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And cities will overtake nations on the innovation road

December 12, 2015 Leave a comment

Geoeconomie Institut Choiseul G77As megacities take a lead role amongst the proactive doers in COP21 Climate Conference in Paris, the latest edition (nb 77) of Institut Choiseul’s Géoéconomie publishes my article (in French) on cities reasserting themselves as the ideal spot for technological and societal innovation.

Abstract

Ever since they appeared about ten thousand years ago, urban centres have served the dual purpose of bringing together talent from various disciplines, and facilitating trade. By fostering both the production of novel ideas, and their access to markets, cities have offered an ideal space for innovation to blossom. Eclipsed for a while by all-powerful Nation-States, cities are back on the innovation stage, as three factors conspire to bring them to the fore: Read more…

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Beyond 3D printing – it’s more than a Game of Drones: Smarter is Coming

20140521-161857-58737992.jpg 3D/4D printing and self-assembly materials trigger at the same time fear and skepticism: fear that masses of workers in the manufacturing industries will find themselves structurally redundant, skepticism that complex systems can ever be manufactured using these emerging technologies. Both this fear and this skepticism are misplaced, because they are based on the faulty assumption that new manufacturing/assembly technologies will replace old ones like-for-like.

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Cities to rise above Nations as the building block of innovation

20140521-110938-40178713.jpg More than half of humanity now lives in cities, a proportion that is expected to rise to three-quarters within the next 30 years. Squeezed between the critical mass of cities and the realities of the global economy, the traditional power of Nation-States is waning. Nationalists and protectionists of all kinds may not like it, but there is no way back. Nations are becoming ineffective at driving change, as politicians on any national stage are increasingly perceived as out-of-touch and their now structural inability to mobilize capital makes them irrelevant. Conversely, cities are rapidly appearing as the right perimeter to implement change. This is why this year’s MIT Europe conference “a blueprint to the future” is so heavily focused on urbanism.

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Pokiwa creates the buzz with insect power

March 11, 2014 1 comment

Pokiwa - The BuzzI recently participated in the selection for the ArtScience Prize Paris, an educational program in which 10 groups of students from engineering schools and schools of design work on new ideas around a given theme. On the 2013-2014 theme “Energy of the future” two groups have emerged as the winners: Pokiwa and InnerG.

InnerG developed a connected wrist band that enables the user to manage electric power for surrounding devices by simply waving at them, thereby creating a cool way to drive energy efficiency up.

Pokiwa came up with a radical idea: to harness the movement and acoustic vibrations of zillions of insects in their natural habitat to generate enough electricity to provide clean and safe lighting in deprived areas. A short animation illustrates the concept beautifully (a few words in French, but very visual and easy to understand).

Pokiwa and InnerG will develop their idea further for presentation at the international workshop in June 2014 at Le Laboratoire in Paris, and will display their prototypes at Harvard University in late 2014. I can’t wait to see them!

Reports of a post-growth era have been vastly exagerated

January 19, 2014 1 comment

20140119-181813.jpg In Mark Twain style we could claim that reports of the advent of a post-growth world have been vastly exagerated. In fact while we almost certainly find ourselves at the end of the long economic cycle that started with the industrial revolution, we might well be on the eve of a new century long growth cycle.

The industrial revolution harnessed mechanical power to free-up or leverage human physical power. In production or transport, tasks that would have otherwise taken muscle and time could be done with increasing effectiveness through people operating machines. The lever of mechanical power enabled economies to tap into a massive productivity reservoir, unleashing two centuries of phenomenal growth. Today, Read more…

Byebye Microsoft

September 18, 2013 1 comment

20130918-230217.jpg This is the end of an era. Bill Gates’ momentous decision, a few decades ago, to focus on software rather than hardware and turn the Windows / Office combination into a universal platform propelled Microsoft to the top of the charts. Recently, a series of decisions have gravely undermined Gates’ legacy:

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Paradigm-shift theory applied to energy for transport

August 20, 2013 4 comments

20130820-105932.jpg Technology differs from science in its core purpose. The purpose of technology is to make things we understand work; that of science is to discover how things we don’t understand work. In mathematical terminology, science searches for the founding theorem, while technology pursues its many corollaries. Science is constrained by the faith it has placed in, or the frantic search for, a unifying paradigm; technology has, in principle, more freedom to apply science in many different ways.

However, in practice science and technology tend to operate a lot closer to each other. Read more…