Sci-Fi Economics

$2.9 trillion. If you guessed "GDP of France," you weren't far off, but not correct. That's the total
Changeist
Sci-Fi Economics
By Changeist • Issue #29
$2.9 trillion. If you guessed “GDP of France,” you weren’t far off, but not correct. That’s the total market cap of Amazon, Apple, Google, Facebook and Microsoft, as of mid-May 2017, according to Alexis Madrigal in his first piece on return to The Atlantic linked below. Granted, this number is less a solid economic measure and more the momentary temperature of collective market fever dreams, but it gives a sense of just how enormous the value of what these five organization control, now or in a probably future. This is not strictly ad money or merchandise sales being counted — its also in part the notional perception that each of these companies will control to some measure a critical piece of both physical and digital infrastructure of the world we will live in. 
If you thought seat licenses were lucrative in the 1990s, wait until its city blocks in the 2020s. All are becoming increasingly embedded in physical systems, supply chains, mobility platforms and the architecture of data that makes these and other elements of the real world. One had only to notice how many seemingly incidental displays were malfunctioning in and around mass transit systems during the recent WannaCry ransomware outbreak to get a sense of where these companies systems are entwined with delivery of public conveniences. AWS, WhatsApp, Gmail and Facebook Messenger are now the mission critical sinews of the modern world. But you knew this. 
The sci-fi economics piece comes in when the products, services and standards of these and other, newer organizations, like the mad Musk chaebol made up of Tesla, Solar City, the new Boring Company and surely others, begin to truly realize the value of controlling—or controlling access to—assets at global, or superglobal scale. Think operating systems for mass mobility. Think the next generation of resource systems. Think also about seizing IP at gene level as well, in the microscales where CRISPR entrepreneurs will operate. Who will run the services that bring the first asteroid-born precious metals back to Earth? Who will patent pay-per-cell business models? Follow the infrastructure to find the installs. The sums will be on an order of magnitude that makes selling databases pale in comparison. This is why those database billionaires like to put hardware on streets and in skies so much. They know.  
Below are a few articles that probe some small corners of this macrohorizon. Enjoy and send back thoughts. 

How to Future
Check out How to Future, our program of 1,2, and 3 day module-based workshops that teach teams tools, vocabulary and techniques to sense, make sense of and communicate possible futures with others. We can spend a day with you to improve your future sensing, scenario or storytelling and prototyping skills. 
On The Agenda
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Writing Stories About The Future Worlds - YouTube
Madeline Ashby and Scott Smith took time out from teaching the Future Design module at the Dubai Future Academy to join the DFA’s Jess Bland to talk about the role of stories in communicating possibility.
Susan Cox-Smith and Sjef van Gaalen closed Day 2 of Fiber Festival looking at Thingclash’s use of archetypes in telling stories about future technology ecosystems.
Media Future Week 2017
Madeline and Scott spent a great day with Media Future Week in Hilversum — Scott’s fifth and Madeline’s first. This video recap gives a glimpse of their talks, coaching sessions with student teams, and the initial Dragon’s Den crit session. 
vimeo.com  •  Share
Keynote Scott Smith - MFW17 - on Vimeo
And Scott’s talk about Dark Patterns in futures just went live, so you can catch it here. 
Scott will open Industry Day at the upcoming Future Flux Festival in Rotterdam on 9 June. Check out the program for talks, workshops and more. Friends Michelle Kazprzak, Georgina Voss and Sjef van Gaalen will be among those sharing their work.
How Will We Work? - Vienna Biennale 2017: Roboter. Arbeit. Unsere Zukunft.
Superflux’s Anab Jain leads a team of curators looking at the futures of work, production and society at the upcoming Vienna Biennale. We’re privileged to have a very small text included in the exhibition, full of great names and provocative speculations.
Last but not least, Madeline’s book “Company Town,” which was only narrowly nudged into second place as a finalist in Canada Reads in March, has just been longlisted for two more awards: The Sunburst Award, honoring Canadian literature of the fantastic, and as Best Novel for the Aurora Award, the Canadian science fiction and fantasy award. If you haven’t picked up a copy of “Company Town,” find out what the critics have caught onto.  
Sci-Fi Economics
The Weird Thing About Today's Internet - The Atlantic
Madrigal’s aforementioned welcome back looking at tech for The Atlantic
Anthony Townsend authored this great overview of autonomous vehicles — a good one-stop source to bring yourself up to date with the issues and challenges facing cities as they grapple with the epic transition ahead.

China, India plans for electric cars threaten to cut gasoline demand
| Reuters
These two major markets may be among the first to truly dent petroleum demand in the transition.
This theory of petrol vehicle death spiral feels overstated, but it nonetheless shine as light on the possible market dynamics as the mobility transition moves forward.
The Future of European Transit: Driverless and Utilitarian - The New York Times
Across Europe, some fledgling driverless projects are focused on utilitarian self-driving vehicles for mass transit that barely exceed walking pace.
The Rise of the Fat Start-Up - The New York Times
First, hotel rooms and taxis — now private homes. Business models based on large scale, automated physical asset optimization are gaining increasing attention. However, they may cause disruption of the wrong kind if a critical few fail. 
The Best Way To Transmit Satellite Data? In Trucks. Really | WIRED
The next semi you pass on the highway may just be trucker-net.
The types of labor abuses that marked the rapid growth of electronics OEMs are following that industry’s shift into auto manufacturing.
Disappearance of factories from small towns has had a major impact on economies—and now politics. No reason to think small metros won’t take the hit first when automation moves in.
Again, concentration of power in major logistics networks has an eventual downside.
While the West muddles around with populism, China lays down plans for real infrastructure spending. 
This piece from Popular Science gives the backdrop against which we’re teaching Future Design in Dubai — a city with ambition to take on mega-scale challenges, from untangling mobility to mitigating climate change. 
The Network
Group exhibition | Brakke Grond
Tobias Revell is among the artists whose work is on display currently at this exhibition in Amsterdam.
John Willshire of Smithery will take the reins at IED Barcelona this summer for the fourth edition of the Innovation and Future Thinking summer intensive. He’ll be joined by Natalie Kane and other bright minds to explore the future of food. 
Speaking
Likewise, our team has been on the road delivering provocative talks and workshops. If you are interested in having a member of Changeist kick off an event or provide insights for internal sessions, contact us here
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