The Coming Era of Mega Systems, Part 1 – Transportation

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on December 16th, 2014

Let me begin with a couple questions. 

Question #1: The U.S. has two countries that touch its borders – Canada and Mexico. But what is its third closest neighbor?

While most would probably look at the island nations in the Caribbean, the third closest is actually Russia, a scant 2.4 miles away, the distance between Alaska’s Little Diomede Island and it’s sister Big Diomede Island on the Russian side of the Bering Strait. During the winter an ice bridge usually forms between the two islands and a person can actually walk from the U.S. to Russia. 

Question #2: Is it possible to drive a car from North America to South America?

The answer to this question is “no,” because plans for the highly publicized Pan-American Highway were never completed, leaving a 60 mile gap across a dense jungle region, known as the Darian Gap, between Panama and neighboring Columbia. 

Both the Bering Strait and the Darian Gap will require 50-60 mile tunnels or bridging systems to connect North America with Asia and South America. And both are part of the massive disconnect in our global transportation network, a network that has been growing for centuries. 

Ground transportation, however, is far different than air travel where the Montreal-based International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has been working for nearly a century to create a more cohesive global air transportation network. With its ever-improving standards and operational procedures, air transportation has become far safer than anything on the ground. 

That said, ground transportation is on the verge of major transformation.

Emerging technologies ranging from driverless cars and trucks, to ultra high-speed rail, and vacuum tube transportation networks are all creating an urgent need for a global solution.

Without something similar to the ICAO, it’s easy to envision three separate approaches to bridging the Bering Strait and the Darian Gap, one for roads, one for rail, and one for future tube transportation.

Rather than forcing three colossal bridge/tunnel projects to be built across environmentally sensitive areas, a single, all-inclusive approach would be far better. 

For each of these current disconnects, and there are far more than the two that I’ve mentioned, it’s not a matter of “if” they will be built, but “when.” Here’s why.
Read the rest of this entry »

Our Newest Unit of Measure – 1 Human Intelligence Unit – and why it will Never Happen

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on December 9th, 2014

I’ve been closely watching the debate on artificial intelligence with people like Rodney Brooks saying it’s only a tool, and others like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking giving bone chilling warnings of how it could lead to the destruction of all humanity.

As I was pondering these differing points of view, it occurred to me that we currently don’t have any real way of measuring the potency of AI. How will we ever know there is a real threat of danger if we have no way of measuring it?

For this reason, I’d like to propose the creation of a standard for measuring AI based on “1 Human Intelligence Unit.”

Similar, in some respects, to James Watt’s ingenious way of calculating horsepower as a way of gauging the mechanical muscle behind his ever improving steam engines, I’d like to make a crude attempt at quantifying, in numerical terms, the influence of 1 Human Intelligence Unit (HIU). 

Since horsepower is a rather one dimensional measure of force, and human intelligence is a complex, multidimensional combination of personal attributes that include thinking, reasoning, determination, motivation, emotional values, memories, fears, and frailty, the simple notion of quantifying human brainpower quickly mushroomed into one of those “infinity plus one” questions where the answer has become more of a philosophical debate rather than something we could assign a meaningful integer to. 

Over the past few weeks I found myself immersed in this quandary, looking for a simple but eloquent approach vector for solving the 1 HIU riddle. 

To put this into perspective, imagine a scene 20 years from now where you are walking into your local robot store to compare the latest models before you buy one for your home. The three models you’re most interested in have tags listing their HIUs as 4.6, 12.4, and 24.0 respectively.

Depending on whether you’ll use your robot to simply follow orders or to become a well-rounded sparing partner to debate the issues of the day, the HIU rating will become a hugely valuable tool in determining which one to choose. 

For this reason, I’d like to take you along on my personal journey to solve for “infinity plus one” in the area of human intelligence, and the startling conclusions that are likely to disrupt all your thinking.

Read the rest of this entry »

Introducing the Maslow Self-Actualization House

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on December 1st, 2014

For the past several months I’ve become enamored with the idea of creating a self sufficient, connectionless home. Not only is the home off-grid, creating it’s own power, heat, and air-conditioning, but also it’s own water supply, compost, and sewage system in a smart home environment.

I’ve even imagined how a house like this could be constructed with a form of 3D printing called contour crafting. The entire house could be designed and built one drop at a time, with everything from windows, wiring, and plumbing meticulously “printed” into place.

Going even further, every surface could have sensors, solar cells, and smart devices with unusual capabilities and functionality embedded into the wall, floors, and ceilings. Micro LEDs, audio systems, and air handlers could even anticipate your mood and adjust themselves according to your changing whims. 

In fact, this ultimate off-grid smart home would be so intelligent that it would circumvent every paid service plan to provide all these services. That’s right, everything would be totally free.

Free power, free water, free security systems, free heating and air-conditioning. I had become so captivated by the disruptive notion of “free,” that I was missing the bigger picture.

Only in the past couple days have I come to realize that I was thinking about this all wrong. 

Each of us has formed an adversarial relationship with our homes. Our homes are not operating in our best interests. They’re “dumb” structures, needing cleaning and repair, unable to think on their own, and every feature we wish to add costs us more money. 

Over the years, we’ve all become complacent in our thinking, resigned to accept “that’s just the way it is.” None of us has imagined that there could actually be a better option, but there truly is.

The Maslow Self Actualization home is one that forms a symbiotic relationship with each of its residents, and over time, begins to climb the famed pyramid to imbue the power of self-actualization onto those who inhabit it. 

Here’s how I see the stages of this higher order living begin to unfold.

Read the rest of this entry »

What Industries will produce the First Trillionaires?

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on November 24th, 2014

A few weeks ago I got into a discussion with some friends centered around this question. “What, in your mind, will be the most powerful entity in the world 100 years from now?” 

As we look around us today, it’s easy to point to a single nation as being the most powerful. But will that still be true 100 years from now? 

The most powerful entities in the future could be large multi-national corporations, giant associations of people, companies, religious groups, clusters of countries such as NATO, perhaps some new entity that controls technology like ICANN, or something entirely new. 

Adding to the confusion of this question, what actually defines power? Is it money, clout, influence, an ability to control a large military, or some combination of all of these? 

Will the notion of power be defined differently in the future than it is today? 

These are all important questions to ask because powerful entities define who the powerful people are. And it is the underlying systems and technology that will determine status and clout.

But maybe this is the wrong way to think about it. The most powerful entity in the world 100 years from now may very well be a band of trillionaires.

With their level of influence, the trillionaires may very well determine the clout, power, and status of nations as well as the standing of other groups.

So where will these trillionaires come from? Are they simply billionaires in an inflated global economy? Perhaps. But it becomes a rather intriguing question to consider what industries, systems, and business models will have the potential of generating 100X more income that anything in the world today.

Another way of asking this, what are the products or services that are sufficiently scalable, transportable, and in-demand to produce $1 trillion in revenue in a short period of time? 

To put this number in perspective, if 7 billion people on earth each spent $143 on the same item, it would yield $1 trillion. But since gross revenue is a long ways from profit, and profit is generally several multiples of an individual shareholder’s wealth, the money spent per person would likely have to be in the neighborhood of 100X more.

With that backdrop I’d like to explore the question of which future industries have the potential of producing the first trillionaires?

Read the rest of this entry »

Modern Day Grandstanding and the Future of Getting Noticed

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on November 17th, 2014

 

On a recent trip to Amsterdam, I had a conversation with Axel Rüger, Director of the renowned Van Gogh Museum about what it was that made Van Gogh so famous. Was it his talent, the fact that he cut off his own ear, or a combination of both?

As we continued the discussion, perhaps an even bigger question that we debated was whether Van Gogh and his artwork would be more famous or less famous 100 years from now?

Naturally, this line of thinking raises many other questions. Is there any kind of formula that can guarantee fame? Does grandstanding, plus talent, equal fame?

If a talented artist today engaged in a similar form of grandstanding by cutting off their ear, or some other part of their body, would it have the same effect today?

Probably not, because it has already been done before, and we rarely remember those who come in second.

As a professional speaker, I find this line of questioning very intriguing because I find myself rubbing elbows with some of the most recognizable personalities in the world.

So what kind of grandstanding has worked in the past, and how will it change in the future?

Radio stars of the 1920s were very different than TV and movie stars of the 1980s. And those celebrities took a far different route to fame than many of our well-known personalities today.

After Justin Bieber used a few homemade YouTube videos to carve a path to superstardom, thousands of other talented young kids began posting similar videos with hopes that lightening would strike again.

Similarly, Mark Zuckerberg and his team of rule-breaking Harvard-dropouts inspired thousands of other young startup pioneers to jump on the fast track to becoming the next Internet billionaire. 

Is there a limit to the number of famous people the world can have at any given time? Does a famous person have to die to make room for someone new? Will everyone have their 15 minutes of fame like Andy Warhol famously suggested?

Here’s why all these question are so important and how the path to fame will continue to change in the future. 

Read the rest of this entry »

101 Endangered Jobs by 2030

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on November 7th, 2014

Business owners today are actively deciding whether their next hire should be a person or a machine. After all, machines can work in the dark and don’t come with decades of HR case law requiring time off for holidays, personal illness, excessive overtime, chronic stress or anxiety.

If you’ve not heard the phrase “technological unemployment,” brace yourself; you’ll be hearing it a lot over the coming years.

Technology is automating jobs out of existence at a record clip, and it’s only getting started.

Yes, my predictions of endangered jobs will likely strike fear into the hearts of countless millions trying to find meaningful work. But while crystal balls everywhere are showing massive changes on the horizon, it’s not all negative news.

For those well attuned to the top three skills needed for the future – adaptability, flexibility, and resourcefulness – there will be more opportunities than they can possibly imagine.

As an example, for people who lived 150 years ago, having never seen a car, the thought of traveling 1,000 miles seemed like an impossible journey. But today, 1,000-mile trips are not only common, they’re trivial.

This is precisely the shift in perspective we’re about to go through as the tools at our disposal begin to increase our capabilities exponentially.

As I describe the following endangered jobs, understand there will be thousands of derivative career paths ready to surface from the shadows.

We live in unbelievably exciting time, and those who master the fine art of controlling their own destiny will rise to the inspiring new lifestyle category of “rogue commanders of the known universe.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Extreme Graphene and the Coming Super Materials Gold Rush

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on October 27th, 2014

In 2004, scientists Andre Geim and Kostya Novoselov from the University of Manchester, used adhesive tape to lift a thin layer of carbon from a block of graphite, and placed it on a silicone wafer. Graphite is the stuff commonly found in pencil lead.

As simple as this sounds, what these two scientists had created was a 2-dimensional form of carbon known as graphene, and in 2010 they received the Nobel Prize in Physics for this discovery. But that’s only part of the story. 

What makes the discovery of graphene so important is all of its unusual properties. It is a pure form of carbon that is very thin, very strong and very expensive.

  • SUPER THIN – It is only one atom thick, so it is almost transparent.
  • SUPER STRONG – Graphene is the strongest material ever discovered, 100 times stronger than diamond, and 200 times stronger than steel, and yet flexible and even stretchable.
  • SUPER CONDUCTOR – It conducts heat and electricity faster at room temperature than any other known material. It also charges and discharges electrically up to 1000x faster than traditional batteries.
  • SUPER EXPENSIVE – Even using the most advanced processes for manufacturing it, graphene still runs around about $100,000 per square meter.

These unusual attributes have made graphene the most exciting new material in all of science. 

Since its discovery, a total of 8,413 patents were granted by February 2013 in areas such as super computing, electronics, energy storage, telecommunications, renewable power, health care, and telecommunications.

Over the coming years, the price of graphene will go through an exponential price drop similar to Moore’s Law.

Here’s why graphene and a host of other super materials are turning material science into the hottest of all hot new fields of research.

Read the rest of this entry »

You will be a different person by the time you reach the end of this article

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on October 15th, 2014

Whatever happened to that young child you were not so many years ago?

As a baby, life was all about eating, sleeping, and dry diapers. Even though you are learning new things quickly, not much else really mattered.

By the time you enter grade school, you have learned to walk, talk, feed yourself, and have fun with your friends. Mom and dad were very important and playtime is a central part of every day.

Entering high school you’ve grown much taller, in most cases, doubling your height from when you were two. Your eyes and facial features have many similarities and look familiar, but you are now very different. You are fascinated by music, television, and any time you spot a passing smile by someone of the opposite sex, it become heart-stoppingly important.

Relationships matter. Every new day has you seeking a different set of experiences. You take pride in whatever you were good at, and become enamored with things you enjoy.

Every personal relationship brings with it a different set of involvements. Your first kiss sets the stage for your second, and your first intimate moments become cemented into the very fabric of your being.

As you enter your 30s and 40s, your skillsets change dramatically. With age comes perspective, big problems become little ones, and over time, even the little ones faded away. In so many ways, you can now see the bigger picture.

In your 60s and 70s you begin to feel time is running out. One moment of urgency gets replaced by the next, but urgency also comes with a new outlook. Your greatest memories become like gardens of eternal beauty, a place where you graciously linger whenever they show up.

It is in this progression that we begin to realize that the future has changed us every step of the way. Even though there are continuations to our personality and genetic structure, we are constantly changing. One cell gets replaced by another until we bear little resemblance to that person we were so many years ago.

And yes, you are now a different person than you were, even a few seconds ago when you first started reading this column. So why does this matter? 

Here are 18 reason why the person you were still matters, and another 18 reasons why it doesn’t.

Read the rest of this entry »

Disrupting Healthcare – When Devices Replace Medicine

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on October 9th, 2014

Doctors today are constantly selling.

No, it didn’t start out that way, but a system has evolved that richly rewards members of the physician’s food chain if sales continue.

These sales include the selling of tests, pills, therapy, referrals, or simply selling the patient on their competency as a doctor.

Over the coming years, much of the selling will be replaced by data. Expert opinions get replaced by hard cold facts. Yes, this will unfold over time and the transition period will involve a multitude of probabilistic approaches that will eventually lead to a more factual-based decision-making process.

While many in the medical profession view this as taking away much of the doctor’s power and authority, it may be just the opposite. Big data is not the doctor’s enemy, but rather a hugely valuable important tool, perhaps the most important of all time.

Consider the following scenario.

Sometime in the not-too-distant future, patients walking into the doctor’s office will first receive a full-body scan, creating a complete data model built around several thousand data points. Any area that gives even the slightest hint of troublesome activity will warrant closer inspection.

For any number of conditions, rather than prescribing medicine as a treatment, doctors will prescribe a device. Devices will have a wide range of purposes ranging from ingestible cams and monitors, to wearable super data-collectors, to body function amplifiers, to pulse correctors, to early warning indicators.

During the transition period it will be a combination of drugs and devices, but eventually most medicinal treatments will be replaced with devices designed around coaxing the body into repairing itself. 

Over time, doctors will transition from being the experts on human biology and medicine to being the experts on biological data and biological devices.

Here’s why understanding this transition period is so important. 

Read the rest of this entry »

Computing’s Next Big Transformation – Semantic Intelligence

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on October 3rd, 2014

I had great difficulty completing this column. This is partly due to the complex nature of the technology and partly because its implications may indeed be so far reaching that I’ll sound over-reaching in describing it.

Several companies may find what I’m describing to be rather disturbing. It’ll be disturbing because this technology is on the verge of undermining most, if not all, of their product development plans.

For two nights this week I was immersed in understanding the foundational shifts about to occur inside the software development industry, and this work is all taking place inside a tiny company called Mindaptiv located in Innovation Pavilion in the Denver Tech Center, a hub of startup activity in Colorado.

With a core team of true believers on staff that filled the presentation room, the company’s CEO, Ken Granville, and chief technology visionary, Jake Kolb, took our team from the DaVinci Institute through a series of demonstrations and discussions to grasp the potential of what they are on the verge of unleashing.

Working from inside his secluded geek lab in Boston, Jake started this journey in 2011 by asking the basic question, “What if software didn’t have to be written?” 

As most developers know, scripting a thousand lines of new code can be a very painful process. So what if a computer could simply recognize objects and you could just tell this JARVIS-like machine what you wanted it to do with them?

Over the past three years, that’s exactly what Jake and Ken have been building, a kind of “Ironman Room” of spatially capable objects that can be directed both verbally and through gestures with symphony-like precision. Even though they’re only partially there, it’s the kind of technology that would make Tony Stark proud.

Rest assured, I only know a few of the tricks this duo has up their sleeves, but we’re all about to become part of something much bigger than some new gadget we can all carry around in our pockets. No, this one is a game changer on steroids, and here’s why. 

Read the rest of this entry »