0 3 : 2 0 1 3
COMEBACK OF THE NORDIC REGION Management, business, organisation, and entrepreneurship. The Nordic region is back as an inspiration for the rest of the world. PA G E 1 2
16.05.2013 - 10.07.2013
9 771904 465004 UK £8 €12
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
Featuring photographer Ulrik Jantzen
12 THE NORDIC DNA
The Nordic region has long been inﬂuenced by American leadership theory and management culture. This represses the natural strengths of the Nordic countries, and that it why it is now time to (re-)invent and develop a particular Nordic way inspired by the way the restaurant noma has done it for food. The method is to go back to the particular Nordic DNA, according to the organiser of the upcoming Rebuild21 conference, Sofus Midtgaard. 32 26 THE WORLD’S LARGEST
32 IKEA UNDER ATTACK
A new hacker type has seen the light
Roskilde Festival is more than just rock,
of day. Fortunately, it is benign and
beer and youth culture. It is also a
constructive. With roots in the so-called
temporary city of 135,000 inhabitants,
Maker Movement, it turns among other
ﬁlled with untraditional solutions and
things the department store IKEA’s
creative methods in the effort to create
products into entirely new things that
a well-functioning society capable of
don’t necessarily have anything to do
handling everything from waste to
with the original functionality.
entertainment. “Everything is more extreme here, and hence our solutions point towards the future,” says Esben Danielsen, director of the start-up company Orange Innovation. Read about the cash-less society, waste as a resource, and the art of turning shit into energy.
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40 40 YES PLEASE, OR NO THANKS?
We introduce a new format in our magazine – yes, please, or no, please? – where we focus on a topical phenomenon and argue both for and
YES PLEASE NO THANKS
against it. This time: Airport security. Are we getting tired of the exaggerated and unnecessary security measures before we are let into airport gate areas?
59 PHOTO SERIES: THE ANT GUY
Restaurant noma serves ants to its customers, something that at these northern latitudes is quite uncommon to eat. Who catches the ants for the restaurant, and how is it done? Ulrik Jantzen went to the Silkeborg region to meet Thomas Laursen, who is an ‘ant sucker’. He returned with an incredibly beautiful series of photos of a guy who made his very personal contribution to 59
the Danish Michelin restaurant’s global fame.
6 CONTRIBUTORS 9 EDITORIAL 10 BEHAVIOUR 12 THE NORDIC DNA 22 WILDCARD: THE FUTURE WORLD MAP 26 THE WORLD’S LARGEST CITY LABORATORY? 32 THE NEW HACKERS 34 THE CITY BECOMES INTELLIGENT 39 PALUDAN’S COLUMN 40 YES PLEASE OR NO THANKS? 42 THE FUTURE OF MICROFINANCE IS MICROINSURANCE 47 SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY 54 IS ACCELERATION IN REALITY JUST AN ILLUSION? 59 PHOTO SERIES: THE ANT GUY 68 BOOK REVIEWS 70 THE SEGWAY HUMAN TRANSPORTER
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CO N T R I B U TO R S ULRIK JANTZEN
Ulrik Jantzen is a prize-winning photographer and partner of the company Das Büro. He has contributed with high-quality photos to several issues of SCENARIO and has for this issue done the cover photo and the beautiful and evocative photo series, shot a cold April day in a forest near Silkeborg, Jutland. Informative, interesting and aesthetic. Take a look on pages 59 to 67. WALID ORFALY ELLEN MAURI
Ellen Mauri has been part of the
SCENARIO is more than just a magazine
SCENARIO team from the beginning,
– we are also a part of the Copenhagen
and through nearly four years as
Institute for Futures Studies, which
secretary, she has handled a number
houses a wide range of activities. Many
of tasks, including proof reading and
are ‘members only’, but anyone with an
handling subscriptions. She has been
interest in the future, progress, and ideas
responsible for making sure that the
can apply for invitations to CIFS LIFE.
magazine has reached its readers around
This event is held every Friday at 3 PM
the world, and she has been there for
(Central European Time), where an
subscribers needing to get in touch with
important personality, researcher or
us. If you have talked with us, you have
thinker gives a presentation about a
most likely talked with Ellen! In Danish,
future-relevant subject. If you aren’t
Swedish, English, or French. Thanks for
anywhere near Copenhagen, Walid
Orfaly makes sure that everything is recorded and live-streamed on the internet. Click ‘like’ to Cifslive on Facebook and become automatically updated about upcoming events. The presentations are done in English.
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CHARLOTTE XENIA BRØNS- POULSEN
Anders Bjerre is a futurist at the
As a graduate student from Copenhagen
Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies
Business School with a master’s in
(CIFS) and a contributor to this issue in
Business and Development studies,
company with science editor Klaus Æ.
Charlotte Xenia Brøns-Poulsen has an
Mogensen for the article about
international perspective on develop-
deceleration – the opposite of
ment, business, society and culture. Due
acceleration. Not everything simply goes
to an innate curiosity and an international
faster and faster; that’s actually a bit of a
upbringing in Denmark, Australia and
myth. Anders Bjerre is one of CIFS’s
France, Charlotte’s interest in foreign
most experienced researchers and has
affairs thereby dates all the way back
been with us since 1976, when our
to her early childhood. For her master’s
founder, former OECD Secretary-Gene-
thesis about microcredit she collected
ral Thorkil Kristensen, was director of
data among single mothers in Ghana,
CIFS. Among other things, Anders Bjerre
and her interest for the subject has
works with economy, societal trends,
remained intact and has among other
future work and management, and cities,
things led to her article in this issue.
housing and construction.
What is the future for micro-ﬁnance? she asks. Read and get the answer on page 42.
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 ANDERS BJERRE, futurist MARTIN KRUSE, futurist HENRIK PERSSON, futurist
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org www.scenariomagazine.com
Science & Technology Editor Æ. MOGENSEN
JESPER NILS SARA
Art Direction HARTMANN
Illustration & Photo GUDBRANDSDÓTTIR
Editorial staff DREJER PETERSEN
Web Manager JUHL NIELSEN Secretary MAURI
Publisher COPENHAGEN INSTITUTE FOR FUTURES STUDIES www.cifs.dk
Print run: 7000 Print: Tafdrup&co ApS Subscriptions: Gitte Christoffersen +45 3311 7176 English text version: Klaus Æ. Mogensen Cover: Ulrik Jantzen Photos of Sofus Midtgaard, main article page 12: Nils Hartmann Photos, article page 26: Thanks to Roskilde Festival Photos, article page 34: Nils Hartmann Photo series page 59: Ulrik Jantzen
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.
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E D I T O R I A L Roskilde Festival is without comparison the largest yearly music event in the Nordic region and a candidate for being one of Europe’s largest music festivals. As far as we know, only Britain’s Glastonbury Festival is bigger, measured by tickets sold. The festival in Roskilde demands respect. Not just because of its size, but because of how it has become such a large and important event. First and foremost, it gives away all its proﬁts to charities and hence has to start from scratch every year. This is in itself an achievement, since this means that there’s no equity to draw on. Secondly, it is based on involving a large number of volunteers and only has a tiny hired staff. The festival is based on love and commitment from the people who every year work together to create it. With this, the 40 years old festival – which was founded with inspiration from the famous Woodstock Festival (1969), among others – is not only in touch with its hippie roots; it also places itself squarely in the zeitgeist here in the 2010s. Both in major organisations’ main ofﬁces where the idea of crowdsourcing is gaining ground, and in the suffering public sector where the idea of engaging the civil society is gaining a foothold, voluntarism is a phenomenon that is intensely studied. Salaries are expensive and the number of tasks is growing, and it is thus logical for most leaders to learn from Roskilde Festival’s enormous experience in engaging volunteers. However, it is important to remember that the festival offers something crucial to every volunteer, namely the opportunity for something bigger than themselves, which is greater than the hunt for proﬁts, Doing good is an element that often is forgotten, particularly in private companies, but it is in almost as great demand as voluntarism, only among the workers themselves, particularly the very young. You can read more about Roskilde Festival in this issue on page 26, where we focus on the ideas and product development that the festival contributes to for the beneﬁt of society. Happy reading. Morten Grønborg
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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
The zombie fever has hit the US – where more and more prepare for the apocalypse. Since the summer of 2012, a new brand of heavy-hitting zombie bullets from Detroit have been almost ﬂying off the shelves, just as zombie-proof evacuation tents that are hung between treetops also have hit the markets. Observers think that the explanation can be found in a combination of the zombie ﬁxation in popular culture and two occasions of cannibalism in Miami and Maryland, which got a lot of media attention in the summer of 2012.
For about a decade in several places around the world, you have been able to get treatment for overconsumption of sex, often linked to stress or low self-worth. The disorder is called sex addiction and is now so widespread that WHO considers adding it to the list of recognised disorders. Exactly how widespread the phenomenon is isn’t well known, but in Denmark, therapists have through the last decade noted a signiﬁcant increase in inquiries from sex-addicted patients.
Syntheism is what could be called an atheist’s idea of a religion. The movement is inspired by the French atheist George Bataille and as yet only has a few followers worldwide. Syntheists recognise the universe as a divine phenomenon, but will not countenance any talk of gods, temples, worship, or superstition. According to its website, Syntheism is a recognition and cultivation of human ignorance.
After having serviced the West for decades, Asian manufacturers have in recent years begun focusing more on products tailored to the growing Asian markets. Korean LG Electronics has for example launched 27 products directed at the Indian market. These include a microwave oven with pre-set menus for more than 130 Indian dishes from tandoori chicken to naan bread. The Chinese brewery Tsingtao sells their lagers in extra-large bottles in Sichuan province, where the tradition is to drink alcoholic beverages from large bottles served in small glasses.
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P A T T E R N S
The growing unemployment in Japan has led to the advent of a new phenomenon – McDonald’s fugitives. “Makudo Nanmin”, as the phenomenon is called in Japan, covers the fact that a new generation of 30-40 years old unemployed homeless spend the night at McDonald’s instead of in tents or shelters. For 100 yen (USD 1), the new homeless can buy a cup of coffee and hence be allowed to spend a few hours in the restaurant. The phenomenon is particularly widespread in the metropolis of Osaka, where unemployment is higher than in the rest of the country.
WE BUY MORE MUSIC
VIRTUAL POP STARS
For the ﬁrst time in thirteen years, consumers across the world spend more on recorded music than they used to. Numbers from the international music industry IFPI shows a modest increase in sales of 0.3 per cent, which has created worldwide optimism in the music industry. Not surprisingly, IFPI thinks that smartphones and the new streaming services have paved the way for increasing music sales. In 2012, streaming revenue increased 9 per cent while the sale of digital tracks rose 12 per cent.
The software Vocaloid, which can make music with artiﬁcial voices, has made users across the world generate their own pop hits. The Japanese voices, and some of the English ones, have an associated character with unique personality. The Vocaloid songs are made by people all over the world, and when a song is ﬁnished, it is typically put on YouTube with a video. To date, 439,000 videos have been made. Once in a while, thousands of (particularly Japanese) youths ﬂock to ‘live’ concerts with their virtual pop idols.
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S O C I E T Y
The Nordic countries have too long been influenced by American leadership theories and management ideas that don’t necessarily fit the Norse mentality. It represses the region’s natural strengths, observers think, and it for this reason it is high time to (re-)invent and develop a particular New Nordic Way. The restaurant noma did it for food, and now the time has come for companies, organisations and the Nordic countries themselves. It all begins with finding …
THE NORDIC DNA By Morten Grønborg
f you are interested in societal developments and if you are from a Nordic country, you have probably noted a particular February 2013 issue of the weekly magazine The Economist. Here, a photo of a Viking is supplemented by the cover text: THE NEXT SUPERMODEL – Why the world should look at the Nordic countries.” The cover and the related articles about the Nordic model were given a lot of space in the media in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland, which are the countries the magazine focuses on. The interest was great, perhaps because The Economist is a superbrand on the media market, printed in no less than 1.5 million copies and read by far more. In one of the articles, the Nordic countries get these credentials: “If you had to be reborn anywhere in the world as a person with average talents and income, you would want to be a Viking. The Nordics cluster at the top of league tables of everything from economic competitiveness to social health to happiness.” As apparent from the rhetoric and the visual imagery in The Economist, the inhabitants of the Nordic countries are represented as Vikings. Besides being so clichéd it is also metaphorically misleading, since the Vikings with their pillaging, violence, rape, and plunder represent the opposite of what the Nordic people and countries are associated with today –happiness, welfare societies, consideration for minorities and weak groups, and well-developed democracies, among other things. As an icon, the intrepid Viking may be something that connects and unites the Nordic countries in a historic perspective, but in relation to the present and the future, the icon is no good. Apart from this, the article series in The Economist and the underlying analyses are quite sober reading, which with both social and economic arguments identify why the Nordic countries, our societal models and economic policies are of interest to the rest of the world. ”The main lesson to learn from the Nordics is not ideological but practical,” the magazine’s main article states and explains:
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S O C I E T Y “The state is popular not because it is big but because it works. A Swede pays tax more willingly than a Californian because he gets decent schools and free health care. The Nordics have pushed farreaching reforms past unions and business lobbies. The proof is there. You can inject market mechanisms into the welfare state to sharpen its performance. You can put entitlement programmes on sound foundations to avoid beggaring future generations. But you need to be willing to root out corruption and vested interests. And you must be ready to abandon tired orthodoxies of the left and right and forage for good ideas across the political spectrum.”
Laursen, whom we are doing a portrait of, who sucks them out of the ground. Eating ants is (at least in the West) rather unusual, and the PR effect of this choice of raw material was hence great. How-ever, there is an underlying and more pragmatic reason for the choice, namely that ants have a sour taste, and local sour foods can be hard to find in Denmark at certain times of year. The special Scandinavian urban culture has also in recent years been on the radar of trendsetting media, in part because of our bicycle culture and utilisation of e.g. harbour areas for habitation and recreation. For example, Helsinki and Copenhagen are situated on 2nd and 3rd place on Monocle magazine’s Most Livable Cities WHAT IS THE NORDIC DNA? Index (2012), only surpassed by Zürich in first place. In the index, security, climate, The conference Rebuild21, which is held architecture, public transportation, every year in Copenhagen in the month of tolerance, access to nature, urban design, May, focuses on how we rethink society, and a good business climate are important institutions, and companies for the 21st parameters in the evaluation of what the century. In 2013, the conference is held magazine overall calls ‘quality of life’. May 22-23. Also Danish TV and movies and Nordic In 2011, the theme was Rebuilding - SOFUS MIDTGAARD architecture and fashion receive attention Business for the 21st Century, and in 2012, and interest all over the world. the focus was on rethinking education, Hence, there are both hard and soft finance and the media industry. This aspects to the renewed and current year, the headline is The New Nordic Way; interest in all things Nordic. For Sofus i.e. with a focus on how we rethink Midtgaard, who is the initiator and companies, management and the Nordic director of Rebuild21, interest in the Nordic region’s particular societal model with a basis in a Nordic DNA – very much related positions of strength began with economy and business operation. to the theme of the Economist article, which thus managed to During an extended trip abroad he read Umair Haque’s The New overtake Rebuild21 a bit by casting a light on the Nordic countries’ Capitalist Manifesto, which admittedly isn’t specifically about the economic and organisational performance. Nordic region, but in return provides a quite harsh criticism of the If we look even wider than economy, management, and the 20th century way of doing business; a way that in large parts of the operation of society and companies, the Nordic region has long world is inspired by the United States, which doesn’t necessarily fit been the subject of renewed interest. The Copenhagen restaurant the local culture, as is the case in the Nordic countries. noma is the obvious and best example. The restaurant has several “This became the kick-off for the Rebuild21 conference back in stars in the Michelin guide and has in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants 2011,” he explains. “I have an MBA myself, but have long been Awards been elected the world’s best restaurant three years running sceptical of the principles and values that characterise the US(2010, 2011, and 2012) for its high quality and its experiments with inspired schools of management. We are by now smothered in a local, Danish raw materials. Noma’s approach has been to go back philosophy of industrial management, which we in the Nordic to the original Danish kitchen and using local ingredients and has countries otherwise had long abandoned. For this reason, the worst thus developed (and in international connections manifested) a true thing Nordic companies can do is to send its leaders to MBAschools.” ‘Danish cuisine’, something that just ten years ago was a rather SCENARIO: Then what is so special about the Nordic way of life, diffuse and almost non-existent entity. organisation and work? What are the future building blocks of The It is from noma that we have found the motive for this issue’s Nordic Way? photo series (see pages 59 to 65). In 2012, the restaurant became Midtgaard: “For one thing, we need to get away from the organised world famous for serving live ants on its menus, and it is Thomas
“The worst thing Nordic companies can do is to send its leaders to MBA schools.”
NORDIC CO-OPERATION The Nordic countries are tightly knitted together. The countries have through 1,000 years worked together, made war on each other, and formed unions. In recent times, the countries have co-operated voluntarily. The Nordic Council was founded in 1952, and the Nordic Council of Ministers, a similar collaboration between Nordic governments, was founded in 1971. The formalised collaboration between the Nordic countries is according to the Nordic Council “among the oldest and most extensive regional collaborations in the world.” The collaboration includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, as well as the Faeroe Islands, Greenland and Åland. Source: Norden.org.
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S O C I E T Y distrust that underlies the metering and control in workplaces. We have in the Nordic region a colossal potential in the public sector if we invent – or rather reinvent – a management model based on trust and responsibility as an alternative to the US-inspired model with performance management and scorecards. This model has become too widespread, even in the Nordic region, and in reality we have introduced the worst of two worlds: We have gained rigid performance management from the management mind set, but at the same time we have spiced it with a fear of confrontation and a lack of consequence, for instance when the manager of a retirement home doesn’t live up to his or her responsibility. Instead of consequence, we then introduce even more performance management. This is quite absurd and has in reality meant that we take away from leaders their local initiative and space to manoeuver.” Sofus Midtgaard speaks of many ways we can return to something in our culture that we have lost. A bit like noma’s kitchen, which is based on old traditions and raw materials that have generally been forgotten, but still lie at our feet if we bother take a look. He mentions a number of concepts and relationships that are central to the Nordic DNA: “First and foremost, we have trust, as we spoke of before. This is one of the nice, old Nordic words, which so well characterises and has characterised our society. A low power hierarchy and flat organisations are other important ingredients, as are our informal tone, self-irony and unpretentiousness. In the Nordic countries we have a direct way; we don’t muffle opinions like Americans or are reverential like the Chinese – we are autonomous and independent. And then we have historically had the ability to adopt a good business sense and pragmatism.” SCENARIO: These virtues could also be used to describe the many new start-up enterprises around the world. Are they then particular Nordic traits? Midtgaard: “Historically speaking, they are Nordic virtues, but it is true that agile start-ups around the world have traits in common with what we could characterise as a Nordic DNA. Precisely for this reason we have something to offer worldwide. It is in our DNA, and this is what Rebuild21 is about. However, we need to cultivate and utilise it in a far more aggressive way than we see today. The existing Nordic model has in many ways run aground.
We are at a cultural crossroads. Hence, we need to find a New Nordic Way that can respond to some of the great challenges of our time, both in our society and at the business level.” SCENARIO: What is the most valuable part of the Nordic corporate culture? Midtgaard: “The strength in our culture is that the emperor without clothes on is discovered very quickly. There’s always someone who gets up and points to the naked ruler. In China, people fall in line and forge ahead and will soon have spent a billion dollars on an ill-conceived project if it isn’t fully thought through from the start. The strength in the Nordic model is that we in general get more input early on and hence catch errors in the first iterations. In return, the disadvantage is that the planning phase can draw out and that we often lack political or managerial courage.” In this way, Sofus Midtgaard draws parallels to the boy from Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale “The Emperor’s New Clothes”. Head of Research at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, Carsten Beck, also mentions a literary parallel when he is asked to point to values inherent in the Nordic culture: “The most important task in the future is that we cultivate the innovation talent in our society. This requires a far more open debate and opinion about where our schools and educational system needs to go. It also undoubtedly requires new types of management. Perhaps the time is ripe for drawing on one of our greatest thinkers and philosophers, Søren Kierkegaard? One of his most important messages is his demand of us that we step into character as human beings, and this becomes particularly important for the leaders of tomorrow’s society. In a network-based society where the individual easily disappears in digital media, it becomes the leader’s role to step into a new character where he or she to a greater degree creates opportunities in the global network-based company, where crowdsourcing is a keyword,” he says.
“The question then is if the particular Nordic way in reality is a particular point of balance?”
WHAT THE WORLD CAN LEARN FROM THE NORDIC REGION
The researchers at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies have for years worked with the Nordic countries and the particular opportunities and threats that are at play here. In the report The
THE NORDIC REGION AND COUNTRIES The Nordic region consists of the ﬁve Nordic nations. The term is thought to be originally German, referring to the position relative to Germany. The Nordic countries form a region in Northern Europe and the North Atlantic, consisting of includes Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, and Sweden, and the autonomous areas Åland Islands (a part of Finland), Faroe Islands (a part of Denmark) and Greenland (a part of Denmark). The Sami people also have a degree of independence. Scandinavia is sometimes used synonymously with the Nordic region, but is in the Nordic countries seen as a different thing, especially as Scandinavia by deﬁnition consists of the nations Denmark, Norway and Sweden. The Nordic countries have a combined population of 25 million spread over an area of 3.5 million km2 (with Greenland making up 60 per cent of the area). Source: Wikipedia.
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S O C I E T Y three sides. From the left, we have what we might call Marxist Scandinavian Way (which particularly focuses on Norway, Sweden traits. In the Nordic countries, particularly in academic circles, and Denmark, but also briefly looks at the other Nordic countries there has been a fascination with Marxism and communism. (…) – Finland and Iceland), they point to a range of areas where the From the right, we have what we might call the Marshall trait. individual countries show so-called ‘best practice’ compared to the The gratitude for aid during World War II and the subsequent rest of the world: Marshall aid lies deeply. The final trait comes from below and Denmark is mentioned for its flexicurity model, which has could be called the pragmatic trait. In spite of shiny ideologies combined “a very high degree of flexibility to the benefit of the and the fascination with superpowers, pragmatism and being adaptability of business and the economy with a high degree of down to earth has kept the Nordic countries to their unique safety and security for employees.” Sweden is praised for “worldmodel. They have chosen the third way between the equality and class research and development” and for being “decades ahead” of socialism from the East and the freedom and market forces from other European countries in this respect, and regarding Norway, the West.” Also the special issue of The special note is made of its “ability to Economist revolves around the particular responsibly manage a raw-materialsNordic mix of capitalism and socialism: based economy.” This of course refers to ”This is not to say that the Nordics are the nation’s oil, which in other countries shredding their old model. They has led to low growth and other dire continue to pride themselves on the consequences in the shape of strife and a generosity of their welfare states. About small, asocial, entrenched elite with sole 30 per cent of their labour force works in access to the resources. Overall, the report the public sector, twice the average in the emphasises the Nordic welfare model as Organisation for Economic Development the core of the well-functioning societies - SOFUS MIDTGAARD and Co-operation, a rich-country thinkand the positive development: tank. They continue to believe in “The Nordic countries are characterised combining open economies with public by having extensive democratic traditions investment in human capital. But the and long experience with political multinew Nordic model begins with the individual rather than the state. party systems. This has meant that many voter groups recurrently It begins with fiscal responsibility rather than pump-priming: all get a say, and the state has thus built up a lot of credibility. When we four Nordic countries have AAA ratings and debt loads significantly combine this with an early adopted, parish-based ecclesial and below the euro-zone average. It begins with choice and competition private welfare support system, relatively low social deprivation, rather than paternalism and planning”. a relatively homogeneous population, and extensive equality, the The question then is if the particular Nordic way in reality is a right conditions were present for establishing an extensive particular point of balance? A balancing act between Right and welfare state.” Left with pragmatism as the fulcrum? The Rebuild21 conference There are other welfare states elsewhere in the world, and the will shed further light on this question and also look at what outer phenomenon was actually invented in Otto von Bismarck’s demands it is worth working with in the Nordic countries in the Germany towards the end of the 19th century, but the particular future. As Sofus Midtgaard puts it: ”It is one thing to look inward Nordic model is characterised by the fact that the redistribution of and find the natural positions of strength and the particular Nordic societal goods is taken care of by the state and that all citizens DNA. It is something else to look out into the world and objectively receive the same social benefits. This is unlike e.g. a welfare state evaluate where we in the Nordic region have something that the that only provides benefits for the worst off or for people that have rest of the world actually wants to buy or learn from.” been a long time on the labour market. It is this balance between on Carsten Beck agrees: “The future lies in the tension field between the one hand market economy and capitalism and on the other these positions. Between on the one hand an insistence on what we hand socialism that is the special Nordic approach. In the futurists’ are and can do, and on the other hand open minds regarding what report, it is explained this way: “Ideologically, emotionally and we realistically can expect to sell on the global market place.” practically, the Nordic welfare model has been pulled at from
“We are at a cultural crossroads. Hence, we need to find a New Nordic Way that can respond to some of the great challenges of our time”
The Economist cover about the Nordic region, February 2013. The contents of this special issue use both social and economic arguments for why the Nordic region, its societal models, and its economic policies are of interest to the rest of the world. However, the visual references to the Nordic countries’ past as a warlike Viking culture are both clichéd and metaphorically misleading. The Viking violence and plunder represent a stark opposite of what the Nordic countries are associated with today.
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T H E H ISTO R I C D E V E LO P M E N T O F TH E N O RDI C W E LFAR E S TAT E S PHASE 1 (CA. 1800-1883): ECCLESIAL AND PRIVATE SUPPORT OF THE POOR
Support of the poor in the early 19th century took place in the individual parishes under the auspices of the church and supported by e.g. major landowners. The morale was that it was the duty of the (divinely favoured) rich to help the poor. During the 19th century the number of non-public organisations, institutions and societies that handled support, etc., grew. There was an on-going inclusion of more and more weak groups in the general liberalistic social system.
PHASE 2 (1883-CA. 1950): THE RISE OF THE WELFARE STATE
In 1883, the German state introduced public health insurance. This is seen by many as the general starting point for building the European welfare states. As early as 1888, the Social Democrats in Denmark proposed social aid for everybody ﬁnanced through taxes. In 1991/92, a social reform was executed that expanded the role of the public in managing social welfare. A law was introduced about old-age support, as well as a law of state support for health insurance funds for the less well of. In 1899, a public school law was passed. During this period, the power of labour unions grew, and state support was given to their unemployment funds; a very central element in what is today known as the ﬂexicurity model.
PHASE 3 (CA. 1950-CA. 1980): THE GOLDEN AGE OF THE WELFARE STATE
The 1950s and 1960s can be seen as the golden age of the welfare system – a period characterised by the mantra ‘welfare for all’. The great industrialisation wave that began in the 1950s created massive changes in society, including a migration to housing developments in the rapidly growing suburbs and the entry of women onto the labour market. This development created a greater tax base, and the changes led to a greater need for public management of healthcare, childcare, eldercare, education, etc. In 1956 Denmark passed a retirement beneﬁt law. The public sector was gradually expanded with primary and secondary schools, colleges and universities, an expanded hospital sector, etc. During this time, the public offered increasing advice and higher beneﬁts.
PHASE 4 (CA. 1980-NOW): THE MARKET-ORIENTED WELFARE STATE
By the end of the 1970s, it was realised that full employment, as known before the oil crisis, would not return. Efforts were made to reduce public expenses for unemployment beneﬁts and activation. In the early 1990s, beneﬁts were further reduced, and a duty to attend activation was introduced in association with public unemployment beneﬁts. The role of the market was strengthened, several previously public areas were privatised, and the public made increasing use of private sub-contractors.
Source: The Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies, Report: The Scandinavian Way S C E NAR IO
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WIL D CAR 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 FUTURE WORLD MAP By Klaus Æ. Mogensen
e are living in a time where the world is changing rapidly, and at such a time it is natural to seek anchoring in certain and stable things like the motherland. Yet in fact national borders are also changing all the time, and precisely in a time of great changes and conflicts, boundaries are more vulnerable than ever. Take a look in the atlas on your shelf or the globe on your corner table. You will most likely be able to find a number of nations that don’t exist today, and you won’t be able to find a number of nations that actually exist. If the atlas or globe is from before the end of the Cold War, you will for example be able to find nations like the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and the German Democratic Republic, but not nations like Serbia, Slovakia, Ukraine, and Kazakhstan (other than as parts of larger, centrally controlled unions). If we go about a century and a half back, we can find exotic realms like the Ottoman Empire, Prussia, Toscana and the Kingdom of Two Sicilies – and at this time, eleven states had seceded from the United States and were involved in a civil war with the rest. Also at this time, Denmark was a major power that stretched far down into what is now Germany. It is certain that in the future, too, nations and unions will be divided and others united. Maybe wholly new nations will arise and others perish entirely. We take a look at some of the possibilities. Not all possibilities are equally likely, but some of the less likely – but still possible – may have enormous significance for the world order.
or else the nation manages to obtain such favourable conditions that many other countries in the Union will feel cheated and threaten to secede unless they get similar concessions. Both outcomes would be the beginning of the end for the European Union, through either dissolution or erosion of the coalition, leaving only a free trade zone behind – if that. The British ultimatum isn’t the only threat against the EU. The financial crisis and the subsequent euro crisis have strained the coalition, and many in the north grumble about having to pay for what they see as the irresponsible economic policies of the south. The Greek crisis in particular has pulled teeth, but the political situation in Italy after the election in February, when two thirds of the population voted against the Eurozone’s imposed austerity measures, may carry wood to the fire. At the time of writing, it is an open question if the common currency can survive in the long term, and a collapse of the euro could in the end lead to a collapse of the union. The European Union isn’t the only union in Europe that may fall. Belgium has had decades-long frictions between the two member states, the Dutch-speaking and rich Flanders to the north and the French-speaking, poor Wallonia to the south, and in the regional elections in October last year, the Flemish secession movement was significantly strengthened. On the other hand, the EU is a strong cohesive, as EU’s ‘capital’ is Brussels, the Belgian capital, which lies in Flanders, but mainly is inhabited by Walloons. This may mean that the fates of Belgium and the EU are connected: If the EU survives, so does a united Belgium, but if the EU collapses, so does Belgium. In the UK, Scotland has long sought greater independence and perhaps in time full secession. A large minority in the Basque Country seeks freedom from Spain, using both violent and peaceful methods, and in the wake of the financial crisis, Catalonia has also voiced the idea of secession from the suffering main country. With its 7.5 million inhabitants,
In early 2013, the British Prime Minister voiced the idea that the UK might leave the EU if the nation did not succeed in renegotiating the conditions for membership. There are two possible outcomes if the British maintain this demand: Either the UK leaves the union, which may make other nations follow suit,
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“President Barack Obama has asked Congress to look at the request, and this could well lead to the first significant change of the world map”
Catalonia is the largest region in Europe with its own language without being an independent nation. In Italy, the extreme rightwing party Lega Nord, a common ally of Silvio Berlusconi, has long desired to make the rich Northern Italy independent of the poorer Southern Italy. Many current European nations are relatively young entities – less than two centuries old – and hence not strongly united by common traditions, making them political rather than cultural communities, often with great internal differences in terms of culture and language. In a time where political cohesion is weakened, cultural differences may get the upper hand and lead to dissolution into smaller units, the way we have seen happen with Yugoslavia and Czechoslovakia. A continued crisis in the EU could be the driving force for increased independence, both for nations in the EU and for regions in the individual EU countries. As a wild card we may imagine that a collapse of the EU may lead to new and more local unions with greater cultural and economic homogeneity than has been the case with the EU. In particular, a Nordic union of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, and possibly also Iceland and Finland, may be envisaged again. A Baltic union of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania is another possibility, and so is a union between the Benelux nations of Holland, Flanders, Wallonia, Luxembourg, and perhaps a reborn Friesland seceded from Germany and the Netherlands.
West in general, will lead to a diffusion of the problematic situation and a possible reunion. South Korea is not dismissive about such a possibility, but so far, the powerful political elite in North Korea has shown little interest. This may change in the future; we have for instance recently in Myanmar seen a quite rapid democratisation process initiated by a dictatorial regime. We may see the opposite happen in other Asian countries. In Thailand, there is a powerful and violent secession movement in three southern provinces that are Muslim where the rest of the country is Buddhist. Since the conflict began in 2001, more than 5,000 people have been killed, and violence has increased in the last year. Whether the conflict will lead to independence, or if the rebels will be brutally beat down, as happened for the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, is as yet unknown. A similar resistance movement, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), has been active in the Philippines, but in October 2012 it made a peace treaty with the government about greater independence for the region Bangsamoro on the island of Mindanao. This agreement may in time lead to full independence – or the unrest may flare up again. Also the Indian province of Kashmir, which Pakistan makes claims to, has a strong secession movement, which among others receives support from the prominent Indian politician Sonia Gandhi. AMERICA
The most obvious possibility for a new political entity in Asia is likely a reunion of North and South Korea. Just as it happened for Germany after WWII, Korea was split in two during the Cold War, but even after the collapse of the Soviet Union, North Korea has maintained old-style communist traditions and has become something of a problem child for the entire world. A policy change in North Korea, with overtures to South Korea and the
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After the 2012 presidential election when Barack Obama was reelected, citizens in 33 American states sent in applications for the secession of their states from the Union. In Texas, no less than 80,000 citizens signed such an application. These applications have generally been seen more as expression of political frustration than any real desire for independence, but if the political polarisation that we are witnessing in the US continues, it’s not inconceivable that the desire may grow in the future. The nation
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“This can create a new challenge for makers of atlases and globes – for how do you plot the position of a mobile nation?”
currently witnessing may mean that several existing nations will suffer the same fate in the future. Most at risk is the island nation of Kiribati in the Pacific Ocean, which even now is so hard hit by climate change that most of the population has fled to the main island of Tarawa, which lies marginally higher than the rest of the atolls and islands that make up the nation. The state has bought 5,000 acres of land on the island Vanua Levu, which belongs to Fiji, providing a place for Kiribati’s 113,000 inhabitants to live once their country disappears entirely, which is expected to happen around 2030. Other island states in the Pacific may suffer similar fates; most at risk are Vanuatu, the Marshall Islands, Tuvalu, and parts of Papua New Guinea. If the oceans begin to rise more dramatically, more countries will be at risk. If Greenland’s ice cap were to melt entirely, the sea level could rise 25 meters, and then three-quarters of Bangladesh, a land of more than 162 million inhabitants, would be washed away. Also western nations like Denmark and the Netherlands would be hard hit if the seas were to rise that much – about half of Denmark, including all the major cities, would lie under water. In return, the oceans may also house new nations. One such is actually coming into existence off the coast of California, where the company Blueseed wants to build a floating city in international water, with space for at first 1800 inhabitants, mainly knowledge workers who can’t immediately get work visas in the US, but can work in e.g. Silicon Valley if they commute back and forth every day. With internet technology it is possible to work for anybody, anywhere, so we may see floating nations that offer its citizens special privileges like low taxes or freedom from national laws that are seen as limiting to the freedom of the citizens. This is the idea behind Freedom Ship, a project to build a floating city with up to 100,000 inhabitants. This can create a new challenge for makers of atlases and globes – for how do you plot the position of a mobile nation?
is sharply divided politically, with a democratic majority in the eastern and western coastal states and a republican majority in the southern and middle states – in fact, more or less the same states that seceded from the union in the prelude to the American Civil War and formed the Confederate States of America (better known as the South). It happened before, so it could feasibly happen again, even though two things speak against it: First, the ill luck the South had with their first attempt at secession, and secondly, that the US has far greater economical and infrastructural integration today than in the 1860s. However, it can’t entirely be ruled out, and the growing economic polarisation in the US can lead to social unrest, which in turn may strengthen the calls for secessions. Further to the north we find Canada, where the province of Quebec, which is French-speaking while most of the rest of the country is English-speaking, long has had a powerful secession movement. In 2012, the independence party Parti Québécois formed a minority government in Quebec, and the party leader, Pauline Marois, became president of the province. A poll from 2011 showed that 41 per cent of the population would vote in favour of independence, so not a lot of people have to be moved before there’s a majority for independence, though secession probably isn’t impending. Not just secession movements are on the agenda in America. Concurrent with the US presidential election, the island state of Puerto Rico voted in favour of sending an application to the US to be adopted as the nation’s 51st state. President Barack Obama has asked Congress to look at the request, and this could well lead to the first significant change of the world map. ATLANTIS
The legend tells of how the nation of Atlantis sank beneath the waves after a natural disaster. The global warming we are
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Can Roskilde Festival, populated as it is by half-drunken, carefree youths, inspire city planners and politicians to create the cities of the future? The answer is yes, according to chief of innovation Esben Danielsen. Sure, the festival is about rock, beer and youth culture, but its nature as a temporary city with extreme needs makes for creative solutions that permanent cities may learn from – among other things in relation to new energy sources, waste handling, telephony, and the dream of a cash-free society. Is Roskilde Festival in fact …
THE WORLD’S LARGEST CITY LABORATORY? By Morten Grønborg
ock, beer and youth culture. Roskilde Festival is world-famous among music lovers. It is a melting pot, an experiment, and a happy buzz for most guests. But the festival is also a mighty effort in the art of planning, for with its more than 100,000 guests and volunteer workers that gather every year on an otherwise bare field, it is also a small community. A temporary city that needs to be able to handle everything from food and drink supplies over the safety and health of the festival-goers to cooking food and getting rid of waste. Add to this an extensive road net of smaller pathways and larger roads, connecting the many guests with the camping areas, the scenes, the beer tents, and toilets in the area. Not to mention the digital and social infrastructure in the shape of telephony and internet that enables constant digital access. Since Roskilde Festival furthermore insists on making things sustainable and environmentally responsible and showing respect for minorities and social considerations, there are things enough to keep in mind. Often, the team behind the annual event must think in terms of untraditional solutions and use extreme creative measures in order to make everything come together. Every band has a roadie, and every roadie has gaffer tape in his bag, and this spirit informs the festival. It is set up and torn down every year, and this calls for new solutions and ideas, and the mixture of pioneer spirit and very professional planning is a central characteristic. This is also because the festival consciously works to involve both the public and a large number of volunteers in resolving the tasks. “User involvement is quite essential,” the festival’s former spokesman for many years and
A part of Roskilde Festival seen from the air. The festival is about spontaneous meetings and carefree youth culture. However, it is also a temporary city that needs to function at all levels, and like many permanent cities it is planned and organised according to a grid; a circular one in this case. S C E NAR IO
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“Our city, which is Denmark’s fourth-largest one week every year, is in many ways a picture of how other cities will evolve the next 10-15 years. It is a future vision that exists here and now” - ESBEN DANIELSEN
also former director of development, Esben Danielsen, makes clear. Today, he heads a company under the Roskilde Festival group called Orange Innovation, which attempts to collect and retain whatever innovative solutions come out of the annual festivals and besides work with creativity and development in fields that aren’t necessarily about music – like city planning. “We work with social and experience-economic innovation and see ourselves as a distillation of everything that Roskilde Festival stands for, including many years of experience working with thousands of volunteers and not least the paying guests. The festival doesn’t see the guests as customers, but as ambassadors or a sort of staff. This is one of the most important principles. You need the guts to say: These people are a part of my company, and I want to do something with them. They need to be involved as if they were good friends.”
people from Northern European major cities, particularly students, and they will make up the cities’ labour force in the 2020s. For this reason, the need for coverage and the pressure on the infrastructure is enormously valuable for the telecoms to analyse. Another example is waste handling. Festive and often drunk people at a festival live in a carefree, ‘throw-away’ culture. This leads to massive waste problems that we need to handle. It is very visible and extreme here, but in principle cities like London and New York face the same problem. We look at how we can work with waste as a resource. How it can be turned into materials we can use. Concretely, we already today work with transforming the plastic cups we sell beverages in into plastic fibres that in turn can be turned into fleece shirts and t-shirts. The idea is that you are able to buy your own cups as a part of a t-shirt once the festival is over.”
SCENARIO: You have on earlier occasions stated that “Roskilde Festival is the world’s largest city laboratory.” Can you elucidate on that?
SCENARIO: I know that you also work with making use of human waste and excrement. Can you tell about this? Danielsen: “Precisely in this field we function as a large-scale city experiment, for unlike the toilets in permanent cities, 80 per cent of our toilets aren’t connected to the sewer system. Here, most of the pee and poo is collected by a vacuum truck, and that is interesting. For while cities flush with clean water, and subsequently spend enormous resources purifying the water again, which is rather stupid in every way, we don’t have that problem. So we can experiment with using human waste as the resource it really is, and we can do it without stressing the environment by spending energy on water purification. This simply requires that we succeed in setting up so-called separation toilets, which can be approved by the authorities. After this, we can use the excrement as fertilizer, among other things. Human excrement is excellent fertilizer because we eat more varied than
Danielsen: “The statement covers the basic philosophy that we don’t see Roskilde Festival as a festival, but rather as a city. And our city, which is Denmark’s fourth-largest one week every year, is in many ways a picture of how other cities will evolve the next 10-15 years. It is a future vision that exists here and now, because everything is more extreme at a festival.” SCENARIO: Can you provide a few examples of how? Danielsen: “There are a lot! Take for instance telephony. There’s an extreme pressure on the telephone net during the festival, and the consumption pattern resembles what other cities will experience a decade from now. Our citizens are primarily young
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“In recent years, terms like ‘temporary city spaces’ and ‘instant urbanism’ have sneaked into the vocabulary of city planners and architects as well as among artists and various urban entrepreneurs” - SIGNE CECILIE NØRGAARD
other mammals like pigs and cows. We could also turn it into biogas – but we lack a working plant. However, I predict that we during the festival in 2014 or 1025 can work with transforming shit into energy.” Esben Danielsen keeps providing examples of how problems and solutions that have cropped up during the festival can inspire to innovation in other parts of society, among other things in relation to the idea of ‘the cash-less society’ where banknotes and coins disappear in favour of smarter hi-tech solutions. “We still have a lot of people paying in cash during the festival, and that is a major hassle for us to handle. You can’t imagine how many truckloads of coins we drive away every year – and it has to be done in armoured cars. Since we also work with clear, environmental goals, it is obvious to try to get rid of the traffic and pollution we get from trucks. For that reason, we work with Copenhagen Business School on a three-year project where we develop cash-free solutions. If we can crack this nut under our auspices, it has colossal potential for ourselves. However, it is also extremely interesting for e.g. banks and telecoms. We are going to witness a fight about who will handle money in the future, and we can provide inspiration for this.” SCENARIO: If I ask you to mention a more concrete product that has been developed under the auspices of Orange Innovation, what might that be?
organisers of events and conferences offer charging, but then you have to leave your phone or computer somewhere. We offer a solution where you can charge wherever you are. The concept – which we call Volt – is developed in collaboration with three young engineer students from Danish Technical University in the summer of 2012 and will end as an actual product.” Finally, Esben Danielsen points to a project that Orange Innovation is heading, which directly attempts to work with city development the festival way: “We call the project ‘100in1day’ and see it as a sort of festival for citizenship and city development. The idea is that the citizens of Copenhagen on a particular day – May 25, 2013 – must create at least 100 urban initiatives that can challenge and inspire the urban spaces of Copenhagen. We ask: How can your city, your neighbourhood, your street or your backyard become a better place to liv? And we encourage people – citizens, students, rebels, and children – to take matters into their own hands and create impermanent solutions that might become permanent. This could e.g. be creating an innovative garbage system for the city’s parks or finding a way to cultivate order in the chaos of parked bicycles you find at e.g. major stations. However, it could also just be a matter of planting flowers on a dismal street corner. We dream of seeing initiatives like pop-up events, installations, shows, art, and urban hacks.” EXPERT: THE IDEA IS FULLY VALID
Danielsen: “We have only been in existence for five months, so a lot is still under construction. However, we have e.g. developed a service product for larger events where many people have a need to recharge their mobile phones and other devices. It is often difficult to charge your devices outside of your home – that’s also true for e.g. one-day conferences – and to this end we have developed a mobile charger you can have in your pocket. Most
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Signe Cecilie Nørgaard, project manager at Danish Architecture Centre (DAC), urbanist and art historian specialising in architecture and cities, has for SCENARIO evaluated the idea of the festival as a city laboratory. She tells us that the juxtapositions ‘festival/ laboratory’ and ‘festival/city’ have been used in other, similar connections. She points among other things to the famous Burning Man festival that takes place every year in the Nevada desert.
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“I predict that we during the festival in 2014 or 1025 can work with transforming shit into energy” - ESBEN DANIELSEN
SCENARIO: Do you work with impermanence at DAC?
“Like Roskilde, this festival is a temporary event with equal focus on self-actualisation, community and art. For both festivals, the same principle holds; that the individual’s escape from everyday life through collective, short-term liberation is the source for developing new ways of being present and creating common spaces. Seen in this light, it is my clear evaluation that the idea of ‘the festival as a laboratory’ is fully valid and can generate knowledge about the way spaces are created. This may be going a bit far, but I actually think that you in extension of Venturi’s ‘Learning from Las Vegas’ from 1972 can make a similar book for festivals like Roskilde, ‘Learning from Roskilde Festival’,” she says. (Robert Venturi, born 1925, is an American architect; ed.).
Nørgaard: “Danish Architecture Centre has in collaboration with Denmark’s Radio quite recently launched the project ‘Build it up’. It takes its basis in the trend of thinking in terms of impermanent physical frameworks. The purpose is to furnish country-wide communication and debate that put today’s planning potentials and conditions on the agenda with a view to highlight the value in thinking and acting in terms of ‘impermanence’, ‘spaces between’ and ‘transitive zones’ for citizens, architects and planner.” SCENARIO: Do the ideas of impermanence also influence the theoreticians and architects of our times?
SCENARIO: Do you know of any successful examples of using impermanent architecture in relation to shaping permanent solutions?
Nørgaard: “In recent years, terms like ‘temporary city spaces’ and ‘instant urbanism’ have sneaked into the vocabulary of city planners and architects as well as among artists and various urban entrepreneurs. Both planners and theoreticians have in recent years dealt with the idea of utilising temporary spaces in longterm city development. It’s typically a matter of involving temporary projects in the existing planning system. To me, the interest in impermanence – as a social and spatial state – reflects an approach to cities and architecture that is based on a desire to ‘be there’ and be a co-creator of the moment. If we take a broader look at the concept and phenomenon of impermanence in architecture, I think that it can be interpreted as a new and far more inclusive approach to creating urban spaces in the city that precisely aren’t planned in advance or physically delimited by architecture. The temporary space that crops up in the city or in relation with a festival is on the contrary constructed relationally through actions and meetings between people.”
Nørgaard: ”Since I first became interested in this ‘impermanent’ dimension of current urbanity and city development I have registered several similar examples. One of the best known is the process of developing the closed Dutch shipyard NDSM, which lies next to the river in Amsterdam. It closed in the 1980s after going bankrupt, and over the years the place evolved into being a home for criminals and squatters from the Amsterdam underground environments. However, instead of tearing down the buildings or leaving the development of the area to commercial interests, the city chose to buy the shipyard and initiate an inclusive development process with the group that had already temporarily installed itself. The group – Kinetisch Noord – consisted of artists and activists from the city’s creative environments, and with the City of Amsterdam, they handled the development of a part of the area. Today, the shipyard functions as a social gathering ground and an experimental meeting point for the city’s creative groups and citizens.”
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THE NEW HACKERS IKEA is right now under attack from hackers all over the world. This sounds more ominous than it really is. The case isn’t one of freedom ﬁghters from WikiLeaks or traditional hackers, but rather of a new, creative type of hackers. If you click onto www.ikeahackers.net, you can see pictures of IKEA furniture that private consumers have decorated, cut in half, screwed together, and in various other ways adapted to ﬁt the owners’ individual tastes or needs. A design student from Switzerland has e.g. transformed IKEA’s footstool FROSTA into a coat hanger, and a woman from Singapore has built a minimalist coffee table out of the magazine holder KNUFF and a chair. Rebuilding IKEA furniture as such is no new thing, and with IKEA’s minimalist, low-priced product range it should come as no surprise that the store is also used as an alternative DIY store for the do-it-yourself crowd. However, since a Malay woman in 2006 started ikeahackers.net as a fan page, the creative hackers have turned into a regular movement. The website is independent, but IKEA supports the phenomenon and has even included a hack in one of its latest catalogues. However, it isn’t without legal butterﬂies in the stomach that the furniture chain follows the explosive growth of its new fan following. Particularly in the US, IKEA fears that someone might get hurt when using a hacked piece of furniture and that IKEA subsequently will get sued. IKEA hackers are an example of an extensive hacker movement. The international so-called Maker Movement has in recent years attracted more and more people who ‘hack’ technological products like drills and keyboards and turn them into mini-scooters and light-mixers. A nascent movement of bodyhackers has also seen the light of day: people who improve their bodies’ capacities with everything from electronic thinking caps to magnetic implants, and fan movements in popular culture have for years been active as co-creators, like a group of fans of the TV series Star Trek who over seven years has produced more than 50 alternative episodes of the series, available on YouTube. Hence, hacking has not only transcended the digital sphere, the concept itself has also been pared to the bone and now, according to the maker movement, includes any act that deals with “taking a product apart in order to improve it or turn it into something else according to your personal taste or need”. The phenomenon incorporates not just the individualisation trend and an increased demand for tailored products. During the ﬁnancial crisis, faith in authorities, idolisation and design icons have been replaced by an increased faith in oneself and in individuals in communities, and not least by a growing desire to show off your own creativity. Nothing suggests that this ‘hackoid’ behaviour will diminish the next many years. An obvious worry is that the hackers could be a threat to IKEA and other manufacturers, but the answer is not likely. This is in part because the ‘victim’ (IKEA in this case) generally receives positive attention towards its brand and expands its market (to include DIY), and in part (and most importantly) because the breakdown or reshaping of an original design is an essential part of the hacking concept. Hacking requires originals
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Whether you are reading this on an airplane heading to Singapore or in a cottage in Norway, most likely your home address will be in a city, and this is where you will live for the remainder of your life, along with 60 per cent of the rest of the world. This fact makes the city, and all that happens in the city, of interest to you, since it provides the framework for your life now and in the future. The city of the future will be different from today. New technology will change not only the appearance of the city, but also its functioning.
THE CITY BECOMES INTELLIGENT By Martin Kruse and Henrik Persson
he smart city is the city of the future. It comprises smart houses,
will grow from just over seven billion today to eight billion by 2025, and
smart urban environment, and smart mobility, to name but a few
to nine billion by 2040. At the same time, a growing share of the
areas that turn smart. A central topic is the move towards autonomous
population is moving to the big cities, and it has been estimated that by
cars and, eventually, to driverless cars. While many people probably
2030, 60 per cent of the world’s population will live in cities, compared to
would consider it science fiction when they think of driverless cars, and
slightly more than 50 per cent today. The number of mega-cities – cities
would think of movies like Minority Report, it is no more fiction than
with more than 10 million inhabitants – will grow dramatically
when Jules Verne predicted escalators, or going to the Moon, or when
throughout the 21st Century.
Nicola Tesla predicted the mobile phone. In fact, the EU Commission
As an example of exploding mega-cities, and according to the World
has already begun to introduce and support technologies that will put
Bank, China only had 69 cities in the 1940s. Today, the number is 670
Europe in the driver’s seat of smart mobility. When will it happen? The
cities, 89 of which house a million or more people. By comparison, the
answer is that it has already begun.
United States has 37 cities with a population of a million or more people.
The introduction and spread of autonomous cars will potentially have
In 1980, China’s urban population was about 191 million people, in 2007
a significant impact on the economic development of city regions,
it was around 594 million, and the number of people moving to the
comparable to the effects of multibillion-sized investments in new
growing Chinese cities within the next 20 years will surpass the entire
infrastructure. This is happening at a time when large parts of the
population of the US. This migration implies major challenges for city
western world are strapped for cash in the wake of the global financial
planning, renovation, and infrastructure. Such dramatic urbanisation
crisis. As such, this development can provide struggling economies with
will also lead to a demand for more compact transportation. Considering the future challenges in transportation and infrastructure,
an inexpensive boost to renew growth. The consequences of this change will transform value chains, challenge
and the great climate challenges that follow growing energy consumption,
the dominance of today’s retail giants, and change where we live and
work is already being done with extensive metro systems. To prevent
how we work. It will change the face of the city and logistics, and where
urban sprawl, cities are being extended upwards rather than outwards.
and how we consume. The change will not happen overnight, but, as we
This lesson comes not least from Atlanta in the US. This is a city that is
have seen with the introduction of various types of digital services,
160 km wide, meaning that its inhabitants drive an average of 106 km
change still comes as a surprise to many a business leader. Consequently,
every day to get to work and to make their way around town. Traffic
the business landscape as we know it will change.
congestion is hence one of the major problems for cities today. According to the Official Journal of the European Union, annual congestion in
THE URBAN EXPLOSION
urban areas cost the EU economy 1 per cent of GDP. An effective
According to the UN, over the next few decades the world’s population
transport system is crucial, and transport systems all over the world are
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S O C I E T Y significantly under stress – no more so than in the developing countries,
high-end-user cars and where the average age of the car fleet is low. In
where we will see a significant increase in the number of vehicles.
Europe, this is particularly true for Luxembourg, where the average car is about four years old. With this trend in mind, we believe that by 2020
NEW TRANSPORTATION NEEDS ARISE
the advanced semi-autonomous cars will perhaps already make up more
Personal cars as we know them today are ill-suited to meet the challenge
than 50 per cent of all cars in the most prosperous cities in the world.
of increased urbanisation: passenger density is low, and personal cars
On a local scale, this development will most likely have a huge impact
need parking spaces in tightly confined city centres, where space is at a
on congestion levels. Studies by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
premium. In addition, personal cars are the primary cause of fatal or
(MIT) have already shown that just a few per cent of cars on the street
injurious traffic accidents. Three other means of transportation seem
with advanced driver systems is enough to make a noticeable difference
better suited for future city transportation: (i) public mass transportation;
to congestion. According to MIT, advanced cruise control systems could
(ii) bicycles; and (iii) autonomous cars. Most major cities are already in
increase the capacity of roads by 20 per cent, which would further reduce
the process of expanding their mass transportation infrastructure – for
congestion, and, importantly, this is not something we still have to wait
example, by establishing or expanding metro networks – and facilitating
for. The BMW i3 concept car especially designed for urban areas will
the use of bicycles, such as through communal city-bike schemes and by
start selling this year, and it can drive itself at speeds of up to 40 km/h.
providing dedicated cycle lanes. The City of London is even considering
The consequences of the increased autonomy in cars will thus affect
elevated cycle lanes that lift bikes above houses and
mobility long before the fully autonomous car hit the streets. In the years
however, little attention has been given to how
after 2020, wealthy cities and regions with a
autonomous (robot) cars may transform city
large demand for new higher-end-user cars
To many people, robot cars seem like
congestion rates. This trend will boost economic
something out of science fiction, and just a
growth in places where it is already booming;
decade ago, even experts in robotics thought that they belonged to a future further ahead. In actuality, great leaps have been made with regard to the development of autonomous cars in recent years, most notably by Google, whose
”To prevent urban sprawl, cities are being extended upwards rather than outwards”
polarisation between poor and rich cities. By 2030, more than 50 per cent of all cars in Europe may be fully autonomous: able to drive on their own, though still requiring human
autonomous cars have already driven more
backup (for legal reasons, if not technical ones).
than 500,000 km – in city traffic, as well as on
This will likely reduce congestion in most city
motorways. In September 2012, Sergey Brin
regions to acceptable levels, while boosting
from Google announced that, within five years,
economic growth and perceived life quality.
fully autonomous cars would be available to
At some point between 2030 and 2040,
congestion might be eliminated altogether. That will significantly expand
Without realising it, many people today are already driving a semi-
commuter belts out from main cities. Danish studies have shown that as
autonomous car. For instance, their car may be equipped with cruise
many as 80 per cent of employees are willing to drive up to an hour to their
control or other services, which are controlled by the vehicle. In the
workplace, but then, beyond that level, there is a sharp decline in acceptance
future, this trend towards autonomy will increase. Even today, car
of commuting time and distances to workplaces. The breaking point
manufacturers have already introduced autonomous systems for driving
probably varies between countries and cities, but it is likely that the same
cars under certain conditions, such as: parking, emergency overrides, and
fundamental situation exists everywhere. The autonomous car will thus
motorway driving, even providing the ability to read passing road signs
affect where people choose to live, expanding city limits and accelerating
and enabling the car to adjust to meet the required driving state.
the trend towards mega-cities. It will impact the way we work, as people
Eventually, these developments mean that the robot car, or the driverless
increasingly can work while on-the-go in cars that will be equipped with
car as we prefer to call it, will take over from the autonomous car.
flexible workstations. As commuting time increasingly is used for things
The main question is not whether these developments will happen, but
other than driving the car, commuting time will turn into entertainment
rather when and how. However, it is certain that these developments will
time, consumption time, relaxing time, working time, planning time, and
not happen overnight. Autonomous cars will most likely first trickle
hence it may turn into the most valuable time to connect with customers.
down to the mass-market in places where there is substantial demand for
A window of opportunity opens, which is not to be missed.
NOTES “’Cycle lanes in the sky’ answer to trafﬁc danger”, The Times, September 22 2012, tinyurl.com/cmd8ffg. 2 James Niccolai: “Self-driving cars a reality for ‘ordinary people’ within 5 years, says Google’s Sergey Brin”, Computerworld, September 25 2012, tinyurl.com/d837uwa 1
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THE 75TH EUROCONSTRUCT CONFERENCE COPENHAGEN
Outlook for the global economy and European, Latin American and Chinese construction. Future cities and construction in the medium term. Venue: Hotel dâ€™Angleterre Kongens Nytorv 34 DK-1050 Copenhagen Date: June 13th and 14th 2013 Read more about the conference at www.euroconstruct.dk
EUROCONSTRUCT is an unbeatable source for upcoming developments in the building and civil engineering industries in Europe. It is aimed at analysts and decision-makers in the construction, building materials, ďŹ nance and related industries, and at leaders in ministries, agencies, and in national and international associations. EUROCONSTRUCT conferences and reports are tailored to support business planning and strategies, providing detailed, well-documented analyses and forecasts of trends and developments relating to construction in Western and East Central Europe, often supplemented by Global angles.
C O L U M N
NORDIC LEADERSHIP By Johan Peter Paludan, director emeritus and associated futurist at the Copenhagen Institute for Futures Studies
Recently at a conference in Stockholm, I heard the following notion: Norwegians invent things, Swedes produce them, and Danes sell them. The dictum came from a Norwegian man, and thus I withdrew my urge to question the debatable part of the notion in favour of acknowledging one of the central themes of the statement – the difference in size of the Nordic economies, and hence, acknowledging that the economic differences make it difﬁcult to talk about a common Nordic leadership model. On the other hand, one could approach it from basic Marxist theory, and the idea of a base-superstructure. The base determines the superstructure. In other words, the forces and relations of production determine all other relations and ideas in society, i.e. religion and culture, including leadership culture. Also, the means of production provides the economic conditions for the welfare state. The framework for leadership is conditioned by the welfare state. This has been the case for years. Jan Carlsson, the head of SAS in the 1980s, sought to implement a service management reform of SAS, based on the consideration that the customer’s ﬁrst experience with the company sets the benchmark of customer relation. If the company failed to give a good ﬁrst impression, what came after wouldn’t matter. Thus, it was necessary to increase the levels of competence among the frontline staff, as well as to provide them with more freedom of action. This worked well in Scandinavia, but not at all in the US. The reason why was said to be the welfare state, or rather: the lack of it in the states. Losing one’s job in Scandinavia isn’t a pleasant experience, but it will not kill you. In the US, it would be a disaster, and so the front staff there wanted clear instructions on how to act in any given situation, making sure they wouldn’t do anything wrong. No thinking for oneself, thank you!
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Where the production structure differs between the Nordic countries, the welfare model provides a common ground that can explain – at least in comparison to the circumstances in America – the decentralised type of leadership that characterises the Nordic countries. There are on-going debates about how the welfare state should be implemented. It isn’t a static entity, but basically the welfare state has come to stay, and with it the decentralised Nordic management style. The tendency of decentralisation is underpinned by two other phenomena: - The shift from emphasis on industrial activity to activities characterised by greater knowledge or service-based content. This does not mean that industrial production will cease to exist, but it will require a high degree of automation. The industry will face the same depopulation we have seen in farming. Knowledge-intensive production and service activities don’t work well with the hierarchical leadership structure of the past. We are leaving behind the old understanding that “the business of business is business”, and we’re replacing it with the notion that “the business of business is people”. To phrase it differently: from real capital to human capital. - Everything that can be automated will be. Regarding leadership, this means automation of control mechanisms. In the future, leaders no longer have to bother their co-workers with demands of continuous reports and updates, since it will be carried out automatically. Being a manager will not be easier in the future. Now, you need to manage the less predictable factors like company culture, vision and mission, motivation, and employee satisfaction. Nor will it be easier to be an employee. Now you need to think for yourself.
It is all too familiar to us. Long queues on the way to airport security. Off with your coat, off with your belt, off with your shoes. Get out your computer and all liquid containers, nicely put into transparent bags. Walk through the scanner that irradiates us to see if we are carrying anything dangerous. A humiliating body search if you have forgotten a phone or bunch of keys in your pocket or a watch around your wrist, if your metal buttons are a little too big – or if you have a nail in your leg after a skiing accident. We aren’t happy, but we cope, since after all, it’s about our own safety. Terrorism and hijackings are a fact of life – recent world history shows this beyond any doubt. September 11, 2001, Al Qaeda terrorists managed to smuggle weapons aboard four airplanes, and we all know what the result of that was. We don’t want that sort of thing to happen again – and attempts have been made. Who doesn’t remember the shoe bomber Richard Reid, who December 22, 2001 smuggled explosives aboard a plane, hidden in his shoes, but failed to detonate them? Or the terrorist cell that in 2006 attempted to smuggle liquid explosives onto at least seven transatlantic passenger ﬂights? Or Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who on Christmas Day 2009 tried to blow up a plane with explosives hidden in his underwear? Aren’t checks of shoes and liquids et al a small price to pay to avoid this sort of thing? In fact, we ought to be happy about airport security scanners. The alternative would be a thorough body search of all passengers and rummaging through all suitcases. Just consider how long that would take! Not to mention how unpleasant and invasive it would be. Air travel has become an everyday thing for more and more, and many more people pass through airports than 2030 years ago – and back then, we also had terrorism involving airplanes. I need only mention the Lockerbie incident in 1988, when Libyan terrorists blew up a passenger plane with 243 passengers and 16 crew members – or the situation in 1994 when four Islamists hijacked Air France Flight 8969, killed several passengers and planned to blow up the plane above Paris. The last was fortunately prevented by French security forces who stormed the plane in Marseilles and during a 20-minute gunﬁght killed the hijackers without further loss of human lives – something of a rarity in hostage crises. What the psychological costs were for the surviving hostages we can only guess at. These are just two examples of terrorism directed at airplanes. There have been more than a hundred instances of airplane hijackings and bombings since World War II, and they have resulted in several thousand deaths – 3,000 alone on 9/11. The incidents described above and many others might have been prevented with better control of passengers and their luggage. If thorough control can prevent just one such disaster, isn’t it worth a bit of hassle and waiting? We must acknowledge that there will always be people who wish to harm others, whether because of misguided political or religious idealism or because the people involved are sick individuals striking back at a world that seems hostile to them. We must also acknowledge that in our modern world, it has become easier for evil or sick people to get their hands on weapons and explosives. It is necessary to protect ourselves and our loved ones against this sort of people. Hence, the conclusion must be: airport security, yes please!
AIRPORT SECURITY CONTROL. Control after check-in in airports has been intensiﬁed worldwide as a result of terrorist attacks or attempts in recent years. However, do we want it in the future?
No thanks! We cope with it when we stand in the queue to airport security, even though we grumble about having to take off a lot of clothes. After all, it’s about our own safety. Even so, isn’t the control a bit out of proportion? Yes, 3,000 people did die on 9/11 2001 as a result of airplane hijackings. In comparison, 30,000 people are killed in trafﬁc every year just in the United States, often because the drivers are too drunk or too tired to drive – but this hasn’t made us require blood samples of drivers every time they get behind a wheel. Or consider the train bombings in Madrid March 11, 2004; the worst terrorist action in Europe this century. This didn’t get us to install scanners in train stations and demand that we strip half naked in order to get aboard – and this in spite of many more people travelling by train than by plane. I have no clear idea of how many resources are used on airport security – personnel wages and expenses for acquiring, upgrading and maintaining scanners – but it is a considerable sum. If the same resources were used to combat disease, hunger and conﬂicts in the Third World, would that not make it possible to save many more human lives in a single year than has been killed by terrorism since the beginning of this century? And perhaps also create some goodwill for the West, making fewer people interested in doing terrorism? Add to this that it is rather doubtful how much airport security control really helps. The shoe bomber Richard Reid wasn’t caught in security, and the same is true for the terrorists who in 2006 wanted to use liquid explosives to blow up planes. Reid was overpowered by his co-passengers, and the 2006 terrorist cell was unravelled by British intelligence. In both cases, airport security acted reactively – tests of explosive liquids and shoes were only introduced after these things were attempted smuggled aboard planes. Why should terrorists use these methods again when they failed so badly the ﬁrst time and there are so many other ways to hijack planes or make them crash? Airport security scanners are notoriously bad at picking up ceramic knives, but these knives are just as effective threats as metal knives. Or what about a 3D-printed plastic pistol – something that has already been made? Besides, 100 ml of nitro-glycerine is quite sufﬁcient to blow a hole in the hull of an airplane, so the limit seems a bit arbitrary. Or if the terrorists really wanted to mess things up, they could put a man aboard who’s infected with a deadly disease. A few coughs, and the entire cabin has been infected. Some poisons can also kill people in quantities far less than 100 ml. Take for instance the easily produced botulinum toxin, known from sausage poisoning. One microgram is enough to kill a grown man if the toxin is inhaled, or 6-8 people if ingested with food. There are plenty of ways to kill people, so why should terrorists limit themselves to one of the few that actually are tested for in airports? In our modern, complex society, total safety is a pipedream. Airport security only contributes a little, if anything, to increasing our overall safety. Why then do we allow it to make our lives so difﬁcult? Airport security, no thanks!
The texts are written by science and technology editor Klaus Æ. Mogensen, SCENARIO.
E C O N O M I C S
In the 2000s, microcredit programs were proclaimed to be the magic bullet to ﬁnally put an end to poverty. They even led to a Nobel Prize for one of the originators of this type of credit. Unfortunately, the effect has failed to materialise – and studies even suggest that microcredit may be counterproductive. However, the idea of microﬁnancial measures aimed at the world’s poor is far from dead. The question is, what will be the next trend in the area?
THE FUTURE OF MICROFINANCE IS MICROINSURANCE By Charlotte Xenia Brøns-Poulsen
ow creditworthiness represents a huge impediment for poor people around the world. Banks in both developing and industrialized countries find it risky and unprofitable to lend money to the poor, and hence willing entrepreneurs are unable to start their own small business and possibly break the vicious cycle of poverty in which they are trapped. As a reaction to poverty caused by low creditworthiness, the concept of microcredit – the provision of small, short-term loans – emerged in Bangladesh at the initiative of Muhammad Yunus, the founder of the Grameen Bank. In 2006, Dr. Yunus won the Nobel Prize for his work with microcredit. In accordance with approaches of bottom-up development, the Grameen Bank focuses on the household or community levels of society and pursues a trickle-up strategy, which implies that the effects will eventually have a positive impact on the economy as a whole. The only requirement for a loan is that the family’s assets fall below the Bank’s threshold – it is not necessary to furnish collateral, demonstrate a credit history, or produce a guarantor.1 Throughout the 1990s, the microcredit industry has shifted from being primarily supply-driven to taking client needs into consideration. Traditional loans become debt, which makes the borrower vulnerable should the expected ability to repay fail to materialise. Microfinance has for this reason been recognised as having a greater potential for improving the livelihoods of poor people, since it encompasses all means of accessing finance –
including savings – and often involves a myriad of non-financial initiatives such as training to go hand-in-hand with the microcredit loan itself. Microsavings in the form of savings-and-loans groups were then promoted as the road towards sustainable development. In this model, groups formed by poor people begin by pooling their savings in order to eventually use these savings to make loans to individual members. Borrowing is often more risky and less flexible than saving, and while borrowers pay interest, savers earn interest. Furthermore, not all poor people are creditworthy or want debt, but all people are deposit worthy and want assets. Donor agencies, NGOs, academics, and policy makers were ecstatic and declared microfinance to be the long-awaited magic bullet. This holistic approach to local ownership, capacity building, empowerment, income generation and subsequently to sustainable development was expected to revolutionise the developing world. Unfortunately, microfinance paradigms have not proven to eradicate poverty and foster development to the anticipated extent – in fact, far from it! Recent evaluations suggest that microcredit can even cause harm, whereas the effects of microsavings are largely undetectable. 2 Although the initial euphoria has greatly diminished, it would be unwise to disregard microfinance as a tool for development. There is evidence to suggest that such schemes indeed can
The Bangladeshi economist and Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus sitting among a group of the people to whom Grameen Bank in the 00s began offering microcredits.
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T E N D E N S
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E C O N O M I C S
“Microinsurance – yet another variety under the umbrella of microfinance – could very well be the future trend in development”
transform the lives of the poor. In the future, donors must focus more specifically on providing loans to entrepreneurs rather than treating everyone as a as potential entrepreneur.3 It only makes sense to take out a loan – whether from a microfinance institution or a savings-and-loans group – if the money is invested in a viable project. Therefore, microfinance should not be issued uncritically and must be combined with proper training. Depending on the investment, a good infrastructure and a well-functioning market may also be key prerequisites. The big question is: What is the successor of microcredit and microsaving? Microleasing has not gained momentum, but microinsurance – yet another variety under the umbrella of microfinance – could very well be the future trend in development. Microinsurance is the protection of low-income people against specific perils in exchange for regular premium payments proportionate to the likelihood and cost of the risk involved. This definition is essentially the same as for regular insurance except for the clearly prescribed target market: low-income people; i.e., people ignored by mainstream commercial and social insurance schemes.4 To address the great variety of risk management needs of the poor, microinsurance products include insurances for illness, disability, death, funerals, theft, fire, crop failure, livestock disease, natural disasters, etc. This is not an entirely new concept, but there is a vast neglected market, which suggests that we in the future will see a strong boost in the global microinsurance industry. Exact numbers are difficult to obtain, but experts estimate that the amount of people
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covered by affordable insurance premiums has exploded from around 140 million in 2010 (Munich Re Foundation) to 500 million people today, while the potential market is up to three billion. In addition, only around 5 per cent of microinsurance clients are Africans.5 According to Irena Radeva, a specialist in microinsurance, it is for this reason safe to assume that microinsurance will develop at a breathtaking pace over the coming years. She elaborates: “We are currently experiencing several new trends in the microinsurance industry all pointing to a future boost in the outreach of microinsurance schemes. There is a huge unexploited market especially in Africa where the growth of the industry is driven by a great demand.” One of the crucial trends that Irena Radeva refers to is an increased commitment of governments in developing countries – particularly in Asia. In India, for example, the government supports the microinsurance industry by means of subsidies, public-private partnerships, and regulations that stipulate that at least 10 per cent of the customers of commercial insurers must come from the low-income market. Just as importantly, there has been an explosion in the active engagement of the commercial insurance industry. At least 33 of the world’s 50 greatest commercial providers of insurance have entered the low-income market, compared to only seven in 2005.6 “In Latin America, growth is driven by private insurers who see great possibilities in entering this untapped market. They incorporate this in their CSR strategies and internationalization
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“Donor agencies, NGOs, academics, and policy makers were ecstatic and declared microfinance to be the long-awaited magic bullet”
processes, and of course they also expect financial gains,” Irena Radeva explains. Private insurers, governments and NGOs are continuously finding new ways to reduce costs and increase outreach. Mobile operators are beginning to take an interest in microinsurance, thus offering solutions for sales facilitation, premium collection and claims settlement.7 The mobile platform has the potential to reduce transaction costs, thereby making premiums more affordable and hence massively expanding the outreach of microinsurance within the coming years. Ghanaian subscribers of the mobile operator Tigo automatically get a free health insurance covering themselves and a registered family member if they spend
the equivalent of $ 3 per month.8 Irena Radeva provides another example of automatic enrollment where the whole village is covered if the chief enrolls in a microinsurance scheme. She continues: In contrast to especially microcredit, microinsurance is not promoted as a quick fix but rather as a “valuable tool in the poverty alleviation toolkit”.9 The fact that microinsurance has great potential but does not give unrealistic promises could very likely mean that it will become a lasting trend. In conclusion, microinsurance is unlikely to be the magic bullet of the future, but numerous factors indicate that it will soon become the new buzzword within the world of development.
NOTES 1 www.grameen-info.org 2 Stewart et al (2010): What is the impact of microﬁnance on poor people? London. 3 Ibid 4 Churchill & Matul, eds. (2012): Protecting the Poor: A microinsurance Compendium, Vol II, Geneva and Munich 5 Ibid 6 Coydon & Molito (2011): Commercial Insurers in Microinsurance, Luxemburg 7 Téllez (2012): Mobile Money for the Unbanked: Emerging practices in mobile microinsurance, London 8 Ibid 9 Churchill, 2012
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SCIENCE & TECHNOLOGY Edited by Klaus Æ. Mogensen
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T E C H TA L K
An ordinary school day in the United States, 2013 AD. The pupils are heading for class. Among them rolls a tall, thin robot without arms. The robot is a pupil – or rather: it is the stand-in for a pupil too ill to come to school himself. The robot is called VGo and is developed by the company VGo Communications in New Hampshire. It is an example of so-called telepresence; i.e., being present at a distance. The ‘real’ pupil is sitting at home or in hospital and remote-controls VGo around the school corridors and into the class rooms where he or she can follow class and ask questions on equal terms with other pupils. The robot can’t put chalk to blackboard, but before long it will probably be able to communicate with a smartboard, making the pupil able to do problems in class. VGo, which can handle an entire school day on a single charge, costs $ 6-7,000 plus $ 100 a month for service – not a lot if we consider that it is a matter of a child’s learning and future. At the moment, VGo is only used for seriously ill patients, but we can imagine that schools in the future will have a number of robots available, enabling pupils to attend school even when having a less serious, transmittable disease like inﬂuenza, or if they have gone on vacation with their family outside of ordinary school holidays – something that is becoming more common. Who knows, maybe in time pupils will choose to go to school by robot if it rains so much they don’t want to go by bicycle? How well the robot will do in physical education classes is of course an open question. Klaus Æ. Mogensen
B R E A K T H R O U G H S
GOLD RUSH IN SPACE By Klaus Æ. Mogensen
In the middle of the 19th century, about 300,000 people rushed to California when rumours spread of discoveries of large gold deposits. This migration became known as the California Gold Rush. Not everybody struck gold, and not everyone who did strike gold became rich, but in a few years, gold was mined at a value of several billion dollars by today’s rates. A similar ‘gold rush’ is just beginning with space as its goal. At any rate, in the last year, two companies have been founded with the goal of doing asteroid mining: Planetary Resources, backed by among others Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt and the movie maker James “Titanic” Cameron, and in early 2013 Deep Space Industries, which will send off the ﬁrst probes already in 2015. There are undoubtedly things out there worth going out for. In February 2013, the asteroid 2012 DA14 passed close by Earth, and Deep Space
Industries estimated in that connection that this chunk of rock of about 40,000 tonnes contained materials – particularly iron, nickel and frozen water – at a value of up to a few hundred billion dollars. These materials aren’t worth nearly this much on the surface of the Earth, but since it costs roughly 10 million dollars per tonne to put stuff into orbit, the value up there is far greater. Hence, it makes sense to extract and process materials in space rather than sending them up from the Earth, and this is the idea behind asteroid mining. Even though asteroids also can contain very valuable materials like gold and platinum, it makes little sense to freight them down to the surface of the earth: a current NASA mission with the goal to bring back just 60 grams of asteroid material costs in the neighbourhood of a billion dollars. Yet in orbit, something as simple as water can be of enormous value. Not only can astronauts get
something to drink; water split into oxygen and hydrogen by solar energy can be used as fuel for probes and satellites. However, we shouldn’t expect to see spacesuited miners with jackhammers standing on the surface of asteroids the way it was imagined in old science ﬁction stories. Mining will be left to robots that can operate in space without the need for air, heat and food. Even the materials processing will likely be done by robots, e.g. by 3D printing ﬁnished objects from pulverised asteroid matter. 3D printing typically requires some ﬁnishing that has to be done by hand, but in January this year the US robot maker iRobot (the company behind the robot vacuum cleaner Roomba) took out a patent for a robot that can handle these tasks. Hence, the road to space mining seems to have been paved. However, it won’t be fortune seekers, but robots, that will make out the core of the new gold rush.
B R E A K T H R O U G H S
BRIEF UPDATES ON TECHNOLOGY AND SCIENCE
DRAW IN THE AIR We have had 3D printers for some time; now you can also get a 3D pen. The pen is called 3Doodle and is developed by the American start-up WobbleWorks. 3Doodle secretes a melted thread of plastic that solidifies in air in a fraction of a second. You can thus draw e.g. a vertical thread or a spiral rising from a piece of paper. Several threads can be combined into larger objects. You can also draw flat figures on paper and then peel them off and combine them into three-dimensional models. The pen can be bought for US$ 75. The current model requires a cord, similar to an oldfashioned soldering iron, but a batterydriven version is on the way. See demo video via the link below. Source: New Scientist www.newscientist.com/23183
NASA TEST PLANE CUTS GOOGLE WANTS TO FUEL USE IN HALF ELIMINATE PASSWORDS Jet airplanes consume vast quantities of fuel, and this isn’t good for the climate or the economy – the latter particularly if oil prices continue to rise. In recent years, various efforts have been made to reduce fuel consumption, e.g. by adding winglets to wingtips and building planes from lighter composite materials, but there’s a limit to what you can achieve this way. NASA has now tested a radically different type of airplane that potentially can cut fuel consumption in half. The prototype, which so far only has been built to reduced scale, is a so-called ‘hybrid wing’; a cross between the classical airplane design and the boomerang-like ‘flying wings’. The hybrid has a wide, flat body and short, sweptback wings. The reduced fuel consumption is achieved through a combination of three things: the more stream-lined shape of the plane, a new construction method combining carbon fibre and foam plastic, and finally the use gh of a new type of jet engine called ultra-high bypass ratio engine, which is difficult to mount on traditional planes, but is easily mounted on the upper surface of hybrid hing that also reduces airplanes – something noise. In spitee of the good result, it may be h as 20 years before the new as much airplane design gains a foothold in regular passenger planes. Source: Technology Review Link: www.tinyurl.dk/373 380 www.tinyurl.dk/37380
Be honest: Are all your passwords long strings of random characters? Do you use different passwords for all the many places you lock in? Do you replace them every month? Well, do you? Even if you do, it won’t necessarily help much, since computers have become better at hacking passwords. Google thinks it has a solution to this problem: Forget all about passwords and instead use a USB stick called Yubikey. Each user has his or her own Yubikey, which sends a new code every time you log on. This code is compared to a matching code at Google, verifying that the right Yubikey is used. As extra security in case ends your stick gets stolen, Google recommends still using a password; but it doesn’t sn’t have to be as complex as now, w, since the primary protection tection lies in n the stick. Sources: urces: Wired Magazine Link: www.tinyurl.dk/37315
B R E A K T H R O U G H S
BRAIN CHIP VERSUS ALZHEIMER’S
GLASSES AGAINST COLOUR BLINDNESS
FOLIC ACID PREVENTS AUTISM
Good news for patients with early-stage Alzheimer’s: Perhaps the disorder can be treated with a chip implanted in the brain. The chip emits tiny electrical impulses that normalise abnormal activity in the brain caused by protein changes associated with Alzheimer’s. Last year, Ohio State University began experiments with implanting a ‘pacemaker’ in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients, and the first patient, a woman with a mild case of Alzheimer’s, showed considerable progress in the months after getting the implant. It is still too early to say if the effect is lasting, but it is hoped that this will be known once the experiment ends in 2015 when ten patients will have received the treatment. Source: Singularity Hub Link: www.tinyurl.dk/37316 L
Red-green colour blindness is fairly common, and besides limiting the visual experience, it can be distinctly dangerous in some situations, such as making it difficult to see at a distance if a traffic light is red or green. Researchers at 2AI Labs in Boise, Idaho, have now almost by accident invented glasses that can remedy the disorder. The glasses were originally designed to enable doctors to see blood oxygen content through a patient’s skin by exaggerating colour differences in wavelengths that can reveal differences in oxygen content. It so happens that these are the same wavelengths that redgreen colour-blind people have trouble distinguishing, and colour-blind test subjects wearing the glasses can without diificulty pass tests for red-green colour blindness. In return, the glasses reduce the ability to distinguish between shades of yellow and blue, so it isn’t a full remedy. A variant of the glasses are being developed for poker players, who can then better see the subtle blush on bluffing players’ faces. Source: New Scientist Link: www.newscientist.com23152
A major Norwegian study of pregnant women’s nutrition shows that mothers who have taken folic acid as a dietary supplement before and during pregnancy are less likely to have children with autism and the related Asperger’s syndrome. Folic acid is a type of vitamin B that occurs naturally in leafy greens, nuts, peas, and blueberries. Mothers taking folic acid supplements were less than half as likely to have children with autism disorders. The ones taking the supplements were generally better educated and less likely to be smokers; things that also affect infant health. However, even when these factors were considered, the researchers concluded that folic acid by itself reduced the risk of autism disorders by 39 per cent. Source: Singularity Hub Link: www.tinyurl.dk/37314
B R E A K T H R O U G H S
All we touch and all we see are surfaces, yet we still have a rather negative relation to surfaces – something ‘superficial’ is almost by definition something bad. This can change in the coming years as we see a shift from passive to active surfaces.
SURFACES BECOME ACTIVE By Klaus Æ. Mogensen
“All you touch and all you see / is all your life will ever be,” Pink Floyd sang on their album Dark Side of the Moon. There is some truth to that, and all we touch and all we see are surfaces, so we could well say that our lives are a matter of surfaces. Surfaces are everything – yet paradoxically also practically nothing, since a surface can be almost inﬁnitely thin. In spite of the signiﬁcance surfaces have, we have a negative attitude towards them. It’s not nice being told you are superﬁcial, because this means that you lack depth, and depth is apparently almost by deﬁnition better than surface – except perhaps when you are drowning. This may change in the future as we move from passive surfaces to active surfaces. DIGITAL SURFACES
Traditionally, all we have required of surfaces is that they are nice to look at and comfortable to touch or walk on. With today’s technological advances we are increasingly also demanding that the surfaces can do something. We see this particularly in the sphere of electronics, where touchscreens have become standard on mobile units. The screen is no longer just something you look at, but something you can interact directly with. Microsoft has further developed this idea with the product ‘PixelSense’, which turns a conference table into an interactive computer with a touchsensitive surface, which can also interact with mobile phones laid down on the table. Such a table can also be used for less serious purposes, as it has been demonstrated how you can use the table to play the board game Settlers and the role-playing game Dungeons
& Dragons. Instead of buying physical versions of these games, which take up space on your shelves and where you have to be careful not to lose counters, you can download them as ‘apps’ that even keep track of the rules, so you only have to worry about the fun parts.1 A major research subject today is ‘wearable electronics’; electronics that you wear on your body the same way that we wear clothing, jewellery and wristwatches. The point is that all these devices need to communicate with each other, but there is concern about security if data is transferred with Wi-Fi or Bluetooth, which can be eavesdropped on at a distance. A way to get around this problem is to use so-called Zenneck surface waves, which as the name suggests are radio waves that only spread along the surface of things. Zenneck waves are among other things used for radar that can see what lies beyond the horizon, but can also be used on a smaller scale, for example to send weak radio waves along the surface of clothes. A development team from Roke Manor Research in Romsey, UK, has shown that they can send HD video along surfacetreated fabric with a bandwidth almost three times as good as Wi-Fi. Electronic devices need not be integrated in the fabric in order to communicate with each other. You can for instance transfer information to and from a mobile phone simply by putting it into your pocket, and two people will be able to discreetly exchange information by shaking hands.2 Nor are windows necessarily any longer simply something you look out of; they can show actively updated information. One
example of this is Pioneer’s new ‘Cyber Navi Unit’; a system that projects GPS information and more onto a car’s windshield, such as arrows that show which road to turn right at.3 In a similar manner, windows in ofﬁces can be turned into more-or-less transparent computer screens you can work on, a bit like we already know from ‘smartboards’ that combine computer and whiteboard. Windows may also soon be transformed into giant 3D cameras the register everything that happens around them, and we already have intelligent carpets that can register if they are walked on, with small built-in lights that show the way to the exit or the room you’re having a meeting in. This gives rise to a new thing we can worry about. We are used to say, “what you see is what you get,” but when seemingly innocuous windows, ﬂoors and walls may keep an eye on us, feel us, and listen to us, we get far more than what we see – and not necessarily of the good sort, if you’re paranoid about surveillance. ENVIRONMENT AND ENERGY
Digital surfaces may be clever and practical, but probably of greater signiﬁcance are the various surface treatments and coatings that one way or the other make surfaces more environmentally friendly. For instance, we use windows and walls to protect us from cold and rain – but why not also make them produce energy for us? This is the thinking behind new technology from two US universities. At Stanford University, a team of re-searchers have developed a thin, light, bendable, and inexpensive solar cell that almost like a decal can be fastened to almost
B R E A K T H R O U G H S
any surface, whether curved or rough.4 With this, you can cover walls, tiles, mobile phones, cars and much more with solar cells and hence make things fully or partly selfsufﬁcient with energy. But what about windows? Here, UC Berkeley has a solution. Scientists here have developed glass that also works as a solar cell. The glass lets two thirds of incoming sunlight through and turns 12 per cent of the rest into electricity.5 This is very low efﬁciency compared to solar cells in commercial plants, yet still enough to generate 50 watt per square metre in optimal conditions – a solid supplement to mains power. Of beneﬁt to the environment are also surfaces with nanocoatings that reject moisture, dirt and microorganisms. Such coatings may reduce the need for cleaning and disinfection, both at home and at hospitals. Just consider how much work you could save if you never needed to wash windows or tiles – not to mention avoiding moulds and fungi in the bathroom. We can get nanocoated clothing that doesn’t get dirty; even coffee, red wine and oil peel off like water on goose feathers. It’s not possible to wash this sort of clothing in the traditional NOTES 1 www.tinyurl.dk/37416 2 www.tinyurl.dk/37415 3 www.tinyurl.dk/37414 4 www.tinyurl.dk/37417 5 www.tinyurl.dk/37418 6 www.glowpaint.com 7 www.tinyurl.dk/37419 8 www.tinyurl.dk/37420
way, since soapy water also simply peels off; but then, it isn’t necessary to wash these clothes at all, since they don’t collect dirt, sweat or dust. It may require some getting used to just hanging clothes back in the closet after use, but just consider the environmental beneﬁt from not having to use hot water and soap every time you have used a piece of clothing. An interesting surface product, which a few years ago won NASA’a innovation prize, is a paint that glows by itself for up to several decades. This paint, called Glopaint, contains a large number of small, hollow balls ﬁlled with the hydrogen isotope deuterium and coated on the inside with phosphorus. When deuterium decays into ordinary hydrogen, the atom emits a beta particle, which makes the phosphorus glow. The balls can handle pressures of 2½ tonnes, so there’s no danger of getting exposed to either phosphorus or radioactivity. The half-life of deuterium is 12 years, so even after 24 years, the paint will glow with a quarter of its original power.6 The original idea was that the paint should be used for signs and striping, but then someone got the ingenious idea of painting the paint onto photovoltaic cells. This way, you can create a battery with a lifetime
of 10-20 years, consisting of alternate layers of photocells and glowing paint. A lot of research in surface treatments takes its basis in nature, which has proven to be an efﬁcient designer (see the article Biomimicry: With Nature as Co-Designer in SCENARIO 6, 2012). Nanocoatings that reject water and dirt are for instance inspired by lotus leaves that get the effect by having a multitude of microscopic growths on the surface. This forces water to form drops that roll off and drag dirt with them. With this, you can e.g. make solar cells that don’t get dirty and hence get greater efﬁciency.7 In a similar manner, researchers from the university in Kiel have created a strong, reusable adhesive by mimicking the way that gecko lizards run around on walls and ﬂoors. This adhesive is so powerful that a thin strip can carry the weight of a grown man, and the strip can be removed and reattached thousands of times without losing its adhesive ability. 7 We usually way that a lot can hide beneath the surface. Now and in the future, a lot can also hide in the surface itself. Surfaces are no longer just decoration – they can do a lot of other things.
M E G A T R E N D
We hear all the time that things change faster today than before, and acceleration is often mentioned as a megatrend – one of the broad, certain, long-term trends that shape the future. But is acceleration in reality just an illusion caused by a sort of temporal myopia, with changes seeming bigger because we experience them ourselves?
“IS ACCELERATION” IN REALITY ”JUST AN ILLUSION?” By Anders Bjerre and Klaus Æ. Mogensen
ecently you could several places on the internet see a graph with
end of the war, after which ownership only rose slowly, perhaps because
the headline “Consumption spreads faster today” page 56-57. It
public transportation in the shape of buses and trains had been extended
shows market penetration for various products over the last century –
massively during the war, making it less important to own your own car.
i.e., the time it takes from the introduction of a product until e.g. 80 per
If you want to demonstrate an acceleration of market penetration, you
cent of all households have it, in this case with the US as the example.
can easily select a number of products that show that show faster
The source of the image is in one place noted as being Charlie Catlett,
penetration now – but you can just as easily choose products that show
Argonne National Laboratory. You can find lots of other, similar graphs,
all with the same message: The market penetration of products happen
This isn’t the only example of postulated acceleration that doesn’t hold
faster today. They are used as examples of how things simply change
on closer inspection. Sometimes apparent acceleration covers a
faster and faster.
development driven by other forces. When the lifetime of companies in
The problem with these graphs is that they on a closer look actually
recent years purportedly is significantly shorter than before, it might of
don’t show any clear acceleration of market penetration. Yes, it is true
course be because companies really do survive for a shorter time due to a
that it only took 10 years for the mobile phone to go from a penetration
general acceleration. However, it may also be because it simply has
of 10 per cent to 80 per cent (which happened in the period 1994-2004),
become more culturally and socially acceptable for companies to merge
while this took almost 60 years for the landline telephone (circa 1905-
with other companies or let themselves be bought by them (we could call
1963). However, on the other hand, it only took 12-13 years for the radio
this ‘equity fund logic’ as opposed to ‘paternalistic owner-manager logic’),
to go from 10 per cent to 80 per cent (circa 1925-1938), while the
and even though a company in this way ceases to exist on paper, it’s not the
dishwasher, after more than 60 years since its introduction, hasn’t yet
same thing as it not being in existence any more – no more than a person
reached a penetration of 80 per cent. The perhaps fastest penetration of
who marries and changes his or her last name ceases to live.
all – left out of the above-mentioned graph, but included in others – is the TV set, which went from 10 per cent to 80 per cent in just 7 years
(1961-1968). The boom box (transistor radio with cassette recorder) had
Another reason for the illusion of acceleration is that the things that
a similarly rapid penetration some years later. Some old products’ slow
change today aren’t the same as changed 50-100 years ago. We speak of
penetration can also be explained by external factors. For instance, in the
how rapid progress is in computer technology and communication,
US the personal car went from10 per cent to 60 per cent in 12 years from
where an ordinary smartphone today has far greater computing power
1916-1928 – but then, the Great Depression hit, followed by World War
than all the computers used in the Apollo Project combined. This is truly
II. Private car ownership actually dropped to about 47 per cent by the
rapid progress, but other things happened just as quickly in the past, just
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M E G A T R E N D
“Since 1972, no man has set foot on the Moon, so here, progress hasn’t just stood still – it has even reversed”
in other fields. Since we mentioned the Apollo Project: In 1958, the first
service need than earlier times’ subsistence farming. Similarly, many
man-made satellite, Sputnik, was put into orbit around the Earth. Just
cities would not have become cities if the railway hadn’t come their way
three years later, the first human being was launched into orbit, and eight
– while others lying where the railway didn’t come sank into obscurity.
years after that, the first people walked on the surface of the Moon. Since
In the same period, urbanisation, fixed working hours, and a money
1972, no man has set foot on the Moon, so here, progress hasn’t just stood
economy came to penetrate everyday life for large groups. School
still – it has even reversed. Nor do passenger jets fly any faster than they
attendance became ubiquitous, and the idea of equality spread – for
did 50 years ago, so here, we can’t speak of acceleration either. In fact, the
instance, both women and servants were given voting rights in the wake
fastest passenger planes – and fastest public means of transportation
of industrialisation and the opening towards the wide world that was one
overall – today are far slower than the Concorde, which was introduced
result of railways and telegraphs and the complexity that arose from that.
in 1969, but since was taken out of operation. We can even go further back: It took less than 16 years from when the
WHAT CHANGED FASTEST?
Wright Brothers in December 1903 flew 260 metres in the world’s first
Did changes happen faster from 1880 to 1900 than from 1980 to 2000 in
motorised airplane to when Alcock and Brown flew non-stop across the
the majority of the world? We can easily argue that this is true, if we
Atlantic in June 1919, a trip of 3040 km. This is more than 10,000 times
mainly focus on Western Europe or North America, but what then about
as long a flight in slightly over 15 years, while computers only can offer
developments in Eastern Europe (the fall of the Wall) and in China (the
about 1,000 times as much calculating power over a similar period.
extraordinary communist capitalism)? There isn’t necessarily any clear
Progress happened very quickly in the epoch of mass industrialisation. The telegraph was invented and improved – and very quickly the world
conclusion: Progress has accelerated at different times in different parts of the world.
was covered with telegraph wire. The railway was similarly developed –
Nor is rapid progress just something belonging to the industrial age.
and spread like a prairie fire. We can’t measure market penetration to the
Johannes Gutenberg invented the printing press around 1450. Fifty years
individual consumer for ‘products’ like these, since they weren’t designed
later, the press had spread to all of Europe, and more than 20 million books
to reach the individual households. We can’t even measure the rate of
had been printed – one for every three Europeans. A bit later, the Black
dissemination to cities in any meaningful way, because the telegraph and
Death spread, admittedly slower than a new influenza virus today, but not
the railway (along with a few other innovations) transformed the world.
much slower than the HIV epidemic since the 1980s – and the Black Death
The breakthroughs at the time in communication and transportation led
spread wider; in large regions, two thirds of the population died. We have
to a significantly different development of large regions. Farming was far
(fortunately) not seen anything like it later; at least not at the same scale.
tighter integrated into the world market and gained a very different
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We can also ask: Can we drive faster on the highways than we could 20
M E G A T R E N D
CONSUMPTION SPREAD FASTER TODAY
PERCENT OF U.S. HOUSEHOLDS
CLOTHES W S
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M E G A T R E N D
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M E G A T R E N D
”Nor do passenger jets fly any faster than they did 50 years ago, so here, we can’t speak of acceleration either”
years ago? For many people, the daily commute takes significantly
say the internet, but this is at least in part because we haven’t experienced
longer, among other things because of congested roads. In many well-off
for ourselves just how big a change the radio represented in its time.
cities, more people go by bicycle because it is faster than going by car. Similarly: Do our computers boot more quickly than those we had 20
THE PSYCHOLOGICAL FALLACY
years ago? And do we really write faster in word processors – or do all
We like to confirm each other in how everything goes faster and faster.
the many new functions in actuality mean very little for our daily use?
It is a convenient explanation for how we can’t find the time for all the
We speak of the ‘well enough’ revolution in these and other fields: The
things we would like to do or feel we should do. However, the ancient
big leaps have been made; we may be able to make minor improvements
Romans had the same explanation a few thousand years earlier, and
in the future, but many of the innovations we are presented with may not
perhaps it’s simply a common excuse? After all, we can always find
necessarily represent improvements in any true sense. And even when
something that changes a bit faster now that 20 years ago – and then we
we can speak of significant improvements, the great shift may lie earlier.
focus on that when we need to explain our inadequacies. We, who in
For the authors of this article, the shift to colour TV in our youths may
spite of crisis and unemployment still live in an unimaginably comfortable
have been an improvement in quality, but not a quantum leap like when
and safe world, focus on stress – but I wonder if people who don’t know
our respective parents in their time purchased their very first black-and-
if they can get anything to eat tomorrow aren’t more stressed out than
white television and brought living images into their homes. And the
those that simply worry that they don’t update their Face book profiles as
change to flat-screen TV? Quite practical, but a very marginal
quickly as their friends?
improvement compared to the shift from B&W to colour TV. And before our times, the shift from ‘no radio’ to ‘radio’ was probably an even greater
IS ACCELERATION AN ILLUSION?
quantum leap for people’s everyday lives than the shift from ‘radio’ to
What can we conclude? Some things change faster today than before –
‘television’ that we later experienced. So in the field of electronic mass
we can mention more rapidly changing fashions in clothes – while other
communication, we have seen a declining rate of progress – until we got
things change more slowly. Whether things overall change faster or more
the internet, which has given us some entirely new phenomena. But is it
slowly is difficult to say, since it is very easy to overlook some areas and
a greater leap than the radio, which for the first time brought ‘the wide
focus too much on others. However, we can at least conclude that
world’ into our living rooms in real time? It isn’t entirely clear what
acceleration probably isn’t clear enough a trend to really be called
constitutes the greater change. Most people alive today would probably
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Following pages: THE ANT GUY What: THOMAS LAURSEN ON AN ANT HUNT FOR RESTAURANT NOMA Where: JUTLAND, DENMARK Photographer: ULRIK JANTZEN
B O O K
M E N T I O N S
By Jesper Knudsen
THE LAW OF ’LIKES’
THE AGE OF STAR TREK
Seven years after his environmental wakeup call to the world’s population, Al Gore, the former vice president of the United States, earlier this year published a new book filled with ‘inconvenient truths’. This time the subject isn’t just the state of the climate, but the general future of all mankind. In The Future, Gore outlines a number of scenarios for the future and discusses the six driving forces that he thinks will shape the next many decades. The book touches on macro-economic, scientific, power-political, and not least moral perspectives regarding our common future, and thus joins a tradition with predecessors like Alvin Toffler and John Naisbitt.
How do you ensure that your message gets through the internet’s cacophony of blogs, tweets, posts, and sites? How do your videos and texts receive thumbs-up from the masses and will get to be seen and shared by thousands? Chris Bogan and Julien Smith offer a number of simple suggestions for this in their book The Impact Equation, where the two network and branding experts dissect the logic of ‘likes’. Companies and individuals both fight for attention in cyberspace, and if you want internet users to truly take interest in your message, explain Bogan and Smith, it takes more than just a good idea, high credibility among readers, or a certain number of regular followers and fans. It requires a particularly potent mixture of all three things and quite a bit more. However, according to the authors, once you have broken the code and learned the equation, you will know how to be heard through the noise on the internet.
Treknology is journalist Justin McLachlan’s comparative analysis of our technological present and the well-known sci-fi TV series Star Trek’s imagined future universe with its androids, transporters, warp drives, and holodecks. With the aid of experts in technology, robot science, artificial intelligence, and physics, the awardwinning journalist not only shows how close we are to realising the TV series’ technological future scenario, but also questions what opportunities we actually want and ethically can defend. One of the book’s conclusions is that we in several technological fields have come farther than Star Trek’s writers were able to imagine when they wrote the series, which takes place 300 years into the future.
Al Gore: The Future. Random House, 2013
Chris Bogan & Julien Smith: The Impact Equation: Are You Making Things Happen or Just Making Noise? Portfolio Hardcover, 2012.
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Justin McLachlan: Treknology: Star Trek’s Tech 300 Years Ahead of the Future. Boxfire Press, 2013.
B O O K
M E N T I O N S
Nothing is so bad that it isn’t good for something, an old saying goes. This is the starting point for a new book about future capitalism by innovation expert, director and professor Geoff Mulgan. In his book Mulgan looks at the movements that have shaped capitalism through the ages and what the consequences have been for the world society, not least in the current economic crisis. With this ballast, Mulgan argues that we have the tools to create a new and better capitalism where the creative sides are maximised and the destructive ones limited. In the light of the financial crisis, several nations have begun to invest in health, green industries, and education – and what moment, asks Mulgan, is better than the present to choose a more sustainable capitalism?
The business world has changed radically over the last few decades – and if business leaders don’t adapt their business models to this reality, they will not just run their companies to ground – they will also end at the bottom of the labour market as unwanted labour. The book CTR ALT DELETE is a powerful warning from the Canadian media expert Mitch Joel, who over 288 pages describes what basic changes the business world has undergone without very many companies reacting to it. In his book, Joel offers a range of ideas as to how companies can navigate the new currents and turn them to their advantage.
Over the last twenty years, the people of the world have increasingly organised business, the public sector, and their private lives around the worldwide web called the internet. The result is a hitherto unseen global interconnectedness and a wide range of unintended consequences and new social norms that everyone should know about, if you ask the author of Black Code, American internet expert Ron Deipert. In his book he looks at the extensive influence the internet has had on the relationship between citizen and state, the private and the public sphere, and regional and international affairs. With this backdrop he charts the guiding lines for modern, intelligent interrelation with cyberspace and not least internet security in a world where phenomena like WikiLeaks only are the beginning of more and wider trends.
Mitch Joel: Ctrl Alt Delete: Reboot Your Business. Reboot Your Life. Your Future Depends on It. Business Plus, 2013.
Geoff Mulgan: The Locust and the Bee: Predators and Creators in Capitalism’s Future. Princeton University Press, 2013.
Ron Deipert: Black Code: Inside the Battle for Cyberspace. Signal, 2013.
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B A C K G R O U N D
F UTU 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 SEGWAY HUMAN TRANSPORTER By Jan Drejer Petersen
here were no limits to the expectations when people in January
and still is, an inventor of the type that wants to improve the world
2001 began talking about a new invention. Something ground-
through technology: a high-tech idealist. This fact undoubtedly played a
breaking was on its way. Something that would change not just the
part in how the story unfolded.
world of technology, but the very human condition. The first sparse facts
The combination of eccentricity and secrecy kept the kettle boiling
came from the journalist Steve Kemper, who leaked parts of his new
until December 2001, when Kamen finally presented his invention for
book about the art of invention to the tech press. The new invention was
the world press. It was a scooter. The Segway Human Transporter, a two-
called ‘Ginger’ or simply ‘IT’, and it received unqualified support from
wheeled, gyroscope-stabilised, battery-driven one-man scooter with a
tech giants like Steve Jobs (”as big a deal as the PC”) and Jeff Bezos (”a
top speed of about 20 km/h – at a basic price of $ 3,000 (gyroscope
product so revolutionary, you’ll have no problem selling it”). The public
stabilisation is a spinning device that measures the machine’s movements
was given no doubt; the invention was incredible – but nobody really
and keeps it balanced; ed.). After a year of rumours, hundreds of articles,
knew what it was.
and tens of thousands internet forum posts, the revelation came as a
It was rather quickly established that Ginger was some means of
colossal anti-climax – for where was the revolution? Even though the
transportation – a revolutionary means of transportation, mind you.
science journalists agreed that the idea was both novel and ingenious,
Some of the early articles even spoke of hoverboards (floating
most had difficulty hiding their disappointment. Ginger turned out to be
skateboards), though the more serious journalists pointed out that this
more toy than transportation, and it would in no way become a bigger
likely was a bit optimistic. Without any tangible information, the
deal than the PC.
rumours buzzed out of control, but within a couple of weeks they
It is now a well-known fact that the Segway didn’t become the global
condensed around the idea of a self-propelled, self-balancing ‘scooter’.
revolution that people in their crazed enthusiasm had expected. From
This somewhat disappointing revelation didn’t dampen the enthusiasm,
the day it was revealed, things went downhill for Kamen and his scooter.
and it was actually predicted that future city planners would design their
There are of course several more facets to the story of the Segway’s
cities around the Ginger ‘scooter’, the way that the automobile had
decline, but primarily we must ask why people believed that a glorified
changed the urban landscape.
scooter would revolutionise the transportation industry.
The man behind Ginger was Dean Kamen – a somewhat eccentric
The fact was that the technological expectations weren’t so much
fiftyish American inventor and entrepreneur, who among other things
related to the device itself, but rather to the engine technology that people
had invented a compressed-air ‘cannon’ for shooting a man up onto the
thought would be used for it: a gas-driven Stirling engine; a highly
roof of a five-floor building. However, Kamen also had more down-to-
efficient external combustion piston engine – unlike the internal
earth inventions under his belt, like a portable water-filtration unit for
combustion engine known from cars. This type of engine, which is a sort
developing countries, an insulin pump, and a portable dialysis machine.
of Holy Grail in engine technology, was the real reason for large parts of
These inventions had provided him with an annual income in the
the hype. Tech journalists had noted that Kamen had applied for several
millions, but Kamen wasn’t an inventor for the money alone. He was,
patents in Stirling engine technology, installed massive gas tanks on his
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B A C K G R O U N D
factory grounds, and registered internet domains like stirlingscooter.
shares and value. Simply speaking, no-one told them that the product
com. A practical gas-driven Stirling engine would really be both
probably wouldn’t enthuse the public quite as much, and they thus
revolutionary and ground-breaking. Such an engine would be usable
trundled blithely into a blind alley, business-wise. Kamen had expected
almost anywhere: a green, efficient energy source. Once the vehicle
to sell about 50,000 scooters already the first year. This expectation did
turned out to use a quite ordinary battery-driven electrical engine, the
not come true. In the first two years, Kamen only sold 6,000 units, and
revolution evaporated, and the story of the Segway became a pure
now in 2013, the total number is in the neighbourhood of 80,000. With an
average price of $ 5,000, this makes an overall turnover of $ 400 million.
The marketing problems of the Segway were almost fourfold. First, the uncontrolled hype surrounding the product backfired resoundingly:
The bicycle industry, which seems the most obvious competitor, has an annual turnover of $ 7-8 billion in the US alone.
potential buyers were disappointed even before the device went to the
In spite of the bad press, it would be wrong to say that the Segway has
market. Secondly (and thirdly) the invention wasn’t the solution to any
been a total fiasco. It is what it is, and it has found a market for sight-
existing problem, just as it (for this very reason) didn’t have a defined
seeing trips and among American police officers too fat to sit in a car. Yet,
target group. A major task thus faced the marketers: Explain to the
it still stands as a prime example of bad inventions or at least of inventions
customers why they need the product. This is of course a task familiar to
that didn’t fully live up to their potential. However, we must point out
most manufactures, but for the Segway, it was totally unforeseen. After
that we basically can’t blame the invention itself. If people have
all, Jobs and Bezos had predicted that it would sell itself. The fourth
exaggerated expectations about something as simple as a Segway,
problem was that the Segway people had ignored the practical problems
the problem likely lies more with the technology buffs. We may even
with a device of this sort. They were simply so certain of its success that
speak of a sort of modern marketing phenomenon: the self-sustained
they expected that the rest of the world would align and give the slow
scooter priority in traffic. Legal problems, along with the actual sales
I don’t know a lot about how one calculates technological forecasts, but I
price of $ 5,000, almost killed the Segway. Many countries simply didn’t
know that we in general are rather poor at it and that the actual ground-
want the device on their streets and sidewalks, and the few buyers hence
breaking inventions often take us totally by surprise (the car, the internet,
had no place they could drive around on their expensive new toy.
and instant messaging are examples of this). Hence, when a new technology
In short, the entire projected lacked an overall strategy for development,
is promoted as landmark, or people prognosticate societal upheavals, there
distribution and sales. Secrecy and easy access to capital ($ 90 million had
is always a greater likelihood that they are wrong. Just as they were wrong
been invested even before the disclosure) led to a hermetically sealed
about asbestos, Smell-o-Vision, supersonic passenger transportation, Y2K,
development environment with no useful feedback or product iteration.
videophones, microwave ovens, the moon landing, skyscrapers, maglev
The technicians (and nerdy investors) who rejoiced at the machine’s
trains, and nuclear power plants; all things that were predicted to change
complex gyro system lacked the common sense to tell them that
the world radically. Hence, you may be more a realist than a killjoy when
technological innovation by itself doesn’t automatically create market
you ignore the crazed mood and keep a lid on expectations.
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Published on May 2, 2013
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