Thursday, February 1, 2018

Friday Thinking 2 Feb. 2018

Hello all – Friday Thinking is a humble curation of my foraging in the digital environment. My purpose is to pick interesting pieces, based on my own curiosity (and the curiosity of the many interesting people I follow), about developments in some key domains (work, organization, social-economy, intelligence, domestication of DNA, energy, etc.)  that suggest we are in the midst of a change in the conditions of change - a phase-transition. That tomorrow will be radically unlike yesterday.

Many thanks to those who enjoy this.
In the 21st Century curiosity will SKILL the cat.
Jobs are dying - work is just beginning.

“Be careful what you ‘insta-google-tweet-face’”
Woody Harrelson - Triple 9


Josef Pieper - Leisure: The Bas of Culture


HERE’S HOW THIS golden age of speech actually works: In the 21st century, the capacity to spread ideas and reach an audience is no longer limited by access to expensive, centralized broadcasting infrastructure. It’s limited instead by one’s ability to garner and distribute attention. And right now, the flow of the world’s attention is structured, to a vast and overwhelming degree, by just a few digital platforms: Facebook, Google (which owns YouTube), and, to a lesser extent, Twitter.

These companies—which love to hold themselves up as monuments of free expression—have attained a scale unlike anything the world has ever seen; they’ve come to dominate media distribution, and they increasingly stand in for the public sphere itself. But at their core, their business is mundane: They’re ad brokers. To virtually anyone who wants to pay them, they sell the capacity to precisely target our eyeballs. They use massive surveillance of our behavior, online and off, to generate increasingly accurate, automated predictions of what advertisements we are most susceptible to and what content will keep us clicking, tapping, and scrolling down a bottomless feed.


the bourgeois values also came with their own vocabulary, which is now our own. Many of the work-saturated terms that govern our lives are, it turns out, only 200 years old, and all of them, not just the concept of personal productivity, are in need of examination and revaluation. Which of our ideas about work are causing us needless suffering? Must the chief aim of a formal education be gainful employment? Need the career be the central organizing concept of a good life? Must a week be divided into a “workweek” and “weekend,” much of life into “work” and “vacation”? Is the lack of productivity necessarily laziness? Is busyness really a badge of honor, not to mention too an unjustified form of pride? Is it true that we know ourselves and others when we know what we and they do, or is this instead a canard? And, not the least, were there some vital spiritual ideas—for instance, transcendence, sacredness, and neighborliness—lost when Christianity was largely forgotten, and are there some inspiriting aristocratic ideas such as courage, grace, and leisureliness that merit revisiting?

Life hacks are part of a 200-year-old movement to destroy your humanity

The extent to which people will suffer because the jobs they can do no longer pay well or, in extreme cases, no longer exist remains to be seen.
“The answer is not necessarily 38 percent or any other percent,” Kamlet said. “Rather, it is up to us as society to develop individuals with the skills that will be relevant in 15 or 30 or 50 years from now.  The more we can do so, the less this grand challenge will lead to crushing changes. The less we succeed in doing this, the bigger is the brick wall we are going to encounter.”

Because artificial intelligence advances are being made rapidly, the question of what that means for workers’ outlook is more pressing.

...there are ways to address the impending challenge of massive job shortages. Kamlet’s “The New American Dream” is an early idea for a solution:
-Every citizen will be expected to contribute to society in an appropriate way, to the best of their abilities. Which means paying people for “tasks of love,” meaning helping those in need.
-There will be an adequate standard of living for all.
-There will be strong incentives for those who can create great wealth, for those with the abilities to create advancements in quality of life.

Automation, the Future of Work and the New American Dream

A second source of my insights for much of the past twenty years came from my experiences as a housemaster in a MIT dormitory, living and interacting with some 150 undergraduates of diverse backgrounds, most of whom were well ahead of the adoption curve in their use of new media platforms and practices. Walking the halls and interacting with students offered me many glimpses of what they were doing with new media and why, and these encounters also inspired some key insights in my work. For example, watching international students share their own media traditions with their contemporaries, or for that matter, seeing murals on the walls of the dorm of anime and manga characters, inspired my interest in pop cosmopolitanism -- the idea that this generation is defining their identities in opposition to the parochialism of their parents’ culture by embracing popular culture from other parts of the world. At the same time, I was interested to see international students listening to podcasts or streaming radio from their mother countries, maintaining closer ties to the world they left behind than would be characteristic of earlier generations of students studying overseas.  Our dorm was  a place that accepted and embraced diverse subcultural, ethnic and sexual identities, so it was a place where I could learn more about goths and gamers, see new and emerging forms of fan culture, and develop a deeper appreciation of how these young people were communicating via social media even amongst people living side by side in the same building.

...Too many academics and educators are cut off from the realms of popular culture that matter in the lives of youth, do not appreciate why or how they are meaningful, and so often do not see what is right in front of their faces. As someone trained in cultural studies, we start from the premise that people do not engage in meaningless activities. We may not instantly understand why something is meaningful to someone else, but we have an obligation to identify its meaning and its fit in their cultural context, rather than simply dismissing it as trivial.

Millenials, New Media and Social Change (Part One)

Leisure in Greek is 'skole' and in Latin 'scola', the English 'school' - The word used to designate the place where we educate and teach is derived from a word which means 'leisure'. 'School' doe not properly speaking, mean school, but leisure.

Josef Pieper - Leisure: The Bas of Culture

This is a Must See 1 hr video - that summarizes the current situation and the future trajectories of energy, energy geopolitics, and transportation for the next decade. The growing economic disruptions based on near-zero marginal cost energy.

Tony Seba: Clean Disruption - Energy & Transportation

Stanford University futurist Tony Seba spent the last decades studying technological disruptions. He argues that the Electric Vehicle, battery storage, and solar power, along with autonomous vehicles, are a perfect example of a 10x exponential process which will wipe fossil fuels off the market in about a decade

Scott Galloway’s presentation is a MUST VIEW for anyone interested in understanding the current business environment as it is being shaped by the Big Four - Google, Amazon, Facebook, Apple.

Scott Galloway - The Four - What To Do

Worth more than $2.3 trillion combined, the Big Four (Apple, Amazon, Facebook, and Google) continue to grab share from media companies, brands, and retailers. Scott Galloway, Professor of Marketing at the NYU Stern School of Business and Founder of L2, will showcase how the traditional rules of business don’t apply to the Big Four and identify ways that brands and companies can fight back.

Scott Galloway is a Clinical Professor at the NYU Stern School of Business where he teaches brand strategy and digital marketing. In 2012, Professor Galloway was named “One of the World’s 50 Best Business School Professors” by Poets & Quants. He is also the founder of Red Envelope and Prophet Brand Strategy. Scott was elected to the World Economic Forum’s Global Leaders of Tomorrow and has served on the boards of directors of Urban Outfitters (Nasdaq: URBN), Eddie Bauer (Nasdaq: EBHI), The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT), and UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. He received a B.A. from UCLA and an M.B.A. from UC Berkeley.

This sounds like a very important signal and if all goes right could become commercially available in a few years. One more step in the bionic enhancement of humans.

Ocumetics Bionic Lens could give you vision 3x better than 20/20

Clinical trials still needed before device can be approved
Imagine being able to see three times better than 20/20 vision without wearing glasses or contacts — even at age 100 or more — with the help of bionic lenses implanted in your eyes.

Dr. Garth Webb, an optometrist in British Columbia who invented the Ocumetics Bionic Lens, says patients would have perfect vision and that driving glasses, progressive lenses and contact lenses would become a dim memory as the eye-care industry is transformed.

He says the painless procedure, identical to cataract surgery, would take about eight minutes and a patient's sight would be immediately corrected.

Pending clinical trials on animals and then blind human eyes, the Bionic Lens could be available in Canada and elsewhere in about two years, depending on regulatory processes in various countries, Webb says.

The Human Genome Project published the first complete human genome in 2003. Similar mega projects have been initiated since including the Connectome Project (mapping the human brain). This is the next project - that will inevitably lead to nations considering initiating genome census of their populations and certainly by 2025 personal genome sequencing can become a provision of one’s health care insurance.
Complete Genomics, a Californian startup bought by BGI, thinks it can bring the cost of a rough-and-ready sequence down to $100. A hand-held sequencer made by Oxford Nanopore, a British company, may be able to match that and also make the technology portable.
However this project is more than bio-tech - it will likely become a ground breaker in the use of Blockchain (distributed ledger) technologies.
The idea of the code bank is to build a database of biological information using a blockchain. Though blockchains are best known as the technology that underpins bitcoin and other crypto-currencies, they have other uses. In particular, they can be employed to create “smart contracts” that monitor and execute themselves. To obtain access to Mr Castilla’s code bank would mean entering into such a contract, which would track how the knowledge thus tapped was subsequently used. If such use was commercial, a payment would be transferred automatically to the designated owners of the downloaded data. Mr Castilla hopes for a proof-of-principle demonstration of his platform to be ready within a few months.

In theory, smart contracts of this sort would give governments wary of biopiracy peace of mind, while also encouraging people to experiment with the data. And genomic data are, in Mr Castilla’s vision, just the start. He sees the Amazon Bank of Codes eventually encompassing all manner of biological compounds—snake venoms of the sort used to create ACE inhibitors, for example—or even behavioural characteristics like the congestion-free movement of army-ant colonies, which has inspired algorithms for co-ordinating fleets of self-driving cars. His eventual goal is to venture beyond the Amazon itself, and combine his planned repository with similar ones in other parts of the world, creating an Earth Bank of Codes.

Sequencing the world

How to map the DNA of all known plants and animal species on Earth
IN NOVEMBER 2015, 23 of biology’s bigwigs met up at the Smithsonian Institution, in Washington, DC, to plot a grandiose scheme. It had been 12 years since the publication of the complete genetic sequence of Homo sapiens. Other organisms’ genomes had been deciphered in the intervening period but the projects doing so had a piecemeal feel to them. Some were predictable one-offs, such as chickens, honey bees and rice. Some were more ambitious, such as attempts to sample vertebrate, insect and arachnid biodiversity by looking at representatives of several thousand genera within these groups, but were advancing only slowly. What was needed, the committee concluded, was a project with the scale and sweep of the original Human Genome Project. Its goal, they decided, should be to gather DNA sequences from specimens of all complex life on Earth. They decided to call it the Earth BioGenome Project (EBP).

Now, under the auspices of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting at Davos, a Swiss ski resort, these two ideas have come together. On January 23rd it was announced that the EBP will help collect the data to be stored in the code bank. The forum, for its part, will drum up support for the venture among the world’s panjandrums—and with luck some dosh as well.

The EBP’s stated goal is to sequence, within a decade, the genomes of all 1.5m known species of eukaryotes. These are organisms that have proper nuclei in their cells—namely plants, animals, fungi and a range of single-celled organisms called protists. (It will leave it to others to sequence bacteria and archaea, the groups of organisms without proper nuclei.) The plan is to use the first three years to decipher, in detail, the DNA of a member of each eukaryotic family. Families are the taxonomic group above the genus level (foxes, for example, belong to the genus Vulpes in the family Canidae) and the eukaryotes comprise roughly 9,300 of them. The subsequent three years would be devoted to creating rougher sequences of one species from each of the 150,000 or so eukaryotic genera. The remaining species would be sequenced, in less detail still, over the final four years of the project.

That is an ambitious timetable. The first part would require deciphering more than eight genomes a day; the second almost 140; the third, about 1,000. For comparison, the number of eukaryotic genomes sequenced so far is about 2,500.

Computational paradigms continue to advance - here’s another one for the Moore’s Law is Dead - Long Live Moore’s Law file.
"Overall, we feel that this discovery has real commercialization value as it won't disrupt existing technologies," Akinwande said. "Rather, it has been designed to complement and integrate with the silicon chips already in use in modern tech devices."

Ultra-thin memory storage device paves way for more powerful computing

Engineers worldwide have been developing alternative ways to provide greater memory storage capacity on even smaller computer chips. Previous research into two-dimensional atomic sheets for memory storage has failed to uncover their potential—until now.

A team of electrical engineers at The University of Texas at Austin, in collaboration with Peking University scientists, has developed the thinnest memory storage device with dense memory capacity, paving the way for faster, smaller and smarter computer chips for everything from consumer electronics to big data to brain-inspired computing.

"For a long time, the consensus was that it wasn't possible to make memory devices from materials that were only one atomic layer thick," said Deji Akinwande, associate professor in the Cockrell School of Engineering's Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "With our new 'atomristors,' we have shown it is indeed possible."

Made from 2-D nanomaterials, the "atomristors"—a term Akinwande coined—improve upon memristors, an emerging memory storage technology with lower memory scalability. He and his team published their findings in the January issue of Nano Letters.

"Atomristors will allow for the advancement of Moore's Law at the system level by enabling the 3-D integration of nanoscale memory with nanoscale transistors on the same chip for advanced computing systems," Akinwande said.

This is also a Must See 13 min TED Talk outlining continuing progress in the domestication of DNA toward the creation of new fundamental materials.

How we're harnessing nature's hidden superpowers

What do you get when you combine the strongest materials from the plant world with the most elastic ones from the insect kingdom? Super-performing materials that might transform ... everything. Nanobiotechnologist Oded Shoseyov walks us through examples of amazing materials found throughout nature, in everything from cat fleas to sequoia trees, and shows the creative ways his team is harnessing them in everything from sports shoes to medical implants.

This is a great 53 min documentary that gives us a hint of the real complexity of the plant world - it is as if plants are simply stationary animals including corresponding possibilities of sentience.

What Plants Talk About

When we think about plants, we don't often associate a term like "behavior" with them, but experimental plant ecologist JC Cahill wants to change that. The University of Alberta professor maintains that plants do behave and lead anything but solitary and sedentary lives. What Plants Talk About teaches us all that plants are smarter and much more interactive than we thought!

This is a great signal related to our ability to mathematize some aspects of innovation. That said, while being able to emulate the appearance of evolutionary innovation - the actual prediction of specific innovations and the ability to model acausal emergence of new functions in complex and living systems may still be beyond ‘reason’s’ grasp. As Kauffman has noted it is impossible to exhaust the possible meanings in a metaphor - nor is it possible to ‘prove’ a metaphor wrong.
"The framework we present constitutes a new approach for the study of discovery processes, in particular those for which the underlying network can be directly reconstructed from empirical data, for example users listening to music over a similarity network between songs. We are already working on this idea, together with an extended version of our model, where we study the collective exploration of these networked spaces by considering multiple walkers at the same time."

Mathematicians develop model for how new ideas emerge

Researchers from Queen Mary University of London have developed a mathematical model for the emergence of innovations.
Studying creative processes and understanding how innovations arise and how novelties can trigger further discoveries could lead to effective interventions to nurture the success and sustainable growth of society.

Empirical findings have shown that the way in which novelties are discovered follows similar patterns in a variety of different contexts including science, arts, and technology.
The study, published in Physical Review Letters, introduces a new mathematical framework that correctly reproduces the rate at which novelties emerge in real systems, known as Heaps' law, and can explain why discoveries are strongly correlated and often come in clusters.

It does this by translating the theory of the 'adjacent possible', initially formulated by Stuart Kauffman in the context of biological systems, into the language of complex networks. The adjacent possible is the set of all novel opportunities that open up when a new discovery is made. Networks have emerged as a powerful way to both investigate real world systems, by capturing the essential relations between the components, and to model the hidden structure behind many complex social phenomena.

Connecting the world - cheaply and security - anywhere-anytime is still an aspiration. This is an exciting signal of emerging possibilities.

A Meshnet Will Help This Inuit Town Monitor the Effects of Climate Change

An app called eNuk is being configured to run on the network and help residents in northern Canada swap information about their changing environment.
Inhabitants of Rigolet, a tiny Inuit town on the north coast of Labrador, are helping researchers build a climate-change monitoring app that’s usable without a conventional internet connection—and the underlying technology that enables ISP-less browsing could be a model for internet-starved communities across the North.

The app, called eNuk, launched as a pilot in Rigolet in early 2017. It was conceived of by a Rigolet resident and built by a combination of community members, local government officials, and researchers at Newfoundland’s Memorial University and the University of Guelph in Ontario. Today, RightMesh, a Vancouver-based company, announced that it will help establish a mesh network—a decentralized internet network, in which devices act as not only receivers but transmitters—for the town to support the eNuk app.

The app—which allows residents to share and tag locations with text, pictures, or video—was designed to help residents cope with unpredictable conditions formed by rising ocean temperatures. …

Enter RightMesh, billed as a mobile mesh networking platform that uses blockchain technology, a decentralized ledger that chronologically tracks information. RightMesh provides an on-platform token system—based on the Ethereum blockchain—that allows users with an internet connection to sell their bandwidth to mesh users who don’t, without a centralized authority mediating the trade. The company is handling the technical side of the project, while Rigolet residents—two of whom are employed as research associates—provide extensive feedback.

Bandwidth on a mesh network could be distributed as a charity, so why build a marketplace for data? RightMesh argues that the token system incentivizes users to share their internet access with the mesh, which is necessary for users hoping to access anything on the internet outside of the local mesh—say, Facebook or YouTube. Without that incentive, RightMesh argues, the mesh network won’t last very long.

Other alternatives to getting everyone connected are also increasing.
"Municipal and cooperative networks were essential in driving electrification and we are seeing the same dynamic with the expansion of high-quality Internet access"

More Than 750 American Communities Have Built Their Own Internet Networks

A new map shows that more communities than ever are building their own broadband networks to end big telecom's monopoly.
More communities than ever are embracing building their own broadband networks as an alternative to the Comcast status quo.

According to a freshly updated map of community-owned networks, more than 750 communities across the United States have embraced operating their own broadband network, are served by local rural electric cooperatives, or have made at least some portion of a local fiber network publicly available. The map was created by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a nonprofit that advocates for local economies.

These networks have sprung up across the nation as a direct reflection of the country’s growing frustration with sub-par broadband speeds, high prices, and poor customer service. They’ve also emerged despite the fact that ISP lobbyists have convinced more than 20 states to pass protectionist laws hampering local efforts to build such regional networks.

Many of these laws even bar communities from striking public/private partnerships with companies like Google Fiber, even in instances where no private ISP is willing to provide service.

This is a significant signal of changes in conditions of change - not only of who is more dominant - but more importantly the exponential increase in knowledge. The graphs are worth the view.

China declared world’s largest producer of scientific articles

Report shows increasing international competition, but suggests that United States remains a scientific powerhouse.
For the first time, China has overtaken the United States in terms of the total number of science publications, according to statistics compiled by the US National Science Foundation (NSF).

The agency’s report, released on 18 January, documents the United States’ increasing competition from China and other developing countries that are stepping up their investments in science and technology. Nonetheless, the report suggests that the United States remains a scientific powerhouse, pumping out high-profile research, attracting international students and translating science into valuable intellectual property.

The shifting landscape is already evident in terms of the sheer volume of publications: China published more than 426,000 studies in 2016, or 18.6% of the total documented in Elsevier’s Scopus database. That compares with nearly 409,000 by the United States. India surpassed Japan, and the rest of the developing world continued its upward trend.

But the picture was very different when researchers examined where the most highly cited publications came from. The United States ranked third, below Sweden and Switzerland; the European Union came in fourth and China fifth. The United States still produces the most doctoral graduates in science and technology

So many of us have come to embrace and rely on social media - but in a love-hate (or perhaps FOMO-Detest - fear-of-missing-out) relationship. These new platforms have become the object of great critique - but often this critique is somewhat misplaced because much of it overlooks the basic ‘business model’ underlying most social media - where the user becomes the product delivered to marketer-clients while co-creating value and hostage capital within their own networks.
Platforms whose business models are shaped by ‘investors-seeking-returns’  simulate of sort of public space - while privateering our social capital.
This is worth the read.
The platform has probably more power than any company has ever wielded over information (and perhaps even our well-being). And yet it engages in zero public debate about the changes it makes. It simply rolls them out.

The Lies Facebook Tells Itself (and Us)

Anyone who has been even partially sentient over the past few years has noticed how we have become shrouded in our filter bubbles, secure like never before in the complacency of our convictions. This certainty in the righteousness of our own point of view makes us regard a neighbor with a yard sign the way a Capulet regards a Montague. It seems to me that we suddenly hate each other a whole lot more than we ever did before.

So it should come as no surprise that the place where filter bubbles are the thickest, where the self-satisfied certitude that comes from unchecked power is iron-clad, is at the headquarters of Facebook itself. This was brought home to me when I read an interview with the head of Facebook’s News Feed product, Adam Mosseri, by the savvy tech blogger Ben Thompson.

Mosseri, who has been at Facebook for nearly a decade (eons in Facebook chronos), was eager to explain to an interviewer why this change was rational, normal, good for humanity (the company counts one quarter of humanity as monthly active users). The interview was quite a get for Thompson, and he published it in near-verbatim format. In so doing, he laid bare just how removed from the rest of humanity Facebook management is, and how blissfully ignorant they are about the consequences of their actions.

I refined my outrage into five points Mosseri makes (down from 15 initially) that illustrate the degree to which Facebook executives live in a world of their own making where the rest of us are expected to comply.

This is a very important signal of the potential for positive applications of AI.

The FDA Approved an Algorithm That Predicts Death

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the very first algorithm that monitors patient vitals to predict potentially lethal events hours before they could have occurred. AI is going to help free up the severely limited resources in medicine.
The platform senses subtle changes in vitals and sends alerts up to six hours before a potentially lethal event could occur. The algorithm monitors patients continuously, a feat that is frankly impossible for human medical professionals to realistically accomplish. Resources in the healthcare industry are stretched thin, especially where staffing is concerned. Speaking to Digital Trends, ExcelMedical’s Chief Strategy Officer Mary Baum said, “We do not have enough physicians or nurses, and we have an aging population who are sicker and who need more resources and services.”

The system can also monitor vital signs in relation to one another. For example, a slight spike in blood pressure may not be indicative of anything serious by itself, but when coupled with a dip in oxygen saturation or a drop in a patient’s respiratory rate it could signal their condition is deteriorating or that a potentially serious event is imminent.

As much as progress in machine learning and algorithmic intelligence is acceleration - this acceleration may soon begin to accelerate.
“Stringing together things is a thing even a child learns,” explains Rolston. “By simplifying that orchestration aspect, the stuff that’s going to stay hard–like the data transforms–are easier to understand. How they relate to each other is visually explained to the user.”

This Is The World’s First Graphical AI Interface

Designed by Argodesign and CognitiveScale, Cortex offers a glimpse at the future of accessible AI design tools.
Machine learning and artificial intelligence are so difficult to understand, only a few very smart computer scientists know how to build them. But the designers of a new tool have a big ambition: to create the Javascript for AI.

The tool, called Cortex, uses a graphical user interface to make it so that building an AI model doesn’t require a PhD. The honeycomb-like interface, designed by Mark Rolston of Argodesign, enables developers–and even designers–to use premade AI “skills,” as Rolston describes them, that can do things like sentiment analysis or natural language processing. They can then drag and drop these skills into an interface that shows the progression of the model. The key? Using a visual layout to organize the system makes it more accessible to non-scientists.

Right now, AI algorithms are buried inside complex code, but creating a graphical user interface is a crucial step toward enabling more different types of people to become the architects of machine learning models as the technology begins to infiltrate our lives. A GUI has the potential to give designers a seat at the AI table–something that could be necessary to ensure the technology is used ethically and responsibly.

This is just cool - new forms of rapid build micro-units. The 1 minute video is definitely inspiring.

This mobile structure builds itself in under 10 minutes

Ten Fold’s structures self-deploy at the touch of a button
United Kingdom-based company Ten Fold Engineering has developed a ready-to-use, relocatable structure that self-deploys (in both directions) and can be used for a variety of functions including as mobile homes, offices, clinics, shops, exhibitions, restaurants, and schools.

Requiring no machinery, labor, or a foundation, Ten Fold’s buildings unfurl like an accordion in under ten minutes and just as easily fold back in on itself for easy transport on a truck bed. All that’s required is a hand-held, battery-powered drill.

Even more impressive is its size. Each structure pops open to three times its transport size to 64 square meters, or approximately 689 square feet. There’s even 20 square meters (about 215 square feet) of space to store furniture or other equipment in transit. Internal walls can be moved and arranged according to preference, making it highly adaptable. They can also be stacked and have the potential to go fully off-grid by way of solar panels.

Ten Fold’s structures start at £100,000, or approximately $129,000.

This is a signal to watch - part of the phase transition in energy geopolitics and transportation.

World's first electric container barges to sail from European ports this summer

Dubbed the ‘Tesla of the canals’, the unmanned vessels will operate on Dutch and Belgian waterways, vastly reducing diesel vehicles and emissions
The world’s first fully electric, emission-free and potentially crewless container barges are to operate from the ports of Antwerp, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam from this summer.

The vessels, designed to fit beneath bridges as they transport their goods around the inland waterways of Belgium and the Netherlands, are expected to vastly reduce the use of diesel-powered trucks for moving freight.

Dubbed the “Tesla of the canals”, their electric motors will be driven by 20-foot batteries, charged on shore by the carbon-free energy provider Eneco.
The barges are designed to operate without any crew, although the vessels will be manned in their first period of operation as new infrastructure is erected around some of the busiest inland waterways in Europe.

In August, five barges - 52 metres long and 6.7m wide, and able to carry 24 20ft containers weighing up to 425 tonnes - will be in operation. They will be fitted with a power box giving them 15 hours of power. As there is no need for a traditional engine room, the boats have up to 8% extra space, according to their Dutch manufacturer, Port Liner.

At a later date, six larger 110m-long barges, carrying 270 containers, will run on four battery boxes capable of providing 35 hours of autonomous driving. Their use alone could lead to a reduction of about 18,000 tonnes per year of CO2, it is claimed.

Here is great news about the accelerating phase transition in energy geopolitics.

11 member states smash 2020 renewables targets early

Eleven EU countries have already met their 2020 renewable energy goals ahead of schedule while the bloc as a whole has reached 17%, just shy of the overall target with two years to go, according to new data from Eurostat.

The data shows that the share of energy from renewables reached 17% in 2016, meaning the share of the energy mix has doubled for solar, wind, biomass, hydropower et al since figures were first compiled in 2004 (8.5%).

Sweden topped the charts with 53.8%, followed by Finland (38.7%) and Latvia (37.2%). The Netherlands, France and Ireland are performing the most poorly though, as they are the furthest away from their individual objectives.

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