The Probability Of The USA Breaking Up

Image for post
Image for post

A friend, whom I play tennis with on Tuesdays at the unearthly time of 6h15AM in the South-African summers, gave me two books to read. I had just published a heavily researched essay with a scenario about the future of humankind in the light of Artificial Intelligence or AI, its very own creation. After such endeavors, I need to read something totally different to get me out of my writer’s rathole and rise above the subject matter again.

The first book was written by the Polish writer Olga Tokarczuk, winner of the 2018 Nobel prize in Literature. It came with the ‘subtle’ title: “Drive You Plow Over The Bones Of The Dead”. The other, “How History Gets Things Wrong”, was written by Alex Rosenberg, a philosophy professor at Duke University. Rosenberg and his publisher appear to be well connected. On the book’s back flap, one of the authoritative reviewers praises the book as a “page-turner”. This seemed odd because my friend, an avid reader, had told me that he had put the book aside soon after he had started reading it. …


We’ll End As Slaves Of Time-Traveling AI

Image for post
Image for post
“Unstoppable undercurrents are bound to produce a societal sinkhole, washing away much of what we, Homo sapiens, believed to be on top of…”

We, Homo sapiens, have been around for at least 100,000 years, a short while in Earth history (~0.002%). Some 50,000 years ago, we left rival species behind, such as Neanderthals and Denisovans, yet have since carried them with us into the future. Depending on where you live, up to about five percent of your DNA can be traced back to these formidable rivals. Human society, as we know it, emerged much more recently, some 10,000 years ago, when our nomad forebears settled down to grow food, evermore efficiently. Since that time, human society has been catalyst to the development of tools that allowed it to grow exponentially. Although our morals and conduct did not change a lot, we have been particularly successful in bashing inefficiency. Today, it seems, we have entered another era of transition, a societal transition. Our progress is culminating on the back of ‘Artificial Intelligence’, a new way of interpreting and handling data to unveil and materialize efficiencies that we could only dream of. Crucially, it potentially does so all by itself. …


Powerfully Determined By Expectations Built Upon Past Commerce…

Image for post
Image for post
‘Time’ has become a virtual black hole, if not a rathole.

Thought I’d never be smart enough to study physics, yet I did. Growing up in a ‘textile family’, I made up my mind rather late, choosing science over trade. Armed by belief and curiosity, I picked up my life and started studying math on my own. It gave me the confidence needed to complete a prep year that gave access to the study of Applied Physics (B.Eng). Doing what I liked, I learned what I really was: a bit of a nerd who, at times, aced math-heavy exams while all of my fellow students failed. I had a knack for quantifying the behavior of complex mechanical engineering systems, so it seemed. This must have been the reason why I received an invite to write my final thesis at the ‘cybernetics laboratory’ of Delft University, the place where they designed and tested cockpit simulators for pilots, among other things. …


The Natural Selection of ‘Universe Species’

Image for post
Image for post

The idea that there are more versions of what (we believe) is ‘our’ universe is popular. Considering a new book on the subject and recent articles posted on medium.com, the idea appears to have become a fad.

I’d agree with the author of one article who reasoned that a “multiverse” is unlikely. However, somehow, the reasoning, long as it is, tends to miss out on why exactly this is so.

As I’d see it, ‘evolution’ — I mean, a general process of natural selection, not just the biological variant — stopped the various ‘universe species’ that popped up in their tracks because it favored our’s. …


EU Edge-Computing Swarm Scenario

Image for post
Image for post
EU Swarm-Consciousness…

The Covid-19 pandemic turned out to be the straw that broke the back of an established, carbon-dominated world, the “black swan” that nobody believed could exist until it flew over the cuckoo’s nest and landed in our backyard. The virus did not just unleash a wave of death. It also magnified the imminent decline of ‘monocultures’, oil-rich nations such as the USA, Saudi Arabia, and Russia. Their oil cartel imploding, these nations are no longer able to stop the long march of renewable energy. Even in a lobbyist oligarchy such as the USA, the use of renewable energy now eclipses that of coal despite the President’s idiotic support. What’s more, from shining sea to shining sea, not just “chicken à la king” but also a constitutional lust for freedom, bluntly amplified by partisan politics and personal gain, has narrowed the cultural base of America beyond immediate repair. The US will become more inward oriented as it deals with these matters, deeply rooted as they are. This explains why its perspective today is pathetically remote from what the world needs now. So, who might take over the leadership of our world? China, by all means, is not a likely candidate. With regions and people held together by a thin veil of party ideology, it worries on balance more about its internal coherence than about its external security.


The Science Behind Leadership-Role Changes

Image for post
Image for post
Inspired by Jorge Silva/Pool via Bloomberg

North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong Un, are in the news once more but we can’t be sure the reports reflect the truth. North Korea’s society is opaque to most and only partially transparent to some — particularly foreign intelligence organizations. Then again, you don’t need to be an expert to understand that the news of Kim Jong Un’s death might not be fake. He is an overweight man with a heavy smoking and drinking habit who is known to have diabetes. The mental strain of keeping his family in power at the expense of unwilling party members may also be to the detriment of his physical condition. So, not even counting the covid threat that the world at large is struggling with these days, a life-threatening disorder might pop up anytime soon — not something that Kim Jong Un’s entourage would dare to admit. …


Thinking The Unthinkable

Image for post
Image for post
…so, it will flood in the plains. Credit: NASA

I don’t remember how exactly I got hold of Herman Kahn’s book “The Year 2000”. It was published in 1967 at about the time I returned from a 12 month, post-high-school industrial traineeship in New York. I read it just before starting my undergraduate engineering studies in applied physics. Kahn’s insights opened up my mind to the broader world, I mean, not just spatially but especially also time wise. Founder of the Hudson Institute, Kahn was a futurist who got into the lime light as military strategist. Piercing our world, I learned, does not just mean interpreting a broad array of matters and making sense of it. It particularly also involves identifying unassuming events today that might change our world tomorrow. …


Identifying And Correcting Errors By State Preference

Image for post
Image for post
Double-slit phenomena are shaping human organizations.

When you’d ask people “What defines a company organization?”, you can expect a variety of answers. Answers typically vary from a ‘contract’ that binds an association of people to its ‘products’, ‘customers’, and/or its ‘people’. In a sense, these answers are not even wrong. Yet, they miss out on something important. None of these explains how exactly an organization sustains itself or ‘exists’ to achieve. A contract is but a banner. Products and customers are consequences of something. And, people are but puppets on a payroll. Organizational behavior experts will hastily add: “It’s the behavior of people, stupid. That’s what sustains an organization.” And, yes, they are right or, rather, half right. The business of organizational behavior experts, among other things, is to help make science from the art of leadership by classifying the conduct of people. Based on some theory or research, they sort out what works so they can explain and train people what to do or not to do. Thereafter, they’ll keep their fingers crossed hoping it all works out. When it does, they’ll sell their trick elsewhere. When it doesn’t, they’ll keep awfully quiet. You can’t really blame them for that. Organizations do not just hinge on behaviors but on repeated behaviors, that is, the repeated behavior of people in various roles that are shaped by external influences. Due to these influences, repeated behaviors slowly but surely drift to disrupt an organization and its processes eventually. As a result, chance rules organizations and the repeated behaviors that they comprise. This makes human organizations often difficult to predict. So, what can you do to keep these chance-driven phenomena functioning optimally as they develop? A list of ideal behaviors no longer suffices as fundamental model. …


Arvind Krishna Takes Over As CEO — But Maybe Not For Long

Image for post
Image for post
With its Growth Environment (GEN) changing, a leader with a different Growth Environment Orientation (GEO) is needed.

Guided by my analysis of corporate growth environments (GEN), I have reiterated on several occassions the expectation that a leadership change at IBM is imminent. Ginni Rometty has transformed the IBM powerhouse, cutting out hopeless businesses and fostering new ideas that might lead to new growth-generating products. However, a new hand was required with a different growth-environment orientation (GEO), a builder that turns these ideas into disruptive products. The natural premise: “corporate and national environments influence the rise of leaders and their role.

It seems the time has come with the appointment of Arvind Krishna. …


A Telling Exchange

Image for post
Image for post
A dialog: Mankind is but a catalyst.

Scott Bellamy kindly agreed to publish his comments on Mankind is but a catalyst together with my response when I explained how much his comments helped me point out the crux of my drift. Scott holds a BSc in Cognitive Science, a field he likes because it allows him the freedom to explore the intersection between physics, biology, and semiotics (using nonlinear systems theory). He intended to become an academic but was lured into industry early on. “In some ways, I never left — to me academia is a state of mind, not a job title.” An American who lives and works in Japan, Scott focuses on logistics. “The thermodynamics and computational properties of logistics networks are fascinating with parallels in physics, ecology, neurology, and finance to name a few. …

About

Marcus van der Erve

Investigative Journalist | Sociologist (PhD) | Physicist (B.Eng) | Futurist

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store