🔮 Micromobility; the shape of the recovery; carbon capture; cliodynamics, a big Thermanin and Iceland++ #273

🔮 Micromobility; the shape of the recovery; carbon capture; cliodynamics, a big Thermanin and Iceland++ #273

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—and, of course, Covid-19.

The near future

This week discussion is dominated by events in the US. I’ve tackled these in Dept of Facebook and Dept of Protests below.

🚴🏼‍♀️ How will Covid-19 impact shared mobility? A decent analysis argues that the industry could “see a long-term market expansion as it picks up the slack from declines in public transportation ridership, especially among urban areas in Europe and Asia”. Micromobility could also “play an important role in helping cities incorporate social distancing practices for commuters, while also solving existing issues related to congestion and emissions.”

🧬 The inflated promise of genomic medicine. Genetic research was supposed to revolutionise medicine and the way we treat the human body. But now it’s become obvious now that genetics may not be the right way to understand the human body, and that genetics alone can never give us the full picture.

🕷 In the latest discussion, I got together with EV member, Daniel Hulme, whose company Satalia operates as a decentralized swarm: there are no managers, no vacation limits, and employees decide what they’ll work on. We discuss how this works in practice, and the role of machine learning in managing their business. And while you’re there, if you enjoy the podcast, please give us a vote in competition for the best British podcast. Go here, search for Exponential View, and vote! Thank you!

Dept of Facebook

Another year, another Facebook controversy.

The rest of this section is available for Premium Members of Exponential View.

Subscribe now

Dept of protests

This section is available for Premium Members of Exponential View.

Subscribe now

Climate breakdown: 416.57ppm | 3,644 days

Each week, we’re going to remind you of the CO2 levels in the atmosphere and the number of days until we reach the 450ppm threshold.

The latest measurement (as of June 4): 416.57 ppm; June 2, 2019: 414.25 ppm; 25 years ago: 360ppm; 250 years ago, est: 250ppm. Share this reminder with your community by forwarding this email or tweeting this.

Swiss carbon capture firm, Climeworks, raised $76m. One of its customers in Coca-Cola which uses captured CO2 for its bubbles.  At $1,100 per offset ton of CO2, the price is still high working out about 20-50 times higher than nature-based offsets. Also worth noting that the investment was from several Swiss family offices rather than traditional institutional investors in innovation. This speaks to relative paucity of institutional innovation capital tackling the net-zero transition (compared to say the internet/software industry).

Picture of the week

A lovely diagram which outlines where all our energy comes from.

Charts of the week

Some surprising signs of life in various economic sectors across the world. It has many suggesting with might have a “V”… my take is that it is just the initial tail of a slow swoosh.

Below from ING bank on the US housing and auto market.

Germans are going out to eat again.


But retail footfall in the UK, USA, Sweden and Italy remains below pre-crisis levels.

The travel industry’s output is down about 60% due to the crisis according to Skift.

Short morsels to snack on

🚀 SpaceX’s Falcon (the craft taking astronauts into the ISS the past week) has an interface built with Chromium and Javascript. It is quite remarkable because Chromium is a consumer web-browser toolkit and Javascript a simple scripting language formerly derided by hardcore coders. If something was to go wrong, astronauts have physical buttons to use. (The picture below shows the difference between the Space Shuttle cockpit and that of the Dragon capsule).

🔮 A decade ago Peter Turchin who applied cliodynamics to predict civil unrest in the US this year. Here he reviews his forecast. (Original letter here.)

Consciousness is a process, not a thing.

A twitter user created an account that tweet exactly what Donald Trump tweets. His account was suspended within three days.

Oura sleep-tracking rings might be able to identify COVID symptoms three days early.

Thomas Kuhn posited that there were two processes in scientific discovery: small, incremental changes, and big revolutions. Here’s a thoughtful revision.

The enjoyment of music synchronizes performers’ brains with those of their audiences.

🌉 The Golden Gate Bridge has turned into a huge theramin. Weird.

Have a quarantine free vacation in Iceland, provided you take a test when you land.

End note

This week I am speaking at the CogX Festival of AI and emerging technologies. The theme is “How do we get the next 10 years right?”

There is a great programme of talks delivered over the Internet. If you want to catch up with me, I will be discussing

  • the parlous state of democracy and what comes next with Anne Appelbaum.
  • exploring the future of the corporation after the Covid-19 crisis with Tom Glocer.
  • how understanding the genetic diversity of the Amazon could solve the majority of humanity’s problems with Juan Carlos Castilla-Rubio.

As an EV reader, you can get a ticket to the event for free via this link. (Usually £295.)

Have a great week,


What you’re up to—notes from EV readers

Emily Judson published findings from her PhD research into governance challenges emerging from energy system digitalisation. Emily is now recruiting participants for the second phase of her research exploring the institutional landscape of UK digital energy governance. Participation is open to UK energy and digital sector professionals – please contact e.judson@exeter.ac.uk for more details or sign up via this link.

Kaila Colbin reflects on racism, and in particular on racism in her current home, New Zealand.

Peter Dean shares his multigenerational project 2269 with which he is aiming to creatively and collectively combat short-termism for the next 250 years.

Jess Whitlestone co-authored a paper on the importance of cross-cultural cooperation in AI ethics.

Dev Lewis explores the Healthcode, the QR code used in Chinese contact tracking apps.

Emmanuel Ommoruyi shares his summary of Shane Perrish’s book “The Great Mental Models”.

Paul Armstrong goes deep on Amazon each week in his newsletter What Did Amazon Do This Week (EV members get 50% off for life).

Robert Hacker writes why corporate research should prioritize social impact.

To share what you’re up to, email marija@exponentialview.co

Dig deeper

Micromobility—Unbundling of the car with Horace Dediufor members only

Members’ discussion: Platforms or publishers?for members only

AI and the genetic revolutionopen to everyone

Storing carbon in the ground: How does it work?for members only


Sign in or become a Exponential View member to join the conversation.