Formatting our world

The language we speak, the organisation we live or work in, and the technology we use all have one thing in common: they format our world. They shape how we think about it, how we see it, how we behave in it, and how we interact with it. All that formatting has tremendous advantages in our day-to-day lives. Yet it also provides an explanation for the challenges innovators face when they develop something novel that does not fit any of the pre-established formats.

Framing policies on Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (or AI) is hotly debated for all the promise it holds and the concerns it raises. Opinions abound, and they range widely. From hailing AI as the harbinger of an entirely new level of human development, to cursing AI as ushering in the end of all human civilisation. Today, I’ll highlight three recent contributions to the AI discussion that remind us of the wide-open option space we have for policies that can shape the AI we want to have in the future.

The limits of complexity

In our daily lives, we are engulfed with complexity. It is all around us: just think about business transactions, global trade, health care systems, jet engines, the energy grid, the tax code, computers, … Many would even add the remote control of their stereo or the radio in their car to that list.  Yet despite that almost permanent […]

A brief history of material flow …

Material and its flow determine whether novelty of thought can take shape as novelty of deed, whether an innovative idea is actually pulled through to a tangible reality. Even more than energy does (see energy for innovation). So it’s time to talk about the third flow in systems theory (apart from information and energy): What is […]

Energy and society – an accident waiting to happen?

Energy, society, complexity and innovation are intertwined through a multitude of interrelations that are sometimes difficult to grasp. In an earlier post, I’ve offered a storyline to describe this nexus, based on the considerations of Joseph Tainter and Ian Morris. In essence, the energy supply available to a society poses a limit on the complexity this society can […]