Insights September 27th, 2021

Each week Nikolas Badminton curates a weekly list of insights and learnings for progressive executives, world leaders and foresight practitioners – CEO Futures Briefing: Microflier sensors and illegal sand mining.

This week we look at microchips with wings, Mercedes-Benz’s new European battery venture, a model for affordable and zero-carbon homes, illegal sand mining, Nikolas Badminton talking on post-pandemic work, and Jaron Lanier laying out some thoughts on society and tech with Lex Fridman.

Also featured is an insightful interview on the Exponential Minds Podcast with Brett Macfarlane who talks about innovation leadership, anxiety and tolerance to drive change.

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If you have questions about these things we’re sharing, or a challenge with seeing the futures for you and your organization? Reach out to speak with Nikolas today to arrange a time to talk.

Three articles to read to watch

This Microchip With Wings Is The Smallest Flying Structure Humans Have Ever Built

This flying microchip or ‘microflier’ catches wind and spins like a helicopter towards the ground. The microfliers, designed by a team at Northwestern University in Illinois, can be packed with ultra-miniaturized technology, including sensors, power sources, antennas for wireless communication, and even embedded memory for data storage. 

“Our goal was to add winged flight to small-scale electronic systems, with the idea that these capabilities would allow us to distribute highly functional, miniaturized electronic devices to sense the environment for contamination monitoring, population surveillance or disease tracking,” says Northwestern’s John A. Rogers, who led the development of the new device. 

Image Northwestern University

Read more at Science Alert

Mercedes-Benz Plans $8.2 Billion European Battery Venture

Daimler AG will team up with Stellantis NV and TotalEnergies SE to boost the scale of their European battery venture to more than 7 billion euros ($8.2 billion) in a move to secure supplies for electric Mercedes-Benz cars.

The world’s biggest luxury-car maker will take a 33% stake in battery manufacturer Automotive Cells Company, whose projects will be financed through equity, debt and subsidies, Daimler said Friday. ACC aims for capacity of at least 120 gigawatt hours in Europe by the end of the decade, more than double the amount laid out by the two founding partners. 

The venture, which has held talks with French rival Renault SA, is open to adding more partners, Stellantis said separately. Mercedes will invest roughly 500 million euros next year and expects its total spending to remain below 1 billion euros. 

Read more at Bloomberg

Free House – A Model For Affordable, Zero-Carbon Homes By Dark Matter Labs

The Free House project is a speculative idea for a new tenure model for housing; combining the concepts of stewardship, perpetual bond finance and zero-carbon construction. The project is aimed to build a single prototype house as a demonstrator of this new reality, with the home itself being represented as a digital autonomous organisation and held by a civic trust.

The overall aim would be to create a new housing market for high quality, zero carbon homes that become cheaper over time. If successful, this housing model could create a new template for public housing provision – one that’s both genuinely affordable, materially circular, and civically governed.

We would like to especially invite housing activists, developers, designers, and socially minded real estate professionals to this session. Policy makers and administrators in housing and community wealth building. Property lawyers interested in new models of ownership and regenerative construction.

Read more at Untitled

Three videos to watch

Illegal Sand Mining Is Ruining These Countries’ Ecosystems

‘Bad Goods’ is a documentary series for Vice News looking at the worldwide illicit trade market, from wildlife trafficking, counterfeit item selling and sand mining. It will follow key people, from enforcement to traffickers, at the heart of the trade and explore what is behind the demand for illicit products. This episode explores the business of sand mining.

Nikolas Badminton speaks on The Social (Canada) on how will workplaces change once the pandemic is over?

Futurist Nikolas Badminton takes a closer look at employee and employer trends and how they might affect the workplace.

Jaron Lanier: Virtual Reality, Social Media & the Future of Humans and AI 

Jaron Lanier is a computer scientist, composer, artist, author, and founder of the field of virtual reality. Here he covers a lot of ground regarding social media, data ownership and more.

A conversation that counts

Each week we dig into the archives of all of the interviews Nikolas has undertaken with the insightful and entertaining Exponential Minds Podcast. This week we feature a chat with Brett Macfarlane who talks about innovation leadership, anxiety and tolerance to drive change.

The last word…

“Democracy is the menopause of Western society, the Grand Climacteric of the body social. Fascism is its middle-aged lust.”

Jean Baudrillard

About Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas Badminton is the Chief Futurist at and a world-renowned futurist speaker, consultant, researcher, and media producer. He helps trillion-dollar companies, progressive governments and the media shift their mindset from “what is” to “WHAT IF…” The result is empowered employees, new innovative products and incredible growth that leads to more revenues and a more resilient future.

Nikolas advised Robert Downey Jr.’s team for the ‘Age of A.I.’ documentary series, starred in ‘SMART DRUGS – a Futurist’s journey into biohacking’, and features on CTV, Global News, Sirius XM regularly. His mind-expanding research and opinion can be found on BBC, VICE, The Atlantic, Fast Company, Techcrunch, Business Insider, Huffington Post, Forbes, Sputnik and Venturebeat. 

Nikolas provides the opening chapter – ‘Start with Dystopia’ in a new book – ‘The Future Starts Now: Expert Insights into the Future of Business, Technology and Society’ for Bloomsbury. He is currently researching and writing a new book that equips executives and world leaders with insights and foresight tools to imagine disruption, strengthen strategic planning, and see unforeseen risks.Nikolas is a Fellow of The Royal Society for Arts, Manufactures and Commerce – The RSA. The organization has been at the forefront of significant social impact for over 260 years with notable past fellows including Charles Dickens, Benjamin Franklin, Stephen Hawking, Nelson Mandela, and Tim Berners-Lee.

Cities Society Work

Nikolas Badminton

Nikolas Badminton is the Chief Futurist of the Futurist Think Tank. He is world-renowned futurist speaker, a Fellow of The RSA (FRSA), a media personality, and has worked with over 400 of the world’s most impactful companies to establish strategic foresight capabilities, identify trends shaping our world, help anticipate unforeseen risks, and design equitable futures for all. In his new book – ‘Facing Our Futures’ – he challenges short-term thinking and provides executives and organizations with the foundations for futures design and the tools to ignite curiosity, create a framework for futures exploration, and shift their mindset from what is to WHAT IF…

Contact Nikolas