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🛰 The World-Sized Robot, The Tip of the Iceberg, The Vanishing Point - IOP Observatory #11

January 31 · Issue #11 · View online
The VUCA Observatory
Well, where do we start? If your predominant framework through which to look at the world happens to be “disruption”, the last week certainly was something to behold. The turbulence was worse than even the pessimists suspected. And to be frank, it feels a bit peculiar to try to focus on technology and strategy at times like these, when things so much bigger are at stake.
But then again, when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. And so here we are. Let’s try to make the best out of it and prevent the worst, shall we?

Policy & Research
On the eve of another executive order, this time concerned with “Cyber Security”, it seems befitting to investigate the impact and possible vulnerabilities of the systems we building. To set the scene, Bruce Schneier is expanding his work on IoT security and the need for regulation. His core argument, “We no longer have things with computers embedded in them. We have computers with things attached to them.” which concludes that every aspect of security now necessarily has an IT security angle is compelling indeed. The question remains how such regulation might look like. Gilad Rosner published a piece on Privacy and the Internet of Things, which provides a well-sourced and -argued overview over the challenges ahead. Especially with the deterioration of trans-atlantic relations, we’re monitoring the developments around Privacy Shield, due to enter into force tomorrow. This is something that businesses need to pay attention to. Given these developments, calls for a “Social and Ethical” IoT feel like a trailing indicator.
Connected Devices
The Economist, which a while ago made the case for the economic, not technical, end of Moore’s law provides a good overview over the distributed future of computing, which isn’t necessarily bound by discrete products. In the same vein, a16z’s Peter Levine has a compelling presentation around the “End of Cloud Computing.” This edge-first strategy of computing is arguably already employed by Apple. Related to these, the Verge looks at new interaction methods that fit that world. And where do we see that play out right now?  The LSE takes a look at the Internet of Toys.
Cars, cars, cars
Onwards, onto mobility. Where Toyota argues for a more nuanced understanding of the challenges that lie ahead in the quest for full autonomy, and we have another research point showing us just how poor us humans are at taking back control from machines. Given these challenges in the transition towards more autonomous systems, you might think that more international collaboration would be fruitful. Yet, it seems we’re observing the first shocks of what might turn into a full blown trade-war earth quake centred on mobility. And to add to the uncertainty, KPMGs latest executive survey of the industry depicts a sector scrambling to make sense of the impact of new technologies.
Energy & Industry
Bank Underground, the Blog from the Bank of England (which often makes for highly compelling reads for a, admittedly, very specific kind of audience) has an interesting piece looking at the valuation impacts of climate change. The gist: the overwhelming majority of energy firms’ valuations derive from future earnings, which, given the uncertainty around climate change and the pace of renewables, might not be discounted properly to reflect that risk, or, in other words: energy firms’ are overvalued and a major correction might happen soon. With widespread ramifications across the financial sector. And here you were, hoping for some good news. Relatedly, BP published its annual Energy Outlook, and even they see coal demand as peaking. Someone should tell a certain administration. Speaking of which, in what now appears as more of an academic exercise, the outgoing Obama administration tasked the Treasury with an analysis of the possible implementation and impact of a carbon tax.
The Strange, Weird, and Interesting
End note
As always, if you have feedback, please let me know at And if you find something that should go into next weeks newsletter, send it my way!
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