An interesting debate on what I would term “George Gilderism” of the techno-utopia is just around the corner versus the concern that innovation is slowing. George Gilder is the author of Telecosm; which encapsulated techno-utopian optimism at its peak in the mid-1990s; just as the web was coming into its own. ‘George Gilderism’ has since been brought to issues such photo and video imaging through to a blockchain based web.
I’ve been making my way slowly through The Rise and Fall of American Growth which makes a convincing argument against ‘George Gilderism’. Stewart Brand in his work The Whole Earth Discipline makes a tepid case for ‘George Gilderism’. Kevin Kelly’s What Technology Wants suggests that technological progress almost has a will to happen. And that will or technium as he puts it is running at increasing cadence which seems to counter the idea of slowing innovation. Kelly doesn’t make a compelling case for ‘George Gilderism’ either, technological progress brings its own problems. Innovation runs at different speeds at different times, in different fields.
Here’s Intel executive Stacy Smith on what would have happened to the car industry if it had been able to reap the benefits of innovation in the same what the semiconductor field had:
If you apply the same metric to something like gas mileage, it says you could drive to the sun from Earth on a single gallon of gas.’If there were a Moore’s Law in the car industry, you could drive to the sun on a gallon of gas – MarketWatch (April 1, 2017)
Noah Smith makes the case for optimism here: Answering the Techno-Pessimists (complete) – Noahpinion and the Applied Divinity Studies blog makes the case for the great stagnation – Isolated Demands for Rigour in New Optimism | Applied Divinity Studies
The rise of crypto laundries: how criminals cash out of bitcoin | Financial Times – so it’s a threat to offshore financial industry? There are so many things wrong with cryptocurrencies, but this seems like an odd flaw to pick on.
Share price ‘pop’ in US IPOs falls by half | Financial Times – this could be a good thing, as it shows that IPOs are closer to being optimally priced rather than management teams leaving a large amount of money on the table
Nestlé document says majority of its food portfolio is unhealthy | Financial Times – they’re ok in moderation, but this will bring in a lot of shareholder pressure
We Need More Public Space for Teen Girls – Bloomberg – “We had nothing to do and there was nowhere to go. So we’d go and hang out on the swings in the early evening and chat as the light slowly faded into dusk. It was better than sitting around at home.” – but why are spaces failing now where they didn’t in the past? I talked this through with a few friends of both genders who thought it odd. It sounded more like a law enforcement issue around public safety than a space issue. I could see an argument for a safe online space, for girls, boys and everyone in between – but that comes with its own complexity. I thought that the problem was that kids are the PlayStation generation or have their lives stuffed with activities by middle class parents.
BUSINESS: Warren Buffett sinks climate measure, says world will adapt – www.eenews.net – completely missed this when it originally came out. On a related note I was listening to a podcast interview with Niall Ferguson promoting his book Doom and he mentioned that we have seen remarkably little volcanic activity over the past 200 years. When that picked up again, we could be dealing with global cooling. (This also explains why when I was a kid; the concern wasn’t global warming, but a new ice age). But even at that time, although the media missed it; the general consensus that carbon dioxide causing global warming was a bigger effect than short lived particles in the air reducing sun and causing global cooling. Even Richard Turco’s A Path Where No Man Thought which posited the idea of a nuclear winter has been proven wrong in subsequent analysis. There may be some cooling effect but not the kind of effect envisaged by massive nuclear conflicts.
Xi Jinping on external propaganda and discursive power – China Neican 内参 – aka more and better Wolf Warrior. It was interested that this was misinterpreted by many people as a softening in tone by China. The reality is that the CPC views everything in terms of struggle, which is means their strategic approach is like a ratchet. It was interesting to read alongside the below article in The Spectator
China is not as strong as it appears | The Spectator – The truth is that China is not as strong as it appears. As the Stanford scholar Elizabeth Economy points out, the country spent $216 billion on domestic security in 2019 — three times its expenditure of a decade before, and even more than what it spends on the People’s Liberation Army. Yet if Beijing’s internal problems continue to get worse, it will fall back on nationalism as a source of legitimacy. This will not be a comfortable experience for the West. ‘Communist China is bad, Han nationalist China will be worse,’ – the party is already validated by Han nationalism and has been a good while, so this worst case scenario is already here.
Miller Lite, New Balance team up on ‘dad shoe’ beer koozie | Marketing Dive – Through the Shoezie, Miller Lite is hoping to appeal to the middle-aged men who represent an important cohort of beer drinkers and those who embrace dad fashion, which has become a trend as consumers retro looks. New Balance’s 624 Trainer — the model on which the koozie is based — is referred to as the classic “Dad Shoe” in the announcement. DDB San Francisco organized a modeling session for the Shoezie in which dads were placed in typical dad scenarios, such as cleaning the garage and searing a steak. By combining these elements of dad culture, Miller Lite is taking a lighthearted, relatable approach to Father’s Day
Modern brands have forgotten that good ad slogans work (rest and play) | Business | The Times – Lloyds Banking Group, Pepsi and the food division of Marks & Spencer have brought some or all of their marketing in-house, partly as a cost-saving exercise. But partly, as Richard Warren, Lloyds’ head of marketing, claims: “No one can write in ad agencies any more.” Ouch. – So much here in factors causing this move. Relentless cost cutting has reduced agency talent bench, if you’re 40 you’re done. Agency focus on disruption and innovation over craft because of the media buying profits offered from online.
How the Depop generation thinks | Vogue Business – so a lot of similarities with earlier generations at their age then. the Etsy acquisition of Depop is more about consolidating crafting and thrifting rather than a generational play per se.
Tymbals – The edge @ ROI – The latest wonder to be rolled out of Nigel Scott’s RoboVC investment model. The DTC Dropship Arbitrage for evaluating the relative efficiency of eCommerce biz models
Polish trial begins in Huawei-linked China espionage case | Reuters – Huawei, which fired Wang after his arrest but has helped finance his legal fees, told Reuters in a statement last month that its activities are “in accordance with the highest standards of transparency and adherence to laws and regulation.” – some interesting bits in the article. First of all, Huawei picking up a good deal of the legal fees for an employee that they ‘fired’. Secondly, Wang was interested in tapping of military optical fibres in Poland, which hints at technology theft and the depth of military and intelligence alliance between Russia and China
Huawei’s HarmonyOS: “Fake it till you make it” meets OS development | Ars Technica – All the evidence points to HarmonyOS being built on top of Android; but with Android mentions removed. Knowing Huawei they are probably violating GPL as well
Web of no web
Killer drone ‘hunted down a human target’ without being told to – The March 2020 attack was in Libya and perpetrated by a Kargu-2 quadcopter drone produced by Turkish military tech company STM “during a conflict between Libyan government forces and a breakaway military faction led by Khalifa Haftar, commander of the Libyan National Army,” the Star reports, adding: “The Kargu-2 is fitted with an explosive charge and the drone can be directed at a target in a kamikaze attack, detonating on impact.” – At the start of my agency career, autonomous software agents would aid the consumer. I had a German dot com client called DealTime who had a Windows-only app for consumers. It would go out and find the best price on the web for items that they where interested in and keep an eye on those prices over time. Now we have Amazon and suicide drones.