Club of Amsterdam Community Projects
Fernanda Ibarra, Member of the Club of Amsterdam Expert Group
For the past decade rules have changed, little is predictable or repetitive, we have seen completely different organisational forms unfolding across space and time, we have come to the recognition that profound transformation is an imperative, a time of redirection, on all levels, from individuals to organisations to communities. We are leading to a state of consciously participating in a larger field for change, this shift is a collective phenomenon which is about collectively cultivating the capacity for this shift.
In order to meet the challenges of managing in an increasingly technology-based economy, we are all considering ways to improve our efforts in a continual process to adapt to change, avoid imposing old frameworks on new realities and positively impact our communities and personal lives. For this purpose, the internet is clearly one of the technologies of choice, due to its potential in creating and nurturing social ties, which enable us to reach beyond towards a more genuinely integral and embracing culture of sustainability.
In this context, the main source of value creation is shared knowledge and collective intelligence, not land, labour or capital. It is that shift in the basis of value creation, what propelled virtual communities in the limelight as collective players with largely untapped potential for radical innovation.
Non-organisational online communities benefits and horizons
Power doesn´t longer reside primarly within organisations, but power resides in network relationships, so it is a whole new geometry of power we need to deal with. Business leaders around the world have identified that online community offers the most profound potential when communities inside an organisation are actively and deliberately brought together with external clusters of communities where conversations among people of different organisations and backgrounds may take place in one space.
Club of Amsterdam Project’s purpose is to design, implement and facilitate a community of professionals with interest in the same domains, or fields, representing different firms or organisations, different sectors within a given field and often living in many different countries. The purpose of the Club of Amsterdam is to develop a ‘centre of gravity’, where knowledge can be shared between colleagues, meaning negotiated, awareness of the potential of collective intelligence developed and where an entirely new set of opportunities can emerge.
The opportunity for being in real time contact with a network of constituencies, and for these, to be in conversation with each other, would give people the capability to sense and respond that conventional organisational structures cannot offer.
Interacting with external communities helps filter out the noise and deal with information overload, bounce off new ideas, get knowledgeable feedback, and keep in touch with leading thoughts, techniques, and tools. Club of Amsterdam’s communities will facilitate professional exchange, allow members to establish a bond of common experiences and challenges online, and build networks of relationships which will be leveraged at offline events and meetings.
In a bussinesswire article Martin Reuf, a faculty member from Stanford Graduate School of Business wrote an article called ‘What leads people to establish organisations that employ radically new routines’ where his overall recommendation is nothing groundbreaking – “Broaden your social horizons, and you might come up with the next crazy idea that sparks an industry” – in other words, expose yourself to more outside influences to inspire more “dynamic moments”.
What is far more interesting however – is the difference that Ruef found in the effects of different depths of relationships. Using data from 766 entrepreneurs and Stanford Alumni, Ruef concluded that the most creative entrepreneurs spend less time than average networking with business colleagues who are friends and more time networking with a diverse group that includes acquaintances and strangers.
Reuf explains: “Weak ties — of acquaintanceship, of colleagues who are not friends — provide non-redundant information and contribute to innovation because they tend to serve as bridges between disconnected social groups,” he says. “Weak ties allow for more experimentation in combining ideas from disparate sources and impose fewer demands for social conformity than do strong ties.”
The knowledge economy presents an additional challenge. Knowledge markets are globalizing rapidly. What someone knows in Turkey could make or break your business in London. What a competitor’s team is learning in South America can be the undoing of your project in Massachusetts. For instance, a sales team at Siemens in Malaysia was able to get a large telecommunication contract because of the experience and material developed by their peers in Denmark. Success in global markets depends on communities sharing knowledge across the globe. Besides contributing to the success of organisations in global markets, these communities have another benefit. In the globalizing knowledge economy, companies are not just competing for market share. They are also competing for talent-for people with the expertise and capabilities to generate and implement innovative ideas. One company found that employees belonging to world-class communities of practice exploring cutting-edge issues were much more likely to stick around. Finding and keeping the right people can make a big difference in an organisations ability to become a leader in its market and to gain access to venture capital.
Some results of belonging to non-organisational communities are: Increased compentency, better connected (contacts), increased visibility, increase capabilities and innovation in both individuals and their organisations.
News about the Future
Can Europe Build a NATO for Africa?
Africa’s ongoing crisis — from the genocide in Darfur to civil conflicts in other countries — continues to defy easy solutions. Richard Gowan of the Foreign Policy Centre argues that the EU should partner with the African Union to provide security and stability. He outlines how an organization modeled on the role NATO played during the Cold War could get the job done for Africa.
African Countries Sign Treaty to Protect Rain Forest
Seven Central African countries signed a landmark treaty Saturday to establish cross-border partnerships to help save the world’s second largest rain forest.
We are gathered here to ensure the preservation of a priceless heritage, the greatest wealth of the Congo Basin, the forest,” said Chirac, speaking to an audience in Brazzaville’s parliament house, where giant colorful paintings of elephants, cheetahs and monkeys hung from the vaulted walls. “The protection of these forests cannot wait.””You’re finally seeing a commonality in what people are saying that was unthinkable 10 years ago,” said Claude Martin, head of the World Wildlife Fund. “The leaders here are seeing how the exploitation of their forests will not contribute to their economies, poverty reduction and future prospects.”
Next Event: Services – a future in The Netherlands?
VISH&CHIPZ check out the Club of Amsterdam NanoWater Conference
VISH&CHIPZ check out the Club of Amsterdam NanoWater Conference
by Mathijs van Zutphen & John Grüter
Nanotechnology is not some abstract sci-fi future fantasy. Nanotechnology is simply engineering on a scale slightly smaller than usual, and it can provide simple and useful solutions to very real problems that concern all inhabitants of this planet. One of the areas where nanotech can realize some breakthrough technical applications in the near future is the production of clean water, a scarce commodity already, water shortage is set to produce pressing problems in the near future. On this conference it became obvious however that solutions are at hand; effective, cheap, and available as we speak.
On Monday September 30, 2004, The Club of Amsterdam and Cientifica together hosted the first international conference on nanotechnology and water “NanoWater”, at the RAI Congress Center in Amsterdam. Nanotechnology and water, an unlikely combination? Not really. In fact most of the technology presented at the conference can be defined as a solution to the following assignment: construct a really fine-grained way to sieve water.
Water is the essence of life. Most water on this planet (>95%) is seawater. Most of the drinkable fresh water is frozen on the North and South Poles, and much of the remaining available fresh water is polluted or simply in the wrong place. 75% of global precipitation occurs in areas containing less then a third of the world population.
With over 20% of the world’s population having no access to safe drinking water, there is a shortage of clean fresh water now, and as developing countries raise their standard of living, this shortage will increase. Global water consumption, doubling every 20 years, is increasing much faster than the population. So if you find a smart (and cheap) way to sieve out anything from micro-organisms like bacteria and viruses to salt ions, you solve a lot of problems for a great many people, and you can make a lot of money in the process. Research into nanotechnology is receiving significant government subsidies in the US and Europe, and the total global market for clean, drinkable water is an estimated 400 billion dollars annually.
This is the theme of the day: nano filtration to clean up water. There are several competing methods for filtering water. Clean water is expensive in the third world, where, in real terms, people actually pay more money for clean water than citizens of developed countries like the USA. One of the bleak ironies of our modern world is that an essential product, virtually free to us rich citizens, is very expensive for the poor of the world. They pay up to 25% of their real income to have access to clean water.
The first speaker is Kevin McGovern of McGovern Capital LLC. Mr. McGovern explains how his investment firm is trying to spearhead the nano revolution. One of his ventures, KX Industries, is producing nano-scale filters that will filter out items as small as bacteria and viruses, for the specific purpose of eradicating waterborne disease, one of the main killers in developing countries. The product is cheap, and effective; KX Industries has actually received an FDA approval for its filters as an antiseptic. It seems that the poorest, most destitute regions of our world will benefit from nanotech’s impact first. Are local conditions in developing countries changing their role from daunting problems to innovation drivers? “In some cases, Yes”, replies McGovern, who sees a huge market for KX Industries’ products in developing countries. The nano filters by companies like KX Industries are very likely to change that, by providing abundant, cheap water.
One method is purely mechanical, meaning that a filter with cavities (“pores”) smaller than the undesirable particles can extract those. Aquamarijn Research BV, a Dutch firm, uses semiconductor production technology, where patterns are etched into thin wavers of silicon, to make filters. The pores of these filters are small enough to sieve out most particles and bacteria, but too large to extract viruses and synthetic pollutants like pesticides, but the development look promising.
Another way to filter water is by reversing the naturally occurring process called ‘osmosis’. Osmosis occurs when a concentrated solution, a fluid like water with a large amount of other atoms or molecules floating around in it, is separated from a less concentrated solution (less atoms and molecules) by a semi-permeable membrane. Nature has a tendency towards equilibrium, so water is drawn through the membrane towards the side with the higher concentration. This reduces the difference in concentration between the two sides of the membrane. Reverse osmosis is the process whereby pressure is applied to a concentrated solution (dirty water), forcing the fluid through a very fine membrane, resulting in a (virtually) pure fluid. The pores in these membranes are so small that reverse osmosis can be used for desalination, i.e. turning seawater into drinking water, by taking out the salt.
Reverse osmosis is slow and expensive, since applying the pressure requires large amounts of energy. Professor Raphael Semiat, Grand Water Research Institute of the Israel Institute of Technology, explains that significant cost reductions are being achieved in his research department. The latest desalination plant (in Ashkelon, Israel) produces drinking water from the Mediterranean basin at a cost of 50 dollar cents per cubic meter (1000 liter).
It is also possible to use osmosis as a process of filtering polluted water. The US military has a plastic bag containing a sucrose solution separated from the outside world with a membrane. When this bag is submerged into any quality of water after 18 hours the concentrated solution in the bag will draw about 2 liters of clean water through the membrane. Since osmosis is only effective when you start from a concentrated solution, the end product is lemonade, not water, which is not always what you want. However, for military purposes (or camping and trekking) this is ideal since the process can provide a nutritional broth. The challenge to use osmosis to provide pure water is being met by the British research organization NanoMagnetics, which produces small magnetic particles encapsulated by natural enzymes that set the same osmotic process in motion, but in the end all particles can be taken out from the fluid by applying a simple magnetic field. Elegant and effective, NanoMagnetics now faces the task of up-scaling the production of these Nanomagnets.
The effectiveness of filters is by and large a function of the size of the pores. Smaller holes mean better filtration. But that is not the only possible solution. Many particles, organic and synthetic, are sensitive to an electrical charge. Fred Tepper of the US company Argonide explains how his company has created a filter comprising oxidized aluminum nanofibers, on a glass fiber substrate. These alumina fibers are positively charged, which enables them to filter bio-organisms such as bacteria and viruses from the water flow. Even though the pores in this filter are relatively large, the end result is extremely effective, because the process provides a much higher flow rate than traditional membranes. The filter retains up to 99.999% of viruses, is in production as we speak, and can be used to clean water by applying muscle force. No extra energy needed, ideal for rural contexts.
Filters based on nano-technology are a very practical application, providing a low-cost – less than $0,25 per liter – solution. As more people in the third world die for lack of clean water than from any other cause, nano-technology can be said to provide genuine benefit to mankind. Not just in the third world, but also in the developed world many situations exist where this type of technology can make a substantial difference.
Impression from the Summit for the Future
|The Summit for the Future turned out to be a fantastic event. With delegates from than 30 countries, 22 partners, 40 high quality speakers – a great athmosphere producing inspiring discussions, interdisciplinary insights or simply energy for innovation!|
Doing Business in Emerging Europe
by Francois-Serge Lhabitant, Yahia Zoubir
The transformation which is unfolding in emerging European countries is a unique historic event. In several countries, the transition has been quite positive; most analysts anticipate continued real growth in the coming years. Doing Business in Emerging Europe is a user-friendly guide to doing business in Belarus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovak Republic, Slovenia, and Ukraine. Brief overviews of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Macedonia, and Serbia/Yugoslavia are also included.
Mechanical Engineering Department, Carnegie Mellon University, USA.
A miniature water strider robot
Goal: To develop a microrobot that can maneuver on water with power efficiency and agility.
Approach: To understand the physics of water striders to model their characteristics of floating on the surface of water. We are using micro-actuators to simulate water striders’ movements. We are also investigating different materials to improve the robot’s ability to float on water.
Benefits: Water strider robots will be small and relatively efficient. Because it is on the surface of water and light, the robot will be highly agile and can reach inaccessible areas for many different applications.
Gecko Hair Manufacture
Synthetic Gecko Hair Fabrication for Dry Adhesion
Introduction: Nature can be an inspiration for innovations in science. One such inspiration is comes from the gecko lizard which can climb on walls and ceilings of almost any suface texture. Rather than using it’s claws or sticky substances, the gecko is able to stick to the walls through dry adhesion which requires no energy to hold it to the surface and leaves no residue. The dry adhesion force comes from surface contact forces such as Vanderwaals forces which act between all materials in contact. […]
Goal: Develop techniques for producing synthetic gecko foot hairs with nano/micro hair heirarchy. Refine these techniques into processes which will alow for cost effective mass production.
Benefits: The new synthetic adhesive will have countless uses from space exploration robots to surgical applications to post-it notes. This reusable, self-cleaning adhesive material can be thought of as a one sided velcro which can stick to almost everything.
Creating nanoFibers from polymers
Goal: Fabricate 3D polymer micro/nano fibers and develop a network of such fibers.
Approach: Besides imaging and characterization, proximal probes are used as three-dimensional (3D) nanoscale manipulation and manufacturing tools.
Benefits: One of the most significant barriers for enabling the breakthroughs promised by nano-technology is mass production of nano-scale structures, devices, and systems. Therefore, novel manufacturing processes at the micro/nano-scale are indispensable for the commercialization of future nano-scale devices, circuits, man-made materials, sensors, etc. This micro/nano-fiber pulling technology would have wide applications in nano-circuit interconnects by using conductive nano-fibers, prototyping novel nano-electronic devices by using conductive/semi-conductor/non-conductive polymer fiber structures, 3D polymer fiber-based nano-actuators, photonic devices, novel bio-nano-sensors, smart materials, etc.
2050 Future Shock
2050 Future Shock
By Douglas Belkin, The Boston Globe
Your sport coat is checking your pulse and blood sugar; your micro-compact car is communicating with retail stores and parking meters; and your medicine chest is reminding you to take a pill. Also, while entering the golden age of biotech, Boston is on the brink of class warfare.
With the mapping of the human genome, medicine will become increasingly preventative. David Elvin, a pediatrician who teaches at Harvard Medical School, says infants today are tested at birth for genetic diseases, but these tests primarily screen for ailments that appear in infancy and early childhood. Elvin predicts that in 10 to 15 years, children will be routinely tested at or before birth for the common diseases that tend to manifest later in life. If a child shows a predisposition to a disease, he or she could be treated with specific drugs before any symptoms occur. A child not prone to obesity but predisposed to lung cancer, Elvin says, might be told, “Don’t worry too much about Ben & Jerry’s, but don’t ever pick up a cigarette.”
But the biggest changes in what we wear will come from the technology we expect our clothes to contain. The technology we now carry we will eventually be wearing, says Ned Thomas, director of the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies at MIT. Clothes designed to protect, connect, and monitor the military will start emerging on the backs of special-forces soldiers in a decade and will filter down to police officers, extreme athletes, business executives, and finally, everybody else.
Expect to see implanted microchips become de rigueur. Sound spooky? Someday soon it won’t. The technology has existed for years and is starting to enter the marketplace. Last March, the Baja Beach Club in Barcelona started giving members the option of having a small chip implanted in their upper arm so they could pay for drinks without having to take a purse or wallet to the club.
Club of Amsterdam Agenda
|Club of Amsterdam Season 2004/2005|
|.February 23, 2005||the future of the Service Industry|
|.March 30, 2005|
the future of Water
|.April 27, 2005|
the future of Branding
|.June 1, 2005||the future of Robotics|
|.June 29, 2005||the future of Philosophy|