WARNING: Summaries are generated by a large language model and may be inaccurate. We suggest that you use the synopsis, short and long summaries only as a loose guide to the topics discussed. The model may attribute to the speaker or other participants views that they do not in fact hold. It may also attribute to the speaker views expressed by other participants, or vice versa. The raw transcript (see the bottom of the page) is likely to be a more accurate representation of the seminar content, except for errors at the level of individual words during transcription.


The world is transitioning to clean energy and technology, but privatisation of energy assets and lack of transparent projections from authoritative sources have led to corruption and slow adoption of clean energy solutions. Rethink X is working to shift the consensus on energy policy and accelerate the shift to clean technology. They are targeting decision makers worldwide and are exploring new strategies to communicate research findings to the public. Solar energy has seen some investment, but the incumbency of the fossil fuel industry is making it difficult to disrupt. Prediction markets and shorting stocks can be used to bet on the future of an industry, but come with their own issues.

Short Summary

The International Energy Agency's projections for solar power installed capacity worldwide have been criticised for their lack of transparency and static mode of thinking. Despite the exponential increase in renewable energy investments since 2010, the agency has failed to update its methodology or pay attention to criticism, instead relying heavily on the energy industry's outlook which is heavily based on fossil fuels. The agency's World Energy Outlook series is still proclaimed to be the world's authoritative outlook, despite its outdated approach.
The US Energy Information Administration has been wrong in their energy projections and forecasts, resulting in large investments being made on the basis of false forecasts. This has caused the US coal industry to collapse, leading to the discontinuation of its index in September 2020. This has resulted in a plundering of public sector investments, such as pension funds and taxpayers' money, as private investors offload the assets while public investments remain in the same prices. It is estimated that two trillion US dollars worth of assets will be worthless by 2030. Privatization of state assets carries long-term risks, as the state retains an investment interest in them and has a perverse interest in not taking action.
Privatization of energy assets in the late 20th century has led to corruption and incentives for public officials to prevent prices from dropping. This has caused deflation of asset values and delayed the adoption of clean energy and clean transportation, which has serious impacts on human health and climate projections. There is a perverse incentive for the climate science community to believe that the transition to clean technology will take longer than it actually does, which can point to authoritative sources suggesting 50-80 years. This motivated reasoning has caused an oversight of public officials.
Rethink X is an organisation that works to shift the consensus on energy policy and accelerate the shift of consensus so those on the trailing edge have to act. Research conducted on the three major disruptions of energy, transportation, and food revealed the climate change implications, and the organisation is aiming to target a worldwide audience of 10,000 decision makers to create the necessary policy changes. To increase their effect, they are looking to expand their strategy to include influencing public consciousness and attacking the situation from multiple sides. They are growing to take on these challenges and explore new strategies over the next one or two years.
Organisations need to develop a new messaging and outreach strategy to effectively communicate their research findings to the public. Tony has identified a way to disrupt the status quo with new paradigms and is considering documentary films, a Netflix series, podcasts, books, and textbooks to reach the public. Precision fermentation and cellular agriculture are two technologies leading the food disruption, but are not receiving much traction due to incumbency. Tyson Foods has recently invested in some startups, but the adoption of solar, wind and battery energy sources to replace fossil fuels is taking a long time. These industries need natural allies to advocate for education around these topics.
Solar energy has seen some investment, but not enough to disrupt the fossil fuel industry. Prediction markets and shorting stocks can be used to bet on the future of an industry, such as precision fermentation, but these methods come with their own issues. It is difficult to predict which companies will become the biggest successes and the incumbency can be a strong retort to any statement about the future.

Long Summary

The International Energy Agency's projections for solar power installed capacity worldwide represent assumptions based on current industry investments and government commitments. However, their methodology is not transparent and has been criticised by many, including a 2014 paper by MIT. Going back to 2010, there was no information about the 2030 projections, and even further back to 2000, the projections are even less reliable.
In 2010, it was already evident that the investments in renewable energy were increasing exponentially. This was clear from the data and had been discussed by people like Kurzweil and Tony Seba for a decade or more. Despite this, the ambitions from the present were limited and the forecast for 2030 was drastically lower than what was actually achievable. This static mode of thinking is inexcusable and does not take into account new information or the exponential trend that was already present.
The International Energy Agency has been making the same mistake for over a decade, continuing to rely on the energy industry's outlook which is heavily based on fossil fuels. This is partly understandable due to the industry's reliance on fossil fuels for the majority of the 20th century, but at this point it appears to be motivated reasoning, as the agency has failed to update its methodology or pay attention to criticism. Despite this, the agency still proclaims its World Energy Outlook series to be the world's authoritative outlook.
The US Energy Information Administration is claiming to be the world's foremost authority on energy projections and forecasts, but they have been wrong in the past, causing large investments to be made on the basis of false forecasts. This is not an innocent mistake, as there are real consequences, such as the US coal industry declining over the last decade, as indicated by the US Energy Information Administration projections and the Dow Jones Industrial Coal Index. This is an example of regulatory capture, where the agency has been kept captive of the fossil fuel industry. This has resulted in large investments being made on the basis of false forecasts, and is inexcusable behavior.
The US coal industry has collapsed, leading to the discontinuation of its index in September 2020. The index had fallen from over 500 points in 2011 to under five when it was discontinued. This has resulted in a plundering of public sector investments, such as pension funds and taxpayers' money, as private investors offload the assets while public investments remain in the same prices. A February 2021 report highlighted this problem, and it is estimated that worldwide two trillion US dollars worth of assets will be worthless by 2030. Privatization of state assets also carries long-term risks, as the state retains an investment interest in them and has a perverse interest in not taking action.
Privatization of energy assets in the late 20th century has likely contributed to the oversight of public officials preventing prices from dropping. This is due to the revolving door between government and private sectors, where many individuals move between the two. This has caused corruption producing incentives and has contributed to the deflation of asset values, even though it was obvious that they would suffer a catastrophic decline. This is now evident for coal, and will soon be for natural gas, gasoline and diesel. This dynamic has motivated denial of what is clearly evident.
Asset values on books and future projected cash flows are kept high by avoiding mistakes, however this will come at a cost to taxpayers when the time comes. Delaying the adoption of clean energy and clean transportation has serious impacts on human health, and climate projections are informed by the same energy forecasts. There is a perverse incentive for the climate science community to believe that we are in bigger trouble than we are as it will take longer to clean up energy and transportation. This motivated reasoning can point to authoritative sources that suggest it will take 50-80 years to make the change to clean technology.
Rethink X is an institution that helps shift the consensus on energy policy, accelerating the shift of consensus so those on the trailing edge have to do something. This has had a dramatic effect on many places around the world in terms of how they treat energy policy. Robin Hansen's work on prediction markets may provide an additional mechanism for avoiding the costs of trends like this.
A team retreat in November discussed the three major disruptions of energy, transportation, and food, and the potential for similar disruptions in health care, education, materials, and manufacturing. Research conducted on the three major disruptions revealed the climate change implications, and led to the question of what the implications of all three disruptions combined would be. Further research is being done to understand the implications of the three disruptions when taken together.
Tony's work initially aimed to target a worldwide audience of 10,000 decision makers, such as government leaders, senior positions in companies and investment decision makers. This strategy has had some success, but not enough to create the necessary policy changes. As a result, the organisation is looking to expand its strategy to include influencing public consciousness and attacking the situation from multiple sides to get a better effect. The organisation is growing to take on these challenges and explore new strategies over the next one or two years.
Organisations need to develop a new messaging and outreach strategy to effectively communicate their research findings to the public. This strategy should consider the content, style and medium of the message, as well as which partners to form partnerships with. Tony had a big impact with his book and engagement trail, but this has been stopped due to COVID-19. Organisations need to find a way to get the message out to avoid costly mistakes and gain benefits.
Tony is successful in the investor community and has identified a way to disrupt the status quo with new paradigms. He and his team are trying to figure out the best way to communicate this message and have maximum impact. They are considering documentary films, a Netflix series, podcasts, books, and textbooks to reach the public and key decision makers. People making a living from these new paradigms are likely to amplify and spread the message.
Precision fermentation and cellular agriculture are two technologies that are leading the food disruption, but they are not receiving much traction due to the incumbency. Tyson Foods has recently invested in some startups, but it has taken a surprisingly long time for the adoption of solar, wind and battery energy sources to replace fossil fuels. These industries have messaging challenges and need natural allies to advocate for education around these topics in their countries and regions.
Solar energy has seen some investment, but not enough to disrupt the fossil fuel industry. It is difficult to pick winners in the sector, as evidenced by the internet boom in the 90s and 2000s, where it was hard to predict which companies would become the biggest successes. A thought experiment suggests that the same is true for precision fermentation, as the total invested value in this field cannot be used to make an argument that it will disrupt everything.
Prediction markets allow people to bet on the future of an industry or currency. For example, a prediction market could be used to bet on the number of liters of milk produced from cows in 2030. This could be a way of exposing the lack of confidence in a certain industry, such as precision fermentation companies, which may be seen as a replacement for the milk industry. However, prediction markets have their own problems, such as the incumbency being a strong retort to any statement about the future. Shorting stocks is also a form of prediction, as investors are betting that the incumbent currency will decline in some way.
Prediction markets are used to inform decision making and can have an impact on the value of a stock, but their time horizons tend to be shorter than contracts. This can lead to a gap between what insiders know and what the public knows about a situation, such as a risky rocket. The internet has helped to reduce this gap by providing informal mechanisms such as prediction markets, allowing for more accurate and timely decision making.
There is a rapid formation of new scientific institutions, mostly in the US, that are outside of the usual scientific funding systems, which often favour older researchers over younger ones. DeepMind is an example of this, and RethinkX may be able to leverage this to integrate with these new institutions, much as the Royal Society did during the Industrial and Scientific Revolutions. There is potential for RethinkX to form partnerships with these new entities, and the speaker suggests that this could be further explored.

Raw Transcript

yeah uh well not very many of us obviously it's and i figured we would just have a general open-ended unstructured discussion in any case i didn't uh plan a formal presentation of any kind i thought we have a fair bit to digest especially after brad was kind enough to join us last week and give us a taste of some of the examples that he's covering in his upcoming book which i'm really pretty excited about um so that was the main thing was just to kind of chat here and uh and continue to mull over the the things we've already been thinking about and see if there are any other interesting new directions we might go in the new year um these two uh slides that i've got here and i'm happy to show those next time as well if other anybody else who's not here today is interested in seeing them these are these are just uh examples of poor technology forecasting that we had that we um tend to cite in our work uh and i should i should probably qualify these these um the agencies that make these uh do they do too quite uh i'm trying to find a nice way to exp and non-accusatory way of of framing the rationale that they uh they use to justify these sorts of sorts of projections and forecasts right i think the most charitable case that i can make is for on behalf of these um uh these folks is that they are they tend to claim that this is these forecasts represent a set of assumptions that um that reflect current commitments that have already been demonstrated by industry investment and governments um and it's their their actual methodology is is not open it's it's opaque it's not transparent we don't we are not able to see what they're actually doing if anything um rigorous oh when they're making these forecasts but that's the the the main rationale that we see when when they face criticism when they faced it not just from us but from other many others um going back to i think the first example of this criticism that i've seen is in 2014 in a paper by some some folks at mit but at any rate um uh so these projections for solar power um which is in installed capacity worldwide that's what the international energy agency's projections are in its world energy outlook series um they they ostensibly represent what uh is already in is already in the pipeline except that you know there is nothing in the pipeline for 2030. if you go back to 2020 uh 20 to 2010 for example or especially if you go back to the year 2000 but if you if you were to go back to 2010 there was no information about
uh what was what was in the pipeline for the late 2020s or 2030 and so it's it's starkly disingenuous what what they're claiming in any case um uh so i i i again i'm trying to be a little try to be as charitable as i as i can but it's difficult these are this is just listen it isn't also that methodology basically presuming a steady state of something i mean this is the thing is it's it's presuming it's presuming investment and uh i mean if you've already got it planned for 2030 and that's the number you take it's explicitly assuming nobody new will decide to do it between now and 2030 right something like that yeah but i think it's actually worse than that because the um uh it's it's it's not only that nothing can change but that um the ambitions from the present are very are very minimal they're limited right so it would be one thing to to make an accurate forecast of 2030 and then and then stick to it or you know update it over time incrementally or something like that but this isn't even as you can see this isn't anywhere close to the right ballpark so it sort of has two problems one is that it is is that it it's sort of representative of a of a static mode of thinking um that only changes incrementally rather than taking on new information and two that that mode of thinking is clearly you know off it's wrong by by uh several orders of magnitude so it's it's just it's it's so i mean it's very difficult to defend it's it i'm i'm again i'm trying to be charitable um but it's this there's if i speak more candidly this is simply inexcusable um just methodology methodologically it's inexcusable just in in terms of this the scale of the of the errors that are here given given was already evident in by 2010 so what you can't see on this on the scale of the y-axis here is that that exponential trend was was was already well evident by 2010. so if you zoomed in uh the scale on the y-axis you know it would look still look exponential the trend was already there completely consistent in the data or um and it had been for a decade by 2010 maybe even longer than that and closer to two decades really although the absolute quantity was very small in the 1990s so you could be forgiven for not making inferences that far ahead perhaps um but by 2010 people were already talking about this kurzweil had been talking hammering on about it for a decade or more and people like my boss tony seba already published books about this and so there was really no excuse by 2010 to be
continuing to make the same mistake and yet the agency has continued to make the state mistake for another decade up until the present so it's at this point it's really quite inexcusable if i had to in my opinion so if i had to force you what percentage would you attribute to uh motivated reasoning or something like corruption and what is just simply the expected effect of decisions by consensus where there's i don't know what the international energy agency is but presumably it's a kind of consensus-building body drawn drawing committee members from many other agencies and governments and institutions i think it is partially but i think it's a very large component of its governance is the energy industry itself which compromises its uh documents like this in a big way as you can imagine right so um energy was more or less synonymous with fossil fuels with you know ignoring 15 or 20 percent from nuclear power and hydropower is it basically synonymous with fossil fuels for a century during the 20th century and so you could be forgiven for having you know the international agency an international energy agency a an indian a non-governmental independent organization basically an independent industry organization um it can be forgiven for representing the interests of the energy industry and and the outlook of the energy industry um because in and to see things through the lens of fossil fuels because it really was uh the energy sector really was mostly fossil fuels um for a very very long time and up until only just recently so in that sense there's a little it's a little bit forgivable but it or maybe maybe explicable probably is a better word than forgivable it's understandable um but i if i if you were to twist my arm i would probably say that at this point it's not incompetence uh or motivated reasoning or um anything methodological really at this point the industry the the the uh sorry the agency has come under so much fire so much criticism that um it it it has to be making an active effort to ignore fail to update its its methodology and to ignore signs all around um and so i would say at this point i mean if you'd asked me 10 years ago my answer would be different but if but today we're on the almost in 2022 no sign of change from this organization i think it has to be almost entirely motivated reasoning um based on the incentives uh uh at this point this th this world energy outlook series is unfortunately this the agency still proclaims it to be the world's authoritative outlook um
source for energy uh projections and forecasts so it's it's um i haven't have a quote for that i think it's still on their website so they claim to be the world's foremost authority on this i mean they're they're saying this is just what we think take it or leave it they're claiming to be the the most authoritative source of information of this kind and very large investments in the you know in the in the tens of billions of dollars made each year by governments and by um other you know uh uh entities and including the investments made on behalf of you know me through our pensions and so forth um on the basis of these false false forecasts about the future of technology in the energy sector so there are real consequences to this and it's it's i think at this point it's really as i said i think it's quite quite inexcusable behavior frankly um and uh it probably has been for quite a while um so let me jump to the next slide and expand on why i think it's this is so destructive and why the consequences are so severe um we you know this is not an innocent and consequence-free mistake that's happening here the next slide is is projections for coal in uh quadrillion btus so that's the unit energy unit this is the the measure of energy generated by coal in the united states this is from the united states energy information administration so this is part of our government it's widely viewed to be quite a prime example of regulatory capture where this this agency has been in has more or less been kept a captive of the fossil fuel industry for quite some time now at least the later ones are sloping down slightly yeah slightly right but can you see any wishful thinking here at all that's pretty amazing yeah i mean it's kind of ridiculous right now here's the thing if uh if you own substantial amount of uh assets in the coal industry or if you owned them over the last decade and the the you know the the authoritative source from the government and certainly the industry as well was telling you that everything was going to be fine and in fact things were you know marching towards collapse as they are um you would be losing a lot of money uh what i don't have here is the is the um is another good very good indication of where the u.s coal industry has headed over the last decade as the um the dow jones industrial coal index there's an index of coal the major coal um companies that were publicly traded the dow jones folks over there maintained that index for i don't know 20 years or something
like that and they discontinued it in september of 2020 i think um and they discontinued it because the value of the index so this is this you know this is the index value of the all of the the um stocks from i forget how many companies were in the index at one point was dozens um it had fallen from it had fallen over 99 since 2011 i think was the previous peak so in indexed it was at 500 and something points um and it was under five when they when they just discontinued the reporting it because the industry had had properly collapsed so the u.s in the coal industry is dead it's this is it is in complete collapse do you have an estimate for the size of the plunder here maybe plunder is actually a fair word i mean if if uh public sector investments are like pension funds or things that taxpayers are on the hook for continue to invest according to these prices while private investors are offloading these assets like mad isn't there a case to be made that the officials in the government are essentially participating in i mean a plundering of social security and other investment sources from public taxpayer funds sure i think there's a very strong case to be made for that we argue that for that uh our that our february 2021 report we looked at the levelized cost of energy he pointed to this specific problem and um you know it's it's not something that we are likely to pursue aggressively but we we certainly should you know try to shine a bit of a spotlight on this issue and encourage others to then take that forward um i i think that it's it's pretty clearly a legitimate complaint from the perspective of ratepayers slash taxpayers um in the energy sector that they are you know the the public are being saddled with with um worldwide at least at least two trillion dollars u.s dollars worth of assets that are going to be worth nothing in 2030. do you have an opinion about this this is a you know this is this is a it's a scandal certainly and it's it's one that's happening all over the world do you have an opinion it occurred to me last time we had this conversation that this some argument to be made here that there are long-term risks to privatization of state assets that are maybe not so obvious so if you privatize energy assets say i mean not only uh power plants but other infrastructure to do with energy and then you retain those assets or investments in them in return for the privatization so the state has an investment interest in them it's therefore there's a perverse interest for many
officials to prevent those prices from dropping and that perverse incentive includes convincing themselves of false things like this graph very clearly shows is it possible that privatization of the energy s assets in many companies over the late 20th century is directly responsible for the level of stupidity that is illustrated in the oversight of public officials of these kinds of crafts that we're looking at here i mean they're clearly incentivized not to believe that these asset values are dropping even though they are and i guess the question is why yeah it's it's i think that's certainly i think that's a plausible piece of what's going on it may vary substantially from one region to another one one um market to another one country to another but i think that i think it's perfectly reasonable to suppose that that that that is a piece of what's happening i think it's in some places for example the united states i think it's complicated by the fact that we do have a a rather grotesque revolving door between government and private private sector right so so many of the um uh individuals who serve in the appointed um leadership positions of these agencies like our department of energy and and um and so forth uh they will there they will be from industry originally and then they enter government and then they exit government and head back into industry and this is the so-called revolving door and um uh so the the there are i think there there are corruption producing incentives multiple directions um simultaneously between the government and and uh the private sector that that certainly in in many u.s energy markets are have served to to deflate the value of these assets um uh long past when it was obvious that they were going to be that they were going to you know suffer sort of catastrophic um decline to worthlessness um this is now completely evident for coal you're still in denial about it repeating about history repeating itself for for um natural gas in the energy sector and for gasoline and diesel in the transportation sector which is the bulk of of petroleum liquid petroleum products the bulk of those by by quantity by by volume and by um uh economic value is for is as fuels and those are all going to be disrupted by the transportation disruption as we've as we've talked about so that that same dynamic is going to play out there so yeah we've got we've there's no question we've got a whole set of incentives that motivate um uh denial of what what's pretty clearly um
on the cards uh it is so that these these asset values on the books stay high so the future projected cash flows stay high um and uh when you know your metaphor right when the chickens come home to roost when the hits the fan whatever you want to say um it is it'll be the taxpayers then the public that are almost certainly going to be left holding the majority of the bag and and we'll have to suffer that um loss so there's it's a it's a consequential um situation right these these these things are these are avoidable mistakes that have very large financial consequences they have other consequences too i mean you know the um uh slowing down the adoption of clean energy and clean transportation has very has very serious and and um you know at the statistical level measurable impacts on human health right so you delay change over to clean energy and clean transportation by five years you know you're measuring the numbers of lives say lives saved in the tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands in a country the size of the united states over time so this is not inconsequential and then the other thing is the my poor silly own headed colleagues in the environmental disciplines take these forecasts seriously too of course they should know better but they don't and they don't listen to people like me very well they certainly haven't in the past and so their climate projections um uh are informed by these same energy forecasts and uh in in some ways there's there are some perverse incentives there too right the climate science community has some incentive uh and i don't wanna i don't wanna you know make this it's certainly not a conspiracy but but there's certainly some incentive to have some motivated reason to believe that that uh you know we're in bigger trouble than we are because it will take longer to clean up energy and transportation food for example um clean up these these three major um greenhouse gas emitting sectors of the economy uh you know it's easy much easier to to um uh what's the right word to to indulge alarmist alarmism and to leverage that various reasons uh if you can point to a so-called authoritative source that says you know we can't possibly make this change to clean technology you know by the 2030s it's going to take you know it's going to take 50 to 80 years to make that change and uh you know there's so there's motivated reasoning on the in the climate science community and the environmental community as well because they can point to these same forecasts
and say no we have to cut consumption we have to adopt lifestyle changes we have to do all of these other things some of which are ideologically motivated not rationally motivated and we have to do those because the energy for uh forecasts from the authoritative sources are telling us there's no way we're going to be able to switch anytime soon and so there's there's there's quite a bit of um button uh uh and ill-incentivized um nonsense going around yeah you know in a kind of a toxic relationship between parties that should otherwise be fairly antagonistic towards one another but but incentives aligned to kind of maintain this trade a bit i think which is a strange situation right i mean it's it's strange and it's not obvious it's not intuitive but it is i think it is a i think it explains a fair amount of what we see strange and very robust i guess let me ask a critical question about rethink x as an institution so let's take for granted that uh many of the people responsible for this particular trend in energy and ignoring the trend more accurately could easily have known uh but choose not to know or know and ignore the fact uh if rethink x comes up with very compelling evidence in area after area and even if there's a great theory that makes a very convincing case for how all these trends are linked or sort of inevitable what is the actual mechanism of effect on the behavior of society that helps society to avoid uh what us poor taxpayers avoiding from uh footing the bill for trend after trend like this uh i mean you you get the consensus to i mean it's okay here's bluntly what i imagine the effect of rethink x is and you can comment uh you help to shift the consensus a little bit or accelerate the shift of consensus so that the the overton window shifts enough that people on the like trailing edge no longer can get away with just hiding in the herd and they have to actually do something if that's kind of accurate i mean okay you're having an effect now it seems a very dramatic effect on the behavior of many places around the world in terms of how they treat energy policy but in some sense it's extremely late right so you surely accelerated this a bit but if that's the best that one can hope to do then well it's a little bit depressing are there any other mechanisms beyond this one do you think i mean let me just throw one out there i've read quite a lot from robin hansen about prediction markets and stuff like that i mean there's a problem where somehow there's information that
people are not paying attention to because they're incentivized otherwise inside their institutions and the other ways we organize society are there other ways that you can think of sort of bypassing those mechanisms that i mean don't work by actually trying to massage those institutions and get the people in them to behave the right way but somehow our more accelerated forcing function on their behavior yeah i mean this is a this is a great question this is a question that we asked ask ourselves constantly we had a we had a uh something of a retreat a team retreat um in november and this was the center of the the discussion which is you know we we've done our basic analyses of these of three major disruptions are coming um and and we've outlined the broad features of that the energy the transportation and the food disruption there are others that are that are often but they're perhaps not at quite that same scale but we can imagine there may be there may be similar disruptions offing for health care for perhaps education for perhaps um materials uh and manufacturing in some sense um so uh there may be there may be there may be something more coming um in in the information sector uh with with different computing technologies we've got you know um we've got artificial intelligence and machine learning and we've got quantum computing and a few things that that that may we we it's not these aren't areas we're working on right now but it's possible to imagine that there could be a few other major disruptions that are also coming but the three that we focused on are really sort of the foundation that we've built the work that we're going to be doing over the next few years going forward is not so much adding to that list of major disruptions but rather looking at the three that we've already analyzed and trying to understand okay what are the going to be the implications of just those three um especially when you look at the three of them in combination with one another i mean understanding that all three of them are going to overlap what what does this affect and um the first uh piece of work research work that we did on that was was what the climate change implications might be and and that was um i think a decent piece of work but the larger question then is is exactly what you asked dan which is okay well we've got we've had we've we've done some analysis um we've uh reached some surprising conclusions we see some interesting uh larger broader implications based on
that on those okay how how how do we inform decision making others around the world and our strategy initially so for the first three or four years of our existence as an organization and before that a decade before that with with um tony's work was to target a a worldwide audience of about 10 000 decision makers these are you know big institutional investors um the the uh and and um basically the major decision making individuals um in who are nested within large institutions that can that can deploy capital um and make influential uh shifts in in the course of their um uh the course of their country or their economy or their industry and so forth so we're talking about leaders in government people in senior positions in government maybe leaders is it's not the right word but certainly people in senior decision making capacities and governments senior decision making capacities in large companies um and uh decision makers in investment and that was that strategy for the first three or so years but what we realized is that that just doesn't seem to be enough we've had some good results i mean we've had no notable policy changes in a handful of major um markets and countries which is very very encouraging um that have been at least at least partly attributed to to our work or our work of course as you guys know is just part of a rising tide and we're not the only not the only voice in the wilderness but the um i think we've done some good work and it's had some impact but it we're not i mean we're trying to be realistic and see that this is just not changing things as fast as it needs to change uh as fast as they need to change and this is very frustrating and so one of the things that we talked about is uh um our strategies for shifting the public consciousness about around these issues at the same time as influencing um the key decision makers and sort of um what's the right word was that flanking you know pinching um having some sort of picture maneuver where you're talking you're you're attacking the situation from from um uh from both sides and um or from multiple sides and sort of um getting a better effect that way and and so we don't have a sort of a we have not ironed out specific strategies yet which this is all still stuff that we're open to thinking about and we're brainstorming about and we're going to begin exploring over the next a year or two um we're growing your organization specifically to to try to take on some of these challenges and some of these
projects but the thinking is we've got to reach the public and you know we're not going to be able to do that effectively with writing a big report every six months or a year we have to have a number of other different strategies be more effective and it's so i guess this is this is a very long-winded way of saying that um you know we need a new messaging and outreach and communication strategy um in addition to being carrying on and continuing to do more work especially on the implications of the analyses that we've done already that needs to happen that research work still needs to happen but we need to do more than just the work we need to we need to um uh better messaging and so there are there are there's there are the content of the message the style of the message to consider the medium like you know which channels do we utilize uh which partners uh do we or partnerships do we form and partners uh who might they be this is all the kind of thing that we're thinking of right now um because it really is a problem um to to have identify a situation and see that you know submergent action would really be beneficial if if if we could take it as as you know at any level and you know from us from you know closing even individual households but certainly from from the community level all the way up to the national level um we could be making much better choices than we are at the moment and uh avoid some serious losses and you know avoid some costly mistakes and and gain some great benefits and if we make good choices now make a big difference um but we need to figure out how to get people um get the message across better so anyway this is this is this is now a big organizational challenge for us it's so uh i i don't have great answers to this and it's and as you as you might imagine it's not my expertise either um so we'll um see what we come up with and what works and what doesn't but i think we're going to be trying a whole bunch of new things um uh yeah the the um i mean i suppose i should say i should give tony credit where credit is due i think for one individual who is basically just you know who was who wrote a book and then you know beat the drum beat out on the speaker engagement trail he did he had a pretty big impact you know for just one person um and that was a model that was you know um he was fairly content to continue um and then when then we started when we started dealing with covid and you know its speaking engagement stopped being possible it really made us
s you know just grind to a halt on that front and reach and sit down and really rethink okay what are we doing what are we doing here what is that the right model should we just be doing this completely differently should we be making documentary films should we be should we be raising funds for a netflix series should we should we be doing a podcast should we be writing children's books should we be doing you know uh writing textbooks for high school and undergrads what should we be doing to get this out there you know we're already reaching investors tony is already successful in in in you know in that it's quite an extent in that community um so what else can we do and so that's where that's where a lot of our thinking is right now on that front [Music] it's a tricky it's a tricky nut to crack you know and um the one hand you know that's great it's very positive news in some ways it's it's it's news you would imagine everybody would love to hear and then in other ways it's it's sort of because it it's it's um it does run contrary to some existing established existing narratives and it does by its nature disruption not aligned with the status quo in many ways this is not a message that's easily communicated or easily received um so it's it's uh we have some we have some real challenges there and of course this is all assuming that we're more correct and we are wrong which you know there's no guarantee of i mean i i think we're probably on to something here i think these charts for example that i've shown here they they are some evidence that we're probably on a better track than than the incumbent industries are but we could be wrong about all this too we need to be honest about that as well so but assuming that you mean that we're more right than wrong um yeah we'd be great to get the uh to change the thinking change the zeitgeist in general and then to really have that um should be from the bottom up from the public and then from the top down from key decision makers as well that would be ideal the question is just okay how do we do that with maximum impact and effectiveness i guess you have a natural i mean a bit like merchants with regards to democratic constitutional reforms and so on you have a natural political constituency in those making a living or seeking to make a living out of the new paradigms in each area right like presumably the people in precision fermentation on board with your message and will amplify and spread it and uh are happy to
advocate for education around these topics in their countries and regions and so on is that true in each of these areas is there like a natural constituency who's aligned to the message uh not not just because they want to be correct about something but because they're kind of skin in the game uh i suppose it's also true with energy oh yeah i mean we we certainly have there's there's no question that that um these the the for example just specific examples like the one you mentioned the precision fermentation industry the cellular ag agriculture industry those those are sort of the two technologies um so impossible burger is a precision fermentation technology that makes uh very very accurate simulations of animal products with plant based ingredients and clever biology and chemistry cellular agriculture is the is the growing of uh of animal tissue in in um vitro right yeah and and so those two industries are of course massively bullish and and on our analysis they are um uh with no no surprise and of course they're very busy trying to do this this same thing they do they have they have a messaging challenge very much of a sort with us um at least for the food disruption so we have some natural i guess you could call them allies in these new uh industries the disruptors who are leading those industries but that you know this it's it's surprising how little regard those new industries um are are how are given how how little traction they're given um because the in the incumbency really does uh hold sway in the public narratives and the public uh consciousness in mind and and then also in in existing leadership as far as we can tell in leadership in in a variety of different capacities even in the investment community i mean that there are there are not that many people that many folks who are rushing to invest in these new food technologies yet i mean there are some encouraging signs and some big players are starting to get some skin in the game like tyson foods is a very large food corporation in the united states one of the largest ones and they've recently put a large investment in um directly into some of these startups but um it's it's it takes it's taken a surprisingly long time um we've you know the as far along as uh you know switching gears to energy as far along the growth curve um this this this uh adoption s curve the disruption s curve is uh solar and wind and batteries are um you know it's it there hasn't been a complete divestment from fossil fuels yet
and um a lot of people have made a lot of money investing in solar but uh you it hasn't been an exodus from the from the from the entire fossil fuel industry the way you might think i mean coal is is on is is taking a beating but you know you would think with writing on the wall for all of it it would be is one of the problems so is that's one of the problems yeah i was just gonna i mean i was thinking about maybe it was one of the things you gave me i read something about the history of the production of uh photovoltaic cells and you know how that went backwards and forwards between germany japan and china was it the us as well and yeah how just knowing the trend doesn't necessarily mean you can pick a winner to invest in and it's maybe not trivial to like invest in the sector because when it's a startup when i mean when it's even at this stage maybe say with a precision fermentation maybe you know if you just evenly invest in all the companies doing it you'll probably lose a lot of money that's right yeah it's very difficult to pick winners just the internet uh starting in the 90s and then into the early 2000s after the first dot com crash in 99 it's a very similar sort of situation it was very hard to pick the winners it came out of that it was not at all clear in the mid 1990s that it was going to be the winners were going to be apple facebook google uh uh microsoft and um amazon right i mean you know only two of those even existed in in in in the internet space um at that at that time and if you could say apple did but it was mostly amazon um and microsoft and and apple to a to a much much much lesser degree and of course there was no facebook there was no google in the mid-1990s um yeah everybody knew at that point and i would say everybody but certainly there was a massive interest among investors to begin investing in what was quite clearly going to be a major growth opportunity maybe they didn't even realize quite how staggering the internet would be but they knew there was something big happening there but picking those winners was really really hard so here's the thought it's a very similar situation now yeah so here's a thought experiment so okay you can't point to maybe the total invested value in precision fermentation to make an argument that it's going to disrupt everything right i mean the reason the iea can point to these figures and not look completely stupid is that well maybe there's not any other big number to point to that's objective
which shows that there's an anti-consensus against this position right so so if you have these precision fermentation companies well if if it's so clear that they're going to replace the milk industry and so on well why isn't everybody putting their money in it they can people can ask this question and it's maybe difficult to answer without sounding like you're kind of evading the question right in the way we just did it's a good it's a good rhetorical right but there's just no clear way for that capital to be allocated but suppose there was a prediction market where you had some objective number like the number of liters of milk produced from cows or something else that you can kind of measure in a way that can't be gamed and then you ask these i mean if there existed a prediction market for that where people got to bet on what that number would be in 2030 and then you make a big bet on that and then you ask the people well why don't you take the other side of the bet if you're so sure about your numbers or how short are you actually uh i mean that kind of thing might be a way of at least exposing the lack of confidence i mean actually ia projections or the projections of some milk company that thinks in fermentation is nonsense they're not actually confident predictions it's just that nobody gets to call them on their hand right because there's no there's no market mechanism apart from investing in their challenges to to show objectively that their position is as weak as it actually is yeah i'm just sort of i don't expect i mean prediction markets have their own problems i guess but part of the problem is that you you know it's on the one side you have the incumbency which is such a strong retort to any statement about like how obvious it must be that certain things are going to be the way they are in say 2030. um but yeah it's it's um it and the prediction i guess i guess a couple of thoughts here and i'm not you know my investment and that and finance are i have i have no expertise in these domains at all so these are just you know uh thoughts that are not really any more sophisticated than from from a proper lay person but um it it it strikes me as one of the major issues with with with prediction markets for prediction of all kind whether explicit prediction markets or implicit markets for prediction for example like you know the uh uh investors short stocks as well which is a prediction of that the incumbency is going to um uh value the incumbent currency is going to decline in some way
right um uh i think for both of those the big problem is the time horizon right i mean it's it's it's ten years five five years even just even less than that even you know it's two or three years that's such a long way out um that it's it's since since contracts are pretty tend to be shorter than that and um it's it probably those those prediction markets probably are are have an operative impact on the value because they don't aren't able to inform decision making right away and it's it's so when people are shorting a stock i mean maybe they're they're you might have a few investors who are doing that on a long-term basis so i'm going to bet this company is going to be in decline within within three years or something like that but i think it tends to be a more short-term um uh mechanism um and so the the i guess i guess the i guess my point of my thinking and bringing this up is how do you get uh how how do you operationalize in longer term time horizons or um and that information that comes out of you know forecasting those how do you operationalize that in a way that that is valuable valuable enough right now that it can fly in the face of the you know the incumbent the incumbency and and and uh um and their their position that you described right that you know well if this was such a sure thing why is anybody still investing in this kind of thing yeah i don't know about the long term that's yeah i'm sort of thinking of the intermediate term i mean think about it as the as the challenger problem right with the nasa rocket so all the engineers are a large number of engineers in nasa knew the rocket was risky but all the managers could pretend otherwise and the politicians could pretend otherwise because who asks the engineer nobody goes down and finds random engineer in the production bay and ask them what they think but suppose you have situations like that with energy or other trends where they're far enough along that it's sort of obvious to all the insiders at least the ones who aren't in public facing positions where their incentives are skewed by various things it's obvious to a lot of insiders that yeah it's going to go this way but there's at least a few years or more to go before the public understands that this is what most of the insiders really think uh right there may be a way of shortening that gap which makes use of even informal mechanisms like prediction markets right where you just yeah that's a good point i think there's a lot of i mean the internet's helped a
lot with that right where you get to see the opinions of kind of insiders that aren't like don't pass through the gatekeepers who would otherwise prevent you from knowing that certain things sort of are the way they are so you can if you know how to dig on the internet you can often figure out what's sort of going on in a field outside your own um but there remains i guess anyway that's them [Music] i just had one thought on a different topic before we have to wrap up uh i'm paying quite a lot of attention to there's a very rapid series of formation of new scientific institutions mostly in the us one's called new science but there's quite a few of them mostly around biotech but also other areas of technology where they're outside of the usual scientific funding systems which have come to be i mean there's ridiculous statistics like uh i think there's more funding given to people who are over the age of 65 in some scientific domains than there is to people under the age of 40 or 35 i don't know but if you look at the history of scientific innovation usually it happens with people who are fairly young but they're not who get funded anymore so there's been a lot of thinking done recently in reaction to that and people are starting i mean deep mind is a good example of basically what is a scientific institution outside of the normal uh system of higher education and universities and research but which is at the forefront of research in many areas not just in their original area of say ai i wonder if the some of the work we think x is supposed to do uh is to integrate with the new institutions that are being formed you know much as the royal society played an important role in the development of the industrial revolution and the scientific revolution um if this isn't an era of new things and one of the ways rethinkx might uh leverage the formation of new things is to engage with the people who form them i think this is a brilliant suggestion um uh yeah we in our recent team retreat we talked about need to form partnerships various kinds i think we were sort of estimating a little bit in the same direction but i don't believe we explicitly discuss new uh scientific um entities institutions or or organizations or entities that are starting to emerge um but that is a fantastic suggestion dan maybe you and i can take it offline if you want to point me in the right direction of a couple of these that you've had your eye on that would be great yeah well then all right maybe yeah yeah