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February 12, 2017

Mark Stevenson explains how to reboot the world

Posted by Luc Malcorps

Emakina.BE once more had an exciting day.
We welcomed acclaimed speaker Mark Stevenson to our offices. Mark is a ground breaking entrepreneur, author, broadcaster and expert on global trends and innovation. And he has an important message to share.

Technology is bringing fundamental changes to society
and we will all need to adapt to this new reality.
Part of this is to opt for ethically sound choices.

Mark Stevenson focuses on what we can do to address the world’s most pressing dilemmas, offering a much needed dose of down-to-earth optimism.
He tells us about a world where our smart phone is never without power. You can use it to test your own blood and then download the 3D printed drug.
A world where banks are civilized, and wealth is no longer defined by assets but by influence, the ability to make stuff happen.

He invites us to take stock of our position in life, to build the new and better future for ourselves and our children. We see new realities in a whole range of domains, from media, corporate life and agriculture to our energy consumption and financial systems.

Energy as a source for shared wealth and positive growth
The rise of technology to democratize and distribute energy at lower cost is already here. ‘Airbnb’ energy services are popping up, like the ‘Vandebron’ initiative in the Netherlands, offering locally generated renewable energy at reduced cost, directly ‘from the Source’. Open Utility in the UK, created together with Good Energy,  also offers an exciting renewable energy proposal in that market.

Energy research is also moving forward fast, with organizations like SOFI, the Solar Fuels Institute. This global team of scientists wants to make carbon neutral fuel from sunlight, water and air.

With three ‘mom convincing arguments’ David proves
the changes in the energy business are truly disruptive.
If all our mothers ‘get it’ and say it’s right, it must be true!

A first mom argument is that the American Tea Party has embraced renewable energy. It created the Green Tea Coalition, leaving behind the ‘left versus right’ and ‘sandals versus guns’ discussions.

Georgetown, Texas – a community of 60.000 people smack in the middle of US oil country – is crossing over to renewables. They confirm green energy is cheaper, uses less water and delivers a stable energy price. The community can now invest in its future with confidence, no matter if you deny global warming.

In Austria, cheap green energy also helped the town of Güssing to transform from a poor community into a prosperous one, with means to invest in jobs, schools, hospitals, and new opportunities.

Debbie Dooley of the Green Tea Coalition

A second mom argument is that IKEA goes renewable, with its Newlight partnership. That biotech innovator converts bio-based greenhouse gases into Air Carbon thermoplastics, for use in Ikea’s range of home furnishing products. So, pretty soon, our mother’s new chair will be made out of our polluted air!

Mom argument number three: even the oil states of Saudi Arabia and the UAE are investing heavily in clean energy. Their economy will move away from dependence on oil in the next decades. And of course, China is also making a massive move towards solar.

 Our Money and Blockchain: finances, controlled by us all
A similar exciting shift is happening in the financial world. Blockchain, the technology driving Bitcoin, can change society. It’s a double entry book keeping on steroids, that guarantees all virtual transactions are registered, for collective public control. Banks and lawyers lose their power over the world’s financial affairs.

The need for banks to become ‘civilised’ is also crystal clear, says Mark Stevenson. He joined the board of Civilisedbank, an alternative finance platform to be launched in the UK in 2017, with cheaper, better, faster one stop finance management and support.

Better health, and living until you’re 120 or more
Mark Stevenson thinks we soon will print human organs, and genome genes will become a commodity traded at low prices. We will live healthier and much longer, and even reversing human aging could become a reality.

Ever heard of Nanoscibe? It’s possibly the coolest company on the planet! Nanoscibe is setting new benchmarks for 3D micro fabrication. Sub-micron sized printing of complex parts is now a reality. They are creating amazing innovations with far reaching potential like cell scaffolds, advanced print components for microchips, micro fluidics, and mechanical micro structures.

Organovo is another top player in this field. They specialize in accurate bio printed human tissue models, to enable ground-breaking therapies. Applications include disease modelling and toxicology, test drugs on functional human tissues and repairing or replacing damaged or diseased tissues.

As in all new realities, there are ethical questions to be answered.
Can pharmaceutical companies continue to focus on money making drugs and therapies only, catering to the needs of the rich world? Is it okay to help people in the US who have diabetes, but abandon tuberculosis patients in poor countries because there is less money to be made there?

And what about the political and practical questions…
When will we live to be 120 years? When will we go on our pension? How will we fill in that extra life time, and how will our relationships and life plans change? Technology and robotics will also raise questions in the field of sports. Are the iron men and women allowed to participate in competitions?

Time to reboot farming and business
Our agricultural industry is ready for a new round of soul searching. If 30 to 50 % of our food in the world is going to waste, maybe we should focus on better storage and conservation. Also, our food production can really benefit from better planting methods and crop protection free of chemical pollution.

Business and work are also changing fundamentally.
New technology is helping us to move away from exchanging our time to just feed our families. Instead, we are becoming increasingly interested in growing our social capital and making the world a better place.

A striking example of this vision is Unilever CEO Paul Polman, who is redefining sustainable business.

He said he no longer wanted that ‘we steal from our children’. So he went to work to resolve the tension between profitability and sustainability. As a true visionary leader, he brings these ideas into action. In an interview with Harvard Business Review, he explained his business plan to double Unilever’s revenue while cutting its environmental impact in half. And it works. Unilever outperforms its competition, brings a positive contribution to the environment, and all the best talent wants to work there.

All these stories come down to the same truth.
The digital revolution up to now was just the trailer
of the film, the hors d’oeuvre to the main course.

So we have to prepare ourselves for the world in which we do things differently.

In the meantime, we can already take steps towards a better balance.
Did you know you can offset your carbon emissions, for only 79 euros per year? Initiatives like Carbon Footprint help you calculate your emissions, and you can help plant trees to restore the balance.

Mark Stevenson sits on the advisory boards of Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Earth Challenge. He is also part of the future-literacy hub Atlas of the Future, the start-up Incubator and the Civilised Bank, an ethical financial organization. He recently released his new book We Do Things Differently.

 

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