DaVinci Institute – Futurist Speaker http://www.futuristspeaker.com DaVinci Institute – Futurist Speaker Wed, 21 Sep 2016 13:39:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Immortal Human: Do we truly understand the problem we’re trying to solve? http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/the-immortal-human-do-we-truly-understand-the-problem-were-trying-to-solve/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/the-immortal-human-do-we-truly-understand-the-problem-were-trying-to-solve/#comments Tue, 30 Aug 2016 14:53:04 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=7919 Will we still like who we’re about to become?

Imagine what it will be like attending the Olympics in 2248. Men and women competing in their respective sports will range in age from 16 to 212. The oldest competitor is now in his 38th Olympic competition, and young people have complained for years how hard it is to break into some of the elite sports when old time veterans continued to strengthen their techniques and are addicted to the winner circle.

Certainly many of us wish this were one of our problems today.

Over the next couple of decades, most of us will have the opportunity to decide how long we want to live. But while it may start as a forever wish, the promise of halting the aging process will be plagued with tremendous uncertainty, ethical debates, and cultural pressures that few have anticipated.

The first wave of this technology will most likely be very expensive, but it won’t take long for the price to drop and for middle class people everywhere to taste the magic and experience the dream.

Early on we will hear an ethical debate coming from those who profit from today’s short-lived version of humanity. We will, however, transition from those who profit from fixing today’s health problems to those who profit from prolonged life cycles and substantially better health from here on out.

We will also hear from over-population alarmists, limited resource worriers, and those who fear we are playing God and interfering with our spiritual destiny.

There will be challenges to our social structures, pressures on our existing systems, and a constant rewriting of rules for relationships.

In spite of the naysayers, just as we overcame our fear of flying in planes and traveling to other planets, we will transcend our current 19th century thinking on aging and death, and look forward to what comes next.

This column is about what comes next.

In the future, old age will not look like old people trying to act young again
In the future, old age will not look like old people trying to act young again

Benefits of an Aging Society

A recent study published in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, determined that not only were older people more satisfied with life overall, they were also less likely to be anxious, depressed, and/or stressed out. And the best part was that happiness tends to increase with age, with some of the oldest survey recipients reporting the highest levels of life satisfaction.

While this is counter to what most would imagine, there is a scientific explanation to these findings.

“Brain studies show that the amygdala in older people responds less to stressful or negative images than in a younger person,” said senior author of the study Dr. Dilip Jeste.

Gathered from extensive polling of 1,546 people ages 21 to 99, the older respondents, despite physical and cognitive decline, were more likely to have better mental health than the younger ones.

According to Jeste, “As we age, we become wise. Peer pressure loses its sting. Better decision-making, more control of emotions, doing things that are not just for ourselves, knowing ourselves better, being more studious and yet more decisive are all upsides of aging.

Should we anticipate this level of age satisfaction for the 100+ crowd as well. This is particularly good news for young people as they now have something to look forward to.”

History’s Search for the Fountain of Youth

An ancient story titled the “Water of Life” described Alexander the Great and his servant crossing the Land of Darkness to find the restorative spring that gave eternal youth.

Later, many stories of a “fountain of youth” were attributed to the first Governor of Puerto Rico, Ponce de Leon, even though most turned out to be a myth.

Throughout history, references to a magical spring continued to fuel the imagination of primarily wealthy people who dreamed of regaining the vigor of their younger years.

More recently the dream of eternal youth has take on a much more scientific feel using terms like indefinite life extension, experimental gerontology, and biomedical gerontology to describe the study of slowing down or reversing the processes of aging.

Researchers in this field are referred to as “life extensionists”, “immortalists” or “longevists.” They believe that future breakthroughs in tissue rejuvenation, stem cells, regenerative medicine, molecular repair, gene therapy, pharmaceuticals, and organ replacement will eventually enable humans to have indefinite lifespans.

In fact, a significant number of Silicon Valley thought leaders have tried to recast aging as merely another legacy system in need of recoding:

  • Oracle co-founder Larry Ellison’s Ellison Medical Foundation has spent more than $400 million on aging research.
  • Since 2013, Alphabet has been working on a moonshot life-extension project called Calico.
  • X-Prize founder Peter Diamandis has partnered with famed gene sequencer J. Craig Venter to launch Human Longevity Inc.
  • Paul F. Glenn, an 85-year-old VC who watched his grandfather die of cancer, launched an aging-science foundation more than 50 years ago that has funded a dozen aging-research centers around the country.
  • Peter Thiel has given over $3 million to the Methuselah Foundation, the research vehicle for the famed immortality advocate Aubrey de Grey. Thiel has also explored the transfusion of blood from the young to the old.
  • Even Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg recently called for science to end all disease this century.

The sale of anti-aging products such as nutrition, physical fitness, skin care, hormone replacements, vitamins, supplements and herbs is an industry that already generates over $50 billion a year.

Even though we’re making progress and average lifespans continue to increase; no one has managed to crack the code for living past the 120-year threshold, and finding an attractive quality of life for people past 100 is still an elusive dream.

Do we truly understand the problem we’re trying to solve?
Do we truly understand the problem we’re trying to solve?

Transhumanism and the Singularity

Transhumanists believe that humankind can evolve beyond its current physical and mental limitations to become “superhuman” and, eventually, immortal. For them, aging and death are the biggest plague of our time.

Google’s Director of Engineering, Ray Kurzweil, has consistently predicted that machine intelligence will exceed human intelligence in 2029, and from this transition point we will witness the end on human diseases including the end of aging.

Going even further, transhumanists think the Singularity will give rise to a new breed of humans that are far beyond anything we can comprehend today.

Setting the Stage for an Era of Indefinite Lifespans

As always, we should be careful what we wish for.

Let’s begin by assuming a series of breakthroughs happen and the human race is no longer plagued by short lifespans.

Using indefinite existence as a premise, meaning that we find a way to dramatically delay the effects of human aging along with most of the normal deteriorations of the human body associated with aging, how will this change society?

We’re already constantly changing as individuals. You are literally not the same person you were five minutes ago. People are more like trajectories through some space of possible identities and configurations, connected by an identity thread between who you were before and what you’ll likely be next.

With that given, someone who lives for a long time will undergo an unimaginable amount of change. People now look back to how they were when they were younger, with different attitudes and experiences. Imagine that, a thousand-fold.

I realize this requires a rather large quantum-leap-of-faith between a world where average lifespans of 70-80 years old are doubled, tripled, or even longer, but for the purposes of this thought experiment, let’s make that assumption.

Let’s also assume the cost of an indefinite lifespan is generally affordable by everyone and that people will not experience any significant deterioration to their quality of life for most of their existence.

While these are huge assumptions, my goal in stepping you through this trial balloon is to talk through whether or not this dream is as rosy or gloomy as many of us seem to imagine.

Will we still like who we’re about to become?
Will we still like who we’re about to become?

Weighing the Positives Against the Negatives

It’s hard to imagine how different life will be when over 50% of the world’s population is over 100. Not all of it will be good and the positives will certainly offset some of the negatives, if not most of them. But let’s consider some of the far-reaching implications:

POSITIVES

1.) Improved Health – Living a super long life means we will have cured most diseases and corrected the majority of human biological flaws setting the stage for even more radical life extensions, perhaps even moving towards something “post-human,” or even “turbo-human.”

2.) Delayed Death – Our greatest fear is death and our world is consumed by it. We think about it relentlessly. Most book, movie, and television storylines use death as a focal point in their message. But what if death was universally fixable and only one hundredth as important as it is today? Without today’s universal death-focus we would be free to think far more creatively and far more expansively.

3.) Dramatically Improved Intelligence – With age comes wisdom, along with improvements to our biological intelligence and the acuity of our sensory systems. Logically this should lead to us having enhanced abilities to understand, appreciate and change the world in ways we cannot yet imagine.

4.) New Age of Discovery – For the most part, we don’t know what challenges and opportunities super long lifespans will bring. On the plus side, we may have greater contentment, less volatile systems, and greater social wealth. But on the downside, we may discover diseases that only occur to people over 140, have a harder time dealing with disruptive thinking, and cling to things that should have been dismantled decades, even centuries, earlier.

5.) New Social Structures – What kind of relationships will a person’s great, great, great grandparents have with their grandchildren? How intimate will family relationships be when there are 7-10 generations of relatives attending a family gathering?

6.) More Stable Society – With longevity comes stability and the pace of change will begin to stabilize. This will mean less volatility in human-based systems like governments, markets, policies, and political will. History is a great teacher, but it is an even greater teacher if we’ve lived through it ourselves.

7.) Additional Levels of Maturity – We will learn from our mistakes, and with literally centuries of mistakes under our belts, we’ll tend to avoid making the most painful ones again in the future.

8.) More Diverse Economy – Since the needs of a 250 year old are vastly different than the needs of a 50 year old, we will be inventing new market categories with products we can’t yet imagine.

NEGATIVES

In most cases the “negatives” can also be construed as positives when viewed from a slightly different perspective.

1.) Old System Failures – Today’s retirement-based systems will fundamentally break down if people retire at age 65 and then live another 200 years. No one will be interested in life insurance if people no longer die at a predictable age. No more assisted living centers, senior Olympics, probate courts, estate taxes, nursing homes, or senior discounts.

2.) Messy Transition – Since it is unlikely that we will be able to reverse aging, a person who is 20 year olds will continue to look like some version of a 20 year old and those who are 90 will continue to look like some version of 90 year olds. Eventually most of the visual characteristics we associate with aging will disappear, but those caught during this transition period will be the anomalies.

3.) Family Dynasties – Well-managed families will accumulate wealth, power, and influence far beyond anything possible today. Sins of the past will continue to haunt influential families long into the future.

4.) Wealth Controlled by the Super Old – Today’s wealth transitions will be replaced by tomorrow’s wealth entrenchments. For many of the super old, the gamesmanship of being a master manipulator will be their form of entertainment. Today’s puppet masters will seem like amateurs when compared to tomorrows social-chess-masters.

5.) Super Entrenched Political Systems – If you can imagine a time when 47 former presidents are still alive, and all 47 come from 4 different families, you’ll begin to get the picture.

6.) Loss of Urgency – When people live to ages of 200-300 and our working life is 5-10 times longer than it is now, today’s urgency will become tomorrow’s acceptability. While deadlines will still exist, the penalty for missing them will be less onerous and less significant.

7.) Loss of Innovation – Along with longer lifespans will come an increased resistance to change. Family dynasties and entrenched political systems will give way to higher barriers to change and greater political resistance to changing the status quo.

8.) Heavy-Handed Population Control – Since most people instantly jump to overpopulation as being one of the key issues, even though it won’t be, look for a series of population control measures to be implemented from country to country including child bearing licenses, extra child taxes, limited paid maternity leaves, etc.

“I don’t mean you’re all going to be happy. You’ll be unhappy – but in new, exciting and important ways.” – Edwin Land

Final Thoughts

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these topics. There will be plenty of room for disagreement on each of these points, so please feel free to help paint a different perspective.

Roughly 65% of today’s jobs in the U.S. are information jobs that didn’t exist 25 years ago, and over the next 25 years we will get far better at using advanced forms of bioinformatics and biotechnology to reprogram our bodies away from disease, frailties, and all the characteristics we tend to associate with human aging.

To be clear, I‘m a big fan of having people live longer, and I’m even ok with eliminating human aging altogether. But it’s far better to move into an era like this with our eyes open, knowing that the downside may be more severe than any of us suspected.

In my estimation, the odds of reaching a point where people never die is zero. It actually becomes a meaningless argument because proving that someone is capable of living forever will mean someone will have to live longer than the person who lives forever, and that’s not possible.

However, the odds of most people living radically extended lifespans is a near certainty. The progress we’ve made in understanding human biology is remarkable, and continued breakthroughs are inevitable.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions Transforming Your Future

Book Tom 1

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72 stunning things in the future that will be common ten years from now that don’t exist today http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/72-stunning-things-in-the-future-that-will-be-common-ten-years-from-now-that-dont-exist-today/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/72-stunning-things-in-the-future-that-will-be-common-ten-years-from-now-that-dont-exist-today/#comments Mon, 08 Aug 2016 14:39:17 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=7897 72 Stunning Future Things 1

How many things do we own, that are common today, that didn’t exist 10 years ago? The list is probably longer than you think.

Prior to the iPhone coming out in 2007, we didn’t have smartphones with mobile apps, decent phone cameras for photos/videos, mobile maps, mobile weather, or even mobile shopping.

None of the mobile apps we use today existed 10 years ago: Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Instagram, Snapchat, Uber, Facetime, LinkedIn, Lyft, Whatsapp, Netflix, Pandora, or Pokemon Go.

Several major companies didn’t exist a decade ago. Airbnb, Tinder, Fitbit, Spotify, Dropbox, Quora, Tumblr, Kickstarter, Hulu, Pinterest, Buzzfeed, Indigogo, Udacity, or Jet.com just to name a few.

Ten years ago very few people were talking about crowdfunding, the sharing economy, social media marketing, search engine optimization, app developers, cloud storage, data mining, mobile gaming, gesture controls, chatbots, data analytics, virtual reality, 3D printers, or drone delivery.

At the same time we are seeing the decline of many of the things that were in common use 10-20 years ago. Fax machines, wired phones, taxi drivers, newspapers, desktop computers, video cameras, camera film, VCRs, DVD players, record players, typewriters, yellow pages, video rental shops, and printed maps have all seen their industry peak and are facing dwindling markets.

If we leapfrog ahead ten years and take notice of the radically different lives we will be living, we will notice how a few key technologies paved the way for massive new industries.

Here is a glimpse of a stunningly different future that will come into view over the next decade.

All of these items were replaced with smartphones!
All of these items were replaced with smartphones!

3D Printing

Also known as additive manufacturing, 3D printing has already begun to enter our lives in major ways. In the future 3D printers will be even more common than paper printers are today.

1.    3D printed makeup for women. Just insert a person’s face and the machine will be programmed to apply the exact makeup pattern requested by the user.

2.    3D printed replacement teeth, printed inside the mouth.

3.    Swarmbot printing systems will be used to produce large buildings and physical structures, working 24/7 until they’re completed.

4.    Scan and print custom designed clothing at retail clothing stores.

5.    Scan and print custom designed shoes at specialty shoe stores.

6.    Expectant mothers will request 3D printed models of their unborn baby.

7.    Police departments will produce 3D printed “mug shots” and “shapies” generated from a person’s DNA.

8.    Trash that is sorted and cleaned and turned into material that can be 3D printed.

How long before you own the next generation VR headset?
How long before you own the next generation VR headset?

Virtual/Augmented Reality

The VR/AR world is set to explode around us as headsets and glasses drop in price so they’re affordable for most consumers. At the same time, game designers and “experience” producers are racing to create the first “killer apps” in this emerging industry.

9.    Theme park rides that mix physical rides with VR experiences.

10. Live broadcasts of major league sports games (football, soccer, hockey, and more) in Virtual Reality.

11. Full-length VR movies.

12. Physical and psychological therapy done through VR.

13. Physical drone racing done through VR headsets.

14. VR speed dating sites.

15. For education and training, we will see a growing number of modules done in both virtual and augmented reality.

16. VR and AR tours will be commonly used in the sale of future real estate.

Flying/Driving Drones

Drones are quickly transitioning from hobbyist toys to sophisticated business tools very quickly. They will touch our lives in thousands of different ways.

17. Fireworks dropped from drones. Our ability to “ignite and drop” fireworks from the sky will dramatically change both how they’re made and the artistry used to display them.

18. Concert swarms that produce a spatial cacophony of sound coming from 1,000 speaker drones simultaneously.

19. Banner-pulling drones. Old school advertising brought closer to earth.

20. Bird frightening drones for crops like sunflowers where birds can destroy an entire field in a matter of hours.

21. Livestock monitoring drones for tracking cows, sheep, geese, and more.

22. Three-dimensional treasure hunts done with drones.

23. Prankster Drones – Send random stuff to random people and video their reactions.

24. Entertainment drones (with projectors) that fly in and perform unusual forms of live comedy and entertainment.

Our driverless future is coming!
Our driverless future is coming!

Driverless Cars/Transportation

Driverless technology will change transportation more significantly than the invention of the automobile itself.

25. Queuing stations for driverless cars as a replacement for a dwindling number of parking lots.

26. Crash-proof cars. Volvo already says their cars will be crash-proof before 2020.

27. Driverless car hailing apps. Much like signaling Uber and Lyft, only without the drivers.

28. Large fleet ownership of driverless cars (some companies will own millions of driverless cars).

29. Electric cars will routinely win major races like the Daytona 500, Monaco Grand Prix, and the Indy 500.

30. In-car work and entertainment systems to keep people busy and entertained as a driverless car takes them to their destination.

31. In-car advertising. This will be a delicate balance between offsetting the cost of operation and being too annoying for the passengers.

32. Electric car charging in less than 5 minutes.

Internet of Things

The Internet of things is the network of physical devices, vehicles, and buildings embedded with electronics, software, sensors, and actuators designed to communicate with users as well as other devices. We are currently experiencing exponential growth in IoT devices as billions of new ones come online every year.

33. Smart chairs, smart beds, and smart pillows that will self-adjust to minimize pressure points and optimize comfort.

34. Sensor-laced clothing.

35. “Print and Pin” payment systems that uses a biometric mark (fingerprint) plus a pin number.

36. Smart plates, bowls and cups to keep track of what we eat and drink.

37. Smart trashcan that will signal for a trash truck when they’re full.

38. Ownership networks. As we learn to track the location of everything we own, we will also track the changing value of each item to create a complete ownership network.

39. Self-retrieving shoes where you call them by name, through your smartphone, and your shoes will come to you.

40. Smart mailboxes that let you know when mail has arrived and how important it is.

Full-body physical health scanner!
Full-body physical health scanner!

Health Tech

Even though healthcare is a bloated and bureaucratic industry, innovative entrepreneurs are on the verge of disrupting this entire industry.

41. Hyper-personalized precision-based pharmaceuticals produced by 3D pill printers.

42. Ingestible data collectors, filled with sensors, to give a daily internal health scan and report.

43. Prosthetic limbs controlled by AI.

44. Real-time blood scanners.

45. Peer-to-peer health insurance.

46. Facetime-like checkups without needing a doctor’s appointment.

47. Full-body physical health scanners offering instant AI medical diagnosis, located in most pharmacies

48. Intraoral cameras for smartphones for DYI dental checkups.

The future of computers is the mind!
The future of computers is the mind!

Artificial Intelligence (AI)

Much like hot and cold running water, we will soon be able to “pipe-in” artificial intelligence to any existing digital system.

49. Best selling biographies written by artificial intelligence.

50. Legal documents written by artificial intelligence.

51. AI-menu selection, based on diet, for both restaurants and at home.

52. Full body pet scanners with instant AI medical diagnosis.

53. AI selection of movies and television shows based on moods, ratings, and personal preferences.

54. Much like the last item, AI music selection will be based on moods, ratings, and musical tastes.

55. AI sleep-optimizers will control all of the environmental factors – heat, light, sound, oxygen levels, smells, positioning, vibration levels, and more.

56. AI hackers. Sooner or later someone will figure out how to use even our best AI technology for all the wrong purposes.

Unmanned aviation is coming!
Unmanned aviation is coming!

Transportation

Future transportation will come in many forms ranging from locomotion on an individual level to ultra high-speed tube transportation on a far grander scale.

57. Unmanned aviation – personal drone transportation.

58. 360-degree video transportation monitoring cameras at most intersections in major cities throughout the world.

59. Everywhere wireless. With highflying solar powered drones, CubeSats, and Google’s Project Loon, wireless Internet connections will soon be everywhere.

60. Black boxes for drones to record information in the event of an accident.

61. Air-breathing hypersonic propulsion for commercial aircraft. Fast is never fast enough.

62. Robotic follow-behind-you luggage, to make airline travel easier.

63. Robotic dog walkers and robotic people walkers.

64. Ultra high-speed tube transportation. 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 thing lacking is a few people capable of mustering the political will to make it happen.

Miscellaneous

As I began assembling this list, a number of items didn’t fit well in other categories.

65. Bitcoin loans for houses, cars, business equipment and more.

66. Self-filling water bottles with built-in atmospheric water harvesters.

67. Reputation networks. With the proliferation of personal information on websites and in databases throughout the Internet, reputation networks will be designed to monitor, alert, and repair individual reputations.

68. Atmospheric energy harvesters. Our atmosphere is filled with both ambient and concentrated forms of energy ranging from sunlight to lightning bolts that can be both collected and stored.

69. Pet education centers, such as boarding schools for dogs and horses, to improve an animal’s IQ.

70. Robotic bricklayers. With several early prototypes already operational, these will become common over the next decade.

71. Privacy bill of rights. Privacy has become an increasingly complicated topic, but one that is foundational to our existence on planet earth.

72. Hot new buzzword, “Megaprojects.”

72 Stunning Future Things 9
The safer we feel, the more risks we take!

Final Thoughts

There’s a phenomenon called the Peltzman Effect, named after Dr. Sam Peltzman, a renowned professor of economics from the University of Chicago Business School, who studied auto accidents.

He found that when you introduce more safety features like seat belts into cars, the number of fatalities and injuries doesn’t drop. The reason is that people compensate for it. When we have a safety net in place, people will take more risks.

That probably is true with other areas as well.

As life becomes easier, we take risks with our time. As our financial worries are met, we begin thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, inventor, or artist. When life becomes too routine, we search for ways to introduce chaos.

Even though we see reports that billions of jobs will disappear over the coming decades, we will never run out of work.

As humans, we were never meant to live cushy lives of luxury. Without risk and chaos as part of our daily struggle our lives seem unfulfilled. While we work hard to eliminate it, we always manage to find new ways to bring it back.

Yes, we’re working towards a better world ahead, but only marginally better. That’s where we do our best work.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions Transforming Your Future

Book Tom 1

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151,600 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/151600/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/151600/#comments Wed, 27 Jul 2016 16:43:59 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=7890 Future Healthcare 1

Every 10 seconds, another 17 people die.

In the time it takes me to walk across a typical stage for my talks, another 15-20 people will lose their life.

151,600 is the number of people that die every day in the world.

Some die from old age, infectious disease, car accidents, cancer, childbirth, heart attacks, suicide, gunshots, or any of dozens of different causes. The ending of human life is a sobering reality, happening relentlessly, every second of every day.

Whenever I get lulled into a false sense of “this will never happen to me,” I realize this same number begins its countdown every morning of every day. There are no exceptions.

As I was preparing for a recent talk on the future of healthcare, I began questioning, “What’s the role of our healthcare system in this number?”

Is it simply to rearrange the dead, to change the order of how and where some of us will die?

Every baby that’s born into this world comes with an expiration date. We don’t know when anyone will die, but so far, no one has managed to live forever.

As a society, we grieve all of our losses but we abhor premature deaths, all of the ones that could have been prevented. We go out of our way to guard against disease, mending wounds after an accident, and protecting against those who wish us harm.

But then it occurred to me that death might not be inevitable. What if no one ever needed to die?

What if our healthcare system got really good at curing diseases, repairing people after an accident, finding solutions for mental health issues and even deviant behavior? What if we even found the antidote for human aging?

That means no person would ever have to die… EVER!

Should that be the goal of our healthcare system? Well, why not?

Wrapped Up in Bad Assumptions

Whenever we toy with the idea of making death a thing of the past, we instantly leap to the problems associated with over-population.

For this reason, we have a tendency to dismiss the idea out of hand before we ever really consider it.

But shouldn’t that still be our goal?

If we can cure all these things, we can also fix all the problems that cause our quality of life to decline as we age. Wouldn’t it be nice having 80 year olds competing against 20 year olds in the Olympics?

Knowing that the odds of actually achieving this kind of immortality, along with a remarkably better quality of life, may indeed be less than a billionth of one percent, why shouldn’t it still serve as our goal, our moral directive, representing a new kind of Hippocratic oath?

Digital modeling will soon replace labs and testing
Digital modeling will soon replace labs and testing

Transitioning from Pharmaceuticals to Data

Healthcare is transitioning from an industry dominated by pharmaceuticals to an industry run on data!

Our progress so far has been measured in millimeters, making it imperative that we truly understand what constitutes progress.

Far too much of our current healthcare system is based on testimonials and one-off feelings of improvement. In most situations we lack the ability to prescribe a remedy based on a thorough analysis of our own hyper-individualized situation.

Over the coming years we will be integrating a host of scanning and sensory equipment in our daily routine.

Rather than having doctors prescribe either 200 or 400 milligrams of a drug because those are the only doses currently being offered by the pharmaceutical companies, we will be moving quickly towards self-diagnostic equipment that will tell us we need precisely 327 milligrams and have a dispensing system capable of producing that exact dosage.

If we can create a system that produces an impartial health diagnosis, we will begin seeing remedies that recommend drug, diet, and exercise alternatives only if and when they represent the optimal solution.

However, this will only happen for a short interim period.

The Promising World of Precision Healthcare

Pharmaceuticals tend to be very crude instruments for correcting the failures of the human body. It’s sort of like using a shotgun to kill a mosquito. It’ll do the job but has the potential to cause a ton of collateral damage in the process.

To explain precision healthcare, I love to use the example of “perfect water.”

We all know that polluted water is bad for us, and that if we distill water and remove all of the so-called impurities, that it’s less than optimal. Somewhere in this entire water spectrum is “perfect water,” meaning it’s perfect for you as an individual, at that particular moment in time.

With over 7 billion people in the world, this would mean there are over 7 billion formulations of perfect water. Complicating it even further, each of these formulations will change every second of every day as the metabolism of the human body changes.

Somewhere in this line of thinking is the level of precision that will be needed for tomorrow’s hyper-individualized healthcare.

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 bioinformatics and biological devices.

Enter CRISPR and the Era of Gene-Editing

CRISPR technology involves a series of DNA reading and editing tools that are being used to solve a wide range of healthcare problems.

The true game changing potential for CRISPR is that it allows scientist to perform cut-and-paste like functions to remove existing or add new gene sequences to our DNA in a way that’s faster, cheaper, easier, and more precise than ever before.

With the cost of DNA sequencing plummeting over 1,000% in the past 15 years, we are on the verge of remapping the source-data that drives all of our bodily functions.

Inside our body lies a multifaceted ecosystem of more than 1,000 distinct types of bacteria. These bacteria include viruses, fungi, and other microorganisms. Altogether they account for over three million genes, making the human genome and its 23,000 genes seem rather tiny in comparison.

To give you an idea of the physical size of these microorganisms, they account for roughly one to three pounds of our body weight and are distributed throughout our body, with the largest concentration found in our gut.

Studies are now showing how our bacterial ecosystem, or microbiome, is connected to our overall health. Abnormalities in our microbiome have been linked to problems with digestion, asthma, arthritis, obesity, food allergies, even neurological disorders like depression and autism.

Researchers are now finding that excessive use of antibiotics, especially as a child, can permanently damage a healthy well-functioning microbiome by destroying healthy gut bacteria, contributing to all these illnesses.

Problems like this are what’s driving scientists to sequence the 3 million genes in a person’s microbiome to understand how each gene is affecting the body, and creating customized bacteria with CRISPR tools being used to inch that person back to health, curing multiple diseases and disorders throughout the process.

The current bottleneck for CRISPR is the computing horsepower necessary to sequence, analyze, and edit the genes. That’s why quantum computing has become such a hot topic, with its ability to perform in seconds all of the complex genetic calculations that require years of data processing with today’s super computers.

However, CRISPR is far from the “cure everything” panacea that many believe. While doctors are lining up to be the first to use CRISPR tech to cure cancer, diabetes, and any number of other disease, there are also many warning of the dangers of contaminating the human germline for all future generations.

As ethicists attempt to formulate an overarching precautionary principle for the Pandora’s box of possibilities that CRISPR is about to unleash, another 151,600 people will die every day that the debate drags on.

Our ongoing quest to become super-human!
Our ongoing quest to become super-human!

Transitioning from Preventative Care to Enhanced Human Performance

In the future it will no longer be enough to just be healthy. We will demand ways to be physically stronger, more alert, super resilient, exceptionally durable, intellectually brilliant, and so much more.

In much the same way we use coffee and energy drinks to improve alertness today, tomorrow’s gadget market will include a wide selection of tools for “dialing in” some kind of performance enhancer.

It may be as harmless as a music player that anticipates the perfect music for every setting or it could be a bit more risky like making someone’s body temporarily more durable so it can survive a fall from a 20-story building.

With our current struggle to return to “normal” health, we have a hard time imagining what a super body and mind combination would look like, but rest assured, it’s coming.

Final Thoughts

It would be a mistake to assume that we won’t need doctors in the future. The deeper we probe into the inner workings of human biology, the greater our realization of how little we actually know.

It would also be a mistake to blame doctors for the system they currently find themselves in. Buoyed by the whims of big insurance companies, big pharma, and big government, doctors often end up being the unwitting pawn of other, much larger, agendas.

That said, doctors are about to enter unfamiliar territory, with mountains of data replacing judgment calls, and former ways of doing business simply gone forever. Not all will survive this transition.

Data models will replace x-rays; sensors will replace labs and testing; devices will replace needles, blood draws, and pills; and people will soon gain control over their own data.

There may indeed be a bifurcation of old school and new school physicians, and universities that teach traditional medicine vs. those that teach bioinformatics, data-chemistry, genomic-roadmapping, and cellular manipulation.

But in the end, for those who want to continue learning, and continue probing the farthest reaches of healthcare, doctors will have unlimited opportunities to make a difference in the years ahead.

Should we be content with 151,600 deaths a day being a fact of life, just like gravity and the speed of light? I don’t think so. All rules are made to be broken, and from my perspective, the sooner, the better.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions Transforming Your Future

Book Tom 1

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The Seven Deadly Sins of Machine Intelligence http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-machine-intelligence/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/the-seven-deadly-sins-of-machine-intelligence/#comments Wed, 13 Jul 2016 14:37:43 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=7879 Evil AI 4

The year is 2028 and James Mathews has been summoned to appear in front of Winston III, the famous AI Judge overseeing an electronic courtroom, set up as a pilot project, but many have already dubbed it the justice system of the future.

Mathews, the defendant for this test case, has developed an image-forming technology that captures reflections of reflections, and through these obscure light fragments, manages to piece together works of art comprised of personal images and video clips. With many of his works depicting people behind closed doors, a slew of well-articulated media condemnations began showing up claiming his work to be an invasion of privacy.

Since his machines only use what he refers to as “second generation reflections,” light fragments that he collected in public spaces far away from the people and buildings his images portray, Mathews believes he’s in the clear, and his artistic works are fair game.

Many believe this to be the perfect test case for Winston III, a lifelike judge-bot infused with state of the art AI capabilities. Because of the complexity of privacy laws and the tens of thousands of rules, regulations, and requirements governing the issue, an impartial compiler of all the facts would be needed to render an evenhanded final judgment.

In the courthouse, Winston III is dressed like a techie judge, of sorts, to give participants the feeling they’re in a traditional courtroom, but one that will produce a fairer outcome.

After decades of people protesting the bias and favoritism shown by our fraying legal system, a team of research scientists set out to design the ultimate fair judicial process, starting with a redesign of the most central figure in a courtroom, the judge.

Creating a robot that looked like a judge was a minor accomplishment compared to the artificial intelligence engine needed to assimilate the intent of countless statutes, apply them to a given situation, and rendering a legal opinion.

Since there were no central repositories for the laws, their first task was to create a public database of all laws and make it both accessible to their AI engine and viewable by the general public.

Once the database was in place, they next had to add meaning to the seemingly endless verbiage in past laws, regulations, and court rulings. They did this by linking past court rulings with each statute and reverse engineering the legal interpretations as they were applied over the past several decades to each case file.

Using human decisions from the past and applying them to the artificial intelligence engines of the future is nothing new, but this project attempted to raised the bar of sophistication to a whole new level.

The danger of using the “reverse-engineered human” technique, at least in this application, was in the possible contamination of an impartial and preference-neutral AI with human biases.

As many of us already know, along with our attempts to make machines more human-like in their thinking, comes the potential for them to develop more flaws in their decision-making…. just like humans.

But human bias is only scratching the surface of imperfections that can result from badly programmed AI. For this reason I thought it would be enlightening to discuss the downside of machine intelligence and the seven deadly sins of flawed encoding and how it can go woefully wrong.

The Original Seven Deadly Sins

The seven deadly sins did not come from the Bible, but do stem from some of the teachings of King Solomon found in the Book of Proverbs 6:16-19. In these verses, King Solomon refers to the “six things the LORD doth hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him.”

1.) Lust – It is usually thought of as intense or unbridled sexual desire but can also include lust for power and money.

2.) Gluttony – Overindulgence and overconsumption of anything to the point of waste.

3.) Greed – An abnormal desire for possessions, to the point where stealing, hoarding, and kleptomania can be justified.

4.) Sloth – While sloth can be defined in many ways, it’s generally defined as laziness where people fail to act. Evil exists when “good” people fail to act.

5.) Wrath – Best described as uncontrolled feelings of anger, rage, and even hatred, often manifesting itself in a desire to seek vengeance.

6.) Envy – Similar to greed and lust, malicious envy is characterized by an insatiable desire or resentful covetousness towards the traits or possessions of someone else.

7.) Pride – While not all pride is bad, extreme hubris or pride is often considered the most dangerous of the seven deadly sins. Pride, in this context, refers to dangerously corrupt selfishness, the putting of one’s own desires, urges, wants, and whims before the welfare of everyone else.

How do we know if our machines are hardwired to fail?
How do we know if our machines are hardwired to fail?

Seven Deadly Sins of Machine Intelligence

Future self-learning systems will develop inputs from a variety of sources. As requirements for subtle human-like perception increases, the fastest path to data collection will be to capture the processes used by human experts.

For example, quality control in the perfume industry is often based on judgment calls made by seasoned professionals weighing a number of hard-to-quantify olfactory attributes that lead to a final decision.

Without a periodic table for smells and tastes to serve as a baseline of comparison, one person’s olfactory talents may indeed be quite different from someone else’s.

In this type of situation, it may be easier to monitor and learn from the reaction of experts rather than develop a top-down decision-tree. With this scenario, data gathering from human subjects is far easier.

Its not easy to explain how judgment calls made for the perfume industry can cause biases in unrelated applications such as analytic accounting, anticipatory tutoring, or even recommending a lifestyle-specific diet plan, but that’s exactly what will happen.

Over time, self-learning systems will develop “sanitizing” software to eliminate favoritisms and biases stemming from marginal inputs, but that will take time.

In the mean time, here are some of the deadly sins likely to accompany these kinds of tainted inputs.

1.) Deceptive Sneakiness – In much the same way a person feels betrayed by a cheating spouse, future machines with secretive reasoning and veiled tendencies will yield similar feelings of distrust.

2.) Skeptical Pessimism – TV shows and movies have conditioned us to believe that by simply asking a computer what the odds for success are, future computers will give an exact number like 35.5%. But computers have never been that precise, nor will they be in the future, instead offering wide ranges such as 40-70%. An AI suffering from a pessimism bias will often yield gloomy predictions like 0-10% or, discouraging words such as, “You’re doomed to failure!”

3.) Self-Centeredness – It’s easy to imagine a machine that is programmed for survival, perhaps even at the expense of its own operators. Yet this human-like quality has the potential to be much more subtle and permeate its decision-making circuits with “me first” requests like better operators, better materials, better maintenance, or even fewer hours.

4.) Gullibility – We would hope that machines of the future would be impervious to online scams, but just as spam filters have their own workarounds, every decision-point has the potential for similar blindspots.

5.) Domineering – Nobody likes a bully that brushes off new inputs and discards better options, but a domineering AI is nothing to trifle with. Machines can learn to get their own way by adapting

6.) Indiscretion – Everyone has his or her own secrets and conveying the sensitivity of certain information to a machine is not easy. For example, if you asked a machine to reorder your medicine, it may not understand the need to keep both credit card info and medical data secret in an overly complicated ordering process.

7.) Narrow-Mindedness – Are we better off with decisions made after reviewing huge volumes of information, or more efficient judgments from a limited number of databases with higher quality records? Machines can be narrow-mindedly broad, but shallow, as well as narrow-mindedly limited in scope.

Final Thoughts

Going back to the opening scenario, will we be working with judge-bots anytime soon?

In my opinion, we are destined to work with a number of prototypes, several generations of decreasingly flawed Winston III judge-bots, before we finally get to a machine capable of rendering a reasonably unbiased verdict.

Using the “seven deadly sins” approach to understanding how negative human attributes can corrupt non-human machines has been an exercise for me in better understanding the massive potential for how things can go wrong.

In the future, machine intelligence will only be as good as the decision-forming architecture at its core. AI will find tons of uses in narrowly defined applications, but every time we stretch the scope, even by a seemingly insignificant amount, the potential for imperfections will grow exponentially.

“Just when we thought it was safe to go swimming in intelligent waters, we realized the water was still dumber than the toe we were attempting to dip into it.”

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Communicating with the Future” – the book that changes everything

Book Tom 1

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Spontaneous Warzones and the Future Tech Needed to Stop Them http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/spontaneous-warzones-and-the-future-tech-needed-to-stop-them/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/spontaneous-warzones-and-the-future-tech-needed-to-stop-them/#respond Mon, 20 Jun 2016 17:34:33 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=7833 Spontaneous Warzones 10

If you haven’t been paying attention, incidents like the shootout in Paris and the Pulse Nightclub in Orlando are increasing. Yes, we do have more crazed people with weapons, but we are also dealing with some foundational shifts away from existing systems for resolving conflict and witnessing a more distributed form of modern warfare.

People who think that wars are only fought with soldiers, guns, and armored vehicles on distant battlefields have very little grasp of the evolving nature of conflict. Today’s militaries find themselves with all the wrong kind of equipment to function in this kind of stealth battlefront.

As we put more and more power into the hands of an individual, small groups or even a single person, it can turn virtually any setting into a spontaneous war zone.

Even though body count has never been a good measure of victory, it tends to be the scorecard that gets the most headlines; and grabbing headlines creates its own form of victory.

Conflicts come in many forms ranging from personal disputes, corporate confrontations, cultural clashes, national skirmishes, religious divisiveness, and much more.

The survivability of any nation, culture, or social structure is highly dependent on its ability to resolve conflict. Courts and justice systems have been tasked with managing this on the lower levels and militaries when things begin to escalate. But young people today have little time for either.

Gone are the soldier-vs-soldier battles of the past with today’s religious zealots choosing instead to destroy the weakest among us, shooting women, babies, and handicap alike to somehow bolster their warrior credentials.

War has always been messy, but by tossing the last remnants of battle decorum out the window, we are on the verge of witnessing a no-holds-barred unleashing of super-tech weaponry, the likes of which are scarcely understood today.

If you will indulge me, I’d like to step you through a number of future weapon technologies that will change our ability to defend ourselves, resolve conflict, and if necessary, go on the offensive.

Will we soon have command centers for monitoring human deaths?
Will we soon have command centers for monitoring human deaths?

1.) Tools of Awareness – Global Death Monitor

First, consider what it would be like to have a machine that instantly registers every human death on the planet, triggered by the ending of a heartbeat. Not only would it record every death, but it would also provide a map as to where the death occurred, those who were in close proximity, and eventually even the cause of death.

Whenever the cause of death is unknown, the machine would immediately trigger an investigation.

The machine would also compile analytical data about those who died and help us understand the surrounding context, circumstances, and background information, distinguishing between natural and unnatural causes of death.

With an average of 151,600 deaths happening every day in the world, we somehow need to automate the process for resolving the cause and conditions for the ending of every person’s life.

2.) Jammer Tech

Most people assume that jammer technology is primarily for jamming radio waves, but I think about it in a much broader context of opportunity.

  • Body Jammers – Think of this as an EMP blast for the human body where someone flips the “off” switch on your metabolism and you simply pass out. If this were used in the Orlando nightclub, countless lives could have been saved.
  • Light Jammers – It’s already possible to distort visible light to jam photos, so why not push it to the next level and garble the visible spectrum to the point where no one can see at all? Losing our sight is disconcerting and instantly debilitating.
  • Metal Jammers – At the first sound of gunshots, a metal jammer would apply an intense magnetic field throughout a room or building to the point where all metal guns become impossible to fire.
  • Anger Jammers – A number of emotion monitoring gadgets have paved the way for larger crowd monitoring devices. Once we can zero in on the one or two people who are ready to blow a gasket, turret mounted wave cannons can instantly swivel and hit them with an anger diffuser beam.

3.) Moving into Star Trek Era Weaponry

Shooting lethal bullets is a very primitive one-option-fits-all approach to dealing with conflict.

The first time I watched Star Trek and heard Captain Kirk utter the phrase – “Set your phasers to stun!” – it occurred to me that these future weapons would house a number of different settings.

While most people assumed a simple two-position switch with only “kill” or “stun,” I found myself dwelling on the possibilities of a 10-12 position switch and wondering what the other options might be.

Perhaps they would include 1 stun-p (with pain), 2 stun-np (no pain), 3 giggle (make them laugh uncontrollably), 4 amnesia (forget what they’re doing), 5 slo-mo (causing them to move in slow motion), 6 suicide (making them take their own life), 7 seizure (all muscles fire at once), 8 overwhelming guilt (immobilized by guilt and self loathing), 9 overwhelming pity (suddenly they become your friend), 10 distraction (squirrel) or 11 kill-p (with pain), 12 kill-np (no pain).

These may sound silly, but since today’s weapons only have one setting, we have a hard time imagining a technology with more choices.

The irony is that reverse blackmail can be an equally effective in a pervasively aware society
The irony is that reverse blackmail can be an equally effective in a pervasively aware society

4.) Blackmail as a Weapon

For many of us, our reputation is one of the most important aspects of our lives. It’s central to everything we do.

Every time a live TV courtroom drama plays out, whether it’s a trial featuring Eliot Spitzer, Martha Stewart, Clarence Thomas, or Monica Lewinsky; we instantly identify with the most embarrassing pieces of the testimony because it could easily be us. We are all terminally human, with enough of our own character flaws to make us the central character of a juicy reality TV show.

Recent revelations about the NSA PRISM program make this kind of paranoia even more justifiable. Virtually any person, put under a microscope, can be threatened with his or her own character flaws.

An even greater danger comes from knowing personal weaknesses, and in most cases, it’s the person or thing we care about most. Those seeking leverage always want to know the one button they can push, and whether it’s a child, parent, valuable possession, or their reputation, a single well-crafted threat can become instant blackmail.

In much the same way Amazon’s personalized marketing system delivers targeted ads, an intimidation engine could be equally as capable as delivering highly targeted threats.

When cyber crimes like this begin to escalate, we run the risk of having our social structures deteriorate into invisible mafia-style communities with blackmailers ruling the blackmailees.

The irony is that reverse blackmail can be an equally effective situation diffuser and with our world trending towards a pervasively aware society, blackmailers can quickly fall victim to the same kind of threats.

Will our future insects have parasitic nano-scouts living on their exteriors?
Will our future insects have parasitic nano-scouts living on their exteriors?

5.) Nanotech Battlefront

Nano-weapons have the potential to offer unusually tiny remedies for large-scale conflicts. Here are a few examples:

1.) Nano-needles – Invisible to the human eye, nano-diameter needles could be shot like clusters of bullets from great distances to “pin” people to a wall or freeze their physical movement. Nano-needles, because of their incredibly tiny diameter, will be the ultimate non-lethal weapons, invisible to the human eye, leaving no visible wounds and causing no permanent damage.

2.) Nano-Scouts – Using technologies that effectively “live on” and controls live insects, the proverbial “fly on the wall” could literally have hundreds or even thousands of parasitic nano-scouts living on its exterior. In addition to the commonly assumed eyes and ears of military intelligence, these smart dust nano-scouts will also have the capacity to analyze every situation to determine the presence of chemicals, changes in moisture levels or barometric pressure, and even the ability to sense movements, temperature, and vibration.

3.) Water Bullets – As a different kind of non-lethal weapon, self-contained water balls, formed around an elevated surface tension, could be used to knock people down, temporarily rendering them harmless.

4.) Nano-Poisons – Most people instantly think of poison as a tool for killing someone. But nanotechnology, with its capacity for triggering specific brain functions, will set the stage for a whole new menu of poison options. As an example:

  • Liar poison will make it impossible for someone to tell the truth
  • Kleptomaniac poison will make it impossible for the person to stop stealing things
  • Alcoholic poison will make a person unable to stop drinking alcohol
  • Obesity poison will cause a person to eat themselves to death
  • My favorite – – we’ll call it the “Clockwork Orange Poison,” – – will make a person incapable of ever being angry or mean.
The nature of war is changing and we have to change with it!
The nature of war is changing and we have to change with it!

Final Thoughts

In a perfect world, some things just have to be imperfect!

The absence of war is seldom peace and people today have an increasing number of channels for expressing their displeasure.

The downside of a super-connected society is that we can easily connect with others who share our frustration, and shared frustrations often ferment their way into unusual forms of conflict.

Battlefields of the future will continue to morph along with our tech culture and the weapons of the future will be unrecognizable by today’s standards.

Whenever a battle is over, scars are slow to heal, and it’s always better to squelch angers before they escalate.

What’s different today are a number of pervasive technologies that enable us to parse problems into far smaller pieces and pinpoint the source of the issue. We also have the ability to leverage a wide variety of tools, techniques, and system changes to resolve conflicts before they escalate.

In much the same way we never want to show up with a knife for a gunfight, our armies are a terrible match for today’s stealth battlefields. We are a long ways from having the right tools and tech needed for tomorrow’s spontaneous warzones.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Communicating with the Future” – the book that changes everything

Book Tom 1

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Creating the World’s First Neural Lace Network http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/creating-the-worlds-first-neural-lace-network/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/creating-the-worlds-first-neural-lace-network/#comments Thu, 02 Jun 2016 16:39:49 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=7777 Neural Lace 1

Elon Musk recently added a new twist to his vision for tech-related accomplishments by saying he was interested in creating a “neural lace.”

For a little background, science fiction author Iain M. Banks first coined the term “neural lace” in The Culture series. In these novels, people living on another planet installed genetically engineered glands in their brains capable of secreting stimulants, psychedelics and sedatives whenever they wanted them.

Last year, researchers from Harvard and the National Center for Nanoscience and Technology in Beijing managed to create a working neural lace prototype. They figured out a way to inject a tiny electronic mesh sensor into the brain of a mouse that fully integrates with cerebral matter that enabled computers to monitor brain activity.

Using a syringe, the mesh was injected into the mouse brain where the material expanded to 30 times its original size. Once inside, the mouse brain cells grew around the mesh, forming connections with the wires in the flexible mesh circuit. Unlike most implants, the mouse brain completely accepted the mechanical component and assimilated with it without any damage being caused to the mouse.

To show how this type of technology could be applied to humans, we currently use electric shock treatment for patients suffering from severe muscle spasms. While this approach is only used in worst-case scenarios, it uses long wires that are inserted deep into the brain, risking long-term brain injury with every insertion.

If a neural lace is able to completely integrate with the human brain, this would enable doctors to treat all sorts of neurodegenerative diseases that are currently difficult to cure. But that is only a small piece of a much bigger opportunity here.

Even though we can only speculate on the full potential, it should eventually be possible to master brain-to-brain communications, record visual inputs, control sleep patterns, instantly reset our emotional disposition, adjust our own chemical-brain balance, and intellectually do brain-searches of the Internet.

Information at the Speed of Need

The distance between information and our brain is getting shorter.

Twenty years ago if you had access to a large information center, such as the Library of Congress, and someone asked you a series of questions, your task would have been to pour through the racks of books to come up with the answers. The time involved could have easily added up to 10 hours per question.

Today, if we are faced with uncovering answers from a digital Library of Congress, using keyboards and computer screens, the time-to-answer process has been reduced to as little as 10 minutes.

The next iteration of interface design will give us the power to find answers in as little as 10 seconds. That’s where neural lace technology comes into play.

The ease and fluidity of our information-to-brain interface will have a profound effect on everything from education, to the way we conduct business, to the way we function as a society.

After we achieve a 10-second interface, we’ll immediately set our sights on the next milestone, the 10-millisecond interface.

Once we get past the notion that “fast” can be made to go even faster, we will begin to enter an entirely new era where collaboration will happen instantly across all kinds of boundaries, with all kinds of people. The rulebook for the entire world will be rewritten around the “speed of need.”

Injecting a neural lace through a syringe
Injecting a neural lace through a syringe

Answering the Ethical Questions

Venturing into new territory is a perfect opportunity for us to speculate, and since I’m not a brain matter expert, this is the part that will probably get me in trouble. Some of my assumptions may indeed be erroneous. Science fiction has evolved into the ugly step-sister of the horror industry, leaving us with far too many crazy notions about mind control and the evil intent of people working in this field.

Increasing the speed with which we access information does not mean we are becoming “The Borg” on Star Trek, and our minds will not instantly become controllable or even accessible to others without our consent.

Every mind is different. The patterns and connection we make inside our own minds is uniquely our own. To someone peering in from the outside it will be like looking at a cryptic 3-dimensional document written in a foreign language.

To be sure, dangers still exist, but most will result from areas we don’t yet understand. Social reclusiveness, information additions, and destructive idea viruses may all be part of a much longer list of things that can go wrong.

Next-Generation Learning

As most storytellers have learned, the basic components of every story deals with six elements – who, what, when, where, why, and how.

Four of these elements – who, what, when, and where – are factual. With a 10-second neural lace interface, and especially if we drop it to 10-milliseconds, learning becomes far less about committing factual information to memory because information becomes so easily accessible.

Many of today’s most scholarly people who have mastered the capacity to retain vast reservoirs of minutia will find themselves staring toe to toe with average people who have mastered the exact same ability, albeit indirectly with the use of technology.

Schools will no longer focus on the factual information but on the indirect aspects like relational elements, pattern analysis, value statements, opinions, and basic questions like “why” and “how.”

Here are some examples of questions that are not easily answered with a neural lace interface:

  • Can you explain the context within which those comments were made?
  • How do animal behaviors vary from species to species?
  • Was their underlying motivation behind that change detrimental to their cause?
  • How did that kind of thinking relate to what other cultures were going through?
  • Why do you think that happened?
  • Based on your understanding of the situation, was that a good move?
Will it soon be possible to record everything we see?
Will it soon be possible to record everything we see?

Neural Lace Search Engines for the Physical World

Neural lace technology opens the door to recording everything we see on a daily basis. In fact, it opens the door to information about what everyone else is seeing as well.

As example, if we lose our keys a neural lace will be able to find them because it recorded where we last saw them.

But it’s not just about what we see, it’s also about our other senses as well. Soon we will be able to search on a variety of sensory attributes like smells, tastes, harmonic vibration, texture, specific gravity, and barometric pressure.

Eventually, search engines will have the capability of finding virtually anything in either the digital or physical world.

Each step we take in this direction will be viewed as further intrusion into the sacred ground of privacy, and as a result, a host of masking and cloaking technologies will begin to appear on the market.

Signal jammers, light wave disrupters, and other forms of digital camouflaging will serve as a short-term substitute for public policy failures.

Final Thoughts

Every piece of cutting edge technology ushers in an entirely new set of problems. Innovations become self-perpetuating because problems demand solutions, and all solutions create more problems.

Living in a super transparent society brings with it and equal number of positives and negatives, but we won’t know where to draw the line on policy matters until we’ve experienced it for ourselves.

In the process we will effectively be rewriting the rules for humanity – our value systems, our expectations, and all the synaptic firings that define us as humans.

Can we possibly be the people we think we should be?

Will Elon Musk be the visionary that paves the way for full-scale implementation of this technology?

When the 10-second interface finally arrives, I will invite all of you to join me in a 10-second toast as we stop to celebrate the importance of this accomplishment.

Enjoy it while you can, the next celebration, perhaps only a few years away, will only last 10-milliseconds.

 

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Communicating with the Future” – the book that changes everything

Book Tom 1

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Megaprojects Set to Explode to 24% of Global GDP Within a Decade http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/megaprojects-set-to-explode-to-24-of-global-gdp-within-a-decade/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/megaprojects-set-to-explode-to-24-of-global-gdp-within-a-decade/#comments Tue, 24 May 2016 19:25:06 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=7729 Megaproject 1

Gone are the days where people are impressed by projects costing $10-$50 million or even $100 million. We are witnessing an explosion in the number of $1 billion+ projects with some, like the artificial archipelago being built in Azerbaijan, Turkey’s massive Urban Renewal project in Istanbul, and the new construction of Masjid Al Haram in Saudi Arabia each exceeding $100 billion.

But even these are merely scratching the surface of the extreme megaproject growth that will happen over the next decade, and there are several important reasons why this is happening.

First, we’re seeing a shift in power towards megacities. As people relocate from rural to urban communities and population clusters grow, so does the demand for major infrastructure improvements to help manage the traffic, water, sewage, power, and living strains of these growing economies.

Second, the wages paid for workers building infrastructure projects will improve the local economy to a point where other megaprojects become viable.

Third, as global awareness improves, so does the desire to standout and impress the rest of the world. Megaprojects become a source of national pride and a status symbol for emerging economies.

Fourth, we are moving into an era of technological unemployment where jobs are automated out of existence at an unprecedented level. The demand for new jobs – and these will provide tons of new jobs – will trump most other arguments.

And finally, megaprojects have a way of collateralizing themselves through the sheer size and impact of the project. Even though many will be based on un-provable claims and flawed accounting, the spinoff economies alone will create an overpowering momentum to push them across the finish line.

The growing list of megaprojects include tunnels, bridges, dams, highways, airports, hospitals, skyscrapers, cruise ships, wind farms, offshore oil and gas rigs, aluminum smelters, communications systems, Olympic Games, aerospace missions, particle accelerators, entire new cities, and much more.

In spite of their problems, here’s why the megaproject list will continue to grow and will continue to define the cities and megacities of our future.

$45B Lusail City – Qatar’s largest real estate project, will be home to 200,000 with a scheduled completion date of 2019
$45B Lusail City – Qatar’s largest real estate project, will be home to 200,000 with a scheduled completion date of 2019

Understanding the Value of Megaprojects

According to Global Strategist, Parag Khanna, we are becoming a globally networked civilization because that is exactly what we’re building. All of the world’s defense budgets and military spending taken together total just under $2 trillion per year, but our global infrastructure spending is projected to rise from $3 trillion to $9 trillion per year over the coming decade.

“We have been living off an infrastructure stock meant for a world population of three billion, as our population grows towards nine billion,” says Khanna. “As a rule of thumb, we should spend about $1 trillion dollars on basic infrastructure for every 1 billion people on the planet.”

It’s no surprise that Asia has taken the lead. In 2015, China announced the creation of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which together with a network of other organizations aims to construct a network of iron, silk, and digital roads, stretching from Shanghai to London.

And as all of these megaprojects unfold, we will likely spend more on infrastructure in the next 40 years, than we have in the past 4,000 years.

Video of the following ten megaprojects

Examples of this are easy to find. Ten of the world’s most impressive megaprojects currently in the queue include:

  • Dubai World Central Airport (United Arab Emirates)
  • Songdo International Business District (South Korea)
  • Tokyo-Osaka Maglev Train (Japan)
  • Masdar City (United Arab Emirates)
  • The Grand Canal (Nicaragua)
  • National Trunk Highway System (China)
  • International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor [ITER] – Fusion (France)
  • World’s Tallest Building (Azerbaijan)
  • Delhi-Mumbai Industrial Corridor (India)
  • King Abdullah Economic City (Saudi Arabia).

According to Bent Flyvbjerg, a management professor at the University of Oxford’s Saïd Business School, megaprojects currently constitute 8% of global GDP (gross domestic product).

Even though nine out of ten megaprojects experience cost overruns, and most take far longer to build than expected, they represent a crucial piece of today’s global economy.

Flyvbjerg also noted that project leaders have an incentive to overstate income, underestimate costs, and exaggerate future social and economic benefits due to lack of accountability and risk-sharing mechanisms.

But even though things go wrong, people generally don’t care. They don’t care about the poorly calculated cost-benefit statements, squandered money along the way, or the political wrangling necessary to get the green light; they just want something significant to happen in their community.

The benefits of megaprojects can be boiled down to these six points:

  1. Technological Inspiration. Most megaprojects are technically inspiring. Engineers and technologists develop great enthusiasm for working on large and innovative projects, pushing the boundaries for what technology can do.
  2. Source of Jobs. With so many jobs being automated out of existence, megaprojects serve as a catalyst for both the unemployed and the under employed.
  3. Political Accomplishment. Politicians need something they can point to with a sense of pride and accomplishment.
  4. Economic Benefits. Business people, trade unions, and workers alike will all reap the rewards from megaprojects.
  5. Community Pride. Everyone loves to tell stories about the big things their community accomplished.
  6. Aesthetic Beauty. Most people appreciate good design when it comes to building, using, and looking at something very large that is also ironically beautiful.

As a rule of thumb, history books don’t spend time memorializing the critics and project-killers, only those who succeed.

Raising the Bar – 64 Next-Generation Megaprojects

It’s easy to look at the world’s top 10 bridges and try to build something bigger, taller, longer, or more artistic than any of the ones currently in existence.

The same thinking applies to creating the next tallest building, largest cruise ship, longest tunnel, most popular theme park, or grandest stadium.

At the same time we seeing a form of blue ocean thinking creeping into the megaproject arena that includes never-been-done-before projects like colonizing Mars, tube transportation networks, floating islands, and underwater cities.

Here are a few megaprojects that have the potential to inspire the world for generations to come:

 

Will global tube transportation networks be coming to a megacity near you?
Will global tube transportation networks be coming to a megacity near you?

A. Global Infrastructure – All global systems need a point of origin, and the point of origin will typically turn into the global center of knowledge and operation for the industry it creates.

  1. Global Tube Transportation Project – ET3, Hyperloop, or something else.
  2. Whole Earth Automated Postal System – Delivering packages anywhere on earth without ever touching human hands.
  3. Global Wi-Fi Network – Connected anywhere at anytime.
  4. Global Genealogy Systems – For humans, plants, and animals including standards.
  5. Global Ownership Authority – To govern standards and regulations, for personal ownership rights.
  6. Global Privacy Standards – Adoptable by every nation on earth.
  7. Global Ethics Standards – Including courts for oversight.
  8. Electronic Borders – For countries to monitor all the inputs and outputs through their borders.

 

How long before a real space elevator becomes technically viable?
How long before a real space elevator becomes technically viable?

B. Space Industries – Every major space project has a huge ground support team all hoping to be part of that next great interplanetary mission.

  1. Space resorts
  2. Asteroid mining
  3. Space-based power stations
  4. Space elevator
  5. Colonizing other planets
  6. Traveling faster than the speed of light
  7. Satellite Shooters – To shoot satellites into space
  8. Constellations of Floating Wi-Fi antennas, solar powered planes, floating balloons, cubesats, and more to provide Wi-Fi to the entire world

 

Architect Richard Moreta Castillo envisions a self-sufficient eco-resort, called Grand Cancun
Architect Richard Moreta Castillo envisions a self-sufficient eco-resort called Grand Cancun

C. Ocean Industries

  1. Floating island resorts
  2. Floating farms – for grains, fruits, vegetables
  3. Open ocean aquaculture mega farms – for raising underwater sea plants and animals
  4. Floating countries
  5. Underwater museums
  6. Underwater arboretums
  7. Ocean wave power generators
  8. Freshwater factories – turning saltwater into freshwater

 

Imagining the weather command center of the future
Imagining the weather command center of the future

D. Controlling Extreme Weather. We continually find ourselves the victims of forces of nature while it is entirely possible to mitigate the damage of extreme weather.

  1. Controlling hurricanes
  2. Controlling earthquakes
  3. Controlling tornadoes
  4. Controlling hailstorms
  5. Controlling desertification
  6. Controlling draught and famine
  7. Controlling dust storms
  8. Controlling extreme blizzards, rainfall, and flooding

 

The world’s greatest bridge projects are still on the drawing board
The world’s greatest bridge projects are still on the drawing board

E. Grand Bridge-Tunnel Projects. When it comes to ground transportation we have several massive disconnects in our global transportation network.

  1. Bridge across the Bering Straight – Connecting North America with Asia
  2. Bridge across the Darian Gap – Connecting North and South America
  3. Gibraltar Bridge-Tunnel System – Connecting Europe and Africa
  4. Sweden to Finland Tunnel – Connecting Sweden and Finland.
  5. Korea Japan Friendship Tunnel System – Connecting Japan and Korea
  6. Taiwan Strait Tunnel Project – Connecting China with Taiwan
  7. Saudi-Egypt Causeway – Connecting Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
  8. Sakhalin-Hokkaido Tunnel – Connecting Japan with Russia

 

$15B Artificial Island – The Pearl, located in Qatar
$15B Artificial Island – The Pearl, located in Qatar

F. Extreme Physics Challenges – Many of the world’s current list of megaprojects include infrastructure, buildings, and cities with no real focus on long-term economies to sustain them. Items on the following list have the potential for creating entire new economies.

  1. Terraforming Planets – Developing the formula for recreating human-friendly earth-like environments on other planets and moons.
  2. Mass Energy Storage – Storing power from one day to the next is still far too inefficient. Think in terms of cities having a 2-week power reserve at all times.
  3. Controlling Gravity – The single greatest force of nature is gravity, yet we know very little about it.
  4. Sending a Probe to the Center of the Earth – We currently know very little about the center of the earth.
  5. Controlling Time – Many possibilities such as manipulating time in short intervals, soas to know something 5-10 minutes before it happens.
  6. Viewing the Past – How can we create a technology capable of replaying an unrecorded event that happened decades earlier in actual-size, in holographic form?
  7. Instant Disassembling of Matter – Think in terms of a process where large boulders can be instantly disassembled into a pile of molecules, simply by breaking all the molecular bonds.
  8. Revival of Extinct Species – Too many species have already gone extinct and many more are on the watch list. Extinction revival has the potential of spawning entire new industries.

 

When the data of the world is at your fingertips
When the data of the world is at your fingertips

G. Extreme Data Megaprojects

  1. The Billion-Cam Video Project – What would it take to get people to connect 1 billion video cameras to the Internet? How will this change the world?
  2. Whole Earth Law Project – Very few countries have their laws posted in a central repository.
  3. World’s First Billion Internet of Things Operating System – Architecting over 1 billion devices talking to each other is a powerful position to be in.
  4. Global Elections – When will we see the first global election with over 500 million people voting from over 50 different countries?
  5. World’s First Billion Sensor Network – What advantages will be created when over 1-billion sensors are tied together?
  6. Global Language Archive – Over 500 languages have less than 10 people currently speaking the language.
  7. World’s First Billion Drone Operating System – Much like cellphones, drones will evolve around a common operating system.
  8. Global Intellectual Property System – Including patents, copyrights, and trademarks.

 

Can we build a better human?
Can we build a better human?

H. Solving the Human Equation – No person should ever die… ever! If we can fix human aging, repair accidents, cure diseases, and modify deviant behavior, people no longer need to die. As a result, no person should ever die… ever! Is that our goal? And if not, why not?

  1. Curing Cancer
  2. Curing Diabetes
  3. Curing Heart Disease
  4. Curing Suicide
  5. Curing Human Aging
  6. Cloning or Printing Humans
  7. Curing Deviant Behavior
  8. Creating Super Humans
The 790 feet tall statue of Sardar Patel will soon be the tallest in the world
The 790 feet tall statue of Sardar Patel will soon be the tallest in the world

Creating the world’s largest statue

India has started to build the world’s tallest statue, the Statue of Unity. It will be a 790 feet tall tribute to Sardar Patel. By comparison, Crazy Horse Monument in Custer, South Dakota, which has been under construction for nearly 70 years, is only 564 feet tall.

Comparing the largest statues in the world
Comparing the largest statues in the world

Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel (or just Sardar, which means Chief) was the first Home Minister (the head of the Ministry of Home Affairs) and Deputy Prime Minister of post-independence India from 15 August 1947 to his death in December 15,1950.

Final Thoughts

In the past, megaprojects like the Pyramids in Egypt or the Great Wall of China became a lasting testament to human accomplishment simply because of the incredible amounts of human labor involved in the undertaking. But today it’s far more about the size, money, and significance of the project.

As I travel around the world, it’s hard to miss the sheer number of construction projects happening in every major city. If we only read newspaper headlines, it would appear megaprojects are primarily taking place in China and Dubai, but there are hundreds more that haven’t gotten nearly as much attention.

If we do increase our infrastructure spending to $9 trillion per year, as Parag Khanna suggests, megaprojects will rise in importance from roughly 8% of global GDP to close to 24% factoring in all the spinoff economies.

Over the coming decades we will begin the transition to megacity cultures, lifestyles, and economies. Megacities themselves will become more important than the countries they reside in.

With megaproject spending reaching unprecedented levels, any failures will have far reaching implications.

If your city, region, community, or country is not working on its own megaprojects, it will certainly be left behind.

 

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Communicating with the Future” – the book that changes everything

Book Tom 1

 

 

 

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Five Tough Questions: The Warsaw School of Economics Interview http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/five-tough-questions-the-warsaw-school-of-economics-interview/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/five-tough-questions-the-warsaw-school-of-economics-interview/#comments Mon, 02 May 2016 13:11:21 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=7615 Nine Tough Questions 1

The Warsaw School of Economics is the oldest, most prestigious, and top-ranked business school in Poland. Dr. Piotr Turek received his PhD in Economics there and went on to become a fellow futurist and new media expert in Warsaw where he works as a journalist, lecturer and mobile/web services expert.

In early January, Piotr contacted me and asked if he could interview me for a series of publications in Poland. When I agreed to the interview, I had no idea how tough these questions would be.

An edited version of the interview recently appeared on Futurist of the Year, a site designed to promote the study of futurology in Poland.

Since the answers submitted were more extensive than what they had room for in the magazine, I’ve included the long-form interview here.

Why should we study the future?
Why should we study the future?

1.) Dr. Turek:  In researching people to interview for this article, you instantly jumped out as one of the most respected futurists with deep insights into a variety of topics. Let’s begin with the topic of futurology and what it means to you. Why it is so important to study the future?

Frey: As a Futurist, people often ask me how many of my predictions have come true. I find this to be a rather uncomfortable question. It’s uncomfortable, not because my track record hasn’t been up to par (actually, a high percentage have come true), but because accuracy of predictions is a poor way of measuring the value of a Futurist.

In a world filled with MBAs and number crunchers, there is a constant push to reduce our analog world to digital analytics so we can accurately measure our return on investment.

But not everything is measurable in this way.

Thinking about the future is like a muscle in our brain that rarely gets used. Over time, our brain will atrophy and we lose our ability to think productively about what the future may bring.

At the same time, the world is shifting faster than ever. Our need to know about the future is no longer a luxury; it’s a functional imperative.

With this in mind, here are eight critical values that a Futurist has to offer:

  1. Altered Thinking – The future is constantly being formed in the minds of people around us. Each person’s understanding of what the future holds will influence the decisions they make today. As we alter someone’s vision of the future, we alter the way they make decisions today. My goal is to help individuals and organizations make better, more informed decisions about the future.
  2. Unique Perspective – The future is unknowable, and this 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. That said, the future can be forecast in degrees of probability. By improving our understanding of what the future holds, we dramatically improve the probability with which we can predict the future.
  3. Evidence of Change – Empirically speaking, forecasting the future is not done by staring at tealeaves or reading tarot cards (that is the realm of psychics). Rather, futurists take an interdisciplinary approach and employ a wide range of methods, from the study of cycles, to trend analysis, to scenario planning, to simulations, to back casting. Futurists use data from the past and present, as well as other concepts and methodologies to understand how the present will evolve into probable futures. We also borrow freely from other fields, such as forecasting, chaos theory, complexity science, organization development, systems analysis, and sociology.
  4. Connecting the Dots – Futurists come from a wide range of backgrounds and perspectives. What we have in common is well-researched big-picture-thinking, strong pattern recognition, and innate curiosity. Ideas that are routine in one industry can be revolutionary when they migrate to another, especially when they challenge assumptions and rewrite common knowledge among the rank and file.
  5. Find Your Future Competitive Advantage – French novelist Marcel Proust once said, “The real act of discovery consists not in finding new lands but in seeing with new eyes.” The most successful companies don’t just out-compete their rivals, they redefine the terms of competition by embracing one-of-a-kind ideas in a world heavily steeped in “me-too” thinking.
  6. Take Control of Change before Change Takes Control of You – Are you changing as fast as the world is? Change is inevitable, but how you deal with change can vary greatly. In a world that never stops changing, great leaders can never stop learning. How do you push yourself as an individual to keep growing and evolving? Does your company push you in the same manner?
  7. The Future is Where Our Children Live – Our desire to leave a legacy is a uniquely human attribute. However, our legacy becomes meaningless if we don’t have new generations of people to pass it on to. To many this may sound like an obvious statement, but to those in the business world, there is a constant battle being waged over the needs of the present vs. the needs of the future. It’s very easy to place short-term profitability ahead of long-term problems.
  8. Every Avalanche begins with the Movement of a Single Snowflake – Our ability to tap into and leverage the power of the future is directly tied to the number of times we think about it. The more we think about the future, the more we expand our understanding of it. And the more we understand the future, the easier it becomes for us to interact with it.
Google's Chief Engineer, Ray Kurzweil, believes machine intelligence will exceed human intelligence by 2029
Google’s Chief Engineer, Ray Kurzweil, believes machine intelligence will exceed human intelligence by 2029

2.) Dr. Turek:  Do you agree with Ray Kurzweil’s prediction that a connection between brain and Internet will take place before 2030, and does this concern you in any way?

Frey: Over the past 30 years, artificial intelligence went through a couple major boom and bust cycles because the algorithms failed to live up to the hype.

Since 2012, a specific machine learning technique called “deep learning” has permeated the AI world, and we’ve made more progress in the past four years than in the preceding 25 years on several key AI problems including image understanding, signal processing, vocal comprehension, and understanding text.

Keep in mind that deep learning still isn’t true AI, the kind of sophisticated and adaptable intelligence humans exhibit, but it’s a giant leap forward on the path to getting there.

Futurists like Vernor Vinge and Ray Kurzweil began focusing on the exponential growth of artificial intelligence several decades ago. With ever increasing advancements in areas like nanotech, biotech, chemistry, and bioinformatics, they’ve predicted we will be able to create a race of superhumans with decision-making abilities far beyond our ability to understand them.

Through these early efforts the field of transhumanism was born, referring to a form of superhumans with capabilities far beyond what we can comprehend today.

My sense is that people are far more nuanced and complicated than researchers have ever imagined, and while we’ll create closer facsimiles to human cognition, we’ll never be able to achieve a complete AI mind with inorganic materials.

The “singularity” itself is a bit of a mystery. Some have predicted 2029, and others 2045, but the exact nature of the transformation being predicted is still rather fuzzy around the edges.

Will artificial intelligence become integrally linked to the human mind as in a symbiotic relationship? Will “boosted” humans have the same values, ethics, incentives, and levels of consciousness as people today? Can we also “boost” intelligence in plants and animals?

Some of the differences between a human mind and an artificial one can be found in the emotional value we place on things around us. For example, we may value the softness of a nice pillow because it is comfortable around our head, and while artificial intelligence can duplicate the value, it can’t understand why.

Similarly, artificial intelligence can be designed to take initiative when certain criteria is met, such as cleaning a floor once it is dirty, yet it still can’t grasp the reasoning behind it.

AI cannot intuitively feel anxiety, stress, anger, or fear. Humans can be plagued with hundreds of physical and psychological conditions like insomnia, claustrophobia, kleptomania, xenophobia, or narcolepsy, all of which are considered a flaw in the human condition. But these failures are what make us who we are.

Without failure there can be no motivation for improvement.

Our drive and motivation comes from our own insecurities, and without this wide range of physical and emotional shortcomings, the only initiatives AI will be able to muster will be the well-calculated kind.

At the same time, what’s the point in replicating flawed humans? Our current advantages over machines involve things like adaptability, resourcefulness, our ability to make ethical decisions, and our desire to leave a legacy. But for how much longer?

Over the coming decades the achievements of machine intelligence will continue to hockey-stick its way up the exponential growth curve

However, no breakthrough technology is without its unintended consequences, and this one is no exception.

In our rush to solve all of life’s major problems, and we each have our own utopian image of the good life, our drive for solutions will leapfrog us directly onto the lily pad of perfection. It will be this drive for perfection that will be our undoing.

Ironic as it may sound, perfection is an imperfect concept.

Each of us has been born and raised with all of the foibles and limitations of being human. A typical day involves forgetting where we’ve put our keys, stubbing our toe, getting angry at the wrong person, and dropping a plate full of food. And those are just the little things.

We are indeed intelligent beings, but for all of our limitations, the intelligence we possess doesn’t seem hardly enough.

That said, AI is on the verge of becoming a powerful tool in our lives. In much the same way computers and machines are being leveraged to improve our capabilities today, AI will be integrated into our lives in thousands of different ways.

I love the question that Caltech Professor Kip Thorne likes to ask. “A thousand years from now, what things will be possible, and what things will not?”

Only time will tell.

Will we be able to protect intellectual property in the future?
Will we be able to protect intellectual property in the future?

3.) Dr. Turek:  Over the next 15 years we will run into a number of dicey issues concerning the intellectual property rights of artists and proper payment for their work? What are your thoughts on this?

Frey: Our society places great value on creativity, originality, and discovery. History books are filled with talented people who figured out how to “zig left” when everyone else “zagged right.”

Recently, a company called Qentis unveiled a computer program capable of generating every possible combination of words on a single page, effectively preempting any future copyright claims.

Using a similar system, the company can also generate every possible combination of musical notes on a page giving them a priority claim to every “new” musical score.

Likewise, a software company called Cloem has developed a program capable of linguistically manipulating the claims on a patent filing, substituting keywords with synonyms, reordering steps, and rephrasing core concepts in order to generate tens of thousands of potentially patentable “new” inventions.

In much the same way computers are capable of generating every possible combination of lottery numbers to guarantee a win, patent and copyright trolls will soon have the ability to play their game of “fleecing the innovators” at an entirely new level.

More importantly, it confuses the concept of originality, and compromises the contribution of an individual if a version of every “new” idea already exists.

Naturally there are steps that can be taken to prevent this kind of abuse, like adding video proofs of the creation and statements from witnesses. But once artificial intelligence enters the picture, the deceptions will become even harder to sort out.

How beneficial would a global currency be?
How beneficial would a global currency be?

4.) Dr. Turek:  Do you think we are headed for just one world currency, or maybe none, and we return to exchange goods for barter?

Frey: The future of banking will be mobile, happening on devices we carry in our pockets, built into jewelry, and on our wrists, not in fancy office buildings.

In less than five years, smartphones, watches, and other devices will replace credit/debit cards, wallets, lenders, stockbrokers, and insurance agents.

There is a good chance that we will have a default global currency arise from the cryptocurrency movement.

The primary purpose of a global currency will be to have a stabilizing effect on other currencies. However, it will not operate to the exclusion of others. There needs to be multiple currencies to serve as a form of checks and balances for the global economy.

Over the past few weeks I’ve become enamored with the power of financial friction. This could involve everything from adding a tenth or hundredth of a cent charge to every email sent, social media “likes,” video downloads, views of copyrighted photos, and much more.

Even though it may not seem significant, there is a huge difference between “free” and “0.1 cent.”

Tiny charges, much like the rest of life’s sandpaper, tend to give us clarity between what’s significant and what’s not.

The reason this has become such an important topic today is because transaction costs have plummeted along with the cryptocurrency invention of distributed block chain ledgers, and the possibility of creating “nano-payment” networks is opening the doors to thousands of new fractional payment models.

The traditional way of providing online services like email, news, or uploading photos has been to pass the cost of operating these services on to advertisers.

But that could change.

Over the past decade, micro payment schemes have created successful business models around charges less than $1. As an example, Google’s AdSense charges advertisers as little as a few cents for every click of their ads.

It’s only recently, with the introduction of Blockchain technology, that we’ve been able to consider much smaller charges, even less than a penny.

In the past I’ve been an ardent advocate of simplicity, but over time my thinking has changed. Automation enables complexity, and the intricacy of complexity is what opens the door for unusual new business opportunities.

As a way of expanding our thinking in this area, here are 8 short scenarios with brief explanations.

  1. When it comes to e-books, would you rather pay $7.99 for the entire book or a tenth of a cent for every page you read? With this type of model it would be very easy to run the analytics and determine which chapters, sections, and pages most resonate with readers.
  2. If you received a tenth of a cent for every “like” on Facebook, but also had to pay a tenth of a cent every time you “liked” someone else’s page or photo, would you be making money or losing some at the end of each month? How could this Lilliputian economy be translated in other areas?
  3. For photos with a copyright, whenever someone clicks to expand the image, their account would be debited a tenth of a cent. In this scenario, the owners would be incentivized to having their photos show up everywhere to increase exposure.
  4. As a blog reader, every time you click “continue here,” you would be sending a tenth of a cent, or multiple tenths for every page viewed, to the writer. Would this incentivize more blog writers?
  5. Would you be willing to pay a tenth of a cent for every page you view on Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn just to avoid all the ads being directed at you? The amount you pay would be in direct proportion to how much you use these services, but still a relatively small amount.
  6. Should every text message come with the option of paying a tenth of a cent to keep your service ad-free?
  7. When it comes to videos, should a pay-per-play charge of a tenth of a cent be added to every YouTube, Vimeo, Vine, Twitch, or Viddy play? Should people posting videos have that option for remuneration?
  8. Similarly, does it make sense to add a tenth of a cent charge for every episode of RadioLab, NPR, Freakonomics, or TED podcasts?
What role do banks play in our future?
What role do banks play in our future?

5.) Dr. Turek:  What kind of banking products and services will be relevant in the future and how do you envision banking to evolve in developing countries between 2020 and 2030?

Frey: There are approximately 2.5 billion people in the world who do not have access to traditional banks, yet nearly half of them have a mobile phone. These phones have enabled some of the poorest economies to leapfrog the wealthier countries because they don’t have to worry about their legacy infrastructure.

As an example, people in Africa are three times more likely to use mobile money as their counterparts in Europe and the U.S.

In fact, nine African nations now have more mobile pay accounts than traditional bank accounts.

Kenya is an example of how mobile money can dramatically transform a country’s economy. In 2006, less than 30% of adults had access to formal financial services. Today, thanks to M-PESA, that figure stands at over 65%.

M-PESA was originally designed as a system to allow microfinance-loan repayments to be made by phone, reducing the costs associated with handling cash and thus making it possible to offer lower interest rates. But after pilot testing it was expanded to become a general money-transfer system.

Launched in 2007 by Safaricom, the country’s largest mobile-network operator, it is now used by over 17 million Kenyans.

One study found that in rural Kenyan households that adopted M-PESA, incomes increased by 5-30%. In addition, the availability of a reliable mobile-payments platform has spawned a host of start-ups in Nairobi.

In 2014, the service processed over $20 billion in transactions, a figure equal to more than 40% of Kenya’s GDP.

The M-PESA experiment has paved the way for fintech startups like Abra in other countries.

Much of the fintech revolution happening in the tech world offers tools for improving the economy of developing countries.

Today there are 2.6 billion smartphone subscribers in the world and that will grow to over 6.1 billion in 2020. Smartphones will replace the need for many of today’s banking services and will open the door to a variety of new payment technologies as well as new banking options.

As an example, where bank transfers today still take two to three days, Bitcoin technology makes it possible to transfer money instantaneously and securely from person to person. This is inspiring startups, like Abra, to offer a more convenient and affordable way to move money.

Abra is the world’s first digital cash peer-to-peer network.

The basic premise behind Abra is that anyone should be able to send money from his or her smartphone to any other person via their phone.

If a user wants to send $5 to a friend, all they need is the recipient’s phone number. If the recipient doesn’t have Abra on their phone, they will receive a text message telling them to install the app.

The app also takes care of currency conversions so that the value is never subject to the fluctuations of the price of Bitcoin or traditional costs in currency exchange.

Abra enables users to store money digitally on their phone, send that money to any phone number in the world and then, using a network of Abra tellers or traditional banks, exchange that digital money for cash. Since all money is stored on the phone, Abra never touches the money.

The only cost for their service comes from funds transferred to traditional bank accounts or converted to cash.

The Abra app currently works with users and banks, in the US and the Philippines, with plans to expand into India and other parts of Asia over the next couple years.

With $436 billion USD in remittances flowing to families in developing countries in 2014, the market opportunity is significant.

Final Thoughts

The people of the world have an “unfinishable mandate” to continually stretch, grow, propagate, and master not only the world around us, but also the entire universe.

The human race is genetically pre-dispositioned to push the envelope, color outside the lines, and reach for things that will forever be unreachable.

As individuals, there will be some who are content to find inner peace and live a minimalist lifestyle. But as a race, we will be driven by a need to make a difference, be admired for our accomplishments, and create moments of triumph in our otherwise pale existence.

We have only taken the first step in a trillion mile journey. The next few steps, in my opinion, will be nothing short of spectacular.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Communicating with the Future” – the book that changes everything

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Fourteen New Dimensions for Rethinking the Future Cruise Ship Experience http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/fourteen-new-dimensions-for-rethinking-the-future-cruise-ship-experience/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/fourteen-new-dimensions-for-rethinking-the-future-cruise-ship-experience/#comments Thu, 21 Apr 2016 03:49:24 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=7606 My wife Deb and I recently got back from a 10-day Princess Cruise through the Panama Canal, a fabulous experience, but one that could have been greatly enhanced with better technology on the part of the cruise line.

To illustrate this point, on the 2nd day of the cruise we ran into some people who thought it would be great if I could give a talk on the ship. So I sent a message to Susan the cruise director, the lady in charge of all the entertainment on the ship, that I’d be willing to give a talk.

Since there is no cellphone service on the ship (or texting), this involved me writing a note and handing it to someone at the passenger services desk. Two days later I received a phone message that I responded to with a request for a meeting.

Another two days went by and I received another message telling me a couple different times and places where we could meet. I picked the earliest meeting time and managed to catch about 3 minutes of her time. She was very pleasant and cordial and responded favorably to the idea of me giving a talk, and said she’d let me know.

I then followed up with a 3rd handwritten message clarifying that I wasn’t looking for any compensation and suggesting three different titles for my talk.

Keep in mind the main source of information on a ship is a daily bulletin that gets distributed to every cabin in the evening highlighting the next day’s activities. On this cruise line it’s called the Princess Patter.

Finally, on the second to the last day I received a phone message late in the afternoon saying I was approved for giving a talk, but I would have to respond within an hour because the Princess Patter went to press at 5:30 pm.

I didn’t get the message until an hour too late. When I called back I reached Simon, the assistant cruise director, and he apologized for the late notice but since they hadn’t heard back from me my talk was left out of the final day’s agenda.

Whether or not I was given the opportunity to speak on the ship was not important, but the process highlighted some critical fault lines in the industry’s business model. Keep in mind, this exchange involved seven full days of handwritten messages and voice mails, and it all boiled down to a one-hour timeslot that crept up without warning.

Needless to say, person-to-person communications on ships like this has been atrocious, but that is on the verge of changing in a big way. And these changes are opening the door to entirely new business models.

The Great Vacation Debate

Whenever I mention something about lack of cell service or bad Internet on a ship, Deb always responds by telling me that I’m supposed to be on vacation and I shouldn’t be thinking about work.

While I understand the need for “braincations,” and no, being off the grid is not going to kill me, I also know that most of the world is not wired that way.

In fact, the entire cruise industry has been slow to capitalize on the massive market for working vacationers; a market that constitutes the vast majority of today’s leisure crowd.

It’s also an enormous adjustment for hyper-connected families to step onboard and readjust their thinking to work with such primitive communication tools. On ships carrying 2,000+ passengers it’s easy to lose a family member or friend several times a day.

Better communication systems will also shift the market away from the 70-year-old floating-assisted-living model to more active Gen-X and Gen-Y crowds looking to reimagine their lives.

To this end, many cruise lines have already begun the process of equipping their ships with high bandwidth communication systems.

Why is the Internet so Expensive on a Cruise Ship?

Generating a reliable satellite signal to a moving ship is no small task. Not only do cruise lines have to lock on to a constantly moving signal in some of the most remote corners on earth, but they also need sufficient bandwidth to accommodate several thousand passengers at once.

Many already have begun the Wi-Fi upgrade process while others will be installing new equipment later this year. Here are three examples:

  • Royal Caribbean provides high-speed Internet on all of its 25 ships for $20 per day. They also offer a service called VOOM, which allows guests to stream videos and music for an extra $15 a day.
  • Norwegian Cruise Line has also expanded Internet on all 13 of its ships for $29.99 a day, but there’s a catch. The Wi-Fi plan must be purchased for the entire trip, which means Wi-Fi will cost $300 for a 10-day cruise.
  • All of Viking River Cruises’ ships offer complimentary Wi-Fi. Access to a faster service – which is needed for video streaming – is available for $11.95 a day.
What kind of experience would you like to have on your next cruise?
What kind of experience would you like to have on your next cruise?

Fourteen New Dimensions for Tomorrow’s Cruise Experience

Each level of bandwidth improvement comes with a vast new learning curve, one that will require several years to rethink service options.

The lack of Wi-Fi has also created a generational market gap with Gen-X and Millennials less inclined to spend a week or two without Internet.

Yes, cruise ships do offer luxury-class service, food, and entertainment. Some of the newer features like waterslides, robotic bartenders, climbing walls, Jumbotron movies under the stars, and indoor ice arenas all have their appeal, but as with all high dollar experiences, next-generation customers are eager for something new.

Diverse communities create diverse interests and younger people are less interested in old school relaxation and far more interested in being engaged, learning new skills, and adding some new dimension to their lives.

With that in mind, here are fourteen new features, made possible by better connectivity that could easily be added to cruise ships over the coming years:

1.  Makerspaces – Equipped with laser cutters, welders, 3D printers, potters wheels, and jewelry making equipment, a well-furnished makerspace has the potential to radically transform the onboard experience. How-to classes can teach people the fundamentals of using specific pieces of equipment as well as making things they can show to their friends.

2.  Videographer Studios – With smartphones replacing the need for elaborate cameras and editing skills, virtually every passenger has the need to improve their videographer skills. Keep in mind, video posted on social media have the potential to radically amp up the marketing reach of the personal cruise experience.

3.  Video Game Tournament Centers – A 2015 study showed that 42% of Americans play video games at least 3-hours a week with the average age being 35 years old. Not only is it important to have the bandwidth to play online video games, but having a dedicated facility for onboard tournaments will also ensure maximum engagement for a large percentage of today’s young people.

4.  Hacker Spaces and Hacker Classes – Every person connected to the Internet has a different level of proficiency. The online skills needed to be proficient in even rudimentary aspects of the web like word processing, texting, and social media are constantly evolving. Hacker spaces can serve as both training centers and entry points for newbies as well as rich technical environments for more advanced users.

5.  Make Your Own Beer, Wine, and Spirits Distilleries – Micro-breweries, micro-distilleries, and winemaking are quickly becoming part of urban culture and having the facilities to both teach the skills and taste the end product can easily become an engaging feature of every new cruise ship.

6.  “Quantified Self” Center for Personal Analysis – Our ability to accurately measure the inputs and outputs of the human body are increasing exponentially with every new sensor and wearable device added to everyday living. These devices, along with data analytics machines, can be leveraged to provide a hyper-individualized health analysis offering a range of plans for improvement.

7.  New Product Expos – Companies are always seeking new ways to introduce a new line of products. Whether its food products, household gadgets, Internet of Things devices, software, hardware, or something else, people are continually fascinated by cutting edge products. This will open the doors for sponsorship arrangements with companies who otherwise have little connection to the cruise industry.

8.  Floating Garden Centers – Rather than just looking at plants and flowers on a ship, many are interested in learning about the species and how to grow them at home. Ships are well positioned to become working laboratories for aquaponics and hydroponic operations, and a significant percentage of passengers would love to be engaged in this type of experience.

9.  Drone Training Facilities – The emerging field of flying drones has captured the imagination of hobbyists and working professionals alike. Operating without the restrictions of defined airspace and country-to-country restrictions, ship-based drones can be used for entertainment, pilot training, photography, surveillance, remote lighting, drone rescue, and much more.

10. Cannabis Cooking Classes – In much the same way gambling is not legal while ships are docked, the open seas can open the doors to recreational marijuana in much the same ways Colorado and Washington are exploring today. This would open the door to cannabis cooking classes, new types of lounges, alternative health courses, and much more.

11. Escape Rooms – One of the fastest growing team-building exercises and family entertainment are escape rooms and the intricate layers of puzzle pieces and clues teams need to filter through to find a way out. Based on the notion of living through a real life video game experience, participants find themselves challenged in new and exciting ways.

12. Treasure Hunts – The online world provides an entirely new dimension to treasure hunts with physical and virtual clues making the final destination all the more rewarding. Answers or clues can be hidden anywhere on the ship and real-time tracking can provide team members with instant feedback of their progress.

13. Onboard Competitions – With all the new possibilities, a natural extension of these activities will be to stage competitions to uncover the best of the best. Contests can range from drone races, to building makerspace jewelry boxes, wine tasting, beer tasting, best short videos, ship-to-ship video game competitions, and more.

14. Collaborative Work Spaces – For those who don’t have the luxury of being off-grid on their cruise, the quality of workspaces matter. Collaborative environments are natural conversation starters as well as fertile territory for discovering new friends and business contacts.

Much like other cities, cruise ship struggle with managing their waste. But oceans create far more environmental complexities than land-based cities.
Much like other cities, cruise ships struggle with managing their waste, but oceans create far more environmental complexities than land-based cities.

Sustainability as a Competitive Advantage

With mounting pressure from environmental groups, the cruise industry has been working to remedy many of the ecosystem hazards being left in the wake of international waters.

Along with a new generation of highly connected passengers comes a level of transparency and scrutiny the industry may not be prepared for.

With today’s class of cruise ships, a 3,000-passenger ship can generate as much as 210,000 gallons of waste and sewage and 1 million gallons of gray water from showers and drains in a typical week according to the EPA. In addition, there are discharges of bilge water that may contain oil, grease and other contaminants.

The wastes from these “floating cities” pose a threat to fragile ecosystems, to sea life, and even to people enjoying a day at the beach.

While Disney is making the strongest effort to correct these problems, other cruise lines are also making progress. As sensor technology makes pollution issues increasingly transparent, the entire industry will soon be held to new accountability standards as customers continue to “vote with their pocketbooks.”

Final Thoughts

Until now, cruise ships have been operating like upscale third world countries, just now entering Internet age. Their true potential has yet to be discovered in a new digital friendly environment.

From a business standpoint, being on the cutting edge of creating exciting new cruise itineraries is now being counterbalanced with the nuanced opportunities for experiencing the oceans with an increasingly Internet savvy clientele.

In addition to being a floating resort, next generation cruise ships will operate as a working laboratory as companies experiment to unlock the ultimate cruise experience for every one of their passengers.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Communicating with the Future” – the book that changes everything

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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128 Things that will disappear in the driverless car era http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/128-things-that-will-disappear-in-the-driverless-car-era/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/128-things-that-will-disappear-in-the-driverless-car-era/#comments Tue, 05 Apr 2016 02:26:53 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=7592 I started writing this column while I was in Manila, Philippines for a talk with UnionBank, one of the most innovative banks I’ve ever come across.

Driving across Manila is often a painful experience with far too many cars locking up all possible arterials, and nowhere near enough money to redesign and build the needed infrastructure. But this is not unique to Manila.

As I’ve traveled around the world, I’ve run into equally bad traffic in Istanbul, Rotterdam, Los Angeles, Seoul, Mexico City, San Francisco, Rome, London, Beijing, and Mumbai. In fact there are literally thousands of cities where bad traffic is a way of life.

Car companies have become very good at selling vehicles but few countries have anticipated them being this good at it.

A recent study by Morgan Stanley showed that the average car is only used 4% of the day, making cars an astonishing waste of resources. If all cars were to be on the road simultaneously, we cannot even imagine the chaos that would ensue.

For these reasons I’ve become enamored with the coming autonomous car era where many of todays problems get solved. However, going through the transition will be anything but smooth.

Making the Transition

There’s a significant difference between a driverless car and a fully autonomous vehicle. We already have a number of vehicles on the road today with driverless features, but that’s only a small step towards the no-steering-wheel type of driverless car many are imagining.

As we move further into the fully autonomous car era, we also need to understand the distinction between “user-operated” and “completely driverless” vehicles. Because of regulatory and insurance issues, user-operated fully autonomous cars will come to market within the next five years, while complete autonomous driverless autos will remain further off.

Even though both Google and Tesla have predicted that fully-autonomous cars, the kind that Elon Musk describes as “true autonomous driving where you could literally get in the car, go to sleep, and wake up at your destination,” will be available to the public by 2020, that’s not the full story.

First generation vehicles like these will come with a variety of regulator issues and technical problems few can anticipate. But as with all early stage technologies, each of these problems will be dealt with as they arise.

In addition, being available and being commonplace are also many years apart.

While we are entering a game-changing transition period accompanied with a never-ending stream of industry hype, most of the changes listed below will happen after 2030.

Somewhere in the 2030-2035 timeframe we’ll begin to see highways designated as “driverless only,” allowing vehicles that can be switched into driverless mode.

Fleet Ownership and On-Demand Transportation

Imagine stepping out of your house 15 years from now and using your smartphone to summon a driverless vehicle. Within 2-3 minutes a driverless vehicle arrives and whisks you off to work, school, shopping, or wherever you want to go.

A form of on-demand transportation is already happening with companies like Uber and Lyft. If we eliminate the driver, costs will plummet.

Once the technology is perfected, on-demand transportation companies will crop up in most metropolitan areas with large fleets of vehicles poised to meet consumer demand.

As car companies come to grips with a future that has fewer cars in it, they will begin changing their business model. Rather than charging for each vehicle sold, they will partner with fleet managers and charge for every mile the car is driven.

In a move to strengthen their financial position, car companies will begin to reduce the number of dealers, middlemen, and finance costs. This will put large fleet owners in an unusually influential position regarding car design.

Over time, riders will place far more emphasis on features like ingress and egress, riding comfort, and entertainment options, placing far less emphasis on things like car brand, style, color, and efficiency ratings.

Since the idea of fleet ownership and on-demand transportation tend to break down in rural communities, early use cases will spring up first in large metro areas.

How much longer will we have steering wheels?
How much longer will we have steering wheels?

Major Industry-Wide Changes Ahead

Over the coming decades, a number of industry-wide “epiphany moments” will cause business leaders to rethink the true scope of impact.

Early adopters will include Gen Z young people who will never feel the need to get a license and pay for insurance as well as Baby Boomers who don’t want to loose their freedom.

Adding to the early user list will be poor people, both legal and illegal immigrants, folks with DUIs, teenagers too young to drive, the directionally impaired, people who have lost their insurance, and many more.

Keep in mind these are changes that will take place over the next couple decades. In some cases we will see a car industry version of Blockbuster Video where all physical stores disappear. While some will disappear completely, others, like travel agencies, will be reduced to a small fraction of their former self.

Double Checkerboard

Over the years I’ve developed a brainstorming technique called the “checkerboard” as a way to generate new ideas. It’s a very simple technique where I start with eight categories and list eight items in each category, enough to fill all 64 spaces on a checkerboard.

When I’m feeling extra creative, I’ll generate enough ideas to fill two checkerboards – 128 of them.

Below are a number of these lists to help you grasp the sea change ahead in the transportation industry.

Driving Jobs that will Disappear – The job of driving a vehicle is one of the most common jobs in the world today. Most of these will evaporate over the coming decades.

  1. Taxi drivers
  2. Uber & Lyft drivers
  3. Delivery (FedEx, UPS, USPS) jobs
  4. Courier jobs
  5. Bus drivers
  6. Truck drivers
  7. Valet jobs
  8. Chauffeurs and limo drivers

Other Jobs that will Disappear – Along with driving vehicles, the transportation industry has a huge number of supporting roles that will also vanish.

  1. Road construction flag people
  2. Drivers-Ed teachers
  3. Defensive driving schools
  4. Traffic analysts
  5. Car licensing and registration
  6. Drivers test people
  7. Rental car agents
  8. Crash testers

Specialty Vehicles – Virtually every vehicle that requires a human operator today will find itself competing with an autonomous version sometime in the future.

  1. Forklift drivers
  2. Lawnmower operators
  3. Snowplow operators
  4. Water truck drivers
  5. Fire truck drivers
  6. Water taxies
  7. Ambulance drivers
  8. Trash truck drivers
Autonomous ag-bots are coming to farmer’s field near you
Autonomous ag-bots are coming to farmer’s field near you

Farm and Equipment Vehicles – Agriculture has continually been on the forefront of innovation. Entering the driverless era will be no exception.

  1. Tractor drivers
  2. Combine operators
  3. Swather operators
  4. Bailer operators
  5. Sprayer operators
  6. Horse trailer drivers
  7. Grain truck operators
  8. Automated fruit harvester operators

Construction Equipment Vehicles – Road construction and repair is a huge industry that will eventually be taken over by unmanned bots and drones.

  1. Crane operators
  2. Road grader operators
  3. Earth movers
  4. Street sweeper operators
  5. Backhoe operators
  6. Trencher operators
  7. Cement truck operators
  8. Fuel truck operators

Car Sales, Finance, & Insurance Industry Positions – As we move from owned to shared vehicles, much of the transportation economy will also disappear.

  1. Auto sales – new and used
  2. Account managers
  3. Auto auctions
  4. Credit managers
  5. Loan underwriters
  6. Insurance agents and sales reps
  7. Insurance claims adjusters
  8. Insurance call center agents

Miscellaneous Jobs to Disappear – We often forget how embedded our transportation culture is in today’s economy. Here are a few more of our soon-to-be-forgotten professions.

  1. Traffic reporters on the news
  2. Sobriety checkpoint people
  3. Auto industry lobbyists
  4. Stoplight installers
  5. Pothole repair people
  6. Emission testers
  7. Road and parking lot stripers
  8. Night repair crews
It’s hard to imagine what the inside of future vehicles will look like
It’s hard to imagine what the inside of future vehicles will look like

Vehicle Features that will Disappear – The inside of cars will look radically different once the driver is removed from the equation.

  1. Steering wheels
  2. Gas pedals
  3. Talking GPS
  4. Dashboards for drivers
  5. Spare tires
  6. License plates
  7. Seatbelts
  8. Odometers

Vehicle Repair – Consumer-Facing Businesses – A significant portion of today’s retail and service industry is related to transportation. These too will begin to fade away.

  1. Roadside assistance
  2. Auto repair shops
  3. Body shops
  4. Tow trucks
  5. Glass repair
  6. Auto locksmiths
  7. Transmission repair shops
  8. Auto part stores

Vehicle Maintenance – There are a number of businesses that keep our cars operational and looking good. These too will dwindle over time.

  1. Gas stations
  2. Car washes
  3. Oil change businesses
  4. Detail shops
  5. Tire shops
  6. Brake shops
  7. Emissions testing
  8. Alignment shops
Even crash test dummies will soon lose their jobs
Even crash test dummies will soon lose their jobs

Driver Related Issues that will Disappear – Because of all the things that can go wrong in today’s congested traffic, many other issues will also disappear.

  1. Road rage
  2. Fender benders
  3. Car theft
  4. Getting lost
  5. Lost cars in parking lots
  6. Driving tests
  7. Traffic stops
  8. Crash test dummies

Parking Related Things – With cars today only being used 4% of the average day, we’ve had to build a massive parking infrastructure to accommodate both the long-term and short-term storage of unused vehicles. These will all lose their importance over time.

  1. Parking lots
  2. Parking garages
  3. Parking tickets
  4. Valet services
  5. Parallel parking
  6. Parking meters
  7. Charging stations
  8. Handicap parking

Courts/Justice System – In an autonomous vehicle era, most police departments will shrink to a fraction of their current size.

  1. Traffic cops
  2. Traffic courts – lawyers, DA, judges
  3. Driver licenses
  4. Patrol cars and officers
  5. DUIs and drunk driving
  6. Sobriety checkpoints
  7. The boot
  8. Road rage school

Highway Related – Future highways will not require near as many safety features.

  1. Traffic jams
  2. Traffic signs
  3. Traffic lanes
  4. Speed zones
  5. Road stripes
  6. Weigh stations
  7. Mile markers
  8. Guardrails

Highway Repair – While we will still need to repair roads in the future, repair activities will no longer be a major impediment to the flow of traffic.

  1. Traffic cones
  2. Road closures
  3. Detours
  4. Stoplights
  5. Pilot cars
  6. Flag people
  7. Merge lanes
  8. Night lights for late night road repair

Traffic Laws – Traffic law has grown to become a significant portion of the justice system penal code.

  1. Speeding tickets
  2. Failing to stop at a stoplight or stop sign
  3. DUIs – driving under the influence
  4. Reckless driving
  5. Driving in the wrong direction
  6. Passing in a no passing zone
  7. Unsafe lane changes
  8. Driver profiling – In our autonomous future, every car will be driven exactly the same way, so ageist, sexist, racist and regional driver prejudices will cease to exist.
Unlocking the road ahead
Unlocking the road ahead

Final Thoughts

The privilege of driving is about to be redefined.

Elon Musk has predicted, over time, that lawmakers will decide that driving a vehicle is far too dangerous for humans, and most people will be outlawed from doing the driving themselves.

Following close behind autonomous vehicles on the ground will be a wide array of autonomous vehicles in the air including flying passenger drones. Even though it will be many years before “droning to work” will become a common form of transportation, we will eventually get there.

Many are already thinking about the systematic loss of jobs coming when drivers are deemed unnecessary. The part that’s receiving far less attention is the huge number of new jobs that will replace the ones going away.

Here is just a quick sampling of

  • In-car “ride experience” designers
  • Operators of fast food drones that will dock with moving cars
  • Traffic flow analysts
  • Traffic system planners, designers, and monitors
  • Automated traffic architects and engineers
  • Driverless operating system engineers
  • Luxury vehicle designers
  • Traffic transitionists and impact minimizers

Car designers today spend the vast majority of their time trying to optimize the driver experience. After all, the driver is the most important part of the ownership equation.

As we enter the “driverless era,” the focus will shift to the passenger experience. Fancy dashboards displaying dazzling amounts of information for the driver will become a thing of the past as riders fuss over on-board movies, music, and massage controls.

Some fleet owners will offer car experiences that are more conversational in nature, pairing socially compatible riders in a way to maximize conversations and improve the social environment. Others will stress the benefits of alone-time, offering a peaceful zen-like experience for those wishing to escape the hustle and bustle of work-life.

As we navigate our way towards a safer, more efficient society, we still have a few bumpy roads to go down before we see the light at the end of the tunnel.

As I’ve said many times, driverless cars will change transportation more dramatically than the invention of the automobile itself. I’m hoping this will help you understand why.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Communicating with the Future” – the book that changes everything.

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