Issuu on Google+

0 4 : 2 0 1 3

H O M O D I G I TA L I S Natasha Friis Saxberg on social media, Iran and freedom I N T E RV I E W PA G E 1 2

11.07.2013 - 04.09.2013

9 771904 465004 UK £8

€12

DKK 125,00

00004

BK returuge 36

P L U S : Bitcoin – future money / WOBO – ahead of its time / Behavioural patterns

/ Wildcard: Technological singularity / Commercial cloning of dogs / Skeuomorphisms must die / Tailored advertisements / Science & Technology / The pneumatic age / Book news / Trends, tendencies & zeitgeist / Future / Scenarios / Telepathic rats


ISS 2020 Vision White Book 2013

New ways of working the workplace of the future ISS 2020 Vision New ways of working - the workplace of the future The Facility Management (FM) and services industry is professionalizing while new technologies and customer requirements reshape the industry. The industry in 2020 will be very different from what it is today. The objective of the ISS 2020 Vision study is to develop a set of global scenarios for the future of the FM and services industry and to bring awareness about future trends, uncertainties and opportunities that could have the greatest impact on the industry.

White Book

Pre-order your copy now The purpose of this study is to assess how economic, social and technological changes affecting work lives will impact the future workplace and corporate real estate development. Through a series of interviews, workshops and surveys, Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies have collected input to create a white book on the drivers shaping the workplace of the future. To receive the white book once published please send an e-mail to marketing@group.issworld.com


2013 ®

“We are the world champions in outsourcing!” Our 534,200 employees have been voted world’s best outsourcing providers by IAOP.

We are immensely proud to announce that The International Association of Outsourcing Professionals (IAOP) now ranks ISS as the number one outsourcing service provider in the world. Our ability to self-deliver and integrate services for our customers is crucial to our success. So is our understanding for risk management and our willingness to take responsibility. But the main reason is our strong belief in the power of the human touch. How we train, inspire and engage people to create solutions and deliver services is what we are all about. Basically, we take care of your people, so you can grow your business.

FACILIT Y MANAGEMENT

|

CLEANING

|

SUPPORT

|

PROPERTY

|

C AT E R I N G

|

SECURITY

|

issworld.com


CONTENT 12

24

12 HOMO DIGITALIS

Homo digitalis resembles mankind as it has always looked – full of opinions and contradictions, possibilities and limitations. The digital age is simply the framework we are situated in, and this gives us new opportunities. Meet Natasha Friis Saxberg, who embodies the digital human being – homo digitalis – which she has just written a book about. It all started with an escape from Iran shortly before the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. 32 24 FIDO, YOU ARE A CLONE

32 FUTURE MONEY

”Coo, little Fido...” Cloning of dogs is on

Bitcoin is the name of a currency that has

the rise. Read the report from South

never seen a central bank, but instead is

Korea, where a commercial research

managed by a group of voluntary

institute as the first in the world offers

encryption experts on the internet. In the

to clone dogs, which today live as pets

first four months of this year, the

around the world. The institute has

exchange rate of Bitcoins rose no less

already successfully produced more

than 750 per cent, and the attention to

than 200 dog clones of 25-30 different

what some call the greatest invention

races. Where will this trend stop?

since the internet has been massive. But is Bitcoin hype just a storm in a glass of water?

S C E NAR IO

4

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


44 44 WOBO: ”A BRICK THAT HOLDS BEER”.

The idea of incorporating sustainability and upcycling in design philosophy found expression as early as 1960. Then, the brewery Heineken made WOBO – a beer bottle you could build houses from. The idea arose when Alfred Heineken on the island of Curaçao became aware of how the beaches were littered with empty bottles – and how the poor population also lacked building materials. 70 FUTURES PAST: COMPRESSED AIR

Do you remember pneumatic post? It was widely used until the 1980s. it was a rather ingenious system of tubes of dimensions similar to gutter drains, through which you could exchange small containers of information or specimens, like blood samples at a hospital. It was a sort of analogue mail system where cylinders were pushed through the system by compressed; a technology 70

that was thought to have as big a future as steam and electricity, but which today has become a parenthesis in history.

6 CONTRIBUTORS 9 EDITORIAL 10 BEHAVIOUR 12 THE NORDIC DNA 22 WILDCARD: THE TECHNOLOGICAL SINGULARITY 24 HEY, PUPPY - YOU ARE A CLONE 30 SKEUOMORPHISMS MUST DIE 32 THE MONEY OF THE FUTURE? 39 PALUDAN’S COLUMN 40 YES PLEASE OR NO THANKS? 44 WOBO 47 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 54 DIGITAL TRENDS 59 PHOTO SERIES 68 BOOK REVIEWS 70 THE PNEUMATIC AGE

S C E NAR IO

5

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


CO N T R I B U TO R S PERNILLE FORMSGAARD

ISAK LADEGAARD

PERNILLE FORMSGAARD

Pernille Formsgaard is a journalist with a particular focus on innovation and entrepreneurship. In this issue of SCENARIO, she has contributed to the article about Bitcoin with our editor Jesper Knudsen. The story came into being under the Argentinian sun (and economic crisis) when Jesper this spring visited Pernille in Buenos Aires, where she until recently worked as a journalist and went from zero to fluent Spanish in six months. KLAUS Æ. MOGENSEN ISAK LADEGAARD

KLAUS Æ. MOGENSEN

Isak can soon be called a regular writer

Regular readers of our magazine will

for this magazine, as this issue brings his

be well aware that our science and

third contribution. The story is about the

technology editor, Klaus Æ. Mogensen,

commercial cloning of dogs and is a

is very productive and that his articles

report from Seoul in South Korea. Isak

about technology, science and research

is Norwegian, but has through several

are high quality. What fewer people may

periods resided in Asia, from where he

know is that he also is a futurist and

has described developments in the

popular conference speaker. In his leisure

region for several national and

time, Klaus writes science fiction stories,

international media. Read more about a

but has no problems distinguishing

reality where anybody with money in the

between fantasy and reality, even if he

bank can order a genetic copy of his or

thinks further than most people. Bonus

her dog. Page 24.

info: The ‘Æ’ in Klaus’ middle initial is for ‘Ægidius’, which is a Latinised version of the Danish surname Gjødesen.

S C E NAR IO

6

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


JOHAN PETER PALUDAN

SABRINA MELINA ANDERSEN

JOHAN PETER PALUDAN

SABRINA MELINA

Johan Peter is the grand old man in

ANDERSEN

Danish futures studies and a regular

Just back from a study period in Hawaii,

columnist in SCENARIO. He is a former

Sabrina Melina Andersen has become a

director at CIFS and has a master’s

part of the SCENARIO team. Sabrina is

degree in political sciences. His particular

working on her BA in communication

specialty is oral communication, and as

design and is in this connection interning

a speaker he has in the past decades

with us as a writer and editorial worker.

addressed hundreds of thousands of

She debuts in our pages with the text on

people with his talks. Johan Peter works

WOBO, page 44 in this issue, and she is

with the future labour market, health,

researching a major article on nothing

social conditions, education, cultural

less than ‘future adults’, which you will

development, technology, and types of

be able to read in an upcoming issue.

society. He can still be experienced

Stay tuned.

during talks all over the world, and this is probably how it will be for quite some time still. Circus horses rear when they smell sawdust.

SCENARIO is the magazine of ideas, visions, trends and scenarios. The content is developed at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies in collaboration with leading researchers, practitioners, writers and photographers. Regular contributors in this issue: JOHAN PETER PALUDAN, futurist

S C E NAR IO

7

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


S C E NARIO Scenario is published six times a year by the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies. We provide separate editions in Danish, Slovenian and English. Landgreven 3, 1301 Copenhagen, Telephone +45 3311 7176 editor@scenariomagazine.com www.scenariomagazine.com

Editor-in-chief GRØNBORG

M ORTEN

Science & Technology Editor Æ. MOGENSEN

KLAUS

JESPER NILS SARA

Editor KNUDSEN

Art Direction HARTMANN

FROSTIG STEENSTRUP

SIGRÚN JAN

Illustration & Photo GUDBRANDSDÓTTIR

Editorial staff DREJER PETERSEN

STINE

Web Manager JUHL NIELSEN

Secretary ANNA SOFIE ANDREASEN

Publisher COPENHAGEN INSTITUTE FOR FUTURES STUDIES www.cifs.dk

Print run: 7000 Print: Tafdrup&co ApS Subscriptions: Anna Sofie Andreasen +45 3311 7176 English text version: Klaus Æ. Mogensen Cover: Thanks to Lean Waage Beck (private photo) Photos, main article page 12: Nils Hartmann Photos, article page 24: Isak Ladegaard Photo series page 59: Sigrún Gudbrandsdóttir

ISSN 1904-4658 UK

All rights reserved. No unauthorised use, distribution or copying allowed, although we often say yes to sharing our work with other people – if they ask first. Any views expressed in articles written by contributors not employed by the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies do not necessarily represent the official views of the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies. The original graphic design for SCENARIO Magazine is developed by CIFS and Sigrún Gudbrandsdóttir. All rights belong to the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies.

S C E NAR IO

8

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


E D I T O R I A L It is probably too early to say if Natasha Friis Saxberg will ever return to the Iran where she was born and lived until just under three years old. For, as she tells us in the article page 12, more moderate forces need to get in power before she dares to return. While these lines are written, the presidential election in Iran on June 14th has just been held, and we naturally need to get some distance to this event before we can get a clear picture. However, the newly elected president Hassan Rohani is precisely considered moderate by observers and Iran experts, and since he is elected by the Iranian people with a (by Iranian standards) high voter turnout of more than 70 per cent, we can so far be optimistic. The people want change. However, as history has shown, there is no guarantee that promises of reform will be kept even if given. But no matter what, the global, digital development continues, and the more developed and widespread social media become in the world around the closed countries, the greater the pressure on these countries must necessarily become. There are many drawbacks to the democratisation of media that the internet has made possible, for instance that a huge amount of extremely poor quality content is created and distributed on the various digital platforms. Today, all of us have a megaphone to shout in, and unlike before – in the old media reality – nobody qualifies our content before publication. On the social media and on the internet there are no editors, publishers, program directors, or anybody else that used to ensure some minimum quality and relevance before publication. We are left to our own devices. This has created what some call ‘a cult of amateurs’ and led to a deluge of cat videos, inconsequential status updates and self-promoting tweets. However, in relation to the democratisation processes in the Middle East, it is unambiguously positive that more and more get a megaphone in the shape of a phone or computer from which they can express themselves. It will be exciting to follow the voice of the people in that part of the world in the future. The question is if the common roar can be held down forever, but also if it can be transformed into something constructive. Unfettered communication does not in itself create a democracy. It is just one of the necessary conditions. Morten Grønborg

S C E NAR IO

9

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


P A T T E R N S

BE H AV I O U R SPOTLIGHT ON SELECTED BEHAVIOURAL PATTERNS WORLDWIDE

Examples collected and selected by Jesper Knudsen

FOREPLAY WITH THE BUTLER

In the United States, busy businessmen – or just men bad at scoring – hire an online dating agency to handle all the (romantic) stuff that preceeds a date. The agency’s consultants not only design “an online persona that women love” for the man, but also finds women to his taste, initiate an online conversation with them, and arrange the date. The company has been around since 2009, but according to the company owner, demand has never been as great as it is today.

PIMP YOUR RIFLE

AR15 is a very popular rifle in the United States, and after the school shootings in 2012, it hasn’t become any less popular. Enthusiasm for the popular semi-automatic rifle has now reached a level where owners of AR15s have begun decorating their weapons and sharing the results with each other on the internet. A pink rifle and a rifle with a chain-saw bayonet are just two examples of creatively decorated AR15s.

DINNER AT THE CHEF’S

‘Puerta cerrada’ means ‘closed door’ and is the name of a culinary phenomenon that has become popular in Argentina’s capital Buenos Aires. The concept has grown as the nation’s economy has declined and briefly is about chefs operating restaurants in their own private homes with a fixed menu, fixed dinner time, and sometimes with all the guests sitting around a single table. The popularity of the phenomenon is because it is inexpensive for the restaurateur, but also because restaurant-goers today hunger just as much for authenticity and spectacular experiences as for good food.

S C E NAR IO

10

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


P A T T E R N S

THE ’IS THIS INCEST?’ APP

Íslendingabók is the name of a new Icelandic Android app that helps Icelanders keeping account of whom they are related to. In addition to being genealogy’s answer to Facebook on the mobile, the application has an anti-incest function that enables the user to quickly check if he or she is related to someone else in case romantic feelings should arise between the couple. According to Google, between 10,000 and 50,000 have installed the app, notably out of Iceland’s population of only 322,000.

THE ROOTI DOLL

BURMESE MOHAWK

A Nigerian-born Brit has entered the fight against the ethnocentric beauty ideal where beautiful people have to be white Caucasians. His weapon is the Rooti doll; a doll that unlike the hundreds of brown-skinned dolls on the market actually has Negroid features like big lips, a broad nose, and tightly curled hair. The purpose of the Rooti doll is to give children of African descent a better understanding of their roots. When you press the doll on its stomach, it doesn’t say “I love you” or “Mama”, but begins speaking in various African dialects.

Where the punk culture of the West has been quiescent for decades, the youth in repressive regimes like Russia, Indonesia and Iraq are slowly reviving the Mohawk, the leather jackets, and the discordant punk rock. In Yangon, Burma, several punk bands have for instance surfaced in recent years, and with names like Rebel Riot, Big Bag, No U Turn, and Side Effect, they don’t just call for musical revolution, but also protest the restrictive social norms that dominate the religious country.

vectorworldmap.com S C E NAR IO

11

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


S O C I E T Y

Digital Man resembles mankind as it has always looked – full of opinions and contradictions, possibilities and limitations. The digital age is simply the framework we are situated in, and this gives us new opportunities. Meet Natasha Friis Saxberg, who incarnates the digital human being – homo digitalis – which she has just written a book about, and who even has roots back to the Middle East, which in recent years has evolved dramatically as a result of the opportunities the digital media provide for free communication.

HOMO DIGITALIS By Morten Grønborg

W

hen she was barely three years old, she fled with her mother and sister from Iran. It was May, 1978. As a result of the budding Iranian revolution, the country had begun to change from a Western-oriented monarchy to an Islamic theocratic republic. Shortly after, Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, and under his rule, the country closed in on itself. There were tanks in the streets, and the last evacuation planes had left when the three fugitives got out of the country, and the journey hence was by train from Teheran by way of Istanbul in Turkey and then further north. Natasha Friis Saxberg came to Denmark because her mother is Danish. Her Iranian father stayed behind. A few years later, he was killed while travelling abroad, nobody knows for sure by whom: “He was most likely involved in politics, but much was secret,” she tells us. In any case, her paternal uncle, Sadegh Ghotbzadeh, was centrally involved in the creation of the Islamic Republic of Iran, helping Ayatollah Khomeini to power in 1979 and later functioning as foreign minister. When he felt that Khomeini didn’t live up to his promises of separating religion and politics, he tried to overthrow Khomeini again, but he was discovered and charged with assassination attempt. “It is likely because my uncle came into disfavour that my father was killed,” tells Natasha Friis Saxberg. Shortly after, her uncle was also killed, executed by the regime. Back then, the media were mass media, and information could be held back. Newspapers,

Photo right: Natasha Friis Saxberg two years old in the Iran that she later with her mother and sister had to leave in haste. Following pages: photos of Natasha Friis Saxberg, summer 2013 (photos: Nils Hartmann) and photos from the uprising in Teheran, 2009. S C E NAR IO

13

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


S O C I E T Y SCENARIO: What a contrast. You’re sitting in the open and free West writing a book on Twitter while Twitter is used as a tool in an uprising in the closed Iran, where your parents originally had planned you should live …

radio stations and TV channels could be controlled. 30 years later, the situation was different, and even in Iran, which still was held in an iron grip of religious power, things were changing. In 2009, the Iranian capital Teheran boiled over with hundreds of thousands of people in the streets. The masses protested against possible election fraud in connection with the re-election of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad; a Persian Spring was in the works, and Twitter was for the first time used as an important means of communication during an uprising in the Middle East. The Arab TV station Al Jazeera could at one point identify 60 individuals who tweeted actively from Iran, and in particular a large number of exiled Iranians in the West used tweets as a means of information and communication and in this way worked against the regime. ”DON’T SHUT DOWN TWITTER”

Natasha: “Yes: History sort of ties a knot, doesn’t it? During the previous revolution, I was on the way out of the country, and during the latest I worked in parallel on a book about the tool that was about to overthrow the regime. I often think how extraordinarily lucky I was to get out. I could just as easily have lived in Iran today, and that would in many ways have been a life in stark contrast to the one I live now. I had in no way been able to work with the things that interest me today. It would simply not have been possible.”

”A Persian Spring was in the works, and Twitter was for the first time used as an important means of communication during an uprising in the Middle East”

DIGITAL MAN

Natasha Friis Saxberg grew up in Denmark, and she has in recent years established herself as an expert in digital media. Her latest book is called Homo Digitalis – Digital Man – and this is what we have met to talk about. With her story Natasha in many ways incarnates the human type she tries to describe. She is often used as a source in the media, and she does talks and workshops about the digitisation that we are experiencing. She is a real electronista, who in addition to being an entrepreneur and a business woman has worked with the internet since 1996.

Around this time, the world’s first conference on Twitter – The 140 Character Conference – was held. This was in New York, and Jack Dorsey, one of the founders of Twitter, could from the stage tell that the US government had contacted him and asked Twitter to postpose a planned upgrade of the system in order not to shut down the means of communication of the protesters in the streets of Teheran. The regime in Iran could no longer control the media the way it was used to, and even though the rebellion subsequently was beaten down, and the Persian Spring cut short, Twitter got its breakthrough as a democratic tool. Later, the world came to experience the far more famous Arab Spring, where the people actually succeeded in owerthrowing the leaders of undemocratic regimes in Libya and elsewhere. Once again, social media played an important part. Also Natasha Friis Saxberg had at the time of the Persian Spring seen the possibilities in the short tweets as both a democratic tool and a business and social utility. She was in the audience of The 140 Character Conference, and in Denmark she worked with her husband on a book on the subject. It was published in October 2009 as the first Danish book on the subject: Twitter! – masse-kommunikation på 140 tegn!

SCENARIO: Why have you published a paper book about the electronic human being? Isn’t that a bit of a paradox? Natasha: “It is also published as an e-book, and this is the edition we are focusing on. However, when I publish a print version, it is because the target group isn’t necessary overly digitised. The readers are typically businesspeople who go to work and perform some sort of professional function where they could benefit from using digital media a bit more. A goal of the book is also to build a bridge to research in the field, and here the classical book format fits nicely. There’s already a lot of literature about how you can make your efforts on the social media pay off better. However, in this

BONUS INFO: TO IRAN AND BACK AGAIN Natasha Friis Saxberg’s mother – Lean Waage Beck – is Danish and was at an early age trained as a hairdresser in her home town of Skagen. Shortly after her training, in 1961, she immigrated to the United States, where she among other places worked at Elizabeth Arden’s beauty clinic in Washington D.C. and extended the hair of the Kennedy women. She converted to Islam and in 1968 moved to Teheran with her Iranian husband whom she had met in the US. In Teheran, she lived under the Shah’s reign and in a wealthy, traditional Moslem family. She opened her own salon– Lean’s Beauty Parlour – and got two girls, of whom Natasha is the youngest (born 1975). She fled the country when she saw her chance, shortly before the Shah fled in 1979. She had long wanted to leave Iran with her daughters, but only got permission from her family in the 11th hour.

S C E NAR IO

14

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


S O C I E T Y know what norms are present in the group, and with social networks, we have been given an ideal means of access to these.

book I have also worked a lot with the reason behind it all –why social media take up so much space and what needs we try to satisfy on e.g. Facebook. If we understand this, we can also better question whether the challenge is met well enough.”

SCENARIO: In your book, you also write about the difference between social relationships and relationships of interest. Can you say a little about that?

SCENARIO: What basic questions have you then put to science?

Natasha: “Certainly. Facebook is basically built around our social Natasha: “I have basically asked: Why are we doing the things we relationships, so the people you have relationships with there are do? Why do we spend so much time on digital media? And how do people that you have met at some point, or they are friends of your we get more value out of it? I don’t necessarily think that the friends. It is the social element that ties us together. On Twitter and solutions we have today are ideal; we are still at a very early LinkedIn, in contrast, it is more often a technological stage. Look e.g. at the way common interest that ties people together. we use smileys when we write each other. The interesting thing is that we often If I say something ironical or funny, or have more in common with the people just with a fun twist, I need to add a we share interests with than with those smiley. This is very primitive body we have pure social relationships with on language that needs development. Facebook. So seen from a commercial Another example is the way we interact viewpoint, your interest graph – the with many people. We write to a lot of people you share interests with – is far people who are mixed together into a more valuable than the social graph. I single, big mass, whether we know them guess that is also true for ourselves: We well or not. This doesn’t make the quality NATASHA FRIIS SAXBERG often find more value in our relationships of communication very good.” of interest.” SCENARIO: What are the main points in SCENARIO: Can you elucidate on that? One would assume that social your book? relationships – people we actually know – give us more than the more superficial relationships … Natasha: “The point of the book is to create deeper insight into that drives us as people; our basic needs and how they can be traced in Natasha: “Yes, one would assume that. But the point is that the our behaviour – offline as well as online. With this insight I hope content of the social media increasingly gets organised for us – what that the reader may become inspired to create more value in her or we call social curation. Facebook and other social services align his digital activity, whether as a private user or in a professional and themselves according to what we already like from our friends and commercial context. The most important message is that we as give us more of the same thing. That’s why the updates of many of human beings basically do what we have always done – we have our more peripheral relationships never surface in our news stream. simply gained a platform for doing it even better or at least in a new You primarily get updates from people you already interact with. So way. That’s why I call the book ‘homo’ and ‘digitalis’, since it is very the question is if we risk becoming reflections of each other and end much about us as social beings, as people. The digital age is simply in an echo chamber where we constantly repeat the same truths. A the framework we are put in, and social networks like Facebook, team from Facebook examined this thesis and found that within our where our relationships are in focus, give us the opportunity to close network, we are exposed to the same information because we study what we have always studied, namely our position in the typically read the same news. Hence, our peripheral – or superficial group’s hierarchy and how to cultivate our reputation and not least – relationships play an important part because it is from these outer keep up on the norms of the group. People will in general want to

”During the previous revolution, I was on the way out of the country, and during the latest I worked in parallel on a book about the tool that was about to overthrow the regime”

THE ARAB – AND PERSIAN – SPRING The Arab Spring is a term covering a range of protests, rebellions and revolutions in the Arab world, beginning with protests in Tunisia in December 2010. After the Tunisian president Zayn al-Abidin Ben-Ali was forced to retire in January 2011, the rebellion spread to a number of other Middle-Eastern countries. 2011 saw revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, uprisings in Yemen, Syria and Bahrain, and protests in Algeria, Iraq, Jordan, Morocco, and Kuwait, among other places. The bloodiest conflict in the Arab Spring was the Libyan civil war, which over the summer and autumn of 2011 led to the fall of Muammar Qaddafi. The Arab Spring was so visible in the media that the Persian Spring often is forgotten. A factor may be that it didn’t lead to any changes in Iran. The ‘Green Movement’, which was behind it, demanded democracy and the replacement of President Ahmadinejad, something that shook the system so much that it struck back at the rebellion with a level of violence unprecedented in the previous 30 years.

S C E NAR IO

15

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


S A M F U N D


S A M F U N D


S O C I E T Y isn’t unlikely that Twitter or similar media once more will play a part for democratic movements in your father’s homeland. Will you ever return to Iran?”

limits that we get our ‘new’ news and a different perspective than we are used to.” SCENARIO: Can you tell us by which principles you have organised your book?

Natasha: “We actually still have a house in Iran, but I have never been there, and I don’t see my Iranian family. I would love to return, but my mother is very much against it. She thinks it would be dangerous for me. Today, I use my maternal grandmother’s and grandfather’s surname – Friis Saxberg – I have a Danish passport and I am Danish. However, if anybody would want to track my lineage and make trouble for me because my father’s family was politically active, they could easily do so. I have spoken with various Western Iran experts who think that I should at least wait until after the election and see if moderate forces will come to power. If they don’t it is unlikely that I will return.” „

Natasha: “The first part of the book – The digital landscape – is a brief introduction to people who wants to understand the technologies and terms that are used in the digital universe. From this point, the book moves into human behaviour, including the individual’s needs and behaviour, social behaviour, and digital media’s influence on society. Part three is about the social transformation of organisation and digital entrepreneurship, which greatly has influenced organisations’ way of acting. Not least because we as users of social networks step into our organisations and think that ‘something can be done better or differently’. Finally, I describe some of the digital trends we can see in the future.” SCEANARIO: Before we wrap up: The social media that you deal with so much have played a major part in the Arab Spring and also partly in the brief Persian Spring in Iran in 2009. As we speak, a new election is coming up in Iran (held in June after this issue’s deadline; ed.), and it

Natasha Friis Saxberg and her publisher, Dansk Psykologisk Forlag, have given us permission to print a translation of the final chapter of Homo Digitalis. You can read on page 54-57 about the above-mentioned future trends, printed in their entirety.

THE BOOK HOMO DIGITALIS Homo Digitalis describes the digital universe as a reflection of human existence, full of opinion and contradictions, possibilities and limitations, where the creation of meaning and value is left to the individual. The book looks at digital behaviour in a broader perspective, which is illustrated through a number of interviews with international researchers and experts in cognitive and social neuroscience, sociology, psychology, and philosophy. In this way, the author attempts to communicate insights into mankind’s basic needs,, and it is described how these influence our behaviour in the physical and digital world. Homo Digitalis is aimed at everybody with an interest in human behaviour and digital media. In addition, the book can provide inspiration for working with customers through social media, including communication, marketing and PR. An English edition is underway and will likely be published in 2014. NATASHA FRIIS SAXBERG Natasha Friis Saxberg is an advisor, author and speaker on digital media. She wrote the first Danish Twitter book, Twitter – massekommunikation på 140 tegn, in 2009, and she is an associated futurist at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies. She has worked with technological development since 1996 as advisor, manager and change agent in large national and international organisations, and she is the founder of Gignal, which presents content across social networks on company websites and on big screens at events. SCENARIO: Hvad er de bærende pointer i bogen?

S C E NAR IO

18

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


F U T U R E S

S T U D I E S

WIL DCAR D S & R I S K S This section deals with wild cards and risks – upheavals or events that have the potential to change markets locally, regionally or globally, and which directly affect people, business models and societal structures. Wild cards and risks are by definition uncertain – but if they happen, they often have widespread consequences, and these consequences often come quickly and are difficult to control. In this issue:

THE TECHNOLOGICAL SINGULARITY Af Klaus Æ. Mogensen

C

The Singularity can happen as a result of many different types of technology, but in particular computer technology is seen as the great changer. The argument is that we in time will develop a computer that is more intelligent than we are, or at least capable of handling more complex tasks than we can solve on our own. Such a computer would be able to design a computer that is more intelligent than any we could design, and this new computer could then design an even more intelligent computer, and so forth, and in a few years we would have superhuman computer brains capable of solve all scientific and technological problems and create a world full of incredible things that we wouldn’t be able to distinguish from pure magic. The following formulation of the Singularity comes from an essay written in 1993 by professor of mathematics and computer science (and science fiction novelist) Vernor Vinge: “Within thirty years, we will have the technological means to create superhuman intelligence. Shortly after, the human era will be ended.”1 It has already been twenty years since Vinge wrote these words, so we shouldn’t have much more than a decade to wait before the Singularity happens. In an interview from 2009, Vinge says that he will be surprised if it hasn’t happened before 2030. This scenario is supported by the fact that with the present rate of development of computer chips, somewhere between 2023 and 2030 a typical computer chip will reach the same complexity as a human brain. Hence, we are not talking about something that

omputers become more intelligent every year. If this trend continues, then in a couple of decades computers may become more intelligent than people. When – or if – this happens, technological advances may happen so fast that the world in a few years will be changed so much that we today aren’t able to predict what it will look like. This possibility is known as the technological singularity. The concept of a ‘singularity’ comes from mathematics, where it is used about points where a mathematical function approaches infinity and it hence is meaningless to give it any fixed value, no matter how high. A simple example is the function 1/x, which when x approaches zero goes towards infinity – or minus infinity if x is negative. In astronomy, the word is used about black holes; stellar objects so heavy and dense that their surface gravity becomes so big that nothing can escape, not even light. A technological singularity is technological development so extreme that it becomes humanly impossible to keep track of what happens from one day to the next. The idea of the technological singularity was first formulated by the well-known mathematician John von Neumann, who in the 1950s spoke about the “ever accelerating progress of technology and changes in the mode of human life, which gives the appearance of approaching some essential singularity in the history of the race beyond which human affairs, as we know them, could not continue.”

S C E NAR IO

22

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


F U T U R E S

may happen in a distant future, but something that may be here very soon. Not everybody thinks that the Singularity will arrive quite as quickly. The renowned futurist Ray Kurzweil gives 2045 as a likely time frame, and others are sceptical that it may happen at all. As former Wired columnist, futurist and science fiction writer Bruce Sterling expressed it earlier this year: “A Singularity has no business model, no major power group in our society is interested in provoking one, nobody who matters sees any reason to create one, there’s no there there.”2 In the last issue of SCENARIO, we also argued that accelerating technological progress is an illusion, which is confirmed by the fact that the number of patents per 1,000 people on the planet actually peaked more than a hundred years ago, between 1850 and 1900.3 If there has been accelerating progress the last hundred years, it is only because we have experienced powerful population growth, getting more people to get the bright ideas. When the world’s population stabilises in a few decades, it may mean that the rate of progress also stabilises or even declines. However, we could argue that if computers begin developing technology on their own, this argument won’t hold water, and then we may actually get to experience rapidly accelerating technological growth in the future. We thus are in a situation where some experts say that the Singularity will be here within the next 15-20 years while others say that it will never happen. This is a remarkable disagreement considering how big a difference it will make if it happens or not. In such a situation it only makes sense to describe the future in scenarios that are very different from each other, yet still likely enough that we have to consider all of them. A scenario that represents one extreme in this connection could be called “Business and Usual”: Technology continues to advance, but at a pace we can comprehend, and we won’t see any drastic upheavals where mankind is hopelessly outpaced by superhuman computers. It is this scenario that most businesspeople and politicians operate from, likely because it is much easier to plan for the future in it than in scenarios with larger upheavals. The opposite extreme is represented by “Tomorrow, the Singularity”, a scenario where we get superhuman computers in 15-20 years and where this heralds extreme technological advances. This scenario is difficult to describe since the very definition of the Singularity is that it is impossible to predict what will happen then. We have to settle for looking at what happens leading up to the advent of the Singularity itself and then

S T U D I E S

conjecture at what may then happen. In this scenario, computers continue to advance at the same pace as they have the last 20-30 years. The current limits of capacity will be surpassed by superconducting computers or quantum computers (both technologies that are under development).4 In 10-15 years, computers will reach something resembling human intelligence, either as an emergent property (the way that human intelligence and consciousness emerges as a result of a complex network of many simple neurons) or through direct simulation of a human heart in a virtual environment. With further development, this artificial brain in time becomes faster than a human mind, with a vast, precise memory and access to the entirety of human experience through the internet. We ask this computer to solve the great problems facing us: How do we deal with hunger, disease, poverty, climate change, ageing, crime, social conflicts, economic crises, and much more? We implement the solutions that the supercomputer finds and ask it to use ‘big data’ to spot new problems before they arise and then find solutions for them. The computer designs robots to handle all the work we don’t care to do, and shortly we can look forward to centuries-long lives free of drudgery, sickness and social problems. We will all have powerful servant ‘genies’ to do everything for us, and we can get all the adventures we could dream of in virtual worlds that cannot be distinguished from reality. If we so desire, we can have our bodies rebuilt and become overmen with superhuman strength, senses and intelligence, or we can copy our consciousness several times into computers and robots and experience many things at one time in a connected superconsciousness. We can be telepathically in contact with our computers, with our copies and with each other across continents (see this issue’s Tech Brief). A utopian vision – or a dystopia where mankind is disenfranchised, depending on the eyes that look. Is this a possible scenario? Absolutely. Is it likely? That is difficult to say. One thing, however, is certain: The scenario “Business As Usual” is no more likely. Whether we get a Singularity or not, technological advances in the coming decades will create massive upheavals that will totally transform the basic conditions for our lives and especially for our work.5 If we are to meet the challenges that come from this, it is necessary that our decision-makers break away from the easy “Business As Usual” scenario and prepare our society for the major changes that most likely lie ahead – even if they aren’t nearly as simple and comfortable to deal with. „

NOTES 1

Vernor Vinge: ”The Coming Technological Singularity”, 1993. http://mindstalk.net/vinge/vinge-sing.html, 2 Bruce Sterling: “‘The Singularity’: There’s No There

There”. http://edge.org/response-detail/23784, 3 Jonathan Huebner: “A Possible Declining Trend for Worldwide Innovation”, Technological Forecasting & Social Change, October 2005, s. 980–86, 4, 4 Se fx Quentin Hardy: “A Quantum Computer Aces Its Test”, 6 New York Times, 8 May 2013. http://bits.blogs.nytimes. com/2013/05/08/a-quantum-computer-aces-its-test/, 5 See e.g. the article about automation on the pink tech pages in this issue.

S C E NAR IO

23

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


L I F E

Commercial cloning of dogs is on the rise. Read the report from South Korea, where a commercial research institute as the first in the world offers to clone dogs, which today live as pets around the world. The institute has already successfully produced more than 200 dog clones of 25-30 different races. The price starts at USD 100,000.

HEY, PUPPY - YOU ARE A CLONE … Af Isak Ladegaard

S

eoul, South-Korea. A two-week old Catahoula mix with brown spots is quietly asleep in a small playpen, surrounded by plush, multi-colored toys, and two older and much more lively puppies. They climb over him, bite his tail and lick his head, seemingly curious about the new, fragile-looking kid on the block. Perhaps they’re also wondering why he doesn’t respond to the playful abuse. “Ken” is a clone, put together in a lab by a team of South Korean researchers and brought forth by a surrogate mother. Knowing this we are also keenly aware of the lifelessness. Is this merely a side-effect of being artificially created? Is this just one of several ways a cloned pup differs from a “natural” one? CLONE 001

Dolly was born in 1996, and the curly sheep got much more than 15 minutes of fame after it was presented to the world as the first successfully cloned mammal in history. People were in awe, trembling with excitement over this new and unmapped territory, the possibilities of the technology, and the world-shifting events that surely lay ahead. For fairly similar reasons, others were in terror: what would come next? The loudest shrieks were about the prospect of human cloning, but besides a recent breakthrough in stem cell research there have been few developments in this realm. In the animal kingdom, however, scientists have been hard at work and have so far cloned cat, rabbit, cow, deer, dog, horse, mouse, mule, goat, pig, rat, monkey, buffalo, wolf and coyote. As the technology improves and expertise mounts, efficiency increases and cost falls, and thus we’ve passed another milestone, which the little puppy Ken represents. He’s the result of a commercial cloning industry which is starting to crawl out of its infancy: Today, any person in the world with enough cash in the bank can order a genetic copy of his or her own dog. The price tag is currently at lofty USD 100,000, and no-one says it’s cheap. But many are saying “I’ll have one, please.”

Photo right: The laboratory at Sooam Biotech, Seoul, South Korea. The following pages: Ken the puppy.

S C E NAR IO

24

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


L I F E

”Sooam Biotech is currently the only place in the world that offers commercial dog cloning. The research institute was founded in 2006 and has since created more than 200 dog clones from 25-30 different breeds”

HELLO PUPPY

kind of personality your dog develops is a matter of both nature and nurture, and now we have at least covered the nature bit.”

We’re at Sooam Biotech’s research institute in the outskirts of Seoul, where Ken was born. Paula and Phillip Dupont from Louisiana is calling us by Skype, and a researcher holds an iPad and its camera in front of Ken’s playpen so the American couple can see their new dog, for the very first time. “He looks great!” exclaims Phillip Dupont as he leans towards his computer screen, at the other side of the world. His wife sits beside him with a smile across her face. The two run a veterinary clinic together, with Phillip Dupont as the veterinarian, and it turns out he’s right -- the nearly lifeless puppy is in good shape after all, it’s just not used to being alive and needs a lot of rest, as any other two-week old puppy would. His tiny eyelids are slowly opening up now, and he looks disinterestedly at the camera in front of him, oblivious to his owners, the investment they’ve made in his existence, the technology behind his existence, all the surrogate dogs and egg donors that have been involved in the process, the Korean PhDs that have been hard at work, and, of course, the controversy surrounding all of this.

CLONES FOR EVERYONE

Sooam Biotech is currently the only place in the world that offers commercial dog cloning. The research institute was founded in 2006 and has since created more than 200 dog clones from 25-30 different breeds. Several of them were commissioned by private clients, and it’s here that humans have, for the first time, cloned living beings out of love and affection. We asked pet owners on an online forum if they would clone their special ones if the price was low, and many of them said no. “When your dog dies you should hang on to the good memories and move on,” said one. “No matter how similar the DNA is, it won’t be the same dog,” another said. “A special dog isn’t special anymore if you can bring it back five times over,” it was argued, and it was also said that getting the same dog again might mean you miss out of something. “Maybe my next dog would suit me better? “ However, there are people who are positive to the idea. “If the clone had been quite similar, then that’d be good enough for me,” said one, arguing that the dog doesn’t have to have an identical personality. “Another dog like the one I have now would be absolutely perfect,” said another. Good health can be another perk: “If it was guaranteed that the dog would be free from physical and mental deficiencies, then the answer is yes. You can’t get that from buying a new puppy (the normal way).”

KEN’S TWIN FATHER

Ken’s genetic twin, or the “origin”, is ten years old, and old enough to be his father. As the Duponts are calling from Louisiana, this faithful companion is running around in the garden, completely unaware that his owners like him so much they’ve purchased a copy of him, to fill the void when death comes knocking. The American couple has raised several dogs together and know that each individual is unique, in terms of appearance, health and personality. Building on this experience they know exactly what they want in a dog, this time, and they have thus decided to play a safe bet. “If we adopted ten dogs, perhaps one of them would be as nice and smart as Melvin (the “original”),” says Paula Dupont. “What

S C E NAR IO

GENETICS IS EVERYTHING

Robert Sørlie has won the world’s longest dog sled race in Alaska, twice. Selective breeding is an important part of the sport, he says. “You can do a lot with training, but the most important thing is that the dogs have the right genes. Good breeding is the key to a good dog sled team.”

26

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


L I F E

”The customs at Seoul’s Incheon Airport use seven large Labradors that are all cloned offspring of an unusually talented sniffer dog, Chase, who outperformed his four-legged colleges for years until his retirement in 2007”

The 2005 project that resulted in the world’s first cloned dog involved 123 surrogate mothers, but only three of them were successfully impregnated, and of the puppies, Snuppy was the only one who survived. The technology has since evolved, and today the successrate is between 20 and 30 per cent, according to Sooam’s vice president, Dr. Shin Taeyoung. “Impregnation of the surrogate mothers is difficult. But when that goes well, it almost always ends with healthy puppies.” Dr. Shin says the goal is to double the efficiency within three years, which will enable them to halve the price. The research institute receives many inquiries from people who want to clone their pets but can’t pay USD 100,000 for it, and these are encouraged to take cell samples from their dogs and store them in a gene bank, so they can be retrieved for cloning when the process has become affordable. In Sooam, such cells are stored in small containers filled with liquid nitrogen, which has a temperature of -190 °C. Hwang explains that in these containers, the cells’ shelf life is infinite. At least in theory. “We save cells from all the dogs we clone, even after the puppies have been delivered to the clients. In case they want to have another dog in five years, or something like that,” says Hwang.

Sørlie thinks his team could benefit a great deal from dog cloning. With “copies” of healthy dogs, he could avoid aggressive dogs and genetic diseases which can strike years after birth and sometimes kill a whole pack. Absolutely. If you clone the top dogs, I’d think that would be good. He nonetheless believes that using clones would be “pushing it a bit too far”, even if the price was low. He’s not the only one who recognises the potential of dog cloning technology, and some are less worried about using it. While Seoul’s Incheon Airport is seen as the best in the world, it’s unlikely a drug traffickers’ favorite. The customs use seven large Labradors that are all cloned offspring of an unusually talented sniffer dog, Chase, who outperformed his four-legged colleges for years until his retirement in 2007. Sniffer dogs go through intense training periods before they are even considered for the “job”, and at this point only three out of ten make the cut. Therefore, good sniffer dogs are expensive, both in terms of time and money, and cloning the best might make intuitive sense – especially since all sniffer dogs are sterilized before the training begins. The professional dog clones in South Korea have done so well that the police offices around in the country will get up to 30 clones this year, all paid for by Sooam Biotech. This means, of course, that the research institute sees this as an opportunity for good publicity, but the fact that the police welcomes the clones implies that they are quite open to the technology.

LIFE IS PRECIOUS

Quality-assured dog cloning might become a reality, but at present the big question is whether this end can possibly justify the means. Sooam’s researchers are probably the best in the world at dog cloning – they surely have the most experience, anyway – yet they operate on seven egg donors and five surrogate mothers, on average, for each successful birth.

HIGHER EFFICIENCY, LOWER COST

Where are these surrogate mothers and egg donors coming from? Are they going through several operations”

We dress in blue hairnets, step into lab suits and plastic slippers. Insung Hwang, a representative of Sooam Biotech, brings us into the research lab Here we get to observe two operations, play with healthy puppies, and meet the startled gaze of a surrogate mother.

S C E NAR IO

“We get them from a dog breeder, and they are only operated on

27

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


L I F E

”The price tag is currently at lofty USD 100,000, and no-one says it’s cheap. But many are saying: I’ll have one, please”

once. They’re sent back to the kennel afterwards, where they continue to live. It is inevitable that some pain is involved in the operations, but the dogs are anesthetized and get pain medications afterwards. We also make sure to minimize the bleeding.” Although most puppies are born in good health, some have serious flaws, explains Hwang. Some puppies are born with a thick neck, because the mouth is the last part which is developed when an embryo is transformed into a fetus. “It’s very rare that anything is wrong with the puppies, but if there’s anything, we notice it right away.” He gives us an example: two puppies were born at the same time, and while one was perfectly healthy, the other had a hole in his mouth which made him choke when he was nursing on his mother. The puppy was fed with a straw instead, and eventually grew strong enough to eat dry food on its own. “There have been a few cases like that. The customer got the healthy puppy, of course, but he also chose to take the other one with him. So it turned out well.”

coming out of Sooam’s surrogate mothers -- once they get pregnant and go to term. The explanation is that the puppies are very costly, and the births are therefore carefully monitored. The puppies’ heartbeats are even measured electronically, so the medical team can intervene and perform caesarean section if necessary. Life is precious -- especially when it has been ordered for USD 100,000. LIFE GOES ON

Researchers at the University of Utah write in a journal article that Dolly aged faster than ordinary sheep, which suggests that life is short for a clone, even if it’s healthy. Another study, however, found that cloned mice and cows aged slower than other mice and cows. The unsatisfactory conclusion, according to the Utah researchers, is that we have no idea what cloning does to an animal’s lifespan. This is especially true for dog cloning -- the science is so fresh that none of the dogs have lived long enough to die of natural aging, and Snuppy, the first dog clone, is still healthy and well. Little Ken, however, is dead. Paula and Phillip Dupont flew to South Korea to pick up Ken about a month after they saw him in the Skype call. A while after they returned to Louisiana again, we sent them an email to check how Ken was settling in with his “twin father”, and the couple said Ken got sick a couple of weeks after they picked him up. He started having seizures, and Mr. Dupont, himself a veterinarian, decided that it was necessary to have him euthanized. This is not because of the cloning process, he argues. An autopsy was conducted at Louisiana State Animal Diagnostic Laboratory, and the diagnosis was “Canine Distemper”, a common disease among dogs which young puppies are particularly exposed to. Sooam responded to the tragic news by opening up their liquid nitrogen tank, brought out another Melvin cell, and started a new cloning process. Mr. and Mrs. Dupont eventually got two new puppies, and so it goes on. „

And if he had only taken the healthy puppy? ”We take care of the dogs that are left and keep them alive for as long as we can. We send them to our farm.” Asked if the farm is an euphemism, he assures us it’s not. Sooam Biotech also clones cows, pigs and other animals, and the farm is where they’re kept. Stillborn puppies are another problem in the commercial dog cloning industry, but this is not a problem exclusive to surrogate mothers and cloned dogs. A study at the Norwegian College of Veterinary Medicine found that between 17 and 30 per cent of a total of 744 “natural” newborn puppies died within the first eight weeks, and stillbirth was the most common cause. At Sooam, the average is between 10 and 20 percent (this is included in the total success rate mentioned earlier), and this means that the mortality rate is in fact lower for the puppies

S C E NAR IO

29

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


I N N O V A T I O N

S C E NAR IO

30

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


I N N O V A T I O N

SKEUOMORPHISMS ... MUST DIE … We have on an earlier occasion written about skeuomorphisms: The wondrous design principle of illustrating a new function with a function known from earlier times. Good examples are the call button on your mobile phone, which looks like an old-fashioned telephone receiver, and the artificial sound of a camera’s mechanical shutter mechanism coming from your smartphone when you take a picture. Skeuomorphisms aren’t just auditory or visual illusions on digital gadgets, but also things as analogue as water boilers shaped like old-fashioned kettles or the rivets on your jeans, which used to have a function, but today are only there to signify that your pants are, well, jeans. The reason why we write about skeuomorphisms again is that Apple allegedly plans to do away with them when the company later this year launches its new operating system, OS 7. Microsoft did the same thing when launching Windows 8 last autumn. Apple, however, has been a very diligent user of the small references to the analogue world or past times, and with its designer Scott Forstall the corporation has been trendsetting in the way users decode the interface on smartphones, tablets and computers. In design circles, the opinion about Apple’s use of skeuomorphisms has long been divided, to put it mildly. Some think that products as stylish and minimalist as Apple’s become marred by “disgusting, sentimental and directly stupid visual cues.” Others, on the other hand, think that Apple’s design iconography – from which we know e.g. the ‘leather-bound’ contact book and the leafing function in the calendar system – is what makes the minimalist and cold exterior accessible and attractive – not least to the many who in recent years have begun using Apple’s product for the first time. Skeuomorphisms are a bridge-builder between old and new technologies with the same function – and for this very reason they have a built-in problem whether you like it or not. For while many from the older generation quite simply would find it hard to understand how an iPhone should be used if it hadn’t been for the telephone receiver and the shutter sound, the references are by now so old-fashioned that they don’t communicate anything to the younger target group. It won’t be many years before a typical 30-year-old never will have held a telephone receiver, had a ring-bound paper calendar, or taken a photo with an analogue camera. In many fields, technological progress happens faster today than ever before. In a few generations, we have gone from short-wave radios and phones with switchboard operators to smartphones, laptop computers and ‘all-in-one’ gadgets. Hence, skeuomorphisms are threatened by technological progress; something of a built-in risk in the concept. If this weren’t enough, increasing digitisation is an even greater problem for future of the good ol’ skeuomorphism. The digital camera has no sound, no texture, and no set look. The same is true for most other digital products, whose designs are open to eternal renegotiation. The question then is what in a few years will be the cognitive bridge-builder between digital designs of the past and the future. The telephone receiver will soon belong to the same distant past, and many things suggest that the skeuomorphism soon will suffer the same fate …

jkn

S C E NAR IO

31

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


E C O N O M Y

Bitcoin is the name of a new currency that has never seen a central bank, but instead is administered by a group of voluntary encryption experts on the internet. During the first four months of 2013, the exchange rate for Bitcoins rose no less than 750 per cent, and the attention given to what some call the greatest invention since the internet has been massive. Is Bitcoin just a storm in a teacup or is it the beginning of a radical change of the financial market as we know it? Could Bitcoin even be …

THE MONEY OF THE FUTURE? By Pernille Formsgaard and Jesper Knudsen

E

xperts rarely change their opinion from one day to the next.

And if the porn industry also accepts it, its chances are good,” he assesses

Nevertheless, this was what happened when SCENARIO

and thus represents one side in a debate about future money, which we

during research for this article called Jonas Hedman, a Swedish expert

will look at in depth in a little while. However, first an introduction to

on digital currencies and professor at Copenhagen Business School.

Bitcoin for the uninitiated.

Jonas Hedman isn’t normally knows for being fickle, but when we speak of the future for the much-debated virtual currency Bitcoin, which since

THE BRAINCHILD OF A

January has grown from $13 to $110 at the time of writing, things happen

MYSTERIOUS JAPANESE

so fast that prognoses for the currency’s future survival change from day

Briefly told, Bitcoin is a virtual currency that only exists on the internet.

to day.

You will never hold a Bitcoin in a bank, and you can forget everything

Bitcoin is invented and driven by anarchist encryption experts, but

about visiting Bitcoin’s central bank – it simply doesn’t exist. The

during the last six months the rumour about Bitcoin has spread far

currency is generated by a protocol operated by thousands of private

beyond tech-nerdy circles. When at first it was difficult to find anybody

citizens’ computers all over the world – not unlike the peer-to-peer

willing to accept this virtual currency, you can today use it to pay for

method that internet pirates use for illegal file sharing on the internet. It

anything from hotel bills in Lolland, Denmark, to bakery bread in San

requires quite a bit of processing power to produce a Bitcoin, and the

Francisco. The currency is far from being common yet, and many will

people who provide this computing power to the system are rewarded for

still look weirdly at you if you ask if it is possible to pay with Bitcoins.

their efforts with newly minted Bitcoins.

However, with endorsement from big internet companies like Reddit

The recipe for Bitcoins saw the light of day in November 2008 when a

and Wordpress, which now accept Bitcoin as a means of payment, the

mysterious Japanese using the cover name Satoshi Nakamoto published

virtual currency has seriously been borne aloft. The latest rumours from

a design manual for a new digital currency that he himself had invented.

the blogosphere say that eBay and PayPal before long will accept Bitcoins

Three months later, Nakamoto set the Bitcoin mill going and issued the

on their websites. It was precisely this news that made our Swedish

first 50 Bitcoins. Every ten minutes since that day, 25 new Bitcoins are

expert, Jonas Hedman, change his opinion between Tuesday and

issued, and every four years, the number of issued Bitcoins is halved until

Wednesday.

the system by 2140 AD has generated a total of 21 million. Then

”If Bitcoin is to have a chance of growing into a strong currency, retail

production will cease completely. In 2010, Satoshi Nakamoto himself

chains and large internet stores need to accept it. If names like Amazon.

disappeared from the internet and left his invention to the superusers of

com and Wal-Mart begin accepting Bitcoins, the smaller ones will follow.

the currency.

FOLLOWING PAGES: This pizza is allegedly the first physical product bought for Bitcoins. As a sort of experiment, the American Lazlo Hanyecz offered 10,000 Bitcoins to the person who would deliver two large pizzas to his front door. An Englishman jumped at the chance and ordered two Papa Johns with peperoni for Florida. At the time, a Bitcoin was valued at US$ 0.03, and the Englishman had thus scored about 300 dollars right away. With today’s exchange rate, 10,000 Bitcoins are worth 1.1 million dollars, and the purchase has since resulted in the infamous thread: “Dumbass who bought a pizza for 10k Bitcoins.”

S C E NAR IO

33

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


E C O N O M Y

”You will never hold a Bitcoin in a bank, and you can forget everything about visiting Bitcoin’s central bank”

MONEY WITHOUT A MIDDLEMAN

they try to influence national growth through taxation, interest-rate

Bitcoin is far from being the first digital currency. In the virtual world,

hikes and currency regulation.

dedicated encryption nerds have since the late 1990s sought for a solution

By its very nature, nobody knows how many people actually use

that could give the users the power over the monetary system. Currencies

Bitcoins for criminal activities and shady deals. However, many things

with names like Ecash, bit gold, RPOW and b-money have seen the light

suggest that the financial crisis contributes to boosting the popularity of

of day in the past, but none have caught on. In efforts to prevent that the

the virtual coin. In ailing economies like Cyprus, Spain, and Argentina,

same coin is copied and used twice, most systems have needed a central

citizens have according to Google Trends been particularly eager in their

control unit to keep an eye on users – and suddenly, there was a

searches for the word ‘Bitcoin’. The explanation, according to many, is

middleman in play that too much resembled present-day banks. The

quite simply that Bitcoin is a way for citizens to protect their private

same goes for Linden Dollars, which can be used in the virtual game

savings from taxes and inflation. In the internet documentary bitcoinfilm.

Second Life. Here, Linden Labs, the company behind Second Life,

org, you can e.g. see how a local Argentinian named Diego sells pesos for

functions as the control unit that issues Linden Dollars and handles the

Bitcoins to the expat Jacob Hansen. Jacob gets pesos far cheaper than if he

exchange to ‘real’ human cash. It has been crucial for Bitcoin’s success

went to a bank. In return, Diego protects his savings against the inflation

that the system by nature has been proof against forgery, since a

that just now haunts the Argentine peso.

transaction can’t go through until authorized by a number of other users in the Bitcoin network through special peer-to-peer software. Hence, it

THE OTHER FINANCES

is the computers of other users that handle the validating function that

The desire in times of crisis to create a new currency that is independent

banks would normally handle. This way, Bitcoin is – it is said – the first

of central banks and governments is far from limited to encryption nerds.

system that has made the middleman superfluous and hence the first

In both Spain and Greece, new currencies have cropped up as the nations’

digital global currency system that works entirely without a central

economies have been heading for disaster. According to Wall Street

control system.

Journal, there now are 300 alternative currencies in Spain, existing in parallel with the official euro currency. A large portion of these currencies

ANARCHIC DNA

are based on the motto “time is money’ and function as so-called Time

It seems obvious to draw parallels between the Bitcoin phenomenon and

Banks where you can swap your time or service, e.g. one hour’s psychiatric

the Occupy movement that across the world protests government

help, for other services. A kind of barter economy, in other words. Other

financial monopolies and the financial crisis that characterises much of

systems are tied to local currencies that are earned and used in the local

the world today. Bitcoin is a counter-reaction to the central currencies,

community. The same trend has been seen in Great Britain, where

and a part of Bitcoin’s DNA is that the individual transactions cannot be

among others the Brixton Pound has come into existence, which can only

traced, which in its ultimate consequence could be a threat to the national

be used in Brixton and which has been created to support the local

state. An untraceable currency in a closed system not only provides

economy. In East Africa, we find the financial innovation M-Pesa: texted

excellent growth opportunities for a global black market, but can

money transfers that make transactions far more manageable in cash-

potentially also become a nuisance to all the world’s governments when

based societies like Kenya and Rwanda where only very few own credit

NO CENTRAL AGENCY No central agency is in charge of issuing Bitcoins – that task has been outsourced to the users. Every ten minutes, a bunch of new Bitcoins is issued, wrapped in a complex encryption code, and the user who first cracks the code gets to keep the spoils. Enterprising users are thus in a constant race to build the fastest computers that can win the code battle.

S C E NAR IO

36

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


E C O N O M Y

”Bitcoins saw the light of day in November 2008 when a mysterious Japanese using the cover name Satoshi Nakamoto published a new digital currency”

cards. The M-Pesa, however, is still encumbered by expensive fees, and in

them, which makes it difficult for the currency to flow. On the more

practice the system only really works in Kenya and not in the

optimistic side in the debate about Bitcoin’s future are trend researchers

neighbouring countries. Some Western bloggers have looked over the

and economists who think that Bitcoin is a warning to the financial sector

top of their ethnocentric glasses and predicted that it is likely to be in

about an entirely new ball game. The management guru Gary Hamel

developing countries like those in East Africa that Bitcoin will get its

has earlier predicted that the bank sector will go through more changes

breakthrough, and also that this really will make a difference in growth

over the next ten years than in the previous fifty. And we do see a lot of

by letting the local African into the global market.

new initiatives at the moment. More and more supermarket chains

Discussions like these of course presuppose that Bitcoin not just

introduce their own banks, e.g. Sainsbury’s and Marks & Spencer in

flourishes, but becomes a currency with an overall worth of far more than

Great Britain and lately also COOP Denmark. In May, Denmark also

the about one billion dollars that the total number of Bitcoins are

got no less than two equivalents of M-pesa; a texting payment system

estimated at today. Whether this is going to happen is still open to debate.

called Swipp and another called Mobile Pay. Hence, Bitcoin is just one

NEW FINANCIAL BALL GAME

about Bitcoin is that the people who run the system and make the profit

Many economists have declared Bitcoin a losing proposition. They look

aren’t bank managers or largeorganisations in the financial or mercantile

with some concern at the currency’s dramatic, but volatile value growth.

world. The driving force behind Bitcoin is roughly speaking the users

The Bitcoin ‘currency’ shows bubble behaviour, and we all know the fate

themselves led by an anti-authoritarian bunch of encryption experts who

of bubbles. They burst. This side predicts a short life for Bitcoin; no more

could be characterised as enthusiastic hacker anarchists with a love for

than a handful of years. At most. On the same side of the fence we find

file-sharing systems and WikiLeaks.

sign of many heralding changes in the financial sector. The special thing

people arguing that it’s just a matter a time before a single hacker or profiteer with the right abilities empties the Bitcoin coffers and crashes

“THE USERS ARE SMARTER”

the entire system. Like the Romanian speculator and billionaire George

If Bitcoin and/or potential similar systems make it big in the financial

Soros did in 1992 when he almost crashed the British pound on a single

market, Jonas Hedman and others expect that governments will attempt

Wednesday and earned something corresponding to 1.1 billion US

to ban the anonymised crypto-currency to protect their monopolies in the

dollars. Hackers have on several occasions managed to break into the

financial markets and not least the influence on the wellbeing of national

Bitcoin system to steal currency from users, so even though security

economies that goes with controlling the financial market. In a major

according to Bitcoin’s superusers is high, the digital currency isn’t entirely

report from the European Central Bank from October 2012, it is thus

safe. However, the stolen amounts have been relatively small, and even

discussed if Bitcoin can be seen as a pyramid scheme and hence can be

though each incident has caused a drop in the exchange rate, the collected

banned. According to Jonas Hedman, we can expect a war resembling

team of encryption-knowledgeable superusers has managed to remedy

that of pirate copiers against copyright owners in the cultural sector. This

the system’s weaknesses and keep the faith in Bitcoin practically intact.

war, however, the governments have lost before it starts, says the Swedish

The last and perhaps most practical problem with Bitcoins right now is

professor: “All the users on the internet taken together are simply smarter

that they are so popular that their owners are unwilling to sell or use

and brighter than all national government leaders.” „

THE GOLD OF THE INTERNET AGE Bitcoin has been likened to gold. Both are valuable only because we have decided that they are. Both are (currently) less practical in daily use than traditional currencies. Just as for gold, the supply of Bitcoins is limited – once 21 million Bitcoins have been issued, there are no more to be had. Both are democratic in the sense that no central agency can control the value of either gold or Bitcoins – or save them from collapse. However, unlike gold, Bitcoin is designed for the internet age, and with its cocktail of cryptography and open-source structure it is easy to keep an eye on, easy to transfer from one end of the world to the other, and well suited for a global society that trades more and more on the internet. For these reasons, Bitcoin has been called ‘gold on steroids’.

S C E NAR IO

37

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


C O L U M N

NORDIC LEADERSHIP By Johan Peter Paludan, director emeritus and associated futurist at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies

Freeman Dyson, an English-American physicist, once described the world’s long-term biological evolution the way he saw it. The original global ‘primordial soup’ contained identical single-cell organisms. When a cell through mutation achieved an advantage, this spread laterally to all the other single-cell organisms. At some point in time, an organism chose to keep an advantage to itself – biology’s answer to original sin – and only pass it on to its offspring. From lateral to vertical dissemination. This was the origin of the species. The species competed. This competition ended about 10,000 years ago with the advent of modern Man. Mankind triumphed over all other organisms. Dyson’s point is that we with modern biotechnology are in a position where we can reintroduce the lateral dissemination of advantages. This is what we do when we clone. A prime specimen – of sheep, cat, dog, insert your choice – is copied such that the copy is a biologically identical duplicate. This will stimulate the age-old discussion of nature versus nurture. Now, we can keep nature fixed and hence more precisely study the significance of nurture. Cloning is yet another example of how mankind wants to be in charge, of how we’ve moved from a natural state where things just happen, and children is something you ‘get’, to a modern state where things are the result of analyses and techniques, and children are something you ‘take’. The latter hasn’t quite entered our vocabulary – yet. This shift from the vagaries of a ‘natural state’ to today’s more

S C E NAR IO

conscious intervention has been underway a long time. - Parents used to decide who their children married. Typically, money and dynastic considerations were deciding factors, but some genetic considerations can’t be rules out. - Selective abortion has been practiced a long time, particularly in China and India, where male children are preferred. So you must abort until you get a boy. This is a prime example of how human intervention has unintended consequences, as when China today has a deficit of marriageable young women and a surplus of young men who stoop to bride kidnapping and such. - Cloning, as mentioned above, where you select a prime specimen and duplicate it. - Genetic engineering, where you ‘construct’ organisms to have the desired traits. There’s a long way yet before we get there, but when we look at the progress of biotechnology so far, we must conclude that only imagination sets the limits to what might happen. In the long run, the consequences can feasibly be summed up in the mantra: no surprises. The biological organisms that we have will need to be in compliance with specifications. You may feel that this sounds a bit boring, but don’t forget that the excitement simply will move from nature’s capricious selection, characterised by ‘survival of the fittest’, to the inventiveness of the bioengineer, where selection is based on the wishes of the ‘customers’. At any rate, selection has come to stay.

39

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


There is too much advertisement in the world. Few will probably argue against that – except perhaps professional ad men who make a living from producing an increasing number of increasingly aggressive advertisements. We experience ad creep; that advertisement creeps in more and more places where we used to be free of it. Few people probably think that advertisement in public places exactly beautifies the city environment, but not a lot suggests that we will get less of it. Most advertisement is irrelevant to any individual because it doesn’t address the individual’s needs at the time, and it hence becomes at best uninteresting and at worst an annoyance because it attracts our attention and wastes some of our precious time and energy. Advertisement uses scattershot, so it is difficult not to be struck by accidental fire. And wouldn’t it be a better world if the only advertisement you saw actually was about things that interested you? This is the world that tailored advertisement offers. A growing trend in the field of advertisement is to use ‘big data’ – the enormous amount of data about each of us that can be found on the internet or gets collected in other ways – to select advertisement that precisely matches the individual’s interests. A classic slogan in business is “know your customer”, and customers also tend to be happy when the seller knows them and understand their needs. This ensures better service and less waste of time. Unfortunately, in today’s busy society, businesspeople rarely have the time to live up to the slogan in the old-fashioned way by taking time to talk to customer – and so, we should be happy that they now get the opportunity to know us in a new way. With data about us, collected from our social media, browser history and past consumption patterns, it is possible to make a quite precise profile of who we are as consumers. This knowledge is increasingly used to make tailored advertisement – or rather, recommendations – based on a thorough knowledge of our preferences. Experiments have already been done with digital billboards that sense if you’re looking at them and use simple face recognition to select advertisement that fits your age, gender, and even social group, based on the way you dress. It is only a matter of time before digital recognition becomes so good that your name can be associated with your face, and then there’s almost 100 per cent guarantee that the selected advertisement is relevant. It is even possible to use digital tricks so that only you see the advertisement that is directed at you, while others on the street see advertisement directed at them. There’s no reason to be force-fed advertisement for diapers if you don’t have children, or alcohol advertisements if you’re a teetotaller! If a band that you often listen to on Spotify or have bought songs by on iTunes has a concert in your city, the advertisement can even tell you so you don’t miss out on it. Isn’t that good service? The same thing is even now happening on the internet where advertisement increasingly is directed to you through social media and other websites that know you and your preferences. We know it from Amazon, which tells you what books other than those you look at might be to your liking – and generally does this well. The consequence will be that we in the future will get rid of all the ‘spam’ and only receive advertisement messages that are personal and relevant to each of us. What’s not to like?

YES PLEASE

TAILORED ADVERTISEMENT BASED ON ’BIG DATA’?


It is being said by many: George Orwell was an optimist. Today, we are subjected to far more surveillance than in the author’s dystopian classic Nineteen Eighty-four. In modern Western societies like Great Britain and Denmark, there’s about one surveillance camera per 15 citizens. Surveillance cameras, however, are the least part of the problem – the surveillance of us on the internet is far greater. Your browser’s history is open to all websites, and on social media we gladly give away all sort of personal data to everybody and his uncle – not least to the owners of the social media, who collect all these data and sell them dearly to advertisement agencies and others who would like to know more about our doings and habits. We accept membership in all sorts of businesses, offline and online, because we can get a small discount and other member benefits, without giving it a thought that the price of this is allowing the businesses to use all the data they collect about us. ‘Big data’ has become huge, and it is no coincidence that it rhymes with ‘Big Brother’. Some will object that it isn’t a problem that we give all this personal data to others as long as we receive benefits and it isn’t abused – but can we be sure that it isn’t abused? After all, identity theft has become quite common, and the thieves must have got your personal data from somewhere. Even if we only look at tailored advertisement generated from big data, it is still a major problem. Yes, the advertisement may well become more personalised, but it would be naïve to think that there will be less of it for that reason. It is relatively easy for us to filter out irrelevant advertisements, but the relevant ones are far harder. They suck our attention and force us to make a decision: buy or don’t buy? The truth is that out in the world, there’s a far greater selection of products and services that pique our interest than we ever could afford or find the time to use, and a large part of our energy is used to reject most of these offers. This process will not get any easier if we every second are presented with a new, titillating offer. We will be like children let loose in the world’s greatest candy store with € 2 in our pockets. No matter what we choose to buy, we can’t stop thinking that there might be something else that would have suited us better. This is a stress factor in an already stressed society. It is called ’FOMO’ – fear of missing out. This state will certainly not be less bad when we constantly become bombarded with offers we actually would like to make use of if we only we had the time and money. The worst that could happen is probably that the advertisement works and makes us consume more. This will strain our personal finances and our world’s environment and resources. It is also a matter of sensory overload. When we are exposed to large amounts of impressions that are difficult to filter out, our brains get overloaded and can in extreme cases shut down or in less extreme cases cause anxiety and chronic fatigue. This kind of overload becomes more common in our increasingly complex society, and tailored advertise-ment will simply add fuel to the fire. Add to this that big data always will have an outdated picture of you, so the tailored advertisement will often present you with things that interested you last year, last month, or last week. Is there anything as annoying as getting an offer of buying something cheaper than what we have already paid for it? We are better off without tailored advertisement – even if we don’t worry about the invasion of our private lives that they represent.

NO THANKS

Written by Science & Techonology Editor Klaus Æ. Mogensen, SCENARIO.


S C E NAR IO

2

0

4

:

2

0

1

2


S C E NAR IO

1

0

4

:

2

0

1

2


I N N O V A T I O N

S C E NAR IO

44

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


I N N O V A T I O N

WOBO The idea of incorporating sustainability and social responsibility into design philosophy is far from new. It was for example expressed in 1960 with the Heineken World Bottle – WOBO. The idea for this special bottle arose when the brewer Alfred Heineken during a trip to the Caribbean island of Curaçao became aware of two issues. The first was that the beaches were littered with empty bottles – including beer bottles from his own company. The second was that the region as a result of poverty lacked building materials. What does a wise man do? He makes beer bottles that you can build houses from. To realise his vision, Heineken hired the German architect John Habraken, who was assigned the task of designing “a brick that holds beer”. In 1963 it arrived: The beer bottle that could be recycled as a brick.The brewer produced 100,000 bottles in a test production. The bottle was designed so that the neck could be mounted in the bottom of the next bottle. The sides were equipped with small knobs that would make it easier for the mortar to make the bottles stick together. Alfred Heineken was so keen on spreading the concept that he planned on printing building instructions directly on the bottles. The man behind the design, Habraken, even suggested freighting the bottles on special plastic pallets that subsequently could be used for roofing the houses. In spite of Heiniken’s optimism, the brewery’s marketing department was less thrilled, and the concept ended as a footnote in history. The green houses never really saw the light of day, except for a single house, built in Nordwijk close to Amsterdam. Some may think that the idea was pure insanity. And perhaps it was, back in its time. However, considering the world we live in now, Heineken was a man ahead of his time, and perhaps the germs of future solutions can be found in the absurdly brilliant ideas of the past. At any rate, history has more than once shown that often, it is simply the timing of an idea that is wrong.

sma

S C E NAR IO

45

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


AD

art direction photography

Jomi Masage photographed in Itkin Design S C E NARIO

73

0

6

:

2

0

1

2


SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Edited by Klaus Æ. Mogensen

S C E NAR IO

47

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


T E C H TA L K

While I write this, a large object is hurtling through space towards our planet. It is the comet C/2012 S1, called ‘the comet of the century’. It will not hit the Earth, but towards the end of the year it will vie with the full moon for brightness. We will start being able to see it with the naked eye in early November, and when the comet about a month later will be at its closest point – only about five times the distance to the Moon – it will shine even brighter than the full moon. It will be an extraordinary astronomical spectacle, but the comet will not just be something pretty to look at – it may also influence the world economy. People are superstitious, and this is also true for businesspeople. It has for instance been estimated that each Friday the 13th costs the US economy between 800 and 900 million dollars because many businesspeople refuse to fly or make trades this day. Friday the 13th, however, is nothing compared to comets, which historically have been seen as omens of war, disaster or even the end of the world. The arrival in 1997 of comet Hale-Bopp, which was far less spectacular than C/2012 S1 promises to be, among other things made 39 members of the religious cult Heaven’s Gate commit collective suicide. Whether the comet affected stock prices is not clear, but at the time, the world was experiencing a strong economic boom. In contrast, C/2012 S1 will arrive at a time when the world is in the grip of an economic crisis; a time when superstition may carry more weight. Will the comet of the century make already superstitious businessmen go into panic and further destabilise the world economy? That remains to be seen. In contrast, one industry at least will no doubt face a golden age once the Portent shows itself in the sky – the doomsday industry. Klaus Æ. Mogensen

S C E NAR IO

48

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


B R E A K T H R O U G H S

”LET US NOT COUNT THE PC OUT BECAUSE OF A FEW SHORT-TERM MARKET FACTORS” Af Klaus Æ. Mogensen

The PC is dead, we hear from several pundits, and they have the numbers to back up their predictions. According to the International Data Corporation (IDC), the sale of PCs – stationary computers and laptops – dropped 14 per cent in the first quarter of 2013 compared to the year before. The reason, it is said, is that small, mobile devices – smartphones and tablets – are taking over from actual computers, wireless or not. There are also numbers to support this: Where the sale of PCs in 2010 represented more than half the global market for smartphones, tablets and computers, PCs only accounted for 30 per cent of the market in 2012. Smartphones now dominate the market with a market share of about 60 per cent, while tablets make up the fastest growing segment with a growth of 78 per cent in 2012. Hence, many things suggest that the pundits are right: the PC is dead – the future belongs to the light mobile devices. It may however be a little too early to write off the PC. Other factors are at play. Smartphones and tablets are new product types, and a large part of sales – particularly

for tablets – is to first-time buyers. Once the majority of the target group has acquired smartphones and tablets we must expect sales to decline, since they then mainly will be characterised by replacements, as is the case for PCs today. Another factor is that the development of PCs isn’t very fast today. In fact, the processor speed of CPUs hasn’t increased significantly the last 10 years. Instead, we now have multi-core processors, but that doesn’t give quite the same boost. This means that a 6-8 year old PC is perfectly capable of handling the new software on the market, so it isn’t crucial to replace it with a new one. It is more critical to get better bandwidth on the internet, but that isn’t a part of the computer itself, and with the advent of inexpensive external hard disks, neither is storage memory. The various types of ‘intelligent’ gadgets – IDC calls them smart connected devices, collectively – fulfill different needs, even if there is a growing overlap. Stationary computers can offer larger screens and better keyboards than can laptops, which in some aspects are better than tablets, which

S C E NAR IO

49

0

4

:

2

0

1

3

again are better than smartphones. Does anybody really imagine that all of today’s office work in the future will be done solely on smartphones with small screens and microscopic touchscreen keyboards? Or that you will be satisfied playing today’s graphicsheavy computer games on small, mobile devices? In return, the small devices are more mobile and handy than the larger ones – few people bother carrying laptops around when out on town at night. We do see hybrid solutions where tablets or smartphones are transformed into something like stationary computers by plugging them into docking stations connected to larger screens and keyboards. That sort of solution will no doubt be more popular in the future, but hybrids are rarely as good as devices designed for a particular function. Just as we today get more bang for the buck when buying a stationary PC compared to a laptop, we will now and in the future get more performance by buying a PC than a tablet or smartphone. Let us not count the PC out because of a few short-term market factors. „


B R E A K T H R O U G H S

BRIEF UPDATES ON TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE

CARBON-NEUTRAL STREET LIGHTS

LAB-GROWN KIDNEYS

TELEPATHIC RATS

A typical street light costs about 200 a year in energy consumption. On a national level, this is a considerable expense. The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) wants to change this, so with Henning Larsen Architects they have designed a street light that is self-sufficient with energy. The street light is equipped with both solar cells and a small wind turbine, and the energy from these is saved in a battery that sends electricity to an array of LED lights, which don’t use a lot of electricity compared with traditional street lighting. DTU has calculated that the street lights will be self-sufficient with electricity even in a winter-dark and rainy country like Denmark, at least outside of high and close construction that can block off both wind and sunlight. Besides the street lights being self-sufficient with electricity, there’s an additional saving in not having to bury cables. DTU expects to put up the first street lights on experimental basis next year. Source: Politiken Link: www.tinyurl.dk/38674

There is a lack of donor kidneys. About as many people die while on a waiting list to get a donor kidney as are saved by getting one. On top of this, patients that actually get a donor kidney have to take immunodepressive drugs for the rest of their lives, or their bodies will reject the kidney as a foreign object. An experiment with rats points to a solution for both problems. In the experiments, scientists from Harvard University took a kidney from a dead rat and flushed out all the active cells, leaving only a fibrous scaffolding of cartilage and protein. The scientists then injected blood and kidney cells from a new-born rat into this scaffolding, and in a bioreactor these cells multiplied and filled out the kidney. Then, the kidney was surgically implanted into a rat where it functioned as intended, absorbing nutrients and sugar and producing urine. The lab-grown kidney didn’t function quite as well as a fresh donor kidney would have, but the scientists think they can improve the technique to give better results. At first, this will not provide any more kidneys – you need a donor kidney to create the scaffolding – but in time, it may be possible to 3D-print artificial kidney scaffoldings. If you then also can ‘seed’ the scaffolding with cells from the patient itself, issues with rejection of the implanted kidney can be avoided. Source: Singularity Hub Link: www.tinyurl.dk/38675

Communicating by thought alone – telepathy – is something we associate with the more fanciful kind of science fiction. Now it has become reality through technology, at least for rats. In an experiment at Duke University, a rat was implanted with sensors that read activity in specific brain centres, and another rat got implants that reproduced this activity, transmitted from the first rat. Among other things, this allowed the second rat to two times out of three pull the right handle to get food, even though only the first rat could see the lamp indicating the right handle. Other experiments showed similar direct communication. It was even possible for the rats to communicate across continents, from Natal in Brazil to North Carolina in the US. There’s some way to go before more complex thoughts can be transmitted this way, but the researchers believe that it will be possible in the future. Source: New Scientist Link: www.tinyurl.dk/38676

S C E NAR IO

50

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


B R E A K T H R O U G H S

SHRILK Insect wings and shells are very strong – about twice as strong by weight as aluminium and at the same time also flexible and transparent. Researchers from Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University have new reproduced these traits in a cheap, artificial material. The material, which is made from shrimp shells and silk protein, is called shrilk by the researchers. A major advantage of shrilk is that it is biodegradable. This makes it useful for among other things medical purposes, e.g. as surgical thread that dissolves on its own. The cost of production is also so low that shrilk may replace some of the plastic we throw away every day and which takes centuries to break down in nature. Shrilk will even act as fertilizer when it dissolves. Source: Harvard Gazette Link: www.tinyurl.dk/38681

MUCH MORE EFFICIENT SOLAR CELLS

MICE WITH HUMAN BRAINS

Most commercial solar cells only convert about 20 per cent of the incident sunlight to electricity. This is because photovoltaic cells only can use light in a rather narrow range of wavelengths – the rest of the light gets turned into waste heat. Atwater Research Group at Caltech has an idea of how to increase efficiency dramatically – up to 50 per cent efficiency. The research team, led by Harry Atwater, is testing different varieties of the same basic idea: Split the sunlight into several colours that are sent to different cells that convert precisely this colour of light into electricity. One of the methods directs the light towards a filter that lets one colour of light through and reflects the rest towards a second filter, which lets another colour through, and so on, until the light is distributed among six to eight photovoltaic cells specialised for different wavelengths. The downside of this method is that you need to turn the array of solar cells towards the incoming light, and the system thus doesn’t work very well when it is misty or overcast. Source: Technology Review Link: www.tinyurl.dk/38679

It may sound insane, but scientists from Rochester Medical Center have actually succeeded in making mice smarter by injecting their brains with human brain cells. These cells weren’t neurons, but socalled astrocytes, a type of cells that was previously thought to only play a minor role in cognition. More precisely, the cells were progenitor cells for astrocytes; cells that in young brains evolve into astrocytes. The cells were injected into the mouse brains shortly after the mice were born, and then evolved into human astrocytes that, in spite of these being bigger than corresponding mouse cells, grew seamlessly into the mouse brains. Subsequently, the mice showed to be significantly better than normal mice at navigating labyrinths and connecting certain sonic cues with danger. The reason seems to be that the human astrocytes communicate faster with each other and with neurons than is the case for the mouse’s own astrocytes. Incidentally, it has turned out that Einstein’s brain had a larger than normal concentration of astrocytes, so perhaps human brains can also get a lift if the amount of astrocytes can be increased. Source: Singularity Hub Link: www.tinyurl.dk/38677

S C E NAR IO

51

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


B R E A K T H R O U G H S

Before, the mantra for businessmen was location, location, location. Today, it is automation, automation, automation. Robots, computers and other new technologies are automating a growing range of job functions. This increases productivity and creates economic growth – but what about all the workers that are made obsolete?

AUTOMATION AUTOMATION AUTOMATION By Klaus Æ. Mogensen

Recent studies from the United States show that productivity in the nation’s factories has doubled in just 13 years from 1997 to 2010.1 This means that each factory worker now produces twice as much value per work hour than a baker’s dozen of years ago. The number reflects a growth in produced goods of one-third, measured by price in presentday dollars, but also a reduction in the number of industry workers by one-third. This is a notable drop, particularly as employment in the US industry was roughly constant the previous 30 years (though with a relative decline due to a growth of the overall workforce during this time). This notable drop in employment is concurrent with a growth in production has made many economists speak of ‘jobless growth’, i.e. that the economy improves without improving employment. We have had growth in productivity at least since the dawn of the industrial age, but some things suggest that it’s going faster now. As mentioned above, the latest doubling of productivity took 13 years, but the previous doubling took 21 years (1976-1997), and the one before that took 26 years (1950-1976).2 Hence, we are speaking of a faster than exponential growth (where doublings happen at regular intervals). When we add to this that most manufactured goods become cheaper over time, the real productivity growth, measured by the volume of goods rather than their sales price, is even larger. It’s not just the production of physical products that becomes automated. The service industries also experience increasing automation, e.g. in banking, where internet

banks have led to many local banks closing and a reduction of service staff in those that remaining. Robots are also gaining ground in the health and cleaning sectors; fields that up to now haven’t experienced the same degree of automation as have other industries. In Japan, humanoid fast-food robots have made quite a stir, and although they so far mainly are meant as gimmicks, there’s little doubt that the fast-food industry is facing massive automation as well. As an example, the San Francisco-based company Momentum Machines has developed a robot, called Alpha, which can produce 360 burgers in an hour – or one every 10 seconds. The quality is very good, too: the meat isn’t ground until the burger has been ordered, and the vegetables aren’t chopped until the meat has been grilled. Finally, the machine wraps the burger, serving it untouched by human hand. Future versions of Alpha will be able to make tailored burgers where you e.g. can order a burger made from half veal, half lamb.3 BETTER COMPUTERS, BETTER ROBOTS

Moore’s Law predicts a doubling of computer processing power compared to price every 18 months. This means 100 times as much power in 10 years, and 10,000 times as much in 20 years. In fact, processor speed in chips hasn’t increased much over the last decade (see the article on the preceding page) because we are approaching the limit of what we can achieve with silicon-based chips. However, this doesn’t mean that progress grinds to a halt. Several replacement technologies for silicon chips are underway,

S C E NAR IO

52

0

4

:

2

0

1

3

like chips made from carbon nanotubes, which IBM among others is developing, not to mention the much-hyped quantum computers that use quantum-mechanical effects to perform many calculations at once. At any rate, it’s not unrealistic to count on that by 2030, we will get 1000-2000 times as much processing power for the buck as we get now. If computer programming can keep pace with capacity, it means that by then we will have cheap computers able to handle just as complex problems as humans can. We see this even now with robot cars that drive just as safely as people. This is still experimental, and the robot cars probably aren’t exactly cheap, but 10 years from now, fully autonomous robot cars will likely not be uncommon on the streets. We also see rapid advances in robots, meaning computers equipped to be able to sense and influence their physical surroundings. It is difficult to evaluate what the growth in robot capacity will be since it is a combination of better computers, better sensors and actuators (tools for handling physical objects), and better programming – and in addition, the price depends highly on the number of robots produced. About ten years ago, the UN found that the cost of robot labour, measured by both greater speed, increased flexibility and lower cost, dropped to one-fifth in ten years, corresponding to an expected drop in price of 9394 per cent from today to 2030. Since then, things may have happened even faster, and at the same time the robots have become able to handle increasingly complex tasks. In a few years, we will be able to buy generic robots


B R E A K T H R O U G H S that can be programmed for specific tasks by installing various programs or ‘apps’. A forerunner of this is ‘Baxter’ from Rethink Robotics, a twin-armed robot costing $22,000 (roughly €17,000), which easily can be programmed to handle simple tasks.4 If Baxter can replace just one part-time employee, it will pay for itself in a year. Even low-paid Chinese factory workers are being replaced by robots. In June of 2011, Foxconn, the Chinese factory that among other things produces Apple’s iPhone, announced that it would replace one million workers with just as many robots. This process is already underway. Recently, an employee at Foxconn told Wall Street Journal that an assembly line that used to be manned by 20-30 workers now is handled by robots and five service workers. WHAT’S LEFT FOR US TO DO?

If a robot is competitive with a low-paid Chinese industry worker, it is even more competitive compared with expensive Western labour. And tomorrow’s robots and computers will become even cheaper, faster and easier to program. The production of physical products can also be done cheaper and more flexibly by using 3D printers, a technology that still is in its infancy, but is considered the path to a new industrial revolution – by implication, one that doesn’t require nearly as much labour as today. The result will be a pervasive automation of almost all the industries we have today, including many of the knowledge-intensive service jobs that make up the major part of the labour market in developed nations. Unskilled labour in particular will face automation, but also highly skilled labour in teaching, the financial sector, health, transportation, and much else will be automated over the next decade or two. This will most likely mean that an increasing number of people will find it difficult to get work in their own profession, as we have already seen it in the US with the above-

mentioned decline in industry employment by a third in just 13 years. In addition, many of the jobs that you could previously depend on falling back on are becoming automated. There’s no need of cab drivers when the cars can drive themselves; there’s no need of burger flippers when the fast-food joints are fully automated, and the need for people in retail will decline as be buy more and more online. In the past, increased productivity through automation and the derived economic growth have given birth to new needs and hence new markets with new jobs. This will likely also happen this time around – but the question is whether new jobs in new industries will be created at the same pace as jobs in existing industries become automated. In addition, will it be possible to retrain all the obsolete workers for jobs in the new industries when the skill level increases for jobs that aren’t easily automated? If we were to point at job types that aren’t immediately in danger of being automated, there are basically only two fields that won’t be affected. One is the creative industry in the broad sense, i.e. research and development, culture and entertainment, and design and fashion. The other field is service jobs with a particularly high level of competency, like doctors, personal coaches, and business leaders, or where customers are willing to pay extra for real human service, like in the night life (DJs, waiters, bartenders, and sex workers). Even within many of these job types, automation will gain ground in the shape of tools that ease planning, administration and other routine tasks, enabling fewer employees to handle the same workload. Can we imagine that all the people that today are employed in production industry and the less educated parts of the service industry and the financial sector can be retrained for jobs in these fields? And that there will be a need for so many more in these fields that they can absorb everybody who will be made obsolete by automation?

Personally, I find this difficult to imagine, but I may be wrong. If we don’t manage to create new jobs at the same rate as the old ones disappear – and this doesn’t seem likely – there are in reality two possible scenarios: Either we will get increasing unemployment with a growing part of the population unable to find employment, or we become better at sharing the jobs that are left. The last doesn’t seem particularly likely, simply because the level of competence for most of the remaining jobs will be so high that not everyone will be able to handle them – although a reduction of the annual work time through longer holidays and shorter work weeks could be a part of the solution. Hence, the most likely scenario is that we will get far more unemployed than we have today, and the question then becomes how we will treat these unfortunate people. Will we cut benefits and force the unemployed into futile activation with meaningless tasks? Or will we accept that there aren’t jobs for everybody and at least make sure that the unemployable can lead dignified lives? In 1970, the famous American inventor and thinker Buckminster Fuller said that: “We must do away with the absolutely specious notion that everybody has to earn a living. It is a fact today that one in ten thousand of us can make a technological breakthrough capable of supporting all the rest. We keep inventing jobs because of this false idea that everybody has to be employed at some kind of drudgery because, according to Malthusian-Darwinian theory, he must justify his right to exist.”5 This isn’t a thought that very many politicians are willing or courageous enough to think, but the time may have arrived when they need to think it. If not, the result may be that a growing part of the population becomes employed in trying to find non-existing employment for a growing part of the population – an absurd trend that actually has been going on for some time. This is not likely to be beneficial for productivity in the long run. „

NOTES 1Professor Mark J. Perry: ”Phenomenal Gains in Manufacturing Productivity”, Carpe Diem, 26 April 2012. www.tinyurl.dk/38707, 2 Ibid., 3 Peter Murray: ”Robot

Serves Up 360 Hamburgers Per Hour”, Singularity Hub, 22 January 2012. www.tinyurl.dk/38709, 4 Antonio Regalado: “Small Factories Give Baxter the Robot a Cautious Once-Over”, Technology Review, 16 January 2013. www.tinyurl.dk/38714, 5 Elizabeth Barlow: ”The New York Magazine Environmental Teach-In”, New York Magazine, 30 March 1970

S C E NAR IO

53

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


HOMO DIGITALIS By Natasha Friis Saxberg Published by Dansk Psykologisk Forlag 2013 256 pages


D I G I T A L

A translation of the final chapter from the book Homo Digitalis

D I G I TAL T R E N D S By Natasha Friis Saxberg

W

e are situated at the beginning of the digital evolution with a landscape of opportunities that just will increase in the future. Our current digital landscape hints at some natural future trends; currents that take their basis in the budding technologies and social trends that we know today. The thing that decides if technologies can be widely used is if they are stable enough to be used in new services and are user-friendly enough for the masses. Then, it is up to the digital users to create a trend. However, it can be difficult to predict the timing of when a technology and its market are mature enough to adapt a new product or technology. The social web had been underway for a good six years before Facebook found the ideal formula and a mature target group that was ready to use a social network in their everyday lives, and in that process, it shoved MySpace off the throne. From there on, Facebook created the world’s greatest network of people, nodes, objects, and patterns. The physical media that we will use in the future are already outlined in our optimised mobile units, with mobile phones, tablets and other mobile user interfaces. The mobile phone is and will be even more central in our everyday lives for payment, ticketing, medical assistance, advertising, and many more of the things we now primarily do physically. What we lack is for our physical media to meld together so we won’t become devicedependent when we use our software in the cloud. From our budding digital

services, nine trends are outlining our digital future: SHARING

Sharing is probably the most precise verb for our digital age. The sharing of our knowledge, thoughts and ideas is the very foundation of the internet’s existence. The images, videos, blog posts, and whatever else people share, are consumed by the masses around the world, and from this they get developed, copied, and innovated on. Every second, people share on the order of 700,000 status messages on Facebook and 7,000 images on Flickr. We share our content publicly because we this way can enter a social context, since it is easy and with the goal to save data for the future. Our social networks are based on us sharing our lives and relationships, and the majority of the social services that are created today are building social elements into their concepts, because when we disseminate our content in our social networks, they get more customers. There are functions that we didn’t think would be social, but now are naturally so. We share our location, the clothes we try on in dressing rooms, and our homes, because these are based on social mechanisms where we use and trust our networks. The schism we face when we share is that the more we share, the more our relationships and services know us. At the same time, the value we get in return when we act as nodes that disseminate information and relationships is increased, since we are in a constant state of exchange.

S C E NAR IO

55

0

4

:

2

0

1

3

There is a direct balance between transparency and personification, for the more our social services know about us, the better they can adapt their content to our needs. The more relationships we have, and the more we interact with them, the greater our network becomes. Hence, the benefits are manifold while we also question the consequences. We don’t yet know to what extent our personal data are used, including how the digital services choose to capitalise this knowledge. We must thus live with that the less we share, the more generic our digital experiences become. Since individualisation is the means by which data are filtered to create order from chaos, our experienced value may become poorer as our degree of confidentiality is increased. This means that sharing isn’t just a fundamental verb; it is the very pivot for our digital culture. ACCESS

Most consumers probably have a drill at home that they never use, not to mention bags and other fashion items that have been used just once. How often do we really need to own the things we use, whether cars, books or clothes? What about getting rid of all the hassle associated with owning and instead get access to the best and newest without wasting money on wrong purchases? With cloud sharing, computing and Software as a Service (SAAS), the digital trend is that we rather than owning our hardware or software either buy access or get it free, but instead pay for premium


D I G I T A L functionalities like extra space, speed and flexibility. With access, we no longer have to worry about backup, updates, or being tied to a single device, since the content, including our music, photos and movies, no longer is stored locally. In return, we get a far greater selection than if we bought one music album at a time. We get access to renting it instead of owning it, and this is also true for hardware, cars, fashion clothes, and other items that we buy access to the moment we need them. That we subscribe to access to our capacity and competencies rather than sitting in one fixed location is a trend that also influences flexibility in our work and hence influences how we are hired in the future. This business model is profitable with patterns of consumption where you only use an object once in a while or where you wish to try something out before making an investment. VISUALISATION

We produce enormous amounts of data; something that will grow explosively in the future, while we at the same time hardly are able to manage Google’s top ten search results when we look for information. With an online culture where we screen the content of our streams and where we read news, data visualisation is a welcome supplement to managing data and spot patterns and other connections. Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, estimates that we in 2010 in 48 hours produced roughly one million gigabytes of data globally. Hence, visualisation becomes even more relevant in the future when we need a comprehensive view of data, relationships and the nodes that connect them. It is far easier to interpret patterns and connections visually, and we find it easier to remember things as images than as text. Infographics is another way of visualising data, which is used by e.g. news media to visualise complex information, often as a supplement to the written article. In the future, we will see visualisation as a natural supplement to the way we receive and perceive information. The visualisation will be updated in real time and be interactive, and it will deliver beautiful images of movement and patterns based

on the data we feed into the visualisation. Through augmented reality (AR) we can supplement reality with data visualisation. AR is constantly improved, and as the technology is stabilised further, there’s no limit to the potential of AR. We can build a bridge between our online and offline realities, and through our mobile phones, reality can get an extra dimension. When we shop, visit a museum, or need to find the nearest emergency exit in a building, AR can give us the necessary information based on our location and need in a given situation. In the future, we may imagine that our physical surroundings will be associated with far more information. If I stand in a given location, it will be natural to lift my mobile display and see what experiences and data are tied to this location. This also obsoletes the idea of visiting a museum or an exhibit, since these instead can be connected to where we are, or we may choose to take a tour through the city where the exhibits are shown on the actual objects, locations or buildings where history played out. Many more industries and commercial interests have opened their eyes to the possibilities of visualisation and the underlying technologies. People are visually oriented, so this will simply support the way we have always perceived the world, only with new tools and dimensions. SOC-IN-ALL

The social movement continues digitally, and we will come to see the social aspects in all that makes sense to communicate and share. It began with our online tools becoming social, until we today find it difficult to imagine a web without social interaction. In the future, we will have many more new services that help us interact across our social networks. This is not in the interest of any single social network, since social sites like to keep the user at their sites. The same goes for data flexibility, since it today is difficult or even impossible to export your data from a social service. This will simply create the need for even more services focusing on horizontal functions. We will copy the social elements into existing digital functions and offline objects where it

S C E NAR IO

56

0

4

:

2

0

1

3

makes sense to transform individual behaviour to social behaviour. The advantage of connecting a social interface is that we as social individuals use our networks to offer advice, interact and create content, which then spreads. It is far more fun to create a story that is shared or share a special moment with another person. SOCIAL OBJECTS

The definition is: ‘social networks + objects = social objects’. The interaction between our digital media will in the future improve user-friendliness. This is also true for other physical objects that can share data across social platforms. The trend points to an expansion of communicative objects that can support our social interaction even more. The opportunities for social expansion are many: Helmets and glasses with built-in camera, video and not least augmented reality functions that enable us to share our experiences on holiday or at the concert in real time with our online friends. The social TV where we can see our favourite TV show together with online friends. Other electronic devices with functions that can become social, from our cars, energy consumption, and burglary alarms to ordinary household items. This relates to the term ‘the internet of things’, meaning that the internet is integrated into physical objects. The goal is the same: making objects intelligent and communicative. This may seem an exaggeration, for why do we need the social connection in objects? The trend in many societies is that people become more alone, not least the elderly, so if we can support our social processes through physical objects, we can feel even more connected by overcoming geographic boundaries. SOCIAL COMMERCE

Social commerce is and will increasingly be a fundamental element when we shop, with a connection between the physical store and e-trade or m-trade. Facebook is already integrated with more than 2.5 million websites. In addition, we have Groupon, Foursquare, YouTube, and not least the sea of mobile phone apps that


D I G I T A L already are offered in support of social commerce. We have only seen the start of the mainstream movement that will expand our digital trade with social and visual elements. Once again this is an imitation of our offline behaviour, where we like to be in the company of family or friends when shopping clothes, cars or furniture and like to share that we just bought a new watch or new shoes. By integrating social elements into our shopping experience, we can connect our social network with facilitation and realtime functionalities in visualisation, augmented reality and the location of our shopping experience. HETEROGENEOUS FILTERING AND ORGANISATION

For our digital behaviour and information to provide value, the wide range of opportunities must be organised to let us get easy, qualitative access to processes, information, and networks. Hence, the value doesn’t lie in the object itself if it is easy to replicate. The value lies in the quality with which our user experience is organised. Time is our most precious resource, and if we can save time by making things easier, faster and better, we are more likely to pay for the organisation of value. Since pattern recognition isn’t yet developed enough to copy the cognitive abilities of a human being, e.g. for surveying the quality of data and patterns, some kind of user interaction is still needed. Program code can manage to survey what already exists, but it cannot figure out patterns that predict what will happen in a few days. Today we experience social organisation and the organisation of interests, but the two elements aren’t yet connected. We experience curation through our social services, like presenting content across our social networks in a digital magazine, as we know it from Flipboard. In the same way, we can organise our digital commerce, only with a basis in traceable and quantitative qualities. So from social curation, which is limiting, since it is organised around ourselves and our relations, the curation of the future consists of delivering smarter data organisation, connecting several elements

from the individual’s networking and consumption patterns. As consumers, we need to choose from which angle we want to get data delivered, whether it must be presented from our social basis or the opposite – from diversity. Users constantly screen surfaces in order to spot relevancy. If we instead can get relevancy delivered, we can, until our cognitive functions can be copied, at least choose what algorithms to be presented with. Since people find it difficult to make long-term decisions, as Cacioppo discussed, including the consequences of short-term decisions. The next generation of services may help us surveying and achieving long-term goals. Then we may over time be presented with the steps that lead us along a desired long-term pathway. If you e.g. desire to expand your knowledge of events in world history, you can regularly get the part elements that in time give you the desired knowledge. If we desire to learn another language or live in another country, data can be organised to facilitate the long-term goal. Future data organisation offers personification that reflects people as changeable beings that can’t simply be defined from their past and social structures. Our interests are different and continuously evolve, and this permeates what we are presented with in our daily form of information and social interaction. With the internet, we can get a 360 degree perspective of basically all knowledge; we just need services and the future news media to deliver the function to us, and rather than a ‘I feel lucky’ function when we search Google, it might be more relevant with a ‘perspective’ button. STREAMS

Our digital reality is put together from real-time streams on a sea of different screens: screens at the office, screens on our mobile, on the street, on buildings, on the back of airplane seats, and in our daily means of transportation. The infrastructure is there, but there’s room for far more types of stream filtration and organisation. One example could be that our content was shown and filtered in the real-time streams that define our everyday lives, with a basis in our location. If you

S C E NAR IO

57

0

4

:

2

0

1

3

are at work, you use your media and networks to get professionally relevant content, and when your location changes, your focus is automatically changed, and the media can sense this. If you are standing in the middle of a park or are at a concert, you can change from following your own social network to see what people that you aren’t connected with are writing at the same location. The method we use to follow streams today is by keeping track of each of our social networks. They, however, only represent the data that we are connected to through our existing relationships. The relationship may not, however, be the most relevant basis for the data streams we observe. If the content instead is represented by tags based on the location and the event, this can be the basis for the stream we follow. Through screens at our geographical location we can be shown the real-time data streams that are of relevance to us in the specific situation. If we are at a ball game, the user interfaces and media are the same, but our streams show content based on our location and the event we are part of, through geolocation and geotags. We can show streams for objects, people, locations, events, and the movements of the masses. It is the same function that we perform manually when we are standing on a street looking at a demonstration. Then we map people’s movements and patterns in order to predict how things will go. We ask other people on the street about what’s going on, we follow the news, we call our friends to either warn them or orient them if they are coming to meet us; and last, but not least, we can choose to check our social network. All these human interactions are natural parts of our social movements. If we with our nearest interface automatically can be shown what’s happening right now in the world’s hot spots, filtered according to the user’s profile, location and activity, the stream will be our primary media and platform when we are presented with real-time information and news. The stream is constantly in the present, since data is presented real time; there is no past or future, only a stream. Cacioppo talked about the three dimensions of our relationships, where


D I G I T A L collective connectedness is what binds us together on the basis of the event we are a part of. This may be with strange people as well as some we know. The traditional relationship isn’t central to the event we share when we feel happy about the same things or grieve as a nation or when we collectively are struck by negative events. Hence, the stream makes us come together on the basis of an experience or our relationship, because we might as well sit at home in our living room and be part of an event, as long as we can follow the people’s voices on the stream, e.g. through tags and collectively connected screens. SINGULARITY WITH EXPONENTIAL TECHNOLOGIES

We are living in a world with many existential challenges that simply will increase in the future. More than a billion people are living in abject poverty without access to water, roads, or the internet. At the same time, mankind faces significant environmental problems and a general limited access to the natural resources required to feed the world’s population, which is steadily growing. In the middle of the serious prognoses we may hope that technological advances will solve some of the insurmountable challenges that we have to solve, sooner or later. No-one knows for certain what possibilities or limitations this entails, but a few people are trying to predict the development and are already working with it today. The concept of the singularity covers the scenario where computers can gain superhuman intelligence; that mankind is surpassed by technological progress advancing at exponential speeds. Even though the idea of the singularity may seem like science fiction, some technology is advancing exponentially. Since 1990, wireless technologies, processor power, and the internet in itself have been developed at an astonishing pace, and the capacity has been multiplied manifold. Where we in the physical world must live with limited resources, we apparently have unlimited resources in the digital world. These are the two worlds that the singularity predicts will meld together, so that the resources, opportunities, and

exponential progress in the digital world will expand our limits in our physical reality. We already see examples of these two worlds coming together, as when a doctor can examine a patient in the Indian countryside through a screen and an internet connection. Africa has skipped a technological generation by directly adopting the wireless internet, disregarding the fixed connections we started with in the West. The mobile phone penetration rate also grows exponentially, from two per cent of the world’s population in 2000 over more than 28 per cent in 2009 – to an expected 70 per cent in 2013. It may seem paradoxical and superfluous that poor people without access to education and with scarce food resources have mobile internet access, but this may in time be the infrastructure that gives them access to the resources we take for granted in developed countries. If this development continues, the singularity may not seem an unrealistic future scenario, but rather calls for a discussion about when we will possess the possibilities granted by the singularity and whether we because of ethical considerations ought to make use of the possibilities for e.g. becoming immortal or living far longer. With exponential technologies we predict a future where 3D printers can reproduce themselves – and in a few years from now, cars, robots and drugs can be printed. Raymond Kurzweil, futurist and founder of Singularity University, predicts that mankind will be immortal by 2045. His basic ideas are based on the following five fields of exponentially growing technology: • • • • •

Artificial intelligence and robotics Nanotechnology Networks and computer systems Biotechnology and bioinformatics Medicine and neuroscience.

The above technologies will give us a reality where viable organs can be reproduced and where fields like medicine, education, and fundamental resources are optimised to a degree that solves many of the problems we face today. Singularity University educates important leaders and entrepreneurs from all over the world in developing ideas based on these five technological fields, with the

S C E NAR IO

58

0

4

:

2

0

1

3

goal of mobilising a small group of individuals that can reach a billion people worldwide. Many of the digital challenges we face today are based on insufficient technological advances. As long as computers don’t possess cognitive faculties, people are needed to interpret data, predict events, and make scenarios for the future. When we can’t transmit body language in our communication, we have to rely on emoticons to signal humour or write in capital letters to express seriousness or anger. These are limitations many today don’t give a second thought, but which from a future viewpoint will seem comical to look back on. With the singularity, a computer will be able to provide humorous comments in the context of a spontaneous conversation, make ethical considerations, predict what news will grace headlines inside a week, and many other cognitive functions that may seem intuitive to a person, but which a computer in time and theory will be able to do better, faster, and with exponential improvements that constantly increase capacity. One of the critics of the singularity theory is Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, who in 1965 formulated Moore’s Law, which predicted that the number of transistors per square inch would double every 24 months – a prediction that came true. Ironically, the advocates of the singularity use Moore’s Law to support their thesis. The moment when computers surpass human intelligence, it will herald the end of human civilization as we know it today. Our reality will be dramatically transformed, mentally, bodily, and not least socially, when supercomputers have to interact with the slowly thinking humans, and it will expand our intellectual reach to the same degree that airplanes and cars have expanded our physical reach. It is this transformation that defines the idea of the singularity, with exponential technologies leading to the goal of a technological superintelligence that cannot be contained or grasped by human beings. From this point events can no longer be predicted – because they lie beyond human intelligence, our species and our evolution. We are in the Iron Age of technology where we have only seen the beginning of technological opportunities. „


What: THE FAKIR Who: SOLO DANCER MORTEN EGGERT IN MAKEUP, WARDROBE, AND A BATH BEFORE AND AFTER THE BALLET LA BAYADERE Where: THE ROYAL BALLET, COPENHAGEN, 2013 Photographer: SIGRUN GUDBRANDSDOTTIR


B O O K

M E N T I O N S

By Jesper Knudsen

THE RENAISSANCE SOCIETY

GREEDY GIANTS

INDIA FROM THE INSIDE

This May, the English translation of futurist Rolf Jensen’s latest book was published with the title The Renaissance Society. The book is written in collaboration with writer Mika Aaltonen and is basically an analysis of the future consumer society. In the Renaissance Society, ordinary consumers have become multi-potent creators, and in the book the authors show why learning will be the world’s largest industry in this century and the service sector the market that will experience the greatest growth. The authors attempt to prepare decisionmakers worldwide for enormous changes in the understanding of ownership, employment, and the role of companies in society. In other words, the book is an attempt to prepare the reader for the new consumer world order.

Jaron Lanier is a former internet entrepreneur who goes by the nickname the father of virtual reality. He has contributed to formulating many of the basic thoughts behind web 2.0, and according to New York Times, he is a ‘mega-wizard’ in futurist circles. For this reason it is paradoxical that his latest book is a dour problematisation of the internet’s logic. Or, more precisely, what he calls “the internet elite’s exploitation of ordinary people”. The book’s focus and point is that private data about ordinary people’s net activities are used by internet giants like Google and Facebook that then capitalise and profit from these data without the internet user seeing as much as a bent nickle. This exploitation is unnecessary and greedy and will only get worse over time, Lanier thinks.

India’s growing significance for the global economy has for years been obvious to most people, and so, there’s naturally been written and said a lot about the former colony state’s internal development. As something new, the book India: The Future is Now lets a number of young Indian parliamentarians describe their view of India’s state and their visions for the nation. The book thus provides insight into what people whom we could call India’s future leaders think about aspects as varied as the country’s technological progress, infrastructure, healthcare, education sector, and ecological sustainability. The book has been collected and edited by the award-winning writer Shashi Tharoor, who has written a dozen books about India.

Rolf Jensen and Mika Aaltonen: The Rennaissance Society. McGraw-Hill, 2013.

Jaron Lanier: Who Owns the Future. Simon & Schuster, 2013.

S C E NAR IO

68

0

4

:

2

0

1

3

Shashi Tharoor: India: The Future is Now. Wisdom Tree Publishers, 2013


B O O K

M E N T I O N S

SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

BUSINESS PLAN ON SPEED

THE LEGEND OF LEGO

What does globalisation mean for social conflicts in increasingly diverse and individualistic societies? Why do some social movements thrive while others rapidly fade away? Are local and global networks essentially different? The Future of Social Movement Research is a collection of essays from thirty leading European and American sociologists and experts in social movements, who together handle some of the most topical questions and issues in social conflict research. From a theoretical and empiric basis, the book gives a picture of how globalisation, individualisation and the progress of the virtual create new points of contention, new spaces for action, new types of interaction, and new structures in the social conflicts that characterise our times.

If you are about to lose your market position, there is little chance that you can change this with the tools in your strategic toolbox, according to Rita Gunther McGrath, Professor at Columbia Business School and a globally renowned strategy expert. Most familiar strategy tools focus on creating long-term competitive advantages, but according to McGrath, this doesn’t fit very well with the changeable global business life of 2013 AD. In her book, she instead introduces the term short-term competitive advantage and offers practical suggestions for how companies constantly must explore new opportunities, be ready to change the company’s strategy and aim for fast and effective competitive advantages – only to shortly abandon them again.

The book Brick by Brick tells the story of LEGO’s creative regrowth. After the toy giant some years ago was close to bankruptcy because it didn’t manage to go with the digital revolution in the kid’s rooms, the management threw some of their innovation theories away and replaced them with new people in management, a digital focus, and internal representatives of the most demanding target group of all – 10-year-old boys. The book shows how ‘wisdom of the crowds’, co-creation, customer-driven innovation, full-spectrum innovation, absolute trust in the design team, and a focus on new markets led to LEGO today being one of the world’s most profitable and fastestgrowing companies.

Jacquelien van Stekelenburg: The Future of Social Movement Research: Dynamics, Mechanisms, and Processes. University of Minnesota Press, 2013.

Rita Gunter McGrath: The End of Competitive Advantage: How to Keep Your Strategy Moving as Fast as Your Business. Harvard Business Review Press, 2013.

S C E NAR IO

69

0

4

:

2

0

1

3

David C Robertson and Bill Green: Brick by Brick: How LEGO Rewrote the Rules of Innovation and Conquered the Global Toy Industry. Crown Business, 2013.


B A C K G R O U N D

F U T U R E S PAS T IMAGINE COMING UP with a brilliant invention and investing a fortune in production – only to discover that no one needs it after all. There is no shortage of examples of companies that have developed products and services for a future that never materialised, or which developed in a direction that hardly anyone could have predicted. These pages are devoted to past forecasts of the future from the perspective of things that were developed for the future, but which ended up as footnotes in history. This issue:

THE PNEUMATIC AGE By Jan Drejer Petersen

W

e like to divide historical periods according to the most

Pneumatic post was developed as a supplement to the large telegraph

widespread technology of the time. We have the major

centrals that were responsible for long-distance communication in the

landmark divisions like the Stone Age, the Bronze Age, and the Iron

middle 19th century. In large nodes like London, Berlin and Paris, where

Age, but we also often use less official terms derived from specific

the tube system stretched over hundreds of kilometres, the ‘terminal

technological advances, like the Age of Steam, the Age of the Automobile,

stations’ simply couldn’t handle the signal traffic, and instead telegrams

the Nuclear Age, and the Digital Age. When we in this fashion promote

were forwarded as pneumatic post, after which the local station – with

one historical technology over others, we often bypass large and

no electrical signal connection out of town – wrote the telegram down

important chapters in technological progress, and the competitor of a

and delivered it. Pneumatic post was of course slower than the electric

specific technology often ends in oblivion. For instance, compressed air

telegram, but in return you could also send small objects through the

was once equal to technologies like steam and electricity, and we might

system (something we are still struggling with for e-mail).

as well have had a Pneumatic Age.

However, pneumatic postal systems were most widely used for internal

If you’re not working in the field of producing and repairing factory

communication in factories and organisations with large or many

machines, you will likely wonder why I mention compressed air as a

buildings. It is basically a simple and reliable technology that actually

technology on its own. Readers may be aware that large vehicles like

played a small part in modern technological adventures like the US

trains and trucks often use compressed air in their braking systems, but

Apollo program, where internal communication between departments

that it even (in a small way) could be equalled with steam and electricity

usually was handled with pneumatic post. A famous photo shows the

will likely come as a surprise to most. Admittedly, a certain amount of

Flight Director for the moon landing, Gene Krantz, sitting ready at the

goodwill is needed to make the equation work, but compressed air has

control desk in Houston with a stack of pneumatic capsules by his side –

actually done its part in creating the modern technological world – albeit

not everything could be forwarded over the phone.

less visibly than the technologies we still use on aa large scale.

Compressed air wasn’t just used for communication. As early as 1799

Readers over the age of 40 may remember pneumatic post; the wine-

(before pneumatic post and even before the first practical and stable

bottle-sized cylinders that were used in pneumatic tubes as late as the

steam locomotive), the Englishman George Medhurst suggested building

1980s and later in some places. Pneumatic post was a rather ingenious

a transport system based on the same pneumatic idea. Medhurst didn’t

system of tubes of dimensions similar to gutter drains, through which

plan on blowing (pushing) a passenger cart through a tube; instead the

you could exchange small containers of information or specimens, like

cart should be connected to a piston that was pushed through a smaller

blood samples at a hospital; a place where pneumatic post still often is

tube running alongside the track. However, Medhurst didn’t get financial

used. The cylinders were/are simply pushed through the system by

support, and the idea had to wait another forty years before the time was

compressed air or sucked through by a vacuum.

ripe for pneumatic transportation.

S C E NAR IO

70

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


B A C K G R O U N D In the early 1840s, two British engineers build an 800-metre-long

the tracks. Unfortunately, it turned out that there were problems with

demonstration track in London. This may sound rather steampunky, but

sealing the tubes and coordinating the pump houses, which meant that

the technology was well received and had a number of advantages

twice as much air needed to be pumped as expected, and it cost money to

compared to the steam locomotive. For one thing, bridges and the track

run the pumps. The South Devon Railway only ran about a year as a

system in general wouldn’t need to carry a heavy steam locomotive and

pneumatic railway, after which it changed to ordinary steam power.

were hence cheaper to build. Nor were there any problems with soot and

Pneumatic railways haven’t disappeared entirely, however. The

pollution from the locomotives, since the pump houses could be built in

Brazilian company Aeromovel has in the last 30 years installed three

uninhabited areas, and maintenance was for the same reason centralised.

short lines in Brazil and Indonesia. The technology also has a distant

At the same time, the ‘pneumatic trains’ had a clear safety advantage.

relative in the ‘fireless locomotive’, which is still is used today for special

The tracks only had a

tasks where open fire

single tube for pro-

(rarely

pulsion, which made it

electricity constitute a

physically impossible to

hazard; i.e. in mines or

have colliding trains

chemical plants. This

(you can’t have pressure

locomotive is driven by

from both directions at

air from a pressure tank

once, just ask Pascal).

that can be filled on a

The system was also

pump station outside the

relatively noiseless for

danger zone.

today)

or

both passengers and

It is an unfortunate

people living next to the

truth that few tech-

track. In spite of the, to

nologies escape military

our eyes, somewhat odd

use, and compressed air

technology, pneumatic

is naturally no exception.

trains were actually a

The world’s first motor-

serious competitor to

ised

the steam locomotive in

French Plongeur, was

some situations.

powered by a pneumatic

Over the next 50

submarine,

engine.

Similarly,

the

a

years, several pneumatic

range of torpedo types

rail systems were built

have been driven by

not

various types of pneu-

only

in

Great

Britain, but also the

matic engines.

United States and France. Most were based on Medhurst’s system, but

Most readers may re-member the BB gun from their childhoods, but air

because this system, which had a longitudinal groove for fastening the

guns were once military technology of the highest order. The Austrian

piston to the cart, required constant sealing work (which by the way was

Girandoni rifle from 1779 was the first repeating weapon in military

done with smelly grease), several inventors experimented with systems

service, and it wasn’t surpassed by gunpowder-based weapons until the

where the passenger cart itself was pushed through a tube. The only 100

middle 19th century. Unlike the front-loaders of the day, the pneumatic

meter long Beach Pneumatic Transit, built in 1870 under Broadway in

rifle could fire 20 shots in (relatively) rapid succession. The famed US

New York, is an example of this technology. The mastermind behind it,

explorers Lewis and Clark, who from 1804 to 1806 crossed the American

Aldred Ely Beach, didn’t have any permission for the construction and

continent, had a Girandoni air rifle as their most important weapon.

worked from a permission to build a regular pneumatic post system. The

Another pneumatic weapon saw the light of day during World War II

line, lavishly decorated with frescoes and chandeliers, freighted

when the British company Holmans launched a pneumatic anti-aircraft

passengers back and forth between two stations for 25 cents. The engine,

gun. The Holman projector, as it was called, was not an overwhelming

a 48 ton blower built by ‘Roots Patent Force Rotary Blowers’, blew the

success, but the British Royal Navy did order and use a few thousand

cart to the ‘staging post’, after which the blades were reversed and

units for arming smaller vessels. The projector was in reality more bluff

‘sucked’ it back. Even though the line only was built for joyrides, it had

than weapon, and its main function was to scare German pilots away

400,000 passengers the first year, so public interest in the system was high.

from the small vessels without arming their crew with expensive weapons

Beach hoped that his pneumatic train system would be chosen as the

that were better used elsewhere. A variation of the Holman Projector

technology for the city’s future subway, but due to various economic and

was also used by British commandos for firing grapnels up vertical

political problems, he was passed over. It is also uncertain if the technology

rock faces.

could be adapted to a system of that size.

It is of course not possible to mention all the many pneumatic engines

The longest pneumatic railway was (of course) built by the renowned

and inventions in the short space of Futures Past, but hopefully this

British engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The South Devon Railway

article can illustrate why there might have been a Pneumatic Age –

stretched over 85 km and was driven by eight pump houses placed along

especially if things had turned out a little differently from how they did. „

S C E NAR IO

71

0

4

:

2

0

1

3


subscribe to SCENARIO K N OW L E D G E PACK Denmark: DKK 2495,- (excl. VAT, incl. postage) Europe: € 305,- (excl. VAT, incl. postage) Overseas: € 320,- (excl. VAT, incl. postage) – Three copies of each issue, six times a year. – Three unique passwords to the Institute’s article archive. – Discount on the Institute’s courses during the subscription period. – One copy of Creative Man. www.scenariomagazine.com.

0 2 : 2 0 1 3

0 3 : 2 0 1 3

THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THE BICYCLE

COMEBACK OF THE NORDIC REGION

PA G E 3 2

Management, business, organisation, and entrepreneurship. The Nordic region is back as an inspiration for the rest of the world.

0 6 : 2 0 1 2

0 1 : 2 0 1 3

FUTURE SEX

Senior sex, pills, robots and virtual reality. Read about developments towards 2020, where a more important sex industry and smoking technological progress are among the most important drivers. PA G E S 1 2 a n d 1 8

PA G E 1 2

THE BICYCLE

A MAD BUSINESSMAN

He is the man behind what has been called the invention of the century – a drinking straw that can turn polluted water pure even as you drink from it. Meet Mikkel Vestergaard Frandsen, who dreamed of becoming a mad scientist, but instead got a career in the borderlands between philanthropy and business. PA G E 1 2

16.05.2013 - 10.07.2013

9 771904 465004 UK £8 €12

kr. 125,00

00003

P L U S : Of course we eat ants / Behaviour / Future world map / The world’s largest city laboratory / IKEA and the new hackers / The future city is intelligent / Do we want more airport security? / No, things don’t happen faster today! / Scientific breakthroughs / Futures past: Segway / The Nordic DNA / Rebuild21

BK returuge 28

07.03.2013 - 08.05.2013

9 771904 465004 UK £8

Featuring photographer Ulrik Jantzen

€12

DKK 125,00

00002

BK returuge 19

P L U S : Personal scenarios / Can we live 200 years? / The world’s largest casino / The next “big thing” / Planned serendipity / Growth markets in an explosive boom / Biomimicry / Future immigration / My Life Atomic / Arcade games / News about technology and science / Gen Y panel / Behavioural patterns / Techtalk

P L U S : Saskia Sassen and the triumph of medium-sized cities / Forecasting / Dissection: Bacon / Wildcards & Risks / Adjiedj Bakas: Food is the medicine of the future / Stem cells / Gen Y / Sausage Rolls and the World Economy / Cocaine wine / Photo series: Pole-mercial / Essay: Man without a comprehensive view

P L U S : Long live bureaucracy / Behavioural patterns / Futures studies / Wildcard: decline in consumption / Close encounters: what would they do to us? / Voice surgery / Dissection / The car driver is dead / In-line shopping / Trend: from ownership to access / Tech news / The Peter principle / The wonderful View-Master / Photo series / Book news / Techtalk

UK £ 8 DKK 125 €12

UK £ 8 DKK 125 €12 S C E NARIO

1

0

1

:

2

0

1

3

S C E NARIO

1

0

6

:

2

0

1

2


S C E NAR IO

73

0

4

:

2

0

1

3



SCENARIO 04:2013 - UK