Writings on what makes Europe and the world tech

Solar geoengineering, digital non-aligned movement, digital body language, excelling at research and understanding chip shortages

This #discoveries instalment combines different topics and it was very interesting reading everyone of them. Here we go for what might be the last one of the year.

Solar geoengineering

This was on the top of The Economist’s 22 Emerging Technologies to Watch in 2022 listicle. Also known as solar radiation management, solar geoengineering refers to offering the world some shade as it gets hotter. The solution is politically, morally and meteorologically controversial.

Hence a group of Harvard researchers are studying it for its potential effects on rainfall and greenhouse effect management – as one of the last resorts for the world to buy some time in its effort to cut emissions.

It is a fascinating read and other technologies include hydrogen powered planes, mRNA based HIV vaccines, 3D bone implants (and houses), and container ships with sails to reduce the shipping industry’s share of greenhouse-gas emissions which stand at 3%.

Also on the list are virtual influencers (engineered by teams to attract followers with the most convincing stories but no single “real” person behind it). Note to mis-information studies scholars, this will take this field into a different direction. Perhaps a better term is synthetic influencers.

While wearable trackers (mostly watches) made it on the list, I didn’t find it that impressive. What is however, and was not on the list, is medical tattoos. LogicInk is one company that produces a sticker that can be worn outside to inform its owner when the skin has been exposed to too much hazardous UV rays. Jeff Goldblum paid them a visit.

Digital non-aligned movements

Rivalrous techno-economic-geo-industrial policy between China, US and increasingly the EU exists. The paper by the Former Deputy National Security Advisor of India and a researcher at the National University of Juridical Sciences, Kolkata discusses what countries that don’t want to take sides, with the first two, can do. Moreover, the authors propose a few multilateral solutions such as a EU-Non Alignment Movement alliance for technology and standard sharing.

“While the US may be able to afford the economic consequences of banning Chinese companies, taking this hardline stance without providing its developing friends and allies with an alternative may end with the world divided not only on political lines, but with a redrawing of those lines out of economic necessity, and with states prioritising the responsibility they have to their own people.”

Just as the Non Alignment Movement “came from the desire to exercise greater collective bargaining power against existing “superpowers,” while remaining detached from the [nuclear] conflict”, a digital NAM hopes to do the same with controversial technology areas such as 5G and semiconductors.

I don’t agree with everything in the paper but an important contribution form the authors is the framing of alignment in the digital age. While in the Cold War alignment was on ideological grounds – in “Cold War 2.0” – alignment results from political and economic choices.

Lastly, the authors say that a country’s choice of technological equipment for economic reasons does/should not reflect its political commitments.

Excelling at research and digital body language

I came across two interesting books lately. The first one is for fellow researchers. The Craft of Research is your companion whether you’re writing a peer-reviewed article, industry report or a dissertation. It covers everything from how to select a specific enough and well rounded research question to making a strong argument to the ethics of research.

The second book is Digital Body Language. So far I read reviews about the book and it promising to be a great find given how it unpacks how technology has affected our communication. Short attention spans – born out of communication via emails, DMs and otherwise apersonally – make us expect in person communication to be delivered in concise and bullet point format. However this also leaves space for misunderstanding and lack of patience and empathy when speaking.

Understanding the Global Chip Shortage

The latest paper by the director of the Technology and Geopolitics Group at SNV explores the root causes of the global chip shortage which include, capital and knowledge intensity along with cyclical demand, transationality and shocks across many of these areas.

I’m keeping an ongoing thread of high level developments of this issue here. However, a sobering finding from the paper is that “there is no short-term solution to this problem, it needs to be addressed by long-term strategic decisions…[including] structural changes, new business models and supplier relationships”.

The paper has a very interesting table outlining the series of events including fires, lockdown measures, power outages and natural disasters that hit the value chain. The report is a great read and to get most of it, one needs to read other works by the team.

In other news

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