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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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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Tapping into the Waterways in the Sky

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on September 8th, 2013

With all of the water we have in the world, only 2% of it is fresh water. To make matters worse, only one-forth of all fresh water is accessible to humans. 

Until now, the entire human race has survived on 0.5% of the available water on earth. But that’s about to change. 

We are seeing a fast growing trend towards harvesting water from the atmosphere, something our ancestors first began working on centuries ago. People in the Middle East and Europe devised the original air-well systems over 2,000 years ago. Later the Incas were able to sustain their culture above rain line by collecting dew and channeling it into cisterns for later use.

Even though these techniques have been around for a long time, technology in this area has recently taken a quantum leap forward, and many are beginning to think in terms of houses that generate their own water supply, self-irrigating crops, and even “waterless” cities.

The earth’s atmosphere is a far more elegant water distribution system than rivers, reservoirs, and underground waterways. Our current systems involve pipes and pumping stations that are expensive to operate and maintain, and easily contaminated. 

Since we all depend on the rains to provide the water we need, what if we could extract this rain at the very time and place we need it? On-demand water extractors. 

A new breed of inventors has emerged to tackle this exact problem. Using solar, wind, and other forms of passive energy, our future water networks will be operate with far more efficiency and convenience than anything imaginable today. 

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Inspiring a Better World Ahead, the Museum of Future Inventions

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on August 4th, 2013

What images come to mind when you think about the future? Do you think about near-term futures with 3D printers, driverless cars, and robotics, or do you think about more distant futures of space travel, human cloning, and teleportation devices?

People make decisions today based on their understanding of what the future holds. In fact, your vision of the future permeates virtually every decision you make in your life. So if you change your vision of the future, you actually change the way you make decisions, today.

With this brief intro, I’ve tried to capture the true potential for creating a Museum of Future Inventions. It’s all about changing your vision of the future.

Simply hearing about future technologies will create a small level of engagement. However, becoming fully immersed in a future experience, where you see images, videos, and animations; listen to thought leaders, deep thinkers, and futurists; with interactive models you can touch and manipulate; all of these together have the potential of becoming a truly transformative, life-changing experience.

Realism creates viability. So adding elements of realism to our visions of the future makes them increasingly viable. Inevitably this kind of influence will translate into massive new innovations, the kind of innovations we’ll need to drive our economies forward.

But unlike traditional museums focused on the past, this one will function as a working laboratory of the future, one where visions are constantly being built, rebuilt, and rebuilt again. The future is not a destination. Rather it’s a journey built on the backs of crazy, passionate people, with brilliant minds, dogged determination, and obsessed with making a difference. We see them as crazy, but history will view them as genius. 

At the DaVinci Institute we started thinking about the Museum of Future Inventions 10 years ago and it’s still not a reality. However, with jobs disappearing at a record pace, we’ll need a whole new engine driving innovation. And the Museum of Future Inventions may just be the missing “flux capacitor” to drive this new engine.

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Inventing the Future

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on October 15th, 2012

When Charles Corry walked onto the stage of the Shark Tank-like Piranha Pit at Saturday’s DaVinci Inventor Showcase, his iExpander product was still $6,000 away from making the goal of $125,000 on Kickstarter. As of this morning, he has not only passed his goal, now exceeding $140,000, but still has 6 more days to go.

The iExpander is a brilliantly designed case for the iPhone that dramatically improves photo quality and battery life, and adds an expandable SD memory slot for virtually unlimited storage capability.

As the Piranha Pit investors listened to the pitch they started scratching their heads, asking the simple question, “Why do you need us?”

Charles was quick to respond, saying that his product fits into a very competitive marketplace and having a great product and money is simply not enough. He was looking for a smart-money partner.

The story of the iExpander was only one of hundreds of stories unfolding at this event. With influential people, mixed with powerful innovation, and extra large doses of passion, drive, creativity, and determination, it is one of those rare occurrences where people can literally see the future taking shape right in front of them.

As a futurist, it is the brilliance of these visionaries that breathes inspiration into the work that I do. But this is only scratching the surface. Here’s what you really missed.

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Teacherless Education and the Competition that will Change Everything

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on April 20th, 2012

Teacherless-Education-2

Over the past couple months I’ve become enamored with watching my two-year-old nephew Mikaia learn the letters of the alphabet, colors, and numbers. Even though he doesn’t have them all perfect, he’s scoring in the high 90% when we quiz him verbally.

Next up, the periodic table of elements?

What’s most interesting is that his mother says she never set out to teach him this information. Rather, he picked it up on his own from watching “little guy” television shows.

Admittedly, the repeated quizzing by mom, dad, and others has helped, but this is a very young child who blasted through the most rudimentary pieces of learning without having any formal teaching, classrooms, or lesson plans involved.

If young kids can learn efficiently through television, what would happen if we moved up the food chain to college courses, and handed them off to television producers, game designers, and app developers to see how they would go about rewriting the material in fun and interesting ways?

For this reason, I’d like to take you on a journey to reimagine the way we learn through a competition, a competition that I believe will change everything.

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25 Technologies I Didn’t See at CES

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on January 13th, 2012

CES What's Missing 3

After spending the past three days scouring the showroom floors at CES (Consumer Electronics Show) in Las Vegas, watching people become overwhelmed by what they saw, I tended to be more underwhelmed by what I didn’t see.

Smartphones, tablets, 3D televisions, and supporting peripherals were everywhere. But as the industry was getting sucked towards the gravitational allure of these technologies, many others, with harder problems to solve, haven’t been getting enough attention.

It’s very easy for the digital world to spot an opportunity, write a few lines of code, and have a new product ready to launch. But going beyond the current capabilities of existing hardware, blazing entirely new trails of thinking, is where the real opportunities lie.

For this reason I thought it would be interesting to talk about “what’s missing.” For those of you are up to the challenge, here are 25 technologies I’d love to see at future CES events.

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Year in Review: Top 10 Articles on FuturistSpeaker.com

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on December 31st, 2011

2011 in Review

The sixth law of the future states, “The “unknowability” of the future is what gives us our drive and motivation.”

The fact that the future is unknowable is a good thing. Our involvement in the game of life is based on our notion that we as individuals can make a difference. If we somehow remove the mystery of what results our actions will have, we also dismantle our individual drives and motivations for moving forward.

There is a whole lot that we don’t know about the year ahead. Yes, it will be messy. Important people will die. We will not cure cancer, just yet. And we won’t find a solution for war. But there is great value in the struggle. Our greatest achievements will come from these struggles.

We can learn much about where we’ve come from, and for this reason I’d like to give you a quick overview of the top articles in 2011 on FuturistSpeaker.com, based on popularity. They touch on jobs, education, crime, food supplies, and most importantly, the future. Join me as we take a look at the future through the eyes of the past.

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Introducing: Eight Grand Challenges for Humanity

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on July 15th, 2011
Eight Grand Challenges

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On Sunday I gave the closing keynote at the World Future Society’s “WorldFuture 2011″ event in Vancouver, BC. It was an energized crowd of inspired thinkers from around the globe, and I felt quite honored to be part of this event.

As I took the stage, my goal was to introduce the crowd to a series of Eight Grand Challenges, incentivized competitions designed to push humanity to another level.

But as with many crowds, there was a formidable issue in the minds of attendees, a hurdle of acceptance before these challenges would be deemed cause-worthy.

At issue was our obsession with solving all of today’s problems before we dare think about advancing humanity. How can we possibly justify advancing humanity when the money would be far better spent solving today’s massive problems?

Answering this objection first, was critically important, so here is the way I presented it.

If we only focus on solving today’s problems, we become trapped in the past. Every solution leads to another set of problems. Much like the whack-a-mole game at video arcades, as one problem gets pounded down, another pokes its ugly head out.

The only real way out is to advance civilization. By advancing civilization we change the nature of the problems we’re dealing with, and that is exactly what the Eight Grand Challenges have been designed to do.

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Prize Competition #2: Viewing the Past

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on April 27th, 2011

Viewing the Past 283

Prize Competition #2: Viewing the Past
When it comes to the topic of time travel, color me skeptical.
Do we even know what time is? Yes, we see the seconds clicking away on clocks, sunrise followed by sunset, tides coming in and going out, seasons changing from one to another, and little trees growing into big trees.
These are all things we associate with the movement of time, yet it is a topic we know very little about. From the standpoint of science, our understanding of time exists as a thimble full of wisdom in an ocean full of ignorance.
Because of this, Hollywood uses time travel as a magical tool for storytelling. With fanciful theories and scant attention to detail, time travel on the big screen is as easily demonstrated as hitting a switch and watching people fly into the future.
But things are never that easy. When NASA set out to put a man on the moon, they didn’t start by loading a team of people onto their first rocket and launching it into space. Instead, they tested each piece of the technology through hundreds of incremental steps.
When dealing with “time,” there are two fundamental proofs that must be demonstrated before we can reasonably think time travel is ever possible. These proofs include viewing things across time and communicating across time. Sending people across time will come much later.
It is this second proof of viewing things across time that I will to focus on here, and more specifically, viewing the past.
With this in mind, I would like to formally announce the second challenge of the Octagonist, a challenge to demonstrate holographically a fully viewable event from the past.
“All information, ever created, is still in existence” – - Futurist Thomas Frey
Fundamental Questions
Let me begin by asking three fundamental questions:
1. Is it not conceivable that people in the future will have a technology to view the past? And if so, do you think they are using this technology to watch us today?
2. If it is possible to communicate across time, why then haven’t we received any form of communication from people in the future?
3. Are there rules and governing principles that define the operating system for our universe? And do these governing principles define how we are permitted to affect our own linear existence?
For hard-to-fathom topics like this, simply asking the questions will cause our minds to move far beyond the safety net of present thinking and drive us to search for possible answers.
Looking Back in Time
When we look into space we are actually looking back in time. This is because of the speed of light which travels at 186,000 miles/second. At a short distance, the time it takes light to travel from point A to point B can be measured in a fraction of a second. But more distant points take far longer.
As an example, it takes a full 8 minutes for light to travel from the sun to earth, and 72 minutes for light to travel from Saturn to earth. So when we look at Saturn, we are seeing how it appeared 72 minutes earlier.
As distances get larger so does our “looking-backwards in time.” The closest star, Alpha Centauri, is so far away that its light takes 4.3 years to reach us. When we look at the closest spiral galaxy, the Andromeda galaxy, we see it as it was 2 million years earlier.
The speed of light is a concept we’re all familiar with. When an event happens on earth, the light and energy trailings reflect off into space. So the earth is not just radiating light, its radiating information.
Information about the past already exists. The key question remains, can it be reassembled?
Communicating Across Time
Going back to the question I posed earlier, “If it is possible to communicate across time, why then haven’t we received any form of communication from people in the future?”
One possible explanation is that we haven’t yet invented a device for receiving these communications.
Communicating with the future is relatively easy. We simply make a recording and store it until it can be revealed at some designated time and place in the future.
But communicating with the past is more difficult. Will it require some kind of device to receive it? And what form will it take?
People in the 16th century had no technology that would allow them to think that any type of sound could be transmitted digitally or electronically. If they suddenly heard voices, even if they came from a device, they would most likely think it was the voice of God or some demon talking to them.
If voices appear in someone’s head, most people today would probably have similar thoughts.
Cross-time communications will require careful planning. Early experiments in this area will likely center around a scientist receiving their own communications prior to them being sent, only minutes earlier.
The Powers and Dangers of Viewing the Past
Would you rob a bank if you knew somebody could go back and find out exactly who you were? Would you start someone’s house on fire if you knew it was possible for someone in the future to see who lit the match?
When it comes to criminal justice, there will be few tools more powerful than this. In fact, it may work too well. In addition to halting crime, it has the potential for putting a massive number of people out of work in the criminal justice system – cops, lawyers, judges, security guards, security equipment manufacturers, and many more.
However, the biggest driver behind this technology will be whether or not people can make money from it. And the answer will be a resounding yes.
Viewing the past will be used for determining historical accuracy, mapping human genealogy, creating documentaries, doing biblical research, and a thousand other things that people will invent along the way.
At the same time, this is a technology with massive potential for unintended consequences.
Being able to view the past brings with it an awesome responsibility for us to both preserve the integrity of the generations who have gone before us, and not denigrate our contemporaries. We all have the frailties of being human and good judgment is everybody’s shortcoming at one time or another.
In the wrong hands, it should be considered as a treacherous weapon. It is for this reason that “viewing the past” was chosen for this type of competition, where country-sponsored teams are continuously monitored by a check-and-balance system of governing bodies.
Is it even Possible?
When it comes to answering the question of whether or not this technology is even possible, truthfully, we don’t know.
Events leave an imprint. Information emanating from an event travels in many different directions that may or may not be retrievable.
But we do believe that people will attempt to discover it. And if this technology is possible, that it needs to be monitored closely in full view of the public. Otherwise, the potential for abuse is far too great.
Requirements
The challenge, as we have defined it, will be to replay an event from no less than 20 years earlier in actual-size, full-holographic visualization. The viewing of this event must involve no less than 5 minutes of fully animated continuous viewing with sufficient clarity to allow handwriting on paper to be viewable.
Our thinking is that the technology will be set up around a room or specific location, and once in place, images of the past will come to life, filling the current void in much the same fashion as actually witnessing it in person.
Naturally, we would like to hear the audio along with seeing the visuals, but we realize that may not be possible with audio waves resonating differently than anything visual. So for this competition, the requirement will strictly be for re-creation of visual images of the past holographically.
Teams
As with all eight of these competitions, only countries will be allowed to enter teams, and each country will be limited to no more than two teams.
All teams will be required to maintain accurate records of their personnel, research data, and stages of progress.
The Prize
Similar to the Olympics, the winners will each receive a gold medal. However, the true value will come from the accomplishment.
This is a technology with the potential to unlock vast new industries oriented around rediscovering the past. Virtually every story throughout history can be retold with unparalleled accuracy.
More importantly, the team that wins will have carved out their own legacy with a permanent place in the next generation of history books, books that have to be rewritten using this technology.
Entrance Fee
The cost of managing a competition of this nature will be significant. For this reason the entrance fee for each team has been set at $1 million USD per team. The money will be used to fund an endowment to insure the long-term viability of this competition.
As the competition ramps up, an entirely new organization will be created. The resulting organization will require a highly skilled management team and staffing with extraordinary technical expertise. This team will need to be in place for many years, perhaps even decades.
The entrance fee represents a tiny fraction of one percent of the amount each team will need to budget for their efforts. Team budgets will likely be in the range of hundreds of millions of dollars.
Governing Body
The competition will also require its own governing body. Since it will be a venture into the unknown, pushing the limits of science and technology, there will need to be an international governing body responsible for oversight and dealing with unforeseeable circumstances.
The exact makeup and responsibilities of this governing body will be determined over the coming months. But minimally it will include one representative per team from the countries they represent.
Final Thoughts
In July, I will be formally announcing all eight of these competitions at the closing plenary for the World Future Society’s “WorldFuture 2011” event on Sunday, July 10, 2011 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
The first, the Race to the Core was announced last year. More will be coming soon.
Behind these announcement is our team at the DaVinci Institute. Our hope is that we may somehow stir the imagination of people around the world and, bare minimum, incite a global conversation.
At stake will be a combination of national pride, personal legacies, and laying claim to unprecedented achievements in science and industry.
The reason we have chosen eight competitions is because of the eight dimensions of the Octagonist, a competition framework that I will explain at a later date. Each of these competitions will be the most challenging ever imagined. Some may not be completed in our lifetime. They are designed to stretch human thinking and push the envelope of understanding.
More than just a series of competition, we view them as a turning point in world history.
By Futurist Thomas Frey

When it comes to the topic of time travel, color me skeptical.

Do we even know what time is? Yes, we see the seconds clicking away on clocks, sunrise followed by sunset, tides coming in and going out, seasons changing from one to another, and little trees growing into big trees.

These are all things we associate with the movement of time, yet it is a topic we know very little about. From the standpoint of science, our understanding of time exists as a thimble full of wisdom in an ocean full of ignorance.

Because of this, Hollywood uses time travel as a magical tool for storytelling. With fanciful theories and scant attention to detail, time travel on the big screen is as easily demonstrated as hitting a switch and watching people fly into the future.

But things are never that easy. When NASA set out to put a man on the moon, they didn’t start by loading a team of people onto their first rocket and launching it into space. Instead, they tested each piece of the technology through hundreds of incremental steps.

When dealing with “time,” there are two fundamental proofs that must be demonstrated before we can reasonably think time travel is ever possible. These proofs include viewing things across time and communicating across time. Sending people across time will come much later.

It is this second proof of viewing things across time that I will to focus on here, and more specifically, viewing the past.

With this in mind, I would like to formally announce the second challenge of the Octagonist, a challenge to demonstrate holographically a fully viewable event from the past.

Read the rest of this entry »