🧠Mind Expanding Links 17 Nov 2023: policy steering rooms🏛️ contesting the growthocene📉 spimes, wranglers and biots🔮 collapse anticipation💥 intelligence explosion (but safely)📈
Make It Be Good👼
Mind Expanding Links is my regular curation for Memia paid subscribers of deeper dives, bigger thinks and other eclectica that I’ve come across while compiling the weekly newsletter.
In this issue:
🏛️Policy steering rooms A practical concept for using physical spaces for complex decision-making in government. 📈🔍
🌡️Climate economics > politics? In the runup to COP28, the economics of meaningful action to address climate change look further away than ever:
🌳Unscalable, unjust and unfixable Carbon offsets are not working.
🏠Insurers retreat What happens when no-one will insure property any more?
🗳️Democracy is rigged say climate scientists.
📉Contesting the Growthocene how to escape the hypnosis of economic “growth” as measured by GDP?
🚨10 reasons our civilisation will collapse yikes.
🌳Resilience Planning now is the time to start planting in the suburbs…
🗣️Cognitive infrastructure under attack our collective ability to make sense of the world is increasingly at risk at failure.
🧠Intelligence explosion (but safely)
💭AI Revolution: Azeem Azhar’s reflections on a year with ChatGPT and what’s next.
👥Collective Intelligence humans+AI = safety?
👼Make It Be Good AI safety is too simple, says Yann LeCun.
🧹Time to clean house? is new AI infrastructure the opportunity to completely rethink IT, cloud and data architectures?
🔮Spimes, wranglers, and biots a discussion of the concepts in Bruce Sterling’s book “Shaping Things”.
☢️Nuclear fusion pathways a must-see lecture on nuclear fusion development from Ian Chapman, CEO of the UK Atomic Energy Authority.
⚛️Quantum wave collapsing? A trip through Roger Penrose’s theory of how the quantum wave function and consciousness are intertwined.
🕳️Spacetime is a 2D hologram the physicist attempting to “make” space-time in the lab.
🛸UFOs and the New Physics if UFO observations were real, what would that mean for physics?
📚Bookshelf Latest book recommendations on virtual reality and AI to wait until they’re available as a GPT.
🌳Datafication of nature: Discussion on 'smart' natural areas. 🔌🌍
🌀DMT experiences psychedelics and hyperconnected brain states.
Equations: 17 equations which changed the world.
Enjoy! (Or at least, be updated… some pretty stiff content below on climate change and overshoot…)
🏛️Policy steering rooms
First up, I found this article by public sector innovation practitioners Geoff Mulgan and Giulio Quaggiotto enlightening: Creating useful policy steering rooms, leveraging the existing use of “situation rooms” for crisis management and special operations:
“The problem: Helping policymakers mobilise the knowledge they need to make good decisions is tricky.
Why it matters: This is hard, especially for complex issues like climate change or industrial policy.
The solution: Physical spaces that embody the four dimensions that decision-makers need to keep in mind.“
The authors propose creating “Policy Steering Rooms” for complex, intractable policy challenges, using four walls arranged as follows:
“THE PATTERNS – The first wall would bring together the patterns: what are the key facts and trends that decision-makers need to be aware of, some about the external environment, some about trends, some capturing performance indicators for government itself.
THE PROVEN – The second wall would bring together what’s proven (and proven to be problematic): it would gather the hard evidence – interventions with strong support, and also problematic ones that seem promising but don’t work, drawing on the work of ‘What works’ centres, evaluations and evidence maps, systematic reviews and syntheses of all kinds. Such evidence maps can also increasingly make use of large language models trained on reliable research.
THE PROMISING – The third wall would bring together the promising ideas: innovations of all kinds that might be relevant, whether coming from other countries, other sectors, or emerging on the market.
THE POSSIBLE – A fourth wall would capture the possible: picturing where might the whole system be in 10-20 years, in other words, what is the broader context for the actions taken now.”
Boom. Now add in VR / XR…
Anyone in government wanting to trial a (virtual) Policy Steering Room for some of the most intractable questions on AI policy right now… hit me up…!
(This isn’t a completely new idea… Project Cybersyn was a Chilean government project from 1971-1973 which used similar operations rooms to aid in the management of the national economy.)
As reported in this week’s newsletter, 2023 will almost certainly be the hottest in 125,000 years. With COP28 less than 2 weeks away, the temperature is turning up (literally) on the effectiveness (and transparency, and legitimacy…) of the UN’s climate efforts… but the global fossil-fuel-based neocapitalist economy is still operating on (low-intelligence) autopilot accelerating towards the edge of the cliff…
🌳Unscalable, unjust and unfixable
Commentary on a recent paper by US Climate expert Joe Romm on carbon offsets: carbon offsets are unscalable, unjust, and unfixable – and a threat to the Paris Agreement:
“Today, every major offset program still has the same exact problems researchers and investigative reports have been identifying for more than two decades. That suggests the core problems are inherent to offsets and intractable – the impossibility of ensuring additionality or of counting them accurately or of solving the double counting problem in a just way…[T]he U.N. has failed in the last two decades to prove it can create or run a credible official regulated offset market—the Clean Development Mechanism. The flaws in the CDM have been detailed again and again in the literature and media, yet the UN has failed to fix them.“
The global insurance industry (which could have actually intervened over 20 years ago) is now instead just sidling off the stage. In The Crash to Come, Jonathan Mingle examines the US insurers exiting home insurance market in California and other states… and the onward implications on the housing market:
“Insurance companies have responded to climate disasters by raising premiums and dropping customers. Now there’s a new housing bubble waiting to burst.“
🗳️Democracy is rigged against climate
Climate scientists say that Democracy itself is rigged:
📉Contesting the Growthocene
Underlying all of this… the hypnosis of economic “Growth” as measured by GDP? Matthias Schmelzer writes in Illuminem: Contesting the growthocene: from capitalist realism to ecological reduction:
“Earth system governance has failed. After decades of ineffective climate politics, it’s time to acknowledge this failure. We are presently at 1.2 degrees of global warming – the effects are already immense: floods, droughts, displacement, extinction, etc. Yet according to the IPCC, existing government policies have us on track for 2.4 to 3.2 degrees of global heating this century – so in the lifetime of some of us. We are firmly on track to catastrophic climate endgame scenarios – and I must say, I am deeply scared.
The core reason for this failure lies not mainly in insufficient governance structures, as important as they may be, but largely in the hegemony of growth in our societies, which in the form of “green growth” dominates sustainability discourses, and in the economic structures of our capitalist, growth-dependent economic system. If we do not overcome the age of growth – and remember, that all IPCC scenarios model a continuation of economic growth that leads to the world economy being 4 to 7 times larger by 2100 than today – without leaving the growthocene, earth system governance will continue to fail.”
He suggests five primary policy directions for a world “beyond growth":
Universal basic services
Green job guarantee
Cancelling Global South debt
Curbing unequal exchange in international trade
Instituting policies for ecological reparations.
Sounds idealistic… but what are the alternatives?
🚨10 reasons our civilisation will collapse
Alan Urban writing in Climate Action Australia goes into a really clearly explained, accessible overview of the 10 reasons our civilisation will collapse. Just can’t get enough of this Overshoot graph:
Worth reading in full, AI-generated summary of the 10 reasons: