability and steady growth. Powered by America’s twin deficits, the world’s leading surplus economies (e.g.

That is, a surplus recycling scheme that would not rely on some bright officials and the unaccountable financial sector of a single country, as the Global Minotaur was, but on a well-run, global organisation that consciously and transparently sets the parameters for the recycling of goods, profits, savings and demand. Two years later, Strauss-Kahn’s daring statement appears more like ‘famous last words’ than a genuine programme for policy change on a planetary scale. Indeed, the very image of a handcuffed Strauss-Kahn being forced into a NYPD car, a few weeks after he had made that statement to the BBC, is deliciously symbolic of the flicker-like nature of the elites’ post-2008 rethink. Since then, dominant politicians, heads of the IMF and the World Bank, private and central bankers alike, generally the stewards of world capitalism, seem to have chosen to un-learn very quickly the lessons of 2008.

pages: 327 words: 84,627

The Green New Deal: Why the Fossil Fuel Civilization Will Collapse by 2028, and the Bold Economic Plan to Save Life on Earth by Jeremy Rifkin

1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, 2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, autonomous vehicles, Bernie Sanders, blockchain, borderless world, business cycle, business process, carbon footprint, collective bargaining, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, decarbonisation,, energy transition, failed state, ghettoisation, hydrogen economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invisible hand, Joseph Schumpeter, means of production, megacity, Network effects, new economy, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, planetary scale, renewable energy credits, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, sovereign wealth fund, Steven Levy, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tim Cook: Apple, trade route, union organizing, urban planning, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

., Renewable Energy and Jobs: Annual Review 2018, International Renewable Energy Agency, (accessed March 13, 2019), 15. 58.  CPS Energy, “Who We Are,” (accessed February 22, 2019). 59.  Greg Harman, “Jeremy Rifkin on San Antonio, the European Union, and the Lessons Learned in Our Push for a Planetary-Scale Power Shift,” San Antonio Current, September 27, 2011, (accessed March 24, 2019). 60.  Business Wire, “RC Accepts Application for Two New Nuclear Units in Texas,” news release, November 30, 2007, (accessed March 14, 2019). 61.  

pages: 717 words: 150,288

Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism by Stephen Graham

addicted to oil, airport security, anti-communist, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, creative destruction, credit crunch, DARPA: Urban Challenge, defense in depth, deindustrialization, digital map, edge city, energy security, European colonialism, failed state, Food sovereignty, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, Google Earth, illegal immigration, income inequality, knowledge economy, late capitalism, loose coupling, market fundamentalism, mass incarceration, McMansion, megacity, moral panic, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, one-state solution, pattern recognition, peak oil, planetary scale, private military company, Project for a New American Century, RAND corporation, RFID, Richard Florida, Scramble for Africa, Silicon Valley, smart transportation, surplus humans, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, urban decay, urban planning, urban renewal, urban sprawl, Washington Consensus, white flight, white picket fence

As a result, the US military had to ‘adapt to its new role as a tool of choice, rather than a tool of last resort’.9 Technophilic language may depict the RMA as ushering in a reduced-risk, ‘clean’ and seemingly painless strategy of US military dominance, but this picture assumes that the vast, integrated networks of sensors and weapons would work uninterruptedly. In addition, global scales of flow and connection dominate the discourse: technological mastery, omnipotent surveillance, real-time situational awareness, and speed-of-light digital interactions have been widely portrayed as processes intrinsically capable of endowing the US military with ‘full spectrum dominance’ on a planetary scale, irrespective of the geographical terrain to be dominated. RMA discourses have, in this sense, been signally a-geographical. Little account has been taken of the specificities of the spaces and geographical terrains inhabited by US adversaries in the post–Cold War period, or of the changes wrought through urbanization. A key axiom of RMA rhetoric has been the new US capability to prosecute global strategies for geopolitical dominance through a ‘radical non-territoriality’.10 In response to the RMA’s neglect of global urbanization, and spurred by the catastrophic and continuing urban insurgencies within Iraq since the 2003 invasion, an increasingly powerful range of counterdiscourses have emerged within the US military.

The United State’s hegemonic capabilities for surveilling Earth from the distant, vertical domains of air and space were deemed by the DSB to show ‘poor capability for finding, identifying and tracking’ what it called ‘unconventional war targets’, such as ‘individuals and insurgent or terrorists groups that operate by blending in with the larger society’.30 What was needed, argued the DSB report, were intimate and persistent military surveillance systems which penetrated the details of everyday urban life, both at home and abroad. Little less than a comprehensive rescaling of military surveillance would be necessary; ‘more intimate, terrestrial, 21st century ISR [Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance] were required’.31 The gaze of hegemonic military power, the report contended, must not only colonize the planetary scales of surveillance; it must penetrate the fine-grained local geographies of urban and infrastructural battlespaces. Such a transformation would be temporal as well as geographical. ‘The surveillance of people, things and activities required to populated the databases needed for identification, location and tracking,’ the DSB report stated, ‘will require a persistence beyond that typical of many of today’s’ military and security surveillance systems.

You want a tank, you want, you know, and I told the people there in Detroit, you know, SUVs – you put a machine gun on the top, you’re going to sell them better’.85 Gunster summarizes Rapaille’s view on the SUV thus: SUVs are ‘the most reptilian vehicles of all because their imposing, even menacing appearance appeals to people’s deep-seated desires for survival and reproduction … [He] believes that “we’re going back to medieval times,” and you can see that in that we live in ghettos with gates and private armies. SUVs are exactly that, they are armored cars for the battlefield’.86 Such invocations of a new and deeply insecure medievalism within the militarized borderland of the domestic US city fit with the more general suggestions of right-wing foreign policy commentators such as Robert Kaplan, who speaks of the ‘coming anarchy’ on a planetary scale, which will reduce our world to an assortment of lawless ‘feral cities’,87 where only the strongest – and the most aggressively militarized – will survive or prosper. 88 Here again, deeply anti-urban rhetoric blends into geopolitical imaginations, with the SUV linking the two. As George Monbiot quipped in the Guardian, perhaps the Hummer patriots, as they lumbered around US cities in their massive vehicles, ‘should also have been demonstrating their love for their country by machine-gunning passers-by’.89 THE PENTAGON PIMPS OUT Given this general backdrop, it is not surprising to discover that, in addition to using familiar recruiting tactics such as air shows and car races, the US military has exploited the Hummer.

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If Mayors Ruled the World: Dysfunctional Nations, Rising Cities by Benjamin R. Barber

Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, American Legislative Exchange Council, Berlin Wall, bike sharing scheme, borderless world, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, car-free, carbon footprint, Cass Sunstein, Celebration, Florida, clean water, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, desegregation, Detroit bankruptcy, digital Maoism, disintermediation, edge city, Edward Glaeser, Edward Snowden, Etonian, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, feminist movement, Filter Bubble, George Gilder, ghettoisation, global pandemic, global village, Hernando de Soto, Howard Zinn, illegal immigration, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, income inequality, informal economy, information retrieval, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, London Interbank Offered Rate, Mark Zuckerberg, market fundamentalism, Marshall McLuhan, Masdar, megacity, microcredit, Mikhail Gorbachev, mortgage debt, mutually assured destruction, new economy, New Urbanism, Nicholas Carr, Norman Mailer, nuclear winter, obamacare, Occupy movement, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, Peace of Westphalia, Pearl River Delta, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RFID, Richard Florida, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart meter, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, Telecommunications Act of 1996, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Tobin tax, Tony Hsieh, trade route, UNCLOS, UNCLOS, unpaid internship, urban sprawl, War on Poverty, zero-sum game

For some time, idealists and dreamers have looked even further—beyond our known urban behemoths and linked megacities—in search of Marshall McLuhan’s global village, a mote in his prescient eye sixty years ago, but today an abstraction being realized not only in digital and virtual forms like the cloud, but in global economic markets and in the complex urban networks that are our focus here. Global village indeed! The urban philosopher Constantinos Doxiadis, pursuing his own science of human development he calls Ekistics, has predicted the emergence of a single planetary city—Ecumenopolis.21 Doxiadis gives a sociological and futurist spin to science fiction writers like Isaac Asimov and William Gibson who for decades have been imagining urban agglomerations on a planetary scale.22 Just beyond the global village, pushing out from the imagined Ecumenopolis, one can catch a glimpse of Gaia, that mythic organic entity that, in the hypothesis posited by James Lovelock, is as an evolving and self-regulating system in which biosphere, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and pedosphere all work together on behalf of a sustainable and integral planet, though whether it is urban or not, or even includes humanity, remains a puzzle.

Inevitable or not, and whether or not we like it (many do not), the developments depicted here, with which the architects of the Self-Sufficient City Contest are grappling, have resulted in and are the products of the forging of civic, cultural, and commercial networks that have made human association in the form of urbanity the touchstone for a sustainable human civilization. Without exceeding the limits of what is actually in process today—leave aside fantasies of Ecumenopolis and Gaia and interstellar migrations of cities—a realistic road to cosmopolis and a world governed by mayors lies before us. It is left to us only to determine whether we wish to take it, and in doing so, take democracy to planetary scale. For all the contradictions and obstacles presented by cities, they remain a formidable alternative to the conventional nation-state paradigm in which our thinking has been imprisoned for the past three centuries. The very term inter-national assumes that nation-states must be the starting place for inter-relational thinking. Global organizations inscribe the prejudice in their defining nomenclature: the old “concert of nations,” and of course the League of Nations and the United Nations.

Before any convincing argument can be made on behalf of global governance by cities, we are obliged to ask whether such a development is going to improve or depress the condition of people in either the developing world’s “planet of slums” or the first world’s planet of radical inequalities. Do we truly wish, with our parliament of mayors, to globalize urban injustice or give corruption a formal role in governance? Does such an innovation merely replicate urban segregation on a planetary scale? Surely we would prefer to believe that, despite the harsh realities of urban life, cities over time can ameliorate the challenges of inequality and poverty and find ways to impact and even transform slums. Yet though as sites of experimentation and progressive innovation, cities continue to contribute new approaches to mitigating and overcoming inequality—some of which we will explore in Chapter 8—the truth is that urban inequality is a persistent and distressing feature of modern cities and the contemporary world, above all in the developing world, where most slums are found, and which have been hardest hit by the global financial crisis and the global economic inequities occasioned by the self-serving “austerity” policies of the wealthy (austerity for you, profits for us).

pages: 284 words: 92,387

The Democracy Project: A History, a Crisis, a Movement by David Graeber

Bretton Woods, British Empire, corporate personhood, David Graeber, deindustrialization, dumpster diving, East Village, feminist movement, financial innovation, George Gilder, John Markoff, Lao Tzu, late fees, Occupy movement, payday loans, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Ralph Nader, reserve currency, Ronald Reagan, seigniorage, too big to fail, trickle-down economics, unpaid internship, We are the 99%, working poor

I should note here that the first mass use of consensus process, in the antinuclear movement of the late 1970s and early 1980s, was often quite rocky—partly out of simple lack of experience, partly out of purism (it was only later that modified consensus for larger groups came into common use)—and many who went through the experience, most famously libertarian socialist Murray Bookchin, who promoted the idea of communalism, came out strongly against consensus and for majority rule. b One does sometimes worry that the Gouverneur Morrises of the world have ultimately been successful in preventing such knowledge from reaching most of the population. c It wouldn’t have to be based on a system of strict consensus, by the way, since, as we’ll see, absolute consensus is unrealistic in large groups—let alone on a planetary scale! What I am talking about is just what I say: an approach to politics, whatever particular institutional form it takes, that similarly sees political deliberation as problem solving rather than as a struggle between fixed interests. FOUR HOW CHANGE HAPPENS The last chapter ended with a long-term, philosophical perspective; this one aims to be more practical. It would be impossible to write a how-to guide for nonviolent uprisings, a modern-day Rules for Radicals.

Since the 1980s, “freedom” has come to mean “the market,” and “the market” has come to be seen as identical with capitalism—even, ironically, in places like China, which had known sophisticated markets for thousands of years, but rarely anything that could be described as capitalism. The ironies are endless. While the new free market ideology has framed itself above all as a rejection of bureaucracy, it has, in fact, been responsible for the first administrative system that has operated on a planetary scale, with its endless layering of public and private bureaucracies: the IMF, World Bank, WTO, the trade organizations, financial institutions, transnational corporations, NGOs. This is precisely the system that has imposed free market orthodoxy, and allowed the opening of the world to financial pillage, under the watchful aegis of American arms. It only made sense that the first attempts to re-create a global revolutionary movement, the Global Justice Movement that peaked between 1998 and 2003, was effectively a rebellion against the rule of that very planetary bureaucracy.

pages: 317 words: 98,745

Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace by Ronald J. Deibert

4chan, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Brian Krebs, call centre, citizen journalism, cloud computing, connected car, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, data acquisition, failed state, Firefox, global supply chain, global village, Google Hangouts, Hacker Ethic, informal economy, invention of writing, Iridium satellite, jimmy wales, John Markoff, Kibera, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, low earth orbit, Marshall McLuhan, MITM: man-in-the-middle, mobile money, mutually assured destruction, Naomi Klein, new economy, Occupy movement, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, planetary scale, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Ronald Reagan: Tear down this wall, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Skype, smart grid, South China Sea, Steven Levy, Stuxnet, Ted Kaczynski, the medium is the message, Turing test, undersea cable, We are Anonymous. We are Legion, WikiLeaks, zero day

We preach about the need for closed autocratic societies to “open up,” or, as Ronald Reagan famously thundered, to “tear down this wall,” and yet vis-à-vis cyberspace we are contributing to state censorship and surveillance. Although states were once thought to be powerless in the face of the Internet, the giants have awoken from their slumber. Left unchecked, these trends will result in the gradual disintegration of what is in the long-term interest of all citizens: an open and secure commons of information on a planetary scale. We stand at a crossroads, and there are several paths we can travel down. Fifty years from now, future historians may look back and say, “You know, there was that brief window in the 1990s and 2000s, when citizens came close to building that planetary library and global public sphere, and then let it slip from their grasp.” The social forces leading us down the path of control and surveillance are formidable, even sometimes appear to be inevitable.

They will not bring malicious networks to their knees, or prevent cutthroat entrepreneurs from exploiting the domain. But, as a vision of ethical behaviour in cyberspace, they will raise the bar, set standards, and challenge the players to justify their acts in more than self-interested terms. Above all, they will focus collective attention on how best to sustain a common communications environment on a planetary scale in an increasingly compressed political space. Decisions made today could take us down a path where cyberspace continues to evolve into a global commons that empowers individuals through access to information and freedom of speech and association, or they could take us in the opposite direction. Developing models of cyber security that deal with the dark side, while preserving our highest aspirations as citizens, is our most urgent imperative.

pages: 292 words: 92,588

The Water Will Come: Rising Seas, Sinking Cities, and the Remaking of the Civilized World by Jeff Goodell

Airbnb, carbon footprint, centre right, clean water, creative destruction, desegregation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, failed state, fixed income, Frank Gehry, global pandemic, Google Earth, illegal immigration, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), megacity, Murano, Venice glass, New Urbanism, Pearl River Delta, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, smart cities, South China Sea, urban planning, urban renewal, wikimedia commons

But just as awareness of the need for further research has grown, so has awareness of the potential downside. At the 2017 World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, geoengineering was cited as one of the top risks that the world faces. And what Wood said ten years ago at that meeting remains true today—when you think about big technological fixes for sea-level rise, spraying particles in the atmosphere to reflect away sunlight is the only planetary-scale fix we know of that could plausibly stop or slow sea-level rise. Other ideas, such as pumping billions of tons of ocean water onto Antarctica, where it would freeze and lower sea levels, or re-creating an ice-age landscape (complete with genetically engineered beasts that would be a cross between elephants and woolly mammoths) in Siberia to help reflect sunlight and keep the tundra frozen, may be provocative thought experiments, but few scientists take them seriously.

As our planet changes, so will we. Maybe in our increasingly rich and human-engineered world, losing some beaches and cities won’t matter so much. If the real Venice goes under, you can always visit the fake Venice in Las Vegas. And maybe Miami Beach will be nearly as awesome in virtual reality. (Then again, maybe not.) Perhaps the best we can hope for is that living in a world of quickly rising seas will turn out to be a planetary-scale experiment in creative destruction, one that forces us to abandon a lot of stupid infrastructure and stupid ideas about how to live with water—and how to live with each other—and replace them with something smarter, more durable, more flexible. After all, other than cockroaches, humans are probably the most adaptable creatures on the planet. “To be honest, I’m looking forward to it,” one Miami developer told me.

pages: 322 words: 89,523

Ecovillages: Lessons for Sustainable Community by Karen T. Litfin

active transport: walking or cycling, agricultural Revolution, back-to-the-land, car-free, carbon footprint, clean water, collaborative consumption, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, corporate social responsibility, glass ceiling, global village, hydraulic fracturing, megacity, new economy, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, peak oil, planetary scale, publish or perish, Silicon Valley, the built environment, the scientific method, The Spirit Level, urban planning, Zipcar

We’ve told ourselves that our comforts and conveniences would protect us from the vagaries of nature – and to a great extent they have. But now the tattered ozone layer and collapsing ice shelves are evoking a new story: we are not separate. If we take this story to heart and follow its radical implications, it offers some very good news – for the biosphere and for ourselves. Humanity has become a force of nature, a geophysical force operating on a planetary scale. We didn’t get here overnight. The story of separation, which crops up in one way or another across many cultures, has deep roots; only recently did it produce epic consequences. With the scientific and industrial revolutions, knowledge engendered power in new ways. Starting with seventeenth-century Europe, Earth was carved up into a patchwork of sovereign states. The economic and psychological counterpart of the sovereign state was the rational self-interested individual who, alongside nations and firms, found himself (sic) in fierce competition for resources, power, and wealth.

Both terms refer to a system of exchange, whether it’s material or energetic. Ecology is the household’s management of natural resources, and economics is its management of its financial resources. The idea that my household can save money by buying inexpensive goods created through the plunder of faraway lands is no longer viable. The upshot of the global economy is that my household is now operating on a planetary scale. There is no “faraway,” no frontier save those fantasies of space colonization. We must, therefore, harmonize our resource extraction, production, consumption, and waste with our best understandings of the circle of life. In other words, we must reinvent our economies. In a quiet and often homespun way, ecovillages are marrying economics to the other four dimensions of E2C2: ecology, community, and consciousness.

pages: 879 words: 233,093

The Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis by Jeremy Rifkin

agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, animal electricity, back-to-the-land, British Empire, carbon footprint, collaborative economy, death of newspapers, delayed gratification, distributed generation,, energy security, feminist movement, global village, hedonic treadmill, hydrogen economy, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, interchangeable parts, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, invention of movable type, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, Nelson Mandela, new economy, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, off grid, out of africa, Peace of Westphalia, peak oil, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, scientific worldview, Simon Kuznets, Skype, smart grid, smart meter, social intelligence, supply-chain management, surplus humans, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, transaction costs, upwardly mobile, uranium enrichment, working poor, World Values Survey

Using instant electronic messages of 30 billion conversations among 180 million people all over the world, they corroborated the small world theory that only 6.6 degrees of separation exist between any two strangers on Earth.132 Horvitz, said: “To me, it was pretty shocking. What we’re seeing suggests there may be a social-connectivity constant for humanity.” The researchers concluded that “[t]o our knowledge, this is the first time a planetary-scale social network has been available to validate the well-known ‘6 degrees of separation’ finding by Travers and Milgram.”133 Researchers in the field of IT, communications, and social network theory are buoyed by the findings and suggest that the small world phenomenon could be harnessed to bring the human race together quickly around natural disaster relief or for political and social purposes.

The great success of reality TV is a reflection of the new dramaturgical consciousness—ordinary people living out their lives, although with sufficient scripting to assure the audience’s attention. Even here, the traditional top-down flow of communication so characteristic of the TV medium has bent to a high degree of interactivity and feedback. In popular reality TV shows like American Idol, the TV audience gets to weigh in by text message to help shape the direction and story line. The dramaturgical age is upon us. Moreno could never have imagined psychodrama on a planetary scale. Nor could the early theorists of dramaturgical consciousness have guessed that one day the dramaturgical frame of mind would come to be so thoroughly internalized and externalized that a generation of young people would come to think of themselves as actors playing roles during most of their waking hours. The dramaturgical perspective was advanced in the 1950s just as television was coming of age.

In a world characterized by increasing individuation and made up of human beings at different stages of consciousness, the biosphere itself may be the only context encompassing enough to unite the human race as a species. While the new distributed communications technologies—and, soon, distributed renewable energies—are connecting the human race, what is so shocking is that no one has offered much of a reason as to why we ought to be connected. We talk breathlessly about access and inclusion in a global communications network but speak little of exactly why we want to communicate with one another on such a planetary scale. What’s sorely missing is an overarching reason for why billions of human beings should be increasingly connected. Toward what end? The only feeble explanations thus far offered are to share information, be entertained, advance commercial exchange, and speed the globalization of the economy. All the above, while relevant, nonetheless seem insufficient to justify why nearly seven billion human beings should be connected and mutually embedded in a globalized society.

pages: 319 words: 100,984

The Moon: A History for the Future by Oliver Morton

Charles Lindbergh, commoditize, Dava Sobel, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, facts on the ground, gravity well, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, low earth orbit, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, multiplanetary species, Norman Mailer, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, UNCLOS, Whole Earth Catalog, X Prize

In 1948 Colliers published the altogether more disturbing “Rocket Blitz from the Moon” by Robert Richardson, an astronomer who also wrote fiction for Campbell. It was chillingly illustrated with pictures of sleek missiles launching from craters on the Moon and of Queens and Manhattan under multiple mushroom clouds, all from the brush of Chesley Bonestell, a friend and collaborator of Richardson. The destruction wrought on the five boroughs deserved an artist used to the planetary scale; indeed, the pictures serve as companion pieces to one that Bonestell had painted the year before showing the aftermath of a meteor strike on New York. As the Moonpeople’s self-destruction through nuclear war in “Rocket Ship Galileo” made clear, the idea of the Moon as a source of mass destruction resonated with its long-standing fictional deployment as a landscape of deathliness, a place of extinction sometimes dotted with ruins.

It also stems from the same conflict as the bomb-test sediments favoured as a marker by others and matching, Mr Grinspoon says, their “symbolic potency”. Like them, it could only have been created by an entity that had “developed world-changing technology”. As Verne suggested in “From the Earth to the Moon”, the sort of technology that allows such travel is of its nature the sort of technology that is significant on a planetary scale. Grinspoon’s suggestion has the further benefit, at least to my eyes, that if Tranquility Base marks the bottom of the Anthropocene, then the Anthropocene is a geological epoch that encompasses both Earth and Moon. That seems at once odd and reasonable. If indelible human influence means the Earth has entered a new geological age, surely it means the Moon has, too. To be sure, what has been done to the Moon is beneath trivial compared to what has been done to the Earth.

pages: 123 words: 32,382

Grouped: How Small Groups of Friends Are the Key to Influence on the Social Web by Paul Adams

Airbnb, Cass Sunstein, cognitive dissonance, David Brooks, information retrieval, invention of the telegraph, planetary scale, race to the bottom, Richard Thaler, sentiment analysis, social web, statistical model, The Wisdom of Crowds, web application, white flight

For a great overview (with data) of Dunbar’s number and online games, see Christopher Allen’s post “The Dunbar number as a limit to group sizes” on his blog Life With Alacrity. 6. For lots of detail about group dynamics, see David Brook’s book The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement (Random House, 2011). 7. For more information on Stanley Milgram’s experiments, including challenges to his methods, see the Wikipedia article on Small world experiment. 8. See the 2008 research paper “Planetary-scale views on a large instant-messaging network” by Jure Leskovec and Eric Horvitz (where they analyzed 30 billion conversations among 240 million MSN users). 9. Quote from Stanley Milgram’s 1967 Psychology Today article “The small-world problem.” 10. In his book Six Degrees: The Science of a Connected Age (Norton, 2003), Duncan Watts describes the difficulties in finding the shortest paths between people. 11.

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, mass incarceration, megacity, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme

There were many then who predicted the opening up of a multicultural world of local rationalities, of a diasporic and multi-centered pluralism, based on electronic public spheres. In Stiegler’s view, hopes for such developments were based on a misunderstanding of what was driving many processes of globalization. For him, the 1990s opened onto a hyper-industrial era, not a post-industrial one, in which a logic of mass production was suddenly aligned with techniques that, in unprecedented ways, combine fabrication, distribution, and subjectivation on a planetary scale. While much of Stiegler’s argument is compelling, I believe that the problem of “temporal objects” is secondary to the larger systemic colonization of individual experience that I have been discussing. Most important now is not the capture of attentiveness by a delimited object—a movie, television program, or piece of music—whose mass reception seems to be Stiegler’s main preoccupation, but rather the remaking of attention into repetitive operations and responses that always overlap with acts of looking or listening.

pages: 118 words: 35,663

Smart Machines: IBM's Watson and the Era of Cognitive Computing (Columbia Business School Publishing) by John E. Kelly Iii

AI winter, call centre, carbon footprint, crowdsourcing, demand response, discovery of DNA, disruptive innovation, Erik Brynjolfsson, future of work, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, global supply chain, Internet of things, John von Neumann, Mars Rover, natural language processing, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, planetary scale, RAND corporation, RFID, Richard Feynman, smart grid, smart meter, speech recognition, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!

While quantum machines seem unlikely to replace general-purpose computers any time soon, these techniques could affect other domains of computing in ways not yet foreseeable. An especially intriguing target is helping people to understand the interactions of complex systems of systems that underlie everything from the human body to cities to the global financial industry. One thing seems certain: only through fundamental breakthroughs in physics will we be able to deal with so much complexity and uncertainty on a planetary scale. SCENARIO: DESIGNING PRODUCTS FROM THE MOLECULE UP In 1935, scientists at the E. I. DuPont Co. invented a synthetic fabric, later named nylon, that became the first commercially successful synthetic polymer. Nylon was first used as a replacement for silk in women’s stockings and parachutes but later came to be employed much more broadly in everything from clothing to gears in machines. The invention of nylon was a long and painstaking process that stretched for five years as a team of DuPont scientists experimented with one combination of molecules after another until they discovered a combo that had all the characteristics they desired in terms of usefulness, manufacturability, and affordability.7 It was a triumph of ingenuity.

pages: 319 words: 105,949

Skyfaring: A Journey With a Pilot by Mark Vanhoenacker

Airbus A320, British Empire, Cape to Cairo, computer age, dark matter, digital map, Edmond Halley, Joan Didion, John Harrison: Longitude, Louis Blériot, Maui Hawaii, Nelson Mandela, out of africa, phenotype, place-making, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, the built environment, transcontinental railway, Year of Magical Thinking

Sometimes after a long flight I reach my hotel room and close my eyes, and I’m hit by the silence of being alone for the first time in thousands of miles, and I don’t know how many faces I’ve seen since my day began, since the sun rose in whatever city I happened to wake up in that morning. I am certain that on most workdays I see more people than many of my ancestors saw in an entire lifetime. I think how those I’ve seen have been scattered by the hours of airplanes, how the simplest definition of community, of sharing a space, has been disassembled, even as the plane has enabled new forms of reunions, those that take place on a fully planetary scale. By nightfall many of the people I saw in the airport or onboard my plane will have taken further flights, or will be at home, or in a hotel room like mine. Some may be driving the last miles down a narrow road, completing their journey to a place distant in every sense from the world I know, or may even now be describing their journey to the person they’ve traveled so far to see. Sometimes, trying to imagine the dimensions of modern flight, I think of the air.

But when I drove to them myself, the cloud they formed began to sort itself, to fall into place, as we say, like the pieces of a wooden puzzle. I realized that a lake I thought faced in one direction actually faced another, for example, and was close to a second location that I had never linked it to. When I learned to fly, such a sorting of idea-places onto the physical world around me happened on a fully planetary scale. What suddenly appeared in the window included not only the few cities I had flown to as a child, but everything I saw from the air that was identifiable—all the cities and mountains and oceans I had heard of or read about and dreamed of someday visiting. This sense of a formal knowledge of places falling onto actual earth and lining and connecting up, one with another, may be similar to the ways in which bodies change in the minds of medical students when they first learn how the organs and bones they’ve always known the names of are really located in three dimensions, and how they’re connected by other tissues they did not know about before medical school.

Smart Mobs: The Next Social Revolution by Howard Rheingold

A Pattern Language, augmented reality, barriers to entry, battle of ideas, Brewster Kahle, Burning Man, business climate, citizen journalism, computer vision, conceptual framework, creative destruction, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, experimental economics, experimental subject, Extropian, Hacker Ethic, Hedy Lamarr / George Antheil, Howard Rheingold, invention of the telephone, inventory management, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, Joseph Schumpeter, Kevin Kelly, Metcalfe's law, Metcalfe’s law, more computing power than Apollo, New Urbanism, Norbert Wiener, packet switching, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer model, pez dispenser, planetary scale, pre–internet, prisoner's dilemma, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, Renaissance Technologies, RFID, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Robert X Cringely, Ronald Coase, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, slashdot, social intelligence, spectrum auction, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, transaction costs, ultimatum game, urban planning, web of trust, Whole Earth Review, zero-sum game

Why not make the entire world into a geo-spatial informational bulletin board? I got back to Apple and started building prototypes.”20 What emerged was a proposed infrastructure called WorldBoard. In 1996, Spohrer wrote: What if we could put information in places? More precisely, what if we could associate information with a place and perceived the information as if it were really there? WorldBoard is a vision of doing just that on a planetary scale and as a natural part of everyday life. For example, imagine being able to enter an airport and see a virtual red carpet leading you right to your gate, look at the ground and see property lines or underground buried cables, walk along a nature trail and see virtual signs near plants and rocks.21 Spohrer raised the bar for technical difficulty by wanting to see the information in its context, overlaid on the real world.

A user’s device would combine the coordinates of the cube’s location and one of the cube’s faces with a channel number, along with a password, then transmit or receive information about that place through a mobile device. That transmitted information could be spatial coordinates for projecting a virtual overlay onto an object in space, or an animation, text, music, spreadsheet, or voice message. The client software that runs on users’ devices would include “a mobile capability to author and access the information associated with places on a planetary scale. A location-aware device with navigation, authoring, and global wireless communication capabilities would be needed.”26 When I started looking for similar research, I found it everywhere. In 2001, researchers at the Social Mobile Computing Group in Kista, Sweden, presented their GeoNotes system, which enables people to annotate physical locations with virtual notes, to add signatures, and to specify access rights.27 Jun Rekimoto and his colleagues at Sony described in 1998 “a system that allows users to dynamically attach newly created digital information such as voice notes or photographs to the physical environment, through mobile/wearable computers as well as normal computers. . . .

pages: 410 words: 119,823

Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life by Adam Greenfield

3D printing, Airbnb, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, bank run, barriers to entry, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, business intelligence, business process, call centre, cellular automata, centralized clearinghouse, centre right, Chuck Templeton: OpenTable:, cloud computing, collective bargaining, combinatorial explosion, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, Conway's Game of Life, cryptocurrency, David Graeber, dematerialisation, digital map, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, drone strike, Elon Musk, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, facts on the ground, fiat currency, global supply chain, global village, Google Glasses, IBM and the Holocaust, industrial robot, informal economy, information retrieval, Internet of things, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Conway, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, John von Neumann, joint-stock company, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, late capitalism, license plate recognition, lifelogging, M-Pesa, Mark Zuckerberg, means of production, megacity, megastructure, minimum viable product, money: store of value / unit of account / medium of exchange, natural language processing, Network effects, New Urbanism, Occupy movement, Oculus Rift, Pareto efficiency, pattern recognition, Pearl River Delta, performance metric, Peter Eisenman, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, post scarcity, post-work, RAND corporation, recommendation engine, RFID, rolodex, Satoshi Nakamoto, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, smart cities, smart contracts, social intelligence, sorting algorithm, special economic zone, speech recognition, stakhanovite, statistical model, stem cell, technoutopianism, Tesla Model S, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, The Future of Employment, transaction costs, Uber for X, undersea cable, universal basic income, urban planning, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce

Much of the technology yoked together in Amazon’s effort seems to have originated internally, to the extent that aspects of the program were apparently overseen personally by Bezos himself.12 Other than that this is an unusual degree of interest for a CEO to take in the details of implementation, in this respect the company is no different from the other Stacks: all of them spend billions of dollars annually generating, testing and refining new ideas, and trying to turn them into shipping products. But the Stacks also innovate by acquisition, turning the entire planetary-scale entrepreneurial community into a vast distributed R&D lab. For example, Amazon apparently developed the foundations of its drone program in-house, but when it became evident that nobody on hand had the expertise in machine vision necessary to advance the program to its next stage, they simply hired an existing team of experts, and rebuilt the drone lab around them.13 Similarly, they got a toehold in automation by buying the company that made the robots used in its warehouses, Kiva Systems.14 While this practice is commonplace throughout the technology industry, it has been raised to an art in the age of the Stacks, especially as each of them expands beyond its original core competency.

But the random outbreaks of terror have for the most part been suppressed; some kind of corrective action is being taken on the environment, however obscure it may be; and if a brutal conformity reigns, it leaves just enough space for people to eke out the rudiments of a life they can call their own. Most choose to make of it whatever they can. The final scenario has no name. Here we find failed civilization, on a planetary scale: societies panicking in the face of the first sharp shocks of climate violence collapse back into tribal allegiances and pseudoverities of blood and soil, and never meaningfully grasp any of the possibilities presented to them by new technology. The landscape is scoured and blasted by desperate attempts to jumpstart the engines of the economy. The last forests wither beneath the effect of misguided geoengineering projects intended to right the climate, and finally succumb to slash-and-burn farming.

pages: 148 words: 45,249

Losing Earth: A Recent History by Nathaniel Rich

Dissolution of the Soviet Union, energy security, ice-free Arctic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), James Watt: steam engine, mass immigration, Mikhail Gorbachev, oil shale / tar sands, planetary scale, Ronald Reagan, spinning jenny, the scientific method

“Any government action requires political consensus,” concluded the authors. “Such consensus may be difficult to achieve.” The anthropologist Margaret Mead, who knew something about the rigidity of cultural patterns, had understood the urgency of the problem even earlier, in 1975, when she convened a global warming symposium at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. “We are facing a period when society must make decisions on a planetary scale,” she wrote. Her conclusions were stark, immediate, and unadorned with the caveats that dominated the academic literature. “Unless the peoples of the world can begin to understand the immense and long-term consequences of what appear to be small immediate choices,” she said, “the whole planet may become endangered.” But the Fatalists wondered whether greater awareness of the problem really would provoke a sensible response.

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, Douglas Engelbart,, Exxon Valdez, George Gilder, gravity well, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, invention of air conditioning, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Jaron Lanier, Joan Didion, John Conway, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Lao Tzu, life extension, Louis Daguerre, Marshall McLuhan, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, new economy, off grid, out of africa, performance metric, personalized medicine, phenotype, Picturephone, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, refrigerator car, Richard Florida, Rubik’s Cube, 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, wealth creators, Whole Earth Catalog, Y2K

The one kind of mind I doubt we’ll make many of is an artificial mind just like a human. The only way to reconstruct a viable human species of mind is to use tissue and cells—and why bother when making human babies is so easy? Some problems will require multiple kinds of minds to crack, and our job will be to discover new methods of thinking and to set this diversity of intelligences loose in the universe. Planetary-scale problems will require some kind of planetary-scale mind; complex networks made of trillions of active nodes will require network intelligences; routine mechanical operations will need nonhuman precision in calculations. Since our own brains are such poor thinkers in terms of probability, we’d really benefit by discovering an intelligence at ease with statistics. We’ll need all varieties of thinking tools. An off-the-grid stand-alone AI will be handicapped compared with a hive-mind supercomputer.

pages: 184 words: 53,625

Future Perfect: The Case for Progress in a Networked Age by Steven Johnson

Airbus A320, airport security, algorithmic trading, banking crisis, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, call centre, Captain Sullenberger Hudson, Cass Sunstein, Charles Lindbergh, cognitive dissonance, credit crunch, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Dava Sobel, David Brooks, Donald Davies, future of journalism, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, HyperCard, Jane Jacobs, John Gruber, John Harrison: Longitude, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, Kickstarter, lone genius, Mark Zuckerberg, mega-rich, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, Nate Silver, Occupy movement, packet switching, peer-to-peer, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, pre–internet, RAND corporation, risk tolerance, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, social graph, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, Tim Cook: Apple, urban planning, US Airways Flight 1549, WikiLeaks, William Langewiesche, working poor, X Prize, your tax dollars at work

But the network that Baran, Cerf, and others designed was a network of peers, not a hierarchy. No single agency controlled it absolutely; everyone controlled it partially. Decentralization, peer-to-peer networks, gateways, platform stacks—the principles that Baran, Davies, Cerf, Kahn, and others hit upon together in the 1960s and 1970s provided a brilliant solution to the problem of sharing information on a planetary scale. Tellingly, the solution ultimately outperformed any rival approaches developed by the marketplace. Billions of dollars were spent by private companies trying to build global networks based on proprietary standards: AOL, CompuServe, Prodigy, Microsoft, Apple, and many others made epic efforts to become mainstream consumer networks in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They were all defeated by a set of networking standards—TCP/IP, the e-mail protocols of POP and SMTP, and the Web standards of HTML and HTTP—that were effectively public property: collectively developed and owned by no one, or by everyone.

pages: 207 words: 59,298

The Gig Economy: A Critical Introduction by Jamie Woodcock, Mark Graham

Airbnb, Amazon Mechanical Turk, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, British Empire, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, collective bargaining, commoditize, corporate social responsibility, crowdsourcing, David Graeber, deindustrialization, disintermediation,, full employment, future of work, gender pay gap, gig economy, global value chain, informal economy, information asymmetry, inventory management, Jaron Lanier, Jeff Bezos, job automation, knowledge economy, Lyft, mass immigration, means of production, Network effects, new economy, Panopticon Jeremy Bentham, planetary scale, precariat, rent-seeking, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, sentiment analysis, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, TaskRabbit, The Future of Employment, transaction costs, Travis Kalanick, two-sided market, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, union organizing, women in the workforce, working poor, young professional

Online freelancing is a broad term that can encapsulate all manner of jobs. Workers writing essays, doing ‘lead generation’, designing presentations, building websites, working as personal assistants, and carrying out all manner of other jobs all get their work through online freelancing platforms that allow workers and clients to connect in a planetary labour market (Graham and Anwar, 2019). For many workers, the planetary scale of the market affords workers a significant amount of freedom in choosing where to work from, and in many cases allows them to escape from relatively constrained local labour markets. There are workers in places like Manila in the Philippines or Lagos in Nigeria who simply want an escape from the horrendous local traffic conditions (it is not uncommon to hear stories of three-hour commutes to work in both places).

pages: 200 words: 60,987

The Invention of Air: A Story of Science, Faith, Revolution, and the Birth of America by Steven Johnson

Albert Einstein, conceptual framework, Copley Medal, Danny Hillis, discovery of DNA, Edmond Halley, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Kevin Kelly, planetary scale, side project, South Sea Bubble, stem cell, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, zero-sum game

That is one of the defining characteristics of what it means to be an organism: a system of cells and organs that are explicitly devoted to ensuring the survival of the larger group to which they belong. Each works, in the language of the original Gaia paper, as “a contrivance specifically constituted for a set of purposes.” The cells that help pump blood through our bodies go to elaborate lengths to keep blood-pressure levels at an equilibrium, because stable blood pressure is important to the survival of the organism. Lovelock and Margulis saw the same principle at work on a planetary scale: the Earth itself could be seen as a single organism, with the collective behavior of every member of the biosphere contributing to its survival. It was a variation on Sir John Pringle’s “no vegetable grows in vain” homily, with mankind replaced by Mother Earth. The biosphere regulates O2 levels, and it does it for a reason: because stable O2 levels are good for the biosphere. A thousand holes have been punched in the Gaia Hypothesis in the three decades since Lovelock and Margulis first proposed it, and it remains an open question whether the strong claim—the Earth is an organism—has empirical merit, or even utility as a metaphor.

pages: 579 words: 164,339

Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? by Alan Weisman

air freight, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, Bretton Woods, British Empire, call centre, carbon footprint, clean water, colonial rule, David Attenborough, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, El Camino Real, epigenetics, Filipino sailors, Haber-Bosch Process, happiness index / gross national happiness, haute couture, housing crisis, ice-free Arctic, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, illegal immigration, immigration reform, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), land reform, liberation theology, load shedding, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, megacity, Menlo Park, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, Pearl River Delta, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, Satyajit Das, Silicon Valley, South China Sea, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Stewart Brand, unemployed young men, upwardly mobile, urban sprawl, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

Fortunately, the doubling slowed, as Boulder residents resisted developing all the empty bottles of open space that surrounded their city, lest the scenic reason for living there in the first place vanish—along with the city’s water supply. In recent years, Bartlett has raised some controversy by proposing an end to immigration before the United States is engulfed with humanity. But even critics who challenge the ethical, practical, social, and environmental complexity of such a measure don’t argue with his math—especially when the scale gets so big that we lose sight of what’s happening to us. The planetary scale, for instance. In 1900, there were 1.6 billion people on Earth. Then, during the twentieth century, the world’s population doubled, and then doubled again. How much space did that leave in our bottle? How can we tell if, in fact, we’ve already filled it up? The shuttles have stopped flying from Cape Canaveral. Something else has stopped in Florida, too, at least for now: the biggest single-dwelling housing boom in history.

A passage in the landmark ecological boundary paper he coauthored referred to exponential growth of human activities that could destabilize systems and trigger abrupt, irreversible environmental changes that could be catastrophic for human well-being. “This is a profound dilemma,” it concluded, “because the predominant paradigm of social and economic development remains largely oblivious to the risk of human induced environmental disasters at continental to planetary scales.” Muffled in the neutral scientific tone of that turgid sentence was a scream: We don’t even realize what we’re doing! As Interstate 94 curved past gleaming downtown Minneapolis, I looked for the parking lot where the original Minneapolis Public Library once stood, a nineteenth-century brownstone where I’d passed much of my boyhood. I would visit the small museum on its top floor and stare at the stuffed remains of a passenger pigeon, once the most abundant bird on Earth.

pages: 239 words: 56,531

The Secret War Between Downloading and Uploading: Tales of the Computer as Culture Machine by Peter Lunenfeld

Albert Einstein, Andrew Keen, anti-globalists, Apple II, Berlin Wall, British Empire, Brownian motion, Buckminster Fuller, Burning Man, business cycle, butterfly effect, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, don't be evil, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, Dynabook, East Village, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Frank Gehry, Grace Hopper, gravity well, Guggenheim Bilbao, Honoré de Balzac, Howard Rheingold, invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Mercator projection, Metcalfe’s law, Mother of all demos, mutually assured destruction, Nelson Mandela, Network effects, new economy, Norbert Wiener, PageRank, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, post-materialism, Potemkin village, RFID, Richard Feynman, Richard Stallman, Robert Metcalfe, Robert X Cringely, Schrödinger's Cat, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Skype, social software, spaced repetition, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Ted Nelson, the built environment, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the medium is the message, Thomas L Friedman, Turing machine, Turing test, urban planning, urban renewal, Vannevar Bush, walkable city, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

This sketch shows design in its historical role as the servant of commerce, as reflected in the early term for graphic design, “commercial art.” The right-hand circle shows what has happened, in Mau’s view, since the advent of nanotechnologies, genetic manipulation, large-scale digital fabrication, and even terraforming. Design expands to become the outermost ring, encompassing nature, culture, and business. From Mau’s perspective, humankind’s increasing capacities to manipulate and shape everything from the submolecular to planetary scales radically transforms what design means and signifies— in his words, that design itself “has become the biggest project of all.”8 Mieke Gerritzen, a Dutch visual provocateur, went so far as to proclaim that “Everyone Is a Designer!” in a book she designed by the same name.9 Whether we accept the hyperbole of her manifesto or not, there is much to be gained from at least thinking like a designer in this 89/11 world.

The Techno-Human Condition by Braden R. Allenby, Daniel R. Sarewitz

airport security, augmented reality, carbon footprint, clean water, cognitive dissonance, coherent worldview, conceptual framework, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, decarbonisation, different worldview, facts on the ground, friendly fire, industrial cluster, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, life extension, Long Term Capital Management, market fundamentalism, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, prediction markets, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, smart grid, source of truth, stem cell, Stewart Brand, technoutopianism, the built environment, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, transcontinental railway, Whole Earth Catalog

The human and the technological will not clash, with one or the other emerging victorious. Nor will technology, reaching down its empathic paw, raise us from the trials and tribulations of being human. Rather, what will happen is what has already been happening: the two will continue to merge and re-make one another on the individual scale, on the institutional scale, on the social scale, on the planetary scale. Printing presses and books created a new kind of religious scholar; the Internet and Google create a new kind of student. Such changes may be profound. New human varietals will continue to emerge-indeed, "digital natives," comfortably embedded in their leT networks, may already exemplify this evolution. And integrating powerful new technologies into society may-and probably will-entail substantial damage, much as the development of the printing press enabled widespread study of Christianity in Medieval Europe in settings not controlled by the Church, which enabled the Reformation, which in turn played a part in hundreds of years of bloody religious warfare.

pages: 243 words: 65,374

How We Got to Now: Six Innovations That Made the Modern World by Steven Johnson

A. Roger Ekirch, Ada Lovelace, big-box store, British Empire, butterfly effect, clean water, crowdsourcing, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, germ theory of disease, Hans Lippershey, Ignaz Semmelweis: hand washing, indoor plumbing, interchangeable parts, invention of air conditioning, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, inventory management, Jacquard loom, John Snow's cholera map, Kevin Kelly, Live Aid, lone genius, Louis Pasteur, low earth orbit, Marshall McLuhan, mass immigration, megacity, Menlo Park, Murano, Venice glass, planetary scale, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Silicon Valley, Skype, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the scientific method, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, walkable city, women in the workforce

The temperature-controlled igloo remained at a steady 68 degrees Fahrenheit inside. This is long-zoom history: almost a century after Willis Carrier began thinking about keeping the ink from smearing in Brooklyn, our ability to manipulate tiny molecules of air and moisture helped transform the geography of American politics. But the rise of the Sun Belt in the United States was just a dress rehearsal for what is now happening on a planetary scale. All around the world, the fastest growing megacities are predominantly in tropical climates: Chennai, Bangkok, Manila, Jakarta, Karachi, Lagos, Dubai, Rio de Janeiro. Demographers predict that these hot cities will have more than a billion new residents by 2025. It goes without saying that many of these new immigrants don’t have air-conditioning in their homes, at least not yet, and it is an open question whether these cities are sustainable in the long run, particularly those based in desert climates.

pages: 257 words: 66,480

Strange New Worlds: The Search for Alien Planets and Life Beyond Our Solar System by Ray Jayawardhana

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Arthur Eddington, cosmic abundance, dark matter, Donald Davies, Edmond Halley, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Kuiper Belt, Louis Pasteur, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Solar eclipse in 1919

Some of the other chunks are big enough to be seen with the naked eye and were called planets (“wanderers”) by our ancestors. Other, smaller pieces are faint, except when one occasionally burns up in the Earth’s atmosphere or comes close enough to the Sun to evaporate its frozen gases into an enormous tail. It is pretty clear by now that the Earth is special among its brethren in the solar system as the only planet with liquid water on its surface and life on a planetary scale. But there’s no reason to think that our solar system is unique in the Galaxy, given its hundreds of billions of stars. Unfolding Story In fact, well before they could detect extrasolar worlds, astronomers had a pretty good idea that the stuff of planets is ubiquitous. Thanks to clues from observations, laboratory studies, and computer simulations, we now have a reasonable, albeit incomplete, understanding of how the raw material comes together to make planetary systems.

pages: 281 words: 71,242

World Without Mind: The Existential Threat of Big Tech by Franklin Foer

artificial general intelligence, back-to-the-land, Berlin Wall, big data - Walmart - Pop Tarts, big-box store, Buckminster Fuller, citizen journalism, Colonization of Mars, computer age, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, data is the new oil, don't be evil, Donald Trump, Double Irish / Dutch Sandwich, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Snowden, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Elon Musk, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Filter Bubble, global village, Google Glasses, Haight Ashbury, hive mind, income inequality, intangible asset, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, Law of Accelerating Returns, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, new economy, New Journalism, Norbert Wiener, offshore financial centre, PageRank, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, software is eating the world, Steve Jobs, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, strong AI, supply-chain management, the medium is the message, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas L Friedman, Thorstein Veblen, Upton Sinclair, Vernor Vinge, Whole Earth Catalog, yellow journalism

He heaped blame upon Gutenberg’s invention, print, a medium he believed divided the world, isolating us from our fellow humans in the antisocial act of reading. “The alphabet is a technology of visual fragmentation and specialization,” he lamented. It produced a “desert of classified data.” His critique was actually a lament—he longed for the world before print, for oral culture, with its face-to-face interactions. The perfect technology would revive the spirit of that bygone culture, but on a planetary scale, transforming the world into one big, happy tribe. Or, it would become a “global village,” to use his other cliché-destined phrase—and the warmth of that village would counteract destructive individualism and all the other fragmentary forces in the world. Most promising of all the new technologies was the computer. It is true, McLuhan saw potential downsides to the invention and to the global village he described—rumors might travel fast, privacy might not survive all the new opportunities for surveillance.

pages: 225 words: 70,180

Humankind: Solidarity With Nonhuman People by Timothy Morton

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, David Brooks, Georg Cantor, gravity well, invisible hand, means of production, megacity, microbiome, phenotype, planetary scale, Richard Feynman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Slavoj Žižek, Turing test, wage slave, zero-sum game

“Sustainability” is an even more vacuous term than “culture,” and the two terms overlap. What is being sustained, of course, is the neoliberal, capitalist world-economic structure. And this isn’t great news for humans, coral, kiwi birds or lichen. This adds up to an explosively holist political and economic agenda. Individual beings don’t matter; what matters is the whole that transcends them. We require another holism if we are going to think at a planetary scale without just upgrading or retweeting the basic agricultural theological meme, a meme that justifies a human–nonhuman boundary. Fascism is an atavistic reaction to the reality of this oppressive failure, attempting to replace the new god with a fantasy old god, “Making America Great Again.” The fusion in the fascist imaginary of Agenda 21 with the New World Order results, as in geometrical triangulation, in a virtual image of an international (Jewish) banking conspiracy.

pages: 602 words: 177,874

Thank You for Being Late: An Optimist's Guide to Thriving in the Age of Accelerations by Thomas L. Friedman

3D printing, additive manufacturing, affirmative action, Airbnb, AltaVista, Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, Berlin Wall, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, Bob Noyce, business cycle, business process, call centre, centre right, Chris Wanstrath, Clayton Christensen, clean water, cloud computing, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, David Brooks, demand response, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, Erik Brynjolfsson, failed state, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Ferguson, Missouri, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, Flash crash, game design, gig economy, global pandemic, global supply chain, illegal immigration, immigration reform, income inequality, indoor plumbing, intangible asset, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, invention of the steam engine, inventory management, Irwin Jacobs: Qualcomm, Jeff Bezos, job automation, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Khan Academy, Kickstarter, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, land tenure, linear programming, Live Aid, low skilled workers, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, Maui Hawaii, Menlo Park, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Nelson Mandela, pattern recognition, planetary scale, pull request, Ralph Waldo Emerson, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, ride hailing / ride sharing, Robert Gordon, Ronald Reagan, Second Machine Age, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, South China Sea, Steve Jobs, supercomputer in your pocket, TaskRabbit, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, Thomas L Friedman, transaction costs, Transnistria, uber lyft, undersea cable, urban decay, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Y2K, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

This was how they put it: The Great Acceleration marks the phenomenal growth of the global socio-economic system, the human part of the Earth System. It is difficult to overestimate the scale and speed of change. In little over two generations—or a single lifetime—humanity (or until very recently a small fraction of it) has become a planetary-scale geological force. Hitherto human activities were insignificant compared with the biophysical Earth System, and the two could operate independently. However, it is now impossible to view one as separate from the other. The Great Acceleration trends provide a dynamic view of the emergent, planetary-scale coupling, via globalization, between the socio-economic system and the biophysical Earth System. We have reached a point where many biophysical indicators have clearly moved beyond the bounds of Holocene variability. We are now living in a no-analogue world.

pages: 272 words: 76,089

Billions & Billions: Thoughts on Life and Death at the Brink of the Millennium by Carl Sagan

addicted to oil, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, clean water, cosmic abundance, dark matter, demographic transition, Exxon Valdez, F. W. de Klerk, germ theory of disease, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, invention of radio, invention of the telegraph, invention of the telephone, Isaac Newton, Mikhail Gorbachev, Nelson Mandela, pattern recognition, planetary scale, prisoner's dilemma, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Ronald Reagan, stem cell, the scientific method, Thomas Malthus, zero-sum game

But as time went on, as technology improved, our numbers increased exponentially, and now here we are with an average of some ten people per square kilometer, our numbers concentrated in cities, and an awesome technological armory at hand—the powers of which we understand and control only incompletely. ** Because our lives depend on minuscule amounts of such gases as ozone, major environmental disruption can be brought about—even on a planetary scale—by the engines of industry. The inhibitions placed on the irresponsible use of technology are weak, often half-hearted, and almost always, worldwide, subordinated to short-term national or corporate interest. We are now able, intentionally or inadvertently, to alter the global environment. Just how far along we are in working the various prophesied planetary catastrophes is still a matter of scholarly debate.

pages: 277 words: 80,703

Revolution at Point Zero: Housework, Reproduction, and Feminist Struggle by Silvia Federici

Community Supported Agriculture, declining real wages, equal pay for equal work, feminist movement, financial independence, fixed income, global village, illegal immigration, informal economy, invisible hand, labor-force participation, land tenure, mass incarceration, means of production, microcredit, neoliberal agenda, new economy, Occupy movement, planetary scale, Scramble for Africa, statistical model, structural adjustment programs, the market place, trade liberalization, UNCLOS, wages for housework, Washington Consensus, women in the workforce, World Values Survey

The NIDL is thus identified with the formation of Free Trade Zones—industrial sites exempt from any labor regulation producing for export—and with the organization of “global assembly lines” by transnational corporations.5 Relying on this theory, both the media and economic planners have relaunched the myth of capitalism as the great equalizer and promoter of “interconnectedness,” this time presumably achieved on a planetary scale. As the argument goes, we are witnessing the industrialization of the “Third World.” We are told this process will both eliminate the hierarchies that have historically characterized the international division of labor, and will also have a positive impact on the sexual division of labor. The women working in the Free Trade Zones presumably benefit from engagement in industrial labor, gaining a new independence and the skills necessary to compete on the international labor market.6 Although accepted by neoliberal economists,7 this theory has not been exempt from criticism.8 Already in The New Helots (1987), Robin Cohen observed that the movement of capital from the “North” to the “South” is not quantitatively sufficient to justify the hypothesis of a “New” International Division of Labor.

pages: 302 words: 73,946

People Powered: How Communities Can Supercharge Your Business, Brand, and Teams by Jono Bacon

Airbnb, barriers to entry, blockchain, bounce rate, Cass Sunstein, Charles Lindbergh, Debian, Firefox, if you build it, they will come, IKEA effect, Internet Archive, Jono Bacon, Kickstarter, Kubernetes, lateral thinking, Mark Shuttleworth, Minecraft, minimum viable product, more computing power than Apollo, planetary scale, pull request, Richard Stallman, Richard Thaler, sexual politics, Silicon Valley, Travis Kalanick, Y Combinator

Jono looks at those networks of human brains through many insightful angles, from animal behaviors to the very human need of belonging and connecting to something bigger than yourself. —Giorgio Regni, Chief Technical Officer, Scality What makes us unique as a species is that we seem to have an infinite ability to collaborate, from hundreds to millions of people. Collaboration, I believe, is the key to our ability as a species to solve planetary-scale challenges. People Powered provides a roadmap for us to further unlock our potential as individuals, to scale collaboration, and to increase our own personal impact. —Ryan Bethencourt, CEO, Wild Earth; Partner, Babel Ventures Copyright © 2019 by Jonathan Bacon All rights reserved. No portion of this book may be used or reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording, scanning, or other—except for brief quotations in critical reviews or articles, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

pages: 313 words: 84,312

We-Think: Mass Innovation, Not Mass Production by Charles Leadbeater

1960s counterculture, Andrew Keen, barriers to entry, bioinformatics,, call centre, citizen journalism, clean water, cloud computing, complexity theory, congestion charging, death of newspapers, Debian, digital Maoism, disruptive innovation, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Edward Lloyd's coffeehouse, frictionless, frictionless market, future of work, game design, Google Earth, Google X / Alphabet X, Hacker Ethic, Hernando de Soto, hive mind, Howard Rheingold, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jane Jacobs, Jaron Lanier, Jean Tirole, jimmy wales, Johannes Kepler, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Joi Ito, Kevin Kelly, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, lateral thinking, lone genius, M-Pesa, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, Menlo Park, microcredit, Mitch Kapor, new economy, Nicholas Carr, online collectivism, planetary scale, post scarcity, Richard Stallman, Shoshana Zuboff, Silicon Valley, slashdot, social web, software patent, Steven Levy, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Whole Earth Catalog, Zipcar

The Netherlands is We-Think in action at national level: a constant, adaptive, interconnected and incremental approach to innovation.7 In future we will need this kind of highly social innovation at much greater scale if we are to tackle global issues. As the Canadian catastrophe theorist Thomas Homer-Dixon puts it in The Upside of Down, In one respect humanity is extraordinarily lucky: just when it faces some of the biggest challenges in its history, it has developed a technology that could be the foundation for extremely rapid problem-solving on a planetary scale, for radically new forms of democratic decision-making. We have only just begun to tap the web’s potential and the new ways of thinking and acting it offers us. We-Think will really make a difference when we use it creatively to tackle major shared challenges: to spread democracy and learning, to improve health and quality of life, to tackle climate change and the threats of extremism. If we succeed in bending it to those objectives, people might look back a century from now and say it made the critical difference in the world’s ability to govern itself.

pages: 329 words: 85,471

The Locavore's Dilemma by Pierre Desrochers, Hiroko Shimizu

air freight, back-to-the-land, British Empire, Columbian Exchange, Community Supported Agriculture, creative destruction, edge city, Edward Glaeser, food miles, Food sovereignty, global supply chain, intermodal, invention of agriculture, inventory management, invisible hand, Jane Jacobs, land tenure, megacity, moral hazard, mortgage debt, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, planetary scale, profit motive, refrigerator car, Steven Pinker, the market place, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Malthus, trade liberalization, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl

As Aristotle observed more than two millennia ago: “Sometimes there is much drought or rain, and it prevails over a great and continuous stretch of country. At other times it is local; the surrounding country often getting seasonable or even excessive rains while there is drought in a certain part; or, contrariwise, all the surrounding country gets little or even no rain while a certain part gets rain in abundance.” 20 This is even more so on a planetary scale. Of course, the state of transportation and information technologies at any given point in time was also crucial in moving goods around in the right amounts and at the right time. Historically, regions that could rely on maritime transportation always had a clear advantage over landlocked ones. To give but one illustration, a 4th century AD observer noted that in the town of Edessa (modern Turkish Sanlıurfa) located more than 350 kilometers away from the nearest seaport:[t]here was a famine, the most severe within the memory of man.

pages: 252 words: 80,636

Bureaucracy by David Graeber

a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, airport security, Albert Einstein, banking crisis, barriers to entry, borderless world, Bretton Woods, British Empire, collateralized debt obligation, Columbine, conceptual framework, Corn Laws, David Graeber, George Gilder, High speed trading, hiring and firing, Kitchen Debate, late capitalism, means of production, music of the spheres, new economy, obamacare, Occupy movement, Parkinson's law, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, post-work, price mechanism, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, South Sea Bubble, transcontinental railway, union organizing, urban planning, zero-sum game

Within a matter of two or three years, we had sunk pretty much every proposed new global trade pact, and institutions like the IMF had been effectively expelled from Asia, Latin America, and, indeed, most of the world’s surface.28 The imagery worked because it showed everything people had been told about globalization to be a lie. This was not some natural process of peaceful trade, made possible by new technologies. What was being talked about in terms of “free trade” and the “free market” really entailed the self-conscious completion of the world’s first effective29 planetary-scale administrative bureaucratic system. The foundations for the system had been laid in the 1940s, but it was only with the waning of the Cold War that they became truly effective. In the process, they came to be made up—like most other bureaucratic systems being created on a smaller scale at the same time—of such a thorough entanglement of public and private elements that it was often quite impossible to pull them apart—even conceptually.

pages: 266 words: 87,411

The Slow Fix: Solve Problems, Work Smarter, and Live Better in a World Addicted to Speed by Carl Honore

Albert Einstein, Atul Gawande, Broken windows theory, call centre, Checklist Manifesto, clean water, clockwatching, cloud computing, crowdsourcing, Dava Sobel, delayed gratification, drone strike, Enrique Peñalosa, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Exxon Valdez, fundamental attribution error, game design, income inequality, index card, invention of the printing press, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, John Harrison: Longitude, lateral thinking, lone genius, medical malpractice, microcredit, Netflix Prize, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, RAND corporation, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, Skype, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, ultimatum game, urban renewal, War on Poverty

Though it uses the same tropes that keep Mabinogi players glued to their seats for days on end – cool graphics, missions, rewards, levels, feedback – EVOKE is designed to minimise time on the keyboard. On average, its players spend five to six hours pursuing missions in the real world for every hour spent in front of a screen. “We’re trying to take ordinary people who feel like they don’t have a positive role to play in big planetary-scale efforts and give them the sense that they can as individuals contribute to changing the world for the better,” says McGonigal. But EVOKE is also an exercise in unearthing the diamonds in the rough, the John Harrisons of social enterprise. The best players are rewarded with grant money and mentorships with social innovators. “We want to find the most gifted, brightest, most motivated people,” says McGonigal, “and invest in their social capital, development and optimism because some of them could be Nobel prize winners one day.”

pages: 289 words: 87,292

The Strange Order of Things: The Biological Roots of Culture by Antonio Damasio

Albert Einstein, biofilm, business process, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, double helix, Gordon Gekko, invention of the wheel, invention of writing, invisible hand, job automation, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, profit motive, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Feynman, self-driving car, Silicon Valley, Steven Pinker, Thomas Malthus

One hoped that at least the most advanced societies had been immunized by the horrors of World War II and the threats of the Cold War and would have found cooperative ways to overcome gradually and peacefully any and all problems that complex cultures face. In retrospect, one should have been less complacent. This could be the best of times to be alive because we are awash in spectacular scientific discoveries and in technical brilliance that make life ever more comfortable and convenient; because the amount of available knowledge and the ease of access to that knowledge are at an all-time high and so is human interconnectedness at a planetary scale, as measured by actual travel, electronic communication, and international agreements for all sorts of cooperation, in science, the arts, and trade; because the ability to diagnose, manage, and even cure diseases continues to expand and longevity continues to extend so remarkably that human beings born after the year 2000 are likely to live, hopefully well, to an average of at least a hundred.

pages: 286 words: 87,168

Less Is More: How Degrowth Will Save the World by Jason Hickel

air freight, Airbnb, basic income, Bernie Sanders, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Boris Johnson, Bretton Woods, British Empire, capital controls, cognitive dissonance, coronavirus, corporate governance, corporate personhood, COVID-19, David Graeber, decarbonisation, declining real wages, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, Elon Musk, energy transition, Fellow of the Royal Society, Fractional reserve banking, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, gender pay gap, income inequality, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of the steam engine, James Watt: steam engine, Jeff Bezos, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, land reform, liberal capitalism, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, McMansion, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, moral hazard, mortgage debt, Naomi Klein, new economy, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, passive income, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, quantitative easing, rent control, rent-seeking, Ronald Reagan, Scramble for Africa, secular stagnation, shareholder value, sharing economy, Simon Kuznets, structural adjustment programs, the scientific method, The Spirit Level, transatlantic slave trade, trickle-down economics, universal basic income

We know, for example, that certain societies played a role in the demise of some of the planet’s ancient megafauna, like woolly mammoths and giant sloths and sabre-toothed cats. But they never precipitated anything like the multi-front ecological collapse that we are witnessing today. It was only with the rise of capitalism over the past few hundred years, and the breathtaking acceleration of industrialisation from the 1950s, that on a planetary scale things began to tip out of balance. Once we understand this, it changes how we think about the problem. We call this human epoch the Anthropocene, but in fact this crisis has nothing to do with humans as such. It has to do with the dominance of a particular economic system: one that is recent in origin, which developed in particular places at a particular time in history, and which has not been adopted to the same extent by all societies.

pages: 266 words: 80,273

Covid-19: The Pandemic That Never Should Have Happened and How to Stop the Next One by Debora MacKenzie

anti-globalists, butterfly effect, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid-19, creative destruction, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Donald Trump, European colonialism, gig economy, global supply chain, income inequality, Just-in-time delivery, megacity, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microcredit, planetary scale, reshoring, supply-chain management, uranium enrichment

But is the answer to make unemployment in Bangladesh permanent by bringing those clothing factories “home” or to shut down the amicable global trade links between great powers that have fostered the longest stretch of relative peace the world has ever known? If Covid-19 teaches us anything, it is that we really are all in this together. Some people in the anti-globalist, or just plain nationalist camp strongly believe we should not be organizing ourselves on a planetary scale at all. Yet, given that virtually all our economic and cultural activity is now on that scale, it is hard to argue we should not also be managing our affairs on that level. Just having eight billion people filling virtually every available niche on this planet makes us global whether we like it or not. We can no longer run our affairs in isolated groups, while even a fraction of us might do things that affect everyone: besides disease, there are greenhouse gases, ozone-depleting chemicals, overfishing, financial instability, pollution, deforestation, cybersecurity, nuclear weapons—the list goes on.

pages: 843 words: 223,858

The Rise of the Network Society by Manuel Castells

"Robert Solow", Apple II, Asian financial crisis, barriers to entry, Big bang: deregulation of the City of London, Bob Noyce, borderless world, British Empire, business cycle, capital controls, complexity theory, computer age, computerized trading, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, declining real wages, deindustrialization, delayed gratification, dematerialisation, deskilling, disintermediation, double helix, Douglas Engelbart, Douglas Engelbart, edge city, experimental subject, financial deregulation, financial independence, floating exchange rates, future of work, global village, Gunnar Myrdal, Hacker Ethic, hiring and firing, Howard Rheingold, illegal immigration, income inequality, Induced demand, 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, John Markoff, knowledge economy, knowledge worker, labor-force participation, laissez-faire capitalism, Leonard Kleinrock, longitudinal study, low skilled workers, manufacturing employment, Marc Andreessen, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, megacity, Menlo Park, moral panic, new economy, New Urbanism, offshore financial centre, oil shock, open economy, packet switching, Pearl River Delta, peer-to-peer, planetary scale, popular capitalism, popular electronics, post-industrial society, postindustrial economy, prediction markets, Productivity paradox, profit maximization, purchasing power parity, RAND corporation, Robert Gordon, Robert Metcalfe, Shoshana Zuboff, 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 new new thing, 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, zero-sum game

A global economy is an historically new reality, distinct from a world economy.55 A world economy – that is, an economy in which capital accumulation proceeds throughout the world – has existed in the West at least since the sixteenth century, as Fernand Braudel and Immanuel Wallerstein have taught us.56 A global economy is something different: it is an economy with the capacity to work as a unit in real time, or chosen time, on a planetary scale. While capitalism is characterized by its relentless expansion, always trying to overcome limits of time and space, it was only in the late twentieth century that the world economy was able to become truly global on the basis of the new infrastructure provided by information and communication technologies, and with the decisive help of deregulation and liberalization policies implemented by governments and international institutions.

This globalized core includes financial markets, international trade, transnational production, and, to some extent, science and technology, and specialty labor. It is through these globalized, strategic components of the economy that the economic system is globally interconnected. Thus, I will define more precisely the global economy as an economy whose core components have the institutional, organizational, and technological capacity to work as a unit in real time, or in chosen time, on a planetary scale. I shall review succinctly the key features of this globality. Table 2.6 Cross-border transactions in bonds and equities, 1970–1996 (percentage of GDP) Source: IMF (1997: 60), compiled by Held et al. (1999: table 4.16) a January–September. b 1982. Global financial markets Capital markets are globally interdependent, and this is not a small matter in a capitalist economy.57 Capital is managed around the clock in globally integrated financial markets working in real time for the first time in history: billion dollars worth of transactions take place in seconds in the electronic circuits throughout the globe.

pages: 310 words: 89,653

The Interstellar Age: Inside the Forty-Year Voyager Mission by Jim Bell

Albert Einstein, crowdsourcing, dark matter, Edmond Halley, Edward Charles Pickering,, Eratosthenes, gravity well, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Kuiper Belt, Mars Rover, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, polynesian navigation, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking

Because it is so bright and so far from the sun, Triton’s is among the coldest natural surfaces in the solar system, with an average temperature only about 38 degrees above absolute zero (or an incomprehensible –391°F). Triton’s brightness suggested that there would be relatively clean ice on the surface, perhaps even including exotic, low-temperature ices other than water ice. And its strange backward orbit suggested that it may have been through some sort of planetary-scale trauma, such as being captured by Neptune, or had its course changed by some sort of giant impact. It was a great way to end the surface-imaging phase of a great mission—with an encounter that would be surprising no matter what was revealed. Last Port of Call. Voyager 2 flyby trajectory past Neptune. (NASA/JPL) About five hours after closest approach to Neptune, Voyager 2 flew past Triton.

pages: 342 words: 88,736

The Big Ratchet: How Humanity Thrives in the Face of Natural Crisis by Ruth Defries

agricultural Revolution, Columbian Exchange, demographic transition, double helix, European colonialism, food miles, Francisco Pizarro, Haber-Bosch Process, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, John Snow's cholera map, out of africa, planetary scale, premature optimization, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, social intelligence, Thomas Malthus, trade route, transatlantic slave trade

The regulatory machinery that makes it possible for a planet to recycle water, carbon, and much more is the truly distinguishing feature of our planet. More than anything else, it has saved the planet from the scorching fate of Venus and the frozen fate of Mars. It has kept nutrients for plants and animals cycling from land to ocean to deep beneath the surface to the atmosphere and back. It is the most precious, and the least appreciated, foundation for human civilization. As with Earth’s other planetary-scale features, this recycling machinery is not subject to humanity’s control. So far as is known, ours is the only planet where an atom of carbon can find itself cycling from one form to another on time scales as short as seconds and as long as millions of years. Carbon easily bonds with other elements and forms the backbone of all known life. Carbon is ubiquitous and promiscuous. At different times the same atom can reside in the leaves of a plant, in the cells of an animal’s body, in hard rocks, dissolved in the ocean, or as gas in the atmosphere.

Liz Walker by EcoVillage at Ithaca Pioneering a Sustainable Culture (2005)

car-free, Community Supported Agriculture, microcredit, mortgage debt, New Urbanism, place-making, planetary scale, ride hailing / ride sharing, the built environment, World Values Survey

Roughly a decade later came a related warning from 100 Nobel Prize winners who said that “the most profound danger to world peace in the coming years will stem not from the irrational acts of states or individuals but from the legitimate demands of the world’s dispossessed.” As these two warnings by the world’s senior scientists indicate, powerful trends are now converging into a whole-systems crisis, creating xiii xiv E C O V I L L A G E AT I T H A C A the likelihood of a planetary-scale evolutionary crash within this generation. These “adversity trends” include growing disruption of the global climate, an enormous increase in human populations living in gigantic cities without access to sufficient land and water needed to grow their own food, the depletion of vital resources such as fresh water and cheap oil, the massive and rapid extinction of animal and plant species around the world, growing disparities between the rich and the poor, and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

We Need New Stories: Challenging the Toxic Myths Behind Our Age of Discontent by Nesrine Malik

affirmative action, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, barriers to entry, Bernie Sanders, Boris Johnson, British Empire, centre right, cognitive dissonance, continuation of politics by other means, currency peg, Donald Trump, feminist movement, financial independence, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, gender pay gap, ghettoisation, glass ceiling, illegal immigration, invisible hand, mass immigration, moral panic, Nate Silver, obamacare, old-boy network, payday loans, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, race to the bottom, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, sexual politics, Steven Pinker, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, Thomas L Friedman, transatlantic slave trade

Bush’s administration were initially stunned by the event, but soon found themselves swept up in a mood of soaring optimism about the future of both the Republican Party and American power. Their dream, as they launched what they called the Global War on Terror, would be nothing short of creating an eternal Pax Republicana in the United States and a similarly never-ending Pax Americana first in the Greater Middle East and then on a potentially planetary scale.’ In the way Britain has been warped by empire, so has America been warped by the Cold War. The cultural projection that was required made a historical rewriting not only necessary, but a tool of war. And so America’s fundamental myth splits into two. The first is the story of Anglo-Saxons striving for self-governance and individual liberty once they had fled draconian Europe. Everything conveniently begins in early seventeenth-century New England, although Englishmen settled in Virginia at least two decades before that.

pages: 304 words: 90,084

Net Zero: How We Stop Causing Climate Change by Dieter Helm

3D printing, autonomous vehicles, Berlin Wall, blockchain, Boris Johnson, carbon footprint, clean water, congestion charging, coronavirus, COVID-19, Covid-19, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, demand response, Deng Xiaoping, Donald Trump, fixed income, food miles, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, Haber-Bosch Process, hydrogen economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet of things, market design, means of production, North Sea oil, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, peak oil, planetary scale, price mechanism, quantitative easing, remote working, reshoring, Ronald Reagan, smart meter, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, statistical model, Thomas Malthus

The chart below is extraordinary in a chapter packed with the history of the great post-1990 growth. It shows the scale of the transformation. In 1990 Chinese GDP was around US$360 billion. By 2018 it was $13.6 trillion. That is 38 times bigger. To get your head around these astonishing numbers, the UK’s GDP in 1990 was just over $1 trillion, and now it is just over $2.6 trillion. With all this GDP growth comes pollution, and in China’s case pollution on a planetary scale. Every other country in the world pales into insignificance in terms of added environmental pollution since 1990. The Europeans deindustrialised, and the US went sideways. From around 2005, the US had natural gas to substitute for coal, and hence it could both grow and limit its carbon emissions. On a carbon consumption basis, the net effect was relatively benign compared with what was going on elsewhere.

pages: 829 words: 229,566

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

1960s counterculture, activist fund / activist shareholder / activist investor, 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, coherent worldview, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, complexity theory, crony capitalism, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, different worldview, 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, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Internet Archive, invention of the steam engine, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Jones Act, Kickstarter, light touch regulation, market fundamentalism, moral hazard, Naomi Klein, new economy, Nixon shock, Occupy movement, offshore financial centre, oil shale / tar sands, open borders, patent troll, Pearl River Delta, planetary scale, post-oil, profit motive, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Rana Plaza, renewable energy transition, 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, trickle-down economics, Upton Sinclair, uranium enrichment, urban planning, urban sprawl, wages for housework, walkable city, Washington Consensus, Whole Earth Catalog, WikiLeaks

Once self-sufficient rural residents will lose their lands and be urged to move into increasingly crowded urban slums—for their own protection, they will be told. Drought and famine will continue to be used as pretexts to push genetically modified seeds, driving farmers further into debt.42 In the wealthier nations, we will protect our major cities with costly seawalls and storm barriers while leaving vast areas of coastline that are inhabited by poor and Indigenous people to the ravages of storms and rising seas. We may well do the same on the planetary scale, deploying techno-fixes to lower global temperatures that will pose far greater risks to those living in the tropics than in the Global North (more on this later). And rather than recognizing that we owe a debt to migrants forced to flee their lands as a result of our actions (and inactions), our governments will build ever more high-tech fortresses and adopt even more draconian anti-immigration laws.

In recent years, the society has become the most prominent scientific organization to argue that, given the lack of progress on emission reduction, the time has come for governments to prepare a technological Plan B. In a report published in 2009, it called upon the British government to devote significant resources to researching which geoengineering methods might prove most effective. Two years later it declared that planetary-scale engineering interventions that would block a portion of the sun’s rays “may be the only option for reducing global temperatures quickly in the event of a climate emergency.”3 The retreat in Buckinghamshire has a relatively narrow focus: How should research into geoengineering, as well as eventual deployment, be governed? What rules should researchers follow? What bodies, if any, will regulate these experiments?

pages: 327 words: 103,336

Everything Is Obvious: *Once You Know the Answer by Duncan J. Watts

active measures, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, Amazon Mechanical Turk, Black Swan, business cycle, butterfly effect, Carmen Reinhart, Cass Sunstein, clockwork universe, cognitive dissonance, coherent worldview, collapse of Lehman Brothers, complexity theory, correlation does not imply causation, crowdsourcing, death of newspapers, discovery of DNA, East Village, easy for humans, difficult for computers, edge city,, Erik Brynjolfsson, framing effect, Geoffrey West, Santa Fe Institute, George Santayana, happiness index / gross national happiness, high batting average, hindsight bias, illegal immigration, industrial cluster, interest rate swap, invention of the printing press, invention of the telescope, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, Jane Jacobs, Jeff Bezos, Joseph Schumpeter, Kenneth Rogoff, lake wobegon effect, Laplace demon, Long Term Capital Management, loss aversion, medical malpractice, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Milgram experiment, natural language processing, Netflix Prize, Network effects, oil shock, packet switching, pattern recognition, performance metric, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, prediction markets, pre–internet, RAND corporation, random walk, RFID, school choice, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, statistical model, Steve Ballmer, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, supply-chain management, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, too big to fail, Toyota Production System, ultimatum game, urban planning, Vincenzo Peruggia: Mona Lisa, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, X Prize

Leonhardt, David. 2009. “Medical Malpractice System Breeds More Waste.” New York Times, Sept. 22. ———. 2010. “Saving Energy, and Its Cost.” New York Times, June 15. Lerner, Josh. 2009. Boulevard of Broken Dreams: Why Public Efforts to Boost Entrepreneurship and Venture Capital Have Failed—and What to Do About It: Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Leskovec, Jure, and Eric Horvitz. 2008. “Planetary-Scale Views on a Large Instant-Messaging Network.” 17th International World Wide Web Conference, April 21–25, 2008, at Beijing, China. Levitt, Steven D., and Stephen J. Dubner. 2005. Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything. New York: William Morrow & Co. Lewis, Michael. 2009. “The No-Stats All-Star.” New York Times Magazine, February 13. Lewis, Randall, and David Reiley. 2009.

pages: 356 words: 102,224

Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space by Carl Sagan

Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, cosmological principle, dark matter, Dava Sobel, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, germ theory of disease, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Kuiper Belt, linked data, low earth orbit, nuclear winter, planetary scale, profit motive, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, telepresence

You can understand why there is no longer such a thing as a local environmental problem. Molecules are stupid. Industrial poisons, greenhouse gases, and substances that attack the protective ozone layer, because of their abysmal ignorance, do not respect borders. They are oblivious of the notion of national sovereignty. And so, due to the almost mythic powers of our technology (and the prevalence of short-term thinking), we are beginning—on Continental and on planetary scales—to pose a danger to ourselves. Plainly, if these problems are to be solved, it will require many nations acting in concert over many years. I'm struck again by the irony that spaceflight—conceived in tile cauldron of nationalist rivalries and hatreds—brings with it a stunning transnational vision. You spend even a little time contemplating the Earth from orbit and the most deeply engrained nationalisms begin to erode.

pages: 334 words: 100,201

Origin Story: A Big History of Everything by David Christian

Albert Einstein, Arthur Eddington, butterfly effect, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, Cepheid variable, colonial rule, Colonization of Mars, Columbian Exchange, complexity theory, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, creative destruction, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, demographic transition, double helix, Edward Lorenz: Chaos theory, Ernest Rutherford, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, Haber-Bosch Process, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, Joseph Schumpeter, Kickstarter, Marshall McLuhan, microbiome, nuclear winter, planetary scale, rising living standards, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, trade route, Yogi Berra

Like the appearance of the first oxygen atmosphere or the sudden death of the dinosaurs, this was an example of what the Austrian economist Joseph Schumpeter termed creative destruction—the constant, often violent replacement of the old by the new, which Schumpeter saw as the very heart of modern capitalism. Many societies were ruined, and many lives destroyed. But there was creation, too, because the sheer scale of the first global-exchange networks synergized collective learning on a planetary scale, releasing huge flows of information, energy, wealth, and power that would eventually transform human societies throughout the world. Almost all the advantages lay with the resource-hungry states and empires at the western edge of Afro-Eurasia whose ships had first broken through the barriers between the world zones. They exploited those advantages with predatory glee and ruthless efficiency.

pages: 328 words: 96,141

Rocket Billionaires: Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, and the New Space Race by Tim Fernholz

Amazon Web Services, autonomous vehicles, business climate, Charles Lindbergh, Clayton Christensen, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, disruptive innovation, Donald Trump, Elon Musk, high net worth, Iridium satellite, Jeff Bezos, Kickstarter, low earth orbit, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, minimum viable product, multiplanetary species, mutually assured destruction, new economy, nuclear paranoia, paypal mafia, Peter H. Diamandis: Planetary Resources, Peter Thiel,, planetary scale, private space industry, profit maximization, RAND corporation, Richard Feynman, Richard Feynman: Challenger O-ring, Ronald Reagan, shareholder value, Silicon Valley, skunkworks, sovereign wealth fund, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, trade route, undersea cable, We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters, X Prize, Y2K

In this narrative, kick-started by Gerard O’Neill’s 1976 book The High Frontier, the fragility of the human species on earth is intimately connected to industrialization—the way the massive use of fossil fuels to drive the economy has altered the ecosystem. Instead of taking humans away from the planet and into space, why shouldn’t the space industry develop the ability to put heavy industry up there in the cosmos? The vast renewable energy of the sun, the raw materials found on asteroids, and the ability to protect the earth from pollution present an attractive argument for a zoning rewrite on a planetary scale. Beyond the resources, there is also the advantage of microgravity, which allows for advances in materials not available on earth; already, firms are experimenting with making ultra-fast fiber-optic cable in space because it can be constructed with fewer impurities in orbit. “It’s not rocket science; it’s simply straightforward industry,” argues Phil Metzger, a planetary scientist and former NASA engineer.

pages: 360 words: 101,636

Engineering Infinity by Jonathan Strahan

augmented reality, cosmic microwave background, dark matter, gravity well, low earth orbit, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, post scarcity, Schrödinger's Cat, technological singularity, Ted Kaczynski

Lorus's voice breaks up in a stuttering hash of dropouts. And the lights and the polisher stop working. The Lansford Hastings is a starship, one of the fastest mecha ever constructed by the bastard children of posthumanity. From one angle, it may take us centuries to crawl between stars; but there's another perspective that sees us screaming across the cosmos at three thousand kilometres per second. On a planetary scale, we'd cross Sol system from Earth orbit to Pluto in less than two weeks. Earth to Luna in under five minutes. So one of the truisms of interstellar travel is that if something goes wrong, it goes wrong in a split instant, too fast to respond to. Except when it doesn't, of course. When the power goes down, I do what anyone in my position would do: I panic and ramp straight from slowtime up to my fastest quicktime setting.

pages: 299 words: 98,943

Immortality: The Quest to Live Forever and How It Drives Civilization by Stephen Cave

Albert Einstein, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, back-to-the-land, clean water, double helix, George Santayana, invention of the printing press, Isaac Newton, Lao Tzu, life extension, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, stem cell, technoutopianism, the scientific method

First put forward by the English scientist James Lovelock in the 1970s and named after the Greek goddess of the earth, supporters of the Gaia hypothesis argue that this entire system is directly comparable to what we ordinarily consider a single organism, such as you or me. Lynn Margulis is one such advocate. She writes, “Atmospheric, astronomical, and oceanographic evidence attest that life manifests itself on a planetary scale. The steadiness of mean planetary temperature of the past three thousand million years, the 700-million-year maintenance of earth’s reactive atmosphere between high-oxygen levels of combustibility and low-oxygen levels of asphyxiation, and the apparently continuous removal of hazardous salts from oceans—all these point to mammal-like purposefulness in the organization of life as a whole … Life on Earth—fauna, flora, and microbiota—is a single, gas-entrenched, ocean-connected planetary system, the largest organic being in the solar system.”

pages: 349 words: 98,868

Nervous States: Democracy and the Decline of Reason by William Davies

active measures, Affordable Care Act / Obamacare, Amazon Web Services, bank run, banking crisis, basic income, business cycle, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, citizen journalism, Climategate, Climatic Research Unit, Colonization of Mars, continuation of politics by other means, creative destruction, credit crunch, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, discovery of penicillin, Dominic Cummings, Donald Trump, drone strike, Elon Musk, failed state, Filter Bubble, first-past-the-post, Frank Gehry, gig economy, housing crisis, income inequality, Isaac Newton, Jeff Bezos, Johannes Kepler, Joseph Schumpeter, knowledge economy, loss aversion, low skilled workers, Mahatma Gandhi, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mont Pelerin Society, mutually assured destruction, Northern Rock, obamacare, Occupy movement, pattern recognition, Peace of Westphalia, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, planetary scale, post-industrial society, quantitative easing, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, Richard Florida, road to serfdom, Robert Mercer, Ronald Reagan, sentiment analysis, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, smart cities, statistical model, Steve Jobs, the scientific method, Turing machine, Uber for X, universal basic income, University of East Anglia, Valery Gerasimov, We are the 99%, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

The Boston-based affective computing company Affectiva boasted in 2017 that it had analyzed 4.7 million faces from seventy-five countries.13 Another company spun out of the University of Washington named Megaface has a database of 5 million images of 672,000 people. Ira Kemelmacher-Shlizerman, a computer science professor advising Megaface, argued that “we need to test facial recognition on a planetary scale to enable practical applications—testing on a larger scale lets you discover the flaws and successes of recognition algorithms.”14 Endless expansion of surveillance is justified on the basis that it aids machine learning. Analogue statistical techniques, such as surveys, require us to present our views and preferences in deliberate, objective, and coherent terms, often with a moment of reflection.

pages: 410 words: 106,931

Age of Anger: A History of the Present by Pankaj Mishra

anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, Ayatollah Khomeini, Berlin Wall, British Empire, colonial rule, continuation of politics by other means, creative destruction, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, Fall of the Berlin Wall, Fellow of the Royal Society, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Santayana, global village, Gunnar Myrdal, informal economy, invisible hand, liberal capitalism, Mahatma Gandhi, Marshall McLuhan, Martin Wolf, mass immigration, Nelson Mandela, Peter Thiel, Philip Mirowski, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, precariat, Republic of Letters, Scientific racism, Silicon Valley, smart cities, Snapchat, stem cell, the scientific method, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, traveling salesman, urban planning, Vilfredo Pareto, wage slave, women in the workforce, zero-sum game

And now with the victory of Donald Trump it has become impossible to deny or obscure the great chasm, first explored by Rousseau, between an elite that seizes modernity’s choicest fruits while disdaining older truths and uprooted masses, who, on finding themselves cheated of the same fruits, recoil into cultural supremacism, populism and rancorous brutality. The contradictions and costs of a minority’s progress, long suppressed by historical revisionism, blustery denial and aggressive equivocation, have become visible on a planetary scale. They encourage the suspicion – potentially lethal among the hundreds of millions of people condemned to superfluousness – that the present order, democratic or authoritarian, is built upon force and fraud; they incite a broader and more apocalyptic mood than we have witnessed before. They also underscore the need for some truly transformative thinking, about both the self and the world. Bibliographic Essay The idea for this book came to me from some remarks by Nietzsche about the conflict between the serenely elitist Voltaire and the enviously plebeian Rousseau.

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, Asilomar, autonomous vehicles, business cycle, Cass Sunstein, Climatic Research Unit, Commodity Super-Cycle, conceptual framework, corporate governance, creative destruction, credit crunch, David Attenborough, decarbonisation, dematerialisation, demographic transition, disruptive innovation, diversified portfolio, double helix, energy security, failed state, financial independence, Gary Taubes, hydraulic fracturing, income inequality, Induced demand, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, knowledge economy, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Naomi Klein, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, pattern recognition, peak oil, Peter Calthorpe, 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

Finally, and most important, I am greatly indebted to the scores of researchers who shared their time, their scientific findings, their philosophical insights, and their hopes for the future of humanity with me. INTRODUCTION A LITTLE OVER TWO DECADES AGO, I WROTE a book, Eco-Scam: The False Prophets of Ecological Apocalypse, in which I looked closely at prevalent and generally accepted predictions of imminent planetary-scale environmental dooms. I analyzed the psychological appeal of doom, how predictions of disaster function as a political technique aimed at frightening people into handing over power to self-selected elites who want to enact drastic transformations in social and economic institutions. As I explained in my introduction twenty-two years ago, I was initially fascinated by these prophecies of global catastrophe because I had believed them.

pages: 411 words: 114,717

Breakout Nations: In Pursuit of the Next Economic Miracles by Ruchir Sharma

3D printing, affirmative action, Albert Einstein, American energy revolution, anti-communist, Asian financial crisis, banking crisis, Berlin Wall, BRICs, British Empire, business climate, business cycle, business process, business process outsourcing, call centre, capital controls, Carmen Reinhart, central bank independence, centre right, cloud computing, collective bargaining, colonial rule, corporate governance, creative destruction, crony capitalism, deindustrialization, demographic dividend, Deng Xiaoping, eurozone crisis, Gini coefficient, global supply chain, housing crisis, income inequality, indoor plumbing, inflation targeting, informal economy, Kenneth Rogoff, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, land reform, M-Pesa, Mahatma Gandhi, Marc Andreessen, market bubble, mass immigration, megacity, Mexican peso crisis / tequila crisis, Nelson Mandela, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, oil shock, open economy, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, quantitative easing, reserve currency, Robert Gordon, Shenzhen was a fishing village, Silicon Valley, software is eating the world, sovereign wealth fund, The Great Moderation, Thomas L Friedman, trade liberalization, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, working-age population, zero-sum game

Even more unusual, these economies were taking wing at the same time that inflation, a constant threat in periods of rapid growth, was falling back everywhere. The number of nations that beat inflation—containing the annual rate of price increases to less than 5 percent—rose from 16 in 1980 to 103 in 2006. This was the same high-growth and low-inflation “Goldilocks economy” that America enjoyed in the 1990s, only with much faster growth and expanded to a planetary scale, including much of the West. It was a chorus of all nations, singing a story of stable high-speed success, and many observers watched with undiscriminating optimism. The emerging nations were all Chinas now, or so it seemed. This illusion, which in large part persists to this day, is fed by the fashionable explanation for the boom—that emerging markets succeeded because they had learned the lessons of the Mexican peso crisis, the Russian crisis, and the Asian crisis in the 1990s, all of which began when piles of foreign debt became too big to pay.

pages: 481 words: 125,946

What to Think About Machines That Think: Today's Leading Thinkers on the Age of Machine Intelligence by John Brockman

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, algorithmic trading, artificial general intelligence, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, basic income, bitcoin, blockchain, clean water, cognitive dissonance, Colonization of Mars, complexity theory, computer age, computer vision, constrained optimization, corporate personhood, cosmological principle, cryptocurrency, cuban missile crisis, Danny Hillis, dark matter, discrete time, Douglas Engelbart, Elon Musk, Emanuel Derman, endowment effect, epigenetics, Ernest Rutherford, experimental economics, Flash crash, friendly AI, functional fixedness, global pandemic, Google Glasses, hive mind, income inequality, information trail, Internet of things, invention of writing, iterative process, Jaron Lanier, job automation, Johannes Kepler, John Markoff, John von Neumann, Kevin Kelly, knowledge worker, loose coupling, microbiome, Moneyball by Michael Lewis explains big data, natural language processing, Network effects, Norbert Wiener, pattern recognition, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, recommendation engine, Republic of Letters, RFID, Richard Thaler, Rory Sutherland, Satyajit Das, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, social intelligence, speech recognition, statistical model, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, strong AI, Stuxnet, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, the scientific method, The Wisdom of Crowds, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, too big to fail, Turing machine, Turing test, Von Neumann architecture, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, Y2K

Essentially we must meet change with love instead of fear. I believe we can. REIMAGINING THE SELF IN A DISTRIBUTED WORLD MATTHEW RITCHIE Artist Will it happen? It already has. With the gradual fusion of information-storing-and-reporting technologies at the atomic and molecular scales, and the scaling up of distributed and connected information-storing-and-reporting devices at the social and planetary scale (which already exceeds the number of human beings on the planet), the definitions of both machine and thinking have shifted to embrace both inorganic and organic “complexes” and “systemic decisions” as interchangeable terms—mechanically, biologically, physically, intellectually, and even theologically. Near-future developments in biotechnology and transhuman algorithmic prediction systems will quickly render many of the last philosophical distinctions between observing, thinking, and deciding obsolete, and quantitative arguments meaningless.

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, global pandemic, invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, Mars Rover, Menlo Park, music of the spheres, pattern recognition, planetary scale, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, spice trade, Thales and the olive presses, Thales of Miletus, Tunguska event

We see here a conflict between our passions and what is sometimes called our better natures; between the deep, ancient reptilian part of the brain, the R-complex, in charge of murderous rages, and the more recently evolved mammalian and human parts of the brain, the limbic system and the cerebral cortex. When humans lived in small groups, when our weapons were comparatively paltry, even an enraged warrior could kill only a few. As our technology improved, the means of war also improved. In the same brief interval, we also have improved. We have tempered our anger, frustration and despair with reason. We have ameliorated on a planetary scale injustices that only recently were global and endemic. But our weapons can now kill billions. Have we improved fast enough? Are we teaching reason as effectively as we can? Have we courageously studied the causes of war? What is often called the strategy of nuclear deterrence is remarkable for its reliance on the behavior of our nonhuman ancestors. Henry Kissinger, a contemporary politician, wrote: “Deterrence depends, above all, on psychological criteria.

pages: 462 words: 142,240

Iron Sunrise by Stross, Charles

blood diamonds, dumpster diving, gravity well, hiring and firing, industrial robot, life extension, loose coupling, mass immigration, mutually assured destruction, phenotype, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, RFID, side project, speech recognition, technological singularity, trade route, urban sprawl, zero-sum game

New Dresden is not a McWorld: it’s a shitty little flea hole populated by pathologically suspicious Serbs, bumptiously snobbish Saxons, three different flavors of Balkan refugee, and an entire bestiary of psychopathic nationalist loons. The planetary national sport is the grudge match, at which they are undisputed past masters. I say “past masters” for a reason — they’re not as bad as they used to be. The planet has been unified for the past ninety years, since the survivors finished merrily slaughtering everyone else, formed a federation, had a nifty little planetary-scale nuclear war, formed another federation, and buried the hatchet (in one another’s backs). For most of the past forty years, New Dresden has been ruled by a sinister lunatic, Colonel-General Palacky, chairman of PORC, the Planetary Organization of Revolutionary Councils. Most of Palacky’s policies were dictated by his astrologers, including his now-notorious abolition of the currency and its replacement with bills divisible by 9, his lucky number.

Jennifer Morgue by Stross, Charles

call centre, correlation does not imply causation, disintermediation, dumpster diving, Etonian, haute couture, interchangeable parts, Maui Hawaii, MITM: man-in-the-middle, mutually assured destruction, planetary scale, RFID, Silicon Valley, Skype, slashdot, stem cell, telepresence, traveling salesman, Turing machine

James Bond was a creature of the Cold War: a strange period of shadow-boxing that stretched from late 1945 to the winter of 1991, forty-six years of paranoia, fear, and the creepy sensation that our lives were in thrall to forces beyond our comprehension. It's almost impossible to explain the Cold War to anyone who was born after 1980; the sense of looming doom, the long shadows cast by the two eyeball-to-eyeball superpowers, each possessing vast powers of destruction, ready and able to bring about that destruction on a planetary scale in pursuit of their recondite ideologies. It was, to use the appropriate adjective, a truly Lovecraftian age, dominated by the cold reality that our lives could be interrupted by torment and death at virtually any time; normal existence was conducted in a soap-bubble universe sustained only by our determination to shut out awareness of the true horrors lurking in the darkness outside it an abyss presided over by chilly alien warriors devoted to death-cult ideologies and dreams of Mutually Assured Destruction.

pages: 478 words: 142,608

The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

Albert Einstein, anthropic principle, Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, Ayatollah Khomeini, Brownian motion, cosmological principle, David Attenborough, Desert Island Discs, double helix,, experimental subject, Fellow of the Royal Society, gravity well, invisible hand, John von Neumann, luminiferous ether, Menlo Park, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Murray Gell-Mann, Necker cube, Peter Singer: altruism, phenotype, placebo effect, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific worldview, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, the scientific method, theory of mind, Thorstein Veblen, trickle-down economics, unbiased observer

This distinction may seem puzzling, and I must explain it further, using the so-called anthropic principle. The anthropic principle was named by the mathematician Brandon Carter in 1974 and expanded by the physicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler in their book on the subject.67 The anthropic argument is usually applied to the cosmos, and I’ll come to that. But I’ll introduce the idea on a smaller, planetary scale. We exist here on Earth. Therefore Earth must be the kind of planet that is capable of generating and supporting us, however unusual, even unique, that kind of planet might be. For example, our kind of life cannot survive without liquid water. Indeed, exobiologists searching for evidence of extraterrestrial life are scanning the heavens, in practice, for signs of water. Around a typical star like our sun, there is a so-called Goldilocks zone – not too hot and not too cold, but just right – for planets with liquid water.

pages: 489 words: 136,195

Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane

Albert Einstein, anti-communist, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, demand response, Google Earth, megacity, Minecraft, oil rush, out of africa, planetary scale, precariat, sovereign wealth fund, supervolcano, the built environment, The Spirit Level, uranium enrichment

It is a terrain with which we daily reckon and by which we are daily shaped. Yet we are disinclined to recognize the underland’s presence in our lives, or to admit its disturbing forms to our imaginations. Our ‘flat perspectives’ feel increasingly inadequate to the deep worlds we inhabit, and to the deep time legacies we are leaving. We are presently living through the Anthropocene, an epoch of immense and often frightening change at a planetary scale, in which ‘crisis’ exists not as an ever-deferred future apocalypse but rather as an ongoing occurrence experienced most severely by the most vulnerable. Time is profoundly out of joint – and so is place. Things that should have stayed buried are rising up unbidden. When confronted by such surfacings it can be hard to look away, seized by the obscenity of the intrusion. In the Arctic, ancient methane deposits are leaking through ‘windows’ in the earth opened by melting permafrost.

pages: 449 words: 129,511

The Perfectionists: How Precision Engineers Created the Modern World by Simon Winchester

Albert Einstein, British Empire, business climate, Dava Sobel, discovery of the americas, Etonian, Fellow of the Royal Society, interchangeable parts, Isaac Newton, Jacques de Vaucanson, James Watt: steam engine, John Harrison: Longitude, lateral thinking, lone genius, means of production, planetary scale, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Skype, trade route, William Shockley: the traitorous eight

That there are things in nature, most especially in atomic and subatomic nature, that vibrate at frequencies which never, ever, ever change. Or not to any measurable degree. Quartz, as we discovered back at Seiko, is one such. The seconds presented by a quartz-based timekeeper were unvaryingly precise seconds; and the seconds they soundlessly accumulated turned into precise minutes, precise hours, precise days. And yet, just as with Maxwell’s argument against using a human-scale or even a planetary-scale basis for defining the meter and the kilogram, so in the latter half of the twentieth century it became clear that though quartz is good enough for the average consumer of time, it is manifestly not good enough for the scientist, nor for the national metrology institutes around the world. Which led to the evolution of the standards that are in use today, and which employ one or more members of the more recently invented families of atomic clocks.

pages: 493 words: 136,235

Operation Chaos: The Vietnam Deserters Who Fought the CIA, the Brainwashers, and Themselves by Matthew Sweet

Berlin Wall, British Empire, centre right, computer age, Donald Trump, energy security, Fall of the Berlin Wall, game design, Haight Ashbury, hiring and firing, Howard Zinn, Kickstarter, Mikhail Gorbachev, planetary scale, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Skype, South China Sea, Stanford prison experiment, Thomas Malthus, Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, WikiLeaks, Yogi Berra, éminence grise

As Mike was neither its writer nor its addressee, it was hard to understand how he had acquired it, but there it was, a brittle photocopy on the notepaper of the French National Institute of Health and Medical Research. It was addressed to Mark Burdman of the Labor Committees and signed by Stanislaus Tomkiewicz. “Cher Ami,” wrote Tomkiewicz, “you earn my respect and my sympathy for having been the first (after me) to have understood the relationship of Michael Vale with supporters of order on a planetary scale.” The CIA again. On my last day, I accompanied Michael to his doctor. He was awaiting some test results. He emerged beaming from the appointment, clutching an envelope of X-rays that were the evidence of his good news. To celebrate, we went for lunch at Les Deux Magots, the famous haunt of Jean-Paul Sartre and Simone de Beauvoir. Mike had quiche, most of which made it to his mouth. A splot of mozzarella became lodged in his stubble, and remained there four hours later, when we said goodbye at the Gare du Nord.

pages: 442 words: 135,006

ZeroZeroZero by Roberto Saviano

Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, call centre, credit crunch, double entry bookkeeping, Fall of the Berlin Wall, illegal immigration, Julian Assange, London Interbank Offered Rate, Mikhail Gorbachev, new economy, open borders, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, Ronald Reagan, Skype, Steve Jobs, uranium enrichment, WikiLeaks

Because if it’s true that a kilo of cocaine in Colombia is sold for $1,500, in Mexico for $12,000 to $16,000, in the United States for $27,000, in Spain for $45,000, in Holland for $47,000, in Italy for $54,000, and in the UK for $77,000; if it’s true that the price per gram varies from $61 in Portugal to $166 in Luxembourg, going for $80 in France, $87 in Germany, $96 in Switzerland, and $97 in Ireland; if it’s true that on average 1 kilo of pure cocaine is cut to make 3 kilos that are then sold in single-gram doses; if all this is true, it’s also true that whoever controls the entire chain of production is one of the richest men in the world. Cocaine traffic today is managed by a new middle class of mafiosi. They use distribution to gain control of the territory where it is sold. A game of Risk on a planetary scale. On one side are the areas where cocaine is produced, which become fiefdoms where nothing but poverty and violence grow, areas the mafias keep under control by generously doling out charity and alms, which they pass off as rights. No development, only profits. If someone wants to better himself, he demands riches, not rights. Riches that he needs to know how to grab. In this way only one model of success is perpetuated, of which violence is merely a vehicle and a tool.

pages: 515 words: 126,820

Blockchain Revolution: How the Technology Behind Bitcoin Is Changing Money, Business, and the World by Don Tapscott, Alex Tapscott

Airbnb, altcoin, asset-backed security, autonomous vehicles, barriers to entry, bitcoin, blockchain, Blythe Masters, Bretton Woods, business process, buy and hold, Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, carbon footprint, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, corporate governance, corporate social responsibility, creative destruction, Credit Default Swap, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, disintermediation, disruptive innovation, distributed ledger, Donald Trump, double entry bookkeeping, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, failed state, fiat currency, financial innovation, Firefox, first square of the chessboard, first square of the chessboard / second half of the chessboard, future of work, Galaxy Zoo, George Gilder, glass ceiling, Google bus, Hernando de Soto, income inequality, informal economy, information asymmetry, intangible asset, interest rate swap, Internet of things, Jeff Bezos, jimmy wales, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, Kodak vs Instagram, Lean Startup, litecoin, Lyft, M-Pesa, Marc Andreessen, Mark Zuckerberg, Marshall McLuhan, means of production, microcredit, mobile money, money market fund, Network effects, new economy, Oculus Rift, off grid, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, peer-to-peer model, performance metric, Peter Thiel, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, price mechanism, Productivity paradox, QR code, quantitative easing, ransomware, Ray Kurzweil, renewable energy credits, rent-seeking, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Coase, Ronald Reagan, Satoshi Nakamoto, Second Machine Age, seigniorage, self-driving car, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart contracts, smart grid, social graph, social intelligence, social software, standardized shipping container, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, supply-chain management, TaskRabbit, The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid, The Nature of the Firm, The Wisdom of Crowds, transaction costs, Turing complete, Turing test, Uber and Lyft, uber lyft, unbanked and underbanked, underbanked, unorthodox policies, wealth creators, X Prize, Y2K, Zipcar

CHAPTER 11 LEADERSHIP FOR THE NEXT ERA Prolific is an adjective that should precede all titles used to describe twenty-one-year-old Vitalik Buterin, the Russian-born Canadian founder of Ethereum. (Prolific founder, that is.) Ask his legion of followers about Ethereum, and they’ll tell you it’s a “blockchain-based, arbitrary-state, Turing-complete scripting platform.”1 It has attracted IBM, Samsung, UBS, Microsoft, and the Chinese auto giant Wanxiang, and an army of the smartest software developers in the world, all of whom think that Ethereum may be the “planetary scale computer” that changes everything.2 When Buterin explained “arbitrary-state, Turing-complete” to us, we got a glimpse of his mind. Listening to music is very different from reading a book or calculating the day’s revenues and expenses, and yet you can do all three on your smart phone, because your smart phone’s operating system is Turing complete. That means that it can accommodate any other language that is Turing complete.

pages: 523 words: 148,929

Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 by Michio Kaku

agricultural Revolution, AI winter, Albert Einstein, Asilomar, augmented reality, Bill Joy: nanobots, bioinformatics, blue-collar work, British Empire, Brownian motion, cloud computing, Colonization of Mars, DARPA: Urban Challenge, delayed gratification, double helix, Douglas Hofstadter,, friendly AI, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hydrogen economy, I think there is a world market for maybe five computers, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, invention of the telescope, Isaac Newton, John Markoff, John von Neumann, life extension, Louis Pasteur, Mahatma Gandhi, Mars Rover, mass immigration, megacity, Mitch Kapor, Murray Gell-Mann, new economy, oil shale / tar sands, optical character recognition, pattern recognition, planetary scale, postindustrial economy, Ray Kurzweil, refrigerator car, Richard Feynman, Rodney Brooks, Ronald Reagan, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Silicon Valley, Simon Singh, social intelligence, speech recognition, stem cell, Stephen Hawking, Steve Jobs, telepresence, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, Thomas L Friedman, Thomas Malthus, trade route, Turing machine, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, Wall-E, Walter Mischel, Whole Earth Review, X Prize

Soccer and the Olympics are emerging to dominate planetary sports. The 2008 Olympics, for example, were widely interpreted as a coming-out party for the Chinese, who wanted to assume their rightful cultural position in the world after centuries of isolation. This is also an example of the Cave Man Principle, since sports are High Touch but are entering the world of High Tech. • Environmental threats are also being debated on a planetary scale. Nations realize that the pollution they create crosses national boundaries and hence can precipitate an international crisis. We first saw this when a gigantic hole in the ozone layer opened over the South Pole. Because the ozone layer prevents harmful UV and X-rays from the sun from reaching the ground, nations banded together to limit the production and consumption of chlorofluorocarbons used in refrigerators and industrial systems.

pages: 489 words: 148,885

Accelerando by Stross, Charles

business cycle, call centre, carbon-based life, cellular automata, cognitive dissonance, commoditize, Conway's Game of Life, dark matter, dumpster diving, Extropian, finite state, Flynn Effect, glass ceiling, gravity well, John von Neumann, Kickstarter, knapsack problem, Kuiper Belt, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, means of production, MITM: man-in-the-middle, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, packet switching, performance metric, phenotype, planetary scale, Pluto: dwarf planet, reversible computing, Richard Stallman, SETI@home, Silicon Valley, Singularitarianism, slashdot, South China Sea, stem cell, technological singularity, telepresence, The Chicago School, theory of mind, Turing complete, Turing machine, Turing test, upwardly mobile, Vernor Vinge, Von Neumann architecture, web of trust, Y2K, zero-sum game

They cower in gated communities and hill forts, mumbling prayers and cursing the ungodly meddlers with the natural order of things. But eight out of every ten living humans are included in the phase-change. It's the most inclusive revolution in the human condition since the discovery of speech. A million outbreaks of gray goo – runaway nanoreplicator excursions – threaten to raise the temperature of the biosphere dramatically. They're all contained by the planetary-scale immune system fashioned from what was once the World Health Organization. Weirder catastrophes threaten the boson factories in the Oort cloud. Antimatter factories hover over the solar poles. Sol system shows all the symptoms of a runaway intelligence excursion, exuberant blemishes as normal for a technological civilization as skin problems on a human adolescent. The economic map of the planet has changed beyond recognition.

pages: 565 words: 151,129

The Zero Marginal Cost Society: The Internet of Things, the Collaborative Commons, and the Eclipse of Capitalism by Jeremy Rifkin

"Robert Solow", 3D printing, active measures, additive manufacturing, Airbnb, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, big-box store, bioinformatics, bitcoin, business process, Chris Urmson, clean water, cleantech, cloud computing, collaborative consumption, collaborative economy, Community Supported Agriculture, Computer Numeric Control, computer vision, crowdsourcing, demographic transition, distributed generation,, Frederick Winslow Taylor, global supply chain, global village, Hacker Ethic, industrial robot, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), intermodal, Internet of things, invisible hand, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, job automation, John Markoff, John Maynard Keynes: Economic Possibilities for our Grandchildren, John Maynard Keynes: technological unemployment, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, knowledge worker, longitudinal study, Mahatma Gandhi, manufacturing employment, Mark Zuckerberg, market design, mass immigration, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, natural language processing, new economy, New Urbanism, nuclear winter, Occupy movement, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, pattern recognition, peer-to-peer, peer-to-peer lending, personalized medicine, phenotype, planetary scale, price discrimination, profit motive, QR code, RAND corporation, randomized controlled trial, Ray Kurzweil, RFID, Richard Stallman, risk/return, Ronald Coase, search inside the book, self-driving car, shareholder value, sharing economy, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, social web, software as a service, spectrum auction, Steve Jobs, Stewart Brand, the built environment, The Nature of the Firm, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, The Wisdom of Crowds, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas L Friedman, too big to fail, transaction costs, urban planning, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, web application, Whole Earth Catalog, Whole Earth Review, WikiLeaks, working poor, zero-sum game, Zipcar

Beneath all the surface hyperbole that went along with the colonization of cyberspace, scholars and activists alike were beginning to ask the question of how this new virtual public square—one that is capable of connecting the entire human race for the very first time in history—might change the fundamentals of how society is organized. What consequences would flow from a social space where everyone could reach everyone else, connect, collaborate, and create new ways to interact with one another on a planetary scale—something never before imaginable? I started thinking about writing the book in 1998. I was teaching at the time in the advanced management program at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania. CEOs from around the world were beginning to sniff around the Internet, attempting to figure out whether it posed a threat, an opportunity, or both to their way of doing business. It was then that I began to ponder some questions.

The Great Turning: From Empire to Earth Community by David C. Korten

Albert Einstein, banks create money, big-box store, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, clean water, colonial rule, Community Supported Agriculture, death of newspapers, declining real wages, different worldview, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, full employment, George Gilder, global supply chain, global village, God and Mammon, Hernando de Soto, Howard Zinn, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invisible hand, joint-stock company, land reform, market bubble, market fundamentalism, Monroe Doctrine, Naomi Klein, neoliberal agenda, new economy, peak oil, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, Project for a New American Century, Ronald Reagan, Rosa Parks, sexual politics, shared worldview, social intelligence, source of truth, South Sea Bubble, stem cell, structural adjustment programs, The Chicago School, trade route, Washington Consensus, wealth creators, World Values Survey

The same technological revolution that brings the imperative for change is also facilitating a global cultural and spiritual awakening to the interdependence of life, the unrealized possibilities of our human nature, and the opportunity before us to bring forth a cultural, economic, and political transformation as a conscious collective choice. It is the work of Ricardo and the Hacienda Santa Teresa on a planetary scale. Millions of people the world over are already engaging in it. Some would call it a reawakening to the spiritual wisdom of our ancient past. Others might liken it to the sense of awe at the wonder and beauty of life that commonly follows a near-death experience. However we choose to characterize it, this awakening is opening the way for an evolutionary leap to a new level of human social, intellectual, and spiritual possibility.

pages: 499 words: 144,278

Coders: The Making of a New Tribe and the Remaking of the World by Clive Thompson

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 4chan, 8-hour work day, Ada Lovelace, AI winter, Airbnb, Amazon Web Services, Asperger Syndrome, augmented reality, Ayatollah Khomeini, barriers to entry, basic income, Bernie Sanders, bitcoin, blockchain, blue-collar work, Brewster Kahle, Brian Krebs, Broken windows theory, call centre, cellular automata, Chelsea Manning, clean water, cloud computing, cognitive dissonance, computer vision, Conway's Game of Life, crowdsourcing, cryptocurrency, Danny Hillis, David Heinemeier Hansson, don't be evil, don't repeat yourself, Donald Trump, dumpster diving, Edward Snowden, Elon Musk, Erik Brynjolfsson, Ernest Rutherford, Ethereum, ethereum blockchain, Firefox, Frederick Winslow Taylor, game design, glass ceiling, Golden Gate Park, Google Hangouts, Google X / Alphabet X, Grace Hopper, Guido van Rossum, Hacker Ethic, HyperCard, illegal immigration, ImageNet competition, Internet Archive, Internet of things, Jane Jacobs, John Markoff, Jony Ive, Julian Assange, Kickstarter, Larry Wall, lone genius, Lyft, Marc Andreessen, Mark Shuttleworth, Mark Zuckerberg, Menlo Park, microservices, Minecraft, move fast and break things, move fast and break things, Nate Silver, Network effects, neurotypical, Nicholas Carr, Oculus Rift, PageRank, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, paypal mafia, Peter Thiel, pink-collar, planetary scale, profit motive, ransomware, recommendation engine, Richard Stallman, ride hailing / ride sharing, Rubik’s Cube, Ruby on Rails, Sam Altman, Satoshi Nakamoto, Saturday Night Live, self-driving car, side project, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley ideology, Silicon Valley startup, single-payer health, Skype, smart contracts, Snapchat, social software, software is eating the world, sorting algorithm, South of Market, San Francisco, speech recognition, Steve Wozniak, Steven Levy, TaskRabbit, the High Line, Travis Kalanick, Uber and Lyft, Uber for X, uber lyft, universal basic income, urban planning, Wall-E, Watson beat the top human players on Jeopardy!, WikiLeaks, women in the workforce, Y Combinator, Zimmermann PGP, éminence grise

Facebook looked at our lives as a problem of inefficient transmission of information. Before Facebook, all day long I was doing (and thinking and reading) things my friends might find intriguing. But I had no way to easily broadcast my life, and they had no way to listen; we had to rely on irregular phone calls, drinks at a bar, conversations on the sidewalk. News Feed was, in essence, a massive optimization of our peripheral vision, on a planetary scale. The same thing goes for Uber, which optimized the experience of hailing cars, or Amazon, which did the same thing for shopping, or the many firms creating just-in-time services with “gig” employees. In each case, though, tech firms that are driven maniacally by a zeal for optimization wreak china-shop havoc with any person or government or community that prizes continuity: drivers and employees who’d rather have reliable jobs than piecemeal gigs, neighbors who lose local stores and jobs when they can’t compete with lower-friction online sales.

pages: 665 words: 146,542

Money: 5,000 Years of Debt and Power by Michel Aglietta

bank run, banking crisis, Basel III, Berlin Wall, bitcoin, blockchain, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, capital asset pricing model, capital controls, cashless society, central bank independence, collapse of Lehman Brothers, collective bargaining, corporate governance, David Graeber, debt deflation, dematerialisation, Deng Xiaoping, double entry bookkeeping, energy transition, eurozone crisis, Fall of the Berlin Wall, falling living standards, financial deregulation, financial innovation, Financial Instability Hypothesis, financial intermediation, floating exchange rates, forward guidance, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, full employment, German hyperinflation, income inequality, inflation targeting, information asymmetry, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of writing, invisible hand, joint-stock company, Kenneth Arrow, Kickstarter, liquidity trap, margin call, means of production, money market fund, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, Northern Rock, oil shock, planetary scale, plutocrats, Plutocrats, price stability, purchasing power parity, quantitative easing, race to the bottom, reserve currency, secular stagnation, seigniorage, shareholder value, special drawing rights, special economic zone, stochastic process, the payments system, the scientific method, too big to fail, trade route, transaction costs, transcontinental railway, Washington Consensus

Majoritarianism undervalues common goods, including nature, and crushes the interests of politically underrepresented minorities, just as the market excludes those who do not have access to money. Only an ethical principle allows us to transcend the aporias in which liberal-democratic societies are today embroiled. There is a dramatic deterioration of common goods at the social level – where democracy is caught in the clutches of business – and at the environmental level, from the local to the planetary scale. Faced with these threats, the human collectives of the twenty-first century will, or will not, be ethical. We thus need to reinvest in the resources of political philosophy in order to drive transformations of sovereignty, in the sense of direct citizen involvement in state choices. In this domain, the Rawlsian principle of social justice is of fundamental importance.9 In defining justice as fairness, John Rawls offers a solution to the social-contract problem posed by Rousseau.

pages: 516 words: 157,437

Principles: Life and Work by Ray Dalio

Albert Einstein, asset allocation, autonomous vehicles, backtesting, cognitive bias, Deng Xiaoping, diversification, Elon Musk, follow your passion, hiring and firing, iterative process, Jeff Bezos, Long Term Capital Management, margin call, microcredit, oil shock, performance metric, planetary scale, quantitative easing, risk tolerance, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, Steve Jobs, transaction costs, yield curve

When he had just come out with the Tesla and showed me his own car for the first time, he had as much to say about the key fob that opened the doors as he did about his overarching vision for how Tesla fits into the broader future of transportation and how impor-tant that is to our planet. Later on, when I asked him how he came to start his company SpaceX, the audacity of his answer startled me. “For a long time,” he answered, “I’ve thought that it’s inevitable that something bad is going to happen on a planetary scale—a plague, a meteor—that will require humanity to start over somewhere else, like Mars. One day I went to the NASA website to see what progress they were making on their Mars program, and I realized that they weren’t even thinking about going there anytime soon. “I had gotten $180 million when my partners and I sold PayPal,” he continued, “and it occurred to me that if I spent $90 million and used it to acquire some ICBMs from the former USSR and sent one to Mars, I could inspire the exploration of Mars.”

pages: 505 words: 147,916

Adventures in the Anthropocene: A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made by Gaia Vince

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, bank run, car-free, carbon footprint, citizen journalism, clean water, congestion charging, crowdsourcing, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, energy security, failed state, Google Earth, Haber-Bosch Process, hive mind, informal economy, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Kickstarter, load shedding, M-Pesa, Mars Rover, Masdar, megacity, mobile money, off grid, oil shale / tar sands, out of africa, Peter Thiel, phenotype, planetary scale, Ray Kurzweil, Silicon Valley, Skype, smart cities, smart grid, smart meter, South China Sea, sovereign wealth fund, stem cell, supervolcano, sustainable-tourism

This compulsion to arrange our lives and nests into closely packed populations, living in houses organised however chaotically around social buildings like a market, town hall, centre of worship or political seat of governance, is unique to humans and widespread among us. The mastery over our environment that allowed large populations to live together in a small area – diverted and trapped water, acquisition and transport of distant resources, efficient large-scale farming – are all developments that led us to dominate on a planetary scale. But it took the improvement in the last century of sanitation and medicine for city populations to truly explode. Clean water and antibiotics dramatically slashed the death toll and, for the first time, large concentrations of humans could live in relative safety. Cities have grown from the once vast Nineveh – home to 120,000 people in 650 BC – to the megacities of the Anthropocene with more than 10 million inhabitants.

pages: 513 words: 152,381

The Precipice: Existential Risk and the Future of Humanity by Toby Ord

3D printing, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, Asilomar Conference on Recombinant DNA, availability heuristic, Columbian Exchange, computer vision, cosmological constant, cuban missile crisis, decarbonisation, defense in depth, delayed gratification, demographic transition, Doomsday Clock, Drosophila, effective altruism, Elon Musk, Ernest Rutherford, global pandemic, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, Mark Zuckerberg, mass immigration, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, mutually assured destruction, Nash equilibrium, Norbert Wiener, nuclear winter, p-value, Peter Singer: altruism, planetary scale, race to the bottom, RAND corporation, Ronald Reagan, self-driving car, Stanislav Petrov, Stephen Hawking, Steven Pinker, Stewart Brand, supervolcano, survivorship bias, the scientific method, uranium enrichment

We can naturally extend this scale in both directions.54 We can include an earlier level for a minimal civilization (for example, the size of civilization in Mesopotamia at the dawn of the written language).55 And we can include an ultimate level at the size of our affectable universe: everything that we could ever hope to reach. Surprisingly, these jumps are very similar in size to those Kardashev identified, continuing the roughly logarithmic scale for measuring the power of civilizations. Level: K0 Civilization Size: Minimal Scale-up: Power: ≈ 108 W Level: K1 Civilization Size: Planetary Scale-up: × 1 billion Power: 2×1017 W Level: K2 Civilization Size: Stellar Scale-up: × 1 billion Power: 4×1026 W Level: K3 Civilization Size: Galactic Scale-up: × 100 billion Power: 4×1037 W Level: K4 Civilization Size: Ultimate Scale-up: × 1 billion Power: 4×1046 W Our global civilization currently controls about 12 trillion Watts of power. This is about 100,000 times more than a minimal civilization but 10,000 times less than the full capacity of our planet.

pages: 562 words: 153,825

Dark Mirror: Edward Snowden and the Surveillance State by Barton Gellman

4chan, A Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace, active measures, Anton Chekhov, bitcoin, Cass Sunstein, cloud computing, corporate governance, crowdsourcing, data acquisition, Debian, desegregation, Donald Trump, Edward Snowden, financial independence, Firefox, GnuPG, Google Hangouts, informal economy, Jacob Appelbaum, job automation, Julian Assange, MITM: man-in-the-middle, national security letter, planetary scale, private military company, ransomware, Robert Gordon, Robert Hanssen: Double agent, rolodex, Ronald Reagan, Saturday Night Live, Silicon Valley, Skype, social graph, standardized shipping container, Steven Levy, telepresence, undersea cable, web of trust, WikiLeaks, zero day, Zimmermann PGP

Another program we came across was extraordinarily ambitious: it tried to track and store the location of every device that placed a mobile telephone call, logging each phone’s whereabouts over time, provided that the device could be monitored from a switch outside U.S. territorial limits. Ashkan and I discovered a set of programs that gathered nearly five billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world, enabling the agency to track the movements of individuals—and map their relationships—on a planetary scale. There were at least hundreds of millions of devices in this location database. The NSA had no reason to suspect that the movements of the overwhelming majority of cellphone users, individually, would be relevant to national security. It mapped the whole universe, or as much as it could touch lawfully, because the database fed a powerful set of analytic tools known collectively as CO-TRAVELER.

Turing's Cathedral by George Dyson

1919 Motor Transport Corps convoy, Alan Turing: On Computable Numbers, with an Application to the Entscheidungsproblem, Albert Einstein, anti-communist, Benoit Mandelbrot, British Empire, Brownian motion, cellular automata, cloud computing, computer age, Danny Hillis, dark matter, double helix, fault tolerance, Fellow of the Royal Society, finite state, Georg Cantor, Henri Poincaré, housing crisis, IFF: identification friend or foe, indoor plumbing, Isaac Newton, Jacquard loom, John von Neumann, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, Norbert Wiener, Norman Macrae, packet switching, pattern recognition, Paul Erdős, Paul Samuelson, phenotype, planetary scale, RAND corporation, random walk, Richard Feynman, SETI@home, social graph, speech recognition, Thorstein Veblen, Turing complete, Turing machine, Von Neumann architecture

59 He answers that all predictability would vanish in less than one month, “not because of quantum indeterminacy, or even because of macroscopic errors of observation, but because the errors introduced into the smallest turbulent eddies by random fluctuations on the scale of the mean free path (ca 10–5 mm at sea level), although very small initially, would grow exponentially .… The error progresses from 1 mm to 10 km in less than one day, and from 100 km to the planetary scales in a week or two.”60 As to whether climate—the “infinite forecast”—is predictable, the jury is still out. Von Neumann expected that not only would climate become predictable, but it would also be controlled. The balance points, once identified, would be too easy to tip. The real climate change crisis, according to von Neumann, was not whether we can control climate, but how to decide who sits at the controls.

pages: 604 words: 161,455

The Moral Animal: Evolutionary Psychology and Everyday Life by Robert Wright

"Robert Solow", agricultural Revolution, Andrei Shleifer, Asian financial crisis, British Empire, centre right, cognitive dissonance, double entry bookkeeping, double helix, fault tolerance, Francis Fukuyama: the end of history, George Gilder, global village, invention of gunpowder, invention of movable type, invention of the telegraph, invention of writing, invisible hand, John Nash: game theory, John von Neumann, Marshall McLuhan, Norbert Wiener, planetary scale, pre–internet, profit motive, Ralph Waldo Emerson, random walk, Richard Thaler, rising living standards, Silicon Valley, social intelligence, social web, Steven Pinker, talking drums, the medium is the message, The Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, trade route, your tax dollars at work, zero-sum game

Occasionally, watching TV and seeing the suffering of foreigners in a superficially alien culture, a viewer is struck by the realization that, fundamentally, all human beings are alike. Certainly charity in the material sense—donation to the needy—has reached unprecedented geographic scope this century. Of course, it may forever remain true that nothing brings people together, heart to heart, quite like a war. And that sort of bonding, thankfully, is unavailable on a planetary scale. But other common challenges—environmental distress, for example—are not devoid of bonding power. Indeed, the classic experiment on inter-group solidarity suggests that inanimate threats can be quite unifying. Several decades ago, the psychologist Muzafer Sherif used boys in a summer camp (unbeknownst to them) to study human nature. He divided them into two groups and put them in a series of zero-sum games, with cherished perks going to the winning team.

pages: 661 words: 169,298

Coming of Age in the Milky Way by Timothy Ferris

Albert Einstein, Albert Michelson, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, Arthur Eddington, Atahualpa, Cepheid variable, Commentariolus, cosmic abundance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, dark matter, delayed gratification, Edmond Halley, Eratosthenes, Ernest Rutherford, Gary Taubes, Harlow Shapley and Heber Curtis, Harvard Computers: women astronomers, Henri Poincaré, invention of writing, Isaac Newton, Johannes Kepler, John Harrison: Longitude, Karl Jansky, Lao Tzu, Louis Pasteur, Magellanic Cloud, mandelbrot fractal, Menlo Park, Murray Gell-Mann, music of the spheres, planetary scale, retrograde motion, Richard Feynman, Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Searching for Interstellar Communications, Solar eclipse in 1919, source of truth, Stephen Hawking, Thales of Miletus, Thomas Kuhn: the structure of scientific revolutions, Thomas Malthus, Wilhelm Olbers

Weart and Gertrud Weiss Szilard. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1978. Recollections and correspondence by a pioneer in nuclear fusion. Taton, Rene. History of Science, trans. A.J. Pomerans. London: Basic Books, 1963. —————. Reason and Chance in Scientific Discovery, trans. A.J. Pomerans. New York: Science Editions, 1962. Taube, Mieczyslaw. Evolution of Matter and Energy in Cosmic and Planetary Scale. Killwanger Switz.: self-published, 1982. Taubes, Gary. Nobel Dreams. New York: Random House, 1986. Account of Carlo Rubbia’s quest to identify the W and Z particles predicted by electroweak theory. Taylor, A.E. Aristotle. New York: Dover, 1955. Survey of Aristotle’s thought. —————. Plato: The Man and His Work. New York: Meridian, 1960. Standard reference, with commentary on each of the dialogues.

pages: 532 words: 162,509

The Other Slavery: The Uncovered Story of Indian Enslavement in America by Andrés Reséndez

Bartolomé de las Casas, British Empire, California gold rush, Columbian Exchange, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, European colonialism, Francisco Pizarro, Jones Act, planetary scale, Right to Buy, transatlantic slave trade, transcontinental railway, War on Poverty

In the early 1500s, the Spanish monarchs prohibited Indian slavery except in special cases, and after 1542 they banned the practice altogether. Unlike African slavery, which remained legal and firmly sustained by racial prejudice and the struggle against Islam, the enslavement of Native Americans was against the law. Yet this categorical prohibition did not stop generations of determined conquistadors and colonists from taking Native slaves on a planetary scale, from the Eastern Seaboard of the United States to the tip of South America, and from the Canary Islands to the Philippines. The fact that this other slavery had to be carried out clandestinely made it even more insidious. It is a tale of good intentions gone badly astray.7 When I began researching this book, one number was of particular interest to me: how many Indian slaves had there been in the Americas since the time of Columbus?

pages: 635 words: 186,208

House of Suns by Alastair Reynolds

autonomous vehicles, cosmic microwave background, data acquisition, gravity well, megastructure, planetary scale

The other line of argument held that the man had never grown larger than a few tens of light-years across. After reaching the size of a decent nebula, and spending a few hundred thousand years in that state, he had decided that enough was enough; that he was ready to engage with human civilisation again, even if it was engagement on his own rather distant terms, even if that engagement meant shrinking himself down to a planetary scale. It was not so much of a hardship, for in the time of his expansion he had learned much about self-preservation. He no longer needed external energy sources. He had observed the early galactic wars of the protohumans and seen what their weapons could do. Provided he took precautions, provided he remained agile, nothing need trouble him again. What the troves did agree on was that, one way or the other, the Spirit of the Air, the Fracto-Coagulation, was what remained of the man after another five and a half million years of existence.

pages: 804 words: 212,335

Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds

game design, glass ceiling, gravity well, Kuiper Belt, planetary scale, random walk, statistical model

'Weps functionality: nominal. Ninety-nine point four per cent probability that target was completely neutralised. Seventy-nine per cent probability that no one within two hundred kilometres could have survived, unless they were behind a kilometre of armour.' 'Good enough odds for me,' Volyova said. She studied the wound in the surface of Resurgam for a moment longer, evidently satiating herself with the thought of planetary-scale destruction. 1 Alastair Reynolds - Revelation Space Revelation Space FIFTEEN Mantell, North Nekhebet, 2566 'They bluffed,' Sluka said, just as a sudden, false dawn shone over the north-easterly horizon, turning the intervening ridges and bluffs into serrated black cutouts. The glare was magnesiumbright, edged in purple. Briefly it overloaded whole strips of Sylveste's vision, leaving numb voids where it had burned.

PostGIS in Action by Regina O. Obe, Leo S. Hsu

call centre, crowdsourcing, database schema, Debian, domain-specific language,, Firefox, Google Earth, job automation, McMansion, Mercator projection, Network effects, openstreetmap, planetary scale, profit maximization, Ruby on Rails, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, traveling salesman, web application

Learning PostGIS may not be any quicker, but you’ll have at your disposal the tools and skills to solve any and all problems of this kind in the future. Replace the highway with a lake, and you can determine how many homes surrounding the lake can be considered waterfront property. On a geodetic scale, replace the highway with the continent of Australia, and you can determine the number of islands within territorial waters. From there, you can even go on to a planetary scale and ask how many moons are within 10 million kilometers at perigee. Once you have an initial understanding of the problem, we recommend that you immediately perform a feasibility study, even if it’s just in your mind. You don’t want to devote time to a solution if the problem itself is impossible to solve, lacking specificity, or, worse, you have no available data source. Before going further, you need the postgis_in_action database you set up in section 1.2.3. 1.4.2.

PostGIS in Action, 2nd Edition by Regina O. Obe, Leo S. Hsu

call centre, crowdsourcing, database schema, Debian, domain-specific language,, Firefox, Google Earth, job automation, McMansion, megacity, Mercator projection, Network effects, openstreetmap, planetary scale, profit maximization, Ruby on Rails, Skype, South of Market, San Francisco, traveling salesman, web application

Learning PostGIS may not be any quicker, but you’ll have at your disposal the tools and skills to solve any and all problems of this kind in the future. Replace the highway with a lake, and you can determine how many homes surrounding the lake can be considered waterfront property. On a geodetic scale, replace the highway with the continent of Australia, and you can determine the number of islands within territorial waters. From there, you can even go on to a planetary scale and ask how many moons are within 10 million kilometers at perigee. Once you have an initial understanding of the problem, we recommend that you immediately perform a feasibility study, even if it’s just in your mind. You don’t want to devote time to a solution if the problem itself is impossible to solve, lacking specificity, or, worse, you have no available data source. Licensed to tracy moore <> 19 Hello real world Before going further, you need the postgis_in_action database you set up in section 1.2.3. 1.4.2 Modeling You need to translate the real world to a model that is composed of database objects.

Global Catastrophic Risks by Nick Bostrom, Milan M. Cirkovic

affirmative action, agricultural Revolution, Albert Einstein, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, anthropic principle, artificial general intelligence, Asilomar, availability heuristic, Bill Joy: nanobots, Black Swan, carbon-based life, cognitive bias, complexity theory, computer age, coronavirus, corporate governance, cosmic microwave background, cosmological constant, cosmological principle, cuban missile crisis, dark matter, death of newspapers, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, distributed generation, Doomsday Clock, Drosophila, endogenous growth, Ernest Rutherford, failed state, feminist movement, framing effect, friendly AI, Georg Cantor, global pandemic, global village, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of agriculture, Kevin Kelly, Kuiper Belt, Law of Accelerating Returns, life extension, means of production, meta analysis, meta-analysis, Mikhail Gorbachev, millennium bug, mutually assured destruction, nuclear winter, P = NP, peak oil, phenotype, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, prediction markets, RAND corporation, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, Ronald Reagan, scientific worldview, Singularitarianism, social intelligence, South China Sea, strong AI, superintelligent machines, supervolcano, technological singularity, technoutopianism, The Coming Technological Singularity, Tunguska event, twin studies, uranium enrichment, Vernor Vinge, War on Poverty, Westphalian system, Y2K

Each of these technologies, along with several others, is associated with catastrophic risks; conversely, medicine and aerospace may help to avert risks of plague, asteroid impact, and perhaps climate change. If molecular manufacturing fulfils its promise, the products of molecular manufacturing will be inexpensive and plentiful, as well as unprecedentedly powerful. New applications could be created, such as fleets of high-altitude uncrewed aircraft acting as solar collectors and sunshades, or dense sensor networks on a planetary scale. General-purpose manufacturing capacity could be stockpiled and then used to build large volumes of products quite rapidly. Robotics could be advanced by the greatly increased functional density and decreased cost per feature associated with computer-controlled nanoscale manufacturing. In the extreme case, it may even make sense to speak of planet-scale engineering, and of modest resources sufficing to build weapons of globally catastrophic power. 2 1 .2 . 3 . 1 Global war If molecular manufacturing works at all, it surely will be used to build weapons.

Growth: From Microorganisms to Megacities by Vaclav Smil

2013 Report for America's Infrastructure - American Society of Civil Engineers - 19 March 2013, 3D printing, agricultural Revolution, air freight, American Society of Civil Engineers: Report Card, autonomous vehicles, Benoit Mandelbrot, Berlin Wall, Bernie Madoff, Bretton Woods, British Empire, business cycle, colonial rule, complexity theory, coronavirus, decarbonisation, deindustrialization, dematerialisation, demographic dividend, demographic transition, Deng Xiaoping, disruptive innovation, Dissolution of the Soviet Union, endogenous growth, energy transition, epigenetics, happiness index / gross national happiness, hydraulic fracturing, hydrogen economy, Hyperloop, illegal immigration, income inequality, income per capita, industrial robot, Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), invention of movable type, Isaac Newton, James Watt: steam engine, knowledge economy, labor-force participation, Law of Accelerating Returns, longitudinal study, mandelbrot fractal, market bubble, mass immigration, McMansion, megacity, megastructure, meta analysis, meta-analysis, microbiome, moral hazard, Network effects, new economy, New Urbanism, old age dependency ratio, optical character recognition, out of africa, peak oil, Pearl River Delta, phenotype, Pierre-Simon Laplace, planetary scale, Ponzi scheme, Productivity paradox, profit motive, purchasing power parity, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, Report Card for America’s Infrastructure, Republic of Letters, rolodex, Silicon Valley, Simon Kuznets, South China Sea, technoutopianism, the market place, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, total factor productivity, trade liberalization, trade route, urban sprawl, Vilfredo Pareto, yield curve

This is what Horace wrote two millennia ago in his Satires: “Est modus in rebus, sunt certi denique fines quos ultra citraque nequit consistere rectum” (There is a mean in things, there are, lastly certain limits on either side of which right cannot be found). But two millennia later this is not merely a moral exhortation. The long-term survival of our civilization cannot be assured without setting such limits on the planetary scale. I believe that a fundamental departure from the long-established pattern of maximizing growth and promoting material consumption cannot be delayed by another century and that before 2100 modern civilization will have to make major steps toward ensuring the long-term habitability of its biosphere. Abbreviations A (ampere) AC (alternating current) bhp (break horsepower) BMI (body mass index) C3 (molecule with three carbon atoms) C4 (molecule with four carbon atoms) cd (candela) CD (compact disc) CIMMYT (International Maize and Wheat Improvement Center) cm (centimeter) CO2 (carbon dioxide) DC (direct current) dwt (deadweight ton) EB (exabyte) EJ (exajoule) ETOPS (Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards) EU (European Union) FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) FBL (feedback loop) flops (floating point operations per second) g (gram) GB (gigabyte) GDP (gross domestic product) GE (General Electric) Gha (gigahectare) GHz (gigahertz) GJ (gigajoule) Gm (gigameter) GPP (gross primary productivity) GPS (global positioning system) Gt (gigatonne) Gt C (gigatonne of carbon) Gt C/year (gigatonne of carbon per year) Gt CO2 (gigatonne of carbon dioxide) GW (gigawatt) GWe (gigawatt electric) GWp (gigawatt peak) h (hour) ha (hectare) HDI (Human Development Index) hp (horsepower) Hz (hertz) IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) IDI (Inclusive Development Index) IRRI (International Rice Research Institute) ISA (impervious surface area) J (joule) K (kelvin) kB (kilobyte) kcal (kilocalorie) kg (kilogram) kHz (kilohertz) kJ (kilojoules) km (kilometer) kN (kilonewton) kPa (kilopascal) kW (kilowatt) kWh (kilowatt hour) L (liter) lbs (pounds) lbs/in2 (pounds per square inch) LED (light emitting diode) lm/W (lumens per watt) LNG (liquified natural gas) LP (long-playing record) m (meter) μm (micrometer) MB (megabyte) Mha (megahectare) Mhz (megahertz) MIPS (million instructions per second) MJ (megajoule) mL (milliliter) mm (millimeter) Mm2 (million square meters) Mm3 (million cubic meters) mol (mole) MPa (megapascal) mph (miles per hour) MSOPS (million standardized operations per second) Mt (million tonnes) Mt C (million tonnes of carbon) MVA (megavolt amperes) MW (megawatt) MWe (megawatt electric) MWp (megawatt peak) N (nitrogen) NEP (net ecosystem productivity) NH3 (ammonia) NPP (net primary productivity) O2 (oxygen) OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) OLED (organic light emitting diode) OPEC (Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) ops (operations per second) PB (petabyte) PDCAAS (protein digestibility corrected amino acid score) pH (measure of acidity) pkm (passenger-kilometers) ppm (parts per million) PPP (purchasing power parity) PV (photovoltaic) P&W (Pratt & Whitney) PWh (petawatthour) RA (autotrophic respiration) RH (heterotrophic respiration) RAM (random access memory) rpm (revolutions per minute) s (second) SAD (species-abundance distribution) Si (silicon) SI (International System of Units) SUV (sport-utility vehicle) t (tonne, metric ton) t C/ha (tonne of carbon per hectare) TB (terabyte) TFP (total factor productivity) TFR (total fertility rate) TJ (terajoule) T/W (thrust-to-weight ratio) TWh (terawatthour) TWh/year (terawatthour per year) UK (United Kingdom) UN (United Nations) US (United States) V (volt) VPD (vapor pressure deficit) W (watt) W/m2 (watts per square meter) Wh (watthour) WH/kg (watthours per kilogram) WHO (World Health Organization) WWI (First World War) WWII (Second World War) ZB (zettabyte) Scientific Units and Their Multiples and Submultiples Basic SI units Quantity Name Symbol Length meter m Mass kilogram kg Time second s Electric current ampere A Temperature kelvin K Amount of substance mole mol Luminous intensity candela cd Other units used in the text Quantity Name Symbol Area hectare ha square meter m2 Electric potential volt V Energy joule J Force newton N Mass gram g tonne t Power watt W Pressure pascal Pa Temperature degree Celsius °C Volume cubic meter m3 Multiples used in the International System of Units Prefix Abbreviation Scientific notation deka da 101 hecto h 102 kilo k 103 mega M 106 giga G 109 tera T 1012 peta P 1015 exa E 1018 zetta Z 1021 yotta Y 1024 Submultiples used in the International System of Units Prefix Abbreviation Scientific notation deci d 10−1 centi c 10−2 milli m 10−3 micro μ 10−6 nano n 10−9 pico p 10−12 femto f 10−15 atto a 10−18 zepto z 10−21 yocto y 10−24 References Aarestrup, F. 2012.

pages: 993 words: 318,161

Fall; Or, Dodge in Hell by Neal Stephenson

Ada Lovelace, augmented reality, autonomous vehicles, back-to-the-land, bitcoin, blockchain, cloud computing, coherent worldview, computer vision, crossover SUV, cryptocurrency, defense in depth, demographic transition, distributed ledger, drone strike, easy for humans, difficult for computers, game design, index fund, Jaron Lanier, life extension, microbiome, Network effects, off grid, offshore financial centre, pattern recognition, planetary scale, ride hailing / ride sharing, sensible shoes, short selling, Silicon Valley, telepresence, telepresence robot, telerobotics, The Hackers Conference, Turing test, Works Progress Administration

Which she’d have found astonishing, were it not for the fact that Forthrast-related entities consumed 11 percent of all power on Earth, and had funded a lot of the research on orbital energy supply. Generating all of that mana took a lot of electricity, not just for the computers but for the cooling systems needed to keep them from overheating. Technology existed for that, and new tech could be invented, but new laws of thermodynamics couldn’t. All cooling systems needed to reject waste heat somewhere—which is why the back of a refrigerator is warm. Thinking on a planetary scale—which, looking ahead to a future Mag 10 system, was the only way you could usefully think—the world was going to become a large spherical refrigerator hurtling through space. It would get energy from the sun and it would eject heat into the universe by aiming vast warm panels into the dark. Working in space was difficult for humans but easy for robots. So robots too had to be built, maintained, powered, and cooled.

pages: 1,535 words: 337,071

Networks, Crowds, and Markets: Reasoning About a Highly Connected World by David Easley, Jon Kleinberg

Albert Einstein, AltaVista, clean water, conceptual framework, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, Douglas Hofstadter, Erdős number, experimental subject, first-price auction, fudge factor, George Akerlof, Gerard Salton, Gerard Salton, Gödel, Escher, Bach, incomplete markets, information asymmetry, information retrieval, John Nash: game theory, Kenneth Arrow, longitudinal study, market clearing, market microstructure, moral hazard, Nash equilibrium, Network effects, Pareto efficiency, Paul Erdős, planetary scale, prediction markets, price anchoring, price mechanism, prisoner's dilemma, random walk, recommendation engine, Richard Thaler, Ronald Coase, sealed-bid auction, search engine result page, second-price auction, second-price sealed-bid, Simon Singh, slashdot, social web, Steve Jobs, stochastic process, Ted Nelson, The Market for Lemons, The Wisdom of Crowds, trade route, transaction costs, ultimatum game, Vannevar Bush, Vickrey auction, Vilfredo Pareto, Yogi Berra, zero-sum game

[267] Jure Leskovec, Lada Adamic, and Bernardo Huberman. The dynamics of viral marketing. ACM Transactions on the Web, 1(1), May 2007. [268] Jure Leskovec, Lars Backstrom, Ravi Kumar, and Andrew Tomkins. Microscopic evolution of social networks. In Proc. 14th ACM SIGKDD International Conference on Knowledge Discovery and Data Mining, pages 462–470, 2008. [269] Jure Leskovec and Eric Horvitz. Worldwide buzz: Planetary-scale views on an instant-messaging network. In Proc. 17th International World Wide Web Conference, 2008. [270] Jure Leskovec, Kevin J. Lang, Anirban Dasgupta, and Michael W. Mahoney. Statistical properties of community structure in large social and information networks. In Proc. 17th International World Wide Web Conference, pages 695–704, 2008. BIBLIOGRAPHY 819 [271] David Lewis. Convention: A Philosophical Study.

pages: 1,386 words: 379,115

Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton

car-free, complexity theory, forensic accounting, gravity well, megacity, megastructure, orbital mechanics / astrodynamics, planetary scale, trade route, trickle-down economics

‘The particle swarm will spread around the planet, you’ll get fall out everywhere.’ ‘By far the worst impact is the hemisphere facing the star during flare time. The rest is manageable. Look at Far Away, the flare lasted for weeks there, and we managed to regenerate the continents. That whole planet is alive again. You’re not going to have people running out of oxygen. The time it’ll take to restore the carbon cycle is insignificant on a planetary scale.’ ‘I’ve actually been to Far Away,’ Justine said. ‘It is minimally habitable, and that’s after over a century and a half of gruelling effort. It’s a huge mistake to class it among normal H-congruous worlds. These New48 will not be habitable; we have to get the populations off. I don’t know about Wessex, that’s exceptional, but the rest must be evacuated.’ ‘I am not proposing abandoning Wessex,’ Rafael said.

California by Sara Benson

airport security, Albert Einstein, Apple II, Asilomar, back-to-the-land, Bay Area Rapid Transit, Berlin Wall, Burning Man, buy and hold, California gold rush, call centre, car-free, carbon footprint, Columbine, dark matter, desegregation, Donald Trump, Donner party, East Village, El Camino Real, Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, Frank Gehry, global village, Golden Gate Park, Haight Ashbury, haute cuisine, Joan Didion, Khyber Pass, Loma Prieta earthquake, low cost airline, McMansion, means of production, Menlo Park, planetary scale, RFID, ride hailing / ride sharing, Ronald Reagan, Silicon Valley, South of Market, San Francisco, stem cell, Steve Jobs, Steve Wozniak, Stewart Brand, the new new thing, trade route, transcontinental railway, Upton Sinclair, urban sprawl, Wall-E, white picket fence, Whole Earth Catalog, working poor, Works Progress Administration, young professional

GRIFFITH OBSERVATORY & PLANETARIUM After four years and $93 million, this landmark 1935 observatory (Map; 213-473-0800;; 2800 Observatory Rd; admission free, planetarium shows adult/child/student & senior $7/3/5; noon-10pm Tue-Fri, 10am-10pm Sat & Sun; ) reopened in 2006 and now boasts the world’s most advanced star projector in its planetarium – phone or check the website for show times. In the lower level is the Big Picture, a 150ft floor-to-ceiling digital image of a sliver of the universe bursting with galaxies, stars and lurking dark matter. For more tangible thrills, weigh yourself on nine planetary scales (weight-watchers should go for Mercury), generate your own earthquake or head to the rooftop to peek through the refracting and solar telescopes housed in the smaller domes. From here, sweeping views of the Hollywood Hills and the gleaming city below are just as spectacular, especially at sunset. The observatory has starred in many movies, most famously Rebel Without a Cause with James Dean.

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Rationality: From AI to Zombies by Eliezer Yudkowsky

Albert Einstein, Alfred Russel Wallace, anthropic principle, anti-pattern, anti-work, Arthur Eddington, artificial general intelligence, availability heuristic, Bayesian statistics, Berlin Wall, Build a better mousetrap, Cass Sunstein, cellular automata, cognitive bias, cognitive dissonance, correlation does not imply causation, cosmological constant, creative destruction, Daniel Kahneman / Amos Tversky, dematerialisation, different worldview, discovery of DNA, Douglas Hofstadter, Drosophila, effective altruism, experimental subject, Extropian, friendly AI, fundamental attribution error, Gödel, Escher, Bach, hindsight bias, index card, index fund, Isaac Newton, John Conway, John von Neumann, Long Term Capital Management, Louis Pasteur, mental accounting, meta analysis, meta-analysis, money market fund, Nash equilibrium, Necker cube, NP-complete, P = NP, pattern recognition, Paul Graham, Peter Thiel, Pierre-Simon Laplace, placebo effect, planetary scale, prediction markets, random walk, Ray Kurzweil, reversible computing, Richard Feynman, risk tolerance, Rubik’s Cube, Saturday Night Live, Schrödinger's Cat, scientific mainstream, scientific worldview, sensible shoes, Silicon Valley, Silicon Valley startup, Singularitarianism, Solar eclipse in 1919, speech recognition, statistical model, Steven Pinker, strong AI, technological singularity, The Bell Curve by Richard Herrnstein and Charles Murray, the map is not the territory, the scientific method, Turing complete, Turing machine, ultimatum game, X Prize, Y Combinator, zero-sum game

But experiments are steadily ruling out the possibility of “collapse” in increasingly large entangled systems. Apparently an experiment is underway to demonstrate quantum superposition at 50-micrometer scales, which is bigger than most neurons and getting up toward the diameter of some human hairs! So why doesn’t someone try jumping ahead of the game, and ask: Say, we keep having to postulate the collapse occurs steadily later and later. What if collapse occurs only once superposition reaches planetary scales and substantial divergence occurs—say, Earth’s wavefunction collapses around once a minute? Then, while the surviving Earths at any given time would remember a long history of quantum experiments that matched the Born statistics, a supermajority of those Earths would begin obtaining non-Born results from quantum experiments and then abruptly cease to exist a minute later. Why don’t collapse theories like that one have a huge academic following, among the many people who apparently think it’s okay for parts of the wavefunction to just vanish?