« Google Talk on the ATOM | Main | ATOM Award of the Month, February 2017 »



Hi Kartik
How are you.
I would propose online education as another disruptive trend that is/has shaken the ridiculously overpriced higher education industry in the U.S. The current model of class teaching is on the ropes as 3rd party candidates are providing almost as good education via WEBex and GoToMeeting and recorded classes that could be used multiple times as opposed to a one time class visit which as we all know by now isn't efficient. The disruption I project would be in the tens of billions. Improvements are obvious in zero transport costs, zero book costs, zero high interest tuition loans, marginal online weekly/monthly subscriptions to one time payment costs which would be/are a fraction of a fraction (yes that significant) of a full scale college education. This is right now restricted to the Information technology industry and professional skills such as Nursing, dentistry but soon will be pervasive.
Please let me know your thoughts, on this.

Kartik Gada


Yes, education is already being disrupted. See full details here : http://www.singularity2050.com/2014/07/the-education-disruption-2015.html


Hello Kartik. Great Idea.

For a suggestion I put forth the humble podcast. It has been especially relevant as part of the Alt Media that had a huge pull in the rise of right wing politica in the west, most clearly with Brexit and Trump.
Several parts of it contain ATOM traits. From the declining cost of smartphones to listen on, the cameras and microphones used to record, the (often wireless) internet used to download, the SD cards for storage and even the Bluetooth headphones for listening in the gym, have combined to make them very popular, cheap to produce, widely distributed and free to consume.
Due to the long form nature of most podcasts, they have the time required to go in depth on a topic, in a way that the mainstream media with its 3 minute news segments and the 3 day news cycle don’t, podcasts offer something mainstream media cant. The MSM is often government funded and operates an infrastructure from the era of the Apollo programme , and has innovated nearly not at all in recent decades.

The huge variety of topics covered by the thousands of podcast available has allowed people to investigate and learn of ideas, concepts, memes and schools of thought that have not been openly discussed in society for 50 years. It is truly disruptive to old and outdated ways of politics, economics and social organisation. This in turn will throw off practices that are holding back the rising tide of innovation and economic growth.

The podcast audience is still quite young, so as they age and become a relatively larger voting block in years to come will their diverse and practical philosophies become evident.


The vehicular access economy (aka "sharing economy"), as typified by Uber, Lyft, Zipcar, Car2Go, Scoot (and peers in Europe), per mile auto insurance, government and for-profit bikeshare systems.

Benefits: cheaper urban mobility, less pollution, more efficient use of urban space

Industries negatively impacted: carmakers, parking providers, rental car companies, taxis.

Barriers remaining: government requirements favoring car ownership (parking requirements, minimum lot sizes, density restrictions, et al)

More generally, a good candidate should have a whole ecosystem of new entrants that attest to the durability of the disruption.

Would also be interesting to discuss sectors where disruption is ripe but notably absent. Urban housing is an obvious candidate.

(I'm an urbanist, if you couldn't tell ;))


A.M., Don’t forget AirB&B. Selling access to an underused property. I imagine one can also auction out their CPU cycles and disk space as a virtual distributed cloud backup (not very profitable, so far). Of course that would be too geek-y to have large impact on the economy. Group-on is an example of the same concept on more limited scale. Then you might throw in the crowd sourcing too. It is a similar concept. Basically shared economy, crowd/shared sourcing/pooling and shared shopping platforms.


I don't think AirB&B is all that disruptive. It's emerging more as another alternative to hotels and hostels. It's disrupting how yuppies take vacations, BFD lol. I'd bet that much of its growth is because private homes face less regulations than putting up new hotels and hostels. It's one company within the hospitality industry.

Speaking of vehicles, another source of potential disruption is the small electric vehicle market. Think something almost as small as a skateboard, capable of going 15 mph and ~20 miles on a charge. Nearly competitive with urban traffic speeds, and much cheaper and smaller. Private mass transit is also prospering in select spots.


I cannot agree, AirBnB is the same thign as Uber/Lyft but for rental. And it brings a similar flavor of disruption. The very same city council banning uber is putting licensing requirements on airbnb. The scale might be smaller but it is the same concept and same business model : be a platform, don’t own the risk and the property, don’t provide the labour. Have “partners” and “contractors” instead of employees, be a middleman when collecting the payment, have software platform, provide client/hosts feedback and rating. The only difference is the domain and some specifics.

Kartik Gada

fatcat and A.M.,

The 'zero marginal cost' economy is certainly important. While Uber/Lyft are the biggest part of it, AirBnb is also a component of it. The reason Uber is bigger is that car seats have much more spare capacity than rooms. 75% of car seats are empty during rush hour, while the number of rooms truly vacant is not as high.

But many other items can be converted into micro-rents. For example, one lawnmower can be used by 6 households, with the owner charging rent to the other five. That goes for almost anything that is not in use 95-99% of the time (a barbeque, a vacuum cleaner, etc.).

What is important is that this creates a new velocity-of-money where there was none before..


"For example, one lawnmower can be used by 6 households, with the owner charging rent to the other five. That goes for almost anything that is not in use 95-99% of the time (a barbeque, a vacuum cleaner, etc.)."

There's a very old technology that does this well - it's called an apartment :). Shared vacuums, washers, dryers, etc. Also, a park - bbqs, lawns, playgrounds, etc.

Shared facilities -> higher utilization rate. In practice, sharing household tools across homes doesn't work as a business model - transaction costs >>> utility. Even peer to peer car rental, to my surprise, has languished while corporate carsharing and Uber has taken off.

As for AirBnB, I don't disagree with any of your particulars fatcat, I just don't see it as anything revolutionary, as anything that really changes people's lives in a meaningful way. Plus private dealings with my company have showed them to be borderline unethical (mandatory currency exchange fees and another issue). And regulating AirBnB is a mediocre solution to the much bigger problem of crimping housing and hospitality construction in the first place. The surest way to advantage AirBnB is to make hotel beds cost $200+ a night.

More generally, what may look like a tech disruption is often a partly political innovation, catalyzed by new tech. Uber/Lyft fits this description - there were gypsy cabs and even similar taxi apps before, Uber/Lyft's genius was fusing the two + getting big enough fast enough to buy legal protection. Tech renders laws irrelevant or unenforceable in the face of popular demand. Also, Tesla's non-dealership showroom sales model. People credit tech as the underlying cause when it's more of a catalyst.


I think what is being missed is the concept of true disruption when raising AirBnB and uber. AirBnB or Uber are not the fantastic success they are being portrayed to be. When Uber comes back to earth, it will remind us of the heady days of market euphoria in 1999/2000. For all of Uber's and AirBnb's claims, the penetration remains at the New York, Boston and LA Level. In other major cities like Dallas or Houston, there is hardly any presence, forget the smaller cities. We Americans like to drive our cars, otherwise the bullet trains concept would have materialized decades ago. Furthermore, people simply like the convenience of driver anonymity which is why Lyft is more popular even in the cities that Uber has any true penetration. As a business traveler I prefer an executive CAR Service or a TAXI and would never take Uber if I could help it.

And the idea of AirBnb Has been around for decades in the form of timeshare, perhaps not to the extent that AirBnb allows. The fact of the matter is none of these is truly disruptive. And the idea that Americans will start sharing or renting each others lawnmowers and blowers is just silly and if I must say surprising to hear from our Brilliant (Yes, I do mean he is Brilliant and no pun intended) blogger. Even at the height of the 2008/2009 depression Americans did not resort to renting each other's lawn and hand tools. Home Depot and ACE Hardware have had rental programs going back over a decade and they have been failures to the point that the only tools people rent are High powered precision tools (which are worth thousands of dollars and only meant for commercial purposes) or the trucks. Therefore either we change the concept of disruption or we discuss truly disruptive technologies and ideas, otherwise this Intelligent blogs becomes another one of those where people just come to shoot you know what.

As Kartik mentioned above and I agree so far the only truly disruptive idea/concept that has emerged off late is the education disruption. This has a REALIZED Multi Billion impact. AND is happening now. Anyways food for thought.

Best Regards to all

Kartik Gada

Sunny gets it mostly right. The reason I don't think Uber, etc. are true ATOM disruptions *yet* is that they have not yet fully changed the model of car ownership. Plus, a Uber driver cannot yet restrict rides to match where he is going anyway (within a mile radius at each end). Hence, one cannot monetize existing commutes and errands easily.

To be a true ATOM disruption, it has to completely overhaul an existing status quo. Uber has changed maybe 5% of the car driving market, but not more, yet. When true disruption is realized, then it would be a different matter.

But I don't think lawnmower micro-renting is out of the question, as many of these bulky appliances are not needed at a density of more than 1 per 6 homes, when the owner can quickly breakeven on purchase cost from the rents. Unlike AirBnB, the renters are people he knows, and there is no personal risk like with AirBnB. The difference with that vs. Home Depot is going to and from the store is a hassle. With the neighbor, the logistics are easy. I would rather rent the lawnmower from the next door neighbor for $10/use, than own one.

Education will happen sooner, but we need to see a wave of university shutdowns and government K-12 defunding before we can say the disruption is truly underway. A few law schools have seen 20-30% drops in enrollment, but we need to see a number of Tier 3 and even Tier 2 universities just shut down permanently. There also has to be more political strength around the homeschooling/charter school movement, and price competition among private schools through use of technology and fewer teachers.


We don’t see a devastating disruption in car ownership and share economy because the transaction costs (being time, lack of standartizaiton, etc) is still too high. My friend’s wife tried to carpool with a friend to work. Same office building. Same start times. The distance between the houses was just a few blocks away. Yet it always involved 5 minutes waiting time until you synchronize. They just gave up… Now imagine the overhead of landing and recovering you stud finder/lawnmower/etc… The sharing economy has to find the right model. Uber and air B&B have found a way. But renging and driving are very easy to standardize. When you start renting tools it becomes more complicated, especially when you want to factor –in wear and tear.
The same applies to the education. We still are not there yet. You can get amazing courses online, but education is also about networking, “babysitting”, certification and building a system. A disruption is still far away. The education might get disrupted because it is getting too expensive for too little value delivered. But we are not there yet. Not even close...


On the other hand, I would like to nominate a new black horse – live extension and rejuvenation. They will disrupt the retirement funds, insurance, and continuous education. The last few days we witness a steady flow of articles. Even fox news brought attention the fact that the life expectancy in 2030 will be close to 90 y. In 5-7 years the mainstream media will start talking about how 70s promise to be new 50s. Mind that the promise will not be fulfilled in less than a decade. John Church quotes 10 years time for the first available treatments. But in 5 years time we will have a lot of promising technologies and treatments appearing and getting public attention. And with that attention they will get funding. After all if some stupid facebook game producer like zynga can get billions in valuation/ipo/acquisition , why wouldn’t a promising medical treatment.


With respect, I think you are way off on education, way off. The education disruption is here and is happening now.
Most parents have figured out that sending their kids to a 20,000-50,000 a year school is not doing the trick. When considering that most of these kids are sleeping in their parents basement or have moved back home permanently. The fact that graduating with 100,000.00$ in debt is not getting you a 36,000.00 a year job has shaken the belief in our Higher education system at its root. Consider that even top tier schools such as Duke, Columbia and yes believe it or not Harvard have discounted online MBA programs. Programs that were considered the holy grail of higher education and were until about 5 years ago considered untouchable as far as being affected by the online trend, illustrates the education disruption.
I have a friend who relatively recently graduated Law school from a second tier law school here in Texas. He will be paying his student loan back for the rest of his life. His student loan payment is bigger than his mortgage payment. AND the only reason he can afford to live in a house to begin with is because his wife has a high paying Management consulting job, and you can imagine how stable those are. And he is one of the lucky ones, a significant amount of law school graduates were/are un-employed a year after graduation. The point is people are figuring out the con finally. One could argue the con was always known. It was just not officially acknowledged because it was backed by the relative security of finding a reasonably paying job. That relative security has been blown out of the water so to say. Kids coming out of reasonable second tier schools like Texas A&M, Baylor and SMU here in Texas are struggling to find a 36,000.00 a year job and they have 100,000.00 in debt. Imagine the impact that has on a person’s psyche. The fact that this situation is only getting harder with employers refusing to spend on work training just illustrates the ineffectiveness of higher education and the resulting loss of faith in it causing therefore the disruption. Mark Cuban has called it the biggest bubble after the Bond and stock market bubble and it popped last year.
Unless things can go back to where kids coming out of college had the relative security of getting a reasonably paying job within 6 months out of school. This will only get worse and it has.
However I do agree with you on your sharing economy comments and I mentioned that in my comment above. In that sense I disagree with our super smart Blogger on his projections of a shared economy contributing to an increase money velocity.
Best Regards


Oh and networking only comes into play after you have developed a career. For all its hype LinkedIn is really more of a social networking and status site (oh look I have 300 connections) then a pure effective job locating networking site. I have yet to meet any new employee who got his first job truly through networking. If there was any networking really involved it was in the form of a job fair and you don't need to go to college to go to those. The only networking that has any effective and quantifiable leverage is if you happen to have any connections to an alumni network from a top tier school. And even there, Consider that NotreDame and Texas two of the biggest alumni networks around are unable to help their college graduates (wish I could find that article for you) and that the only truly effective alumni network is the Harvard alumni association illustrates the true disconnect in higher education. Which is, that it is essentially is a true have and have not situation, meaning either you get into a top ten or top twenty school or it doesn't matter. With that in mind, why would anyone sink 100,000.00 to 150,000.00 into higher education at a second tier school. When considering that is going to be only as effective as an online education.


Just one clarification, when I say I haven't met a single employee who got their job purely through networking. I mean their "first job", networking does come into play after you have started a career, and hence the point about the education disruption. I know lots of do nothings who are where they are in their career because they know/knew somebody. The point I was making was about first jobs and no, working at Daddy's or Mommy's or Uncle Ray's firm doesn't/shouldn't count for networking

Kartik Gada


Good debate. I would say the sharing economy is still a bit premature to be called an ATOM disruption, as true impact on GDP is yet very small (unlike fracking, which lowered what the world spends on oil from $3.7T/year to $2T/yr). But it may get there.

I am skeptical of longevity, because of the relatively tight bell curve of lifespans. i.e. only 0.1% of people who reach 100 reach 110. Plus, it assumes that humans are the indispensible species, whereas I think AI is a successor to humans or will merge with humans (with 99% being AI and 1% being human).

That said, if lifespans are to rise, the ATOM DUES is a must, because otherwise the fears about costs/incomes/retirement will be extreme.

For Feb, I have a couple of candidates in mind that will be published shortly.


Something that adds to my point about how uber is failing or has already failed:


Consider what happens to the stock price when Kartik's predictions (and I agree) happen.


As a geologist, I have found this trend fascinating and astonishing. People just don't conceive how much the drilling business has changed in the last 20 years.

What they are working on right now - it is even more amazing. Imagine drill rigs operated by only two people - in a control center miles away. The drill itself would have no mechanical parts - it will fracture the rock using lasers. Sintering of the sides of the boring will negate the need for drill pipe or casing. Cost will be fractions of what they are today.

This will change not just the oil business. Imagine laying critical cables and infrastructure hundreds of feet below the surface in a few days work. Imagine mining by simply drilling and following the ore vein below the surface without having to remove any waste rock, or even disturb the surface soils.


And since we are suggesting possible candidates for ATOM awards, I have another.

Natural gas in the united states is historically cheap. Because of that we are switching over to natural gas power, right? Nope. That is only half the story.

A little noticed trend is that the efficiency of power plants has increased dramatically in the last 25 years. The difference is so extreme, power plants built 20 years ago, with another 10-15 years of life, are ripping out and replacing their equipment. This NEVER happens in the industry. But because the new systems are so much cheaper to operate, there has been a massive shift.

Several companies have gone so far as to offer complete retrofit packages - simply bolt on systems of computers and sensors that radically reduce generation costs to any power plant.

This is why so many coal fired power plants are really going bust - not just cheap gas, but a significant reduction in generation costs, combined with increased efficiency. Many generation stations are being found to be redundant and not worth the cost to operate and maintain.

And all of this is directly relatable to the ATOM - better computers, controls, sensors, but also better designs (aided by computer modeling), management (computers) and materials (ditto).

Also this is what we are seeing more and more of - things we don't expect to be disrupted by the ATOM being very disrupted. We are beyond the phase where a new app is going to change the world - everything is changing.


Of course, another obvious nominee - Space exploration. No coincidence SpaceX was founded by a software guy.

Kartik Gada


Also this is what we are seeing more and more of - things we don't expect to be disrupted by the ATOM being very disrupted. We are beyond the phase where a new app is going to change the world - everything is changing.

This is exactly what the ATOM is about - an ever-growing share of GDP getting assimilated into rapidly progressing (and hence deflating) technology. It is currently 2% of world GDP, and rising.

Based on what you are saying, oil really can never go above $70 again for any sustained period. Fracking has not even begun outside of the US at this point. Canada alone has at least as much new supply as the US discovered through fracking.

Stephen murray

Hey, geoman, good to see another geologist! I am working here in my country's Geological survey, and they are going into drones in a big way for aerial mapping. I guess it must be ten times cheaper to fly a drone with a magnetometer/camera/gravimeter then the old way of hiring a plane or helicopter to do it.

I guess the next step would be undersea autonomous drones for seabed surveys, or even drones than can land and sample the soil (or even make a small drill sample) and then return the sample for geochemical analysis. Possibilities seem endless.

Even the data collection is massively improved, as not even 2 decades ago it was all transcribed onto paper, with all the time and waste that entailed. I am currently going through their old historical core storage shed and using google forms on a tablet connected via a dongle to the internet to update the core database. It simple in this way go through through the warehouse and mark what is present or missing, and i can even take a photo with the built in camera as needed. Several elements of this did not even exist 5 years ago, and yet now its idiot proof and very cheap.

the ATOM is everywhere, even in rocks!


We have been using drones as well. Helicopter services have been suffering as a result.

I agree Kartik - I think oil is bounded between maybe $20 to $80. Probably a long term stable price of $30 to $50. But I think the upper end is being eroded. $80 now, $70 in 2020, $60 in 2030...

Imagine you are Saudi Arabia. You have to decide a) pump like crazy to monetize as much of the oil you have now, since it is a wasting asset or b) not pump and try to let scarcity drive up the price for the oil you do pump.

I think they have tried both solutions - neither has had the desired effect. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

Kartik Gada


The fragility of the 'Greedy Sheikhs' of the Persian Gulf is higher than people think. For one thing, it costs one-seventh as much to build a skyscraper there than in the US, because they use near-slave labor from Pakistan and Bangladesh. While the local wage for Saudis and Emiratis (if they even did this sort of work) might be $500/day, these imported workers, which have no rights in the country they are working in, and are not even allowed to leave the construction site and camp, are paid $20/day, only because that is better than they get in Pakistan and Bangladesh.

Now that OPEC has less money, the countries that were big importers of oil (like India, etc.) have more money, and locals get higher wages, shrinking the pool of near-slave labor available to the gulf. Once the Sheikhs see the wages the laborers can get increase, even as the money available to pay them shrinks, then another domino effect starts. When the $20/day rises to $30, $40, $50/day, while what the Sheikhs can afford falls from $500/day to $400, $300, etc. one of the most unjust labor arbitrages in the world will correct.

I can't wait for Canadian fracking to begin...

Stephen murray

One of the main exports after oil from the Petro arab states has been human misery. If low oil price causes them to collapse, maybe the west can spend less on pointless wars and domestic security. These spare resources pour into the ATOM instead.

On that note, how far are the gulf states from ATOM critical mass for a dues type situation? They have the appearance of high ATOM levels, skyscrapers, internet connectivity, etc, but I wonder about a genuine culture of innovation?


I agree completely. Such a small area, yet a proud exporter of so much human misery.

There are a couple of escape mechanisms for Saudis 1) they can become utterly insular, hording their money and dropping from the world stage. 2) they can liberalize and reform, trying to become more like the UAE. This might involve a close embrace of Israel, a vibrant tech leader in the region. Unfortunately I don't think they are wise enough to choose either, and are likely to irresponsibly spend down their cash until they implode.

It is easy to lump all the Arab countries together without noticing some rather extreme differences between them. Some will make it. Some will not.

Stephen Murray

Yes, with petro islam dwindling behind them and western nations growing weary of their antics in front, Islamasicts will have a tough choice, modernize or become an irrelevant cult in the rearward of humanity.

The ATOM brings peace too it seems

Kartik Gada

Stephen Murray,

Oh, yes. Read this article for how economic growth (and trade) generate peace (the ATOM being the fuel of economic growth) :


The ATOM can accelerate economic growth, which will reduce warfare further.


Can, but won't.

One thing the ATOM is doing is destroying culture. Or rather, putting it all in a giant blender and homogenizing it. Traveling around the world, over many years, I have been struck by how similar many far-flung regions are becoming: society, arts, culture, distinctiveness.

The problems is that not all cultures are willing, or able, to allow themselves to be "assimilated" by the ATOM. In such cases the ATOM actually increases hostility, warfare, and tensions between those willing to assimilate and those who will not. People will fight for land, territory, economics. But they will also fight for culture, to keep their way of life from being extinguished. The ATOM promises to do just that - extinguish unique cultures. Destroy traditions.

It is not going to all be smooth sailing. Not everyone is going to make it through the rough times ahead, and what emerges from the other side may have no resemblance to what went in. I think at the end of the day, we may be very surprised who and who doesn't make it. People say "we'll be fine", but I always ask "who is we?"

Kartik Gada


Yes, the ATOM creates more homogeneity, since the diffusion of each new technology becomes faster.
Yes, the ATOM hence erases some old traditions, which leads some people to resist, even violently.

But remember that :

Not all customs were good. Many were regressive. Many people have very selective interpretations of what their heritage was.
Not all cultural elements of the past were worth saving.
The number of people dying from warfare continues to decline as a general trendline.

While the process is messy and uneven, the only real metric is rising human development (of which rising life expectancy and rising per-capita GDP are components). It is true that instances of two-steps-forward-one-step-back get obscured by broader trendline.


I agree - we will all be assimilated. Resistance is futile.

Things that are good, as well as bad, are getting disrupted. Many good customs, trends, behaviors, are also going to get destroyed. This is a fire sale - everything must go. Just look at the last election.

The problem, long term, is going to be stability. As the ATOM moves us toward the technological singularity, the pace of change will increase. We may not be able to adapt our society fast enough to cope.

The ATOM doesn't care about good and bad. Just progress. Not only can't we smash the looms, they may well rise up and smash us.

Not to be a downer. In the end it will probably be for the best. And, frankly, there is not a thing we can do to stop it. But there is a dark side to all this as well. It might not be the end of civilization, but it might be the end of me and you.

I imagine a world of technological wonders, and everyone lives inside of boring malls and office complexes. Everyone has enough, and no one has anything to do.



They'll keep falling and falling.

Anthony Scalzi

I'm not sure if I entirely trust this, due to its advertorial nature, but here's another example of new computation driven tech unlocking previously stranded oil formations, this time in heavy oil fields with low pressure, including tar sands. Supposedly, the tech uses acoustic impulses sent down the well bore to lower oil viscosity and increase rock permeability.


CAS-003 test questions answers

This is a Nice and informative Post. I would like to suggest you that please keep sharing such type of information.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)