DaVinci Institute – Futurist Speaker http://www.futuristspeaker.com DaVinci Institute – Futurist Speaker Tue, 05 Dec 2017 21:29:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Five tipping points that show why our current banking system is doomed http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/five-tipping-points-that-show-why-our-current-banking-system-is-doomed/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/five-tipping-points-that-show-why-our-current-banking-system-is-doomed/#respond Tue, 05 Dec 2017 21:25:07 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=8578

When is the last time you set foot into a bank?

While many of us have a love-hate relationship with our bank, where we love the people but hate the fees, we still tend to go there.

According to a recent survey by Fiserv of 3,000 bank users, over the past 30 days, more than 80% said they logged into their bank’s website an average of 11 times. But 61% said they had also visited their bank during the same timeframe.

Normally we would think that they made the trip to do something they couldn’t online, but that would be wrong. According to their research 53% of customers prefer online banking, but 44% still like to go there in person.

As an industry, banks have studied their customers from thousands of different angles to determine if there are any cracks in their thinking. They all intuitively know that banking industry is in the second half of the bell curve, but so far haven’t spotted the fault lines they all know are coming.

As example, FMSI is an organization that studies bank visits and concluded that the average number of teller transactions have declined more than 45% in the past 20 years. Over the past ten years, teller-transaction volume per hour at banks has dropped over 32%, from 7.1 to 4.8.

In 2007, the average cost per-transaction was 85¢, but has risen to over $1.08, an increase of more than 25%.

Banks also know that when they close a branch, 40% of their customers will switch to a new financial institution and the number of new small business loans drops by 13%. In low-income neighborhoods, lending activity shrinks by 40%.

According to Accenture, 40% of millennials would consider banking without a branch. Ironically, Gen-Z, those between ages 18-21, use their branch bank more regularly than any other groups, with 25% visiting at least once a week.

So what are the telltale signs that branch banks will follow the path of Kodak? Here are some of the major tipping points looming in the near future.

Will cash still be an option in the future?

Five Critical Tipping Points for Banks

Since the financial crisis in 2007, banks have closed over 10,000 branches, an average of three a day. In the first half of 2017 alone, a net 869 brick-and-mortar entities shut their doors.

Over the next couple years, bank closures will accelerate to 10-15 per day or 3,000-5,000 per year. Here are some of the primary reasons.

1.) By 2025 the largest banks will be tech companies

Many in the tech world still blame the banking industry for the 2007 recession, even though many techies were also involved.

One-click ordering from Amazon, tracking deliveries on Etsy, auto-populating information on Google Chrome, stored account information on Uber, and other innovations have changed our understanding about what is possible and what is expected in ecommerce. With tech and retail sites setting new standards, customers increasingly expect interactions with their banks to be easy, fast, transparent, and done on their own terms.

Even in the past 6-12 month our expectations have changed dramatically, with frustration rearing its ugly head when things are not as easy as we expect.

These demands and other competitive factors are pushing banks inexorably toward a new model. By 2025, leading banks will be operating as digital financial superstores that blur the line between technology companies and banks. All these developments have left banks in a tough spot.

Bank failures have created an opening for nonbank lenders and fintech providers to leverage cutting-edge technology and their largely unregulated status to deliver the type of service and experience consumers have come to expect from the best Internet and mobile sites.

Even as large banks attempt to reassert themselves in a digital age, they face competition from new market entrants eager to apply far-reaching networks, artificial intelligence, cloud-computing platforms and other tech advantages to the world of banking.

2.) Banking deserts are forcing rapid adaptation

In June 2017 the U.S. Federal Reserve Bank estimated there were over 1,100 banking deserts in America, defined as a census areas at least ten miles from a bank. That number could easily double if small community banks continue to close.

This situation may seem more dire than it actually is since banking deserts still only represent 1.7% of the population. For most of the country, banks are still within easy reach, typically just two miles away. Nine out of ten Americans live within five miles of a bank. Half live within one mile.

That said, the U.S. is one of the heaviest banked nations in the world with 32 branches for every 100,000 adults, far more than countries such as Germany and The Netherlands.

However, as banking deserts grow, so will the tools for interacting with a financial institution from a distance. Many fintech companies view this as an opening, the perfect proving ground for their latest offering.

Next generation ATMs will be a tipping point for the banking industry

3.) Live human-robot ATMs

Bank tellers will be the telegraph operators of 21st century when we look back in 100 years.

The largest banks in the US have been investing millions in updating the capabilities and physical appearances of thousands of ATMs, an invention that turned 50 earlier this year.

As ATM capabilities grow, customers at bank branches will spend more time interacting with machines for their day-to-day needs, while bank personnel will move from behind the counter and focus more on complex transactions such as coordinating loans for homes or small businesses.

The next wave of ATMs with larger, digitally enabled screens akin to tablets will offer almost all of the services human tellers now provide as well as new capabilities like setting up cash withdrawals on your phone that you can be easily completed at a nearby ATM.

ATMs are already outfitted with more flexible denominations — $1, $5, and $10 bills instead of only $20 bill — and introduced cardless transactions, wherein customers can log in more securely just with their phone.

Very soon, having a remote conversation on an ATM with a live loan officer or bank executive to handle more complicated banking matters will make hanging on to most existing bank properties superfluous.

4.) The law of accelerating tipping points

Overall, customers interact with their banks an average of 17 times a month. Yet only two of those interactions involve human contact. In the U.S. only two out of 15 monthly bank dealings involve going to a branch.

JPMorgan Chase, which operates a network of more than 16,300 ATMs and 5,300 branches across the U.S., saw its teller transactions fall by 25% from 2014 to 2016.

In 2013, an Accenture survey found that 48% of Americans would switch banks if their current bank branch closed. In last year’s survey, that share shrank to just 19%.

Visiting a bank has increasingly become a long tail activity. Virtually every branch manager can describe a customer interaction that is impossible to cope with over a phone or online. But these edge cases are proving to be less of a compelling argument as online capabilities improve and attitudes change.

5.) Cryptocurrencies are paving the way for circumventionist thinking

If you’ve ever had a conversation with your bank about handling fractional cent micropayments, coming from a rapidly scaling online business where the transaction volume can approach hundreds of million per hour, you’ll quickly understand how ill-equipped today’s banking industry is in dealing with next generation business models.

Even though today’s cryptocurrency industry is deeply flawed, it has a way of pointing a glaring spotlight on the structural limitations buried in our existing bank infrastructure.

On one hand, stealing bitcoins is the perfect crime. No one has ever been convicted of stealing bitcoin and there are no bitcoin-cops or bitcoin-justice systems. A lost bitcoin is not recoverable.

However, national currencies are becoming increasingly dysfunctional. It’s no longer possible to use cash for many transactions like purchasing airline tickets, hotel rooms, or rental cars.

The idea of using a personal signature to secure a payment by check is fairly preposterous with our ability to use phones to copy and replicate nearly everything.

Massive data breeches have become a daily activity with headlines about Equifax, Chipotle, Gmail, Arby’s, Verizon, Yahoo, and Uber showing us how vulnerable we’ve become as a digital society.

With no perfect solutions to point to, we are left with a heavily regulated and rapidly decaying banking system whose days are clearly numbered and a fledgling and faceless cryptocurrency industry trying to usurp the power and authority of today’s banking elite.

Is coexistence even an option?

Final Thoughts

Yes, we will still have banks for many years to come, but I have yet to come up with a compelling reason why we need so many branches and tellers.

If JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, and Citigroup were all to close their branches tomorrow, what effect would that have on the financial health of the nation?

Besides the obvious loss of jobs and vacant real estate, how will this change the way business is done?

39% of bank customers like the idea of going bank-less, but that still leaves many who don’t.

With easy-to-use smartphones to manage most transactions and clickless payment systems like Uber, Lyft, and the Bodega vending machine, our need to interact with bank personnel is fading.

Bank closures are about to shift from linear to exponential, and to some this will be disconcerting. But in this transition we will find countless opportunities for new business and industry, and by 2030 we’ll be wondering why we ever needed them in the first place.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions for Transforming Your Future

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Giving the future a ‘hole’ new perspective http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/giving-the-future-a-hole-new-perspective/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/giving-the-future-a-hole-new-perspective/#comments Mon, 27 Nov 2017 16:12:09 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=8568

I often get asked the question, “How did you become a futurist?”

When I get this question, I know that the person asking is secretly thinking that being a futurist is one of the coolest professions of all times, which it is. And they want some concrete process for becoming a futurist, which there isn’t.

Becoming a futurist is really a calling. You are being called by the little voices in your head to spend slightly over 24 hours a day researching and thinking about the future. And if you run out of time, your only option is to build “time-expanders” into your day to unlock enough additional brain spectrum to complete whatever insights you’re working on.

Until now, the process I’ve used has always been a secret. I’ve been debating for years whether I should reveal my mysterious process. Usually the debate is taking place between the little voices in my head, but lately the arguments have grown so loud that that they wake me up at night.

For this reason, after several months belaboring the point, I have finally decided to reveal my secret methodology for understanding the future. So here it is. (Drum roll please.)

My secret to understanding the future comes from something I carry around in my pockets – my “holes.” Whenever I lack some level of understanding of the future, I simply reach for a “hole” to gain more clarity.

My First Encounter with Holes

I spent my childhood on the edge of reality.

On the outside, I looked like a perfectly normal child, but on the inside my brain was filled with all sorts of ideas that were so far out that I felt I could never talk about them. Whenever I tried, people started to laugh and ridicule me.

Most people use their sleep to find rest and rejuvenate their bodies. But I go to sleep to find my next adventure.

Long ago when I was 12 years old, I remember having a wrestling-match dream. This is one of those dreams that appeared so intensely real that it caused me to spend the entire night wrestling with bizarre concepts that were simultaneously insulting and revealing.

The dream I was having showed me how to make holes.

All night long I found myself making holes. One hole, after another, after another, and they were all different.

No, I wasn’t making holes inside of anything or through anything. Instead, I was making some sort of magical holes for later use.

Throughout my dream I was filling my pockets with ready-to-use holes, and these holes gave me powers – the power of perception, the power of discernment, and most importantly, the power to understand things that were previously not understandable.

Whenever I came to a closed door, I could simply pull out a hole and insert it into the door and I would see what was on the other side.

Whenever someone creepy was following me, I simply pulled out a hole, stretched it until it had reached the appropriate size, and threw it down on the ground so they would fall into it.

Everywhere I looked, I found more uses for my holes. I could look under things, I could see behind things, and if someone started arguing with me, I could even put holes in their arguments.

These holes that I was carrying in my pocket became my superpower. They became my muse, my ruminator, and my source of creative inspiration.

Charging fees on the information highway of life

Living with Gatekeepers

Being raised as a child of the 1960s, it seemed that everything I wanted to know was somewhere else.

Information was hidden, locked up, or protected by people whose job it was to prevent the rest of the world from seeing their information. The flow of ideas was being barricaded and imprisoned behind the walls of corporate and academic control, and only those who could afford it were granted the rights to see it.

The closest distance between me and all the things I desperately needed to know was through the gatekeepers that had positioned themselves along the information highway.

But my holes gave me the power to “see around” the gatekeepers.

Our greatest enemy in life has always been the “unknown.” Even today with vast improvements in communications technology, we are constantly being blindsided by things we don’t know.

We live in a cruel and unforgiving world. Yet we are continually being separated from the simple solutions that could prevent mass chaos and even death, by tollbooth operators whose job it is to extract payment from us for answers we don’t even know exist.

The Cost of Ignorance

According to the USGS National Earthquake Information Center, the death toll for earthquakes in 2010 was 226,729, with roughly 222,570 deaths occurring in Haiti, and the rest happening in Chili and Tibet.

2008 was a disastrous year in Myanmar (Burma) where over 140,000 people were killed by a single storm – Cyclone Nargis.

But each of these pale in comparison to the Great Chinese Famine from 1958-1961 where death toll estimates ranged from 15-43 million and the 1931 floods in China that killed somewhere between 1-4 million, more than anyone could count.

All of these disasters could have been greatly reduce if we had the ability to see the situation more clearly, and with a little forethought, move people out of harm’s way.

The cost of ignorance is staggering.

I find myself constantly wanting to ask Charles Darwin the question, “Why have we evolved so poorly?”

Ignorance is Bliss

Yet for all the wringing-of-hands and lamenting of our own limitations, there is also tremendous value in hiding behind the great unknown.

Hidden in the clock-ticking minutes before life’s greatest disasters are peaceful serene moments of people at their best – laughing, hugging, and giving generously of themselves.

Even after a disaster, before anyone knows the extent of the damage, we see people instantly transformed from people-helping-themselves into people-helping-people. We suddenly think “less about us” and “more about them.”

So while many have paid the ultimate price for our collective ignorance, we can also view ignorance as a blessing. In a world seeking balance, we cannot live at peace without experiencing the extreme polar opposite.

If we had a lens that could give us a clear understanding of the inner workings of the earth, how differently would we live our lives?

Every hole has a beginning, middle, and end, except for misalignment holes.
They’re everywhere and nowhere all at the same time!

The Complexity of the Hole

As I mentioned earlier, my toolkit as a futurist consists of pockets filled with magical holes.

Every time I peer through one of my holes, I gain a new perspective. In much the same way photographers change lenses on their cameras to gain a new perspective, my holes allow me to see the world with insights and revelations not afforded to others.

In this moment of full disclosure, revealing the secrets I once said would never be revealed, here are a few of the remarkable holes that I typically have poised and ready for use:

  • See-Through Hole: Perhaps the most useful of my holes is the one that enables me to see through walls, doors, and even inside metal file cabinets.
  • Movable Hole: Distance is relative when you have insight, but very often the answer you are seeking lies only a few inches away from the place you’re looking. That is why the movable hole is so valuable. Simply move the hole and you will find your answer.
  • Data-Encryption Hole: Sometimes I have to adjust the viewing angle of the hole, and even twist it a few times to bring it into focus, but even the best encryption is no match for a truly gifted hole-user.
  • Answer Hole: Behind every situation that causes us to ask “why,” is an answer. Staring through an Answer Hole is a very revealing experience when we know the right questions to ask.
  • Backward-Looking Hole: Too often what we think is in front of us is actually behind us. The real trick is to know whether to look forward or backwards.
  • Stretcher Hole: If your perspective is too small, the best option may be a stretcher hole to expand your thinking. However, in most cases, the perspective is far too big, requiring a much smaller hole to bring things into focus.
  • Nano Holes: The problem with nanotechnology is remembering where you put your work. The devil is always in the details and details are far smaller than most people can imagine.
  • Slow Hole: Very often the answers I am seeking are traveling far too fast, so a “slow hole” will slow things down to just the right speed.
  • Hidden-Agenda Hole: When trying to understand politics, few holes are more useful than the “hidden agenda hole.” Motivations and agendas are often layered into the complex intermeshed turmoil happening inside many of our decision-makers. This one takes practice because there is seldom just one agenda in play.
  • Future-Vision Hole: Today, as I spend time studying our relationship with the future, I love nothing more than being able to reach into my pocket, pull out a “future-vision hole,” and place it between me and this field of knowability that separates us from the future.

Now I know what you’re thinking. “Why do you get to use magical holes and not me?” and “If you really have magical holes, why are you wrong so much of the time?”

To answer your first question, these holes can be dangerous. As Stan Lee, creator of Spiderman once said, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Yes, I am taking a great risk even revealing these holes exist. So no, you can’t have them. And don’t ask me if you can borrow one because the danger is far too great.

As for the second question, I have never been granted the ability to see the entire big picture, just pieces of it. And my ability to extrapolate the missing pieces is often fraught with misdirects and misguided conjecture leading to wrong-headed conclusions.

What I am missing is the ability to create a hole-within-a-hole, a simultaneous big-picture, little-picture hole. There is exponentially greater power that can be unleashed with overlapping holes; ones that will enable me to have a backward-looking, future-vision hole that is concurrently stationary and movable, permanently square but with flexible, stretchable sides, combining the powers of fast and slow into a left-handed, right-handed multi-perspective hole that I can call upon on at a moment’s notice.

No, I don’t have that one yet, but I can always dream.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions for Transforming Your Future

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Turbulent times ahead for cities: 63 looming issues http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/turbulent-times-ahead-for-cities-63-looming-issues/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/turbulent-times-ahead-for-cities-63-looming-issues/#comments Mon, 16 Oct 2017 12:46:17 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=8524

Cities are in trouble.

Never before have we seen such a massive convergence of technologies affecting cities as profoundly as we see today. Very few have looked at tech adoption rates as something to monitor.

The current retail apocalypse is just the tip of the iceberg as many cities in the U.S. are set to lose over 50% of their current revenue streams over the next couple decades.

At the heart of the problem is an overly complicated sales tax systems ill-equipped to bend, flex, and morph with the demands of our emerging culture.  But it’s far more than just sales tax revenue that’s at stake.

Cities will soon be tasked with new responsibilities that require the dismantling of old systems, at the same time creating entirely new systems and new organizational structures, requiring new policies, new talent, and new methodologies.

Infrastructure will also change. Parking lots will give way to queuing stations, HOV lanes will give way to driverless-only lanes, and drone-landing pads will begin to spring up around every neighborhood.

Traffic cops will give way to drone command centers, schools will have to prepare for the arrival of driverless students, and zoning laws will have to be completely reworked.

Cities have most certainly been through large-scale transitions in the past.

  • From horse and buggy to cars
  • From ground-based transportation to airplanes
  • From cumbersome film-based photography to cameras everywhere
  • From wired phones to anywhere anytime wireless communications
  • From paper maps to GPS

Yes, cities have many the tools at their disposal to make the necessary alterations, but most will need help, as they’ve never faced declining revenues like this before.

Cities tend to be strongly separated by function. Each area (fire, police, utilities, etc.) has their own budget and change tends to trigger fear, defensiveness and very often, interdepartmental turf wars.

Some will view this as the opportunity that it truly is, tackling the problems before they occur. But others, best described as the change-resistant majority, will be left far behind.

History will show this to be a great turning point with well-run cities not only rising to the challenge, but also tackling mega-projects that will define their place on the global stage.

When you think about your city, what issues pose the greatest need?

63 unanswerable questions to help understand the problem

After traveling to dozens of countries, it has become clear that cities will need to establish their own priorities and plan their own approach. They pride themselves on their differences.

Consequently, there will be no one-size-fits-all solutions. Indeed, many will settle on similar “best practices” and find a number of common solutions, but each city will have make those determinations on their own.

The following questions are currently unanswerable, but will serve as a way of understanding the scope of changes on the horizon.

Disruptions from autonomous vehicles

With hundreds of companies staking their future on driverless technology, it seems inevitable that we are moving into an era of fully autonomous vehicles:

1.    What percentage of the population will relinquish ownership of their vehicle in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years?

2.    What percentage of road traffic will be fully autonomous vehicles in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years?

3.    How long before we see driverless lanes and entire highways dedicated to driverless vehicles?

4.    What provisions will be necessary to accommodate bicycles, motorcycles, skateboards, joggers, and other physically active people?

5.    How long before we see the removal of traffic signs, stoplights, lane markers, etc.?

6.    How many parking lots will disappear in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years?

7.    What forms of transportation will always have drivers?

8.    How will all these changes affect sales tax collection in your city?

Further implications from driverless vehicles

It’s important to begin thinking about how many industries get affected by driverless technology and their long-range implications.

9.    At what age is it ok for a child to ride solo in an autonomous car?

10. How many car-related businesses (auto part stores, tire shops, brake shops, car washes, etc.) will disappear in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years?

11. How many car dealerships will disappear in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years?

12. What will happen to the price of gas, and the collection of gas tax, when consumers switch to electric vehicles?

13. With the transition to electric vehicles, all requiring frequent recharging, what addition loads will this place on our electric systems?

14. What changes will need to be made to highway infrastructure as we become increasingly dependent upon driverless systems?

15. How long until the last emissions testing center disappears?

16. How will Hollywood deal with “chase scenes” in the driverless car era?

Changes to local justice systems

Since a high percentage of every police force is dedicated to traffic control, often as much as 80%, we need to consider how this will affect staffing and revenue models for the future.

17. How will the number of traffic cops change over the next 5, 10, 15, and 20 years?

18. How will these changes affect the number of lawyers, judges, and DAs associated with traffic court?

19. How will a decreasing number of traffic violations affect city revenue in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years?

20. What new kinds of vehicles will spring to life in the driverless era and how will cities manage them?

How will our transportation infrastructure change in the future?

Driverless delivery

As e-commerce grows, and our frequency of online purchases climbs from once-a-week, to dozens of times per day, the amount of delivery services will increase exponentially.

21. How will driverless trucks change the transport industry?

22. What segments of the trucking industry will be the first to make the transition to driverless transport?

23. What percentage of the trucking industry will employ driverless technology in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years?

24. With fewer, possible no drivers, will the trucking industry become a cheaper form of transport than trains?

25. How long before we see conductor-less trains?

26. How long before we see fully automated mail delivery?

27. How long before we see fully automated transfer of cargo between trains, ships, planes, and trucks?

28. Will driverless technology ever become as safe as the airline industry?

Disruptions from flying/driving drones

If we start with the scenario that sometime in the future every major city will have 50,000 drones flying overhead on a daily basis, many questions come to mind.

29. What will the city’s responsibility be for managing these drones?

30. When it comes to privacy, how close can drones fly to a home, business, or person?

31. How will the city handle drone-related complaints such as noise, snooping, menacing, etc.?

32. What criteria will be used to determine if a drone is “menacing?”

33. At what point will people/authorities have the right to shoot a drone out of the air?

34. At what point will people/authorities have the obligation to shoot a drone out of the air?

35. How long before most cities have their own fleet of drones?

36. How long before most police departments have their own fleet of drones?

Search engines for the physical world

Recent improvements in scanning and sensing technology has given us the ability to create digital models of the physical world. As we expand surveillance capabilities, with fleets of scanning drones used to both image and analyze data on a near-real-time basis, we can begin to imagine a new kind of search technology, designed around searching the physical world.

37. What type of scans would instantly be viewed as an invasion of privacy? (i.e. seeing through walls, clothing, etc.)

38. How long before we can scan and find a specific person, car, or drone with this type of search engine?

39. How long before we can track a person in real time?

40. Who will have access to the technology and resulting data?

41. What are the privacy/security issues that will arise?

42. If police departments become tasked with doing stalker reports, does this become a new responsibility for cities?

43. If search engines can spot key vulnerabilities, such as system flaws and infrastructure failure points, who will have access to this information?

44. What are some of the unintended consequences from this technology?

Driverless Mobile Businesses

The mobile food truck industry is paving the way for a much larger industry. Driverless mobile businesses, built on the frames of RVs, trucks, vans, and other large vehicles, will be reborn as traveling dental offices, tax preparation centers, hair salons, dog grooming parlors, chiropractic clinics, and retail storefronts. The number one challenge of traditional retail has always been driving customers to the store. As we move into a highly mobile marketplace, businesses can drive to where the customers already are.

45. With many overlaying and confusing taxing districts, how will merchants know the proper about of sales tax to charge for every new location?

46. Where will driverless mobile businesses be allowed to set up shop in each city?

47. Will there need to be a new type of business/vehicle classification system developed to regulate these businesses? (Just as we don’t allow porn shops to be built next to grade schools, we will probably need some sort of mobile location ordinances as well.)

48. How long before online sales reach 50% of all purchases in your city?

49. How long before sales from mobile businesses reach 10%, 15%, 20% or 25% of all purchases in your city?

50. Will mobile businesses increase or decrease traffic on the roads in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years?

Major failures

Emerging technology will take its toll on many existing businesses. Very often whenever a major business failure occurs, a city will be tasked with picking up the pieces.

Over the coming years we will see a number of extraordinary failures with complicated ownership issues in the background stalling redevelopment for decades. What provisions does your city have for managing the following kind of failures?

51. Hospitals

52. Colleges

53. Golf courses

54. Theme parks

55. Power plants

56. Airports

57. Shopping malls

58. Stadiums

Every city will want postcard-perfect places to show the rest of the world

The City of the Future

Over 50% of the world’s population currently lives in urban areas, and that number will grow to 70% by the year 2050, according to the United Nations.

Today, there are 31 mega-cities – metropolitan areas with more than 10 million people – like Tokyo, Seoul, Delhi, Shanghai, Mexico City, Istanbul, Sao Paulo, Los Angeles, Moscow, and Cairo. By 2030, the UN predicts, there will be 41.

As the number of city dwellers rise, so do problems like overcrowding, pollution, housing shortages, and aging infrastructure. But with problems come opportunity and many cities will use this as an opportunity to leapfrog forward.

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 many now exceeding $100 billion. Megaprojects are set to triple over the coming decades.

59. What are some of the mega-projects that will define the truly great cities of the future?

60. Is further urbanization a good thing or a bad thing?

61. What are the key components of urbanization that will demand the most attention?

62. What percentage of city workers will find their jobs disappearing in 5, 10, 15, and 20 years?

63. Will it be possible to retain current city employees and retrain them for new positions? What type of retraining will be necessary to make this happen?

How will we build our cities in the future?

Final Thoughts

Rest assured, we’re only scratching the surface with these questions.

Each is designed to be a conversation starter. Even though the answers, for the most part, are unanswerable, every conversation will create a growing level of awareness, and taking appropriate action will not be far behind.

The role of the city is changing. While many are heavily invested in the near term race to label themselves a “smart city,” far greater challenges lie ahead.

With automation, the role of people is changing. In the future, relationships will still matter, but they will matter differently. Skills and talent will still matter, but they will matter differently. And our drive and purpose will still matter, but it will matter differently.

Even though much of today’s technology is giving us super-human abilities and virtually everyone can now think-faster, know-faster, and do-faster than ever before, every new technology requires skills, talents, and understandings that are hard to quantify.

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. And it all begins with rethinking our cities.

By Futurist Thomas Frey
Author of “Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions for Transforming Your Future

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Haptic Clothing: When our technologies become truly wearable http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/haptic-clothing-when-our-technologies-become-truly-wearable/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/haptic-clothing-when-our-technologies-become-truly-wearable/#respond Wed, 27 Sep 2017 15:36:26 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=8486

The fashion industry is only now waking up to the potential of haptic clothing that offers wearers a form of kinesthetic interaction between their bodies and their clothes.

The amount of communication that can happen through our sense of touch has long been overlooked because we didn’t have the micro technologies for both producing and testing the subtle tactile feedback loops needed to make it feel natural.

However with the emergence of nano-sized sensors, tactile stimulators, flex-gripper fabrics, and ultrasonic arousal pads we are now on the cusp of producing fully interactive clothing.

Wearable technology woven into clothes

Over the past couple years we’ve seen an explosion of startups focused on smart haptic clothing:

  • At CES in January, Spinalli Design unveiled their version of smart jeans for the purpose of guiding you as you walk. For every left turn the left pant leg will buzz, and every right turn will yield a buzz on the right. Users will be comforted to know, wherever they go they’ll have a little GPS in their pants.
  • Spinalli also produces smart bikinis that tell wearers when they’re getting too much sun, as well as radiation-blocking underwear for men, lined with silver fibers to create electromagnetic shielding that protects the wearer’s testicles.
  • MadeWithGlove produces stylish gloves with biosensors woven into the material that is able to detect skin temperature and provide heat when needed.
  • WOW is a startup that produces high-tech gloves that can translate sign language into text or speech.
  • The Sensoree mood sweater comes with LED lights that change color like a mood ring. The designer envisions the sweater to be a great tool for people with sensory processing disorders ranging from ADHD to autism.
  • Wearable Experiments is an Australian company that uses haptics to help yoga aficionados know when to improve their form. Their Nadi X yoga tights have several sensors and vibration pads embedded in them at the hips, knees and ankles.
Heated gloves with biosensors by MadeWithGlove

If you ask the average person on the street if they want haptic clothing, 99% will say no. But that’s like asking someone if they would prefer nylon over rayon. They know very little about it.

Eventually the technology becomes invisible and somehow it just feels better. With a little A.I. the clothing learns who you are, understands your pressure points, and simply learns how to be an extension of your own body. All other clothing will seem foreign.

Wearers won’t want to know how it works, just that it does.

Over time haptic clothing will become the memory behind muscle memory, the speed behind speed walking, and the snuggle behind snuggling in.

It will anticipate your needs and complement your desires. It will enhance your performance, promote your strengths, and give you super powers.

If you ask how many apps will end up in the app store for haptic clothing, it will in the tens if not hundreds of thousands. If you ask what the killer app will be for haptic clothing, it will fall into the category of “wants,” not “needs.”

With enough uses, haptic clothing will know you better than you know yourself. It will tell you what to do, when to do it, and how to get there.

It will allow you to enter the body of someone else, and feel what its like to be that person on a moment by moment basis.

It will become your lie detector, your bullshit detector, and your truth filter.

It will tell you when you’ve reached your limit, when to say no, and even say “no” for you when you’re no longer able to.

It will be your conscience, your mentor, your tutor, and your mom. It will act like an encyclopedia when you’re lacking knowledge, your thesaurus when you’re lacking words, and your smoke detector when something smells funny.

Haptic clothing will take you to places you’ve never been, be your guide on every adventure, and offer you new forms of protection you never thought possible.

If Dr. Seuss were alive today, his next book would be about the “Fraptic Loathings of Haptic Clothing.”

Personally, I can’t wait.

By Futurist Thomas Frey
Author of “Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions for Transforming Your Future

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A peek into the scandalous future world of hyper-influence marketing http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/a-peek-into-the-scandalous-future-world-of-hyper-influence-marketing/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/a-peek-into-the-scandalous-future-world-of-hyper-influence-marketing/#respond Sun, 17 Sep 2017 17:12:01 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=8465 Television producers have never been more in demand. With both Facebook and Apple recently announcing their own $1 billion budgets for creating original television content, the entertainment industry is about to enter a whole new era, with premium content creating the latest high stakes battlefield.

The amount of money being directed toward the production of original content is now reaching epic proportions, with Netflix, Amazon, and HBO alone adding over $12 billion this year to the mushrooming video storytelling economy.

Once reserved for the movie-making elite, the production of modern television shows is now the playground of choice for a less Hollywoodish tech industry, one that also specializes in extreme data manipulation.

Combine this with the fact that video is the most influential medium of our times, and we can begin to get a glimmer of how tech companies will leverage their newfound influence in unusual ways.

Over the coming years we will see a shift from simply selling ads to the sale of custom tailored hyper-influence packages.

Today’s intricately detailed viewer analytics, coupled with instantly modifiable content, and tightly monitored feedback loops; we move from merely targeting industry segments to laser focusing on an audience of one.

That’s precisely where we will begin to see scandals unfold.

Critical decision makers are few and far between, and the influence they wield can be staggering. For this reason, finding inconspicuous ways of swaying the mind of key individuals can be worth millions if not billions.

As an example, one of today’s hottest topics in the tech industry is immigration, with strong arguments being formed on both sides. We also see huge, game-changing decisions in this area being made by a handful of people.

If a series of campaigns were established to specifically sway the thinking of those people, their colleagues, staffers, and families; some of the tools may include persuasive comments uttered by influential characters on a sitcom or action dramas.  This could include personally relevant background stats dropped into news blurbs, hidden messages, subliminal underscores, and mind-shifting plot twists all accompanied by an intricate web of social media conversations.

This style of intricately woven “push points” will be designed to modify opinions and move the influence meter ever-so-slightly one direction or the other. Those who show signs of being swayed will be rewarded with warm hugs of subtle recognition and “attention smiles” beamed-in in ways that will seem nothing short of magical.

The Moneyball of Influence

We are quickly moving into the Moneyball phase of data-crafted influence.

While most people are aware of things like product placement, few are aware of the other emerging tools of hyper-influence like:

  • Cause placement – As our ability to communicate, influence, and organize increases, the likelihood of violence decreases. Every cause masterpiece can be repainted with a new kind of “noble purpose brush.”
  • Contextual narrative arguments – Many times writers feel passionate about a controversial issue but realize traditional arguments will fall on deaf ears. In these situations, the context can be rearranged to shed an entire new light on outdated reasoning.
  • Character endorsements – Sometimes an endorsement by Hans Solo is far more effective than one by Harrison Ford.
  • Subliminal hidden-agenda music – Catchy tunes with a message inside the message.
  • Inner circle campaigns – Directed specifically at the inner circle of those who influence the person responsible for making the ultimate decisions.
  • Hyper-individualized programming – Where plots, character clothing, speech, and background sets shift to match demographic models for each distinct viewer household.

Over the coming years the number of tools inside the influencer toolbox will grow exponentially.

We are moving far past the original experiments that created Netflix’s hit show, “House of Cards,” where they tested storyline themes for maximum appeal and reverse engineered the plot to not only hook the viewer but also amplify ratings.

Stepping past the established fixed product approach to programming, the same “Game of Thrones” episode you just finished watching may indeed be different than the one watched by your neighbors because of an A.I.-infused plot modulator designed to contextually rescript key scenes based on each viewer’s personality quirks.

The Power of Video

This year, video content will represent 74% of all Internet traffic. When people hear information, they’re likely to remember only 10% of it three days later. However, if that same information is paired with a video, retention jumps to over 65%.

Here’s a quick snapshot of video’s growing role in our daily lives:

  • Cisco projects that global Internet traffic from videos will make up 80% of all Internet traffic by 2019.
  • 76.5% of marketers and small business owners in an Animoto survey who have used video marketing say it had a direct impact on their business.
  • 34% of B2C marketers say pre-produced video will be critical to content marketing success in 2017.
  • 4X as many consumers would prefer to watch a video about a product than to read about it.
  • More than 60% of marketers and small business owners said they planned to increase investment in video marketing in 2017.
  • 62% of B2B marketers rated videos as an effective content marketing tactic in 2016.
  • Even using the word “video” in an email subject line boosts open rates by 19% and click-through rates by 65%.
  • Facebook users watch 8 billion videos per day, while Snapchat users watch 10 billion videos per day.

When is it ok to distort the truth?

With this newfound power there will naturally be some who choose to use it for evil rather than good, and indeed there will be a very fine line ethically between being a purveyor of lies and those who spin the arguments in their favor.

Using the previous example on immigration, having all the characters that people love-to-hate make profoundly stupid arguments in support of immigration bans will likely cause people to form the opposite opinion. For those firmly guided by their own moral compass, will that still be ethically within bounds?

If someone uses fabricated statistics to heighten anxiety and create a false sense of fear, does the ends justify the means?

To me, the most troubling part of these campaigns is that most decisions will be made in dark rooms, far removed from the check-and-balance of open scrutiny.

If a judge were to subpoena the exact episode seen by a specific person at a designated time and place, the defense team may very well respond with, “we don’t know which one it was exactly, but it is one of 150,000 possible versions, so we will send you all of them.”

Sadly, the fact that these hyper-individualized promotions will be super discrete, done in total anonymity, may be their most compelling feature.

The role of A.I. in influence marketing campaigns

It’s easy to envision a number of ways that A.I. can be added to these campaigns, but once a target or set of targets has been established, a list of objectives can be put into a special campaign driver along with a list of the primary tools to be used.

At a certain point, the amount of data sorted through for an effective campaign will far exceed any human’s ability to orchestrate it.

As the A.I. campaign progresses through a series of trial and error approaches, getting smarter with every feedback loop it completes, the number of targeted impressions will climb until either some defining action has taken place or a predetermined end date has been reached.

If it sounds like people are as easy to sway as unwitting pawns, it’s because most are. Virtually every “yes,” “no,” or “buy” decision boils down to the right combination needs and stimuli.

Final thoughts

Marketing campaigns are about to get far more sophisticated, and the metrics we use to quantify success, much more refined.

What we view as a first-rate influence marketing campaign today will soon appear crude and unrefined just a few months from now. Each will grow in complexity and cleverness as the tools at our disposal grow exponentially.

Most of the techniques I’ve mentioned are already in play. The big difference, though, will be the turbocharged, fully automated, instantly responsive, ten-thousand-stimuli-a-second version of them.

To many, this may appear to be a scary, even alarming perspective of our future, but wherever there’s a problem, there’s also an opportunity.

As these kinds of tools for influence and control become more common, so will the tools for defeating them. Throughout history, as long as people have lived on earth, we’ve had an arms race of influence. Even though the tools look vastly different, it still boils down to a controller vs. controlee battleground, and that will never change.

By Futurist Thomas Frey
Author of “Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions for Transforming Your Future

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Our Newest Unit of Measure – 1 Human Intelligence Unit http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/our-newest-unit-of-measure-1-human-intelligence-unit-2/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/our-newest-unit-of-measure-1-human-intelligence-unit-2/#comments Sun, 27 Aug 2017 16:25:31 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=8437 1-HIU-2 I’ve been closely watching the debate on artificial intelligence with people like Rodney Brooks saying it’s only a tool, and others like Elon Musk and Stephen Hawking giving bone chilling warnings of how it could lead to the destruction of all humanity.

As I was pondering these differing points of view, it occurred to me that we currently don’t have any real way of measuring the potency of AI. How will we ever know there is a real threat of danger if we have no way of measuring it?

For this reason, I’d like to propose the creation of a standard for measuring AI based on “1 Human Intelligence Unit.”

Similar, in some respects, to James Watt’s ingenious way of calculating horsepower as a way of gauging the mechanical muscle behind his ever improving steam engines, I’d like to make a crude attempt at quantifying, in numerical terms, the influence of 1 Human Intelligence Unit (HIU).

Since horsepower is a rather one dimensional measure of force, and human intelligence is a complex, multidimensional combination of personal attributes that include thinking, reasoning, determination, motivation, emotional values, memories, fears, and frailty, the simple notion of quantifying human brainpower quickly mushroomed into one of those “infinity plus one” questions where the answer has become more of a philosophical debate rather than something we could assign a meaningful integer to.

Over the past few weeks I found myself immersed in this quandary, looking for a simple but eloquent approach vector for solving the 1 HIU riddle.

To put this into perspective, imagine a scene 20 years from now where you are walking into your local robot store to compare the latest models before you buy one for your home. The three models you’re most interested in have tags listing their HIUs as 4.6, 12.4, and 24.0 respectively.

Depending on whether you’ll use your robot to simply follow orders or to become a well-rounded sparing partner to debate the issues of the day, the HIU rating will become a hugely valuable tool in determining which one to choose.

For this reason, I’d like to take you along on my personal journey to solve for “infinity plus one” in the area of human intelligence, and the startling conclusions that are likely to disrupt all your thinking.

History of Horsepower

When James Watt worked on his second-generation steam engines, it occurred to him that he needed a simple method for conveying the power of his devices, and it needed to be something everyone could relate to.

After watching horses turn the giant 24-foot wheel at a local mill, Watt determined that a horse could turn the wheel 144 revolutions in an hour, or 2.4 times a minute. With some quick calculations, he concluded the average horse could pull with a force of 180 pounds, which translates into 33,000 ft-lb per minute, the number behind every unit of horsepower today.

Even though horses couldn’t maintain this level of effort over a very long period of time, the horsepower comparison caught on and became a hugely valuable tool in marketing his engines.

Quantifying Intelligence

Needless to say, the quantification of effort exerted by a horse is far simpler than assigning value to the complex nature of human intellect.

A simple approach starts with one of mankind’s greatest accomplishments, the Apollo Moon Landing, and dividing it by the number of people it took to accomplish it, and we could say that it took exactly X number of HIUs to complete the mission. But this approach is far too simplistic to have any real value.

What exactly would we be measuring, computational skills? How could a measure like this have any value in comparing say a robot doing laundry, a self-driving car, or Watson playing Jeopardy?

Last year I wrote a column introducing the concept of “synaptical currency” as a way of quantifying mental effort and creating a better way of valuing a person’s contribution to a project based on a comparison of synapse firings over a given period of time.

According to neuroscientist Astra Bryant, a rough number for neural signal transmissions in the average brain ranges from 86 billion to 17.2 trillion actions per second, with a person in a deep meditative state being on the low end and someone experiencing a full blown, category-five epiphany on the high end.

Even though having an HIU rating system based on the average number of decisions or calculations a person can make in an hour would have some merit, it represents little more than a horsepower rating for the brain, loosing intangibles like passion, ingenuity, and imagination in the process.

Being Human

Humans are odd creatures. We have exceptions for every rule, we value intangible things based on our emotional connection to them, and our greatest strength is flawed logic.

Yet in the midst of our love dance with imperfection where we find ourselves grabbing on to clumsy-footed conundrums just to maintain some semblance of poise, we remain the dominant higher order species in the universe.

Certainly some will argue with that assessment, and we know little of what exists beyond our own planet, but here’s the key.

What we lack as individuals, we make up for as a whole.

One person’s deficiencies are counterbalanced by another person’s over-adequacies. Individually we’re all failures, but together we each represent the pixels on life’s great masterpiece.

Wherever we find insufficiencies, we create dependencies to help fill the gap, and every “need” produces movement.

Using this line of thinking, the human race does not exist as self-sufficient organisms. We all pride ourselves as being rugged individualists, yet we have little chance of surviving without each other.

Even though we are constantly fighting to become well-balanced people, the greatest people throughout history, the people most lauded as heroes, were highly unbalanced individuals. They simply capitalized on their strengths and downplayed their weaknesses.

If humans were wheels, we would all be rolling around with lumpy flat sides and eccentric weight distribution. But if 1,000 of these defective wheels were placed side-by-side on the same axil, the entire set would roll smoothly.

This becomes a critical piece of a much bigger equation because every AI unit we’re hoping to create is just the opposite, complete and survivable on its own. Naturally this raises a number of philosophical questions:

  1. How can flawed humans possibly create un-flawed AI?
  2. Is making the so-called “perfect” AI really optimal?
  3. Will AI become the great compensator for human deficiencies?
  4. Does AI eventually replace our need for other people?

The Button Box Theory

One theory often discussed in AI circles is the button box theory. If a computer were to be programmed to “feel rewarded” by having a button pressed every time it completed a task, eventually the computer would search for more efficient ways to receive the reward.

First it would look for ways to circumvent the need for accomplishing tasks and figure out ways to automate the button pushing. Eventually it would look for ways to remove threats to the button, including the programmer who has the power to unplug things altogether. Since computers cannot be reasoned with, it is believed that the machines would eventually rise up to battle humans.

This scenario is key to many dark movie plots where intelligent machines begin to battle against humanity in the future. Yet it is filled with assumptive flaws that these machines will somehow learn to take initiative, and their interests will instantly blind them to any other interests in the world.

A Few Startling Conclusions

Virtually every advancement in society is focused on the idea of gaining more control.

We all know what it’s like to get blindsided by bad serendipity, and we don’t like it. Our struggle for control is a coping reaction for life’s worst moments. If only we could have more control, nothing bad would ever happen to us.

Artificial intelligence promises to solve this dilemma. We not only create avoidance mechanisms for every danger, but fixes for every problem, and self-sufficiency on a grand scale.

Eventually we become stand-alone organisms, content in our surroundings, wielding off-the-chart levels of intelligence and capabilities exceeding our wildest imagination.

However, this is where the whole scenario begins to break down.

Self-sufficiency will lead to isolation and our need for each other will begin to vanish. Without needs and dependencies, there is no movement. And without the drive for fixing every insufficiency, our sense of purpose begins to vanish.

Being super intelligent is meaningless if there is nothing to apply the intelligence to. Much like a perpetual motion machine that never gets used, there’s little purpose for its existence.

For this reason, it becomes easy for me to predict that all AI will eventually fail. It will either fail from its imperfection or fail from its perfection, but over time it will always fail.

However, just because it’s destined to fail doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be pursuing these goals. As we journey down this path we will be creating some amazingly useful applications.

Narrow AI applications will thrive in countless ways, and even general AI will create immeasurable benefits over the coming decades. But it is delusional to think that solving all problems will be a good thing.

Final Thoughts

Sometimes our best intentions reveal themselves as little more than a mirage to help guide us to an area we never intended to go.

I started off this column talking about a new unit of measure – one human intelligence unit (1 HIU). But along the way, it has become clear that human intelligence and artificial intelligence exist on different planes… or do they?

Without dependencies there can be no human intelligence. Something else perhaps, but it won’t be human.

There’s something oddly perfect about being imperfect.

When it comes to measuring the potential danger of AI, leveraging it for good can be as dangerous as leveraging it for evil.

Will we eventually have some form of HIUs or will we have to know more to answer this question? Perhaps it’s just my way of waging a personal protest against perfection, but like a train that has yet to leave the station, this is a movement still decades away.

As I close out this discussion, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Are the doubts and fears that cloud my assessment as real as I imagine them, or simply delusional thinking on my part?

By Futurist Thomas Frey
Author of “Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions for Transforming Your Future

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Weaponized A.I. – 36 Early Examples http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/weaponized-a-i-36-early-examples/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/weaponized-a-i-36-early-examples/#comments Tue, 08 Aug 2017 10:06:04 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=8409

Of all the topics I’ve written about, this one scares me the most.

Yes, artificial intelligence, one of humanity’s greatest achievements, can also unleash the seeds of our own destruction. Weaponized A.I. will range from relatively minor weapons designed to change a specific action to nation-vs-nation full-blown A.I. wars.

Artificial intelligence, while still in its infancy, is growing up fast. A recent Cylance survey showed that 62% of security experts think we’ll see the first incidents of weaponized A.I. happening in less than a year.

Several aspects of artificial intelligence make its use as an offensive weapon different than anything we’ve ever encountered in the past.

Attacks can be highly individualized, carefully directed towards the greatest vulnerabilities of key individuals, formed around very specific threats, extortions, blackmails, and intimidations.

The British TV show Black Mirror does a particularly good job of demonstrating how a simple threat can spiral out of control with its Shut Up and Dance episode.

In the hands of a terrorist, weaponized A.I. can also be formed around an unpredictable chaos engine, whose sole purpose is to disrupt as many people, places, and things as possible.

Using next generation A.I. masking tools, the wrongdoers will maintain a far-distant relationship from the path of destruction they’ve created, hiding any direct ties to the actual puppet masters in the background.

Once a well-crafted A.I. weapon is launched, it can operate on its own creating devastation and mayhem for months, years, perhaps even decades into the future.

Ironically, the greatest tool for fighting an A.I. weapon is more A.I. This will likely become our next big arms race with the smart good guys trying to stay one step ahead of the smart bad guys.

Personal Disclaimer

A.I. weapons will range from students wanting a better grade in class, to terrorists threatening to destroy an entire country.

Some of the ideas that follow have the potential of unleashing unspeakable evil, and I’ve had to wrestle with whether or not to make these public. But after considerable reflection, I’ve concluded that anything I can think of, terrorists and evildoers are also capable of coming up with.

For this reason, a well-informed public can be far better prepared for any of the treacheries or menacing plots that may lie ahead.

Starting with an Innocent Façade

Ayzenberg is an A.I. marketing company that leverages consumer social media activities by turning it into data that can be segmented to create incredibly specific marketing strategies. Using a series of machine-learning algorithms it can analyze social-speech, along with basically everything else that you see, post, and share across all social media platforms.

Over time, Ayzenberg will know you far better than you know yourself.

From a positive perspective, it will create more efficient systems for leveraging advertising dollars, and for you as the consumer, to only see products and deals that you’re interested in.

However, an A.I. system like this will be equally good at scoping out your main vulnerabilities, weaknesses, and liabilities.

In much the same way Google’s personalized marketing system delivers targeted ads, a weaponized intimidation engine will be capable of delivering highly targeted threats.

As A.I. cyber crimes escalate, we run the risk of having our social structures deteriorate into invisible mafia-style communities with the blackmailers ruling the blackmailees, and few, if any, capable of understanding the behind-the-scenes war zones?

Understanding the Targets

People who live in obscurity, eking out a living just to keep their families afloat, generally have less to worry about. But they can still find themselves as unwitting pawns in a much larger scheme.

Most primary targets will be the fame-seekers, those driven by accomplishment, status, and position. All the trapping of power and success make them the most vulnerable.

Virtually any person, put under a microscope, can be threatened with his or her own character flaws.

Perhaps the greatest danger comes from knowing personal weaknesses, and in most cases, it’s the person or thing they care about most. For an A.I. seeking leverage, the quickest results will come the greatest point of leverage, and whether it’s a child, parent, valuable possession, or someone’s reputation, one well-crafted threat can turn a mild concern into instant blackmail.

Eight Scenarios

Virtually every situation presents an opportunity for weaponized A.I., but each will require different strategies, targets, and techniques. Once a clear objective is put into place, the A.I. will use a series of trial and error processes to find the optimal strategy.

A.I. tools will include incentives, pressures, threats, intimidation, accusations, theft, and blackmail. All can be applied in some fashion to targeted individuals as well as those close to them.

If a $100,000 reward is offered to someone to kidnap an eight-year-old girl, many who pride themselves in being law-abiding citizens will jump at the chance, knowing full well that if they don’t do it, someone else will. They also know that the A.I. will “protect” them and that if they don’t do it, someone not as nice will run with it.

Each of these “games” will be played until a final outcome has been achieved. In reality, there is little difference between this type of game and A.I. playing Alpha Go, Jeopardy, or chess.

1.) Stock Market Manipulation – There are only a small number of highly influential stock market analysts who do all the math for determining the true value of a stock. These people can be influenced without them ever knowing they’re being manipulated. Or they can be outright threatened. This kind of manipulation can be accomplished by making a few key stocks look better than normal and others look worse than normal. Most likely it will involve strategic people placing critical “buy” or “sell” orders at a specific time.

2.) Blackmailing a Judge – Judges will soon find themselves in a particularly vulnerable position. Even with juries present, judges remain the most critical influencer in any case’s outcome. Adjusting a particular A.I. weapon from 1-10 on the subtlety scale, the threat to a judge can range from a bedbug infestation in the jury’s hotel to a bomb threat at the school of the judge’s daughter. Even with the FBI watching, veiled threats and paranoia can become an insidious influencer.

3.) Threatening a Politician – Living in the U.S. where we have nearly 90,000 forms of government (city, state, county, special taxing district, etc.), finding a politician to manipulate is relatively easy. With American style democracy, an elected official that lives in the public eye under constant scrutiny can either be forced to “play ball” or find himself or herself replaced by someone who will. Quite often 1-2 people will control massive budgets, and many of our current checks and balance systems are largely window dressing for what’s really happening in the background.

4.) Hijacking a City – Every city is made up of interdependent systems that function symbiotically with their constituency. Stoplights, water, electric, sewage, traffic control, garbage removal, tax assessment, tax collection, police, and fire departments are just a few of the obvious trigger points. Using one example, if a water treatment plant were crippled, stoplights shut down, and all the power for police and fire departments turned off, a city will be left nearly non-functional until systems could be restored. Once A.I. can disable a single city, it can easily be replicated to affect many more.

5.) Funding a Startup – Whether its corporate funding, venture capital, or angel investors, it all boils down to decision-makers. With the right set of circumstances, every funding situation can be turned into a bidding war, capturing the imagination of a much larger audience of potential users in the process.

6.) Hosting the Olympics – Every two years, cities around the world make bids to the International Olympic Commission to host the Olympic Games. Membership of the IOC consists of 95 active members and 43 honorary members. As with every decision-making group there is an inner circle that wields far more influence, and these individuals can be swayed with aggressive A.I. tactics.

7.) Destroy a Religion – The quickest way to destroy a religion is through scandal and controversy, and while every religious organization already has it’s share, leveraging a series of videos with an incessant string of threats, confessions, and lies can drive a serious wedge between leaders and followers. This will cause a number of splinter groups to form. Other mitigating factors that can speed the demise will be things like significant financial loss, claims of false doctrine, overt favoritism, and theft.

8.) Destroy a Country – At the core of every country are its financial systems. Turning a country into a game board, using currency values as the defining metric, weaponized A.I. could be directed to attack essential communication and power systems. Once those are disabled, the next wave of attacks could be focus on airports, banks, hospitals, grocery stores, and emergency services. Every system has its weakest link and this kind of exploitive weaponry will be relentless until each point of failure is exploited and the currency goes into a freefall.

Key Points of Intimidation

Throughout society there are “people of influence” who are critical for maintaining the systems, business operations, and processes that govern our lives. These individuals become the most “at risk” for becoming a target of weaponized A.I.

1.    Stock Analysts – The value of our entire stock market hinges on the assessment of a few key individuals.

2.    Politicians – Any elected official can be bullied into voting in favor of a specific bill or funding proposal.

3.    Judges – The outcome of most court cases is decided by a single judge.

4.    Newspaper Editors – These people decide what news is important and what makes the front page.

5.    Corporate CEOs – The CEOs are a huge factor in determining the success or failure of a business.

6.    Medical Doctors – Doctors and physicians are among the most respected professions on the planet.

7.    Military Generals – Far beyond the field of war, military generals make far reaching decisions on a daily basis.

8.    Insurance Company Executives – In many insurance coverage situations, they decide who lives and who dies.

Funding Systems

9.    Venture Capitalists – Can a VC be coerced into producing a well-funded term sheet with favorable conditions?

10. Angel Investors – For every VC there are potentially hundreds of angel investors.

11. Bankers – Can bankers be forced to issue a huge loan?

12. Corporate Investors – Since corporations are less personally accountable for investment decisions, their support may be easier to coerce.

13. Accelerators – Winners and losers in an accelerator competition are often only a single vote apart.

14. Grant-Makers – Every philanthropic process boils down to a few decision-makers.

15. Foundations – Virtually every foundation grant has exceptions to the normal funding criteria. In these kinds of scenarios, it all boils down to the judgment call of the gifting few.

16. Sponsors – Many sponsor relationships are worth millions.

Landmark Decisions in the Future

Will our most important decision is the future be decided by well-informed individuals or a heavily biased A.I.?

17. Should cryptocurrencies replace national currencies?

18. Should we have a single world leader?

19. Should dying languages be allowed to live or die?

20. How should life and death decisions be made in the future?

Commandeered Systems

Every major system has the potential of being hijacked by an evil A.I. in the future. Either through the tech itself, the people that control it, or a combination of both, virtually all future systems will be vulnerable.

21. Stock Exchanges

22. Power Plants

23. City Water Supply

24. Security Systems

25. Cloud Storage Systems

26. Airports

27. Prisons

28. Election Systems

Hijackable Equipment

As our equipment becomes more universally connected to the web, commandeered devices will become an ongoing concern. For example, the same drone that can deliver packages can also deliver bombs, poison, and spy on your kids.

29. Flying Drones

30. Driverless Cars

31. Airplanes

32. IoT Devices

33. Delivery Trucks

34. Data Centers

35. Stoplights

36. Smart Houses

Privacy 2.0

Anyone who thought that privacy wasn’t all that important in the past will quickly come to an entirely different conclusion once weaponized A.I. touches them directly.

Privacy has a way of masking our personal foibles and overall weaknesses. Look for an entire new wave of privacy concerns and privacy demands to take center stage over the coming years.

Final Thoughts

Until recently I had largely dismissed the warnings of Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Stephen Hawkings about the dangers of A.I. Yes, the super advanced A.I. that they’re talking about will be problematic on many levels, but we’re still many years away from that being a problem.

The part that I was missing was not artificial intelligence itself, rather the sinister people capable of controlling it in the background.

Weaponized A.I. is coming. The first iteration will be crude and poorly implemented, but the 2nd and 3rd generation of this technology will be far more menacing.

Once again, the greatest tool for fighting weaponized A.I. is more A.I.

The only way to minimize the threat is by upping the ante and creating a more powerful A.I. to combat the dangerous stuff.

We cannot turn back the hands of time, or suddenly ban all further A.I. research. Progress will happen with or without our blessing.

Instead, we must navigate our way through the coming dicey years in the same fashion we’ve worked through other dangerous technologies like nuclear weapons, chemical warfare, and suicide bombers.

It’s never easy, but in the end the benefits will far outweigh the penalties we must endure.

But please don’t think that I have all the answers. Let us know what you think. Will we survive the murky times ahead, or have we gotten ahead of our capabilities and now face a no win situation?

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions for Transforming Your Future



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Peak electricity and 17 seismic forces of change that will make you want to shift careers http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/peak-electricity-and-17-seismic-forces-of-change-that-will-make-you-want-to-shift-careers/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/peak-electricity-and-17-seismic-forces-of-change-that-will-make-you-want-to-shift-careers/#comments Tue, 18 Jul 2017 18:47:26 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=8378

It happened in 2007. Ten years ago the trajectory for electrical use in America peaked and started down a different course, declining for reasons we don’t fully understand yet.

No, this wasn’t a one-time drop but a clear shift, moving in a new downward direction that continues to this day.

There should have been celebrations and parades, even dancing in the streets, but no one noticed.

In much the same way animals, not humans, are able to pick up on weak signals for an impending earthquake, our ability to sense an industry’s peak still mystifies us.

To make matters even more complicated, it may not be the peak.

Our emerging electric car and trucking industries coupled with plummeting battery prices, solar roofs, IoT devices, artificial intelligence, home battery packs, and energy efficient everything are just a few of the interrelated issues that will turn virtually every prediction about our future electrical needs into a low probability forecast before its even mentioned.

Have we reached peak electrical use in the U.S.?

In 1989, Amory Lovins, Founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, spotted a typo – “negawatt” instead of “megawatt” — in a Colorado Public Utilities Commission report and decided to start using “negawatt” as a theoretical unit of conserving power, representing the amount of electrical power saved.

While the term never really caught on, Lovins’ goal of finding more efficient ways to use electricity had begun many years earlier. Art Rosenfeld, a senior staff member at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory known as the “godfather of energy efficiency,” launched a far-reaching campaign promoting energy conservation.

In one of his final interviews before he died, Rosenfeld said, “I’ve often said that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance but the price of energy efficiency is eternal nagging.”

As it turns out, the “nagging era” may have come to an end. We may have turned the corner when it comes to nagging at people to turn lights off.

Per-capita electricity use has now fallen for six years in a row. We’re back to the levels of the mid-1990s, and it would appear we are headed even lower.

Seven charts that will change your understanding of the future of power

For a quick overview of the shifting landscape for electricity, here are seven important charts.

Electricity use in the U.S. peaked in 2007

1.) The Electricity Plateau – The initial drop in electricity use in 2008 and 2009 could be attributed partly to the economic downturn. But the economy grew again in 2010, and every year since. Electricity use in the U.S., meanwhile, is still below its 2007 level, and seems to be flat lining.

The change is even more dramatic if you measure on a per-capita basis:

Per capita electric generation

2.) Past the Peak and Falling – Per-capita electricity use has fallen for six years in a row. We’re now back to the levels of the mid-1990s, and seemingly headed lower.

Kilowatt hours per $100 of real gross domestic product

3.) The Economy Decouples from Electricity – Our digital economy is rapidly decoupling from the electric demands of the industrial era.

Researchers Jonathan Koomey and Richard Hirsh offered five hypotheses for why electricity demand had decoupled from economic growth:

  • State and federal efficiency standards for buildings and appliances have enabled us to get by with less electricity.
  • Increased use of information and communications technologies have also allowed people to conduct business and communicate more efficiently.
  • Higher prices for electricity in some areas have depressed its use.
  • Structural changes in the economy have reduced demand.
  • Electricity use is being underestimated because of the lack of reliable data on how much energy is being produced by rooftop solar panels.
Electric use by sector

4.) Who’s Using the Juice – We’re experiencing some significant structural changes to our economy.

A good indicator is our shift to cloud computing. From 2000 to 2005, electricity use by data centers in the U.S. increased 90%. From 2005 to 2010, the gain was 24%. As of 2014, data centers accounted for 1.8% of U.S. electricity use, according to a 2016 Lawrence Berkeley study, but their electricity demand growth had slowed to a crawl.

Rapid decline of the internal combustion engine

5.) Overtaking Lane – According to Bloomberg researchers, in just eight years electric cars will be cheaper than gasoline vehicles, growing quickly to 530 million electric vehicles globally by 2040.

In this scenario, electricity demand for electric vehicles (EVs) will grow to 1,800 terawatt-hours in 2040, or 5% of global power demand, from 6 terawatt-hours in 2016

Today there’s around 90 gigawatt hours of EV lithium-ion battery manufacturing capacity, and this will grow to 270 gigawatt hours by 2021.

Charging infrastructure may also prove to be a significant bottleneck, potentially slowing growth in key Chinese, U.S. and European markets.

Battery costs plummeting from $1,000 in 2010 to $73 in 2030

6.) More Bang for Your Buck – Lithium-ion cell costs have already fallen by 73% since 2010 and Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts battery innovation will accelerate and lead to an ongoing decline in prices over the next two decades.

The world’s biggest economies—China, the U.S. and Europe—will drive demand for battery powered cars over the next 25 years

7.) A Diminishing OPEC – The global shift toward electric vehicles will create an upheaval in the auto and oil industries, ranging from reduced gasoline demand for large oil companies to collapsing demand for manufacturers of spark plugs and fuel injectors whose products aren’t needed for plug-in cars.

While many traditional car suppliers will be hurt by EV growth, some commodities will get a boost.

  • Graphite demand will soar to 852,000 tons a year in 2030 from just 13,000 tons in 2015
  • Nickel and aluminum demand will both see demand from EVs rise to about 327,000 tons a year from just 5,000 tons in 2015
  • Production of lithium, cobalt and manganese will each increase more than 100-fold
The days of the national electric grid are numbered

17 seismic wildcards that will impact the future of electricity

The future of electricity can best be broken into four fundamental categories – power generation, power distribution, electric storage, and changes in demand.

After looking at the charts above of some of today’s most important trends, it was easy to uncover a few emerging trends that analysts haven’t been considering.

While some of these may only represent a miniscule probability over the next few years, the interplay between emerging technology and social acceptance, coupled with an exponential growth curve or two inserted into the mix, will make the energy industry a truly dicey market to predict over the next 2-3 decades.

Power Generation

1.) Solar shingles, solar roofs, and Powerwalls – Internal projections show Tesla scaling its roof installations to 1 million per year by 2022. That’s about 20% of all roof replacements in the U.S. and 5% globally. With solar shingles and whole-house batteries (Powerwalls) getting cheaper over time, this will be a fascinating “scaling-up industry” to watch over the next couple decades.

2.) 3D printed solar houses – Contour crafting is a large-scale form of 3D printing used in the construction industry. As the technology improves, contour crafting will not only print the structure, but also the wiring, plumbing, bathroom fixtures, kitchen cabinets, insulation and roofing. It’s only a matter of time before we will see solar cells printed into the roofs and sides of buildings as well.

Japan’s proposed space-based power station

3.) Space-based power stations – After Japan’s Fukushima disaster occurred in 2011, an in-depth review of possible options concluded their most viable long-term strategy would be to focus on spaced-based power systems. Japan now has a 25-year plan to build the world’s first 1-gigawatt power plant in space.

4.) Atmospheric energy harvesting – lightning – Capturing the energy of a lightning bolt has been achieved on a small scale in laboratories, but no one has been successful at scaling it up. It only takes one mistake so not a lot of people playing in this space. While still theoretical, many think it will soon be possible, and the ultimate cool job of the future will be to work on a lightning farm.

5.) Thorium-based nuclear power – When it comes to nuclear power, thorium offers several potential advantages over uranium. It’s more plentiful, superior fuel properties, and reduced amounts of nuclear waste. It also has far lower weaponization potential. With research and experimentation already happening in several countries, thorium power has massive potential. As example, India is projecting it can meet as much as 30% of its electrical demands through thorium by 2050.

Power Distribution

6.) Superconductor graphene power lines – My recent column on developing the “world’s first graphene super-conductor power grid“ describes how a superconductor power line will dramatically alter line loss, demand loads, and efficiencies throughout the electric usage spectrum. In my mind, it’s no longer a matter of “if” but “when.”

7.) Home batteries replaced by drones – Once drones are equipped to fly to remote buildings, dock with their battery stations, and perform a fully automated 2-minute replacement, our need to live in a wire-connected world will quickly diminish.

8.) Artificial intelligence and smart utilities – While still in development, A.I. will soon be able to use predictive algorithms to balance grids, anticipate failures, detect hacks, and precisely route power to where it is needed most. These smart systems will soon calculate precise details of every user, analyze a location’s supply and demand behavior, and store or release energy as needed to keep the grid balanced.

Unique and powerful techniques designed for investors, advisors, planners, and strategists

Electric Storage

9.) Large-scale energy storage – There are dozens of methods for storing energy on a large scale including everything from supercapacitors, to flywheels, liquid metal batteries, superconducting magnetic energy storage, grid-oriented batteries, and heat fusion. As battery prices continue to fall, utilities and policymakers are increasingly looking at storage as an alternative to traditional peaking generation.

10.) Explosion of micro-grids – The micro-grid advantage can best be summed up in their freedom to experiment with new forms of energy generation, distribution, and storage. With national grids posing a serious security risk, the proliferation of micro-grids is already underway. Energy derived from solar, tidal, and wind sources are constantly shifting along with time of day, moon phase, season, and random factors such as the weather. For this reason, large-scale energy storage is most likely to find a home on experimental micro-grids.

Changes in Demand

11.) Electric agriculture – Going beyond a farmer’s electric cars are everything from electric tractors, to electric trucks, combines, augers, swathers, bailers, sprayers, and robotic harvesters. The electric version of virtually every piece of ag equipment is already in the planning and development stages.

Electric cargo ships of the future

12.) Electric shipping industry – Cargo ships represent some of the most polluting vehicles on the planet. There will be huge pressure for them to reduce the amount of sludge they dump into the ocean and electric ships are far less disturbing to marine life. However, once electric ships are in use, recharging an entire cargo ship will be no small feat.

13.) Electric airline industry – The airline industry is also hugely polluting and will also be pressured to clean up its act. Since airplanes are very weight-sensitive, there will need to be a number of advancements in battery technology before this becomes feasible on a broad scale.

14.) Electric drone explosion – We’ve already seen massive growth in the drone markets, but over time, the transition from fossil-fuel engines to electric will have a profound affect on the electrical power needs of the emerging drone industry. We will see the first billion drones in the world sometime between 2030-2032.

15.) Surge in off-grid living – The recent surge in interest around sustainable homes, ecocapsules, backyard shedquarters, shipping container homes, and low-impact lifestyles are all driving us towards something that can best be described as “simpler living.” There will always be people who love surrounding themselves with the opulence of their own wealth, but the general trend is in the other direction. Simple, more manageable lives that give us the opportunity to experience life in a more symbiotic fashion.

16.) Disposable houses – 3D printed houses will open the door to low cost structures designed as temporary or disposable houses. In many situations we will move past the “collapsible and movable” to the “grindable and re-printable.” These types of structures will also be off-grid and self-reliant, paving the way towards nomadic lifestyles that leave tiny environmental footprints.

17.) Tube transportation – With an explosion of attention being directed towards tube transportation systems like Hyperloop and ET3, it now seems inevitable that tube transportation infrastructure will be constructed in virtually every country on the planet. This will quickly become the largest infrastructure project in all history, and our ability to manage the power demands for this new form of transportation will become a critical factor in its development.

Final Thoughts

The power industry has already entered a state of disruption, but is ripe for much more. Today’s politics will be a distant memory 2-3 decades from now.

The list above is merely a starting point for those wanting to research the possibilities ahead.

In much of the world, electricity demand is still growing. In China, per-capita electricity use has more than quadrupled since 1999. Still, most other developed countries have experienced a plateauing or decline in electricity use similar to that in the U.S. over the past decade.

More than 80% of our energy today comes from burning fossil fuels, which is both harmful to our environment and unsustainable.

At the same time, wind and solar have proven to be the lowest cost form of electric power generation across a majority of the U.S., even without subsidies. Renewables are already at grid parity and will continue to drop in price.

Electric power will endure to be a battleground industry for decades to come. Our shifting base of technology, startups, lifestyles, culture, and politics will continue to make this a highly unpredictable landscape for the foreseeable future.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions for Transforming Your Future

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Freelancer College :: Blueprint for Disruption http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/blueprint-for-disruption-freelancer-college/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/blueprint-for-disruption-freelancer-college/#respond Mon, 26 Jun 2017 12:12:54 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=8344

Parents often ask me what their kids should be studying in college. The answer, however, is never as straightforward as they’d like because college is not always a good solution.

If a parent’s primary objective is for their kids to find a job, they should drop out today. Colleges aren’t about getting jobs, well, at least not directly. There are many ways to learn job skills but traditional college is usually the slowest and most expensive way to land a job.

In fact, many of the highest paying jobs in fields like computer programming, commercial pilots, cyber security, real-estate brokers, cloud architects, crime scene detectives, and web developers typically don’t require a degree at all.

Virtually any bright student can learn a marketable skill in less than 6 months. This means they could have several years of work experience by the time their counterparts graduate from college.

Once a person has a marketable skill, they can begin to take control their own destiny, and start themselves down the path to becoming a freelancer.

Yes, there’s a big difference between a newbie freelancer and one who’s a total rockstar, but it all begins with taking that first bold step, and that’s where life’s journey starts making sense.

Freelancer college, as I’m envisioning it, will be an intensive one-week course, where students begin this life-altering experience in a room filled with other wannabe freelancers.

As the gig economy grows, every free agent will need to surround themselves with a network of like-minded solopreneurs and the initial classroom training is a great place to start forming these networks.

The first thing that you, as a student, will learn is to take control of your life. As the owner/manager of “you incorporated,” every decision becomes a business decision. Being “in charge” changes how you talk about yourself, who your friends are, buying decisions, and what things become priorities.

The course will guide you through a roadmap of tools, systems, and techniques needed to forge an effective business model. But this is no ordinary roadmap. In so many ways it will become the mother of all roadmaps as it morphs, shifts, and changes with you for the rest of your life.

This should not be thought of as a restrictive pathway to trailblazing a future. Instead, freelancer college will likely become one of the most fertile approaches to continually build your opportunity landscape.

Creativity is a critical component in every freelancer’s toolkit

You don’t need to be an expert

Freelancers come in all shapes and sizes, and few young people will have the critical skills to command a high salary. But that’s okay.

Easy entry points are always day labor positions like offering a home laundry service, moving furniture, mowing lawns, walking dogs, or personal concierge.

  • Home laundry services can easily grow into a variety of household management services where 3-5 households become a full-time business.
  • Moving furniture can quickly transition from you doing the physical work, to you managing the process, offering additional staging and relocation services to expand the offering.
  • Mowing lawns is a great way to begin a career as a freelance arborist, botanist, or professional groundskeeper.
  • Walking dogs will often set the stage for a variety of freelance pet services like dog grooming, vet runs, and doggy spas and vacations.
  • Personal concierge is a perfect door opener for offering personal protection services, publicist, reputation manager, or life coach.

In each of these situations, a handful of good clients can launch a productive freelance career.

Being a freelancer will involve a lifetime of learning

Freelancer college learning modules

As with every multi-discipline form of training there are a variety of topics to focus on. Here are a few critical skills that most people will need early on.

  • Fan club management – Every person has a fan club, a circle of friends who cheer them along life’s journey. Developing a productive “friends network,” and learning how to grow, manage, and interact with it, becomes an enormously important piece of the freelancer equation.
  • How to create a website – Every freelancer will need a website along with good copy and at least one video. An effective website will leave many impressions highlighting unique characteristics, but most will need a crystal clear explanation of what you’re selling, great testimonials, past client list, and some form of “buy now” button.
  • Marketing & lead generation 101 – Who are your ideal clients? Where do they live? What magazines do they read, what TV shows do they watch, what income do they make, and where is the best place to randomly bump in to them? There are many “leads groups” to help introduce you to the people you need to know.
  • How to produce low cost videos – Posting a video or series of videos on Facebook, YouTube, and your website is an essential part of getting started.
  • How to price your services – While you may think you’re offering a valuable service, clients will often have a different opinion. What’s the best way to “sell” them on you as well as the service you’re offering?
  • Creating a business proposal – Who is in charge of the deal? If you submit a proposal, you have the advantage of controlling the terms of the deal.
  • Contract negotiation – Having a boilerplate, fill-in-the-blanks contract is an easy way to start, but it also needs to give the impression that you know what you’re doing.
  • Understanding legal entities – Should your business be set up as a sole proprietorship, partnership, C Corp, S Corp, LLP, or LLC? Should it be a for-profit or non-profit business, and what are the advantages and disadvantages?
  • Networking tips and tricks – Your first client is only one networking event away. Learning to meet and greet prospective clients is indeed an art form.
  • Social media management – Social media is not only a business tool but also a service you can offer to prospective clients.
  • Overview of back office technology – How to purchase and manage your business tech. The right configuration of tools and gear can save you huge amounts of time.
  • How to build a referral network – Even a half dozen people who regularly refer clients to you can be worth their weight in gold. But referrals go both ways so be prepared to give more than you get.
  • Accounting 101 – What’s the best way to create invoices and track expenses? If you’re not good at managing your own books, find someone who is.
  • How to manage the emotional side of business – Rejection is never easy, and getting criticism and bad reviews on Yelp, Google, and Facebook is often hard to take. Finding a support group to keep your head strait is critical. Virtually every good entrepreneur has someone they can lean on for advice, solve problems, and answer critical questions.
Some freelance careers allow you to work anywhere at any time

Ongoing education

It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking colleges know what’s best for you. After all, they’ve been educating tens of thousand of people for hundreds of years, so they must be doing something right.

Sadly, colleges don’t know what’s best for you, only you do.

That’s what sets Freelancer College apart because it’s all about you and turning your talents into marketable business opportunities.

Millions of people around the globe are opting for greater independence in their work lives. As a result, they are joining the gig economy. Advances in technology have made it easier to launch, grow, and manage these types of businesses than ever before.

Here are a few stats about the growing gig economy:

  • Researchers project that over half of the working U.S. population will be part of the gig economy within the next five years.
  • One-third of U.S. office workers have a second job and more than half (56%) predict they will have multiple jobs in the future.
  • More than one-third of Millennials are already independent workers.
  • By 2025, over 75% of the workforce will be comprised of Millennials.
  • 80% of freelancers use social media as a means of finding work.
  • Researchers have concluded that nearly all of the net job growth in the economy since 2005 has been in freelance and alternative work arrangements.
  • The European Union saw a 45% increase in the number of independent workers from 2012 to 2013.
  • India’s independent workforce, the second largest in the world, currently has about 40% of the world’s freelance jobs.
There’s no limit to what you can accomplish

Accomplishment-based education

The best learning always occurs when you have a project where you can instantly apply the things you learn.

Writing a book, receiving a patent, or starting a business are all noteworthy symbols of achievement in today’s world. But being the author of a book that sells 50,000 copies, or inventing a product that a million people buy, or building a business that grosses over $10 million in annual sales are all significant accomplishments far more meaningful than their academic equivalents.

Most of what happens in today’s universities is based on “symbols of achievement,” not actual accomplishments.

Academic competitions pit students against each other to produce results that best match their teacher’s expectations. Only rarely will they produce anything noteworthy.

Completing a class is nothing more than a symbol of achievement. Similarly, completing many classes and receiving a diploma is noteworthy, but still only a vague representation of a real accomplishment.

No, this doesn’t mean that classroom training has no value. But, what we achieve in a classroom is at least one level of abstraction removed from a real-world accomplishment.

In the business world, it’s only an accomplishment if someone is willing to pay for it.

The global marketplace is not looking for people who have learned how to be great students. It wants results.

How much are you willing to invest in your future self?

Criteria for graduation

Those who complete Freelancer College will get a certificate. But to receive a “Master Freelancer Certification,” students will need to demonstrate a definable market niche that closely aligns with their own personal expertise, and demonstrate certain criteria such as:

  • Working with at least five clients per month
  • Generating at minimum $10,000 every month for 12 months straight.

Ironically, those who manage to do this won’t really care about receiving the “Master Freelancer Certification.” That type of achievement will pale in comparison to their own real-world accomplishments.

Doing everything yourself can be exhausting

Using other freelancers to help

Being a freelancer doesn’t mean you’re flying solo all the time.

The Internet is a very sophisticated communications tool that enables us to align the needs of business with the talent of individuals in far more precise ways than ever before. So rather than employ a full time person, companies will “hire” someone for 2 months, 2 weeks, 2 days, or even 2 hours.

While our tools for working with this level of precision are not quite as efficient as they should be, it’s only a matter of time.

It will also be a short time before we’ll have services that pair freelancers with other freelancers. We only have so many hours in a day, so leveraging the talent of others will become a routine part of every free agent’s toolbox.

Companies are also losing the restrictive notions of “place.” For many, the need for a physical location is either dwindling or disappearing. Business is becoming very fluid in how it operates, and the driving force behind this liquefaction is a digital marketplace that connects buyers with sellers faster and more efficiently than ever in the past.

Freelance thinking is about to disrupt colleges and businesses alike

Final Thoughts

I often think about the Ritz Carlton motto, “We are Ladies and Gentlemen serving Ladies and Gentlemen.”

People who hire a freelancer have respect for your abilities. At the same time, with any good relationship, you’ll have respect for the work they’re trying to accomplish.

Over time you’ll be able to influence the nature of projects, as well as the path to accomplishment, and take pride in your achievements.

Rather than settling for whoever wanted to hire you, you have the ability to migrate to the top quickly, avoiding all the infighting and office politics involved in climbing the corporate ladder, sway people’s thinking, and make a meaningful difference along the way.

No, being a freelancer doesn’t come with health insurance, vacation time, or a 401k plan. But what it does offer is far greater.

You’re in control so you get to decide who you want as a client, when you’re available for work, and most often, how much you’ll get paid. Yes, sometimes you’ll get fired from a project, but you can also fire your client.

Freelancing done right will give you a far higher salary, a far more influential circle of friends, and most importantly, the ability to make a difference.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions for Transforming Your Future

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60 future crimes that don’t exist today http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/60-future-crimes-that-dont-exist-today/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/60-future-crimes-that-dont-exist-today/#comments Mon, 05 Jun 2017 13:36:16 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=8317

Most of our heroes were rule breakers. Yes, virtually everyone that holds a prominent place in our history books was a rebel, rule breaker, and occasional criminal.

No, I’m not saying these people should have been arrested, but I think it’s safe to assume that others may have been imprisoned and perhaps even killed for committing similar crimes.

But crimes in the future will require even greater levels of sophistication. As technology explodes around us, rule-breakers will have far more rules to consider in their trailblazing efforts.

We are witnessing a decline in traditional criminal groups, a void that is being filled by a growing virtual criminal underground made up of individual criminal entrepreneurs, who come together on a project-by-project basis. Seasoned criminals will lend their knowledge, experience and expertise to the growing ‘crime-as-a-service’ business model.

This is already happening in the area of cybercrime, but will soon infect virtually every level of ‘traditional’ organized crime, involving everything from designer drugs, to circumventing immigration laws, to large-scale counterfeiting of brand name products.

As we consider the forces at play, I’d like to step you through a number of future crimes and the emerging technologies that will be used to perform them.

Future crimes will attract a whole new breed of criminal!

Future crimes that don’t exist today

The same technologies that enable us to 3D print our own guns, also gives us the ability to create our own drones, intimidation engines, signal jammers, spyware, rockets, and gene hacking equipment. Virtually every new technology, created with all the best of intentions, can and will be used against us at some time in the future.

Suffice it to say that criminal minds are working overtime to concoct new and unusual opportunities for exploiting each of these emerging crime fields.

Drone offenses

Future drones will need to comply with thousands of unknown laws and regulations that are still in the process of being written.

1.) Transport of illegal substances – Bombs, poison, drugs, body parts, etc.

2.) Weaponized drones – Equipped with guns, lasers, Tasers, flamethrowers, and more.

3.) Voyeurism – Inappropriate spying on people in their residences or in restricted personal spaces.

4.) Disruptive marketing – Traffic-disrupting in-your-face messaging.

5.) Illegal shooting or destruction of drones – The anti-drone crowd is growing.

6.) Noise violations – Future drones with speakers and sound amplification systems attached (think flying concert speakers), can be turned into destructive weapons.

7.) Drone bullying – Acts of intimidation, threatening moves, or displaying images to shame or embarrass someone.

8.) Drones killing other drones – Drones specifically designed to capture or destroy other drones.

Mixed reality distortionaries

Imagine a mixed reality game showing the world we live in, only with visual overlays that make people around us unwitting players and pawns that we attempt to influence from inside this altered reality adventure. Think of it as the game of life, operating with a completely different rulebook.

9.) Mixed reality games designed to score points by injuring others – Users score points for physical bruises, verbal abuse, public shaming, and even physically disabling or killing someone.

10.) Purposefully distorted realities – Often times people stand to profit when they can get clients or customers to think something is wrong. Whether it’s visually distorting the dental work needed, the amount of treatment required for a medical condition, or your role in a criminal activity, there is a special place in hell for those who perversely benefit from the suffering of others.

History distorters

We’ve long dealt with historical revisionists and blatant fabricationists, but as we move into the age of super news-fakers, it will become increasingly difficult to separate fact from fiction. Over time we will develop a technology that enables us to replay an unalterable visual representations of past events. But even technologies like that can be abused in new and unusual ways.

11.) Bald-faced character assassination – Piecing together bad snippets of anyone’s life can make them look like a fool. We all have the frailties of being human, and good judgment is everybody’s shortcoming at one time or another.

12.) Blatant revisionists – For some, painting false realities, drawing false conclusions, and reimagining past events will become a new criminal art form.

13.) False memes – Perpetuators of false research, polls, and studies.

14.) Counterfeit conclusionists – The fine art of reaching false conclusions. Since it’s an asymmetrical relationship between researchers and those consuming the information, scientists need to be held to a higher standard.

How long before everyone becomes blackmailable?

Social blackmailers

In much the same way Google’s personalized marketing system delivers targeted ads, an intimidation engine can be invented for the sole purpose of delivering highly targeted threats. As cyber crime escalates, we run the risk of having our social structures deteriorate into invisible mafia-style communities with the blackmailers ruling the blackmailees. While most will be doing it for money, others for revenge, few, if any, will be capable of understanding the true behind-the-scenes turf wars taking place.

15.) Threatening children – With social media it will become increasingly easy to intimidate someone with the threat of harming their child, friend, or loved one.

16.) Threat of isolation – We’re all social creatures by nature and the threat of alienating, and thereby isolating, us from our friends may be a fate worse than death.

Artificial intelligence plagues

It will become easy to rely on artificial intelligence to make most of our decisions for us – where to go, who to meet, what music to listen to, and even how to entertain our kids. But what happens when our A.I. goes bad or is coopted by those with sinister motives?

17.) Traffic accidents – Since driverless cars and drones will be managed by A.I., corrupted software could disrupt the entire transportation grid through a series of crashes, accidents, and massive traffic jams.

18.) Operating system amnesia – It’s what happens when information losses, alterations, and purposeful distortions take place.

19.) Power and data outages – Brownouts, blackouts, and information sieges designed to cut certain people off from the utilities, help, and services they need.

20.) Analysis paralysis – A.I. will soon become a crucial part of our daily decision-making processes, but system “overload” hacks, equivalent to “denial of service attacks,” will cause enormous problems.

Legacy revisionists

Few things in life are more disturbing than having a person’s legacy destroyed after they’re dead. Character assassination of dead people can be relatively easy, with living children being the primary subjects of this kind of attack.

21.) False motives, false intentions – If a person is no longer alive to defend their actions, it’s relatively simple to distort their motivations.

22.) Made-up involvements – With social media, our circle of loosely associated friends and acquaintances has expanded exponentially, so contriving intimate affairs with virtually any other person on the planet becomes a relatively easy hack.

23.) Fabricated consequences – Altering cause and effect relationships has become a common instrument used in political circles to twist people’s thinking to draw the wrong conclusion.

24.) Rewriting conclusions using incorrect assessments of impact – Most spin masters have a massive set of tools in their toolbox, including the ability to turn any tiny blip on the radar screen of life into the appearance of a full blown nuclear-style holocaust.

Space crimes

Every military strategist knows the extraordinary advantage a destructive person could have directing an attack from a near earth vantage point, and it’s only a matter of time until amateur rocketeers are capable of exploiting this opportunity.

25.) Launch-from-space EMP blast – Capable of bombing a country’s financial systems into the stone ages.

26.) Launch-from-space pandemic – Deadly contagions and viral outbreaks will be easier than ever to fabricate, distribute, and infect over the coming decades.

27.) Launch-from-space communication blackouts – As we become more reliant upon data/voice communications, our key points of vulnerabilities become increasingly obvious.

28.) Launch-from-space incendiary bombs – One carefully directed blast could cause immeasurable damage.

Robot crimes

Black hat robots are coming. With our growing imbalance between the super rich and the super poor, a likely scenario will be a scaling up of techno-stealth warfare of the clandestine kind, with black hat technologies used to disrupt our systems, industries, and government in new and unusual ways.

29.) Black hat drones, black hat robots, black hat car crashers, and black hat data manipulators – Terms like this will soon become a common part of every future criminal’s vocabulary.

30.) Hacker psycho-bots – One slightly deranged psycho-bot can easily be a thousand times more destructive than a single suicide bomber today.

Cryptocurrency miscreants

Cryptocurrencies have become the perfect tool for hiding transactions. As an example, Monero is a cryptocurrency that was launched in 2014 with enhanced privacy features. Monero leverages identity-obscuring ring signatures to paint a super-confusing picture of which funds have been sent by whom and to whom.

31.) Secret transactions – Cryptocurrencies open the door for truly secret communications and money transfers.

32.) Clandestine wealth storage – It becomes impossible to deter criminal activity when there’s no way to understand how the transactions are made and how the money is being stored.

CRISPR gene hacking

Genetic engineering has long promised cures for diseases and general improvements for the human condition, and CRISPR has emerged as the gene designer’s tool of choice for making it happen. At the same time, gene manipulation is a tool that can be used in all the wrong ways.

33.) Creating destructive new life forms – We have no idea how harmful new life forms can and will be.

34.) Fabricating super contagious new diseases – This will include anything that compromises the health, security, or long-term viability of people.

35.) Sadistic human editing – Without checks and balances we can expect fringe scientists to attempt risky schemes such as adding multiple sex organs, heightened levels of fear, anxiety, paranoia, or self-destruction.

36.) Super-baby hackers – People wanting to make a name for themselves will test extreme theories by designing babes with four legs, five eyes, grotesquely large heads, super short or super tall, etc.

How long will our brains be safe?

Brain hackers

We like to think of our own mind as a safe haven for our thoughts, but what if it isn’t? What happens when our own grey matter becomes hackable.

37.) Implanting false memories – As our understanding of the human brain improves, hacking memories or inducing memory blackouts may become a common occurrence.

38.) Merged memories – Without our knowing, our minds could simply become co-mingled with someone else. The voices in our head may be coming from an elderly French woman with no understanding of who we are.

39.) Using false directives to supersede our free will – Our highly valued free will may not be so free after all. We may be forced to commit crimes even if we physically resist.

40.) Embedding dominant personalities – For domineering criminals, if we ever object to what they’re doing, an embedded dominant personality will overrule our objections and force us to conform.

Time crimes

Sitting needlessly at stoplights, or watching the minutes tick away as we wait in some line, or being forced to fill out yet another form, our precious time is being coopted by everyone from inconsiderate businesses, to overbearing government, to painful security checks at the airport.

Little by little, whatever tiny amount of control we thought we had over our day becomes infested with new life-sucking time-barnacles that congest our mind and adds surface-scratching aggregate to the smooth day we had planned. Like a leaky sieve carrying our daily time supply, however much we started with is never even close to what we end up with.

If someone steals our money, it’s an obvious crime. So why isn’t it an equally obvious crime if someone needlessly squanders our time?

41.) Time scarcity laws – Needlessly wasting our time will soon become a crime.

42.) Lost time penalties – Since time is a scarce commodity we will soon see time penalties to reimburse for lost time.

43.) Onerous time-limit laws – Very often people are forcing us to fail by creating situations with “far too little time to make something happen.” When situations fail a “reasonableness standard,” it will be considered a criminal act.

44.) Destructive Deja vu – Will we soon have the power to cause someone’s life to happen in random order, shifting from childhood, to retirement, to teen dating, to job loss, to your deathbed? Time hackers can be a vicious lot.

Driverless terrorists

There will be little need for suicide bombers in the future as the hacking of driverless vehicles will open the door to a whole new set of perils.

45.) Destruction fanatics – Driverless vehicles equipped with bombs, dangerous animals, chemical agents, Saran gas, etc.

46.) Child abduction/kidnapping – With kids traveling unescorted to their schools, friends, or after-school activity, an abduction is only a hacker’s algorithm away.

47.) Communication jammers – Future communication jammers may be totally undetectable with their ability to block all forms of light, heat, sound along with virtually every fragment of the visible and invisible spectrum.

48.) Self-destructing fear generators – Think in terms of mobile land mines designed to intimidate people, blatantly obvious, casually driving through neighborhoods, but set to explode if anyone messes with them.

Megaproject manipulators

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 along with these mega-investments comes a new breed of money manipulators and con artists hoping to capitalize on flaws in the implementation process.

49.) False job claims – Most countries will be heavily invested in keeping their people employed so most proposals will come with bogus job claims, something that is not easy to prove until after the fact.

50). Deceptive economic benefits – Claims of large-scale economic benefit are always attractive to politicians, but good intentions do not make viable business operations.

51.) Fabricated need – Infrastructure is usually an easy sell, especially when existing infrastructure is failing, but bogus “need” is a slippery slope that giant project con men will exploit.

52.) Fictitious accounting – The startup world has been a magnet for those who can make unattainable number look doable, and the world of megaprojects is creating an even stronger magnet.

Industrial genocide

All industries are a bell curve with a beginning, middle, and an end. Yes, all industries will eventually end.

Along the path of our increasingly volatile business landscape will be many winners and losers. As a result, industries on the verge of gasping their last breath, will try to reinvent themselves in the role of a viable new industry. Many will be able to accomplish this unless there’s menacing people causing interference.

Invariably the demise of certain industries will benefit one country over another, turning industrial warfare into a new criminal battlefield sanctioned by governments.

53.) Manipulate global demand – When the buyers are forced to go away, an industry will simply cease to exist.

54.) Remove financial backing – Refer to my comments on blackmail to understand how financiers can be manipulated into backing away from a deal.

55.) Hording of parts or materials causing costs to skyrocket – Most successful products are formed around critical components that are often hard to make and hard to get. Arranged shortages become an easy pinch point in a manufacturer’s supply chain.

56.) Causing all stocks in a specific industry to tank – We’ve only scratched the surface on fake news. Well-crafted rumors, designed to spawn other rumors, can easily force even the best stocks to slide. In the future it won’t take much to remove the valuation floor altogether, sending stocks into a total freefall.

When the darknet goes super dark

Have you ever run across a situation so frustrating that you wish you could hire a “fixer?”

Maybe it has to do with gangs moving into your neighborhood, or the local slumlord not willing to repair a dangerous situation, or a local politician taking bribes, or finding out that your husband is also married to someone else in another state.

My guess is that we’ve all run into problems that are outside of our ability to deal with and we need help. But the help we need is not the normal kind. We don’t have millions to throw at lawyers and we don’t have the time, patience, or resources to go though official channels.

Reasons like this are why the darknet has evolved into a place where less-scrupulous people offer less-scrupulous solutions. But the darknet has the potential to go super dark.

57.) Destroy the economy of an entire country – This is already happening on certain levels. By adding a few new tools, this will only get easier.

58.) Instigate a massive natural disaster – In the future, our ability to control hurricanes, earthquakes, hailstorms, or locust infestations will all be within reach.

59.) Forcing a nuclear power plant to self-destruct – Every new technology gives master manipulators additional capabilities.

60.) Remove a world leader from office – Once the playground of secret government agencies, the super puppet-masters of the future need only make a down payment on the super darknet.

Will the world become a safer or far more dangerous place in the future?

Final thoughts

Oddly enough, the reaction to most future crimes will transition from “Oh my god!” to “What the hell just happened?”

On one hand we’re putting more and more power into the hands of an individual. On the other, we are witnessing something of an arms race with governments and enforcement agencies pushing intrusiveness to whole new levels. This can be both good and bad.

It’s good if we catch the bad guys before their sinister plot unfolds, bad if we don’t want the government constantly peering over our shoulder.

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

This is where the ‘crime-as-a-service’ business model will evolve into sophisticated business operations with literally thousands of unwitting people engaged on multiple levels, but few if any knowing the exact nature of the plan for deniability purposes.

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

In much the same way we never want to show up with a knife for a gunfight, our police forces are a terrible match for tomorrow’s criminal undergrounds. We are a long ways from having the right tools and tech needed to deal with tomorrow’s criminal enterprises.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

Author of “Epiphany Z – 8 Radical Visions for Transforming Your Future

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