🔮 Growth and climate change; Afrofuturism; bioengineering; Google in France & Uzbek academics ++ #334

Hi, I’m Azeem Azhar. I convene Exponential View to help us understand how our societies and political economy will change under the force of rapidly accelerating technologies.

I’m away this week, thus a shorter wondermissive. If you’d like more from Exponential View each week, consider becoming our member – 85% of members who take an annual subscription, renew for a second year. Here’s what you’ll get for $120/year or $12/month:

Dept of the near future

💎 Incompleteness in biology
It’s been ninety years since Kurt Gödel’s seminal paper in which he proved that not all truths in a logic system are provable or decidable was published. Gödel’s theorems have been revolutionary for mathematics, philosophy and computer science, but what do they mean for biology, and our ability to develop biomedical solutions?

🌍 What can we learn from Afrofuturism
After a year of pandemic, Afrofuturism is proving to be a vital tool for thinking about the possibilities of the near future. The discipline, which extends across literature, music, philosophy, and science, is difficult to neatly define but easy to spot. Because of its focus on human struggle, Afrofuturism provides critical perspectives on the last year of the pandemic as well. C. Brandon Ogbunu, writing in Wired, reminds us that “futurists ask what tomorrow’s hoverboards and flying cars are made of. Afrofuturists ask who will build them?” The dismal rollout of Covid-19 vaccines across Africa is a stark reminder of the primacy of this question. If we want to believe the old adage that “another world is possible” in the wake of the pandemic, we need to lean heavily on the creativity of the Afrofuturist canon.

Degrowth and climate change
Last week, we addressed a complex and baffling question posed by the degrowth movement: “Can we have prosperity without economic growth?” In a new piece for Nature Energy, Jason Hickel addresses how climate mitigation strategies depend on technological advancements that will facilitate massive emissions decline while maintaining the growth goals of advanced economics. Scientists are sceptical that such a scenario can be realised. As such, Hickel recommends that high-income nations adopt post-growth policies that will allow them to achieve strong social outcomes without growth. This creates space to scale down excess production, thus reducing energy demand and enabling a rapid transition to renewables. It’s not clear this can resolve the challenge but the argumentation is worth closer inspection.

Dept of decarbonisation

CO2 level 414.28 ppm | 3,252 days until we reach the 450ppm threshold. The latest measurement of atmospheric CO2 (as of August 2, 2021): 415.93 ppm; August 2020: 413.56 ppm; 25 years ago: 360 ppm; 250 years ago, est: 250 ppm. Share this reminder with your community by forwarding this email or tweeting this.

📉 In a new report, the team at RethinkX paints the pathway to a 90% emissions  reduction scenario by 2035. “At the heart of humanity’s climate change challenge is a mindset problem that overlooks the nonlinear nature, speed, and dynamics of change in both earth systems and human systems. As a result, we often examine both problems and solutions through a linear, reductive lens that fails to recognize the complex systems dynamics driving change.”

Let me know in the comments what you took away from the report (head to the browser version of the post to comment).

Short morsels to appear smart during the summer break

🥊 France is leading the anti-trust fight against Google in Europe. What’s remarkable is that Google is disrupting the country’s position on its business model. (See also in Google news: the company is going with its own chip for its upcoming flagship smartphone. What does this mean for mainstream chip markers?)

😬 98% of the articles Uzbek academics publish abroad appear in discredited journals.

🧱 The history of robotic bricklayers.

🕳️ The draft of the US infrastructure bill opens a surveillance loophole within the blockchain ecosystem.

😉 Thousands of characters to contend with, how does a Japanese typewriter work?

End note

I am enjoying a restful break and hope you have had a chance for some time off. See you next week!

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