Finite World

The basic Concepts:

  • finite room
  • finite environment
  • finite resources
  • finite population
  • why do we care?

Finite Room

For well over a millions years humans existed on a planet that appeared limitless to the humans.  As the human population grew, new people could always explore new places to live.  There was always a new places to explore.

But by the 18th century, there were reasonable maps of the earth, but still large areas of land unmapped and unexplored.  During the 20th century humans reached the point where they could map every point on the entire globe to detailed level.

But in the history of mankind, knowing the entire globe occurred only very very recently.

Today we not only know the entire globe of the Earth, we have basically reached the point where humans have an allocated usage for virtually all land on the globe of the Earth.  There are still wilderness areas, but a large proportion of people believe at least almost all of what is referred to as wilderness, should permanently remain as wilderness.  This means that to add more people, we now have to fit more into the existing space. Into the spaces we have already declared ‘in use’.

Effectively Finite Room or Really Finite?

Vast areas of land in Australia, Canada, Greenland, Siberia and even North Africa are effectively wasteland.  It could be argued that transforming the landscape in these locations could be transformed and perhaps then house an additional perhaps 50% of  worlds current population.  It could also be argued that the impact on the planet if we tried would be horrific, but in the end even if we did …at the population growth rates of the 20th century doubling global population every 30 years, it would in fact make very little difference.

Either way, we are, from a room perspective, at the point of housing additional population by fitting them into the same space.

In fact not only are we not even trying to transform these new areas, urbanisation seems to now result in fitting more and more people into even smaller spaces.

Finite Environment.

The earth is huge.  At first it can seem the idea that somethings as relatively small as even the largest living organism could change the Earth itself seems unlikely.  However, records confirm that collectively living things have actually completely reshaped the environment of billions of years.

Back when there are a few humans, whatever humans did was absorbed by the environment.  People could just leave their rubbish, and even homes, and the environment would absorb the impact.  Then we created pollution that at least on a local level, the environment was clearly damaged.  Now we have invented plastics and inhabit so much of the Earth, that we can clearly see we can have an impact at a global level. Consider ozone depletion and chlorofluorocarbons.  A large significant percentage of believe the actions of humans may now be having an impact on climate.

The term Anthropocene has been coined to describe the era during which mankind can have significant impact on the environment.

While plagues previously have impacted local environments, as have humans at least since the beginning of the industrial age, and other organisms have even had global impact, this the first time and organism can actually decide what global impact the organism has.

Finite Resources.

Humans are rapidly consuming the Earth’s Helium supply. There are several other mineral resources where it has now become tangible that the supply is finite.  This limit of supply is an entirely new concept.  There may be solutions, but to actually exhaust the worlds supply of anything, in the very foreseeable future, given how long we hope humanity can continue is quite astounding.

Finite Population.

The world is headed toward a peak human population.  The idea that the population may actually stop growing may sound incredible given the recent period of unprecedented population growth, but is neither without precent nor without considerable evidence that the trend is on track for that outcome.  Those concerned about population will still be concerned that the actual population level that will be reached by the time there is stability will still be at frightening levels,  but on the other side, there those that feel ending population growth will represent a disaster

Why does it matter?

Many countries are facing the first time in centuries that generations are growing up with the expectation they will have less real wealth than their parents.  Unless we desire that trend to continue, it is best to understand why.  The world is facing many challenges, environmental, biodiversity, distribution of wealth, terrorism, and simply the ability of humans to continue to be able to enjoy the natural environment.

Understanding, and managing, the impact of ‘finite earth’ is critical to any solution to these challenges.



What really killed the dinosaurs?

485176_441599455926469_1655029236_nWhile I do literally mean the actual dinosaurs, there is also a lesson in the answer for the metaphoric dinosaurs that big companies can become.

“A giant meteorite wiped out the dinosaurs” is the catch phrase.  But have you ever wondered “why the dinosaurs, when so many other animals survived?”.  The alligators survived, fish survived, mammals survived, even other reptiles survived, and even frog species that seem so sensitive to any change in environment survived that meteorite.

So why the dinosaurs?  And what is the lesson? These answers after first some background and myth-busting. Continue reading

The ‘perfect’ everyday bag: messenger bag, shoulder bag or backpack?


Not everyday bags

I am on the hunt for the perfect bag to carry things with me, but is this a backpack, a messenger bag, or some hybrid of the two. The strongest candidates right now, are the peak design backpack, or the ‘urban disguise’ series from Thinktank. Peak design make a messenger bag the can work as a backpack, or a messenger bag like backpack, but there is not a single review I have found evaluates use of the backpack as a messenger.  Given how frequently I see people with backpacks slung over one shoulder, surely someone else cares about how a backpack performs in messenger mode? The perfect bag? John Steed and the Avengers? All will be revealed! Continue reading

No new Surface ‘Pro 5’ after all?

Lots of others ‘crystal ball gaze’ into the future of Microsoft’s ‘Surface’ products. Here is another perspective. A lighter tone than the usual post, here is a look at both what Microsoft are likely to do, and what they should do. 🙂  Ok, it is largely crystal ball gazing, but so it seems is every other prediction on the ‘Surface Pro’, so here is a different perspective.

1) There may be no ‘Surface Pro 5’, as a name change really makes sense.

Since releasing the original ‘Surface’ and then ‘Surface Pro’, the ‘Surface product line’ has evolved to a point where the original names are in serious need of review. Which is the most ‘professional’ product of the current range? The ‘Surface Pro’, the ‘Surface Book’ or the ‘Surface Studio’?   The ‘Surface Pro’ was ‘Pro’ relative to the original ‘Surface’, and the two names made sense.  Now ‘Surface’ is a family and ‘Pro’ does not describe where the ‘Surface Pro’ fits in that family.  How about ‘Surface Tab Pro’ or ‘Surface Pad Pro’?  Microsoft can afford to pay people to come up with a better name, but a new name is needed.

2) Two new products, one Qualcomm based, one Intel Based!

“We need to be willing to lean in to uncertainty, take risks and move quickly when we make mistakes, recognising failure happens along the way to mastery,” Nadella wrote in a 2015 memo to Microsoft employees

So what will be the new ‘non pro’ device?  The philosophy of the ‘Surface’ products is to do things differently and take risks. Innovation. But as the most successful product in the Surface line-up, there is a limit to the risks that can be taken with the Surface Pro.  Which is why, beyond the logic for the name change, there will logically be a new Kaby Lake CPU based device to follow on from the Surface-Pro.

Contrary to other suggestions, the USB-3 port should stay, and instead the mini-display port should upgrade to Thunderbold-3.  Re-chargeable pen, improved battery life, incremental improvements.

3. The ‘Surface’ replacement, the bold step!

This is where the room to take risks exists.  The recently demonstrated ability to run full windows on a Qualcomm CPU opens the door for something new, lighter and with LTE connectivity.  Such a device would be the logical reason for display at MWC 2017.  Running full windows on such a CPU enables a phone, but this new device needs to be another leap, and something targeting both phone and tablet is the logical solution.  Phones today are ready for the next step, with so many people using hands free or earphones/headphones, do we really need a device designed to be held to our head anymore?

How the ‘basic income’ proposal could change society

The current wealth distribution system is an already a broken system about to face severe attack. As discussed in Robots & Job Terminators, the role of employment is set to change.

canada20flagflagbigfinlandOn engadget, the post How will you survive when the robots take your job? outlines the ‘basic income’ proposal, as put forward by many in the tech industry and being experimented with in Canada, Finland and the Netherlands. This articles provides a great starting point and conveys the basic idea and if unfamiliar with the idea it makes sense to read that article first. This post is about looking further, in terms of thoughts about what else should change if a ‘basic income’ is introduced and what would be needed to make such an idea work. What would such a measure cost, and what would be the impact on society of a total package, of a ‘basic income’ together with a logical set of policies to create a total package? Continue reading

Australian Record Trade Surplus: good news, or a warning on automation?

skitched20truckAs explained by ‘Alan Kohler’ of the ABC, the record trade surplus is largely due to “A huge rebound in iron ore, coal and gold exports delivers a record trade surplus of $3.5 billion in December, providing a big boost to national income.”, with no proportional increase in imports.

I suggest an analysis of the impact on the Australian economy is reason for people around the world to consider the impact of automation.

Continue reading

Highlander Economics: Does it end with only one?


from IMDB

Back in 1986, the movie Highlander was released. It was actually sufficiently successful to inspire four sequels, plus spin offs and even a reboot. Something in the original clearly stuck a chord, and the tagline and concept ‘in the end there can only be one’  could be part of this.  The plot centres around a small group of individuals, immortals, who become ever stronger by defeating ‘competitor’ immortals in mortal combat.  The immortals all seem have a share of power. Defeat another immortal and grow stronger as the victors gain the power of the vanquished, until only one immortal remains, and the one remaining will hold all the power.  So how closely does the ‘rules’ of the highlander actually match the ‘rules’ for competitor companies?

How accurate is the analogy? Continue reading