Reflections are only that, reflections, nothing more nothing less. Often these reflections are related to books I read, but occasionally also other things. These are often written very late, very fast,  using notes from my mobile phone, so the grammar and spelling is horrible.

A planet at the mercy of diminishing probabilities (article China Daily)

Here is an article about the future of the global climate negotiations that I wrote for China Daily "inspired" by the latest climate meeting in Warsaw. Link to the article here. Full text below the image.

Bring in the real decision makers and create a winners club With the climate meeting in Warsaw we might have witnessed the greatest distance between what science tells us we need to do and how countries respond. Instead of looking at the outcome from Warsaw as a total failure we should view it as a learning experience. The big climate meeting is in Paris in 2015 and five major changes are needed in order to break free from current failures to deal with global climate change.

First, it must be clear that the science of how our planet reacts to greenhouse gases, and not what governments think is easy to do, must be the reference for the negotiations. Policy makers must understand that nature is not a negotiating partner. Second, we must understand that a scientific risk approach will give us a target of 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

The fact is that already a 450 ppm stabilization that many policy makers today focus on has a 1.6 percent probability of producing warming of at least 6 degrees. This may not sound like much, but if there were a 1.6 percent probability of fatal aircraft accidents there would be almost half a million airline accidents a year, or 55 accidents an hour. That is unacceptable, of course, and no one would fly in such circumstances, so how can we have a target with such a high probability of catastrophe?

In global climate negotiations too much time has been spent on marginal financial flows, from the clean development mechanism and carbon offsetting to climate compensation. This money may sometimes do some good, but always on the margins. We must be honest and see that these mechanisms, in most cases, have been distractions.

It is time to change the direction of the big money. New rules for public procurement and pension funds are needed urgently. Unless the main financial instruments are used to drive low-carbon development, not much will happen.

Today when a company finds more fossil fuel, whose use can only lead to the planet being destroyed, the company's share price rises. Companies investing in fossil fuel and burning it must be punished financially. More importantly, the companies providing sustainable solutions must be rewarded.

Most companies influencing the climate negotiations are still from the polluting sectors. If we listen to them no significant reductions will happen.

It is time to bring clusters of solution providers to the negotiations. If a company cannot show how it can provide key services, such as nutrition, mobility and buildings, for nine billion people without any net emissions of greenhouse gas emissions, it should not be allowed into the negotiations.

It is also important that media shift focusing on the losers and polluters and start focusing on the clusters of winners and solutions providers so that people understand that a low-carbon future is not only possible but attractive.

Bring in the real decision makers and create a winners club.

For more than 20 years, environment ministers and environment experts and organizations have produced almost no results. In any sport a team that keeps on losing for 20 weeks, let alone 20 years, would get new players and managers. It is now time for a radical change in the participation at climate meetings.

We need prime ministers, ministers of national security, ministers of finance and ministers of industry to meet in Paris. They do not need to know much about climate change. They only need to know that by 2050 we must have a world without any fossil fuel, and that we should get there in a way that drives innovation, reduces poverty and with an economy operating within the carrying capacity of the planet.

They also need to create a winners club that demands support from the global institutions for leaders toward a low-carbon future. For the first time the climate agreement must become one that countries fight to get into, not fight to stay out of.

Are the ideas above possible? Of course. Are they likely to become a reality? No. But the fact that they are unlikely to be implemented does not make them unrealistic. All major changes are unlikely until they happen. If we keep on looking for so-called realistic solutions we will keep on doing what we have been doing. That is a strategy that keeps on failing, while those taking part pretend to be surprised.

If the above is to happen in any meaningful way, China must accept a key role. Instead of claiming a leadership role, it could claim the coordinating role in this process. Only if China brings all its weight to the table can we can get an attractive agreement in Paris. An agreement that is unlikely to happen, but must happen.

The author is founder and CEO of 21st Century Frontiers, a Sweden-based consultancy. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

The future of hacking a new generation of ads (I hope)

You might have seen that British Airways has moved in to the connected and digital age with “’custom-built surveillance technology’ to track incoming BA aircraft, prompting the screen to display a child pointing directly at the plane as it passes overhead.”

I find it fascinating that so much money is spent on being smart in the old industries. Using new smart solutions to drive increased use of destructive lifestyles feels so sad. When will we see some creative hacking exposing how blind we are to the opportunities around us?

Maybe we should consider rules for flying along the same lines as we have for cigarette smoking? “Flying seriously damages our planet and children’s future.“ But instead of only talking about the danger it would also require companies to talk about smart and sustainable solutions that deliver the transformative change needed.

Above my 30 sec. hack of the BA campaign….

More about the story on Engadget

New report: Nano-solutions for the 21st century

It's been a fantastic journey to write this report with Eric. I consider it an honor to have worked with him in this project. After all he is the father of nanotechnology and I was 16-17 when I first read "Engines of Creation".

I hope that our report is the start of a process where we can move the question of atomically precise manufacturing (APM) into a more mainstream discussion. I found it fascinating when I think about the fact that out there somewhere is probably some intelligent (young?) entrepreneurs that will be part of this revolution and who probably will change the world forever.  If this report can inspire/inform more people to look into this area I would be very happy.  After all it is an area that is so important that all decision makers should be required ot spend a few hours to orientated themselves.
As with all truly disruptive technologies there are no simple answers or ten-steps towards a better future. The challenges are enormous but so are the opportunities. Perhaps it is this complexity, combined with the lack of capacity for long-term thinking) that have kept nanotechnology out in the cold for so long.
Below is the introduction to the report.
The world faces unprecedented global challenges related to depleting natural resources, pollution, climate change, clean water, and poverty. These problems are directly linked to the physical characteristics of our current technology base for producing energy and material products. Deep and pervasive changes in this technology base can address these global problems at their most fundamental, physical level,by changing both the products and the means of production used by 21st century civilization. The key development is advanced, atomically precise manufacturing (APM).
This report examines the potential for nanotechnology to enable deeply transformative production technologies that can be developed through a series of advances that build on current nanotechnology research. The report has five sections:
1. Nanotechnology and global challenges
The first section discusses the basics of advanced, atomically precise nanotechnology and explains how current and future solutions can help address global challenges. Key concepts are presented and different kinds of nanotechnology are discussed and compared.
2. The birth of Nanotechnology
The second section discusses the development of nanotechnology, from the first vision fifty years ago, expanding via a scientific approach to atomically precise manufacturing thirty years ago, initial demonstrations of principle twenty years ago, to the last decade of of accelerating success in developing key enabling technologies. The important role of emerging countries is discussed, with China as a leading example, together with an overview of the contrast between the promise and the results to date.
3. Delivery of transformative nanotechnologies
Here the different aspects of APM that are needed to enable breakthrough advances in productive technologies are discussed. The necessary technology base can be developed through a series of coordinated advances along strategically chosen lines of research.
4. Accelerating progress toward advanced nanotechnologies
This section discusses research initiatives that can enable and support advanced nanotechnology, on paths leading to APM, including integrated cross-disciplinary research and Identification of high-value applications and their requirements.
5. Possible next steps
The final section provides a short summary of the opportunities and the possibilities to address institutional challenges of planning, resource allocation, evaluation, transparency, and collaboration as nanotechnology moves into its next phase of development: nanosystems engineering.
The report in its entirety provides a comprehensive overview of the current global condition, as well as notable opportunities and challenges. This content is divided into five independent sections that can be read and understood individually, allowing those with specific interests to access desired information more directly and easily. With all five sections taken together, the report as a whole describes low-cost actions that can help solve critical problems, create opportunities, reduce security risks, and help countries join and accelerate cooperative development of this global technological revolution. Of particular importance, several considerations are highlighted that strongly favor a policy of transparent, international, collaborative development.

The future of search

The merger/collaboration/integration announced this week involving Baidu (that included first a merger of two top media and then a collaboration with Baidu) is interesting in many ways. According to China Daily “Qiu Xin, president of the new group, said it will work with Baidu to build the channel into ‘the first choice for searching in Shanghai’”. This is a very modest goal as Baidu already controls more than 60% of he search market it China and it is hardly the most interesting.

Looking beyond Shanghai and into the collaboration itself two things are worth remembering.

  1. The algorithms and filter used by search engines influence what we find and when, in the long run they influence the way we think as we have learn to think like the search engine in order to find what we want.
  2. How the search engines use and share the date about users have fundamental impacts on user privacy. Compared with many social media that are being discussed search engines  pose much more fundamental questions as they track everything we look for on the web. In almost all cases they do that in order to be able to sell you things, but as resent event have shown it can also be used to track people with certain ideologies.

The fact that we allow commercial entities that work close with government to track our life on the web is hopefully something that will be discussed more in the coming years.

While I have initiative the project “Digital Twins” to look at certain aspects of this challenge, I have yet to find a partner/process that allow me to explore the underlying infrastructure that our whole digital existence depend on.

I was reminded about this gap when the Baidu case was discussed and I felt that it would be great to have Baidu out on the global scene as I think it would highlight things that we tend to forget when we use the “Western” search engines and Google in particular.

My short comment on the event in China that triggered this reflection is available here:


在联合国政府间气候变化专业委员会发布第五次气候变化评估报告时,斯德哥尔摩全球挑战基金会(Global Challenges Foundation)发表宣言,呼吁全球集体应对高风险的极端气候现象。 人类有史以来第一次成为了全球范围内不可逆转气候变化的直接原因。正如我们所知,气候变化有着严重的潜在影响,对长期生存的人类文明构成威胁。世界现在面临着许多低概率高影响的全球风险,最关键的是极端的气候变化。这些风险并非是一个地方甚至一个国家可以控制的,全球性威胁需要全球性行动。


1. 将整体概率分布可视化



2. 需特别注意极端事件的概率





3. 以合适的语言描述极端风险




4. 建立一个全球风险和机遇指标来指导治理