« More ATOM Proof Piles Up | Main | Comment of the Year - 2020 »

Comments

informative

Oil companies are facing a credit crunch as a result of the Pandemic:
https://wolfstreet.com/2020/11/01/what-us-oil-companies-face-the-wtf-collapse-of-consumption-of-gasoline-jet-fuel-from-long-term-weakness/#comment-296712

So as it occurs there will be less oil available than it would have been without the pandemic.

This will form an impetus for change.

Fatcat

While there are many problems with remote work it was possible even 20 years ago. I did some gigs in 2002 communicating mainly by email.

For what really bothers me today is that I don't have a stylus on the corporate vpn and it is a PITA to draw quickly something. It turns out, our team doen't use video often. Just voice and screen sharing.

So the barriers to remote working were mainly due the mindset and attitude. All the office work were the results have to be stored on a computer can be performed remotely (there might be some consideration for secret clearance certification and such) .

Now the pandemic has shown that remoting is a perfectly viable option. For me the biggest negative is that I have gained 20 lbs since it is to easy to skip the planned stroll and the fridge is not far...

Kartik Gada

fatcat,

So the barriers to remote working were mainly due the mindset and attitude.

This is almost always the case. This inertia prevents a critical mass of users going into the new paradigm. It breaks when there is either a disruptive event, or the cost delta becomes just too large.

To be fair, Cisco's telepresence in 2007 was something that still cost $300,000 to install, and $3000/month to run. They invested $6B into creating that market, and got almost nothing out. Now, Zoom is free (even if not of the highest quality). There were many other solutions, but Zoom won the 'winner take all' aspect of technology in this instance.

The same will eventually happen with college degrees. The necessary next step is for employers to say they don't require it.

Fatcat

In 2010 my job has some of those Cisco videoconference rooms . They were nice but didn't bring much more benefits than talking over the phone. And for sure the expensive setups were too expensive to justify. Of you are avoiding it reducing an executive flight that cold be huge savings. But too expensive for the majority of workers. A webcam even 10 years ago was pretty cheap, and is needed when you have to read facial expressions or body language. However, the moment you present something people have to look at the pretension not as at the face. There are some youtubers that take more than half of the screen and write something tiny on a board. In those cases I don't want to see the face.

Of course the workflow has to be adapted and be mobile first. Of you have 5 pertains in a room and somebody dials in and barely hears and doesn't see anything it is a failure.

Same applies for teaching. The lectures can be recorded and only questions and answers have to be real time.
There's a higher expectations recording and presentation quality. It is more effort for the teachers but once a be well done class is recorded it can viewed by millions. And video interactions can be limited only to refinements, be exercises and dialogues.

It is a different approach and mindset. I think that the main stream subjects should have the classes recorded as TV shows, where you invest a lot of effort in one episife5 but it gets amortized over many (millions of?) students .
For now we're are at an amateur level where ready school and professor are trying to setup something different.

Kartik Gada

fatcat,

The lectures can be recorded and only questions and answers have to be real time.

Of course. Particularly when the Q&A can be in message board format, where other students answer the question, on top of the 24/7 nature of such a moderated message board. There is thus no problem of scale where one class has 10,000 students.

Udemy classes, of the duration of a typical college full-semester class, often cost just $10-$12.

Of you are avoiding it reducing an executive flight that cold be huge savings.

This is where the critical mass aspect of Zoom was necessary. The typical corporate executive was flying 200,000 miles/year. At this level, this had to be business class or first class. This was extremely expensive and time-consuming. Every international flight killed two weekends.

Kartik Gada

Here is a chart for just US skyscraper completions, over 150m in height, since 2001 :

http://www.skyscrapercenter.com/compare-data/submit?type%5B%5D=building&base_region=0&base_country=163&base_city=0&base_height_range=3&base_company=All&base_min_year=2001&base_max_year=2022&comp_region=0&comp_country=0&comp_city=0&comp_height_range=4&comp_company=All&comp_min_year=0&comp_max_year=9999&skip_comparison=on&output%5B%5D=timeline&dataSubmit=Show+Results

Geoman

Add one more thought into the experiment - full self driving and integrated vehicular telecommunications. A 75 mile commute is nothing if you can sleep, eat, watch tv or work in complete comfort the whole way.

One fascinating thing is the recent surge in relocations from New York to Philadelphia, where a beautiful home can be bought for a fraction of the price. Once a week commuting has become the norm from there.

My own company has been creating national and international teams to do work for about a decade now. I see my boss in person every year or two. I've managed projects in Canada and Japan. We do it all the time.

This is a critical juncture for cities. They can no longer count on people "putting up" with gross mismanagement. They need to work very hard to be safe, have lots to do, lots of culture. Allowing rioters "space to destroy" is simply not acceptable. Unending lockdowns are also are an issue. People only need to live in the big cities due to amenities. Absent those... I'd like to think that this situation will force better city government.

I also appreciate you nod toward the government getting out of the way and letting buildings reorient toward new markets. If an office building wants to convert to residential, why does the government think it should get a say, other than basic health and safety requirements? And having downtown core with more residents should be something desirable.

Geoman

One last thing to add - I have three kids in college, and I'd say the distance learning has been a mixed bag. Some professors excel at it, and other are simply terrible. Colleges REALLY need to start working with professors on their distance learning management skills. Just simple things like proper camera and sound management, using the screen to present correctly, and posting and updating course instructions.

These are things any business would get fixed immediately, but they are taking universities weeks to notice and correct.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

full self driving and integrated vehicular telecommunications. A 75 mile commute is nothing if you can sleep, eat, watch tv or work

Yes, but I believe that is not fully mature and mass-adopted until 2032, or 12 more long years to go.

One fascinating thing is the recent surge in relocations from New York to Philadelphia, where a beautiful home can be bought for a fraction of the price.

Philadelphia is not even the nearest point. There are more rural parts of PA that are even nearer to NYC. But Philadelphia to NYC can be done via train. The key is more choice.

They can no longer count on people "putting up" with gross mismanagement.

Ideologically, they are going in the opposite direction. I can think of few ways to destroy a city faster than to 'defund the police'. All criminals from surrounding cities will go to where the police has been defunded. It is merely an ad for open season on marks.

Yet, both Seattle and Portland are going into full-on socialism. AOC was delighted that she deterred Amazon from bringing 40,000 jobs to NYC. Full and total bankruptcy of cities, leading to these entrenched socialists losing their jobs, it the only answer.

One fascinating thing is the recent surge in relocations from New York to Philadelphia, where a beautiful home can be bought for a fraction of the price.

Permitting restrictions are the problem. I completely foresee a San Francisco that still has an extreme housing shortage, while a huge amount of office and retail space is boarded up.

Some professors excel at it, and other are simply terrible.

Different skillsets for the new medium will sort this out. Remember that most professors dislike teaching, and are more concerned with research. They only teach because they are required to do a certain minimum.

If Udemy, Coursera, and others have mature video platforms, then the pressure for usage to migrate away from expensive institutions towards these solutions rises.

Geoman

Ask yourself - If you didn't have to work there, would you still live there?

Every city will face this existential crises. If the answer is "no" the city will die. If the answer is "yes", the city will thrive.

Every city desperately needs to get to "yes".

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

Every city desperately needs to get to "yes".

City government is running full speed in the opposite direction. I can think of few things that can destroy a city's economic core more than 'defund the police' and '$15/hr minimum wage' policies. Recovery could take years, even if such policies were immediately relented from (which isn't happening).

Cities going bankrupt is not a new thing, nor a very big deal. Each socialist should have to work in a real job after bankruptcy.

The question is, what if the biggest state, CA, goes bankrupt? How would that manifest?

Geoman

Not every city is following the same destructive path. Imagine every city realizing they need to be essentially resort destinations. Not really, but they need to *think* in those terms.

Bankruptcy happens slowly, then all at once. Let's see,

1) California finds it's ability to raise additional taxes to be decreasing. Whatever they do, no additional money come is.

2) You start to see negative migration from the state. Preferentially high income earners and retirees.

3) Housing prices start to fall, slowly at first, then precipitously. But starting at the high end.

4) Several major employers begin to bail, or fail to expand.

5) Bonds have a tough time finding buyers, even at competitive interest rates.

6) The state starts to cut costs, but finds too much of their budget is wound up in servicing debt, including pensions.

7) Services decline and keep going down.

One problem with states is they will limp along, financially crippled, for years, maybe decades. Everyone will keep hoping for a federal bailout, which will never come. It CAN'T come. because if you bail out one state, every other state will stick out their hand and say "hey, how about us?"

California and Michigan are in deep trouble, as is New York. But Illinois is the farthest down the hole of any state. I see no possible pathway to recovery unless they radically reduce debt.

I would predict that the path forward would be Federal money, but coupled with specific changes to the Illinois constitution. Likely something that gets rid of fixed benefit pensions, makes everything pay/go, and limits the government take to a certain % of the total state GDP. Maybe something that limits the public initiative process as well. If not enough money is produced via taxes, automatic cuts ensue. And the feds would negotiate a haircut for the bond and pension holders.

One of the best things our city ever did was institute a tax cap. Income to the city can only increase a certain small % each year. Amazing how that has clarified the situation with the city leaders. We also went to a defined contribution plan for city workers. very hard for the city to ever get too far down the debt hole using those two tools, and I think it would work well for states.

Palamas

Geo, much to your chagrin, you'll be amused to know that I grew up in the Land of Lincoln. Now you know for sure that I am what I say I am.

Yes, it is a joke. And what's going to happen? My buddy Chris Cole knows, maybe Kartik knows him too. The Fed is going to attempt to monetize this foolishness. It is, after all, a generational war. How else would idiots vote for a corpse, even halfway, with all the fraud. It's because (just like you treat me) people are not just stupid, they are easily manipulated. And the elites found out how to successfully do this in the 20th century; technology just sealed the deal.

I think we all agree politically. I actually really like you guys, and I know you are intelligent. But on many issues you lack wisdom. I know why this is, actually, but it's irrelevant to posting here.

I made my predictions. War and inflation within 13 years.

It's time to make some real predictions in that time period. I'm waiting. No excuses. No AI bullshit either, it's all crap. Radiologists will be out of a job right? Ha, just like Andrew Yang, Raoul Pal, and all the other "experts" who are really smart guys but like you all, dance in other fields you know nothing about. Reminds me of Lebron James talking about politics. Halo effect - smart people should be aware of it, and be humbled.

But that's why I'm here. You seem to gloss over these obvious things.

Geoman

Palamas - I can't follow what you are saying. Given I'm a reasonably smart guy, that should trouble you.

What "obvious things" are we glossing over?

What do you mean by "AI Bullshit"?

War? War with whom over what? Civil war, war with China, or war with AIs?

Why do you think I lack "wisdom"? You say you know "why" that is true. Ok, why?

The fed will monetize what exactly? You mean technological deflation or something else?

What political leaning do you suppose I have? If someone were to ask me who I vote for, I usually say "competence". Whether that is an R or a D, and I, or even an L doesn't overly concern me. Part of competence is knowing that the tools you have are inadequate for the job, say an electrician trying to do plumbing with a wire cutter.

Kartik Gada

Palamas,

I made my predictions. War and inflation within 13 years.

That is not a prediction. That is very vague and open-ended. Plus, you didn't provide detail about whether there would be QE or not, or what level of money-printing would or would not still exist. Fail.

It's time to make some real predictions in that time period. I'm waiting. No excuses.

This entire website has a ton of predictions by me, and others have made predictions in the comments. It is you who can't make a single one.

Radiologists will be out of a job right?

A CTRL+F of this website does not reveal a single instance of the word 'radiologist' in any main article. So this, too, is an untruth insinuated by you.

AI will certainly increase radiology efficiency, which means lower cost and more frequent testing, leading to more early detections. That does not mean 'radiologists will not have jobs'. Too bad you can't even grasp the difference between the two.

But that's why I'm here.

Not anymore, you're not.

Geoman

I assume Palamas has been banned? Probably for the best. I have enormous patience, but at some point talking in cutesy riddles becomes tiresome.

Back to the topic at hand - I think California has decades of mismanagement ahead of it before bankruptcy. They just aren't far enough down the hole, not for lack of digging. There is a lot of ruin in a state - it takes time to break a money machine that has taken a century to build. It also has a wealth of natural resources, things like good weather, ports and harbors, hydropower, farmland, etc. Things very hard to completely destroy.

And there is cultural inertia. Too much total wealth is tied up in *believing*. A lot like a Ponzi scheme - it only fails when the dream dies with the new suckers.

The process of California failing has been going on for the last 30 years or so, and they have another generation at least till they hit rock bottom. And technological innovation (which California is a leader) will continue fixing the problems California stupidity creates. Can they fix it faster than they break it? Maybe. Normally I'd say no, but..? for example, they have not been investing in infrastructure. But EVs and the boring company may make such investment irrelevant.

And people don't count lost growth - lost potential. They can't visualize it. They won't ever realize that California, a rich state, could easily be twice as wealthy in 20 years - it'll just stay as wealthy as it is now, and rapidly decline respective to other areas. They won't realize what a terrible backslide that is from what could have been.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

I assume Palamas has been banned? Probably for the best. I have enormous patience, but at some point talking in cutesy riddles becomes tiresome.

Yes. No one has been banned from this blog since 2012, and even that was Imran banning people from his far more controversial articles. The technology-oriented articles have never had someone who needed to be banned before.

_________________________________________


Back to the topic at hand - I think California has decades of mismanagement ahead of it before bankruptcy.

You are probably right. But their craziness seems to be exponential. The state tax rate in CA was not truly excessive until 2012. Up to that point, the top bracket was 9.3%, which is high, but not an outlier relative to other high-tax states. In 2012, they ratcheted it up to 13.3% and now want to go to 16.3%, even as Zoom has accelerated the exodus. Hence, the squeeze from both ends has been increased.

Ironically, a budget bankruptcy might make the private sector of the state (still the envy of the world) do better just from the relief effect.

And people don't count lost growth - lost potential. They can't visualize it.

Yes. And now that the gradient of progress is so steep, underperformance can still mean minimal growth, which keeps people placated.

CA voters are not as crazy as the rest of the country thinks, since Prop 16 was defeated 60:40 despite the proponents outspending the opponents 16:1. The good thing about the Prop system is that it is party-less, so works well within Asian voter cognitive dissonance.


Geoman

For every success of the prop system, there is a dismal failure as well. I used to be a fan of propositions. Then I realized how the system has been hijacked by really terrible people. Now I vote "no" on almost all of them, and the better funded the "yes" campaign, the more likely my "no" vote is.

Prop 16 was a classic example of a terrible idea - they had a proposition to allow more racial discrimination. And they promise, promise, not to abuse it. You can't make up a more insane concept to put on the ballot in 2020.

Kartik Gada

On skyscraper construction, tons of pipeline projects that have not been kicked off yet, or are in the early stages, are being postponed or cancelled.

This is a mistake, since it is an attempt to constrain supply in the face of technological disruption. This has never worked in any other sector.

They should keep building, but focus on fighting for a mix adjustment (more residential in the place of commercial). Let people's apartments be 20% bigger.

Geoman

https://fee.org/articles/new-yorkers-are-abandoning-the-big-apple-in-droves-despite-cheaper-rent-report-shows/

Well worth a read, and very relevant.

I think converting commercial into residential means flexibility in who you rent to - it opens the market to lots of players.

Instead of tele commuting, imagine working from home, but if you have an important meeting, zipping downstairs to a rented meeting room. or having a business center in the building for printing, work supplies...and companies could subsidize your rent, for people working from home, in lieu of providing office space. Most office building could then be a mix of offices and residential, and move back and forth as the market dictates. And just think about how much of the housing shortage that would alleviate.

But it begs the question - why zone skyscrapers at all? Let them rent to anyone they want for any purpose. What is the value of government saying this building is commercial, and this is residential?

Kartik Gada

But it begs the question - why zone skyscrapers at all? Let them rent to anyone they want for any purpose. What is the value of government saying this building is commercial, and this is residential?

In California, this sort of zoning is very strict, mainly to create artificial scarcity of residential property.

To be fair, it is not easy to convert an office building into residential since the piping and bathrooms are all different.

Chinese buyers just force past this, though, starting 'tech accelerators' where their Chinese workers just live on site.

In the 1970s, Chinatown had 7x the population density of the rest of San Francisco, so this format is normal.

Dr. P

Are you really going to not allow my predictions?

-CPI goes over 4% by the end of next year.

-Government backed loans increase in order to create more money and velocity, unlike that attempts with QE which have failed at that

-BTC continues to climb, network effects will push it beyond 50k along with institutions, adoption, excitement, and the impending loss of control governments have over confidence in their fiats

-Pensions also have to go to the Fed well more and more, which will continue the degradation in trust in US treasuries (more confidence game issues).

Is that enough? What are yours?

Kartik Gada

Heh. Palamas changed his IP Address and his handle to get around the ban.


At least he finally made predictions (partly), and that too only after being banned. He had dodged a dozen prior requests to actually make predictions.

The one prediction of sufficient detail he has made is :

-CPI goes over 4% by the end of next year.

This will be wrong, but we will see. A brief single-month blip does not count. It has to be above 4% for an extended period.

This prediction also does not tie to any specific amount of World QE. There is a level of QE at which this CPI increase can happen, but as Palamas did not specify this, this prediction is not sufficient to quantify (let alone disprove) the technological deflation effect.

The other partial prediction he made is :

-BTC continues to climb, network effects will push it beyond 50k along with institutions, adoption, excitement, and the impending loss of control governments have over confidence in their fiats

This one has *some* chance of happening, but as there is no timeframe, it is not a sufficiently specific prediction. I am not a fan of Bitcoin as the various Bitcoin enthusiasts are unable to explain why it is better than a composite of all cryptos, even though it is the most technologically obsolete of all cryptos (its ledger does not even allow smart contracts).

But as there is no timeframe, it does not meet the standard of a prediction. I can say that 'the S&P500 will reach 10,000', but without a year given, that is meaningless. Of course it reaches that someday.

The other two are not predictions by any definition as there is no number or timeframe associated with them.

What are yours?

LOL! As if this entire website doesn't have tons of my predictions, with considerable specificity (unlike yours).

This type of haughty pretense in every comment contributed to Palamas being banned.

We will revisit his ONE real quasi-prediction next year, at which time his ban will be temporarily lifted so he can make a statement.

Dr. P

Kartik,

Why can't I just make the CPI prediction? Ok, at least you are ok with that standing.

As for the BTC prediction, I'm saying $50k by the end of 2021.

The other prediction I had before that you ignored was China starting a war within 12 years, or through 2032. My best guess is it involving Japan or Taiwan (or both) to draw in the USA.

What are your top 3 predictions that are standing for the decade or at most 15 years? We don't be around for the Kurzweil stuff.

Geoman

I hear a faint buzzing sound...Palamas? Is that you dear doctor? nah.

"To be fair, it is not easy to convert an office building into residential since the piping and bathrooms are all different."

BP built a very large building in Alaska, each office with a private bathroom. So when they leave it could be converted to a hotel or apartments.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

BP built a very large building in Alaska, each office with a private bathroom. So when they leave it could be converted to a hotel or apartments.

But that was already built that way. The problem is that existing skyscrapers in NYC and other big cities are overwhelmingly office space, and cannot be converted easily. The tallest West Coast buildings such as the Salesforce Tower or AON Center aren't remotely fitted for conversion to apartments.

Maybe each floor becomes 2-3 huge loft-style conversions for very wealthy tenants, given the low bathroom ratio. But still.

Chinese tenants might be the only factor that enables normalization.

Geoman

Oh, my point was you COULD build that way, and some buildings have done already it.

Buildings currently under construction might want to add that additional flexibility. During construction of a large building the cost might be a fairly negligible add on, and it reduces the risk that large parts of the building might sit empty for extended periods. I guess I'm saying there are no barrier to why future buildings couldn't be constructed this way.

It would be fascinating to see a major city lift all zoning restrictions on what can go into a major commercial development. Just to see what happens. The retrofit of older buildings might be difficult - but nothing is impossible, and some might be converted easier than others.

Geoman

Palamas,

My prediction is you will get banned from this site for a second time.


{Right! - KG}

Kartik Gada

Palamas,

You can keep changing your handle and your IP address (you are now up to four), but you have been banned. As I said, in a year, we will note if your one, incomplete prediction about the CPI happens. Then, if you return, a comment will be allowed.

But otherwise, no more comments from you will be published. This multiple-IP address trick won't work.

If you are baffled as to why you have been banned, well, look at your past comments, which have been nothing but haughtiness, condescension, and a complete disrespect for knowledge that others contribute (while contributing none yourself). Perhaps some self-awareness is in order.

If you truly believe you are so much smarter than everyone else here, then it makes no sense for you to grant us this unearned privilege. You should find a website more compatible with your vast intellect.

Geoman

Breaks my heart, since I prefer people to grow, change, and improve, but not enough to want him back.

No worries - Perhaps there is a chat bot somewhere he can argue with.

Dr. P

Ok, see you in a year.

Joe Blow

And right on cue:

"These Algorithms Could Bring an End to the World’s Deadliest Killer
In rural India and other places where tuberculosis is rampant, A.I. that scans lung X-rays might eliminate the scourge."

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/20/health/tuberculosis-ai-apps.html

Kartik Gada

More data about the exodus from San Francisco :

https://www.sfchronicle.com/business/article/Yes-people-are-leaving-San-Francisco-After-15635160.php

Geoman

The macro trend is for big cites that don't provide a clean, safe, and healthy environment, to die. Some will die slowly, others much faster. One day, people will look around and wonder, how did this city become such a ruin?

I grew up loving S.F. I dreamed of living there someday. I would routinely visit there in the late 1970s, to early 1990s. One of the most beautiful cities in the world. Terrific food. Great history. And just...fun.

Now, if money were no object, would I live there? Nope. For one, I object to overpaying for things to such a disgusting degree. Secondly, I don't want to deal with rampant homelessness, drug abuse, dirty streets, crazy rules, etc. If I can't get out and enjoy the city, what's the point? Do I want to live there, locked up like the prisoner of Zenda? Why would I agree to that? SF is lovely, but so are many cities. Why not chose one that is safe and clean? I can telecommute anywhere. Technology makes that easier every day.

If I live more remote, I can have a large home, and get free power from solar cells on the roof. SpaceX star link promises I can get full internet anywhere. I'll miss the food and culture, but in exchange I get to feel safe, clean, and free. Plus the internet means, well, I get a certain amount of culture anyway. And I'm more safe from things like COVID19.

Jenny

I we spin this Zoom evolution further we will be in fully virtual reality some day. Much like the holodeck I wonder whether people will still be motivated to work. Or we will see holodeck addicts (imagine what a loner would do there).

Jenny

I had a different thought, and please feel free to delete it if I should not digress too much:
What would have popped the housing bubble if not for the FED increasing rates? Would we have seen fracking earlier, I am not sure.

Kartik Gada

Hello Jenny,

If the Federal Reserve had not increased rates 2004-07, the bubble would have had a later and less steep decline. The fact that they lowered rates so quickly after raising them indicates that the Federal Reserve does not know what they are doing.

Fracking : That has little to do with interest rates. 99% of the factor there was Brent Oil was $110+ for several years, attracting innovation into alternatives.

I predicted this for oil in 2011 and even going back to 2006 :
https://www.singularity2050.com/2011/07/the-end-of-petrotyranny.html

Geoman

Hey Jenny,

Every problem can be reduced to energy, time, atoms, and information. And you can trade them off in various ways. Much of our engineering is just figuring out the best trade offs between the four components. And our access to information is increasing exponentially. And that means the inputs of time, atoms, and energy can be reduced - information takes their place. And information is getting cheaper.

That is the source of all technological deflation. Time passes at the same pace. Atoms - the number of atoms on Earth is not subject to change. I'm not sure energy costs have decreased. Nope, only information is increasing.

With fracking, we simply added a lot more information to the system. That reduced the time, energy, and atoms necessary to create the same output. I tell people all the time - fracking is OLD technology. We've been doing it for decades. Maybe a century. Horizontal drilling started in the 1980s. What changed was computers and sensors were able to guide the drill bits more precisely, with less people, AND we were able to more accurately model the impacts of fracking. We could see and understand what was happening in the subsurface. That meant the input of time, energy, and atoms could be vastly reduced. To a point where fracking became cheap and productive.

Look at oil - it is just time, information, energy and atoms. Oil in the ground is created using all of these things, but with very low information input, low energy, but LOTS of time. Millions of years. I could do the same thing with a nuclear reactor, sucking in air and water and creating synthetic oil, replacing the time with energy and information.

Look at SpaceX - tail landing rockets. That was proposed in the 1950s, but never done. Why? Because we didn't have the sensors or computers to precisely control the rocket. We didn't until 2010 or so. It was always possible, but time, atoms and energy could not compensate for the lack of information. In fact the time input (millisecond precision) was fixed, and atoms and energy alone could not compensate. A higher information input was necessary.

Tall building can sway in the wind. To control sway, we built them bigger - using more atoms. But there are two other ways to reduce sway, better design (more information on how wind and tall structures interact) or active dampening systems (use information and energy to compensate). Both reduce the number of atoms necessary to control the problem.

There are hundreds of similar examples, once you start to think about them.

Each advance in human history was about changing the inputs. When humans discovered fire (input energy from wood), or when they finished the periodic table (input new atoms), or when they discovered how to use fossil fuels (input new energy), or society advanced rapidly. They could increase the input of energy and atoms. That reduced the necessary input of time. But now we have a forth ingredient, information, replacing energy and matter. That forth ingredient always existed, we were just largely unaware of it (how to make a fire, where to find the atoms, how to extract and refine oil). And for a huge section of human history, it didn't increase very much.

Now it is, and everything is being recalculated. Information gives us more atoms (say, finding new mineral deposits) and energy (say, better solar panels), and at the same time requires we need less of both. Information even compresses time - think of medicine, where, prior to very recently, new drugs were developed by trial and error. That required a huge input of time. With designer drugs (made possible with information), that time input can be reduced substantially.

Geoman

An estimated 337,000 fewer workers were employed by America’s institutions of higher education, according to a release by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. At no point since the bureau began keeping industry tallies in the late 1950s have colleges and universities ever shed so many employees so quickly.

Higher education employment has tumbled down to the same level as 2008. Schools are dropping numerous liberal arts majors.

I think this qualifies as a prediction proven correct.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

That is awesome, if it is truly a structural change.

Then again, if employment has only tumbled down to 2008 levels (rather than 1980, which would be better), that indicates how much of a parabolic curve their bloat was in.

Are they experiencing what Uber did to Taxi Medallions?

https://futurist.typepad.com/.a/6a00d83452455969e201bb09b099bb970d-pi

I think this qualifies as a prediction proven correct.

Perhaps. The real question is whether post-Covid, there is no return to previous levels.

Geoman

Just anecdotally, I know a history professor at a small liberal arts college. Their incoming class of freshmen is typically 300-400. This year it was...25.

1,600 students, paying $40k per year, that is $64 million.

Since their intake this year was just 25 student, now they have 1,225 students, and $49 million in income. That is a huge whack. And that whack will persist for four years. And you can't raise costs and risk degrading your numbers further, especially when everyone got the same whack. Your inclination instead is to cut costs and discount, to attract at least some paying customers. But every college is going to do that.

Colleges with large endowments will do fine, but these third tier guys...I don't know how they survive.

Drew

I think that there will be a culling of colleges. And colleges do take more start up resources than a restaurant. But I still think the sign of the transition will be if restaurants come back but colleges don't. Or in snarkier terms, if past the Covid streaming experience, amusement parks for children recover, but amusement parks for adolescent's don't.

Drew

And of course there is that famous description of San Francisco as Disenyland for adults and the Covid/riot impact on luxury cities that we will also track for how well streaming and deliveries can match.

Jenny

Thank you all for the answers so far. As always I have to digest them a bit.

With regards to higher education: 2U seems to be a favorite of ARK, but they only work with colleges not thinking about alternatives, right?

Kartik Gada

Hello Jenny,

See here about Universities :
https://www.singularity2050.com/2020/08/atom-award-of-the-month-august-2020.html

Also here, from 2015 :
https://www.singularity2050.com/2014/07/the-education-disruption-2015.html

Drew

There is that old futurology expression that the technology always arrives slower than predicted but the impact is larger than predicted. When education eventually goes streaming dominant (20 some years later than I expected) I suspect the big impact will be the resorting of society. So much of real estate is around "good schools" as a way to sort your children's peer group by financial background that if it goes to a pods or one room school house with internet access it both improves parents' sorting choices and may make them even more difficult to achieve than buying a house in a "good" district. Ok folks, that is my free entrepreneurial idea - LinkedIn for pods.

Kartik Gada

Drew,

Good thoughts. The value of a pod might very well hinge on one exceptional student, and if that student leaves, all the others will try to follow him.

The extreme fragmentation of pods leads to all sorts of other possibilities. High-school kids won't know nearly as many other kids as they do now, as a pod is far smaller than the typical high school. That could have many other implications.

Drew

Just off the top of my head I'm imagining 5-8 peers (the two pizza team) who work together on building skills and portfolios to demonstrate them before spinning off on various adult paths. Even more than now, the loyalty would be to that group and not the educational institutions.

Geoman

From the wall street journal:

"Presidents say their efforts to downsize their institutions in light of falling revenue have been hamstrung by faculty who refuse to sign off on cuts to academic programs with few students and professors with light course loads. Faculty say they are trying to preserve academic excellence while maintaining the educational mission and liberal arts core of their institutions. Faculty also contend that resources are wasted by administrators whose ranks have increased at faster rates than professors."

"This year, the pandemic accelerated financial problems as well as tensions between administrators and faculty. Fall enrollment for freshman and international students fell 16% and 43%, respectively."

This is the educational train wreck I predicted back in August. The fewer students is concentrated down at the bottom - schools that had waiting lists were able to dip deeper into their waiting lists. Harvard doesn't have a student shortage - the University of Iowa does. And international students usually pay full price.

At some point we have to realize the market for some majors is likely a small fraction of the number of students we are graduating with those majors. The differential can't persist indefinitely.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

Fall enrollment for freshman and international students fell 16% and 43%, respectively.

Ah. That is a real number, and it is huge. International students usually pay full price, and a 43% drop in those can be fatal to Universities outside of the Top 30.

Faculty also contend that resources are wasted by administrators whose ranks have increased at faster rates than professors.

Good. Infighting. It is true that administrators are vastly more numerous at Universities today vs. in 1980, and are responsible for most of the cost increase.

At some point we have to realize the market for some majors is likely a small fraction of the number of students we are graduating with those majors.

Well, as Imran would say, it was ok for female students to go to college just to get their Mrs., but the premise of this back in the day was i) that they at least got engaged to someone in college, meaning that they were engaged at age 22, ii) this was for the upper classes who go to Ivy League schools, not mid-level state schools, and iii) college was inexpensive enough in the past that one did not graduate with a ton of debt (that the future husband presumably has to take up).

As i) is now completely out of the question, since the plan is to ride the carousel for a decade, and husband-shop at 32 rather than 22, and iii) is out of the question for all but the most needy men, this whole paradigm is about to collapse.

Drew,

Even more than now, the loyalty would be to that group and not the educational institutions.

As it should be. It is like a military unit in a way. Each student is taking on a real responsibility for the success of the other students.

Universities take too much credit for just gathering people of similar talent in one place. Even at the top schools, this curation function is exaggerated.

Geoman

I've read several articles where colleges are simply dispensing with tenure.

Back in the 1980s, when I went to college, I had 4 or 5 professors that should have been shown the door ages ago. One was an obvious alcoholic. Literally showing up drunk. One was a once brilliant professor who had lost his memory and should have retired 10 years prior. Another was brilliant, but had little interest in teaching anyone anything. He would have a grad student teach most of his classes. One was a complete female misogynist - every woman got an automatic A in her class, and no man could expect better than a B (she said so right up front). One was a lunatic who dressed as a medieval monk while teaching molecular biology. At the time I recall being shocked that these people had ANY employment, much less at a respected university. They all had tenure. They should all have been fired.

My understanding is the problem has gotten much worse.

Tenure is design to protect the brave. Most professors are quite cowardly.

Geoman

Oil sales by OPEC will be around $315 billion this year, compared with $565 billion last year, and $692 billion in 2018. In OPEC’s “good ol’ days” — for example, 2012 — the figure was $1,127 billion.

That is the true impact of fracking. Now EVs will finish the job. Imagine OPEC income at <$200 billion in 5 years.

People who whine about fracking - this outcome is possibly the greatest human advancement since the fall of the Berlin wall.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

True. This has done wonders for the trade deficit of countries that had to import oil.

It is astonishing that any American can whine about fracking. Their reason is 'the environment', which carries the assumption that America is the only country in the world. If the US did not have fracking, it would be importing oil from elsewhere. The total emissions would be the same.

The stunning ignorance of people is quite shameful.

Geoman

The best outcome is forcing very nasty people to confront the disfunction and contradictions in their societies. Oil allowed unstable dictatorships to persist long past their normal shelf life. Now they must change or die. They must grow or die.

Some countries have chosen death. Libya, Syria, Venezuela, Iran. Others have chosen life. UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, etc. Some are still on the fence. But ultimately most will chose liberalization, democracy, and capitalism. It is the only way forward.

This choice will have a multiplier effect. Imagine how much more goods and services will be generated in capitalistic countries. More engineers and scientists. More inventions. More markets. More resources. We are unlocking a huge treasure trove of human potential.

Kartik Gada

Geoman,

You bring up a good point, which is that even beyond oil, we are well past the time where commodity exports can even be an easy life for any country. Since the ATOM crushes all commodity prices eventually, and no commodity was as big as oil, this probably can never happen again.

There were fears that countries that control Lithium (for batteries) do the same thing and be new 'petrotyrannies' of the modern age. But it just cannot happen anymore. No commodity can ever have the dollar volume of world demand like oil had, 2007-14. That whole paradigm is crushed. Technologies for both supply expansion and substitution are just too rapid now.

Russia has so many natural resources (on account of having the most land area) that it could have merely pivoted from oil to the next commodity, which it certainly would have had within its borders. But when that entire model is now obsolete and impossible, it cannot do that.

The same goes for industries like Cannabis. Beyond a one-time burst from legalization, there is no inherent trait that can make this a growth industry. There is no year-over-year improvement in the inherent product, so it is not technological.

Geoman

Excellent points. To relate to what I said above, commodities are just atoms. In the new paradigm, we can substitute information for atoms, using less atoms, or finding more, or using substitutes. As our store of information grows exponentially, our need for atoms becomes less.

It is why I don't worry much very China having exclusive supplies of Rare earth metals. Just try and restrict supply and see what happens.

Notice something else? When was the last time you heard the word "famine"? Food is plentiful and ubiquitous. It will become increasingly difficult for anyone to starve, anywhere in the world.

This is how I imagine the singularity occurring - problems that plagued people for millennia suddenly disappear. Not spectacularly, but slowly....until one day someone says, remember the last time this or that happened? And we all scratch our heads. Yeah, what about that? When did that change?

Remember the last time fuel was expensive?
Or people were starving in Africa?
Say, whatever happened with Islamic terrorism?
Remember when whales were endangered?

Fatcat

@Geoman
As far as I remember Libia didn't decide to bomb itself or kill Kadaffi and fall into chaos. For all his faults he was keeping the country stable and relatively better off.

Venezuela, on the other hand, is a bonafide screwup. No external military pressure or external support for insurgents ( Syria and Iran have a good excuse here).

What is remarkable is that oil was probably the only mineral resource making the extracting countries rich. All other minerals are a nice audition to the GDP but not a real game changer. Probably in pie modern times gold and silver mines where wraith creates but with the caveat that they were stimulating imports instead of local development

Kartik Gada

Fatcat,

For the 2007-14 period, annual oil consumption was over $3 Trillion/yr. The big exporters (i.e. high exports per capita) could afford to literally do little else than sell oil. We may never see something like that based on commodities again.

However, it is possible for the first country to do the Sovereign Venture Fund to achieve even greater wealth with greater ease. That largest of low-hanging fruits still exists unpicked.

Drew

It is a paradox that the Swiss could probably create the equivalent of the Norwegian oil fund by buying stock with marks that they create, but that one does not become the head of Swiss central bank by being unorthodox.
Also, on a smaller scale, copper has had the good and bad effects of oil on Chile and the Congo. Australia is also a country that has handled resource extraction as the basis for its economy well for its inhabitants so far.

Kartik Gada

Drew,

It is a paradox that the Swiss could probably create the equivalent of the Norwegian oil fund by buying stock with marks that they create,

Yes, they could, and almost immediately in theory. The same could be done by Singapore, Canada, or at this point, even the UK.

Copper is valuable, but can never be as large a factor in the global economy as oil was, partly because copper is not consumed outright - it can be recycled, whereas oil burned is burned irrevocably.

Geoman

If we look at the four components, matter, energy, time, and information, the energy in the oil must be replaced. And the matter is dispersed, meaning it must be reaccumulated. That takes time. The information component (how to make oil from air) is already satisfied. But we can't use information to make up the three missing pieces. Energy, matter, and time. hence burned oil cannot be recycled.

If we look at the four components, matter, energy, time, and information, all of the matter is still in the copper we intend to recycle. The atoms exist. The copper actually has more embedded energy than native copper ore. Our time need is small (we don't have to gather the copper), and our information need has already been met (we know how to recycle copper, and where the copper is, and so on).

So we recycle copper, actually gaining time and energy over mining copper ore, and believe recycling oil to be preposterous.

It is sort of a modern version of the classical elements, earth air fire and water. The ancients got two of the four correct.

Geoman

Fat Cat "As far as I remember Libya didn't decide to bomb itself or kill Kaddafi and fall into chaos. For all his faults he was keeping the country stable and relatively better off."

But it wasn't stable, was it? There was a rebellion, the Arab spring. We didn't do that. Kaddafi was bombing his own people. The UN established a no-fly zone to contain the carnage. The U.S. enforced it. We didn't kill Kaddafi, even though we could have.

Once he was dead the entire country went off the rails.

I think we were dumb to get involved there, but ultimately Libya was a house of cards. One that had managed to stand when oil prices were high, but fell to bits when they were not.

Jenny

"Yes, they could, and almost immediately in theory. The same could be done by Singapore, Canada, or at this point, even the UK."
- Sounds like something for Israel as well. Although they have good things domestically according to ARK.
Another question is Iran under Biden, possibility of war.

"But it wasn't stable, was it? There was a rebellion, the Arab spring. We didn't do that. Kaddafi was bombing his own people. The UN established a no-fly zone to contain the carnage. The U.S. enforced it. We didn't kill Kaddafi, even though we could have."
- Yea. There are some who always blame the West. It gets boring.

Scott

My wife & I & kids have been all WFH / school from home during the pandemic. Just for fun, I decided to look up how much I've spent on Gas this pandemic, vs last year.

The time range was March 15-Dec 28, in 2019 vs 2020

In 2019 I had 58 purchases for a total of $1,600 and in 2020 I had 10 purchases for a total of $200.

I can totally see why the revenues of the oil exporting countries have dropped so much

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

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

Working...
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.

Working...

Post a comment

Your Information

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