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?