Barnabé Monnot

Final year PhD candidate in Singapore, research in algorithmic game theory and large systems with a data-driven approach.

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Scale: The Universal Laws of Growth, Innovation, Sustainability, and the Pace of Life in Organisms, Cities, Economies, and Companies

I really wanted to like this book. I love the ideas that are in there. I was at first suspicious, because I tend to believe most “big picture” macrotheories of the city are either blatantly wrong or push a certain agenda that is not people-oriented. The author acknowledges it from the get-go (ostentatiously name-dropping Jane Jacobs is a certificate of sorts) and did convince me that the results they found do give an insight into the rhythms of the city. More...

The Inner Lives of Markets: How People Shape Them - And They Shape Us

I would recommend the book to someone who is not familiar with economics, as there is no blatant mistake or exaggeration of what the models are as is so often found in popular science takes on economics. The papers that inspire the discussion are classics of the field and you can never learn too much about them, plus the first chapter on the economics of POW camps was entirely new to me. Still, for someone more comfortable with market mechanisms, some parts lack significant nuance, especially towards the end with the brief discussion on the sharing economy and the effects of markets on behaviour, a subject much better treated in The Moral Economy by Samuel Bowles. More...

Carbon Ideologies I: No Immediate Danger

There is a lot going on in this book, and it is my first William T. Vollmann novel as well as a partial read since I have not yet started Volume 2. This volume is divided in two. A long introduction of about 250 pages gives a compendium of different measures, units, formulas related to energy, carbon and everything scientific the remainder of the two volumes use. The second part concerns the first “carbon ideology”, nuclear power. I did also read a lot of criticism (“some of the math is wrong, the anti-nuclear position is dangerous, who cares about alpha and beta waves anyway?”) and to be quite honest, most of the points raised seem quite reasonable. More...

(Partially) Explained Casper CBC specs — Parts one and two

Scaling blockchains in a provably secure manner is an urgent problem. I recently published a two-part post on Medium related to the latest Casper CBC specs. It has visuals to make sure it is clear and is my attempt at describing the often complex issue of consensus. Read on and let me know what you think! [Part one] [Part two] More...

Efficient markets for urban design

Taipei, in an effort to “green” the city after decades of industrialisation and develop alternative modes of transportation, has steadily built a large network of bicycle lanes. The more awkward ones run on parts of sidewalk with two simple parallel lines delineating the space, but the more scenic paths are to be found along its rivers. Though flanked on every side by turbulent expressways and large interchanges feeding into long bridges, once an opening below the motorised hell is passed, you finally access the riverbeds. There, a sinewy bicycle path, following the curves of the stream, connects you from the city to mangroves and picturesque green spaces where herons and fishermen coexist. More...