Club of Amsterdam Journal, September 2021, Issue 235

CONTENT

Lead Article

The Critical Path Model
By Leif Thomas Olsen, Master of Philosophy & Master of International Relations

Article 01

Project Susthiti
A healing initiative to help Covid healthcare workers with Yoga & Music Therapy
By Arnab Bishnu Chowdhury

The Future Now Show

Circular Economy
with Giulia Viero, Ricardo Weigend, Patrick Crehan

Article 02

A circular economy could end waste – at the cost of our privacy
By Nigel Walton, Assistant Professor, School of Strategy and Leadership, Coventry University and Anitha Chinnaswamy, Assistant Professor of Computing, Coventry University.

News about the Future

> EPFL develops solution for detecting deepfakes
> Environmentally sensitive concrete

Article 03

Fine-tuning the climate
By Deutsche Welle

Recommended Book

The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis
By Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac

Article 04

How Singapore Uses Science to Stay Cool
By Bloomberg
and Future Cities Lab (FCL) Global

Climate Change Success Story

What if Climate Change was Made Illegal?
By One Tree Planted

Futurist Portrait

Nikolas Badminton
Chief Futurist


Tags:
Aletsch Glacier, Backcasting, Bioprotection, Business, Business models, Carbon footprint, Circular Economy, Climate Change, Corona, Cradle to cradle, Forecasting, Foresight, Future, Geoengineering, Iceland, Ideas, Music therapy, Nature, Peru, Small-Medium Enterprises, SMEs, Sustainable cities, Sustainable Development Goals, Switzerland, Transformation, United States, Yoga





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Welcome



Felix B Bopp

Website statistics for 2021:
https://clubofamsterdam.com

Visits Januar
y - August: 223,000




Robert Noble: “What if we completely reconfigured how we make building materials and everyday products to be healthier and more efficient, to have lower carbon footprints, to be regenerative, recyclable, and compostable. What if that reconfiguration resulted in a sustainable circular pattern of waste material utilization, manufacturing conversion, and production of thousands of high performance, environmentally superior, non-toxic, cradle-to-cradle compliant, clean and healthy products and systems. What if we had a core composite material conversion technology that would enable that reconfiguration.”

Leif Thomas Olsen: "... backcasting is not concerned with predicting the future; rather, it is a strategic problem-solving framework, in the quest for the answer to how to reach specified outcomes in the future. This involves finding ways of linking goals that may lie more than a generation in the future to a set of steps performed now and designed to achieve that end… In backcasting, one envisions a desirable future endpoint and then works backward to determine what programs would be required to attain that specified future or to construct a plausible causal chain leading from here to there. ..."

Christiana Figueres: "We will move to a low-carbon world because nature will force us, or because policy will guide us. If we wait until nature forces us, the cost will be astronomical."

Lead Article

The Critical Path Model
By L
eif Thomas Olsen, Master of Philosophy & Master of International Relations



The Critical Path Model is a new and game-oriented version of a planning instrument that Futurists call 'Backcasting' - which differs significantly from both Forecasting and Foresight.


See the trailer for 'Back to the Future' here.

 

The iconic movie 'Back to the Future' from 1985 was basically about time-travel. A fictitious journey between future, present and past, where the hero used a supersonic space-vehicle, looking like a sportscar (it was a DeLorean), to revisit his youth - which was 30 years prior to 'now' - but indeed 'the present' once he arrived back there. In this way he could understand why things became the way they came to be in the future - and even influence the future by acting in the present.

Backcasting is based on a similar line of thinking. Backcasting also starts out from the future - or rather the Desired Future. From there it moves back towards the present, and continues to the past, before charting the best route forward from the present to the Desired Future.

You are probably well acquainted with both 'Forecasting' and 'Foresight'. Backcasting, a third tool in the Futurists' toolbox, is however less commonly used by practitioners. Current Backcasting approaches are cumbersome and lengthy processes, often taking years to carry out. The Critical Path model changes all that, making it a much more game-oriented activity that easily can be carried out in both the public and the private sectors, as well as the NGO-sector.

Before I present the model, I will give those of you who feel the need for it a few background reading-links. Read them if you want, but if you feel they are redundant, just pass them over:

Forecasting
A schematic
model can look like this:


https://corporatefinanceinstitute.com/resources/knowledge/modeling/forecasting-methods/


Foresight

A schematic model can look like this:



https://www.oecd.org/strategic-foresight/whatisforesight/

Backcasting
A schematic model can look like this:

https://dux.typepad.com/dux/2011/08/method-16-of-100-Backcasting.html

For those of you who wish to read even more about these and/or related topics, I have listed a few additional, very helpful and interesting, links at the end of this article.


The Critical Path Model

This model constitutes a blend of two from each other totally separate theories. One is Jürgen Habermas' Public Sphere Theory. The other is Leif Thomas Olsen's Cultural Formula.

Jürgen Habermas is a German, world-leading, sociologist. His theory was first launched in 1962, but has been updated several times since, and is still valid for how most of our societies are structured. Leif Thomas Olsen is neither a leading nor a well-known sociologist, but still a seasoned researcher in the field of inter-cultural cooperation and consequent structures cum systems.

Having said that, there is a key to Backcasting that must be recognised from the outset. This key can most easily be shown in a comparative graph. In the graph below, note the orientation of the triangles - which describes what emphasis the analytical process itself has (on the past, present or future?) - and the direction of the arrows, which describes in which order the data is scrutinized (from past to current to future, or from future to current to past)

Habermas' Public Sphere Theory

In the shortest of short summaries, this theory groups every society into five different realms. Starting from 'the top', we find the realm that all the other realms wish (and try) to influence. This is the Governing Realm. This realm has political power and is ruled by law. In The Critical Path Model this is also the realm that needs to influence the assumptions and actions of the four other realms - the four others being those that actually create the future. Hopefully, the Desired Future. This realm is therefore - as we will soon see - both continuously influenced by the other realms and engaged in a constant effort to influence the same four realms that are trying to influence it. Those setting / owning the Desired Future identified for each Backcasting process will therefore - once the more game-driven part of this process starts - have to take on the role of the Governing Realm.

Then comes two different institutional realms. Habermas calls them 'public' realms. One is the realm of corporations and NGOs, which he calls the 'Public Economic Realm'. To the rest of us, the term 'Corporate and Institutional Realm' may be easier to relate to. This realm has political influence based on economic power, and is driven by their respective (and hence biased) special interests, rather than by the public interests which the Governing Realm supposedly represents. This realm's influence is often described as 'lobbying'. For instance, the global (corporate) oil and gas lobby is in a perpetual conflict with the global environmental NGOs. The former has abundant resources to lobby for the economic interests that our societies typically rank as top political priority. The latter has limited resources to lobby for the survival of our habitats - without which we will not survive. The Governing Realm's role is to balance such diverse interests, in their struggle to achieve the Desired Future.

The second of Habermas' public realms is 'Media' ('Public Intimate Realm'). Although many media outlets are privately owned, and hence could be seen as 'corporate', Habermas notes that this realm has a communicative role, infused with cultural power, driven by the intent to shape and communicate public interests to the Governing Realm. The key in this particular context is that they intend to 'shape' public interests - i.e. to influence the general public's ideas about the present and future they then convey to the Governing Realm. This means that any part of the 'public' that is not represented by the Media Realm has no channel to the Governing Realm. This is of course why the www matters. Here anybody with sufficient skills or resources can create their own 'media channel', through which they can - more or less successfully - convey their particular interests to the Governing Realm.

Moving from Habermas' two 'Public Economic Realms', we come to his final group of actors. He calls this group the 'Private' realms. This is also split in two sub-groups. The first is the 'Private Economic Realm', which in essence refers to our societies' capital owners and edu-cated classes. According to Habermas this realm is infused with intellectual and economic powers, driven by 'true reason'. Its societal role is to define economic strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (S.W.O.T.) of different scenarios, from which 'public will' emerges in the shape of priorities. This public will is echoed by media and, as far as possible, implement-ted by this realm's members in the Corporate and Institutional Realm. This 'Private Economic Realm' actually controls these two others through their individual intellectual and economic powers; the two realms they control representing biased institutional economic and cultural interests.

The final realm is the 'Private Cultural Realm', which refers to folks in general, by Habermas defined as 'the family'. No doubt, all of us are part of this realm, but our role here is different from the one some of its members also have as 'Private Economic Realm'-members. This realm is the recipient of 'culture' (which it is media's role to deliver) and infused with electoral power but driven by opinion. Interesting enough it is this realm that actually elects the Gover-ning Realm through the ballot box, but it simply builds its opinions (i.e., not the kind of true reason Habermas assigns to the 'Private Economic Realm') about the Desired Future on what they see, hear and read. And opinions vary from group to group, and from time to time, large-ly driven by the culture they hold and over time develop in the light of their past and present. These opinions are highly influenced by media, why Habermas argues this realm is 'recipient' rather than producer of the cultural content included in the communication targeting the Governing Realm.

This means that all these four realms, each one having its particular set of roles and interests, must be guided by the Governing Realm - which is in charge of looking after the interests of the general public - if the Desired Future shall at all be possible to materialise. On a national level the Governing Realm is the government, which is what Habermas was talking about. It can also be elevated to a global level, where international institutions and their backers con-stitute this realm or 'stepped down' to the corporate cum institutional level, where the Board of Directors and Executive Management equal the Governing Realm.

No matter for which micro- or macro level one sets a Desired Future, the need to align assum-ptions and actions throughout the population concerned is pivotal. Obstruction from any of the realms may not only delay the implementation of a Desired Future, but also cause havoc to the entire project. In the Critical Path Model Jurgen Habermas' Public Sphere Theory is used as a means to ensure that this is done.

OIsen's Cultural Formula

The second dimension is the 'Cultural Formula'. This was first documented in 2005 and was later used as an analytical tool in a German-based research project in 2013 - its results pub-lished in 2015. This formula describes the links and steps between our cultural values and the actual actions we take. We may not always think of our actions as being culturally derived, but looking carefully at the links, we will find a strong correlation between our values and our actions.

This 'formula' is divided into four levels. The first level is the Social Level. Here we start out from a relevant set of Cultural Values, to which we add the Environment in which they are being applied. We thereby arrive at the Cultural Application. No doubt will most of us - some sooner and some later - adjust our ways of representing our culture, depending on the envi-ronment we are in. Take any person moving from outside a small town in the countryside (like Wellsville in upstate New York) to a mega-city (like New York City), some 500 kms away. Still the American dream, still the same religion, still the same ethnicity. But different application - now adjusted to city-life instead of a rural one.

The second level is the Empirical Level. Starting out from the Cultural Application one now adds one's Experiences, both collective and personal. These will differ from group to group, and from individual to individual, and constitute the platform for our Cultural Premises (i.e. assumptions). Therefore, our premises (assumptions) will also differ - not only from culture to culture, but also among a culture's members. Many premises may of course be shared, but some will differ. Think for instance how typical male and female premises can differ. And they differ more in some cultures than they do in other.

That a lot of our premises are culturally derived becomes obvious if we view 'culture' from a wider perspective. Culture can be social, generational, professional, corporate, class-based or otherwise - all of which will influence our premises.

Now, assume two or more people making exactly the same observation. Take for instance a street-demonstration against some injustice experienced by the demonstrators. Some obser-vers will assess this observation based on the premise that such injustice cannot be tolerated, why this observer may applaud, or even join in, when the demonstrators pass by. A different observer of the very same demonstration can disagree with the demands of the demonstra-tors, may boo at them, and even try to stop them. This although both observers may come from the very same cultural community. But if they have different Experiences with which they mix their Cultural Application, they may draw totally different Cultural Conclusions - which in fact is what most disagreements are all about. But to argue over the Cultural Con-clusion, without first sharing and recognising each other's Cultural Applications and their ensuing Cultural Premises, is like trying to convince each other that one colour is 'nicer' than another.

Based on our Cultural Conclusion we decide to act - or not to act. The survey titled Perceptions of the appropriate response to norm violation in 57 societies (Eriksson et al., 2021), found that some societies encourage direct action when social norms are breached, while other societies discourage such action in favour of indirect ways of disapproving - such as gossiping. Thus, culture does not only affect how we think, but also how we actually act, or abstain from acting.

But two factors are crucial for our decision if and how to act or not act. One is our resources. Do we have the resources it takes to actually do 'it'? The other is our resolve. Are we deter-mined enough, or is it easier to do nothing? History shows that resources may not always win over resolve. A lot of resources, but a low resolve, may not win over an adversary with limited resources but limitless resolve. Take the war in Afghanistan as a modern example of this. In the late 1980's the far less resource-rich Taliban movement (albeit at the time with covert support from USA) threw out the Soviet Union from their land. Now they also won a 20-year war against the USA and its NATO-allies. Their staying-power is mainly a matter of resolve - unfortunately based on the premise that yet one more civilian life lost does not matter.

These four levels constitute the 'Cultural Formula'. In the Critical Path Model this formula is used to ensure that both 'past' and 'present' are systematically covered in the analysis. To expect that a Desired Future shall materialize if the premises do not support it, is futile. If the premises are the obstacle, why are they so? Is it a matter of Experiences, Environment or Cul-tural Values? The process must start on whichever of these levels the root cause is found. And one must make sure it targets the correct realm. To convince 'folks in general' (i.e. the Private Cultural Realm) to stop throwing trash on the beach or driving their petrol- or diesel cars may be a good thing, but it will not help unless the Private Economic Realm (the elites) actually en-sures that the Corporate and Institutional Realm they control ends its polluting practices. The former can only have a minor impact as compared to the latter, why one - in such a scenario - must start by changing the latter realm's current premise that GDP and growth are more im-portant than the 1,5 (now 2.0) degree target that the Paris Accord established.

These are the two dimensions upon which the Critical Path Model is built. Trying to demon-strate this graphically, we first need to view the Public Sphere Model and the Cultural Formula as a chart. That will look as follows:

 

Then we insert the Backcasting triangle we used to compare Backcasting to Forecasting and Foresight.


This triangle indicates that although it may seem easy to change the population's obvious actions (behaviour) by giving instructions, or simple-to-earn incentives, this will not create sustainable change. The change must be based on common and/or suitable premises, con-sidering all parts of the concerned society's member-groups (not only those of the 'experts') developed through the recognition and tolerance of their respective premises' underlying causes. This model is designed to guide and support such a process. Note that the Desired Future is inserted at the chart's far right.

In order to systematically deal with the respective realms' respective actions and assumptions - in spite of the impossibility to have all of them represented in person - the team working on the Backcasting project must assume different roles: one group representing the particular realm in the matrix-column that is being discussed, other groups representing other realms. And one group must always take on the role of the Governing Realm. The order of rectangles to cover are - since this is called Backcasting - from bottom right to top left, as can be under-stood from the below version of the chart.

.

 

A structured two-part multi-step exercise questionnaire by which each rectangle is scrutinized is available as a part of this model, allowing the team to cover all the concerns that the chart holds in a systematic manner. This will make the team's output transparent and clear also to those not taking part in the process.

Closing statement

The Critical Path Model is a model for how Backcasting can be done in a systematic manner - for the sake of clarity and transparency. It builds on Jürgen Habermas' Public Sphere Theory for identifying groups of actors influencing the overall outcome, and Olsen's Cultural Formula for the analysis of the different actor-groups' various assumptions and actions, as well as their underlying causes.

The model is meant to be used by teams assigned to better understand how a Desired Future can be achieved, and where the critical path lies for potential success. It will require a period of time from a week for more limited target-futures, to several months for more complex and wide-ranging target-futures.

The process is designed to apply a predefined two-part multi-step exercise questionnaire that systematically expands the analysis from the chart's bottom right to its top left. Once all the rectangles have been covered, the team will be able to trace back the best way forward, from current day's status to the still-distant Desired Future. Having documented this process, the same - or even a different - team can go back to this process' output and amend the plan, if or when the development seems to notably divert from that anticipated, whereby a focused rather than 'best-guess' attempt to redirect the development can be done without starting all over again.




For those of you who want to read more on this and related topics, I can recommend:

More on Forecasting
More on Foresight

More on Backcasting
More on Habermas' Public Sphere (pp 37-58)
More on Olsen's Cultural Formula (pp 36-56)
The Futures Triangle
Integral Futures
The First Order Principle





Leif Thomas Olsen
Leif is a former management- and management-training consultant turned property investor. During this millennium he also dedicated around half of his time to research on cross- / multicultural interaction, and its socio-economic consequences. A Swede by birth he spent half his life elsewhere and lived in South-East Asia since 1993. In 2005 he completed a Master of Philosophy and a Master of International Relations.


leif_thomas_olsen@yahoo.com


CONTENT

Article 01

Project Susthiti
A healing initiative to help Covid healthcare workers with Yoga & Music Therapy

By Arnab Bishnu Chowdhury






The Covid pandemic has opened up new challenges for the healthcare system for the care receiver and caregiver. The pressure on especially the psychological wellness and well-being has reached enormous proportions. Amid all the stress, we often tend to forget the wellness and well-being of the caregiver and their needs. Caregivers too need healing to raise their well-being and wellness so that they sustain and raise their caregiving capacity. As response, our Know Your Rhythm team designed Project Susthiti, an online program blending Yoga Therapy & Music Therapy to help Covid healthcare workers in India to battle, engage and lower stress, anxiety, burnout and depression. The word Susthiti denotes stable position and well-being in Sanskrit.

At a design stage back in mid-2020, we realised we did not have direct access to various Covid healthcare workers consisting of doctors, nurses and paramedics working in isolated Covid-19 wards at various hospital locations with different shift schedules. We simply had to leverage the power of the Internet based on its characteristics of digitisation, immediacy, globalisation and virtualisation. A flexible online therapy program is what emerged that offered free of charge to Covid healthcare workers as an acknowledgement and gratitude for the bravery that they continue to offer to the entire society. The Indian government has termed the Covid healthcare workers as 'Covid warriors'.

Our program consists of modules with basic postures (Asanas), breathing exercises (Pranayama), chanting of basic Mantras leading to a session of deep relaxation with our specially composed therapeutic music as Receptive Music Therapy. Our music has been designed on the art and science of Ragas, the ancient melodic modes of Indian Classical Music system which serve as healing modalities.

In mid-2020, our first pilot study was successfully conducted at Shree Krishna Hospital, Sri Pramukshwami Medical College, Anand, Gujarat. According to the psychometric assessment, 68% participants recorded significant change in alertness followed by calmness and control over anger. The study was presented as an oral paper at the 5th Medicine Annual Conference Virtual 2020, Department of Medicine, Christian Medical College, Vellore, south India, in November 2020. So far about 300 Covid warriors have received Project Susthiti. At the National Conference on World Peace Through Indian Music, hosted by Mohanlal Sukhadia University, Udaipur, India, Project Susthiti team presented a paper titled 'Composing Raga-Based Music and Applying it to Yoga and Music Therapy for COVID Warriors to Evoke Susthiti' from a musicology and aesthetics perspective.

In June 2021, Project Susthiti received Seva award at SYTAR 2021 (Symposium of Yoga Therapy & Research), organized by International Association of Yoga Therapists (IAYT, USA).

Listen to Arnab's short interview on Project Susthiti presented at SYTAR 2021:

 



Listen to 'Playing with Sunlight - re-imagining our world beyond Covid', a therapeutic music composition, dedicated to all the Covid healthcare workers of the world:


 

A big thank you to Foundation for World Education, International Association for Yoga Therapists, Give Back Yoga Foundation, Silver Thread Foundation and numerous therapists, musicians, doctors and well-wishers who have offered their goodwill, empathy and financial support to build, sustain and grow Project Susthiti.

We sincerely aspire and hope that our Project Susthiti continues to evolve as an emitter of peace, positivity and gratitude towards humanism within us.

About Arnab Bishnu Chowdhury

Arnab Bishnu Chowdhury is a composer, therapist, teacher and explorer of Consciousness with over twenty-five years of experience. He is the initiator of Project Susthiti. He is founder of Know Your Rhythm (https://www.ninad.in), a training program which helps you find your rhythm in life and work, and has reached over 20,000 caregivers across the world. Arnab is a certified therapist from International Association for Yoga Therapists (IAYT) and member of International Association for Music & Medicine (IAMM). He is third generation from a family of Indian Classical musicians based out of Pondicherry, south India. He serves as researcher at Sri Aurobindo Ashram where he grew up, and as senior faculty at Sustainable Livelihood Institute at Auroville, India. His therapeutic music compositions have been applied in healthcare settings, yoga studios and clinics. In the late 90s, he was associated with MIT Media Lab's 'Music, Mind and Machine Group' exploring music composition and cognition with AI.

 


CONTENT

The Future Now Show


Circular Economy
with Giulia Viero, Ricardo Weigend, Patrick Crehan


The Circular Economy is conceived by many as paramount to decouple economic growth from environmental impacts and resource depletion. Implementing this economic paradigm in the private sector is challenging. While SMEs represent 99% of all businesses and 67% of employment in Europe, the available support for a CE transition has been mainly focused on large corporations. Furthermore, most strategic decision-making activities lack the capability to understand the role that the future plays in influencing the present and the skills to generate the imaginary futures to catalyse change today.



 





 

 

 



Credits

Giulia Viero, Business Process and Data Analysis at ECOR Global, the Netherlands
Ricardo Weigend, Circular Economy Business Developer at ECOR Global, the Netherlands

ECOR Globalhttps://ecorbenelux.com

Futures Spacehttps://www.futures-space.com

Patrick Crehan, Founder and Director at Crehan, Kusano & Associates
Concept and moderator
https://www.cka.be

The Future Now Show
https://clubofamsterdam.com/the-future-now-show



You can find The Future Now Show also at

LinkedIn: The Future Now Show Group
YouTube: The Future Now Show Channel

Producer of The Future Now Show: Felix B Bopp

CONTENT

Article 02

A circular economy could end waste – at the cost of our privacy
By Nigel Walton, Assistant Professor, School of Strategy and Leadership, Coventry University and Anitha Chinnaswamy, Assistant Professor of Computing, Coventry University.




 

 

Elise Robert/Shutterstock



In a circular economy, we wouldn’t have any waste or pollution. Instead, everything we make and all our byproducts would be reused or repurposed, helping to end the over-exploitation of our finite resources and damage to our environment and climate.

To make this process profitable, the manufacturers of complex items such as vehicles are likely to use advanced internet-based data systems that can track components and products throughout their life cycles, from source to final use. That means that the companies best suited to helping introduce a circular economic model are the big tech firms that already use similar online data technology, such as Microsoft, Amazon and Google.

And that will inevitably create concerns about the implications on data privacy and security. Further sacrificing our privacy might be the price we have to pay to achieve a waste-free economic model. Or to put it another way, data protection may ultimately become a barrier to a circular economy.

Most research on the circular economy doesn’t examine it from a data-driven perspective. To maximise the value and life of a vehicle, manufacturers need to track its location, ownership and state of disrepair at all times. This is now possible with the use of miniaturised and digital technologies that are behind what is known as the fourth industrial revolution.

Tiny sensors can monitor the status and performance of and its components and GPS chips can track its location, from as soon as it leaves the production line until it is disposed of. This data can be gathered by connecting the object to what is known as the “Internet of Things”, and stored throughout the object’s lifecycle in the cloud. By analysing this data en masse, artificial intelligence can then predict when maintenance or replacement is required, as well as prescribing how to recycle the object.

These tracking capabilities already exist at the supply chain level to make the manufacturing process as cost-effective as possible, and are increasingly used to enable self-driving capabilities. In the future, this technology will also be used to assess the vehicle’s state of disrepair and schedule preventative maintenance and, eventually, to arrange its disposal and recycling.

The leading providers of these technologies are the large tech firms, which are more efficient at accruing, managing and analysing large amounts of data than traditional industrial companies. This has led to partnerships between the two sectors.

Cars driving on busy road with symbols representing their connection to the internet
The circular economy could mean more products have their location tracked throughout their lifetimes. Metamorworks/Shutterstock

For example, Volkswagen and Amazon Web Services have recently launched an “industrial cloud” initiative to link up all Volkswagen’s factories and those of its global supply chain and enable them to easily share data. This allows the firm to track all the components that make up a vehicle throughout the entire production process.

Microsoft and BMW have launched the Open Manufacturing Platform that similarly enables BMW to integrate data from across its supply chain, monitor components as they are manufactured and assembled into vehicles, thereby enhancing the efficiency of the process. Microsoft has also developed partnerships with Volkswagen and the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance.

This creates the opportunity for the global automotive sector to produce a genuine circular economy ecosystem, with clear benefits for the environment in terms of reduced resource and energy use and waste production. This will also help end the over-exploitation of valuable resources.

But using self-driving and component-tracking technology for the secondary purpose of making a circular economy model profitable, which involves monitoring vehicle use after they’ve been purchased, raises questions about data ownership, security and privacy, as well as monopoly power.

Problems with data tracking

Tech companies would have the capability to track vehicle use and consumer behaviour on a regular basis to even more depth and sophistication than they already do. Internet-enabled cars are also highly prone to attack from hackers, which means this data could also be vulnerable.

Not all consumers are fully aware of how such technology is capable of invading their everyday lives. Tracking real-time mobility may be one step too far in some countries, and for a section of the population that isn’t willing to trade their privacy for environmental benefits.

Regulators and human rights groups are also concerned about the level of power that lies in the hands of the leading tech companies due to their monopoly ownership of consumer data and their ability to monetise it. A circular economy model would only increase this level of power since the technology companies’ cloud platforms would be used to capture, store, manage and analyse the data.

There are several ways that manufacturers and tech firms could alleviate some of these concerns. For example, they could protect the data against use for advertising, only collect metadata (data about the data) rather than any personal information, and set out clear policies to manage and control the data. This might include opt-out clauses for consumers who don’t want to have their products monitored for environmental purposes. Without these things, manufacturers might find it much hard to put their circular economy plans into action. The Conversation

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license.



CONTENT

News about the Future


> EPFL develops solution for detecting deepfakes
> Environmentally sensitive concrete

EPFL develops solution for detecting deepfakes

Deepfakes – or fake videos produced to look real through the use of artificial intelligence – pose a growing challenge. That’s why an EPFL research group has been teaming up with the Swiss startup Quantum Integrity to develop a deepfake detection solution over the past two years. The team has been awarded an Innosuisse grant starting on 1 October, with deployment as early as next year.

EPFL’s Multimedia Signal Processing Group has been working with Quantum Integrity, a startup based at EPFL Innovation Park, on a deepfake detection solution for the past two years. The research team has already completed two pilot tests and recently obtained a grant from Innosuisse, Switzerland’s innovation agency, to accelerate development of a software. The project will start on 1 October. “Quantum Integrity already markets fake detection software. Our role is to make the software more powerful so that it can be used more widely,” says Touradj Ebrahimi, head of the Multimedia Signal Processing Group. His group provides expertise in multimedia signal processing, while the startup brings its many years of experience in detecting fake images. Ebrahimi is affiliated to the Center for Digital Trust (
C4DT) and coordinates its “Digital Information” domain. “Detection of image and video forgery to fight against malicious manipulations is clearly one of the applications where Artificial Intelligence helps to regain trust” says Olivier Crochat, Executive Director of the C4DT.

The biggest fear that most people face vis-a-vis deepfakes is that they will be used to steal their identity. But the threat actually runs much deeper – fraudulent contents can also be used to deceive manufacturers, insurers, and even customs officials. For instance, goods can be digitally added to or removed from a cargo ship before it leaves the dock, or transactions could be approved using photos that have been counterfeited.





Environmentally sensitive concrete

ECOncrete® brings concrete infrastructure to life by a unique combination of propriety bio-enhancing concrete admixtures, complex surface textures and innovative science based designs, while improving structural performance

ECOncrete® ‘s environmentally sensitive technologies harness biological processes for the benefit of the environment on one hand, and the structure on the other. Our products are tailored to encourage growth of flora and fauna, which provide valuable Bioprotection . Whether it be oysters and corals that physically protect the concrete from scour and chloride attacks, or plant canopy capable of buffering temperature changes and humidity level on the concrete surface; ECOncrete’s products harness the added level of bioprotection to create robust structures.

Apart from the highly valuable ecological and structural advantages, Bioprotection also provides economic advantages associated with increased stability, longevity, as well as a reduction in maintenance costs.



CONTENT

Article 03


Fine-tuning the climate
By Deutsche Welle





Engineers and scientists are trying to intervene in the Earth’s geochemical cycles. Because it appears efforts to cut CO2 won’t suffice to avoid irreversible climate change. But does geoengineering offer a real solution? Or is it just human hubris?

Some scientists believe that we need to explore radical, and perhaps dangerous, technologies in order to be able to lower the earth’s temperature through geoengineering in the near future.

Science journalist Ingolf Baur explores the feasibility and risks of leading geoengineering projects. His journey takes him to meet scientists in Switzerland, Iceland, the US and Peru. Along the way, he encounters two very different strategies: One is to fish climate-damaging CO2 from the atmosphere and sink it underground or in the deep sea. The other, and this is the far more controversial strategy, seeks to develop techniques that dim sunlight.

Global warming is causing entire mountain ridges like the Moosfluh above Switzerland’s Aletsch Glacier to break off. Such dramatic changes could increase the pressure to try geoengineering.

Its most prominent proponent is David Keith from Harvard University in the US. He’s devised experiments to to sound out the possibilities of "solar geoengineering." His idea is for fleets of aircraft to dump millions of tons of sulfur into the stratosphere every year, where it should reflect part of the incoming sunlight back into space. As audacious as this method seems, it’s actually no different to what happens during volcanic eruptions.

Or could we still manage to get greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere again? In Iceland, a group of researchers is using a special process to filter carbon dioxide from the air and pump it 2,000 meters deep into basalt rock. The surprise: after a few months, the CO2 is already reacting chemically and turning to stone, which renders it harmless - permanently. The quantities are still far too small, but it shows that as controversial and risky as some geoengineering methods may be, in the end we may need technology to avert or at least mitigate the effects of climate collapse.

 





 

CONTENT

Recommended Book


The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis
By Christiana Figueres, Tom Rivett-Carnac




Climate change: it is arguably the most urgent and consequential issue humankind has ever faced. How we address it in the next thirty years will determine the kind of world we will live in and will bequeath to our children and to theirs.

In The Future We Choose, Christiana Figueres and Tom Rivett-Carnac - who led negotiations for the United Nations during the historic Paris Agreement of 2015 - have written a cautionary but optimistic book about the world's changing climate and the fate of humanity.

The authors outline two possible scenarios for our planet. In one, they describe what life on Earth will be like by 2050 if we fail to meet the Paris climate targets. In the other, they lay out what it will be like to live in a carbon neutral, regenerative world. They argue for confronting the climate crisis head-on, with determination and optimism. The Future We Choose presents our options and tells us what governments, corporations, and each of us can and must do to fend off disaster.




Christiana Figueres
Ms. Figueres is an internationally recognized leader on global climate change. She was Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) 2010-2016. Assuming responsibility for the international climate change negotiations after the failed Copenhagen conference of 2009, she was determined to lead the process to a universally agreed regulatory framework. Building toward that goal, she directed the successful Conferences of the Parties in Cancun 2010, Durban 2011, Doha 2012, Warsaw 2013, and Lima 2014, and culminated her efforts in the historical Paris Agreement of 2015. Throughout her tenure Ms. Figueres brought together national and sub national governments, corporations and activists, financial institutions and communities of faith, think tanks and technology providers, NGOs and parliamentarians, to jointly deliver the unprecedented climate change agreement. For this achievement Ms. Figueres has been credited with forging a new brand of collaborative diplomacy.

Since then Ms. Figueres has continued to accelerate the global response to climate change. Today she is the co-founder of Global Optimism, co-host of the podcast “Outrage & Optimism” and is the co-author of the recently published book, “The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis". She is a member of the B Team, non executive Board member of ACCIONA and non executive Board member of Impossible Foods.





Tom Rivett-Carnac

Thomas Charles Rivett-Carnac (born 1977) is a political lobbyist for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and an author on climate change policy.



CONTENT

Article 04


How Singapore Uses Science to Stay Cool
By Bloomberg
and Future Cities Lab (FCL) Global


Heat waves kill more people than any other extreme weather event: more than tornados, hurricanes, and even floods. That’s why scientists are coming up with novel, new designs to help keep temperatures down in Singapore

 

 

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Future Cities Lab (FCL) Global is a research collaboration between ETH Zurich and the Singapore universities – National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore) and the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD) – with support from the National Research Foundation (NRF). It operates under the auspices of the Singapore-ETH Centre (SEC).

The Singapore-ETH Centre was established in Singapore in 2010 as a joint initiative between ETH Zurich and Singapore’s NRF, as part of the NRF’s CREATE campus. The centre frames three research programmes: Future Cities Lab (FCL), Future Resilient Systems (FRS), and Future Health Technologies (FHT). The centre aims to strengthen the capacity of Singapore and Switzerland to research, understand and actively respond to the challenges of global environmental sustainability.

Urban Parks: Tools to keep you Cool

Cities like Singapore experience the Urban Heat Island effect, where the air temperature is higher in urban compared to rural areas. With climate change causing increased temperatures worldwide, urban planners and designers are looking to quantify the potential cooling influence of urban parks.

To address the Urban Heat Island effect, FCL researchers use a three-dimensional urban microclimate model using OpenFOAM software to show how urban parks provide a cooling effect of 1°C on air temperatures.






CONTENT

Climate Change Success Story


What if Climate Change was Made Illegal?
By One Tree Planted


Many nations have climate laws in place but Denmark is ensuring those laws do not get neglected. Denmark recently passed an ambitious new climate law to help them stay committed to mitigating climate change. With this new law, climate targets are legally binding and are subject to yearly approval. If members of government fail to meet climate targets they must step down from their position.

But how could we actually outlaw climate change? Denmark is also not relying on purchasing carbon credits to offset their carbon footprint. Instead, they are taking real action to reduce GHG emissions within the country's boarders. One way they are doing this is by taking a look at the impact of danish imports and consumption and examining in what ways this can be reduced. It will also be a country wide initiative by getting local businesses involved as well.


https://onetreeplanted.org






CONTENT

Futurist Portrait


Nikolas Badminton
Chief Futurist

 



Nikolas Badminton is a world-renowned futurist speaker, the Chief Futurist, Consultant, Author, Media Producer, and Executive Advisor that has spoken to, and worked with, over 300 of the world’s most impactful organizations and governments. He helps shape the visions that shape impactful organizations, trillion-dollar companies, progressive governments, and 200+ billion dollar investment funds.

Nikolas Badminton has collaborated with numerous CEOs, executive teams, and organizations to implement practical tools for imagining futures, creating futures literacy and implementing strategic foresight in their organizations. Nikolas’ proven Foresight Development Framework is a foundational approach that presents principles and critical tasks – scanning for signals, creating hypothetical scenarios, and developing speculative fiction – needed to start the establish foresight as a practice that augments existing strategic planning processes. As Chief Futurist he runs a world-leading think tank at futurist.com and he can bring together incredible expertise to help you.


Future of Retail - Renewable Energy and Circular Economies - futurist speaker Nikolas Badminton

 

 

FROM WHAT IS TO WHAT IF... - IRC Global Executive Search Partners Keynote with Nikolas Badminton

 




CONTENT

 

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