Complementarity (Mental Models XVII)

Niels Bohr proposed that one fundamental insight of quantum physics was that some phenomena or systems could be described in two or more mutually exclusive ways and that it would be a mistake to pick one description as the “right one” – both could be accurate. This violates the logical dictum of the excluded middle, in a sense, since it suggests that when we ask … Continue reading Complementarity (Mental Models XVII)

Capability forecasting

A lot of work has gone into what is sometimes called “technology forecasting” – attempting to understand how semiconductors, artificial intelligence, quantum computing, proteomics etc will evolve over the coming years. Such research is valuable and interesting – and can be interestingly contrasted with something we could call “capability forecasting”. Capability forecasting is focusing not on the technology as much on what we will be … Continue reading Capability forecasting

Thinking in indices (Mental Models XVI)

The idea of an index in economy is simple: find a way to measure a change in an ensemble of values in a single value, and then track that single value over time. The challenges are many: how do you pick the values in your basket, and do you weight them differently? Do you update them, and if so with what periodicity? And then – … Continue reading Thinking in indices (Mental Models XVI)

Geopolitical races in technology 2.0

Looking back, it is fairly easy to see that the race to the moon was a geopolitical competition, an attempt to use a technological task as a proxy for answering the question of which political system was the most robust, innovative and effective. But was we enter an age of new geopolitical races, it seems much less clear what this would look like. The first … Continue reading Geopolitical races in technology 2.0

Measures and causes of centralization of the Internet

Here is a narrative about the Internet that is getting more and more common: It certainly seems that the Internet is now the realm of a small number of enterprises that dominate this space. This is no longer a diverse, vibrant environment where new entrants compete on equal terms with incumbents, where the pace of innovation and change is relentless, and users benefit from having … Continue reading Measures and causes of centralization of the Internet

Deep uncertainty(Mental models XV)

The concept of deep uncertainty is intriguing and important – as defined it is: Deep uncertainty exists when parties to a decision do not know, or cannot agree on, the system model that relates action to consequences, the probability distributions to place over the inputs to these models, which consequences to consider and their relative importance. Deep uncertainty often involves decisions that are made over … Continue reading Deep uncertainty(Mental models XV)

Intolerance and polarization as survival strategies

A recent study in PNAS suggests that we can at least start thinking about that through inversion – the study of what intolerance is. By looking at the areas of the brain that activate during polarized responses etc a group of researchers are now arguing that intolerance is strongly correlated with a need for certainty. If polarization is the response to uncertainty in our society, … Continue reading Intolerance and polarization as survival strategies

Phylogenetic echoes of physics?

It turns out that there is no such things as trees or crabs. Yet, a lot of things end up in crab-shapes or tree-shapes. What is happening here? This is a question that is related to the work on physics and evolution put forward by people like Geoffrey West, especially in his book Scale; evolution ultimately unfolds under certain basic conditions and these conditions then … Continue reading Phylogenetic echoes of physics?

The grammar of happiness: a turn towards everyday life?

A culture is guided by its concept of happiness, and how that is located in the overall grammar of human existence – and our society is one that is focused on living a happy life. A result of that is that we often ask ourselves if we are happy – whether consciously or not. We compare our level of happiness with others, and then translate … Continue reading The grammar of happiness: a turn towards everyday life?