Balance of Power

This category contains 18 posts

Black Swans and why History, Future. Now is not bleak


Nassim Nicholas Taleb is famous for his 2008 book, The Black Swan, in which he came up with a very simple idea: that big changes can suddenly happen, apparently out of nowhere.  He uses the Wall Street crash, Pompei and the internet as examples. The reality, is actually closer to Malcom Gladwell’s 2002 book, The Tipping Point: … Continue reading

Automation providing a world of luxury, or mass poverty?


For the past 50 years there has been an expectation that the next generation will have a higher quality of life than the previous generation. With increased computerisation, globalisation and automation this expectation may no longer be valid. History, Future. Now turns to science fiction and European history to get a glimpse of a possible … Continue reading

Where are all the jobs going? Lessons from the first Industrial Revolution and 150 years of pain.


In a world which is seeing a simultaneous increase in the capabilities of robots and artificial intelligence to do many factory and service sector jobs, and a significant increase in the world’s interconnected population, a natural question to ask is: “Are there enough good jobs to go around for everyone?” To many people, particularly those … Continue reading

China’s 12th Five Year Plan has clean energy at its heart. Why dont we even have a plan?


China has now a year into its 12th 5 Year Plan (2011-2015), which has low carbon growth as the heart of its economic, political and social strategy in a way that no other major country has done to date.  China now has more wind energy installed and produces more solar photovoltaic panels than any other … Continue reading

Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria: why Planetary Resources is so important for the future of mankind, but not its investors


A few weeks ago Planetary Resources, a start up company founded by millionaires and billionaires Eric Schmidt, Larry Page, James Cameron and similarly endowed friends, announced plans to take its first steps into the realm of commercial space exploration and resource exploitation.  Their initial aim was to strike it rich by mining asteroids in near … Continue reading

Automate or Perish  – Technology Review


One of the big questions about businesses is what function do they serve?  Clearly there is a need for them to be profitable.  Without profits, there can be no future investment and without future investment a company cannot adapt to the inevitable changes in market forces.  Simply put, without profits, companies die, and all the … Continue reading

Rome vs. Persia and the transfer of strategic technologies to China


China is a master at forcing western companies to hand over critical intellectual property in exchange for short term access to the Chinese market.  Future, History, Now asks what are the lessons that can be learned from history, what is happening today and what impact could this have on the future?   First, a loose … Continue reading

What is going wrong with Western Democracy?


There is no doubt that democracy is in crisis.  This is a widespread phenomenon throughout the developed world.  It is harder, however, to understand why this crisis exists and why it is so widespread. A report from the Democratic Audit about British democracy states that: Britain’s constitutional arrangements are “increasingly unstable” owing to changes such … Continue reading

Rare earth metals, China and the transfer of power


Rare earth metals are not exactly a typical dinner party topic of conversation.  But perhaps they should be:  they combine high technology and the global balance of power, with an interesting discussion about electron shells thrown in for extra points. Without neodymium a huge part of the modern world would not be possible: imagine a … Continue reading

The implications of solar power reaching grid parity


As many of you know, I am the CEO of Lumicity, a renewable energy development company, focusing on solar, wind and biomass energy. I am a director of a wave energy company, Aquamarine Power. I previously worked with Shell, where I was exposed to the oil and gas sectors and set up a solar panel … Continue reading

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