Betting on Your Future Self

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on April 30th, 2014

Every day we wake up different.

Moment by moment, our lives are changing. Much like a strobe light with flashes of memories jumping through our minds we randomly recall where we’ve been.

It happens something like this:

…and then I woke up
…and then I was eating food
…and then I was taking a shower
…and then I was in the office
…and then I was in a meeting
…and then I was driving
…and then I was staring at myself in a mirror
…and then I was getting on a plane
…and then I was speaking in front of a crowd of people
…and then I was sleeping again

Moments come and moments go. We have no idea where they come from, or where they go, but every moment changes us. 

The person we were as a baby is different than who we were as teenagers, and that person has morphed and changed a million times along the way. We don’t even look the same.

So when we think about ourselves in the future, we have to ask, “Is my future self going to be more valuable than my present self?”

Will the person we become five years from now be more talented, wealthier, healthier, better looking, better educated, or have a better circle of friends to network with? 

There are many things we can do today to improve our future self. We all intuitively know this, but sometimes we need to be reminded. We can read more, exercise more, take a class, find a better job, write a book, start a business, invent something, meet new people, expand our social network, or do many other things.

We are all placing a bet. Each of us is somehow betting on our future self. But here are a few things you may not have thought about.

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Disposable Houses

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on April 24th, 2014

 

Disposable housing will blindside the real estate industry
in virtually every country on earth

When it comes to doing something first, and winning the technology race, there are typically no official forms to fill out, no rulebooks, no judges, and certainly no deadlines.

In fact, when it came to using 3D printers to print an entire house, a process known as contour crafting, only a small number of people actually knew how important this race really was.

During the past few years, I watched as several groups worked feverishly to have their names emblazoned in the annuls of history, but I was surprised when an unknown company in Shanghai, China claimed victory using an alternative approach I hadn’t even considered.

While other groups were preparing to print their houses on location, the Chinese team came up with a modular approach, printing all of the components inside a large factory, and transporting and assembling the houses at their final destination.

With this approach, the WinSun Decoration Design Engineering Company not only printed a house in a day, they completed 10 houses in a single day using a massive printer that was 490 feet long, 33 feet wide, and 20 feet deep. 

The ‘ink’ used was made of recycled construction materials, industrial waste and tailings, and according to Architect’s Newspaper, each of these homes cost around $4,800. 

No, they’re not ornate mansions with lots of decorative trim. Some would even say they’re ugly. But they represent the first of an entirely new wave of housing – inexpensive, durable home that can be produced in only a few hours for very little money. This process is perfect for fabricating homes for the poor and homeless, a major issue in China, as well as virtually every other nation on earth.

Ugly or not, WinSun won the first phase of this undeclared competition, and is now putting together plans to build 100 factories in China to “collect and transform” construction waste into aggregate for its machines.

The most important feature, at least in my mind, is that these houses can just as easily be ground up a second, third, or fourth time, and be reprinted as an entirely new home. They are, in fact, disposable houses that will fit very well with the nomadic lifestyles of future generations.

Here’s why this will be such a massively disruptive technology.

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The Great Barrier Backlash

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on April 3rd, 2014

My wife Deb and I just returned from a weeklong trip to South Korea where much of our travel inside the country involved riding on the high-speed KTX Train (Korean Transit eXpress) from city to city.

The train is designed for speeds up to 350 km/h (217 mph), but currently tops out at 190 mph. Our final trip from Changwon City in the southern tip of Korea to Seoul in the far north took just 3 hours.

The entire country is 20% smaller than my home state of Colorado, but has a population of over 50 million people, greater than California, Arizona, and Colorado combined.

KTX trains are amazingly efficient with each stop lasting only 3-5 minutes and hundreds of people getting on and off at each stop. Compared to the nightmare that airports have become, where the minimum time between a plane landing and takeoff is well over an hour, and highways that slow to a crawl during most of the day, these trains are breaking down barriers of time and distance all across Korea.

Next month, KTX will connect Seoul’s Incheon Airport with the rest of its network.

Their system works because it has broken down all the barriers – no security lines, no stoplights, no traffic cops, no passport checks or customs stations, just lightning fast trains.

In addition to high-speed trains, they are known for their high-speed networks. South Korea is also rolling out a 5G network in 2017, which is 1,000 times faster than today’s 4G LTE networks.

Yes, it helps to be a small country geographically. But pushing the limits on both transportation and Internet speeds, combined with reducing barriers along the way, makes for a potent combination.

Here’s why global competitiveness and emerging technology are forcing the hands of nearly every country to rid themselves of unnecessary barriers, something I call the Great Barrier Backlash.

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The Next Bold Step in Transportation: Personal Rapid Transit Systems

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on March 12th, 2014

Throughout history, speed has been synonymous with greatness. In sports, those who ran the fastest were heroes. In times of war, those with the fastest chariots, ships, planes, and weapons had a significant advantage. In the business world, a company’s competitive edge has typically been formed around speed – quickest delivery, fastest transaction times, or speed of information.

With the aid of technology, we’ve found ways to speed up communications – voice, text, email, social networking, and even delivery systems. But we’ve only been able to achieve minor advances in the speed of physically traveling somewhere.

As we look closely at the advances over the past couple decades, it’s easy to see that we are on the precipices of a dramatic breakthrough in ultra high-speed transportation. Businesses are demanding it. People are demanding it. And the only things standing in our way are a few people capable of mustering the political will to make it happen.

The change we’re alluding to is the introduction of large scale Personal Rapid Transit Systems (PRTs).

So how do changes like this ramp up to a global scale? The same way they always have, with a few unreasonable people, proposing unreasonable concepts enough times until it stops sounding unreasonable.

Currently four thought leaders are leading the charge for PRTs, each proposing a different solution to the world’s growing transportation problems – Elon Musk, founder of Hyperloop; Jerry Sanders, CEO of Skytran; Bill James, CEO of Jpods; and Daryl Oster, CEO of ET3.

The following is an explanation of what’s driving the need for PRTs and why they’re the logical next step in human and cargo transport.

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A Journey into the Land of Epiphany

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on February 28th, 2014

I’ve always loved ideas and I think it stems from the fact that I’ve had so many to choose from. But it wasn’t about the sheer number of ideas I got to play with. Rather it was finding that one truly remarkable gem, the golden epiphany, hiding in amongst the others.

It’s hard to explain the epiphany experience, but it’s a euphoric high unlike anything else. Some have described it as “a orchestra from on high,” “a sudden realization,” “a epic breakthrough of the mind,” “an orgasm of the brain,” or “that Eureka moment!”

For me, I’ve become an epiphany junkie, always in search of the next great revelation. But there’s a big difference between a minor epiphany and what I refer to as a full category five epiphany – a mass-spectrographic, isotopic, double quad-turbo, full blown epiphany.

These are the ones people give half their kingdom for, but being part of the frequent-flier crowd for epiphanies, I’ve had the honor of dancing with them on a daily basis.

While this may sound like a braggadocios statement, rest assured, behind every idea junkie is a tortured soul. Every seismic shift in thinking is often preceded by days, months, even years of intellectual frustration waiting not-so-patiently for the next lightning strike to occur.

The epiphany phenomenon is also behind much of the surge in coffee and energy drink sales because caffeine and other stimulants can indeed trigger an “epiphanous” reaction. 

For this reason I’d like to take you along on own journey into the land of epiphanies, and offer you some rare insights into this mysterious world.

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Why the Tiny Home Movement May Not be So Tiny

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on February 13th, 2014

Tiny Homes – Redefining the simple life 

Most of us hate feeling cramped. We hate being stuck on a crowded plane, stuck in congested traffic, and wading through packed concert halls. We like to be able to stretch out, get casual, and relax, but we can’t do that when people are invading our space.

Over the past century, space has become synonymous with wealth, status, and luxury. Naturally the most important people have the biggest houses, biggest cars, biggest boats, and work at the biggest corporations.

In 1900, the average house in the U.S. was a mere 700 sq. ft. with an average of 4.6 people living inside. A hundred years later, the average home had mushroomed to 2,500 sq. ft. with only 2.5 residents.

As a society we’re caught up in a self-perpetuating make-money-spend-money loop that blinds us to other possibilities. We’ve been in a race to the top and a tremendous number of service organizations have cropped up that both heighten our fear of missing out and provide quick financing to buy the “good life” today with tomorrow’s money.

But the recent recession delivered a sobering gut-check to life as usual. Easy money has caused housing prices to spiral out of control, and all of the things we thought were so important, suddenly became less so.

Out of this has sprung a low carbon living crusade as a natural follow-on to the green and renewable energy movements. But it tends to be less about solving the world’s ills and more about people taking control of their own destiny.

At the heart of this movement are a new breed of tiny homes that are comfortable, efficient, often portable, and most important, mortgage free. They represent freedom, freedom from debt, freedom from conspicuous consumption, and freedom to live a life of passion.

Here’s why the tiny home movement is likely to be far more than a tiny blip on the radar screen of change.

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The Disruptive Nature of the Sharing Economy: Finding the Next Great Opportunities

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on February 1st, 2014

Many of us suffer from a sinister and often contagious disorder, something I call just-in-case disease.

We own toolboxes full of tools, just in case we need to fix something. We have kitchens full of appliances just in case we want to prepare a meal. We have cars in our garages just in case we need to go somewhere. We even have closets full of clothes we know we’ll never wear just in case we get desperate.

Wealthy people suffer from an even more extreme form of just-in-case disease. They own yachts, summer homes, extra cars, fancy jewelry, snowmobiles, and even private islands just in case they need something to keep them entertained.

Many of these items are hugely valuable assets that only get used occasionally. In the grand scheme of things, they represent an incredible waste of natural resources – hardware, buildings, real estate, equipment, and art – all sitting around collecting dust.

We’ve all become stuffaholics, addicted to more, more, and don’t-stand-in-my-way because I want more!

When it comes time to get rid of our stuff, we suffer from another affliction, separation anxiety. When it comes time to say goodbye to our stuff, we find ways to avoid giving it the death sentence and actually throwing it away. 

As a result of our separation anxiety, we’ve created a massive self-storage industry to “age our stuff” just a bit longer. In the U.S. alone we have over 2.3 billion square feet of rentable storage space.

Nigel Marsh sums it up well when he says, “There are thousands and thousands of people out there leading lives of quiet, screaming desperation, where they work long, hard hours at jobs they hate to enable them to buy things they don’t need to impress people they don’t like.”

There is, however, a cure for this ailment, and its called the “sharing economy.” 

The sharing economy is creating some amazing business models around the use of “other people’s stuff.” Here’s why it will be such a disruptive force in our future, and some of the next great opportunities in this space.

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The Quantified Self, the Great College Killer

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on January 14th, 2014

Who are you as an individual? 

As part of a family, you are measured by your domestic life and the relatives closest to you. As a prospective employee, you are evaluated by your skills, talents, and knowledge. As part of a community, you are gauged by the kind of relationships you build and maintain. As an athlete you are assessed by your physical strengths, your reaction times, and your determination.

Whatever kind of lens or filter we place over our lives we use different systems for measuring those key differentiators. And while we all think we are the world’s foremost expert on ourselves, we actually know very little.

That’s about to change.

The Internet of Things is already comprised of over 10 billion moving parts, and by 2020 that number will grow to over 50 billion.

These “things” have a way of gathering information about ourselves in ways we never imagined were possible. Not only will we be able to monitor the quantity and quality of food we eat, the air we breath, and our daily activities, but we will also be tracking the information we consume, our moods, our level of engagement, and what undertakings we find most stimulating.

In addition to charting the normal inputs and outputs for our mind and body, we will also be evaluating the context in which we exist. Whether it’s an emotional context, environmental context, or spiritual context, each plays an important role in determining who we are. In the future, it all becomes measurable. 

The “quantified self” is all about building a vast and measurable information sphere around us. As we get better acquainted with the Delphic maxim “know thyself,” we will become far more aware of our deficiencies and the pieces of learning needed to shore up our shortfalls. And that’s why this will have such a tremendous impact on colleges.

Compensating for these deficiencies won’t be about getting bachelor or master degrees. Rather, they will be about gaining experiences, reading books, meeting people, or working as an apprentice. At most, it will be about taking 1-2 courses at a university, but not an entire degree package. Here’s why. 

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Top 13 ‘Futurist Speaker’ Columns in 2013

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on December 30th, 2013

2013 has been a year of considerable change for both me and the rest of our team at the DaVinci Institute. While most of what you see here on Futurist Speaker is about my research, thinking, and philosophy on the future, I thought this might be a good time to step back and fill you in on the people behind everything you’re reading.

The core staff at the Institute consists of Deb Frey (my wife), Jan Wagner, Nancy Slattery, and Steve Campbell. This is a truly amazing team working on all of the crazy projects we come up with, and we always seem to have something new lurking around every corner.

Last year we launched DaVinci Coders to teach those wanting to switch careers the fine art of programming. DaVinci Coders is what I’ve termed a Micro College because it’s oriented around immersive training done in the least possible time. And it’s been very successful. Our instructors, Daniel Stutzman and Jason Noble, are two of the best Ruby on Rails teachers in the world. Joining the team in 2014 will be Dave Woodall, a very talented instructor who will be focused on our newest course in HTML5, CSS3, and jQuery.

Earlier this year I worked with one of our Senior Fellows, Michael Cushman, to launch Vizionarium, a consulting arm of the DaVinci Institute focused on working with companies to develop Blue Ocean Strategies, or as we’ve termed it, Blue Ocean Futures. For those looking to reorient their business products and services around the needs of the future, we have an unusual process to help you uncover where you need to be.

As a professional speaker, my talks have taken me all over the world, and in the past couple years I’ve been to Moscow, Shanghai, Melbourne, Auckland, Sydney, Puerto Rico, Istanbul, Toronto, Brisbane, Vancouver, Seoul, and far too many places in the U.S. and Canada to list here. I’ve shared the stage with some amazing people at some amazing companies. While I do have some speaking topics listed, every talk is custom tailored to the audience I’m working with. I love working on unusual topics, provided they fall with my main focus of “technology-driven change.”

In 2014, I will be releasing my newest book. Much of the content for my book has been percolating inside my weekly columns on Futurist Speaker. Over the past year, these columns have touched a wide range of topics from future jobs, to future crimes, to futurist thinking. Some have attracted considerable attention, but others not so much.

With this brief into, let’s take a look at the most popular columns from 2013.

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Competing for the Title – World’s Chief Innovator

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on December 26th, 2013

 

When Thomas Edison died he left a gaping hole. He was credited with inventing everything from the electric light bulb, to the phonograph, to the movie projector, to the stock ticker, to the motion picture camera, to the entire movie industry.

He lived during an age of great inventors like Henry Ford, George Westinghouse, Nikola Tesla, Alexander Graham Bell, Marie Curie, the Wright Brothers, Edwin Land, and Harvey Firestone. But it was Edison’s name that rose to the top.

While he had many detractors, Edison’s name was revered by millions, creating generations of Edison wanna-bees. Businesses found this to be a threat to their influence and control and began forcing all new-hires to sign over the rights to their inventions during their time of employment. And so the great age of inventors came to an end… at least for a while.

When Steve Jobs came along, he brought with him a flair for the same kind of PT Barnum-showmanship that kept Edison in the news. Along with ushering in the personal computer era, Jobs was the chief visionary behind everything from the iPod, to the iPhone, to the iPad, and was the founder of Pixar animation studios.

Some went so far as to describe Jobs as the “Father of the Digital Revolution.” However, when Jobs died, the world has once again been left with a huge void.

But times are different now. We live in a global marketplace. Most large companies have lost their ability to innovate. Startup incubators are cropping up everywhere and money for startups is readily available through crowdfunding, angels, VCs, and both acquisitions and IPOs are back as viable exit options.

With these and many other forces in play, creative individuals are feeling empowered like never before, and several are lining up to claim the now open title of “World’s Chief Innovator.”

Here’s a look at some of the contenders and why we’re in for some dramatic times ahead.

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