Just happy with robots and mycelium
About the circular economy, building with nature and human skills ♻️
How can we build differently with natural resources? How will we work together with robots and machines in the future? What does that require of employees?
Every month I write a future scenario to amaze, inspire, frighten and above all make you think about the ever-increasing role of technology in our lives.
In this month's scenario, I explore the future of the circular economy and work.
Scenario: Happy with robots and mycelium
Teachers thought Joachim was unmanageable. Mischief, fireworks and always active. ‘I was quickly labeled as ADHD,’ he laughs. ‘My father recently told me that he was actually quite proud. Not because of my pranks, but mainly because of what I didn't do. He saw children of his friends who locked themselves in their room to play games. No physical movement, barely outside and no friends. Well, only online friendships.’
Joachim works at RGenerative, a cooperative in which all employees have a share, as do a number of suppliers, customers and governments. RGenerative is the market leader in the reuse of raw materials in the Eindhoven region. ‘No one thought it possible, but we can extract any type of material from waste, sort it, refurbish it and sell it again as a raw material. That even applies to the salt batteries, mycelium cement and the microbe bricks.’
‘When I hear the stories from the past, quite a bit has changed. Employers fight for talent, especially with skills like mine. See, most of the waste processing is done by the robots in the recycling lanes. But to build and repair those robots, and also our drones, you still need human insight and dexterity.’
He is happy at RGenerative. The salary is a nice addition to the national basic income and the side benefits are good. But according to Joachim, happiness at work is the most important thing in the company.
‘That's not just in words, but I notice it in everything. In the cooperative, of course, we are all in charge. I don't have a manager, but a buddy who occasionally spends a day with me. Then we fix an inspection drone, but in the meantime we chat about everything except work.’
‘What are we talking about then? How PSV will do in the Super League this year. Whether Memphis is a trainer for another year. How it is at home and how I feel. Those are great conversations, and also much more natural than sitting across from each other with a table in between. Let alone that we would do these talks virtually!’
Background of the scenario
The theme of the scenario is the circular economy and the future of work. I got the inspiration for this at an event where I spoke recently: Futureproof. Organized by PSV, DPG Media and 24U in the PSV stadium.
What I liked about this assignment is that it was a breakfast session. Breakfast at 7.30, the start at 8.00, my lecture at 9.15 and from 9.15 to 10.00 table talks to talk to each other. In that conversation I spoke with three entrepreneurs.
That conversation was partly business-related, such as the energy transition, education and recognizing talent. But part was also personal, such as what drives them, how they remain curious and what setbacks they have had. A few insights from that conversation are reflected in the scenario.
Coincidentally enough, I had a number of assignments with the theme of sports in recent weeks.
For example, at the University of Ghent in Belgium, I spoke about bionic upgrades and super athletes.
At Topsport Community I gave a workshop future scenarios with Professor Nico van Yperen of the University of Groningen. I will share more about this soon.
And of course it's the World Cup. In the Deep Dive you can therefore read a number of reading and watching tips about sports!
Articles, books, podcasts, videos, documentaries and more about sports.
1. BOOK / Stories that you know how they end, but that still manage to captivate you. The book Boys in the Boat is about the American rowing team, the coxed eight, which wins gold at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin.
Author Daniel James Brown beautifully describes the essence of rowing. Rowing is the ultimate team sport, because you all try to find the same rhythm and cadence. Blades in the water, push legs away, straighten back, pull arms, blades out of water, slide forward and again. All eight at once, like a metronome.
This story was a delight for me. Especially because when I was a student in Groningen I rowed fanatically in an eight with a coxswain.
I can also heartily recommend this book to non-rowers. Because Brown writes about so much more than just rowing, such as the difficult childhood of some boys, the economic and political climate in America in the 1930s, and the rise of the Nazi regime in Germany.
2. DOCUMENTARY / Esports is playing computer games in a league or tournament. It is growing rapidly. The most famous games are League of Legends, Dota and Counter-Strike.
Of course, this development started much earlier with games like Pacman and Donkey Kong. The rivalry in the early years of Donkey Kong is the subject of the curious documentary The King of Kong (8.0 on IMDb).
The two protagonists are so archetypal that I actually couldn't imagine that it wasn't acted. Steve Wiebe is the gentle family man, computer nerd and high school teacher. His counterpart is Billy Mitchell, a salesman of special sauces (?!) with a mullet and a huge ego. Delicious. Watch the trailer.
3. DOCUMENTARY / Free Solo is a mountaineering discipline where you climb without belays or ropes. If you fall, it's done. In the documentary Free Solo, Alex Honnold becomes the first person ever to attempt to climb the iconic El Capitan mountain (8.1 on IMDb).
I saw the images on a big screen in a movie theater a few years ago. And if you have the chance, I certainly would: the immense height and madness of Alex's plan hit hard then.
An intense viewing experience. Especially for someone with a fear of heights, like me… 😲
Jonathan Armour, a London based artist (and a reader of this newsletter), made the artwork collection Birth Sleeves? I was so curious about his inspiration, namely the Altered Carbon series on Netflix.
So, I interviewed Jonathan about his project.
🙏 Thank you for reading
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