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Sustainability, the Soul of Technology


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Part I of my presentation on "Sustainability, the Soul of Technology" at the Technology Ventures Conference on June 26, 2015 in Cambridge, UK. -

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Sustainability, the Soul of Technology

  1. 1. Rudy De Waele Sustainability The Soul of Technology @mtrends / #shift2020 Rudy de Waele Image © Vincent Callebaut Architectures
  2. 2. Rudy De Waele rudy@shift2020.comImage © Vincent Callebaut Architectures My cover image is from Vincent Callebaut Architectures in Paris who created a series of future scenario’s for Paris in 2050, proposing vertical farm scrapers addressing the city’s housing and density issues. The multiple high-rise buildings all have positive energy output (BEPOS), producing more energy than consumed. Much of what we see now in the day-to-day fossil-fuel based economy will be replaced by solar-and win-powered energy. Solar-Powered self-driving cars, buses and trains and industry in the city would be reducing 75% of the greenhouse gas emissions by then (2050). In this presentation I’m going to show how we can all help to make this a reality, using technology as one of the major drivers of change towards a cleaner and more sustainable future.
  3. 3. But before that, I’d like to go back to my own youth, early 70s, When asked in primary school to draw the future in the year 2000, we all drew flying cars, and +40 years later we still don’t have any of those. No-one could foresee the impact of computers, the internet, mobile or biotech. Neither did we know how polluting the fossil-fuel economy was or would become.
  4. 4. Anyone knows this opening movie scene? Los Angeles 2019 - Release Date 1982 - Blade Runner. Even in Hollywood they don’t get the future right… Predicting the future is not an easy task. In my work as a strategist, we usually look at 3-5 years ahead, maximum 10 but looking 35 yrs ahead is way out there. Only few futurists would be right with predictions made today.
  5. 5. The Fifth Element was smarter and mentioned the story happened somewhere in the 23rd century
  6. 6. But look what we have here… Now!
  7. 7. Aeromobil wants to have its flying car on sale to customers by 2017
  8. 8. A recent crash during a test flight - luckily no-one got hurt - suggests that the road to selling the Aeromobil to consumers looks still quite far away.
  9. 9. We tend to forget how many pioneers risked or risk their lives inventing new machines and technology. We only remember the glorious who succeeded unfortunately… Who remembers Alcock and Brown for example who made the first transatlantic flight in 1919 after a pause of the competition during WWI? FYI their plane didn’t crash but just landed with its nose in the ground.
  10. 10. The pioneers of today are people like Betrand Piccard, co-founder and co-pilot of Solar Impulse, currently flying across the globe with a solar-powered plane. When asked whether solar energy would ever power mainstream aircrafts, his response was: “It would be crazy to answer yes and stupid to answer no. Today we couldn’t have a solar-powered plane with 200 passengers. Maybe one day.”
  11. 11. And there’s more solar-powered flying objects: Facebook is currently test flying solar-powered drones in an attempt to increase internet access. A pilotless plane with a wingspan bigger than a Boeing 737 but weighing less than a car has been tested over the UK. The solar- powered drones are intended to be flown for months without landing and will operate at altitudes of more than 60,000ft, far higher than commercial airline flights. The planes were developed by Ascenta, a Somerset-based company led by engineer Andrew Cox. It was bought by Facebook in March 2014 for £12m.
  12. 12. Google has confirmed that a prototype of its solar-powered drone designed to bring Internet service by air crashed earlier this month in New Mexico. News of the unmanned Solara 50’s crash, happened on May 1 on a private test site outside of Albuquerque. It was reportedly flying at an altitude of 20,000 feet when it began to fall. No one was injured in the crash. The Solara 50, developed by Titan Aerospace, a company Google bought last year, is Google’s second initiative to provide Internet via sky.
  13. 13. Rudy De Waele
  14. 14. Rudy De Waele Anyone recognises this city? It’s Detroit in its glory period. By 1924, the Big 3 auto makers, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler were all formed and headquartered in Detroit and stayed in the capital of car manufacturing for decades with a peak in production in the sixties creating prosperity for the Detroit citizens. The Motown Record label founded in Detroit bloomed and sold more hit singles than any other record company during that period. Blue-collar workers poured into the cavernous auto plants of Detroit for generations, confident that a sturdy back and strong work ethic would bring them a house, a car and economic security. It was a place where the American dream came true.
  15. 15. Rudy De Waele And look how this area looks now… The plant was closed in November of 1982. Innovative ecosystems come and go… (and leave their trash behind)…
  16. 16. Rudy De Waele And why was that? No investments in future technology, no attention to the future of the workforce / no ethical core values for the long term / and a polluted soil. The City of Detroit is seeking interested developers to renovate the site, but as of yet there have been no takers. For just $300,000, you could own a slice of automotive history with a great view of the city. But there’s a but…
  17. 17. Rudy De Waele In 2004, the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality found “asbestos materials, lead waste, industrial equipment, storage tanks, other solid / hazardous debris and wastes, and contaminated soils and concrete” in and around the plant. Further studies found the presence of arsenic, beryllium, cadmium, chromium, cyanide, lead, mercury, nickel, silver, thallium, and PCB’s. This cannot be repeated, we need to take care and responsibility of our society and business, as well for future generations.
  18. 18. Even though Technology contributes increasingly towards a more sustainable future, the industry itself produces a lot of waste, especially from desktop PCs and printers. Where do we dump most of this stuff? In Ghana and Togo, for example.
  19. 19. Luckily we have innovators and entrepreneurs like Kodjo Afate Gnikou who spend time recycling the valuable parts of the waste and create his $100 US 3D printer W.AFATE, which is largely made of e-waste, in Lome, Togo on May 31, 2013.
  20. 20. This is the view for a surfer in a remote bay in Java, Indonesia… Local residents, without infrastructure for waste disposal, discard waste directly into streams and rivers.
  21. 21. 90 % of the world's goods are transported by ship. The shipping industry burns 300 million tons of bunker fuel per year. To date these include sulfur dioxide (SOx), oxides of nitrogen (NOx), carbon monoxide (CO) and Particulate Matter (PM). Even our oil and natural gas is shipped largely through these extremely dirty ships that go virtually unregulated. - Ships generate 15 to 30 percent of the world's smog-forming emissions. - Bunker fuel burned by ships is 1,000 x dirtier than diesel used by trucks & buses. - A single ship coming into harbor produces the smog-forming emissions of 350,000 new cars. - More than one in 10 children has asthma in the world's biggest port cities. - Researches are finding that the black soot from ship smokestacks settle on polar ice sheets and help cause melting.
  22. 22. Image © Chris Jordan These are images of dead baby albatrosses taken by Chris Jordan. On Midway Atoll, a remote cluster of islands more than 2000 miles from the nearest continent, the detritus of our mass consumption surfaces in an astonishing place: inside the stomachs of thousands of dead baby albatrosses. The nesting chicks are fed lethal quantities of plastic by their parents, who mistake the floating trash for food as they forage over the vast polluted Pacific Ocean. These birds reflect back an appallingly emblematic result of the collective trance of our consumerism and runaway industrial growth. Like the albatross, we first-world humans find ourselves lacking the ability to discern anymore what is nourishing from what is toxic to our lives and our spirits. Choked to death on our waste, the mythical albatross calls upon us to recognize one of our greatest challenges…I could show you many examples like this but I think you all know what’s going on. I want to show you some great examples of how ideas and innovation by startups and entrepreneurs can help accelerate the change towards a better future for us all.
  23. 23. Most of the area’s of disruption in technology in the near future have one common denominator: it’s Sustainability, it’s the Soul of Technology.
  24. 24. New materials, such as Graphene have many extraordinary properties and potential. It is about 200 times stronger than steel by weight, conducts heat and electricity with great efficiency and is nearly transparent. If commercially viable and better adapted, graphene has the potential to reshape the world we live in. Some of the ways graphene could extend the longevity of products are flexible smart cards, updatable foldable newspaper (yes, the Harry Potter one!), better electric car batteries, indestructible smart phones and solar panels for example.
  25. 25. Optalysys, based in Cambridge (UK), is developing optical high performance computing hardware that uses light, rather than electricity, at a fraction of the cost and energy consumption.
  26. 26. Future Living Sustainability - The Soul of Technology / Rudy de Waele @ TVC2015 / #shift2020
  27. 27. Sustainable energy and public facilities make the Copenhagen International School a model for future campus-city interplay. Composing the building’s facade will be a sequin-like array of 12,000 solar panels to generate more than half of the school’s annual electricity. The new North Harbour building will be Copenhagen’s largest school, and will accommodate 1,200 students and 280 employees.
  28. 28. Microgrid living will become more and more independent and we’ll move to more sustainable energy solutions with the possibility to go totally off-grid and produce a positive energy output (BEPOS) producing more energy than we consume, in other words, we can make money producing energy.
  29. 29. Rudy De Waele Slovakian firm Nice Architects has built an egg-shaped “Ecocapsule” that runs entirely on solar and wind energy, allowing its dweller(s) to live both literally, and figuratively, off the grid – rent- and electric-bill free – globally. It merges an energy efficient shape, compact volume and off-grid capabilities with the luxuries of a warm bed, running water and a hot meal. Even though small in size, each Ecocapsule comfortably houses two adults. Its efficient spatial layout allows you to enjoy convenience of household facilities in off-grid conditions. Built-in kitchenette with running water, toilet and hot shower are luxuries of a hotel room that are now also available in wilderness. Plenty of storage space also fits all your sport or research equipment.
  30. 30. Rudy De Waele Despite its small form each Ecocapsule is fitted with all essentials necessary for a comfortable prolonged stay without a need to recharge or re-supply. Ecocapsule is powered by a built-in wind turbine complemented with an array of solar cells. Dual power system and a high-capacity battery ensures that you will have enough power during periods of reduced solar or wind activity. Spherical shape is optimized for the collection of rainwater and dew and the built-in water filters allow you to utilize any water source.
  31. 31. SOLARKIOSK enables and empowers the sustainable economic development of Base-of-the-Pyramid (BoP) communities worldwide through the provision of clean energy services, quality products and sustainable solutions. SOLARKIOSK has pioneered and scaled up a solar-powered technology design and an inclusive business model that are tailored for the specific needs of BoP communities. It includes local entrepreneurs as franchise partners who provide clean energy services, affordable solar products and quality consumer goods.
  32. 32. Earlier this year, Apple invested $850 million in a solar power plant through a partnership with First Solar, one of the US largest photovoltaic (PV) manufacturers and provider of utility-scale PV plants. Through a 25-year purchasing agreement, Apple will get 130MW (megawatts, or million watts) from the new California Flats Solar Project — enough to power all of their retail facilities and their HQ in the US. Apple has continued its high profile renewable energy push, investing in two Chinese solar farms boasting 40MW of new capacity.
  33. 33. Many startups are installing solar-powered solutions in emerging nations, powring mobile phones and electricity tools and often leapfrogging governments and electric companies with profitable long-term business models for everyone in the value-chain using sms.
  34. 34. Towards the eventual open-source Energy Internet where everything will be connected, producing energy at the same time, redistributing the positive energy output back into the network providing energy on a global scale, in a later stage adding solar-powered transportation to the network. I’d like to close this presentation by showing this video from from Growing Underground, based on the Third Industrial Revolution by Jeremy Rifkin -
  35. 35. Thank You! Contact me @mtrends / We are in power to design our own future. So, let’s make sure we all embed cleantech and sustainability into our actions, our startups or companies, and the products we build. Thanks for your attention. Empowering Purposeful Innovation for a Sustainable Future