Welcome to the Club of Amsterdam Journal.
“James Dorsey addresses the current age and labels it an age of defiance and dissent. From the Arab Spring to rising populism in the US and Europe there seems to be a trend towards rejecting the political systems and direction that have prevailed for decades. But why, and where will it go now? And what of China, economically ascendant and adapted to globalism while the west turns away from it?” – Paul Holister
Watch The Future Now Show – Special 2016 & 2017 with James M Dorsey: Quest for Change
Felix F Bopp, Founder & Chairman
Lifesaving simulations for vital infrastructures
|Two years ago, Igor van Gemert started the Alliander innovation satellite SIM CI , Simulating Critical Infrastructures. He brought together a team of physicists, mathematicians, GIS specialists and programmers. The goal: using 3D/VR simulations to identify and assess the weaknesses and risk inherent to critical infrastructures.|
The stakes for Alliander are clear: With nearly 6 million connections Alliander is the largest network operator in the Netherlands. It manages gas and electricity networks in Friesland, Flevoland, Gelderland and Noord-Holland. Faults and disruptions in the networks are a daily concern. Being able to anticipate on incidents, and in case of emergency, act with swiftness and precision, is crucial. Not only to confine direct and subsequent damage, but on occasions save lives as well.
Revealing the incident’s impact
Currently over 60 bright minds work on the SIM-CI project. The initiative has grown into a cloud-based simulation platform which caters numerous scenarios for running maintenance, incident and accident simulations in 3D / VR. ” We use hard science and smart technology to simulate the behavior of vital networks”, van Gemert says. “Physical characteristics of the infrastructure, soil and environmental conditions, operational data, historical incident information, all available data is included in the underlying mathematical and physical models used in the simulations” explains van Gemert. “The impact of an incident on the environment and on other network structures is made visible in a 3D/VR simulation.”
Near real-time simulation
Van Gemert elaborates further: “The cloud model and the way the data is collected, processed and stored, enables us to run near-real-time simulations. In the control room, as well as in the field. During an incident, the field engineer on site, can use his smartphone to actually see what’s under the ground. Using VR/AR projections to examine and query what other networks or elements are in the danger zone. Via a secure connection, the control room and field engineer can interact directly and work on a safe and sound solution for the situation at hand.”
Real world modelling
“Simulation scenarios, visualizations and applications are modelled to real world situations and practices. “We have already launched pilot projects with several network operators. They provide us with historical incident information and current network data and hands-on experiences of people in the field. So academic models can be translated into valuable tools for managing and securing critical infrastructures”, van Gemert concludes.
SIM-CI Resilience by Design
Zuid-Hollandlaan 7, 2596 AL Den Haag
SIM-CI at the Summit Institute Lab in Powder Mountain, Utah
SIM-CI’s presence at the ‘Resilience by Design’ SummitLab. The Utah Powder Mountain Summit will take place on 10-12 March 2017.
Currency Solutions for a Wiser World – Bernard Lietaer
Bernard Lietaer, author of The Future of Money (translated in 18 languages), is an international expert in the design and implementation of currency systems. He has studied and worked in the field of money for more than 30 years in an unusually broad range of capacities including as a Central Banker, a fund manager, a university professor, and a consultant to governments in numerous countries, multinational corporations, and community organizations. He co-designed and implemented the convergence mechanism to the single European currency system (the Euro) and served as president of the Electronic Payment System at the National Bank of Belgium (the Belgian Central Bank). He co-founded and managed GaiaCorp, a top performing currency fund whose profits funded investments in environmental projects. A former professor of International Finance at the University of Louvain, he has also taught at Sonoma State University and Naropa University. He is currently a Research Fellow at the Center for Sustainable Resources of the University of California at Berkeley. He is also a member of the Club of Rome, a Fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, the World Business Academy, and the European Academy of Sciences and Arts. Bernard Lietaer has written numerous books and articles about money systems, including Of Human Wealth (forthcoming, 2011), Monnaies Régionales (2008), and The Mystery of Money (2000).
Bernard Lietaer – Why we Need a Monetary Ecosystem, INRIA 2014
Scientific Evidence for Complementary Currencies, INRIA 2014. The current monopoly of conventional money is a main source for unsustainable behaviors. New currency designs among which crypto-currencies, but not only crypto-currencies ! – can contribute to make the necessary shifts more smoothly.
The Future Now Show Special 2016 & 2017 with James M Dorsey: Quest for Change
Every month we roam through current events, discoveries, and challenges – sparking discussion about the connection between today and the futures we’re making – and what we need, from strategy to vision – to make the best ones.
James Dorsey addresses the current age and labels it an age of defiance and dissent. From the Arab Spring to rising populism in the US and Europe there seems to be a trend towards rejecting the political systems and direction that have prevailed for decades. But why, and where will it go now? And what of China, economically ascendant and adapted to globalism while the west turns away from it?. – Paul Holister
Global statistical dislocation: the multiplication of tools for measuring economic reality
Within the global systemic crisis that we are now experiencing, our experts have been talking for some years about “statistical fog” to qualify the inability of today’s tools to measure real economy, or even the way to manipulate them in order to match results to the political speech (or vice versa). Leaving aside the temptation to manipulate, this “statistical fog” also derives from the fact that the economy is evolving profoundly, and yesterday’s indicators (GDP, unemployment, etc.) are no longer relevant in today’s world. After a few vain attempts to transform these old time indicators, we are able to see new initiatives which we anticipate to be sustainable this time, and which in the short term will form some confusion before harmonizing themselves by 2025, pushed by international bodies such as the G20.
Limitations of the two flagship indicators
The debates or proposals made within electoral campaigns show this sufficiently: only the GDP growth rate on the one hand and the unemployment rate on the other seem to count. This is hardly surprising in a system where work, as well as the increase in “wealth”, are both central. These two indicators have guided politicians for many decades and in many ways with quite satisfactory results. Nevertheless, if every growth point is more and more difficult to reach and the unemployment rate constantly stays so high, it is with a reason. Society is radically changing and these two indicators, which do not reflect those evolutions, are becoming obsolete. We shall see that their limitations have several causes: statistical on the one hand, political or ideological on the other, but above all and more fundamentally, those indicators do not originally measure the harmonious development of societies.They are so emblematic that they are obviously subject to intense political pressure and are constantly the subject of international comparisons. And here the first problems arise. How to compare economies using different currencies, the exchange rates of which are extremely volatile? We have already seen the perverse effects linked to the use of a single standard, the dollar: here we have a new illustration of that. Thus, the United States is by far the largest country for its nominal GDP expressed in dollar termss, while being behind China in purchasing power parity (PPP).
Fig. 1 – The countries GDP on a PPP Basis, 2014. Source: The Conversation.Another example is how to objectively compare GDP growth in the United States, with a population growth of 0.7% per year, with that of the euro zone, where the population grows by only 0.3% per year? Or why compare per capita incomes between countries where essential services such as education or health are costly, and those where they are free?With regard to the unemployment rate, comparisons are even more difficult because the calculation methods between countries differ considerably. We regularly quote the ShadowStats site for its alternative calculation of the US unemployment rate, most certainly more faithful to the “reality” (at least that’s what the majority of Americans feel): it gives a singularly different image of the US labour market…
Fig. 2 – The unemployment rate in the US. Red: official / Grey: U6 / Blue: ShadowStats.
Source: ShadowStats.In the case of the unemployment rate, statistics do not measure what they purport to measure (or rather what is commonly meant by “unemployment”) and are, therefore, pretty misleading. The same goes for the GDP, which is only a poor reflection of the “wealth” of a nation. This is all the more damaging when they serve as a guide for economic policies, such as wage moderation in Germany to the detriment of its European partners, or the Irish tax dumping to attract multinationals…
Read more in the GEAB 112
 We cannot resist the temptation to share with you this well-known GDP quotation of Robert Kennedy, made in 1968 : « it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile ».
 For your information, the US dollar was worth 0,62 euro at the end of 2008, and is worth 0,94 now… meaning a 50% variation!
 Source: Wikipedia
 Source: Trading Economics
News about the Future
Ecocapsule is a self-sustainable smart house powered solely by solar and wind energy. It allows you to live off-the-grid, with the luxury of a hotel room. Ecocapsule is your design way to independent housing. It can serve as a cottage, pop-up hotel or even as a charging station for electric cars. We have engineered the product from scratch to be as self-sufficient, practical and of great value, as possible.
Africa’s Cities : Opening Doors to the World
a World Bank report
Cities in Sub-Saharan Africa are experiencing rapid population growth. Yet their economic growth has not kept pace. Why? One factor might be low capital investment, due in part to Africa’s relative poverty: Other regions have reached similar stages of urbanization at higher per capita GDP. This study, however, identifies a deeper reason: African cities are closed to the world.
Compared with other developing cities, cities in Africa produce few goods and services for trade on regional and international markets To grow economically as they are growing in size, Africa’s cities must open their doors to the world. They need to specialize in manufacturing, along with other regionally and globally tradable goods and services. And to attract global investment in tradables production, cities must develop scale economies, which are associated with successful urban economic development in other regions. Such scale economies can arise in Africa, and they will – if city and country leaders make concerted efforts to bring agglomeration effects to urban areas. Today, potential urban investors and entrepreneurs look at Africa and see crowded, disconnected, and costly cities. Such cities inspire low expectations for the scale of urban production and for returns on invested capital.
How can these cities become economically dense – not merely crowded? How can they acquire efficient connections? And how can they draw firms and skilled workers with a more affordable, livable urban environment? From a policy standpoint, the answer must be to address the structural problems affecting African cities. Foremost among these problems are institutional and regulatory constraints that misallocate land and labor, fragment physical development, and limit productivity. As long as African cities lack functioning land markets and regulations and early, coordinated infrastructure investments, they will remain local cities: closed to regional and global markets, trapped into producing only locally traded goods and services, and limited in their economic growth.
A lightweight design, a fraction of the construction time, virtually maintenance free, and three times the expected lifespan. PlasticRoad, which consists of 100% recycled material, is the ideal sustainable alternative to conventional road structures.
PlasticRoad’s concept is in line with developments such as Cradle to Cradle and The Ocean Cleanup: the initiative to free the seas of ‘plastic soup’. Recycled plastic is made into prefabricated road parts that can be installed in one piece. The prefabricated production and the lightweight design also make the construction of a PlasticRoad into a much simpler task. Roads can be built in weeks instead of months. It is also much easier to control the quality of the road (stiffness, water drainage etc.).
More resistant to the elements and wear
PlasticRoad is a virtually maintenance free product. It is unaffected by corrosion and the weather. The road structure handles temperatures as low as -40 degrees and as high as 80 degrees Celsius with ease. It is also much more resistant to chemical corrosion. Estimations predict that the lifespan of roads will be tripled. That means less road maintenance and less to no traffic jams and detours.
Space for cables, pipes, and waterA major advantage of PlasticRoad is the hollow structure that can simply be installed on a surface of sand. In addition to the options mentioned above, it is also possible to integrate other elements in the prefabrication phase. These elements include traffic loops sensors, measuring equipment, and connections for light poles.
by Michael Hudson
KILLING THE HOST exposes how finance, insurance, and real estate (the FIRE sector) have gained control of the global economy at the expense of industrial capitalism and governments.
The FIRE sector is responsible for today’s economic polarization (the 1% vs. the 99%) via favored tax status that inflates real estate prices while deflating the “real” economy of labor and production.
The Great 2008 Bailout saved the banks but not the economy, and plunged the U.S., Irish, Latvian and Greek economies into debt deflation and austerity.
This book describes how the phenomenon of debt deflation imposes austerity on the U.S. and European economies, siphoning wealth and income upward to the financial sector while impoverishing the middle class.
Sentinel services for agriculture
In March 2017 the European space agency ESA will launch another Sentinel earth observation satellite. Sentinel-2B will be launched from Kourou with ESA’s lightweight launcher Vega. It will become the 5th Sentinel satellite on orbit.
Sentinel 2 B will join its sister satellite Sentinel-2A and the fleet of other Sentinels launched as part of the Copernicus programme, the most ambitious Earth observation programme to date. Sentinel-2A and 2B will be supplying ‘colour vision’ for Copernicus and together they can cover all land surfaces once every 5 days. This way the sentinel-2 satellites are optimising global coverage and the data delivery for numerous applications.
The data provided by these Sentinel 2 satellites are particularly suited for agricultural purposes, such as managing administration and precision farming. In the Czech Republic Sentinel data has been used successfully since last year.
Commission presents White Paper on the Future of Europe
Brussels, 1 March 2017
As announced in President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union speech, the European Commission today presented a White Paper on the Future of Europe, which forms the Commission’s contribution to the Rome Summit of 25 March 2017.
As we prepare to mark the 60th anniversary of the EU, we look back on a peace spanning seven decades and on an enlarged Union of 500 million citizens living in freedom in one of the world’s most prosperous economies. At the same time, the EU has to look forward at how it will carve a vision for its own future at 27. The White Paper sets out the main challenges and opportunities for Europe in the coming decade. It presents five scenarios for how the Union could evolve by 2025 depending on how it chooses to respond.
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “60 years ago, Europe’s founding fathers chose to unite the continent with the force of the law rather than with armed forces. We can be proud of what we have achieved since then. Our darkest day in 2017 will still be far brighter than any spent by our forefathers on the battlefield. As we mark the 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome, it is time for a united Europe of 27 to shape a vision for its future. It’s time for leadership, unity and common resolve. The Commission’s White Paper presents a series of different paths this united EU at 27 could choose to follow. It is the start of the process, not the end, and I hope that now an honest and wide-ranging debate will take place. The form will then follow the function. We have Europe’s future in our own hands.”
The White Paper looks at how Europe will change in the next decade, from the impact of new technologies on society and jobs, to doubts about globalisation, security concerns and the rise of populism. It spells out the choice we face: being swept along by those trends, or embracing them and seizing the new opportunities they bring. Europe’s population and economic weight is falling as other parts of the world grow. By 2060, none of our Member States will account for even 1% of the world’s population – a compelling reason for sticking together to achieve more. A positive global force, Europe’s prosperity will continue to depend on its openness and strong links with its partners.
The White Paper sets out five scenarios, each offering a glimpse into the potential state of the Union by 2025 depending on the choices Europe will make (see Annex). The scenarios cover a range of possibilities and are illustrative in nature. They are neither mutually exclusive, nor exhaustive.
Scenario 1: Carrying On – The EU27 focuses on delivering its positive reform agenda in the spirit of the Commission’s New Start for Europe from 2014 and of the Bratislava Declaration agreed by all 27 Member States in 2016. By 2025 this could mean:
- Europeans can drive automated and connected cars but can encounter problems when crossing borders as some legal and technical obstacles persist.
- Europeans mostly travel across borders without having to stop for checks. Reinforced security controls mean having to arrive at airports and train stations well in advance of departure.
Scenario 2: Nothing but the Single Market – The EU27 is gradually re-centred on the single market as the 27 Member States are not able to find common ground on an increasing number of policy areas. By 2025 this could mean:
- Crossing borders for business or tourism becomes difficult due to regular checks. Finding a job abroad is harder and the transfer of pension rights to another country not guaranteed. Those falling ill abroad face expensive medical bills.
- Europeans are reluctant to use connected cars due to the absence of EU-wide rules and technical standards.
Scenario 3: Those Who Want More Do More – The EU27 proceeds as today but allows willing Member States to do more together in specific areas such as defence, internal security or social matters. One or several “coalitions of the willing” emerge. By 2025 this could mean that:
- 15 Member States set up a police and magistrates corps to tackle cross-border criminal activities. Security information is immediately exchanged as national databases are fully interconnected.
- Connected cars are used widely in 12 Member States which have agreed to harmonise their liability rules and technical standards.
Scenario 4: Doing Less More Efficiently – The EU27 focuses on delivering more and faster in selected policy areas, while doing less where it is perceived not to have an added value. Attention and limited resources are focused on selected policy areas. By 2025 this could mean
- A European Telecoms Authority will have the power to free up frequencies for cross-border communication services, such as the ones used by connected cars. It will also protect the rights of mobile and Internet users wherever they are in the EU.
- A new European Counter-terrorism Agency helps to deter and prevent serious attacks through a systematic tracking and flagging of suspects.
Scenario 5: Doing Much More Together – Member States decide to share more power, resources and decision-making across the board. Decisions are agreed faster at European level and rapidly enforced. By 2025 this could mean:
- Europeans who want to complain about a proposed EU-funded wind turbine project in their local area cannot reach the responsible authority as they are told to contact the competent European authorities.
- Connected cars drive seamlessly across Europe as clear EU-wide rules exist. Drivers can rely on an EU agency to enforce the rules.
The White Paper is the European’s Commission contribution to the Rome Summit, the moment when the EU will discuss its achievements of the past 60 years but also its future at 27. The White Paper marks the beginning of a process for the EU27 to decide on the future of their Union. To encourage this debate, the European Commission, together with the European Parliament and interested Member States, will host a series of ‘Future of Europe Debates’ across Europe’s cities and regions.
The European Commission will contribute to the debate in the months to come with a series of reflection papers on:
- developing the social dimension of Europe;
- deepening the Economic and Monetary Union, on the basis of the Five Presidents’ Report of June 2015;
- harnessing globalisation;
- the future of Europe’s defence ;
- the future of EU finances.
Like the White Paper, the reflection papers will offer different ideas, proposals, options or scenarios for Europe in 2025 without presenting definitive decisions at this stage.
President Juncker’s State of the Union speech in September 2017 will take these ideas forward before first conclusions could be drawn at the December 2017 European Council. This will help to decide on a course of action to be rolled out in time for the European Parliament elections in June 2019.
Sixty years ago, inspired by a dream of a peaceful, common future, the EU’s founding members embarked on an ambitious journey of European integration, with the signing of the Treaties of Rome. They agreed to settle their conflicts around a table rather than in battlefields. As a result, the painful experience of Europe’s troubled past has given way to a peace spanning seven decades and to a Union of 500 million citizens living in freedom and opportunity in one of the world’s most prosperous economies.
The 60th anniversary of the Treaties of Rome on 25 March 2017 will be an important occasion for EU27 leaders to reflect on the state of play of our European project, to consider its achievements and strengths as well as areas for further improvement, and to show common resolve to shape a stronger future together at 27.
As announced by President Juncker in his State of the Union speech of 14 September 2016, which was welcomed by the EU-27 leaders at the Bratislava Summit of 16 September 2016, the Commission has today presented a White Paper on the future of Europe in order to launch the debate ahead of the Rome Summit.
The White Paper will serve to steer the debate among the 27 Heads of State or Government and help structure the discussion at the Rome Summit and well beyond. It will also be used by the Commission as the starting point for a wider public debate on the future of our continent.
For More Information
European Commission White Paper on the future of Europe
President Juncker’s 2016 State of the Union address: Towards a better Europe – a Europe that protects, empowers and defends
White Paper on the future of Europe.pdf
Futurist Portrait: James Hughes
James Hughes Ph.D., the Executive Director of the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies, is a bioethicist and sociologist who serves as the Associate Provost for Institutional Research, Assessment and Planning for the University of Massachusetts Boston. He holds a doctorate in sociology from the University of Chicago, where he also taught bioethics at the MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. Dr. Hughes is author of Citizen Cyborg: Why Democratic Societies Must Respond to the Redesigned Human of the Future, and is working on a second book tentatively titled Cyborg Buddha. From 1999-2011 he produced the syndicated weekly radio program, Changesurfer Radio.
Dr. Hughes is a Fellow of the World Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a member of Humanity+, the Neuroethics Society, the American Society of Bioethics and Humanities and the Working Group on Ethics and Technology at Yale University. He serves on the State of Connecticut Regenerative Medicine Research Advisory Committee (formerly known as the Stem Cell Research Advisory Board).
Dr. Hughes speaks on medical ethics, health care policy and future studies worldwide.
“The election of Donald Trump represents a growing crisis in capitalist democracy, which has failed to ensure economic security for middle classes squeezed by technological change and growing inequality.
“The social democratic left has failed at developing a post-union-plus-party political model and at communicating an inspiring vision of an egalitarian, high-tech future. That failure has ceded ground to the growing global fascist movement, from Putin, Trump, and Le Pen to Erdogan, ISIS, and Duterte.”
“Progressives need to find their own models of grassroots politics – appropriate for the 21st century – and build transnational solidarity for transnational solutions to collective security, sustainable development, and ecological sanity. We need to anticipate the radical impacts of technology, from the erosion of work to healthier, longer lives, and mobilize around a program of a forward-looking political program. The alternative is a return to feudalism.”
Technology Super Convergence, Pace of Technological Change and Security Risks