Technological Unemployment and our Need for Micro Colleges

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on January 20th, 2015

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. But at the same time, new jobs are also coming out of the woodwork.

In March, when Facebook announced the $2 billion acquisition of Oculus Rift, they not only put a giant stamp of approval on the technology, but they also triggered an instant demand for virtual reality designers, developers, and engineers.

Virtual reality professionals were nowhere to be found on the list of hot skills needed for 2014, but they certainly will be for 2015.

The same was true when Google and Facebook both announced the acquisition of solar powered drone companies Titan and Ascenta respectively. Suddenly we began seeing a dramatic uptick in the need for solar-drone engineers, drone-pilots, air rights lobbyists, global network planners, analysts, engineers, and logisticians.

Bold companies making moves like this are instantly triggering the need for talented people with skills aligned to grow with these cutting edge industries.

In these types of industries, it’s no longer possible to project the talent needs of business and industry 5-6 years in advance, the time it takes most universities to develop a new degree program and graduate their first class. Instead, these new skill-shifts come wrapped in a very short lead-time, often as little as 3-4 months.

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12 Emerging Trends that Everyone Missed at CES

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on January 13th, 2015

Every year that I attend CES in Las Vegas I reach a point of sensory overload. It’s not just from all the people, lights, noise, and smells, but an overload of product strategies and emerging trends for the coming year.

With everything from R2D2 showing up outside the convention center, to meeting celebrities on the showroom floor, or coming face-to-face with a Paul Bunyan-sized electronic game-playing running shoe by Sketchers, or walking into a booth full of the coolest Chinese technologies ever made but not being able to talk to anyone because they don’t speak English, it’s not possible to describe all the sensations a person will experience at an event like this.

Everyone will experience CES in their own unique way, and the impressions they walk away with will help define their understanding of the world to come. Big time decisions are being made by the impressions made here.

As events go, it’s one of the largest in the world, attracting a record 170,000 people, including 45,000 from other countries. Out of 3,600 exhibitors, 375 of them were startups, with special attention being paid to them in an exhibit area called Eureka Park.

In so many ways, CES sets the tone for the global economy, with tens of thousands of private meetings being conducted in the background forcing more deals to be cut in a shorter period of time than virtually any other event on the planet.

Walking across the exhibit floors is quite a mind-expanding experience. Since I tend to use a radically different set of lenses to experience this show, I walked away with some rather unusual perspectives.

For this reason I’d like to mention twelve of the trends that everyone seemed to have missed at CES.

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What Comes after the Nation State? – Fractal Governance

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on January 5th, 2015

In the beginning life was simple, just land and people. No borders, no restrictions, and no governments breathing down everyone’s neck. 

Over time, cultures formed around a common language and geography determined many aspects of lifestyle. As an example, people who lived next to the sea oriented much of their life around fishing, while those further inland spent more time hunting and farming. 

Traveling from one region to the next was difficult and dangerous. Before the time of Gutenberg’s printing press, the vast majority of people lived and died within 20 miles of where they grew up because they didn’t have access to reliable maps. 

Later, as populations grew, we began to see the need for more sophisticated societies. At the heart of these advancements were cities adding conveniences like streets, water systems, protection from lawless individuals, and justice systems to add a sense of order to all those advancements.

As years progressed, cities banded together with towns and villages nearby to create better systems, form geographical boundaries, and promote common interests. These groupings of cities became countries, and governments sprang up to manage and organize their interests.

Countries were formed around a common geography, common languages, and common systems like currency and transportation. 

The term “nation-state” came into play in 1648 with the treaty of Westphalia. This was an important turning point because countries transitioned from rouge protectorates to cultured political systems that recognized each others borders and were empowered to make deals with other nation-states.

Since 1648, countries, operating as nation-states, have become the most powerful entities on the planet. With large militaries to defend their interests and advanced monetary systems to build infrastructure, countries have become complex organisms with self-adapting properties.

However, when Internet started providing borderless connectivity, we began seeing national systems transition into global systems. As the need for borders became less clear, traditional ways of defining a country began to erode and the value of citizenship, less defined.

While countries struggle to maintain their role in the global community, people, as citizens of these nation states, are becoming far more mobile, wanting to be less confined by systems, rules, and geography.

So what comes next? Are we on the verge of yet another shift in global entities?

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Top 10 Most Influential Columns in 2014

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on December 26th, 2014

Over the past year we’ve delved into a variety of different topics on FuturistSpeaker.com and naturally some have been more popular than others. Sometimes it’s the headlines, other times the graphics, but in the end it’s the subject matter and content that will determine which ones rise to the top.

Overall, we’re still finding a pervasive fear over jobs, privacy, and the economy, and a strong desire to understand what comes next. Our confidence in government has plummeted and the newest evil villain is artificial intelligence gone awry.

On the positive side of the equation, both flying drones and robots are hot, even though both have serious downsides. The Internet of Things is gaining in popularity along with its magical junior categories of enchanted objects and smart homes. The sharing economy is becoming a more defined niche and tiny homes are an emerging category that will soon be replaced with 3D printed disposable houses.

Even though Bitcoin hasn’t been a good investment in 2014, it’s been a banner year for cryptocurrencies in general. No, we still haven’t minted any cryptocurrency billionaires just yet, but as national currencies become increasingly dysfunctional, with security holes affecting nearly everyone, new opportunities are just around the corner.

At the DaVinci Institute, our work on Micro Colleges are paving the way for future generations to reboot their careers quickly to better match the emerging talent needs of business and industry.

With that in mind, here are the 2014 columns that attracted the most attention over the past 12 months.

 

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My Conversation Last Night with Adolph Hitler

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on December 22nd, 2014

No, it wasn’t exactly what I had planned. 

The year is 2026, and what began as a simple quiet evening at my local library, culminated with me coming face to face with one of the most reviled men in all history. 

As I entered the library, I caught a glimpse of a new room they had just completed with a labeling above the door that read, “Conversations Room.” 

Naturally curious, I asked one of the librarians about it, and she quickly explained how they had just installed a “virtual presence” machine and it would enable anyone to have a “live” conversation with famous people throughout history.

That brief explanation was all it took. In about two seconds I had totally forgotten the reason I came to the library, took my seat, and started tinkering with the controls to figure out how it worked.

No, Hitler wasn’t my first choice, or even my last choice, but after hitting a few wrong clicks, he showed up as an option so I decided to give it a go. 

After a few technical flickers, he suddenly appeared, and I was taken back by how real he looked and how authentic it felt. He came from the back of the room, walking rather stiffly, took a seat, and began fiddling with one of his shoes.

I introduced myself with a short, “Hi, I’m Thomas Frey,” and he immediately sat up and gave me a piercing stare.

“Why are you here?” was his response. It was in English but with a German accent.

I was momentarily stunned with the question and fumbled my words trying to come up with the right response. “I-I-I’ve been doing research on WWII and came here to meet you,” was all I could muster. 

He continued gruffly, “There’s been several attempts on my life and I’m not sure who I can trust. Who do you report to?”

His paranoia was palpable, but it was his authoritative stare and commanding presence that demanded my full attention. I suddenly got a sense of what it was like being one of his commanders and having to answer to this intensely imposing figure.

In retrospect, I was terribly unprepared for this conversation. I had mistakenly assumed I’d be the one asking the questions, but even as a three-dimensional avatar, this was someone who very much needed to be in control.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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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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. 

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