Sunday, April 29, 2012

Great instrumentalists - a capella

Hardly news, I realize, but I hadn't seen it till now. Just amazing how these guys are great instrumentalists - except that they don't play any instruments.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

E.O Wilson - Evolution selects on both group and individual level

E.O Wilson, the grand old biologist, has a new book out - The Social conquest of earth.
While I'm waiting for the mail man to bring me the book, I've listened to a few presentations online.
Wilson just did a Seminar of long term thinking - talk for the Long now foundation. If you are interested in evolution, you should listen to it.
One of his main points is that evolution in fact selects at both group and individual level - not just at the individual level, which has been the orthodoxy for many years.

In his recap of the talk, Steward Brand writes:
Wilson’s alternative he calls “multi-level selection,” where individual selection and group selection proceed together (with kin selection a continuing bit player). In our eusocial species, that mix of traits makes us “permanently unstable, permanently conflicted” between selfish impulses and cooperative impulses. We negotiate these conflicts endlessly within ourselves and with each other. Wilson sees inherent adaptive value in that constant negotiation."

Another good introduction to Wilsons book is this interview with Charlie Rose. At 19 minutes, it's amazingly comprehensive.

Economics as complex evolutionary systems

Eric Beinhocker by blindwatcher

A meeting of two great minds: Richard Dawkins interviews Eric Beinhocker, the author of “The Origin of Wealth”. The 15 minutes interview is a great introduction to the idea of seeing economics as complex systems.

A few quotes from Beinhocker's responses:

…Evolution is a recipe, an algorithm that’s at play in economic systems, just as it is in biological system. And that recipe values cooperation just as much as it favors competition

…We can think of businesses as designs, for instance a design for running a bank, and each of the banks along the high street will have a slightly different way of running a bank – a different design. And the evolutionary competition is a competition for you walking down the high street to determine which bank wil serve you best, which design will suit your needs better than the others.
Where cooperation plays a role, is that you can deliver on a better design if you have strong cooperation, so a bank where the employees work together as a team and cooperate can maek better service than a bank that doesn’t. And large companies with lots of employees cooperating, often have great advantages over much smaller organisations.

…Companies that engender large scale cooperation will tend to be – on average - more successful.

…We often talk of evolution as design without a designer, but in economic systems we have lots of designers - human beings who sit and think of things. And the key role, that plays is that it is a source of variety. When an entrepreneur comes up with a new idea in their garage, that’s adding variety to the system. We can’t predict whether that will work or not untill it’s actually tried, but it creates this teaming variety in the system.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The Conundrum by David Owen - review and podcast interview

I did a review of David Owen’s excellent little book ”The Conundrum” for this weekend’s literary section of Danish Newspaper Politiken. I also did a 13-minute audio interview with David Owen about his book.

”The Conundrum” describes how – despite all good intentions – all our efforts to reduce environmental impact by creating more efficient technology end up paving the way for MORE consumption. High speed train make us go further; LED lighting lets us use much lighting everywhere; more efficient refrigerators expands our use of cold drinks, makes fridges available for more consumers – and expands our use of Air-conditioning as well.

David Owen concludes that we need a more fundamental shift – but that shift is a lot more difficult.

From the book:

”We’re consumers at heart, and our response to difficulties of all kinds involves consumption in one form or another: Just tell me what to buy. The challenge arises when consumption itself is the issue. How do we truly begin to think about less – less fossil fuel, less carbon, less water less waste, less habitat destruction, less population stress – when our sense of economic, cultural and personal well-being is based on more?”

”In truth we already know what we need to do, and we have for a long time. We just don’t like the answers. That’s the conundrum.”

Friday, April 13, 2012

Only in India - funny, real, very Indian

I love sites like "Only in India": funny, very particular, and somehow a great love for the subject shines through.

The Only in India blog is filled with photos of the weird ways Indians cope with being in India. Jugaad innovation – bottom up. Like this tuk-tuk driver and his hand free mobile phone solution...

Monday, April 02, 2012

Climate change is like an asteroid on collision course with earth

Renowned climate scientist James Hansen has a TED talk out. Low key, but very scary:

”Imagine a giant asteroid on a direct collission course with earth. That is the equivalent of what we face now. Yet we dither, taking no action to avoid the asteroid, even though the longer we wait, the more difficult and expensive it becomes. If we had started in 2005 it would have required emission reductions of 3% pr. year to restore planetary energy balance and stabilize climate this century. If we start next year, it is 6 % pr. year. If we wait ten years, it is 15% pr. year – extremely difficult and expensive, perhaps impossible. But we aren’t even starting. So now you know what I know, which causes me to sound this alarm”.

My interview with Lisa Gansky on the Mesh economy

I reviewed Lisa Gansky’s ”The Mesh” and Rachel Botsman’s ”What’s mine is yours” in the Danish newpaper Politiken this weekend. In addition to the review they published an audio recording of an interview I did with Lisa Gansky.

You can hear the interview here.

From the interview:

”A lot of the mesh economy is organized around this particular theme:

unused value equals waste. So, at a global community level we already have a lot of stuff. But we don’t need a lot of what we have much of the time. And so a lot of these services are about getting more yield or getting more utilization out of what we already have”.