CategoryIn the news

The state and future of vertical farming

As a startup investor (and fund manager), there are themes that appear repeatedly in the dealflow submitted by startups. The entrepreneurs typically can’t see these patterns, and thus end up wasting their time repeating the same business plans that others many have tried and failed. I’ve written about this information asymmetry before and included a short list of business ideas Fledge...

Irreplaceable

Some entrepreneurs stand out, clearly destined to turn their vision in reality. Some entrepreneurs succeed despite the myriad of unjust hurdles of world puts in front of them. Hurdles like being born a women. A black woman. In Africa. In one of the many countries no one outside that country cares about. Start off any entrepreneur in those circumstances and 99 out of 100 will end up no better off...

MIT’s study on social collapse: too soon to tell

Last week there was a flurry of articles citing MIT’s 1972 study on social collapse. The key graph from the study repeated by the articles is: What those lazy journalists didn’t tell you is that there were four scenarios predicted in the study In two, the model predicts a collapse in industrial production and food, a giant famine, and a drop in population. In the third model, some yet...

Efficiency vs. Resilience: The Texas Blackout

The right framework can uncover the most hidden of assumptions. For example, the 2021 winter blackouts in Texas. While the politicians and news debate over windmills, natural gas, and deregulation, they are missing the the framework and thus talking trees instead of forest.   The better way to look at this problem is the consequence of a hidden tradeoff we make with all our big, complex...

Powering the 21st Century

Predicting the coming year is next to impossible. But some predictions of the coming decade and century are easy, obvious, and 99% likely to come true. I’m enjoying an early view into one of those: battery-backed solar. It is dim, drizzly, and chilly in Seattle, the opposite weather of every image you’ve ever seen for solar power. We will literally get less than six hours of daylight...

A 21st Century antitrust solution for Big Tech

The last government antitrust breakup was AT&T back in 1984. It followed the model of Standard Oil back in 1911. Business and technology have changed a lot since the Sherman Anti-Trust Act was written and passed 130 years ago, in 1890. It’s time we update what we mean by trust-like behavior and how we remedy those consequences. Note that the breakups of Standard Oil and AT&T were...

Time Traveling and Virtual Conferences

Last month I attended my first conference held in a timezone from the other side of the globe. That was a one day event, and an interesting experiment in timezone travel and virtual jet lag. This month the experiment grows, as I’m attending Sankalp Global, a week-long virtual conference, with the programming running morning through afternoon in India Standard Time and East Africa Time. That...

Time(zone) Travel and Virtual Jet Lag

Normally I’d be flying around the world to attend a handful of conferences between the end of summer and end of the year. Here in 2020, we instead get the global, online, virtual conferences. Earlier this week I attended The Future Summit, hosted annually by the Segal Family Foundation. Lovely event. Only trouble was that it was scheduled for East Africa Time, GMT+3, and I live in Pacific...

The Pandemic-induced Economic Crisis

I’ve been writing about how the pandemic is a causing hunger crisis in the poorer countries. The Los Angeles Times published an article predicting that the pandemic-induced economic crisis in these countries could cause more loss of life than the virus. My fear is that the big institutions that have the means to mitigate these issues won’t do so until the death toll gets large. My...

The Coronavirus Hunger Crisis

If 200,000 (on the way to 400,000) deaths from Covid-19 were not enough to worry about, there is the coming hunger crisis across at least half of the world caused by the lockdowns and economic collapse. I predicted this a month ago and have been talking almost daily with entrepreneurs in Africa with actual stories of the food system collapsing. The New York Times wrote about this crisis a few...

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