Monoculture Thinking is Unnatural & Unhealthy
, ,

Monoculture Thinking is Unnatural & Unhealthy

Biomimicry pioneer Janine Benyus has wisely observed that Nature is a design studio, where optimizing sustainability (of planetary lifeforms) and resiliency (navigating climate, species and extraterrestrial impacts) comes through millions of years of adaptability experiments.

Nature Values Diversity

Nature relies on multiple species to sequester carbon and improve nutrients for soils in vastly different climates and geographies.  Nature relies on regular seismic, forest fire, flood and migration patterns to disseminate species diversity, and to capitalize on the extreme events as fortuitous opportunities for establishing new homes for life and species’ advantage.

Our species acts constantly to master Nature, to overcome its unpredictability.  In doing so, we seem increasingly to favor the politics of monocultures – where one “go right” thinker group tries to outshout the “go left” thinker group, setting in motion a battle of monocultural belief as the supreme goal, regardless of its impacts on people, their neighborhoods and the planet.

Natural human rights to a home, healthcare, a job, retirement and other refined benefits of modernity in the “Developed World” are  Nature’s goals for other species in repurposing their ecosystems and behavioral economics.  On the one hand, “survival of the fittest” rules the animal and plant kingdoms providing nutrition, shelter and reuse of organic waste.  On the other hand, each species’ grazing in close proximity and instincts for social response can assure more of a given species survive, especially when threatened from internal and external predators and hazardous conditions.

Monoculture Politics

While Nature cherishes diversity of adaptive response, as humans, our political dialogue seems often to steer by which monologue of belief system is being reinforced by bludgeoning the perceived “other side.”  Instead of “human rights,” champions of one demographic’s rights shrilly and gleefully can ignore other’s rights.  For example, opponents of universal health care seem perfectly happy to ignore the biological and economic pandemic effects of letting the sick remain in suffering, dragging down urban economic vitality and intergenerational family survival.  Likewise, champions of women’s rights go silent when it comes to supporting the equal parenting and economic survival rights of men.  These tugs of war set up and maintain monoculture beliefs.  They create tribes to in-fight ideals.  They consume vast bandwidth on social and mainstream media.  They obscure the basic human dignity that all demographies, geographies and contexts for human quality of life demand, with equal concern, just in their right to speak for consequential Natural good.

Nature, the Design Coach for Leveraging Diversity

It is time to shed monoculture politics as social ideal.  Where Natural Rights could life all boats, the results of letting everyone fend for themselves – for finding a good education, job, home, honorable work, healthcare, nutrition – pulls us downward.

To justify monoculture politics, certain actors in each expert community get funded to build standalone White Ivory Towers, replete with algorithmic math that “assumes away” most other real world constraints and interdependencies with other aspects of quality of life, in order to reach  their funder’s ideal optimization or preferred solution or pre-ordained status quo.

Big Data springs from Big Models.  It is time to begin linking the languages of Big Models so as to build more adaptation from the limited resources each expert group (community of practice) is likely to receive through the political reality of annual budget cycles and recurring recessions.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

Read more
Technology takes over the Law
,

Technology takes over the Law

Our commercial world is becoming a cascade of EULAs:  End Use License Agreements, shrink-wrapping us and our rights and remedies into confirming to however the product or service offeror sees fit to treat consumers.  Not just software, but banking online, employment applications, job search sites, and even places where dinner reservations are made impose a daily diet of EULAs, beyond human reading capacity.

These agreements are so frequently a facet of our lives – a kindred spirit – that few of us read or have the time to read them.  So we “click-through” EULAs, unaware and seemingly uncaring of the risks, value-barter, and consequences of trusting merchants with consumer identity, credit card number, social security or their digital detritus from hours of browsing, dripping cookies through the cyberspace of disconnected lives connected for commercial and surveillance purposes through the Internet.

In a wired economy ruled by contract law speeding transactions faster and faster, the legal gymnastics of navigating what one’s rights are is attracting startups to build applications that can “read” what EULA or other document is being presented (e.g., EULAlyzer), interpret its variance from a “normal” contract or other document, and generate alternative verbiage as a negotiated compromise (e.g., Docracy).

Likewise, high legal fees for litigation drawn out over multiple years are being whittled down by various automated research and discovery services (e.g., Lex Machina for patents or Blackstone Discovery for litigation discovery), and mediation services to accelerate compromise or resolution of disputes in commercial, family and other litigation settings.

For lawyers, technology has moved beyond Microsoft Office’s Word  for creating documents, Excel for spreadsheets and Adobe PDF for storing documents.  Technology has now come to dominate the function of lawyering, and the tasksNYC Checker Cab that clients formerly paid only lawyers and paralegals to perform.

The technology-phobic lawyer, clinging to her barely “smart” Blackberry inside a New York City taxicab, may want to retool and reconsider the landscape created by technologies conquering the law.

The bedside manner of the national and state bar associations may not yet fully understand the profound changes coming to the practice of law.  To keep up with current trends, for starters, to glimpse into the future, check out Stanford University’s CodeX:  Center for Legal Informatics, where legal tech startup founders graze and launch from regularly.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

Read more
TEDxNewWallStreet – Re-imagining Banking built in and for the Information Age
, ,

TEDxNewWallStreet – Re-imagining Banking built in and for the Information Age

2008 – 2012 had seen a stubborn recession, shattering personal wealth and global confidence in the largest banks.  The Occupy Wall Street Protests in New York and London pressed for reforms to the banking system, by legislative, regulatory and judicial means.

By March 2012,  Silicon Valley had been pursuing its agenda of revolutionizing the banking system through innovations for nearly a decade.  Square did for in store local purchasing what PayPal did for online shopping, moving billions in credit card payments out of the hands of bankers and into the hands of “payments processors.”  Kiva created a disruptive microfinance finance, uncontrolled by and side-steppng at scale the administrative overhead of large sprawling nonprofit organizations.  Kickstarter anticipated the JOBS Act‘s embrace of crowdfunding small businesses, using elegant design storytelling to pre-sell products that have yet to be built.

Silicon Valley is well known for changing paradigms that concentrated power in entertainment, telecommunications and automotive industries.

Thus, on March 11, 2012, Urban Logic decided to convene TEDxNewWallStreet as a day-long exploration of what it might look like for Silicon Valley to be the New Wall Street, and ask how it might be fairer, safer, cheaper and see and show its impacts with greater transparency.

Moving opaque, dysfunctional, predatory banking into the digital age isn’t progress.

Fixing banking to become highly-transparent and impacts-aaware, that’s progress.

Our TEDxNewWallStreet speakers were amazing, and let the audience at the Computer History Museum, and on YouTube understand how bankers and bank technologists in Silicon Valley are changing the paradigm, again:

 

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

Read more
Google Tech Talk on Conscious Consumerism
, ,

Google Tech Talk on Conscious Consumerism

Why is it that shopping is what powers the Internet?

So many new products struggle to find an audience, create a following, define a market, be the next Google, Apple or Facebook.

Google’s Campus – the sprawling Googleplex in Mountain View California – is like a graduate engineering school, most employees wear tee shirts identifying their Google product line, their 20% Personal Project or just the fashionably disruptive startup of the week.

In February 2008, Urban Logic’s founder presented an early peek at the ways that products sold on the Internet could tell consumers a more meaningful story, and how people could be defined more by what they do than what they buy.  Bruce Cahan’s Talk is on Google’s Tech Talk YouTube Channel.

Bruce Cahan

Bruce Cahan is CEO and co-founder of Urban Logic, a nonprofit that harnesses finance and technology to change how systems think, act and feel. He is an Ashoka Fellow, an Adjunct Professor at Stanford University's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, a Distinguished Scholar at Stanford mediaX and a former CodeX Fellow at Stanford's Center for Legal Informatics. Bruce was trained as an international finance lawyer at Weil Gotshal & Manges in NYC (10 years) and as merchant banker at Asian Oceanic in Hong Kong (2 years). Bruce graduated The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania (B.S. Economics 1976) and Temple Law School (J.D. 1979). Bruce has been licensed to practice law in California (2006), New York (1980) and Pennsylvania (1980).

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookGoogle Plus

Read more