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12.01.2050

Solar Revolutions PV panels are universal and the less electricity you use yourself, the more you sell. Once people got their heads around that business opportunity, energy efºciency wasn’t such a hard nut to crack!

gained a greater and greater share of the total solar market over the following decades – with a good deal of financial help from the Chinese government. Forty years on, China still dominates the market. Today, there are thousands of large-scale solar plants generating very low-carbon electricity all over the world. Some of the biggest are in the western and southern states of the US, along the shores of the Mediterranean, and across the Middle East and South East Asia. Europe’s biggest solar venture was the Desertec project, launched in 2009. Twelve of the biggest European companies set out to turn a solar dream into

The Economist, March 6th, 2016

The world’s deserts receive more energy from the sun in 6 hours than humans consume in a year. This 2005 DESERTEC map highlighted both the theoretical amount of desert that would be required to provide solar power for the entire world, and the amount for the EU. Perceptions of the strategic signiºcance of solar energy began to change at around that time.

Here’s an interesting issue of the Economist that we’ve dug up from 2016, with a huge feature on the development of solar power. By then, people were realising that solar technology would be able to meet a huge chunk of the world’s demand for electricity. The key moment for solar power was when we reached ‘grid parity’ – the point at which a unit of electricity from solar energy cost no more than a unit of electricity from any other source – and often a lot less. This had a major psychological effect on the world’s perception of solar power: it was no longer seen as an irrelevant add-on, but as the main source of energy. Different countries reached grid parity at different dates (due to more sunshine in some countries than in others), anywhere between 2012 and 2018. It was the Chinese that made the solar revolution possible. From a standing start at the turn of the twenty-first century, Chinese companies

Solar Revolutions 12.01.2050

6

Solar Revolutions 12.01.2050


12.01.2050

Solar Revolutions PV panels are universal and the less electricity you use yourself, the more you sell. Once people got their heads around that business opportunity, energy efºciency wasn’t such a hard nut to crack!

gained a greater and greater share of the total solar market over the following decades – with a good deal of financial help from the Chinese government. Forty years on, China still dominates the market. Today, there are thousands of large-scale solar plants generating very low-carbon electricity all over the world. Some of the biggest are in the western and southern states of the US, along the shores of the Mediterranean, and across the Middle East and South East Asia. Europe’s biggest solar venture was the Desertec project, launched in 2009. Twelve of the biggest European companies set out to turn a solar dream into

The Economist, March 6th, 2016

The world’s deserts receive more energy from the sun in 6 hours than humans consume in a year. This 2005 DESERTEC map highlighted both the theoretical amount of desert that would be required to provide solar power for the entire world, and the amount for the EU. Perceptions of the strategic signiºcance of solar energy began to change at around that time.

Here’s an interesting issue of the Economist that we’ve dug up from 2016, with a huge feature on the development of solar power. By then, people were realising that solar technology would be able to meet a huge chunk of the world’s demand for electricity. The key moment for solar power was when we reached ‘grid parity’ – the point at which a unit of electricity from solar energy cost no more than a unit of electricity from any other source – and often a lot less. This had a major psychological effect on the world’s perception of solar power: it was no longer seen as an irrelevant add-on, but as the main source of energy. Different countries reached grid parity at different dates (due to more sunshine in some countries than in others), anywhere between 2012 and 2018. It was the Chinese that made the solar revolution possible. From a standing start at the turn of the twenty-first century, Chinese companies

Solar Revolutions 12.01.2050

6

Solar Revolutions 12.01.2050


A Concentrated Solar Power plant in a remote area of Riverside County, California — commissioned in 2015, this was one of the early mega-plants, and is still operating very successfully today

reality – which required huge investments not just in the solar farms themselves, but in the high-voltage direct current transmission lines bringing the electricity directly from the farms in North Africa to Europe’s emerging super-grid. This has been a success by any standards. The prosperity and stability enjoyed today by countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt has a lot to do with the huge growth in solar power within those countries and the same is true all around the world. Initially, there were lots of problems coping with high winds and dust (because of the desert conditions), but advanced cleaning systems using either water or compressed air overcame these. There were also serious political problems, with radical political groups in North Africa protesting at the ‘theft of Africa’s solar birthright by the EU’s bloated mega-rich’. It wasn’t until 2023 that the EU and the World Bank made the commitment to a second round of investment, to help power the rest of Africa as well as Europe. People always see this through a technological lens, but that’s not really the point as far as I’m concerned. In 2015, there were still around one billion people who were not connected to any electricity grid, most of them in Africa. This contributed significantly to very high levels of poverty and hunger. But thanks to the mobile telephony revolution, cheap solar power and other renewable technologies that didn’t need to be connected to the grid became available, transforming the lives of hundreds of millions of Africans within the course of a single decade.

Solar Revolutions 12.01.2050

Solar Revolutions 12.01.2050


A Concentrated Solar Power plant in a remote area of Riverside County, California — commissioned in 2015, this was one of the early mega-plants, and is still operating very successfully today

reality – which required huge investments not just in the solar farms themselves, but in the high-voltage direct current transmission lines bringing the electricity directly from the farms in North Africa to Europe’s emerging super-grid. This has been a success by any standards. The prosperity and stability enjoyed today by countries like Morocco, Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt has a lot to do with the huge growth in solar power within those countries and the same is true all around the world. Initially, there were lots of problems coping with high winds and dust (because of the desert conditions), but advanced cleaning systems using either water or compressed air overcame these. There were also serious political problems, with radical political groups in North Africa protesting at the ‘theft of Africa’s solar birthright by the EU’s bloated mega-rich’. It wasn’t until 2023 that the EU and the World Bank made the commitment to a second round of investment, to help power the rest of Africa as well as Europe. People always see this through a technological lens, but that’s not really the point as far as I’m concerned. In 2015, there were still around one billion people who were not connected to any electricity grid, most of them in Africa. This contributed significantly to very high levels of poverty and hunger. But thanks to the mobile telephony revolution, cheap solar power and other renewable technologies that didn’t need to be connected to the grid became available, transforming the lives of hundreds of millions of Africans within the course of a single decade.

Solar Revolutions 12.01.2050

Solar Revolutions 12.01.2050


03.02.2050

Internet Wars Having now done a lot of research on previous technology, the team have come to the conclusion that the ‘rolling IT revolution’ of the last forty years has shaped our lives more powerfully than any other advance. Without that, we simply wouldn’t be living in the more or less sustainable world we have today. But it’s been quite a struggle. The so-called Internet Wars, which broke out in 2021 and went on for more than a decade, proved to be at least as important as the technologies themselves in shaping our digital world. From the turn of the century onwards, there was a noisy minority of people who weren’t persuaded by the hype about the benefits of the ‘everything, everywhere’ revolution (see ‘Ubiquity’). And many people believed that the internet led to a narrowed view of the world, rather than a wider one, by becoming an echo chamber for all their prejudices and playing on their worst fears and instincts. Some of the most serious concerns were to do with privacy – the creeping colonisation of people’s lives by corporate interests. The addictive nature of so many of the online games, social media, apps and immersive experiences provided companies with a limitless wealth of data – which they got better and better at manipulating to draw people deeper into increasingly pathological consumerism. Ubiquity The digital ‘ubiquity’ story (which is what people meant by ‘everything, everywhere, for everyone’) really began around 2015. It all seems so commonplace today that it’s hard to remember the excitement as everything migrated to the Cloud – a move that enabled the innovation treadmill to start delivering one service breakthrough after another. For instance, with IST (instantaneous simultaneous translation), the journey from slow, inaccurate and limited (with just two or three languages involved), to ultra-fast, word-perfect and comprehensive, covering around 50 of the world’s most spoken languages, took

Internet Wars 03.02.2050

no more than ºve or six years – and in the process pretty much put an end to the cultural dominance of the English language. Voice recognition software took a lot longer to perfect, but eventually unleashed a revolution in voice-activated technologies. And now, of course, we’ve had more than 15 years of the MiMac revolution – comprising a host of mind-machine interface technologies that analyse our neuroelectrical impulses and convert them directly into digital signals. It’s now more than 40 years since a guy called Larry Page, one of the founders of a huge company at that time called Google, ºrst talked about search


03.02.2050

Internet Wars Having now done a lot of research on previous technology, the team have come to the conclusion that the ‘rolling IT revolution’ of the last forty years has shaped our lives more powerfully than any other advance. Without that, we simply wouldn’t be living in the more or less sustainable world we have today. But it’s been quite a struggle. The so-called Internet Wars, which broke out in 2021 and went on for more than a decade, proved to be at least as important as the technologies themselves in shaping our digital world. From the turn of the century onwards, there was a noisy minority of people who weren’t persuaded by the hype about the benefits of the ‘everything, everywhere’ revolution (see ‘Ubiquity’). And many people believed that the internet led to a narrowed view of the world, rather than a wider one, by becoming an echo chamber for all their prejudices and playing on their worst fears and instincts. Some of the most serious concerns were to do with privacy – the creeping colonisation of people’s lives by corporate interests. The addictive nature of so many of the online games, social media, apps and immersive experiences provided companies with a limitless wealth of data – which they got better and better at manipulating to draw people deeper into increasingly pathological consumerism. Ubiquity The digital ‘ubiquity’ story (which is what people meant by ‘everything, everywhere, for everyone’) really began around 2015. It all seems so commonplace today that it’s hard to remember the excitement as everything migrated to the Cloud – a move that enabled the innovation treadmill to start delivering one service breakthrough after another. For instance, with IST (instantaneous simultaneous translation), the journey from slow, inaccurate and limited (with just two or three languages involved), to ultra-fast, word-perfect and comprehensive, covering around 50 of the world’s most spoken languages, took

Internet Wars 03.02.2050

no more than ºve or six years – and in the process pretty much put an end to the cultural dominance of the English language. Voice recognition software took a lot longer to perfect, but eventually unleashed a revolution in voice-activated technologies. And now, of course, we’ve had more than 15 years of the MiMac revolution – comprising a host of mind-machine interface technologies that analyse our neuroelectrical impulses and convert them directly into digital signals. It’s now more than 40 years since a guy called Larry Page, one of the founders of a huge company at that time called Google, ºrst talked about search


0-1%

>1-10%

>10-25%

> 25-50%

Brain aneurysm

Lung cancer

Diabetes, type 2

Atrial fibrilation

You: 0.80% Avg. 0.64%

You: 8% Avg. 8%

You: 31% Avg. 25%

You: 27% Avg. 26%

Crohns disease

Colon cancer

Alzheimers disease

Obesity

You: 0.44% Avg. 0.58%

You: 5% Avg. 6%

You: 28% Avg. 9%

You: 38% Avg. 34%

Glaucoma

Psoriasis

Osteoarthritis

You: 0.7% Avg. 1.1%

You: 3.8% Avg. 4.0%

You: 41% Avg. 40%

Multiple sclerosis

Abdominal aneurysm

Heart attack

You: 0.17% Avg. 0.30%

You: 3.9% Avg. 3.1%

You: 46% Avg. 42%

Celiac disease

Melanoma

You: 0.01% Avg. 0.06%

You: 2.3% Avg. 3.7%

> 50-100%

17.05.2050

It’s all in our Genes

The power of genetics: the biggest disruptive force in modern healthcare Stomach cancer You: 2.3% Avg. 2.4%

Deep vein thrombosis You: 2.4% Avg. 3.4%

Rheumatoid arthritis You: 1.5% Avg. 1.6%

Macular degeneration You: 1.2% Avg. 3.1%

It seems odd now, but I do remember feeling a bit nervous having my own genome sequenced in 2020. After all, I was only 20 years old, and not exactly worried about my health. But I’d just come back from a year studying at Tsinghua University in China where it was rapidly becoming something that Chinese students signed up to almost as a matter of course. It was cheap, there was already a real buzz of excitement about digital health and personal genomics, and if I hadn’t done it then, I would have certainly done it later. More than 90% of my age group have had their genomes sequenced, and it will be 100% for our children’s generation. The benefits have been enormous in terms of early diagnosis, the development of new drugs, and targeted treatments progressively tailored to the individual. And it’s had an equally big impact on lifestyles and diet. What it did for me, 30 years ago, was make me think a lot more about what I was eating – simply by surfacing those things that I was ‘genetically susceptible’ to – in my case, obesity and Alzheimers – as you can see from that very first scan. And this made it all very

It’s all in our Genes 17.05.2050


0-1%

>1-10%

>10-25%

> 25-50%

Brain aneurysm

Lung cancer

Diabetes, type 2

Atrial fibrilation

You: 0.80% Avg. 0.64%

You: 8% Avg. 8%

You: 31% Avg. 25%

You: 27% Avg. 26%

Crohns disease

Colon cancer

Alzheimers disease

Obesity

You: 0.44% Avg. 0.58%

You: 5% Avg. 6%

You: 28% Avg. 9%

You: 38% Avg. 34%

Glaucoma

Psoriasis

Osteoarthritis

You: 0.7% Avg. 1.1%

You: 3.8% Avg. 4.0%

You: 41% Avg. 40%

Multiple sclerosis

Abdominal aneurysm

Heart attack

You: 0.17% Avg. 0.30%

You: 3.9% Avg. 3.1%

You: 46% Avg. 42%

Celiac disease

Melanoma

You: 0.01% Avg. 0.06%

You: 2.3% Avg. 3.7%

> 50-100%

17.05.2050

It’s all in our Genes

The power of genetics: the biggest disruptive force in modern healthcare Stomach cancer You: 2.3% Avg. 2.4%

Deep vein thrombosis You: 2.4% Avg. 3.4%

Rheumatoid arthritis You: 1.5% Avg. 1.6%

Macular degeneration You: 1.2% Avg. 3.1%

It seems odd now, but I do remember feeling a bit nervous having my own genome sequenced in 2020. After all, I was only 20 years old, and not exactly worried about my health. But I’d just come back from a year studying at Tsinghua University in China where it was rapidly becoming something that Chinese students signed up to almost as a matter of course. It was cheap, there was already a real buzz of excitement about digital health and personal genomics, and if I hadn’t done it then, I would have certainly done it later. More than 90% of my age group have had their genomes sequenced, and it will be 100% for our children’s generation. The benefits have been enormous in terms of early diagnosis, the development of new drugs, and targeted treatments progressively tailored to the individual. And it’s had an equally big impact on lifestyles and diet. What it did for me, 30 years ago, was make me think a lot more about what I was eating – simply by surfacing those things that I was ‘genetically susceptible’ to – in my case, obesity and Alzheimers – as you can see from that very first scan. And this made it all very

It’s all in our Genes 17.05.2050


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