Shuli Goodman, Executive Director of LF Energy, sees 2022 as really a very important stepping off point for innovation and industrial transformation. “The planet and business are going to begin to go all in in terms of trying to understand what it means to actually decarbonize. And that as we reach this punctuated equilibrium, as people begin to recognize that something fundamental is different, we will begin to see innovations and change happening much more rapidly,” quips Shuli.
She believes that industrial transformation is going to drive all sorts of future seeking. “And as the planet goes future seeking, part of what it’s going to find is that there are very few places that actually can act as sanctuaries for pre-competitive transformation,” adds Shuli. Check out the video above to know what else Shuli is setting her sights on for the year ahead.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is Swapnil Bhartiya, and welcome to our 2022 predictions series. And today we have with us, once again, Shuli Goodman, Executive Director of LF Energy. Shuli, it’s great to have you on the show.
Shuli Goodman: Hi, Swap. It’s really great to be here again.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Before I ask you to pick up your crystal ball and each share your predictions, could you tell us what is LF Energy all about?
Shuli Goodman: Well, I’d like you to think about LF Energy as ground zero for decarbonization of power systems, transportation, and built environment. Power systems lead because we have to transform the grid to get at the transportation and the built environment. And what we’re talking about is the non-differentiated code, the plumbing, and we are an open software, open hardware design, and open specifications, design community. And we’re an ecosystem that lives inside the Linux Foundation.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Excellent. Now it’s time for you to pick up your crystal ball and share with us what predictions do you have?
Shuli Goodman: So we are entering into a period of what I would refer to as a punctuated equilibrium, meaning that we are about to become something really different, fundamentally different from where we’ve been. It’s not a normal change process because we are in essence swapping out the engines of our industry. We are swapping out. It is an industrial transformation.
So my first prediction is that the planet and business are going to begin to go all in in terms of trying to understand what it means to actually decarbonize. And that as we reach this punctuated equilibrium, as people begin to recognize that something fundamental is different, we will begin to see innovations and change happening much more rapidly.
Systems enter into punctuated equilibriums because they either do not have the resources to meet their needs, or because something fundamental has changed in their goals. So the goal of the planet in the next 20 to 30 years is industrial transformation.
Industrial transformation is going to drive all sorts of future seeking. And when I say future seeking, what I mean is that there’s a dominant paradigm that begins actively looking towards the future and understanding what are actually the signals for the future. It is about the direction that we’re going. And so I see 2022 as really a very important stepping off point for innovation and industrial transformation.
Part of what is unique about industrial transformation is that we cannot have one company in a sector. Let’s say a big box store, one big box store, actually decarbonize and the other one’s not. And so the implications are is that if this is not a collective effort.
In other words, if Ikea, Walmart, all of the various different big box stores don’t all together collectively decarbonize, then we essentially will drive off the climate cliff. And what I mean by driving off the climate cliff is that we will reach a point in which those businesses will begin to lose their customers because their customers are actually under way too much stress in terms of extreme weather, losing their jobs because industries, droughts, all sorts of events that we can’t barely predict now.
So future seeking and then industrial transformation and seeing whole sectors actually line up together in terms of changing their fundamental transformation.
The third thing that I would say is that as the planet goes future seeking, part of what it’s going to find is that there are very few places that actually can act as sanctuaries for pre-competitive transformation.
And what I mean by that is that it’s very important that there are politic assessments and political will to transform. So you might have, for instance, the UN or a COP26 make statements about political alignment, but those are not technical communities. And so one waves a flag and creates guardrails and another one actually creates the conditions for the future to emerge. And so I see the Linux Foundation and LF Energy as one of the most important places on the planet for industrial transformation.
Part of what was incredibly important about the Paris Accord was the establishment of an agreement that we need to stay to one and a half degrees in order to ensure that we don’t drive off that climate cliff.
So if the first parts of industrial transformation are transforming our power networks, one of the things that I predict is that the first 50% of decarbonization we perhaps can achieve with brute industrial strength. And I say, go at it, go use that brute strength, and begin laying down the pathways to the future.
But the second 50% actually requires a very different approach because in many ways it’s a bottom up approach. It’s looking at all of our appliances, our devices, all of our processes, all of our things that pull electricity including information and communication technology, and all of our cloud computing, internet networking, all of those things require electricity.
And so for us to get from 50% to 100%, we’re going to have to do a bottoms up innovation, so that those devices that are actually drawing electricity are really beginning to operate in the area that I would describe as radical electron efficiency. So they’re going to have to be extremely efficient about how we use electrons. And I see that LF Energy is at the very beginning of really creating the conditions, the groups, the specification projects for the future to begin to be designed cooperatively and collaboratively in a pre-competitive manner.
The mind that created our power systems networks really came out of what I would refer to as manifest destiny. We believed that we could take whatever it was that we wanted, and we could appropriate it and we could use it. And we don’t necessarily have to track the externalities.
My prediction for the power system networks of the future is that they are going to be much more closely aligned with nature. And in fact, I really hope that they begin to take into account natural patterns, natural systems, that they look more like a forest, or they look like other kinds of natural processes that are billions of years old.
And out there in the world, this is called biomimicry. And if you look for biomimicry and power systems, you will see very little references. I predict in 2022 that we will begin to actually start talking about biomimicry and power systems and really looking how to align the direction, architecture, and principles that undermine power networks as we design them for the future.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Thanks for sharing these predictions. If I ask you what is going to be the focus of the foundation in 2022?
Shuli Goodman: I work along multiple lines, but really it’s around capacity building. It is really focusing on building the capacity of developers of maintainers. You have a lot of developers who come from an individual contributor perspective. And part of what’s really different and unique about open source is that you’re really creating community leaders.
And so I think that one of our most important focuses for 2022 is going to be on building and enhancing the capacity of our maintainers and developers.
I would say the second thing on a more technical level is really around data and data architectures and being able to ensure the integration of our ambitions around decarbonization into the physics of the grid.
Right now carbon accounting stands outside physics, and we need to actually enable carbon as being part of the physics of the grid so that when we look at planning and investments, that we are aligning ourselves with the direction, our North Star, which is the carbonization. So I think those two things.
Swapnil Bhartiya: Shuli, thank you so much for not only sharing these predictions, but also sharing the focus of the foundation next year. And as usual, I would love to have you back on the show next year, not only to have us look hard and see which one of your predictions turned out to be true, but also get predictions for the next year. But thanks for your time today.
Shuli Goodman: Thank you very much, Swap. I really appreciate the opportunity, and I want to wish everyone who is watching a healthy and happy new year for yourselves, for the things that you care about, the people that you care about. Go out, hug a tree, do something that actually gets you engaged in the transformation of power systems and decarbonization. Thank you very much.