"The most innovative decade in history"

Vivek Wadhwa writes a guest post for Venture Beat and is very optimistic about innovation:

I can go on and on and on, but the bottom line is that we are innovating at an unprecedented rate.  In this and the next decade, we will begin to make energy and food abundant, inexpensively purify and sanitize water from any source, cure disease, and educate the world’s masses. The best part: It isn’t governments that will lead this charge; it will be the world’s entrepreneurs.

It's interesting that he also identifies entrepreneurs as the builders of this future.

"Post-late" Civilization

Here's a guy who's played the computer game Civilization II for 10 years:

There are 3 remaining super nations in the year 3991 A.D, each competing for the scant resources left on the planet after dozens of nuclear wars have rendered vast swaths of the world uninhabitable wastelands. […]

The ice caps have melted over 20 times (somehow) due primarily to the many nuclear wars. As a result, every inch of land in the world that isn't a mountain is inundated swamp land, useless to farming. Most of which is irradiated anyway. […]

The only governments left are two theocracies and myself, a communist state. I wanted to stay a democracy, but the Senate would always over-rule me when I wanted to declare war before the Vikings did. […] Anyway, I was forced to do away with democracy roughly a thousand years ago because it was endangering my empire.

Aren't we using simulations in many areas of science that are less sophisticated than Civ II?

Technology and Loneliness

How often do you take out your smartphone and pass the time with the web/Twitter/Facebook/etc while you're waiting or alone? Have you noticed that habit creeping into times when someone's around? Maybe even when you're half-engaged in conversation? Yeah, me too.

Sherry Turkle makes observations about this new behavior in the New York Times article The Flight From Conversation:

Human relationships are rich; they’re messy and demanding. We have learned the habit of cleaning them up with technology. And the move from conversation to connection is part of this. But it’s a process in which we shortchange ourselves. Worse, it seems that over time we stop caring, we forget that there is a difference.

And:

We think constant connection will make us feel less lonely. The opposite is true. If we are unable to be alone, we are far more likely to be lonely.

Reminded me of Leadership and Solitude.

Godin: The Forever Recession

Seth Godin has written a fantastic article about how the internet revolution has ended the industrial times:

The industrial age, the one that started with the industrial revolution, is fading away. It is no longer the growth engine of the economy and it seems absurd to imagine that great pay for replaceable work is on the horizon.

Read the signs. The future is already here.

Update: The Economist describes this development in a little more depth (plus a few numbers). The author argues that "artificial intelligence" will replace even cognitive and some creative work in typical middle-income white collar work like retail, legal, and information services.

A Proactive Sovereign

Some are of the opinion that the Arabic countries have never gone through a phase of Enlightenment, where secularism and liberalism joined hands to create a strong body of citizens, setting movements in motion that led to democracy.

I don't know if that's the case. I have been critical, however, of efforts to instill countries with democracy from the outside. I think Afghanistan and Iraq are better examples of "How not to…" than anything else.

Now it seems that many Arabic populations are taking matters into their own hands. Tunisia has rid themselves of a dictator, and now there are riots in Algeria and Yemen. To establish a system in which the people are the sovereign of a nation, I think it's a good thing when it's the people who work towards that goal.

Skilled Worker Shortage in German Military

I talked to an officer in the German Navy the other day. To my surprise, they are suffering from a shortage of skilled non-officer personnel.

It seems that a gap is widening between well-educated people and less educated ones. The well-educated more often than not choose the industry over the military, and the military cannot compete for them in terms of job attractiveness. The less educated ones lack the basic skills needed for even a lower position: IT proficiency and a working knowledge of English.

This is another piece of evidence for an underfunded education system that slowly erodes public and private organizations. There are too many students—many of them with a migration background—who leave school without a degree and without appropriate skills for a work life that already suffers from generations with a low birthrate.

The consequences from lack of funding and of reformation of the education system are among the greatest dangers the German society faces these days.