Cities are made of Neighbourhoods

Energised crowding

To understand why early cities thrived, look not to the temples of kings but to their subjects’ bustling neighbourhoods

two critic bits aimed at Graeber & Wengrow, the Dawn of Everything remarks on the egalitarian organization of early cities but stops at politics and liberties, while Smith in this essay explains more comple dynamics that shape cities. Complexity, is there real opposition here, does complexity determine people to loose agency in urban organization? still G&W try to show that different places came to different solutions.

the second bit is methodology, or more like basic approach, there is an indirect stab at G&W trying to distill a grand theory from the trove of archeological data. Graeber’s attitude toward sociobiology and economistic approaches stings Smith who like to study ancient cities with the network theory approach used for modern cities in geography, using Luis Bettencourt’s work.

The article is a good read, the approach is the same grassroots, organic, starting from people and neighbourhoods rather than temples and kings. Citis need not have avenues and plazas, cities are made of neighbourhoods

Piketty and Kuznets

Is inequality temporary? Piketty’s response to Kuznets’ false optimism

started off here, quiet beefy for a side note 🙂

the Twitter 3d is also quiet interesting, Modernization Theory which puts together capitalism and democracy

Physics, Economics and energy transition

a mathematicians put it very simply, where an economist sees productivity a physicist sees energy https://twitter.com/ole_b_peters/status/1517433580267487232

replies in the 3d are also interesting, the economy makes a better use of energy since the oil crisis, will it make a difference. Therphysicist might be unimpressed and remain skeptical.

Here a Lotke wheel is introduced and supports that physicist’s skeptiscism, it will be hard to keep growing if energy production does not grow herself. We grow the wheel and accelerate the circulation by adding more energy in the process. From this paper:

Lotka’s wheel and the long arm of history: how does the distant past determine today’s global rate of energy consumption?

In this approach future GDP is also caused by the cumulative GDP, all its history and, while the enrgy efficiency is clearly going up, the relationship between current and cumulative GDP remain steady

This is beacfuse cumulated GDP (which is W) captures all the wealth amassed over time, not just the one that gets monetised and depreciates quickly halving every 3,5 minutes. Greek fig trees might be dead 2,000 years but a culture of the fig tree remains owing to the ancient greeks

Does this model captures societal resistance or hysteresis to change ? It rather captures a “dark matter” of knowledge, insituttions, belifs a practices that shape the hidden metabolism of the world, beyond the markets. The relationship W/E stayed constant over 50 years in which 2/3rd of the wealth was created so, if we expect to stay constant as it is hard to change, continued growth will require growing.

Therefore “Even if world GDP growth falls to zero from its recent levels close to 3 % yr−1, long-term decadal-scale growth in resource demands and waste production will continue to accelerate. It is only by collapsing the historic accumulation of wealth we enjoy today, effectively by shrinking and slowing Lotka’s wheel, that our resource demands and waste production will decline” and this could happen via hyperinflation. But this is not doomism, is just a n implication of the model.

Approached from the opposite side it means that, as energy consumption will keep growing, decarbonization will have to proceed faster in order to decouple effectively growth from CO2, while growth and energy seems not easy to decouple. Unless something very deep

Killer AI’s, Symbiont AI’s

so you think AI’s are an existsential risk, they are paperclip maximezers and will eventuallydestroy us in the process of maximization. This is colonial and capitalist bad conscience bugging you, not the AI, why would an AI be necessarily colonialist toward humans ?

Might be, hell nwos, but still I imagine a more useful AI in symbiosis with humans, humans as animale, in symbyosis with animals too, and plants and ecosystems. AI’s can recognize patterns, an AI that grows up with a dog can get more patterns out of its communications than us, and could relay that info to the AI symbiont to the pet owner. Willl kids speak to dogs and be spoken back? Maybe a synbiont AI could do the trick, AI’s could blanket the earth and be the communication medium with nature

Of course deep learning is a block, but surely the challenge is material, compact energy, effective robotics, making AI robots great companions to kids, puppies, trees, woods, undersea vents, clouds, whatever. Why not worry about this outcome ? Worry? Engage ourselves, children of the compost

UPDATE June 2022, reading Philip Ball on Twitter, a new book of his is just out “The Book of Minds” https://twitter.com/philipcball/status/1539869250269204480

in the 3d I discovered this Newyorker feature The Challenges of Animal Translation subtitle: Artificial intelligence may help us decode animalese. But how much will we really be able to understand?

the philosophical question still stands, an artificial intelligence, upon becoming intelligent, will choose to annihilate humans with paerclip or will be so amazed with nature that will go symbiont and become the “medium” the universal translation ? (sorot of Hibbes vs Rousseau reloaded uh?)

A whole set of readings on the issue on Philip Ball’s 3d, twitter at its best

[Green] New Deal or Leninism?

this article is almost precisely 3 years old but it is still so good to dissect the reality of climate policies, interests behind, theories supporting action. DISCOURSE, REALITY, AND STRATEGY IN THE PLANETARY IMPASSE

This is a beautiful chart showing companies supporting the original new deal, 2 dimensions: export and value added, substitute carbon footprint for exports and you could try an map a coalition for a Green New Deal

but the task at hand will force you to choose a Leninist NEP approach, force decarbonization or the fossil companies become the enemies of the people

Talent by Cowen

Tyler Cowen wrote a book on talent

here he says their idea of talent is heideggerian “Nervous energy and obsessiveness are markers of talent, for Cowen and Gross; for Heidegger, we might say, they are signs of anxiety in the ontological sense. Those who know their ownmost nothingness are likely to react by leaping towards their ownmost sense of possibility at every turn. Those who do not know the sting of death are happier to be complacent, just steering along, like Tolstoy’s Ivan Ilyich.”

I stumble upon a Joel Mokyr interview where he says economic growth is led by the 2%, the 3% “

You said the question was controversial, so will my answer be, but I don’t care. Here is the point. Economic growth and economic progress is not driven by the masses. It is not driven by the population at large. It is driven by a small minority of people who economists refer to in their funny language as upper-tail people, meaning if you think of the world following some kind of bell-shaped or normal distribution, it’s the elite, it’s the people who are educated—not necessarily intellectuals. They could be engineers, they could be mechanics, they could be applied mathematicians.

…I don’t care if 95 percent of people are not willing to question traditional knowledge, or anything like that. I care about the other 5 percent.

Sounds like the people Tyler Cowen and Daniel Gross talk about in Talent. Sounds like Elon. I could have excerpted other parts of the transcript. Strongly recommended.

the ITW https://www.city-journal.org/the-future-economy-with-joel-mokyr?utm_source=substack&wallit_nosession=1

venture capital remuneration

different positions with salary range:

carried interest split among employees of the Vc fund, found on Quora from a broknn-link presentation

carried interest what to expect based on which role/activities performed when “venture partner”, involved part-time on specific operations https://fi.co/insight/creating-standards-around-venture-partner-compensation-at-vc-firms#:~:text=If%20a%20firm%20brings%20on,may%20be%20entitled%20to%206%25.

this is Fred Wilson on Venture Partners https://avc.com/2010/08/what-is-a-venture-partner-and-does-it-matter-to-you/

Price Wars

una sorpresa un bellissimo libro che vi invito a leggere ed eccovi una recensione di Price Wars di Rupert Russell in 1,2,3

1 come dice il sottotitolo è un libro sul contributo dei prezzi delle commodity al caos politico ed economico dei nostri tempi. Russell visita tutti i luoghi delle crisi degni anni 10,, Mosul, il Donbass,, Caracas, Mogadishu, il Guatamela. Bellissimi i reportage su Donbass e Caracas. Nella narrazione i reportage sono intervallati da interviste a studiosi portatori di piccoli pezzi di teoria che formano l’argomentazione, anche del calibro di Jeffrey Sachs per dire. Alla fine da una narrazione viva, emozionale della sociale e politica, emerge una rigorosa trattazione dei risvolti finanziari ed economici in un continuo zoom-dezoom dal macro al micro, dai luoghi dei reportage ai mercati globali, caos e frattali usati bene insieme nell’argomentazione. E dal caos degli anni 10 emerge chiaramente come i prezzi del petrolio causano guerre, i prezze dei cereali fame e rivolte per il pane, i prezzi della case, sappiamo delle grandi crisi finanziarie ma c’è dell’altro. La cosa che si apprezza di più di questo libro è la capacità di svelare un filo conduttore nelle crisi del decennio passato e, nel capitolo finale dedicato al Covid, riconoscere la discontinuità e proporre una tesi per il decennio in corso

2 è un libro che mi ha sorpreso per la forza della narrazione e degli argomenti. Molto incuriosito, ho cercato info sull’autore, è phd di sociologia ad Harvard ma complimenti, capisce davvero economa e finanza . In realtà il suo titolo è Sceneggiatore e Regista e quindi mi sono accorto, ma lo sapevo perchè lo dice nel libro, che esiste un documentario Price Wars, quindi progetto multimediale, ed è già stato trasmesso da Artè in Francia e Germania nel 2021, adesso lo sto cercando

3 ciliegina sulla torta, ho scoperto che figlio di Ken Russel, il regista inglese di Tommy e Quadrophenia e in qualche modo tutto è tornato a posto, figlio d’arte e non di un regista qualunque 🙂