Clement Charles

Clement Charles 's thoughts
July 8th, 2014

A world of data

I just discovered the Good Country website and the Good Country Index, dubbed as a new way of looking at the world. It’s a really interesting proposition and this, for many reasons. Below, more infos about the site and what I find great.

As the founders explains, the idea of the Good Country Index is pretty simple: “to measure what each country on earth contributes to the common good of humanity, and what it takes away“. In terms of sources and data set, the site is using a wide range of data from the U.N. and other international organisations.  “We’ve given each country a balance-sheet to show at a glance whether it’s a net creditor to mankind, a burden on the planet, or something in between”  explains founder Simon Anholt. He adds “it’s important to explain that we are not making any moral judgments about countries. What I mean by a Good Country is something much simpler: it’s a country that contributes to the greater good.”

It will rate important topic for the future of our planet, and even more central for one of the species of this rather unique ecosystem, mankind. You will then information and takings about Science and Technology, Culture, Int’l Peace and Security, World Planet and Climate, Prosperity and Equality or Health and Wellbeing

In addition to the great first site that you can visit right now, the project is questioning the purpose of nation, sparking or contributing to a global debate about what countries are really for. As Simon Arnholt ask on its homepage “Do they exist purely to serve the interests of their own politicians, businesses and citizens, or are they actively working for all of humanity and the whole planet? The debate is a critical one, because if the first answer is the correct one, we’re all in deep trouble”.

Also, in terms of focus, it’s important to note that the Good Country Index doesn’t measure what countries do at home. Nothing new there. Indeed, what the Index does aim to do is to start a global discussion about how countries can balance their duty to their own citizens with their responsibility to the wider world, because this is essential for the future of humanity and the health of our planet.

Simon Arnholt, like many, including me is what I could call a hopeful pessimist or a careful optimist. Things may get better. Not only if know where to go (we do), but also if we have the true will to get there. On its website, Arnholt concludes “Today as never before, we desperately need a world made of good countries. We will only get them by demanding them: from our leaders, our companies, our societies, and of course from ourselves”.

You will agree that the approach is really interesting and quite original. In addition, the project pushes the logic of open data a step further. Indeed, in our world of algorithm and big data, you may access the results (you often do), possibly the data set (it’s rare), the raw data (nearly never) but you can hardly identify the “paradigm”, the philosophy between how raw data are interpreted, on how data set are consolidated and how results uses/ponderate/exclude elements of the data sets. On that site, I really enjoyed the fact that the logic behind the data is full transparent. Indeed, if you want to know is ranked number 2 in ” prosperity and equality” (why?don’t underestimate the importance of good chocolate for all) and 71 in “international peace” (why? we do host the red cross, but we also sell land mines), you can view the whole logic that led to that conclusion at the end of the ranking, by accessible a deep document on the source of data and how they were used. You can also view the whole site by country (ie. Switzerland).

Good initiative. To be followed.


April 9th, 2014

The future of mankind. On Mars. And beyond.

Vision of the event, and of the present and future of the spaces industries

This articles is derived from my presentation, intros and moderation performed on April 9th, at the event Mars & Beyond, organized by the CSEM. The event had a fantastic line up with astronautes such as Claude Nicollier,  Elena Kondakova, moonwalker Charlie Dukem as well as industrial ecology specialist Prof. Erkman or the technical director of the European Space Agency, Mr. Franco Ongaro.

From the dawn of pre-history, pre-historic men and women have always looked at the skies to dream and organize their life or belief. If you see the importance the astrology page in your favorite newspaper, it seems to be still the case today. After nearly 2000 years of writing and dreaming about travelling to the skies and the moon, the 20th century made the giant leap for mankind that we all know. In a bit more than 50 years of existence, the space industry has proven to be the only place on earth or above where nations peacefully collaborate, where the rules of reason and knowledge supersedes all other forms of power, where the spirit of the science blossom and where mankind can show the best of itself.

At the dawn of the new millennium, living times of climatic, economic and social challenges, that great spirit of space is more needed than ever. To solves the problems of Earth and to transform mankind into a truly multi planetary species, the time has come to reach the stars.

To quote the father of modern rocket sciences, Constantin Tsiolkovski, “Earth is the cradle of mankind but one cannot live in a cradle for ever. »

During that event, the audience has been able to hear and see why the sky is not the limit. The sky is the starting line. Indeed, the event did welcome speaker that pushed the limit of mankind, a unique set of fantastic pioneer that started to open the door of a incredibly large new world, the rest of the universe.

Long duration space flights, walking on other planets or orbital engineering are amongst the most important know how to have to make mankind a multi planetary species. Three essentials skills, three essentials experiences and successes, represented today by three unique profile of astronauts, coming today to share with you their experiences in space, and their vision for Mars, and beyond.

To go and succeed in space, you need heroes and public figures like our astronautes. But the mission is only is the visible part of the iceberg, and nothing would be possible without all the talents that stays on the ground. Space agencies, universities or research centers are also essential to the venture. A research center and technology transfer like the CSEM is developing today the technologies that mankind will need tomorrow to go further. Next to the recent boom of the private space, the space agencies have maintained, financed and improved the key engineering competencies inherited from the 60’s until today, while expanding our knowledge the solar system with many successful unmanned vehicles. Last but not least, universities, thinkers and communicators are also a essential link, as sending astronautes in space or making mankind a multi planetary species can only succeed if the production of knowledge, the quest for meaning, the philosophy supporting the action is continuous, ambitious and well shared.

At the Mars & Beyond event, we did not speak about the use of space and orbital ventures. In a world of GPS, smartphones and satellite TV, this is not an open question. We did not speak about the type of fuel to use or the best way to recycle water, as that’s a practical question where many answers are possible and technically valid.

We spoke about Mars. And Beyond, About humanity, mankind, men and women of this planet to expand the reach of our species, boardings space ships tomorrow like pilgrims boarded on the Mayflower yesterday.