‘Software is eating the world!’ US tech luminary Marc Andreessen declared in 2009, on the eve of launching his venture capital firm, Andreessen-Horowitz. This extraordinary claim has become the mantra of Silicon Valley startup entrepreneurs, codifying a new philosophy of tech entrepreneurialism and kickstarting a bold new era of ‘creative destruction’. Decoded it means: software engineers are world-builders – so look out! Bored with building apps, games, and websites, the latest generation of tech entrepreneurs are creating social operating systems for the societies and economies of the future. Take the sharing economy startup Airbnb, for example (recipent of $112 million in funding from Andreessen-Horowitz in 2011). Andreessen claims:
Airbnb makes its money in real estate. But … Airbnb … has much more in common with Facebook or Google or Microsoft or Oracle than with any real estate company. … Airbnb is building a software technology that is equivalent in complexity, power, and importance to an operating…
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The Cupola is an ESA-built observatory module of the International Space Station (ISS). Its seven windows are used to conduct experiments, dockings and observations of Earth. It was launched aboard Space Shuttle mission STS-130 on 8 February 2010 and attached to the Tranquility (Node 3) module. The Cupola’s 80 cm (31 in) window is the largest ever used in space.
Its name derives from the Italian word cupola, which means “dome”. It is extremely important to the ISS astronauts, as previously they have been confined to looking out of small portholes or at best the 20-inch (50 cm) window in the US Destiny laboratory.
Overall height: 1.5-metre (4.9 ft)
Maximum diameter: 2.95-metre (9.68 ft)
Launch mass: 1,805-kilogram (3,979 lb)
On Orbit mass: 1,880-kilogram (4,145 lb)
Dome: Forged Al 2219-T851
Skirt: Al 2219-T851
Windows: Fused silica and borosilicate glass
MDPS shutters: DuPont Kevlar/3M Nextel sheets
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Last week I wrote about whether or not we really needed economic growth, and I claimed that the central problems facing our economy and our society were not about the size, scale, or growth of our economy, but rather about some deeper, undisclosed set of problems. This week I am trying, haphazardly and tentatively, to work through what those problems might look like. Also to predict the future.
One of the things that bothers me about economics—both in its academic guise as a social science discipline and its neoliberal political guise as a quasi-religious faith in which bankers and CEOs serve as high priests—is its general failure to talk about what it’s for. Historians have a whole subfield, historiography, dedicated to how and why we write history. But because the economy is so self-evidently important to the fabric of our society, economists get a kind of pass. Economics is important…
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The curtains go up. On the Origin of Species, published on 24 November 1859 by Charles Darwin is considered (correctly I would argue) to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Its original full title was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life which was later changed around 1872 to the shorter, The Origin of Species. It was perhaps felt that “the preservation of favoured races” sounded dubiously racist when in fact this wasn’t what the title was referring to at all. Of course the last thing anybody would do is falsely co-opt evolutionary theory to promote their own despicable and prejudice agenda. Right?
Darwin’s book introduced the scientific theory of natural selection. I am aware of the excellent work of Alfred Russell Wallace and you should definitely watch Bill Bailey’s brilliant TV series on the…
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