02021Q1 REYKJAVIK:  Greetings from the frozen north. The wolf moon is upon us as we approach the year of the cow. 🐮 It's Twenty twenty-one, and we're excited about the future. 

🦤 College of Augurs

Tea leaves and palm reading aside, future predictions is a big interest of ours, but only the ones grounded in trends and early warning signs. Predicting the future is impossible, but we can look at the data and make better decisions!

A proxy stands in for something else. For instance, birds can be a proxy for weather. They can give you a heads-up through their actions or inaction. Seeing birds migrating early could indicate something about their food sources, so you should be wary of droughts or floods.
READ MORE: Matt Webb wrote about this on his website interconnected.org called: "Ancient magicians as innovation consultants. Also birds."
Proxies give futurists a good heuristic when making predictions. Here are some examples:

Stock Picks from Space: Companies using satellite photos of big box retailers' parking lots and counting the cars as a proxy for how well the quarterly earnings will be.

Akira Miyawaki: Trees which grow around temples, shrines, and cemeteries in Japan are long-term, untouched plant life that represents the primary forest which grew in the country before other species were introduced.

Someone once told us there are three types of information.
  1. Facts everyone knows and are not useful (e.g. height of the Empire State Building).
  2. Facts that if you don't know them can hurt you, but are not a business advantage (regulations, local laws, etc.).
  3. Facts that you know before anyone else and can exploit. This third type of information is why insider trading is illegal, because it can be so powerful. 
You can never predict the future, but you can give yourself a big head start by looking at trends and proxies.

🤖 They took our jobs!

We were watching a short clip on NHK show, “The Signs” about the emergence of more contactless services during the pandemic. What caught our attention was a comment about a coffeehouse run by a robot. It was an unemployed industrial robot before being reprogrammed to make drinks and wash dishes.

The company QBIT Robotics takes industrial robots and augments them with more sensors and a screen to be repurposed in service businesses.

They took our jobs! Dey took 'er jerbs!! Durka der!!

While it seems like Japan has so many unemployed robots that there is a need for talent agencies to help them find jobs, the situation is more likely that Japan’s constant improvement of industrial robots means they are being replaced and other companies buying older robots for cheap and upcycling them for new purposes.

Autonomous robotic baristas are a glimpse of how the general public will/do interact with robots on a daily basis. These coffeehouses are a test bed for what types of roles can and will be replaced with unemployed industrial robots.

🧮 Mathematical Art

This is a 3D printed 4D representation of a Hypercube.

Mathematical Art by Henry Segerman created an amazing array of different 3D printed shapes. If you are looking for an nerdy gift for that mathematician in your life, look no further!

The 01884 book Flatland explores the idea of a 2D world and what happens when a 3D object comes to visit. The 2D citizens can only see a cross section of the 3D visitor and have no concept of the z-axis.

A 3D printed hypercube is the 'shadow' of a 4D shape in our 3D world. Reading Flatland can help you come to grips with dimensions beyond our own. (It is available for free from Project Gutenberg or Apple Books)

🚨 Help Wanted

We are ready to dive into an interesting data project but need help from some outside experts. Can you help?

Art historian of portraits

PITCH: We are interested in how the style of portraits have changed over time. Henry VIII conveys a very powerful stance even without the standard royal regalia of weapons that had been common of leaders before him.

Contrast that with the more recent painting of the former First Lady Michelle Obama and what it chooses to accentuate as an important part of cultural history.

We want to dig deeper into the symbols of power and how we will (not necessarily should) depict ourselves in the future.

When we look at the changes and trends through portrait history, what would be the 02050 equivalent? A Glitch Art, Instagram filtered CEO holding an imaginary BitCoin? 

If you know anyone who is an expert in the history of portraits and their evolution over time who is willing to consult on what that future 02050 portrait might be, please connect us.


Triagemail: Get unread email under-control. An iOS (and Mac Silicon) app to check any email account. With only 4 options, get through all your unread email fast so you never miss anything important. $1.99 on the App store.

Designing with Data eBooks. If you need to tell your story using data, pick up these books today. Now pay what you want pricing for epub, mobi, pdf.

Print ready A0 02021 wall calendar PDF. An open source project to download and print at a local print shop yourself. Get organized, start planning.

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