Category Archive: Policy

Proto-Post Scarcity

On the blog, Rick Webb wrote a lovely post on the period of time and culture that transitions us from where we are now to the big question of what comes next. There’s no sense in continuing our current version of capitalism now that the vast wealth in our financial system is controlled by so few. This includes twerky control of the democratic wheels (Congress, Judicial branch, and the Executive), as well as our cultural messages (mass media: TV, movies, the “news” and other feeders to our public dialog). Here, Webb walks us out to a future I can believe in.

I promise this is about Star Trek. Sort of. Bear with me a moment.

I’ve been reading a lot about robots lately. When I read about robots, and the future, I can’t help but think about it in economic terms. And that inevitably turns my mind to the branch of economics called post scarcity economics. Traditional economics, of course, deals with the efficient allocation of inherently scarce materials. Post scarcity economics deals with the economics of economies that are no longer constrained by scarcity of materials — food, energy, shelter, etc.

The thing that never sits quite right with post scarcity economics, though, at least the very little that I’ve read, is that it’s always sort of an all or nothing affair: you either don’t have enough of anything or you have enough of everything. Thinking of this as a mental exercise is kind of fun, I think, but in reality it seems to me that getting from point A — a scarcity economy — to point B — post scarcity — is going to be a long, complicated journey as some things become more abundant in some places, while other things are still scarce.

What is needed is some sort of interim-, or proto-post scarcity economics. …

Take a few minutes (he suggests 20) and walk with him through a compelling story.

As a side note, back in 1998 I wrote a “speech” by Chu, a young person from the future. You can read that talk here.


vbcsf: Securing the World

Some quick notes from the speakers in the Powering Security and Easy Authentication in a Multi-Channel World session.

IBM: Multi-Perimeter World: 1 trillion connected objects, 1 billion mobile workers, social business, cloud and virtualization, and bringing our own IT all combine in our current world. Security issues are complex and span multiple domains: people, data, apps, and infrastructure. This raises issues of security as a service (security from the cloud), for the (corporate) cloud, also for individual clouds. Need to deal with security on device (endpoints and data), analytics, also regulation and compliance. IBM is building these capabilities into their stacks.

Nuance: 7.5 billion conversational interactions handled per year, 30+ million customer voiceprints in use, 4.5 billion mobile transactions annually, 100+ million successful voice biometrics last year. Case studies: secure employee to ID validation, secure web payments, secure high risk credit card transactions, mobile apps, contact centers, or authenticating a password reset. Used by lots of financial institutions (e.g., Barclays, TD Waterhouse, Vanguard, several Banks). Telecom providers also (T-Mobile, vodafone, others). TD Waterhouse as an example: 97% authentication success (improvement from PIN-based system before), 70% enrollment within 6 months of launch, and reduced hold time by over 22 seconds. Enrollment process (only does authentication): speak their phone number and answer one knowledge question (something that you are, something that you know, or something that you have). In the background, using speech recognition for number/account and voice biometrics to verify person. Voice biometrics also distinguishes them from competitors (customers appreciate it). Some telephone commercials doing adverts to promote this.


Scenarios for San Leandro

On June 1st of this year, 28 people in San Leandro, California gathered for an adventure in looking into our future. The result of that day, plus some ongoing thinking and analysis by a small, dedicated group of authors, produced our report: Scenarios for San Leandro: Stories About Our Future. Continue Reading



Big problem around open data, especially government data, and in Hadley’s case UK government data. Open data: created during regular operations, where taxpayers have paid for infrastructure so data should be made available to them. Used to make government operations more open and accountable, identifying efficiencies, reducing corruption. Govs spend a lot of time handling their own data. Not talking wikileaks. Tetherless team has 1.1M datasets available, in multiple languages.

In the UK, we talk about four kinds of data: historical (trends, performance), planning (future, forecasting, permits), infrastructural (opening hours, especially useful when it changes–like when a bridge is out), and operational (where are trains, weather–real time, costs more to make available). Types: transport, healthcare, demographics, mapping, crimes. Continue Reading


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