Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Immortality for All


Recent advances in gene therapy accelerated by CRISPR (clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats) low cost gene editing technology have shed light upon a new means of extending life; potentially indefinitely!

It has been known for some time that continuous blood transfusion from young to elderly clones rejuvenates life:
Parabiosis is a 150-year-old surgical technique that unites the vasculature of two living animals. (The word comes from the Greek para, meaning 'alongside', and bios, meaning 'life'.) It mimics natural instances of shared blood supply, such as in conjoined twins or animals that share a placenta in the womb.

...With neuroscientist Robin Franklin at the University of Cambridge, UK, her team showed that young blood promotes repair of damaged spinal cords in older mice. With Harvard neuroscientist Lee Rubin, she found that young blood sparks the formation of new neurons in the brain and olfactory system. And with cardiologist Richard Lee at Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, she found that it reverses age-related thickening of the walls of the heart.

...In the heart, brain, muscles and almost every other tissue examined, the blood of young mice seems to bring new life to ageing organs, making old mice stronger, smarter and healthier. It even makes their fur shinier.
-- "Ageing research: Blood to blood" - Nature
In March of this year, using CRISPR editing of bone marrow and gene therapy, a French teenager after 15 months without recurrent symptoms was declared cured of sickle cell disease:
The world-first procedure at Necker Children's Hospital in Paris offers hope to millions of people with the blood disorder.

Scientists altered the genetic instructions in his bone marrow so it made healthy red blood cells.

So far, the therapy has worked for 15 months and the child is no longer on any medication.
-- "Teenager's sickle cell reversed with world-first therapy" - BBC.
Professor Hartmut Geiger's recent work defeating cancer required transplanting bone marrow between mouse clones, applying gene therapy to ensure donated bone marrow stem cells were more proliferate:
"We show that the place where HSCs [hematopoietic stem cells] form in the bone marrow loses osteopontin upon aging, but if you give back the missing protein to the blood-forming cells they suddenly rejuvenate and act younger," says Hartmut Geiger, PhD.
-- "Scientists wage fight against aging bone marrow stem cell niche" - Science Daily.
The professor's work specifically identifies osteopontin in the prevention of HSCs:
Upon aging, hematopoietic stem cells (HSCs) undergo changes in function and structure, including skewing to myeloid lineages, lower reconstitution potential and loss of protein polarity. While stem cell intrinsic mechanisms are known to contribute to HSC aging, little is known on whether age‐related changes in the bone marrow niche regulate HSC aging. Upon aging, the expression of osteopontin (OPN) in the murine bone marrow stroma is reduced. Exposure of young HSCs to an OPN knockout niche results in a decrease in engraftment, an increase in long‐term HSC frequency and loss of stem cell polarity. Exposure of aged HSCs to thrombin‐cleaved OPN attenuates aging of old HSCs, resulting in increased engraftment, decreased HSC frequency, increased stem cell polarity and a restored balance of lymphoid and myeloid cells in peripheral blood. Thus, our data suggest a critical role for reduced stroma‐derived OPN for HSC aging and identify thrombin‐cleaved OPN as a novel niche informed therapeutic approach for ameliorating HSC phenotypes associated with aging.
-- "Osteopontin attenuates aging‐associated phenotypes of hematopoietic stem cells" - EMBOpress
Since blood is created within bone marrow, using gene therapy to make the younger donor bone marrow more proliferate presents a way of restoring osteopontin expression and subsequently youth. A way to cure mortality, eventually inexpensively.

"The Tower of the Blue Horses", by Franz Marcs, 1945. Featured on the front page of Der Tagesspiegel the day after Professor Geiger's and Necker Children's hospital announcements.

Friday, 19 December 2014

The Working Week



What is it to be alive?  For most of the globe occupation defines existence, confines character and consumes the majority of our conscious thought, yet so few of us are lucky enough to find ourselves in an enjoyable or even rewarding career.  The average working week in the developed world varies between 35 and 48 hours, a daily routine of rising, showering, breaking fast, family responsibilities and commuting. After a similarly time consuming evening sequence, all that remains of the day for leisure are at best 4 or 5 hours; and these when all energy is spent. 

The planet's population has now exceeded 7 billion people. Over the last 10,000 years, with the development of farming from hunter-gathering, technological innovation has continued to increase the efficiency by which our basic human needs are provided for, the surplus value bringing a diversity of choice. Marx's tendency of the rate of profit to fall, in fact drives the frequently exponential progress of technological efficiency, yielding such phenomena as diversity and the EU butter-mountain. Over the last few decades, the same dynamic has steadily increased unemployment figures. In the coming decades we will see the same trend as buses, taxis, hauliers; eventually all automotive transport becomes unmanned. A safer world, though one with bleak prospects for many.

The steady increase in the number of unemployed US citizens since 1950, today in excess of 20 million people.
A long-term solution must be found for the unacceptable and inevitable levels of mass unemployment. If only to avoid a similar recurrence of the early stages of the 20th century, or to quote the economist "Over the summer Bank of America faced intense criticism after a Stakhanovite intern died."

Like many in recent news articles I have begun to consider the pros and cons of a reduced working-week, critically: with no reduction in salary. Just over 160 years ago in the UK men, women and children were asked to work 7 days a week, until legislation introduced in 1850 in the British Labour Act limited the hours of work for women and children to no more than 12 hours per day and no later than 2pm on Saturdays!  It wasn't until 1921 that the International Labour Organization established the convention of a weekly rest day, with a subsequent amendment in 1930 stipulating a maximum of 48 hours for those in "Commerce and Offices", even today these limits remain, or for many occupations in the UK may be wavered by contract. So why should change be beyond consideration, when we haven't been working five days a week since the dawn of time!

In lesser skilled sectors, I would be lying if I were to tell you that reducing your company's working week to four days is going to increase profit. Though it is the lesser skilled roles which are going to disappear over the next few decades.  Few companies dependent upon contracts, which must be completed to a schedule, would announce they practice a four day week or a reduced number of hours. Contracts would be lost, clients refusing to foot the bill for such philanthropy. Consequently there are few business voices in favor, yet many public sector and Democrat proponents of a reduced working week.

For knowledge-workers there are many compelling arguments towards increased productivity. An article in The New Yorker by Maria Konnikova argues:
When we own more of our time, we feel like we’re in charge of our lives and our schedules, which makes us happier and, ultimately, better at what we do. Our health and happiness also increases in the course of our lifetimes and, with it, our value to the workplace and to society as a whole.
Alas, there is no such case for the manual laborer, though I foresee no difficulties incentivising knowledge work by making a four-day-week the norm for those determined to study.

The following graph from the OECD indicates that optimal efficiency is achieved at approximately 1525 hours per annum, or around 30-31 hours per week. 


Whilst the French are enjoying a 35 hour week, the Dutch 29 hours, the Danes and Norwegians 33 hours.  Interestingly, working 28 hours a week would for most people represent working 50% of 7 days.

Elsewhere people have quipped "the robots are coming for your jobs anyway", we'd better start finding ways of paying ourselves the same salary for less work, or critically reorganising work to be more effective when subdivided.

Ultimately, is it reasonable to ask for more than half of a persons life be sacrificed to work?



Sunday, 26 January 2014

Reassuringly Finite

A 2D Slice of the galactic filaments ranging over 2bn light years.

As a brief digression from political musings, without scientific proof, armed only with my intuition and a thousand words; each from a thousand pictures, made possible by the wonderful radio telescope resources readily available on the Internet today, I have determined to inflict my model of the universe upon you.

Like most people, I have a pop understanding of astronomy. Loosely this states that the universe is approximately 14bn years old, our solar system is around 6bn years old and the universe has been expanding since the big bang.  It seems to me there are holes in this theory. I hope now I'm not stumbling thru some scientific shibboleth, a fear which has made me keep silent for some time. Even so I feel I must divulge all now lest it be forever forgotten, perhaps this one pebble may go toward the real scientific endeavours that bring about almost heretical change.

The Hubble ultra deep field images, at a distance of 13.2bn-13.6bn light years away, record the universe as it was between 400m-800m years after the big bang. What do they reveal? That the universe looked precisely the same then as it does now in our own local galaxy. Where are the indicators which suggest the recent coalescing of galaxies? Where are the boiling fields of plasma? Entirely absent. Astronomers have noted that the rate of star formation was then similar to that which we observe locally in recent history. The galaxies appear to be the same when 14bn years old as they are right now.

Take the CMB or Cosmic Background Radiation, this is the theory that the universe is filled with residual background radiation from the big bang, a theory used to explain the levels of infra-red which seem to fill space today. Yet scrutinising the limits of our radio telescopes we cannot find even a pin hole gap in the CMB! 

Is it not more plausible that we simply cannot see further than 14bn light years? Why do we assume that light should travel indefinitely, when we observe that there are no frictionless surfaces in our regular scale of space, why instead do we assume that the electro-magnetic medium should be unperturbed and frictionless?


Galactic filaments.

The age of our solar system, 6bn years, or about the middle of "time" in the current model of the universe. Is this not as naive as the belief that the Sun orbits the earth or the universe revolves around our star? Instead let us assume that all radiation over some period increases to longer wavelengths as the orbit decays, no frictionless mediums, no perpetual motion: even at the quantum. Therefore we have no yardstick by which to measure the size of the universe. The real image above is of galactic filaments. Looking at such images, what seems obvious to me is the topological aspect of the galaxies transits along the filaments, interacting with larger galaxies at each huge nexus, before being sling shotted by a larger galaxy, off again along the path of the filament. The density of the matter there, which astronomers now assert contains the bulk of the matter in the universe, providing a gravitational gully, which the pirouetting galaxies are more likely to follow. All of this implies that the Universe is much larger than we thought. It's an unpleasant rationale, existing within a system we do not know the age of. Yet are not a beginning and an end, simply reassuring human terms? Why do we assume that we have already invented the technology to see such extents? Take our own Milky Way galaxy as an example. It requires 250m years for the sun to make a full transit around the galaxy. Our passage thru the trail of the galactic filament perhaps being the cause for the Cambrian period of accelerated genetic mutation in the fossil record, but that's another theory. This duration implies that Earth has only travelled around the galactic centre 24 times since it's birth. Yet observe the apparent trail of debris left by the transit of galaxies, the harmony or repetition near close groups of relatively stationary larger galaxies, these groups obviously dominating the passage of smaller galaxies. A young universe would seem unrealistic in light of topological implications.

The CMB then would actually be the radiation which has decayed to infra-red, from a much larger universe extending beyond the 14bn light year range. A night sky so filled with stars, should we be able to see them, would literally be totally white from horizon to horizon. As a boy I'm sure I accepted this notion without question, it was obvious, you look up and the darkness goes on forever, that's infinite; right, next question. As a 42 year old adult I seemed to have unlearnt this truth.

Dark Matter distribution from the Millennium Project.
The web is now filled many impressive images drawn from the Millenium Simulation project. The results of this simulation are a serious cause for concern, since the model seeks to confirm the observations of the big bang theory.  The same model could also have been used to generate convincing images of city lights. We would never have known that such a process occurred incrementally over vastly more time than 14bn years.  I'm not trying to imply there are aliens living in the filaments,  though I may take a platform against the creative use of computing to confirm astronomical observations. I'll wager there are many simpler simulations working with over trillions of light years that also produce matching SDSS-III observations.

As Stephen Hawkins suggested in the 1970's, the galaxies release radiation.  I would go further and suggest that the matter compressed by black holes at the center of each galaxy form sub atomic particle fountains, liberally distributing the lighter elements, hydrogen, helium and sulphur, etc., raining down over each galaxy, in some form, before they again coalesce to reach the Jeans mass when the star formation cycle begins again. On a much longer time scale than 14bn years, this makes much more sense.  Though no one has yet attempted to detect the spontaneous creation of a helium atom, nor am I sure of the exact probability of such an occurrence or the size of the detector required.

I'm sure this is a widely postulated theory amongst SciFi writers. Douglas Adams toys with the matter in HHGTTG: "Space," it says, "is big. Really big. You just won't believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it's a long way down the road to the chemist's, but that's just peanuts to space. Only daring to intimate the actual truth: we don't know how big our; or rather the universe is. Or more solemnly as is suggested by Arthur C. Clarks's words "My God....It's full of stars.." Or Greg Bear's Eon...

Contradicting established scientific belief, I realize much of what I'm suggesting is unproven and complete heresy, yet despite my terror at having to come to terms with a universe which I do not know the size or start of, the phantom of true reason beckons.


Sunday, 16 December 2012

Europe


How inspired I am by Europe's single currency the Euro. As a pledge between the wealthier nations of Europe to support and nurture poorer nations with a lower GDP p.c. within the Union, the single currency signifies almost as much to me as Obama to the US or indeed the advancement of civilisation.  

Where there is currency fraud there is resistance to Europe and monetary union. It seems we prefer to quietly steal money from all of the world's nations, instead of being open regarding national productivity, instead of believing in the right to a first world standard of living and embracing the long term solution. 

With economic prowess, people ask the question: why should we carry those failing nations? Perhaps we should grant those nations more political influence and be prepared to take a page from their successful manifestos. Economic parity is not an absolute necessity. Instead simply that we are all trying equally and learning from each other. Greece may never be as economically successful as France or Germany, because of the logistical disadvantages of her geography. We might however insist that nations with low GDP per. capita within Europe are strongly encouraged, thru taxes, to buy only European goods, which surely no one should complain of?

Yet there are many advantages to currency union, perhaps the most significant of which being the necessity to trade with technologically advanced, younger economies such as China. Not charting a course toward being able to export to these nations is sheer folly. The UK in particular is struggling to let go of it's history as an economic centre, to such an extent that the finance quarter is hindering manufacturing by denying us entrance to the Euro, closing the door on high street Europe to UK manufacturing. After almost a generation of acceptance of the Euro, the situation must be further exacerbated by polarisation: the Euro is the currency of Europe's citizens, why would they spend elsewhere?

Despite the obvious convenience of unified currency, is it really possible to remain outside of the union? In recent years, the UK's pension market was hard hit, attempting to quietly inflate an economy results in overseas investments failing, proving that we are all counting each other's cards, that like it or not our economy is already globalised. 

In the wake of the cold war, the UK has benefitted by remaining outside of the EU, our connections with Russia have perhaps all come to fruition, Russian plutocrats now owning a significant stake in the UK. In this way forming a cushion for Russia's re-introduction to free market capitalism. Yet such an influx would not have been healthy for a fragmented Europe and certainly wasn't healthy for Britain. The separation of the Bank of England, the city to Canary Wharf from Parliament in W1, may be wings we can never give up.

The longterm objectives of macroeconomic policy must be to raise the standard of living for all and especially for those in developing economies, an objective more realizable thru economic union and welcoming global economic monetary authorities. With banking union we may say farewell to the unease created by quantitative balancing. Empowering the World Bank and the IMF with the right to exchange bonds for sovereign debt may help to ease nations out of debt traps. Charting a course towards fewer currencies and a less amoral capitalism, with fewer "leaks". In time it should be possible for people regardless of their place of origin to holiday in any other nation, without expecting to pay a months wages for a meal! 

Aiming for global economic parity, the poorer regions of the world's economy must be gradually inflated. Yet from where should this process occur? From renegade bands of smaller over inflated nations racing ahead on hot air? Or from those respected, economically strong, federated groups? When asked how I would vote in a referendum on Europe, it takes just a moment to contemplate her achievements: Airbus's A380, the commercial European Space Agency, world beating automobile industries, Eurotunnel or scientific endeavours such as the Large Hadron Collider. The choice is clear!

Saturday, 29 September 2012

A Century of War



A century of war is about to close.  It began with the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, the largest ship in the world, sunk on it's maiden voyage. On board, the UK's finest and wealthiest, a floating meeting of the Bilderberg Group.  History recorded a collision with an iceberg. Yet the only mountain in the course of history was WWI and the intolerable living and working conditions of the early 20th century, when average life expectancy for a man was just 46 years, a day at work for the poor lasted an average of 12 hours. To make matters worse, the wealthier in society depended upon household staff. Never was class disparity so held up in the face of those employed to carry out very personal, often dirty and manual labour. A wealthy household might employ staff to clean toilets, wash clothes, clean the house, maintain a garden, all tasks which starkly contrast social position, underscoring the class division between those living upstairs and those toiling at all hours downstairs. Today the coal face roles have been displaced by dishwashers, washing machines and other household appliances, whilst high quality pre-prepared food and many other labour saving technologies and modern conveniences have done away with class contrasting dependence upon man servants. Women within low income groups at that time, were practically enslaved within marital domestic servitude, the working class atomic unit depending upon such unequal social structures.

Europe's half a millennia of industrialisation created the burgeoning middle and upper classes of the early 1900s, capitalism's echelons of people and revenue mountains were highly ordered for the period. Europe was the world's hub of science, industry and commerce. Raw materials were brought here, to be processed using technologies that only existed here, before being traded locally or exported to marvelling lower-tech countries. We were rich imperial nations. Nothing was going to deter European capitalists from their vision glimpsed upon the blue Danube. In contrast with Russia's widely distributed and excessively poor land labourers, many people in Europe would be displaced from positions of power by radical change in political ideology. 

The process of redefining monarchy and the church has continued gradually since the 12th century, emerging from the dark ages with civilisation, shifting power toward the people and society's industrialists, bringing us to the position we have today where in most nations the monarchy continue only as figureheads or as a model of familial structure. Ultimately, nepotist feudal rule was no match for meritocratic industrialism, rendering the richest men in society no longer monarchs, taxes in the UK being paid directly to government since the late 17th century.

It is the source of much human suffering that capitalism and communism are mutually exclusive systems of governance, they cannot peacefully co-exist.  Since the invention of WMDs, with the volatility of political extremism, the absolute necessity of incremental revisionism over revolution is almost universally accepted. Yet it cannot be understated that the force which will emancipate mankind from hardship is technology and not any specific political doctrine. Communisms drive to bandage the lowest knee, over capitalisms potential for the amoral pursuit of profit, would seem clearly preferable to any compassionate human.  Yet paradoxically efficiency is a greater motivation for technological innovation. Innovations which today bring to the majority what a hundred years earlier were only available to the wealthy upper classes of our planet. 

The majority of us have been freed from laborious domestic chores. Whilst a night at the opera, the theatre or a musical performance may be enjoyed by all, even on a modest income. Travel to regions of the world, just a few decades earlier considered remote and exotic to most of us, is now possible for the majority. 

A hundred years of war, from which we may conclude: we must always strive to make available to the majority the life style enjoyed by the more privileged, always seeking to eradicate manual labour and suffering. Our objective must be the emancipation of humanity thru technology. 

This entry was inspired by a a three part documentary currently being screened by the BBC: "Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs"

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Comment: There's no future for the eurozone without fiscal union. Lydia Prieg. Guardian.

Original article link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/aug/09/eurozone-fiscal-union-europe
Similar mismatches occur with interest rates. Without national currencies there is no mechanism to make sure that eurozone nations' imports and exports between themselves ever come back into balance.
Why are we surprised that the nation at the centre of the European Union is the most financially successful, whilst those archipelagos nations on the periphery struggle to compete? The ERM should compensate for this on the basis of a nation's resources and the circumstances of geography.

Instead, Europe needs a more honest and nuanced debate. There are many options for reform, including reintroducing some domestic currencies alongside the euro, alternative mechanisms for preventing persistent current account imbalances within the eurozone, as well as a range of degrees and means of fiscal integration.

I wonder if at present there is a reluctance to discuss the dirtier side of our economies with each other? Is it this that prevents nations relinquishing more power to the EU whilst accepting governmental consultancy from fiscally successful nations? An even darker secret seems to be the macro economic history of the past two decades, the western economies have bucked and rippled as the economic wave of Russia and China's incorporation into the global economy ebbs within the system, facts the economists never reveal on news shows.

Alas under capitalism there is no idealism without economic wealth, yet every year improvements in technology reduce the cost and man power required for production. It has been a long time since the gold standard was abolished, today perhaps the only measure of currency is in the self belief of a nation or group of nations to do good and lead us forwards. Yet go forwards we must, accepting that we are willing to support each other, that is the direction of civilisation and the only economy worth valuing!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Gender Equality


Alas the privileges and freedoms we have as men and women are not equal. Yet it is also true to say that neither sets of rights, for the male or the female, encompass the other: if today we gave women all the same advantages that men have, the system would be biased in favour of women. This reveals the oldest dichotomy in human history: between the sexes we support each other, though often in very symbiotic, rather than equivalent ways. Regardless we must strive to ensure that the same options are available to both sexes.

Marxists argue that without understanding sexual identity thru the lens of capitalism, we are presented with many contradictory and reactionary positions, the effects of wealth at every echelon of society affecting those contradictions, that it is - quantifying the value of these roles under capitalism introduces inequalities in the dichotomy: raising a child does not always guarantee the same monetary returns as working as a banker, doctor or barrister and certainly not in the short term. Free market capitalism does not value us equally. 

From where does this inequality stem? The problem must surely lie in the various forms of sexual segregation we undergo during education, particularly in sporting activities where the early opportunity to undermine later misconceptions and other imbalances between the sexes is not realised.

The UN has the following to say on gender equality in sport:
"Sport provides women and girls with an alternative avenue for participation in the social and cultural life of their communities and promotes enjoyment of freedom of expression, interpersonal networks, new opportunities and increased self-esteem. It also expands opportunities for education and for the development of a range of essential life skills, including communication, leadership, teamwork and negotiation. 
The participation of women and girls in sport challenges gender stereotypes and discrimination, and can therefore be a vehicle to promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls. In particular, women in sport leadership can shape attitudes towards women’s capabilities as leaders and decision-makers, especially in traditional male domains. 
The positive outcomes of sport for gender equality and women’s empowerment are constrained by gender-based discrimination in all areas and at all levels of sport and physical activity, fuelled by continuing stereotypes of women’s physical abilities and social roles. Women are frequently segregated involuntarily into different types of sports, events and competitions specifically targeted to women. Women’s access to positions of leadership and decision-making is constrained from the local level to the international level. The value placed on women’s sport is often lower, resulting in inadequate resources and unequal wages and prizes. In the media, women’s sport is not only marginalized but also often presented in a different style that reflects and reinforces gender stereotypes. Violence against women, exploitation and harassment in sport are manifestations of the perceptions of men’s dominance, physical strength and power, which are traditionally portrayed in male sport."
UN Inter-Agency Network on Women & Gender Equality, "Women, gender equality and sport."
This early segregation of our social development and later into fraternity and sorority groups would seem to be the cornerstone of the division of the sexes. There is clearly a need for integration in sport, instead grouping athletes by ability and not gender, whilst providing more televised coverage of sexually integrated events. Otherwise we must continue our perpetual lament of the sexual disparity we see as a result of our initial sabotage, continually restarting the feminist fight with each new generation.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Cumulonimbus

The more people communicate, the more objective truth there is in the world. If human society functioned in any other way, we would have perished long ago. Concurrently the rise of social networking is redefining the fabric of society in a way that hasn't occurred since the invention of the telephone.

The majority of us agree that this is a positive dynamic, allowing society to healthily police itself. More conservative and especially criminal, opportunist elements, particularly aspects of the state which have become self perpetuating, fear increased communication will shed light upon the inequalities within society which they have managed to use to their advantage.

In the future are we likely to see social networks prioritize posts in order to silence political activists and future politicians? Will our communication be sabotaged in other ways? We may never again see the likes of the huge social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. The establishment would prefer networks become smaller, more specialized, perhaps focused around social identities such as newspaper brands or location. Or even entirely state controlled.

There is some suggestion that the real justification for the establishment’s fear of social networks is their misconceived potential to bring political revolution. Yet I believe these concerns are entirely unfounded. If we consider society in the decades which lead to the rise of communism in Russia, life for the majority of us was extremely arduous, child labour and poverty were rife, the welfare state was in its infancy, whilst a twelve hour working day was common place. Life expectancy for an average male was just 48 years. The refinement of the manufacturing process from Ford's early assembly lines to today's almost completely automated factories, has brought with it leisure and to some extent luxury in comparison with earlier centuries. Innovations in science and medicine, along with welfare reform have extended average life expectancy to over 70 years for most of us. We now hope with some complacency, the revision of the proverb "Teach a man to surf" will cure all of humanity's ills.

Increased dependency upon cloud hosting to provide social networks brings with it several vulnerabilities. In many ways a comparison may be drawn with a media having only one newspaper or television channel. A primary concern being that it is relatively easy for one of the social network's employees to silence or persecute a member of society, deprioritizing their posts or silencing them completely without the person's awareness, playing down politically contentious issues. Most disturbingly facts may be hidden: the results of opinion polls may not reflect the public's real beliefs. These dangers could also be surreptitiously factored into the design of the system and political bias subsequently bought and sold.

Relying on a single privately owned company to provide such facilities is clearly putting all of our eggs in one basket, a situation which may be compared to everyone on the planet using one telephone company. Whilst many different networks would not provide the same experience of communicating with all of our friends or colleagues en masse, how tall should any one building be?

The cloud has been in the corporate incubator for long enough. A community solution would seem a safer approach. If not one akin to Wikipedia, then perhaps a peer to peer cloud platform, borrowing from distributed computing projects like SETI at Home and Folding, whilst adopting Linus Torvald’s "Git" philosophy, could provide the necessary infrastructure for a community hosted social network.

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Emergence


At the start of the 20th century we elected individuals who would address our concerns locally and represent our ideals nationally in parliament. MPs would travel by horse or carriage; and later trains and automobiles to the offices of government. Daily corresponding via post and telephone with members of local government and lobbyists, who occasionally would seek an audience in person.

Today mass electronic communication such as web forums, social networks, e-mail, mailing lists, Twitter, RSS, rolling news and article discussion along with a myriad others are transforming our political dinosaur. As much as many politicians would prefer to deny it, these technologies are forms of political conference and debate, in effect expanding the House of Commons until every office and home in the nation is encompassed.

Consider how the modern office has transformed in the past two decades and how these technologies now affect politics:
  • Ideas are being exchanged and challenged, whilst groups of people are helping to present solutions to issues raised by journalists and MPs. A consequence of this is that it is more difficult to remove the resident political party, since morale is constantly being bolstered by the level of enthusiastic political debate.
  • MPs may instantly call a vote via e-mail across the party, including MPs and local government representatives, obtaining a collective decision within hours or minutes, making it much more difficult to make that stupid mistake that loses public favour.
  • In the past politicians where more isolated and likely to become demoralized, electronic communication creates cohesion and unity of resolution.
  • What previously was a document arriving by post or courier is now a social website, changing from moment to moment as people discuss ideas and resolve solutions.
  • Policy dictated by the few to the majority of the party is now clarified by rapid electronic debate.
  • The acceleration of dialogue and decorum of literary communication between all members or smaller groups of the party creates solidarity, whilst also liberating cabinet ministers from the cult of personality.
Every individual has a voice that may reach every person on the planet if necessary, promoting transparency in politics, law and economics. As a result society is more capable of policing itself: Citizen Kane if not dead, certainly seems to be losing his head.

Fused and yet in constant flux, from opinions evolving within a billion conversations around the world, emerges a new form of political expression, an energy grass roots canvassers could hardly have imagined, a wave from which politicians need only cherry pick solutions and inspiration from the dialogue contained therein.

Government at its best is mundane and honest administration. Telecommunications networks overcome the hurdles that brought celebrity politics, the sooner we move to issue based political campaigning, perhaps by accelerating the electoral process and so fragmenting the existing monolithic political entities, the better for us all.

Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Why do Empires Fall?


Throughout the animal kingdom, we see the weaker of the group fall prey. Apart from the group we are predatory; a sly fox finds a victim. Evolution is amoral in order to survive in the direst circumstances, from the predator we find that this amoral opportunism manifests itself as criminality in human society.

In the last century alone the lives of more than 50m people have been lost in wars fought over political ideals, territory and resources, events which are all testament to the perilous journey that is the technological ascent of man. Clearly political stability is paramount to our survival here on Earth. Yet we are undermined, in time complicity with criminal opportunism blocks the arteries of egalitarian governance, bringing leaders into disfavour whilst causing migration and ultimately empires to decay and fall.

"Transparency", used to denote openness and accountability, is becoming common parlance in politics. Historically transparency has its roots in Sweden, when in 1766 the Freedom of the Press Act was introduced, granting the public access to government documents, though this brief ray of Scandinavian wisdom wasn't seen again until 1966 when the US introduced the Freedom of Information Act. Since then over 80 countries around the world have introduced similar legislation ensuring government data is available to the public, generally with the stipulation that there is no conflict with defence or foreign policy and the information does not relate to a specific individual. In the US this was further ratified by later amendments, significantly The Electronic Freedom of Information Act Amendments in 1996. The web, parliamentary dialogue feeds and sites such as TheyWorkForYou.com have opened the offices of government further by making this information only a search or click away. In conjunction with the proliferation of televised news media, these changes are bringing us closer to Open Government.

Transparency in finance, where banks such as Triodos allow the public to see all of the loans the bank has granted. Helping to prevent the kind of sub-prime lending which in part led to the banking fiasco of 2009. In time perhaps we could see our entire government or financial institution’s budget published on Google docs spreadsheet, updating as funds allocated in each sector are spent, whilst receipts gather. Transitioning to exclusively electronic currency could bring more economic transparency and an end to the unhealthy secrecy of currency that has been with us since the end of bartering.

Few would disagree that international drug trafficking causes state corruption within those nations farming narcotics, within the police and military forces involved en route and within the destination culture: Clearly marrying these channels to crime is the sheerest folly. Transparency within what is currently known as the black market could legalize all such commodities, whilst introducing new safety clauses funded by the resulting tax revenues. Under such a system cigarettes may have cost £5 each from the outset, a first pint of beer could cost £3 and the fifth £10, whilst most drugs taken for leisure purposes could be placed in the luxury cost band. There are many sensible frameworks for such legalization that avoid the suffering that alcohol and nicotine brought with them. The question is not whether we should legalize drugs, the question is: Can our current political system function without reliance on institutionalized crime?

With regard to the ecology, transparency is encouraging governments to disclose their CO2 emissions. Google provide an excellent web application which allows CO2 per capita over time to be compared between nations.

There are now a variety of web sites providing global map data, many with satellite imagery. Together with experiences like Google Earth, the world is more unified than it ever was. Instead of exchanging postcodes, we mail or tweet GPS coordinates of theatres, restaurants or home addresses, or at the very least a postcode is converted to a GPS coordinate before being dispatched. This in itself brings a form of transparency to society that was previously absent: Nowhere is secluded. Had the web been with us earlier, would it have been possible for Slobodan Miloševic or Adolf Hitler to avoid being identified and located when GPS enabled mobile phones cameras are carried by almost every citizen? Given the kind of news the web now brings who would deny the request "Where is Slobodan now? Please tweet location and photo. Please re-tweet this."?

Today our civilization spans the globe, what are we to do now that there is nowhere to migrate, when endless flight from tyranny seems the only option?

Friday, 22 January 2010

Self Determination

Where wanders the minds I,
When bigots roam the circus?
What light shines from above,
When the rabbits are in their burrows?
 
Blind in seeking unity,
A devil's shadow play.
A crutch for a nobleman,
A ploy to kick away.
 
Humanity, the jungle, the swamp.
All empires fell,
So where now in endless flight?

Monday, 16 November 2009

Alternative Energy

Since writing this article the market for home roof top solar power has become affordable and indeed there are many companies providing the installation service. Though it should be noted: unless you have a roof top parallel to the equator, you may struggle to generate enough energy to power your home thru the winter months. This is especially the case where day light time is limited, during such times you will be partially dependent upon the national grid for energy. 
An average 3 bed room home installation typically costs between £10,000 to £18,000, giving you free electricity and a small profit of a few hundred pounds each year. At a larger scale, in terms of cost, wind farms are comparable to large scale solar energy farms, requiring far less land. Domestic solar power installation will render the electricity market redundant in the near future, setting the route ahead for the planet's power consuming technologies.  A brighter, cleaner, future for all!

I was recently shocked to find that Scottish Power is owned by a Spanish company and further dismayed to hear of the planned creation of yet more nuclear power stations to be built for us by France. Whilst television has provided coverage of humanity almost literally “fighting over fire”, nightly for the last three decades, I was suddenly struck with the impulse to investigate alternative, local energy sources, if only to avoid working for yet another corporation or bank that sinks beneath the waves of apathy in philanthropic capitalism.

Offshore wind farming is a misleading avenue on two counts: Firstly it still suffers from the negative aspects of monopolistic control, requiring oil platform technology to deploy, therefore costs will ultimately be held above oil as an automotive energy source. Secondly; hills and ridges, where the rise in the land compresses air flow; wind velocity is typically 20% faster than it is offshore.

Consequently land based wind farms are now a lucrative business, with major manufacturers like Siemens, General Electric and Mitsubishi producing wind turbines, as well as smaller independents such as Nordex, Vestas and Enercon to name but a few.

In the UK the electricity industry consists of four parties:
  1. Electricity generators such as BNFL, Scottish Hydro Electric, as well as wind farmers and other electricity producers.
  2. National Grid, a public listed company which each year sets the Transmission Network Use of System (TNUoS) tariff within the UK.
  3. Electricity suppliers such as British Gas, E-on and nPower.
  4. Energy consumers: domestic and business.
Delivery and installation within the UK for a 2MW turbine typically costs between £1.5m to £2m, depending on delivery location and the particular requirements of the site. Fortunately the UK is the windiest country in Europe, with Scotland and Western Ireland enjoying average wind speeds in excess of 11 m/s, which compares very favourably with global wind speeds.

Wind farm revenue depends upon a number of factors primarily including wind class, National Grid tariff, government incentives and feed in tariff:
  • A wind class of 7m/s will yield around 30% efficiency, whereas 11m/s yields around 65% efficiency. This may be determined from the many online wind turbine efficiency graphs available, including this one for the Siemens SWT-2.3MW 101.
  • The TNUoS tariff is set yearly. The majority of our electricity is generated in Scotland and carried to England. For a 2MW turbine, in northern Scotland, National Grid will charge around £40,000 per annum in the worst case scenario to carry your electricity to the supplier. In the best case scenario, in the south and near London, National Grid will pay you around £10,000 per annum. Regions of the country are allocated a zone, each zone has a negative or positive tariff determined by distance from the bulk of the populace and the maintenance overheads for power transmission incurred.
  • To encourage transition to greener energy sources, the government offers Renewable Obligation Certificates (ROCs) which green energy generators should apply for and then sell to suppliers in order that the supplier achieve their renewable energy obligation target, which is set annually by the Office of Gas and Electricity Markets (Ofgem). For 2008, 9.1% of all electricity sold by each supplier constituted the renewable energy obligation which had to be fulfilled. Each tax year, for every megawatt under the obligation the supplier has to pay the buyout level set by Ofgem. In 2008 the minimum buy out level set by Ofgem was £35.76/MWh. For each megawatt of capacity, this ensures that the cost to the supplier will be at or just below the buyout rate of 3.5 p/KWh. This makes the green energy market safer for generators, since the capacity they did not achieve may also be traded at or near the buyout rate. Note that the ROCs remaining between energy generated and the farms capacity are tradeable with all suppliers.
  • In the UK non domestic energy consumers are required to use energy from green sources, failing to do so they are expected to pay the Climate Change Levy (CCL), which in 2008 was set at 0.47 p/KWh. Instead of paying this levy the non domestic consumer may instead pay using Levy Exemption Certificates (LECs) which are issued to green energy generators. Revenue from the sale of LECs will vary, though assuming these sell for 50% of the levy, a 2MW wind turbine would provide an additional £41,172 in revenue.
  • Insurance and maintenance are currently estimated to be around 3% for the total delivery and installation cost: approximately £50,000 per annum. No exact figures were available, though I feel this is quite a generous estimate. Obviously there are advantages to building wind farms of five or more turbines to reduce maintenance overheads.
  • Land rent will vary depending on the outlook of the land owner, from completely free ranging up to £10,000 per annum per turbine for large installations of ten or more that radically alter the skyline.
  • Finally the feed in tariff which you can typically expect back from the supplier is in the range of 4 to 5 p/kwh. As of April 2010, government proposed feed in tariffs will come into effect, alternatively Ofgem may increase the buyout level for ROCs.

The figures above are conservative and tend toward safe margins, they are also in approximate agreement with this article in the online edition of The Times. With just one 2MW turbine you may expect the following revenue per annum, which should return your initial investment within 5-7 years and continue generating profit for 20 to 25 years in total.

T.N.U.o.S. Tariff
£40,000.00
R.O.C. buyout per MW/h
£35.76
L.E.Cs. traded at 50% buyout
£41,100.00
Maintenance and Insurance
£50,000.00
Land rent
£10,000.00
MW/hs at 30% efficiency of 7 m/s
5259.6
Revenue at 30% of the 2010 proposed rate of 4.5p KW/h
£236,682
Revenue from remaining R.O.C.s traded at 75% buyout
£141,062
Total revenue for 30% efficiency
£318,844 p.a
MW/hs at 60% efficiency of 11 m/s
10519.2
Revenue at 60% at 2010 proposed rate of 4.5p KW/h
£473,364
Revenue from remaining R.O.C.s traded at 75% buyout
£56,425
Total revenue for 60% efficiency
£470,889 p.a

There seems to be a level of hysteria regarding wind farms amongst members of the public who I can only assume have some interest in preserving the existing energy monopoly. They protest that wind turbines are noisy, which if you visit one you will clearly hear for yourself this is not the case. They claim that wind farms are not efficient and do not produce revenue, yet house-hold name manufacturers produce them. Silently gathering thermal energy from the sun as it is converted into pressure variance in the atmosphere producing wind; there may honestly be less elegance in the design of a bird’s wing!

"Baseload" refers to the minimum energy requirement that must be met at any point in time, for critical services such as hospitals, fire stations, banks and so forth. Many advocates of the existing energy monopoly sight baseload as the central reason for discarding wind, solar and other natural sources of power generation. With the introduction of smart-grid technologies such as those now being rolled out by IBM, we have the opportunity to manage electricity usage during times of shortage. In these periods non-critical uses of energy, civic energy consumption such as 24 hour car-park lighting, fountains, rural street lighting, as well as electrical appliances on stand-by, may be reduced or switched off altogether. Going forward the base load issue may be resolved by storing energy generated during peak times, using technologies such as compressed air and advanced batteries. Modern compressed air vehicles such as Tata's air car, in comparison with petrol store 50W/h of electricity in one litre, whilst Encore's research finds that compressed air energy storage is 75% efficient, all indicating that mass energy storage solutions are already here. Clearly there are now revenue opportunities opening in the grid energy storage sector. 

With electric vehicles reaching 100 miles for just 96p of electricity, perhaps we should all take heed of Hampshire constabulary's inspiration for a greener planet.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Digital Identity Cards


The UK is currently running through a trial roll out of the national identity card, yet many remain opposed to its introduction. As we move further into the information age I believe the advantages of authenticated identity far outweigh the disadvantages.

In practical terms an identity card, made from electronic paper with a few gigabytes of storage and some secure processing facilities could have many applications:
  • One card for all purposes.
  • Identifying us online.
  • Certificate chains allowing you to grant access to family or colleagues to known resources: cars, offices, databases, doors etc.
  • On request displaying an image of the owner for trivial identification in stores.
  • Displaying retailer logos and advertising.
  • Displaying account balance or status.
  • In tracking altruistic currency...
First of all, let us not deceive ourselves; we already have many digital identities in various forms: Debit and credit cards, passports, national insurance cards, two recent bills, an email address; the list goes on. In this light the battle over any perceived loss of freedom has already been lost, a national identity card would at least reduce the bureaucracy involved.

The digital information age has brought with it the progressive erosion of security within the offices of government, financial institutions, educational facilities and corporations. An individual with a CDROM, a USB data-key, a mobile phone, an email account or simply a web browser may move data into or out of areas which we have historically considered within the realm of her majesty's secret service.

With increasing frequency we see the most senior politicians publish articles in the electronic versions of daily newspapers, only to be greeted by an onslaught of masked jeering and heckling. It is my belief that when our face is hidden a negative trait of animal psychology comes to the fore, an innate aspect of the hunter: I can see my prey, but my prey cannot see me. In a political context this leads us toward the snide and underhand. This is clearly not a useful drive for a politician seeking to gain the will of the electorate through discussion. Ideally they would like to meet the eyes of their audience and win their hearts and minds. Is this same aspect of humanity scheming in the minds of those who stalk children via Internet chat rooms? Wouldn't you like to know who your children are talking to? Digital identities online could bring an end to the threat from darker aspects of the human psyche on the Internet.

What of the individual's freedoms? The dual between the monolithic political entities of the last century brought with it the legacy of the cold war which lead society to new levels of surveillance and new levels of anonymity, a state which is now being compounded by the arrival of the information age. The news papers inform us that secret black lists are being kept and circulated via email, that secret catalogues of fascists are being leaked. Information about you or me, compiled by the masked and circulated electronically amongst the anonymous. If you've been added to a list, wouldn't you like to know who by? Or who has read that list?

What of photographs taken covertly and circulated anonymously with no signature of ownership? Media circulated via the Internet could be prevented by the Internet's search engines unless signed with an individual's digital identity, whilst also enforcing artist acknowledgment; this is a solution many would welcome.

In time digital identity and mandatory digital signatures could bring to society a renewed trust in the communiqué we exchange, information will be regarded as false unless accompanied by the identity of the author, encouraging accountability.

Online discussion in the news papers or more contemporary discussion forums all suffer from abusive campaigning with multiple pseudonyms, giving the impression that there are many more in a faction than is actually the case. Anonymity has its uses, particularly when we are discussing the current limits of freedom itself. If online forums are to give a genuine impression of public opinion, the individual must be identified.

In the UK we are issued a national insurance number and card at the age of 16, for many our first digital acknowledgement by the governing bodies of the nation. We are already identified digitally by the state and its representatives, does bureaucracy really need to be faceless? Why shouldn't we be able to authenticate other people's identities at the very least for our safety online?

Perhaps the most compelling argument is: "How many more passwords do I need to remember?"

In the near future identifying people will be as simple as making contact with a metallic surface: immediate identification without your knowledge. I personally would prefer to live in a society that acknowledges this new sense of identity surveillance, rather than allow it to become another form of covert oppression.

Sunday, 10 May 2009

"News"



The information revolution has provided society with a plethora of new mediums, allowing anyone to reach everyone with their opinions and beliefs. In addition to these new ways to express views, new means of debate are emerging. As a result of this communication amongst the populace, individuals are being politicized; everyday challenging the opinions of others whilst defending their own.

Consequently the established political parties, in the past to some extent enjoying the privilege of being able to dictate social and economic policy are now becoming less representative of the opinions of the people. Concurrently and in order to balance this new shift, online news mediums, particularly the established newspapers are forming a bridge between the public and party members, in effect replacing grass roots canvassing perhaps without the tomatoes.

With this shift the newspaper is being redefined. In the past being part of the readership of a particular brand of newspaper identified the person culturally and politically, today's readership expect to be able to challenge from the moment of online publication, prior to arrival at a news stand, the opinions of the article's author, whether they be journalist, prime minister or reader. Thru open discussion the readership are empowered with the ability to redefine the cultural and political identity of the news brand.

Twitter, a recent invention which combines instant messaging with social networking is providing an innovative new source of news content. This is especially the case when combined with technologies like Monitter or Scribble Live, effectively empowering anyone with a mobile phone-camera to create a live text, image and audio feed to a website, as demonstrated during the recent G20 protests.

The question has been posed "Why use Twitter when you have e-mail?". Humans are much more imaginative given limited resources; it's as though the mind simply rationalizes: I have plenty, therefore there is nothing to worry about, relax; become prey. By limiting the number of characters in a tweet to 140, we're forced to be creative in what we tweet, whether poetry, image links, audio boos or you tube videos, the result a montage of multimedia; that 1990's buzz word that has quietly become ubiquitous. As with most forms of online social networking, the resulting chatter forms a layer of validation which I find has a positive affect on what Wole Soyinka refers to as the Quasi State and its communication channels.

Already it is quite possible to foresee a day when a news article is simply not news unless the reader may comment; we no longer wish to be lectured from the pulpit, we want fearless intelligent journalists and social commentators who come down and discuss amongst the readership. The addition of Twitter to the array of blogosphere lecterns is helping to create a hotbed of new journalistic talent, encouraging us all to police society ourselves.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

Publishing, File Sharing & Revolution


A shift is occurring which we have all been made aware of by the frequent cries of injustice from several members of the music industry. With the rise of Internet file sharing existing publishing establishment revenues are being undermined, though this has now largely come to be accepted, with those companies concluding that they will subsist on the profit generated by their back catalog of work still under copyright. Digital distribution removes the third party publisher from the loop, allowing more profit to go to the artist, perhaps a result that the majority of those in music publishing are secretly happy about.

This same transition is beginning to occur in the sphere of book publishing. With the arrival of Amazon's Kindle e-Reader, Sony's e-Reader, again the artist will be given the opportunity to enjoy increased revenue and liberated from the leeching publishers. Whilst we will always have film production companies, completely digital distribution of video rental is in the offing in the UK and already available in the US, with television soon to follow.

Many artists complain of the threat to their income created by the ease of digital copying and the rise of peer to peer file sharing, I personally welcome the prospect of having a home free of the various boxes, cases and shelves required to store transient human art forms. There are many advantages to the publishing revolution, with the UK in particular being so resistant to change, the opportunity to turn over the existing publishing aristocracy is very welcome.

The ease of digital duplication is often sighted as a setback, but to who? After all what is wrong with a dynamic that brings wealth to those artists whose art inspires pathos or edifies in such ways as to make us want to give our money?

Whilst many are currently bemoaning the pseudo-politicisation of the celebosphere, the removal of the publisher from transient art forms brings to the fore the question: is this art worth paying for? In time, perhaps redefining who our celebrities are.

Would future generations of children be raised expecting never to have to pay for books, music and films? Surely teaching your children to pay for what they like is a constructive tenet? After all we ourselves expect to be paid for work in the career we choose, so this initial instruction in the determination of excellence can only be mutually beneficial.

If all else fails the Internet provides the artist with a way to maintain a relationship with their audience, providing incentives to purchasing. Ultimately then the artist will be brought back into direct communication with the audience, as it was before recorded music or the printed press.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

The London Time Capsule

Is it me or does anyone else feel they have returned to the 20th century when using the London Tube? 

Each day I seem to spend a full hour in a World War II air raid shelter; one lacking the shared emotional energy of an impending death due to Nazi air raids, cut off from telecommunications and Internet services; not even an SMS can escape the time capsule! We enter into humdrum alienation, each acutely aware of each others presence, yet denied the liberty of expression, sat as we are: confrontationally; all dialogue silently discerned from this mornings choice of apparel. How I yearn for a telephone to break thru the rattling noise of the tube with a shrill rendition of the latest chart topping drivel! To overhear a reassuring phone conversation informing relatives of imminent arrival! To browse thru blogs, tweets, Googled answers or to send an email!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Altruistic Currency

When currency replaced bartering the moral value of one half of the exchange was lost. Since currency could be obtained from any source, traders were no longer in a position to judge the character of the opposing trader or customer by their goods. Consequently future economics were forever to favor unethical trade.

Today major energy consuming companies trade carbon offsets, whilst green energy producers trade renewable obligations certificates, just two examples of business ethics affecting profits.

With transition to a system of exclusively digital currency, or e-money, the ethical attributes may again be associated with money. Banks already maintain digital records of every electronic transaction. The next logical step is to add information about the source of every sum being exchanged, whilst also leaving a footprint on every account passed thru, so creating a currency market in which the ethical character of money has a value.

So Much Complexity, Is it Worth It?
  • Safer Business to Business Transactions : As money passes thru company or individual accounts, financial profiles of those entities are created. So providing more protection from fraudulent individuals like Madoff and Stanford
  • Protection from sub-prime lending: Any money borrowed, including details of interest rate, is part of an individual or organizations profile.
  • Providing a means of taxing black market produce, denoted import of unknown origin for instance. This would be applied during exchange.
  • Re-establishing a two sided moral value exchange.
  • Providing business and the consumer another way to make more ethical choices, when they can afford it.
  • Providing an additional way to incentivize ethical choices, e.g.: Recycling companies would offer greener money.
  • Allowing a shop or organization to more clearly identify itself ethically and be recognized as such by its trading profile: e.g. The Body Shop preferring money from green or charitable sources.
  • Associating an additional mark of respect with a persons occupation, for health care and teachers for instance.
  • Making money more noble by fitting the political profile of the individual or organization. Trading profiles could be published, displaying percentages of all money transacted in popular macro categories.
  • Imbuing a person or organisations economic presence with good will.

What Information Should be Maintained?
In light of Moore's law, we are in a position to store any amount of information about money. An initial list of suggestions for the types of information to record about money in a transaction might look like this:
  • Bank issue.
  • Resulting from export, from which country?
  • Resulting from import, produce from which country?
  • Resulting from import of unknown origin.
  • Charitable pay: healthcare, education, fire and police forces.
  • Carbon negative, neutral, positive value.
  • Location.
  • Non GM produce.
  • Organic produce.
  • Kosher produce.
  • Halal produce.
  • Fair trade.
  • Interest accrued in unknown investment.
  • Interest accrued in politically correct investment.
  • Previous owner.
Macro Groups
Clearly there are too many items of information for most people to make any quick and useful judgements about. In order to simplify this new classification of money, macro groups, relevant to each culture could be created for the various factions of society, composed of a number of limiting factors selected from the information available. For example:

General:
  • Local: favoring exports and locally produced revenue, within a specified distance.
  • Jewish: Kosher
  • Islamic: Halal
  • Christian: Fair trade, Organic, Humane.
  • Green: carbon neutral or positive, organic.
Business:
  • Local: favoring exports and locally produced revenue, within a specified distance.
  • Generally ethical.
Changes
For the majority of us, the consumers, our everyday retail experience will not differ by much. Since money paid from a recognised employer will carry the label 'Bank issue', essentially a standard form, into which money again pools when exchanged at the bank. Gradually retail outlets would specify a preference for various currency types, offering financial as well as other incentives.
We already make ethical decisions when we purchase, additionally financial profiles of shops and organisations we are buying from could be made available.
For business to business trading many avenues of altruism are made possible, creating the opportunities for a healthier capitalism.

Associating an ethical attribute with money clearly has many advantages. Yet such a transition also has many issues which must be resolved; to name two:
  • What or who defines the exchange rate between ethical hues? A problem arises: few would deny that practicing medicine is a noble endeavor, but exactly how should that belief be quantified and by who? And what of those occupations we regard as noble but are less skilled?
  • What happens in a predominantly corrupt culture?