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?

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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.”

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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.

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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. 

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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. 

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Should Robots Have Their Own Bank Accounts?

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on September 22nd, 2014

Typical house-bot shopping on a budget

The year is 2027 and Winston, a newly born house-bot charged with doing a number of domestic chores including cleaning, meal prep, laundry, and building maintenance, has been programmed to not only perform the work, but also restock supplies once they reach a certain level.

Owners have wide latitude in the amount of autonomy they can grant their bots when it comes to decision-making, and spending authority is always the one given most attention. Much like a young child making decisions on their own for the first time, owners are typically reticent to grant too much authority until all of the systems are proven to be reliable.

The recent news story about a similar bot in Portugal, that glitched-out in an endless loop and ordered over $20,000 in cleaning supplies in less than a minute, was still fresh in everybody’s mind.

Yes, safeguards were quickly put into place to prevent anything like the Portugal incident from ever happening again, but the hangover effect of bad news has a way of lingering for a while in the background.

Typically, after the first 200-300 text messages from a bot, seeking spending approval on everything from $3.45 toothpaste to $12.93 laundry detergent, the owners typically relinquish their item-by-item purchase scrutiny in favor of the peace of mind that comes from being less bothered. 

But on this occasion, the store that the bot normally buys from has discontinued the brand of pasta it was requesting. When this happens, after searching for other likely suppliers that happen to be too far away, the bot sends over a list of possible replacement options, along with product ads and marketing descriptions.

Since most domestic products like this come with a list of personal preference attributes like smell, taste, and texture, it’s not possible for a bot to make a personal preference decision based on what the owner truly likes. Ideally samples are sent for owners to conduct a personal experience test, but pasta is not an item easily sampled. So this one required an additional text message.

As a way of safeguarding decisions like these, most owners have chosen to open separate bank accounts for each of their bots as an additional measure to limit potential losses. Winston, the house-bot has his own account, just like Trimly, the yard bot, and Sped, the deliver drone.

Here’s why most homeowners will opt for this approach in the future and why today’s banks are ill-prepared for this kind of activity.

 

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Seven Reasons Why the Value of Human Life is Increasing Exponentially

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on September 14th, 2014

What’s the value of a human life?

For some of you this is a very disconcerting question because it attempts to put a dollar value on a person, something we value in far different ways.

But that is exactly what governments and businesses find themselves doing on a daily basis. Every time an insurance company calculates their premiums, militaries plan their budget, or juries calculate an award in a product liability case, the value of human life is a central part of their decisions.

In fact, the value of people is a subconscious calculation that we all make on a daily basis. Each of the following statements will indicate a value judgment happening in the back of our mind:

  • If I take this training my salary will go up.
  • When the mayor died, his estate was worth millions.
  • As a single mother raising 7 children, she left a tremendous legacy.

Much like adding an adjustment for inflation, cost of living increase, or adding a premium for brand name anything, we are constantly readjusting our sense of life’s value in our mind.

To some, the difference in value between a homeless person in Indonesia and the President of the United States may be well over $1 trillion. To others, they should be considered equal.

Seven global shifts are currently underway causing the underlying value of human life to move up the exponential growth curve, and along with it, a massive reassessment of corporate decision-making is about to begin. 

Here is why this will become such a huge factor over the coming years.

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192 Future Uses for Flying Drones

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on September 2nd, 2014

The thought occurred to me that mounting a video projector to a flying drone could give it unusual capabilities. 

My first idea was to use it for special effects at a concert or major indoor event. But a device like this could also be used for spot advertising – creating momentary images on the sidewalk or parking lot; subliminal advertising – suggesting a variety of products or services inside graphic images; emergency rescue – displaying a series of arrows to help someone lost in a forest; or image masking – to disguise someone’s body and facial features to prevent them from being monitored. 

This line of thinking started me down several dozen new paths almost instantly.

Drones can be low flying, high flying, tiny or huge, silent or noisy, super-visible or totally invisible, your best friend or your worst enemy.

We can add lights, sound, cameras, microphones, sensors, robotic arms, wave cancellation technology, or wave enhancement technology.

Simply adding a robotic display will enable us to fly in and have a private video conversation with someone on the other side of the world.

Flying drones can also roll along the ground, stick to the side of a building, float in a river, dive under water, jump onto a building, climb a tree, or attach themselves like parasites to the sides of trains, ships, and airplanes.

One moment they can be hovering in front of you and the next they can fly off at the speed of sound, disappearing into the clouds.

Combining all these capabilities, attributes, and special features into one single device will open up a world of possibilities unlike anything before in all history.

Join me as we step into the magical world ahead being unleashed with this amazing new technology – flying drones.

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Establishing the Central Bank of Bitcoin

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on August 17th, 2014

The year is 2024. It seemed like a piece of nostalgia to open a new bank account and get a free toaster, but this wasn’t any ordinary toaster, and it certainly wasn’t any ordinary bank. The new Internet of Things Toaster was one of the coolest gadgets of all times, and the Global Bank of Bitcoin was a charter member of Bitcoin’s new Central Bank based in Luxembourg.

Having launched as a Kickstarter project in 2022, raising millions in the process, this kitchen appliance elevated “toast” to the level of a new communal food with a designer flair. Old-fashioned bread could have 3D-printed toasted-inlays ranging from jams and spreads, to vitamins and dietary additives, to sweeteners and energy laces.

But what people found most magical was its ability to have animated hi-res images print-toasted onto the surface and brought to life through the use of edible electro-jellies. This next-gen food-tech had given rise to a myriad of party games, where “players” told stories about the animated scenes and “toasted” the other participants by eating the face of their favorite protagonist, one bite at a time, until both the story and the food were totally consumed.

For this new crypto-bank, it was the perfect crypto-gadget to draw attention to their crypto-currency. Similar to traditional banks, accountholders could apply for home mortgages, car loans, and establish retirement accounts. But unlike today’s highly monitored, highly regulated banking world, the Central Bank of Bitcoin’s charter was to be more of an anti-central bank, serving as a pass-through shell without taking ownership of the currency, but rigorously guarding the anonymity of the accounts and transactions, as well as the integrity of the networks, at the same time, adding a systems layer to promote wider scale adoption.

Even the super-libertarian backers of cryptocurrencies had begun to realize the limitations of operating without a support structure, and in its absence a myriad of proprietary technologies, destructive thinking, and bad actors had begun rearing their ugly heads.

While the original purpose of Bitcoin was to build a counterculture currency and transaction network free from the intrusion and prying eyes of big government, its role has begun to evolve into more of a checks-and-balance system to offset abuses by the worlds existing banking system.

Here’s why creating a Central Bank for Bitcoin may be the next logical step. 

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The Future Library – A Liquid Network for Ideas

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on August 12th, 2014

At a recent conference on the “Future of Libraries” put together by the American Library Association at the Library of Congress in Washington DC, I proposed a rather unusual mission for libraries, that of becoming “liquid networks” for our ideas.

Unlike our not-so-distant-past, the world’s most important information is no longer solely in books.

Whenever a great idea forms in our head, we look for a place to put it. Is it something useful, that we can turn into a product, add to a document, tell to our friends, include in a presentation, or attach with magnets to the front of our refrigerator? 

Ideas, much like parasites, need a host. If we don’t manage to gaff them before we slip into our next stream of consciousness, they will be forever lost. Without a host, these squirming little idea-fish will have a very limited shelf life.

If we manage to cluster enough of them together, they have a bit more staying power, but they still need to somehow reach critical mass before they become noteworthy. 

In the past we had very few options. We could jot them down in a notebook, mention them to friends, or make a few drawings or sketches. But even then, most ideas died of isolation. We had very few “places” to appropriately store these pockets of ingenuity. 

Today our options have grown exponentially and good ideas can now go from zero to Facebook entry in 0.9 seconds. They can be fashioned into tweets, infographics, photos, podcasts, PowerPoints, LinkedIn discussions, Quora forums, YouTube videos, submitted to blogs, or turned into interactive charticles.

We literally have thousands of placeholders for our momentary flashes of brilliance. Much like planting seeds into the freshness of damp soil, these memes have the organic potential to spring to life bursting into a colorful bouquet. 

However, even with our very best ways of posting and hosting ideas today, the reality is that most public and private companies tend to have a rather short life expectancy, and some concepts come with a far longer gestation period. That’s where the more stable storehouses of information at public libraries comes into play. 

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