DaVinci Institute – Futurist Speaker http://www.futuristspeaker.com DaVinci Institute – Futurist Speaker Wed, 17 Jan 2018 17:47:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 100,000 new micro industries to be created over the next two decades http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/100000-new-micro-industries-to-be-created-over-the-next-two-decades/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/100000-new-micro-industries-to-be-created-over-the-next-two-decades/#comments Tue, 16 Jan 2018 17:13:07 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=8624

Every major industry today was started as a micro industry. Everything from steel, to photography, oil, airlines, electricity, automobiles, pharmaceuticals, and search engines all worked their way into existence from a tiny starting point.

Many of the oldest ones like steel, automotive, and pharmaceuticals took centuries to grow into the massive global industries they are today. But those created with digital technologies like search engines and smart phones sprang to life in only a few years.

Countless businesses are already feeling the first waves of disruption as industry veterans are hoping to navigate the turbulent waters ahead. As always, it much easier to visualize what goes away than what comes next.

In his 2006 book, Long Tail, author Chris Anderson said, “When the tools of production are available to everyone, everyone becomes a producer.” 

While much of Anderson’s thinking was focused on 3D printing and flying drones, virtually every emerging technology offers an innovative playground for makers, inventors, and startup junkies.

100,000 New Micro Industries

Over the coming two decades we will be witnessing an unprecedented wave of innovation and creativity driven by new tools of production. During this time we will see an explosion of over 100,000 new micro industries that will employ hundreds of millions of people.

As example, the global market for shoes is 21 billion annually. Within five years, 5% of these will fall into the category of smart shoes. That means in just a few years we will be producing over 1 billion smart shoes every year.

During that same time we’ll begin seeing a new era of industrial grade scanners, 3D printers, thousands of new printable materials, and an equal number of new sensors and data collection devices.

This means that virtually anyone with a passion for shoes can launch their own micro footwear industry. Even carving out a tiny niche selling 2,500 smart shoes a year at $200 each is enough to launch a sustainable half-million-dollar micro industry.

In the shoe industry alone, 10,000 startups selling 2,500 shoes a year will only amount to 25 million shoes in a 21-billion shoe marketplace. That’s little more than a rounding error for the current industry.

With our evolving new pallet for shoe designers, we will likely see super niche markets for diabetic shoes, lacrosse players, steel-toed occupations, hockey players, sailors, sleep apnea, mountain climbers, gymnasts, amputees, window washers, and organ players. There may even be special shoes for every known allergy, self-navigating shoes for the directionally impaired, dog shoes, cat shoes, and shocker shoes for correcting certain additions.

The smartest of smart shoes will even come to you when you call them by name.

Since it will soon become easy to summon a driverless car, it will no longer be necessary to own one, leaving the garage empty. An empty garage tends to be a magnet for all the junk that accumulates over time, but it also represents an opportunity, an opportunity to become something else. And this will lead to a number of possible micro industries.

One option is to remodel two and three-car garages into AirBNB rentals that you operate yourself, allowing you can make a tidy extra income on the side. Another option is to work with Marriott, Hyatt, or Wyndham and create a branded rental as part of the new distributed city experience they’re working on.

An empty garage can also be rented as a startup space or creative space for painters, sculptors, inventors, or musicians. Much like a distributed hotel operation it can also be part of a distributed storage operation.

88 Examples with our New Tools of Production

The following examples are intended to give you a creative launchpad for how to think about these emerging micro industries.

Every micro industry will be defined by a few key startups that define and demonstrate a functional business model and prove a specific market segment.

Driverless Technology

1.    Speed dating – Random people enter a driverless vehicle and speed around while getting to know each other.

2.    Mobile retail storefronts – As an owner of a mobile retail store, you write your own rules about store hours, location, products, and service offerings.

3.    Mobile grocery stores – Niche food selection services such as bread shops, fruit shops, vegetable shops, etc.

4.    Mobile banks – As branch banks disappear, mobile banks may very well take their place.

5.    Mobile repair businesses – Our repair culture is set to go hi-tech with things like an Apple Genius Bar on wheels, IoT installations, hacker-proofing of houses, etc.

6.    Mobile medical services – Urgent care on wheels.

7.    Mobile conversation salons – Lonely people are always looking for a way to fit in. With mobile conversation salons, you sign up for whatever discussion topic you’re interested in and the driverless RV will let you know how soon it can pick you up.

8.    Mobile gaming teams – Gaming moves to a whole new level when 6-12 rowdy players team up in a mobile setting to play Destiny, Wolfenstein, Call of Duty, or Assassin’s Creed. Much like flight attendants on an airplane, roving waitresses will offer an assortment of food, snacks, and cocktails to the participants.

Flying Drones

As we move past the hobbyist era of flying drones we will witness an eruption of niche startups that will serve as the anchors for trailblazing new industries.

9.    Real-time terrain modeling

10. Policing drones

11. Gaming drones

12. Security drones

13. News media drones

14. Mixed reality recording drones

15. Canary in a coalmine drones

16. Bird herding drones

Ground-Based Drones

Most people tend to overlook the possibilities for the less sexy ground-based drones.

17. Night delivery drones – Delivery companies will be able to achieve a 10X increase in stops per hour based on off-hour delivery times.

18. Pizza prep, cook, and delivery drones

19. Drone delivery boxes – Large mailboxes for the package delivery industry.

20. Drone repair services – When drones break down in the field, they will require a mobile/drone repair service

21. Data collection drones

22. Invisible fence drones

23. Eyes-on-the-problem drones

24. Drone jousting matches

Drone Command Centers

As the drone industry matures, many organizations will transition from one-off drones to fleets of drones. These fleet of drones will require their own unique command center to manage the duties and tasks of these machines.

25. City command centers

26. Police command centers

27. University command centers

28. Farmers/agriculture command centers

29. Prison command centers

30. News station command center

31. Ski resort command center

32. Theme park command center

Sensor Technology

Every year the MEMs and sensor industry finds new ways to detect different aspects of the world around us. These sensors give us insight into the overall quality of the environments around us.

33. Thermal inspection sensors

34. Mold monitoring sensors

35. Personal mood sensors

36. Hair health monitoring sensors

37. Sleep quality sensors

38. Smell sensors (periodic table of smells)

39. Harmful animal sensors

40. Impending danger sensors

3D Printing

Over the coming decades we will find tens of thousands of ways to make micro improvements in all the materials, scanning, and printing processes associated with 3D printing.

41. Food printers

42. Ice printers

43. Select-your-ingredients candy bar printers

44. Shoe printers

45. Jewelry printers

46. Clothing printers

47. Purse printers

48. Pillow printers

Contour Crafting

Large-scale 3D printing used in the construction industry is called contour crafting.

49. Gazebo printers

50. Stage printers

51. Bridge printers

52. House printers

53. Commercial building printers

54. Statue (sculpture) printers

55. Storage cube printers

56. Park bench printers


Everything we do with money today will be reinvented in the emerging cryptocurrency era.

57. Crypto banks

58. Crypto insurance

59. Crypto loans

60. Crypto coaches and advisors

61. Crypto wealth managers

62. Crypto cops and fraud investigators

63. Crypto identity protection specialists

64. Crypto tax specialists

VR-AR Mixed Reality

The immersive and semi-immersive forms of engagement that takes place in mixed reality will begin to uncover thousands of seemingly little applications over the coming decades.

65. VR-AR therapy – Cure phobias, stress, anxiety, and traumatic experiences.

66. VR-AR education and training – Learn by doing, but with a teacher/coach to help guide you.

67. VR-AR news – Experience the news first hand.

68. VR-AR gaming – Thousands of new games will soon leverage the VR-AR experience.

69. VR-AR movies – Immerse yourself into the storytelling experience.

70. VR-AR haptic experiences – Feel the experience via sports, dangerous situations,

71. VR-AR vacations – Go there without being there.

72. VR-AR coaching – Having smart people looking over your shoulder.

Artificial Intelligence

If we think of AI as a talent-enhancing tool, we can begin to imagine entire new industries surrounding the creative arts.

73. AI-enhanced songwriters

74. AI-enhanced sculptors

75. AI-enhanced writers

76. AI-enhanced architects

77. AI-enhanced VR storytellers

78. AI-enhanced swarmbot management systems

79. AI-enhanced puzzle-makers

80. AI-enhanced performance artists


Most people have heard about blockchain in tandem with Bitcoin’s rise as the flagship of cryptocurrencies. However, blockchain is more than just bitcoin, it’s a method of tracking transactions using technology that could prove to be revolutionary.

81. Blockchain voting systems

82. Blockchain auditing systems

83. Blockchain quality assurance systems

84. Blockchain smart contracts

85. Blockchain supply chain management

86. Blockchain ethics management systems

87. Blockchain food tracking systems

88. Blockchain wealth management systems

Final Thoughts

Micro industries will range from manufacturing products, to collecting data, designing systems, advising, coaching, monitoring, building, disassembling, and reinventing business in unique and different ways.

With the help of thousands of collaborators, micro industries will spring to life around niches far too small for existing industries to care about. But is in these minuscule advances that great opportunities take root.

A simple coffee mug can be redesigned in thousands of different ways. The same holds true for every toothbrush, piece of clothing, ink pen, lamp, chair, and hundreds of other frequently bought consumer products.

We are entering an unusually creative period of human history. Those who embrace change on a massive scale will be best equipped to flourish during the coming decades.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

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

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12 mind-blowing AI advances and 12 critical takeaways to put AI in perspective http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/12-mind-blowing-ai-advances-and-12-critical-takeaways-to-put-ai-in-perspective/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/job-opportunities/12-mind-blowing-ai-advances-and-12-critical-takeaways-to-put-ai-in-perspective/#comments Wed, 03 Jan 2018 21:50:49 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=8606

It was rare to find a tech columnist last year that didn’t make some reference to artificial intelligence. But it was also rare to find a writer who could clearly differentiate between the hype and true relevance of these accomplishments.

Keep in mind, even after decades of tech progress, we still get lost with our GPS, our digitally translated documents are often unreadable, and our smartphones still drop calls.

Even relatively simple computational tasks like scanning documents with optical character recognition is still not 100% accurate.

Still, many well meaning thought leaders have issued impassioned warnings of the dangers of general AI, which is not anywhere in sight. This does not mean we are without danger, just not that kind of danger. Not yet.

Perhaps the earliest dangers will come on the job front. The efficiencies that AI gives us will eliminate the need for many tasks, and even though many will be tedious jobs, working in undesirable conditions that few can point to as their dream position, they do serve as a current basis for employment, affecting countless lives.

At the same time, few jobs are truly secure with most continually morphing along with their industries. 70% of the tasks software engineers did in 2000 didn’t even exist in 1990.

Farmers, switchboard operators, and assembly-line workers in the 20th century were replaced by computer specialists, accountants, and dental hygienists. Over the coming decades we’ll see drone command center operators, data optimizers, experience designers, and other jobs that we can’t yet imagine.

Millions of unemployed workers will need to be retrained, but we don’t have a great track record here. With the vast majority of higher ed money going to colleges, the U.S. government spends a smaller share of resources on retraining than all but two other OECD (Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

12 mind-blowing advances made by AI

It’s important to consider the dishwasher analogy. While dishwashers do offer significant efficiencies, their role in the average household is quite different than what was originally intended. In addition to being dishwashing machines, they provide an out-of-sight staging area for dirty dishes and a higher bar for all-around kitchen cleanliness.

With AI, rather than witnessing a mass elimination of jobs, we will likely see a higher bar – more thorough analysis, more control, and more certainty in the way jobs are performed.

With that in mind, here are some of the mind-blowing advances made by AI over the past year.

1.) Self-taught AI beats doctors at predicting heart attacks

As most doctors will tell you, our tools for predicting a patient’s health are no match for the complexity of the human body. Heart attacks are particularly hard to anticipate. Stephen Weng, an epidemiologist at the University of Nottingham in the United Kingdom showed that computers capable of teaching themselves perform far better than established medical processes, significantly increasing prediction rates. Once implemented, the new method will save thousands, perhaps even millions of lives a year.

2.) NASA uses A.I. to discover of two new planets

Scanning space is intensely boring work. For this reason, NASA tried a new approach and used machine learning to discover two new planets. Working with old data from the Kepler space telescope, it was able to locate two new additions to our galaxy. This wasn’t the first time researchers applied AI to sift through the massive amount of data NASA’s telescopes collect, but it is a promising example of how neural networks can leverage even some of the weakest signs of distant worlds. Thanks to AI, NASA discovered a whole new planetary system.

3.) AI is learning what makes you cry at the movies

AI is no expert at human emotions, but some visionary filmmakers have found a way to use it to gain insights on how to increase a story’s emotional pull. Through this process they were able to identify musical scores or visual images that help trigger the right feelings at the right time! In the storytelling industry, understanding the cause and effect relationships between stimuli triggers and human reactions is a powerful tool.

4.) Using AI to converts images of food into a list of ingredients

Researchers at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory have developed an AI algorithm to analyze food photos and match them with a list of ingredients and recipes. Starting with more than a million annotated recipes from online sites, their neural network sifted through each list of ingredients and a number of images associated with it. In the future, this kind of tool will help people learn to cook, count calories, and track our eating habits.

5.) Amazon develops an AI fashion designer

Amazon has developed an algorithm that can design clothing by analyzing a series of images, copying the style, and then apply it to new garments generated from scratch. In-house researchers are working on several machine-learning systems that will help provide an edge when it comes to spotting, reacting to, and perhaps even shaping new fashion trends. Since Amazon has stated, they want to become “the best place to buy fashion online,” this seems like a logical move.

6.) Resistbot, an ingenious AI chatbot will contact lawmakers for you

If you’re looking for a more efficient way for your voice to be heard, pay close attention to Resistbot. This AI-powered chatbot makes it easy to contact your political representatives. Users simply text the word “resist” to 50409. The automated bot will ask for a name and zip code to determine which public officials to contact. Since users create their own messages, creativity and clarity are critical for this service that pride’s itself on avoiding standard “form letters.”

7.) China is using AI to predict who will commit crime next

Taking a page out of the movie “Minority Report,” China is developing predictive analytics to help authorities stop suspects before a crime is committed. With their unchecked access to citizens’ histories, Chinese tech companies are helping police develop artificial intelligence they say will help them identify and apprehend suspects before criminal acts are committed. By tapping into facial recognition tech, and combining it with predictive intelligence, they hope to notify police of potential criminals based on their behavior patterns. Even though it sounds like promising tech, applications like this are getting tons of scrutiny.

8.) AI beats world’s top poker players

Humankind has just been beaten at yet another game, this time Heads-Up No-Limit Texas Hold’em poker. Since poker is a game of uncertainty, players don’t know what cards the other players have or what cards will be dealt in the future. In a game like chess or Go, all players can see the board, meaning that everyone has complete information. This makes chess and Go much easier to program than poker. Poker also requires understanding the psychology of the other players – are they bluffing, should I fold, or should I bluff? Poker also involves betting – when should I bet, how much should I bet? Does this mean the gambling industry is doomed?

9.) Researchers create a lip-reading A.I.

If you wonder why NFL coaches are now covering their mouths when they talk into their microphones, it’s because someone or something might be reading their lips. Working with Google’s Deep Mind neural network, researchers developed an elaborate training process using thousands of hours of subtitled BBC television videos. The videos showed a broad spectrum of people speaking in a wide variety of poses, activities, and lighting to simulate real life conditions. While still not perfect, their algorithm achieved promising results.

10.) ‘Mind reading’ AI is able to scan brains and guess what you’re thinking

Carnegie Mellon University scientists have developed a system that can read complex thoughts based on brain scans, even interpreting complete sentences. Using data from functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, the team was able to demonstrate different brain activations being triggered according to 240 complex events, ranging from individuals and settings to types of social interaction and physical actions. Using the smart algorithms they developed, the team was able to discern a person’s thoughts with 87% accuracy.

11.) AI learns to write its own code by stealing from other programs

A team of researchers at Microsoft and the University of Cambridge created a system called DeepCoder for solving coding challenges like those used in most programming competitions. Without teaching it how to code, DeepCoder uses a technique called program synthesis to piece together lines of code taken from existing software, similar to what most programmer do. Framing the outcome around a list of inputs and outputs for each section of code, DeepCoder learned which pieces of code were needed to achieve the desired results.

12.) Google’s AI was used to build it’s own AI, and it outperformed those made by humans

The creation of an AI capable of building its own AI does raise more than a few concerns. For instance, what’s to prevent the parent from passing down unwanted biases to its child? What if it creates systems so fast that society can’t keep up? It’s not very difficult to see how it could be employed in automated surveillance systems in the near future, perhaps even sooner than regulators could put something in place to control such systems.

12 critical takeaways to put AI in perspective

After scanning through each of these accomplishments, it’s easy to assume that AI is right around the corner. But a successful experiment does not a finished product make.

We are very much in the primitive early stages of AI. People in the future will often look back shaking their heads saying, “what were they thinking?”

Here are some important takeaways to help sort the reality from the hype.

A.) AI is based on algorithms

Even though today’s AI’s algorithms are very sophisticated, giving them the appearance of “humanness,” they’re still only fallible machines.

B.) AI skills will be developed in a fraction of the time of human skills

Go-master Lee Sedol began serious training when he was 8 years old for 12 hours a day. In just a few days, AlphaGo reviewed over 30 million human games and played an additional 30 million practice games with itself before taking on Lee Sedol. That means AlphaGo received at least 500 times as much practice as Lee to win the competition.

C.) There’s no such thing as a perfect AI solution

Researchers have had much more success tailoring individual AI systems to specific problems than building a logic machine capable of general intelligence. Just as AlphaGo could never be used to pilot a driverless car, AI algorithms are designed to work on specific problems.

D.) AI is forcing us to rethink what it is that makes us human

We live in a very human-centric world. Human need is what creates our global economy. There is generally no economy for things that do not benefit humankind. But what is it that sets us apart from AI and the machines that use it? We’re still a long ways from understanding where AI capabilities end and uniquely-human skills begin.

E.) As AI grows progressively ubiquitous, it’ll become increasingly invisible

AI will touch virtually every aspect of our lives, finding its way into our cars, TVs, phones, lighting, and music. With this level of ubiquity, we will quickly lose our reference points as to what life was like before AI.

F.) As we become more reliant on automation we will experience a degrading of skills and readiness when things go wrong

And yes, something will always go wrong, eventually!

G.) Blind faith in technology will cause blindness to danger as well

Once something works well, we begin to trust and rely on it. However, there is no perfect technology and the complexity of AI will make the true danger of hidden flaws nearly undetectable until it is too late.

H.) Artificial intelligence can never achieve 100% accuracy

It may indeed be quantum leaps better than anything we’re using today, even surpassing six-sigma reliability, but 100% is still not possible.

I.) The greatest dangers associated with AI will involve human failure

Sometimes the danger will stem from human ignorance, lack of oversight, or poor monitoring, but we must be constantly vigilant when it comes to spotting the purposeful failures that nefarious coders bury deep within a system.

J.) Businesses that become over-reliant on AI will fail

Admittedly there is a fine line between being over-reliant and not-reliant-enough, but hard lessons will be learned by those who fail to employ the proper checks and balance systems to oversee their AI operations.

K.) Human-based common sense will remain indispensable for the foreseeable future

Humans will continue to surpass machines for some time in areas like appreciating contextual nuances, weaving together disparate ideas, comprehending human motive and intent, integrating interdisciplinary conceptions of the world, and general intelligence. AI is simply not at our level yet.

L.) AI will soon prove to be just as good at job creation as it is at job destruction

There are currently 1 million truck drivers in the U.S., earning on average $21 an hour. It’s hard to imagine a future where those numbers don’t dwindle. But that’s only half of the story. Properly directed, AI will be able to tell us where humans are most needed in every system, process, and business operation. But beyond that, AI will be able to roadmap emerging technologies and identify the skills needed for new positions months if not years before the openings occur.

Final Thoughts

Every new technology brings its own set of dangers, and AI is no different. However, with this level of complexity, the types of danger become exponentially more difficult to understand.

It’s important to understand the symbiotic relationship, if the human economy collapses, so will the AI economy.

While we’re not going to let the bots take over just yet, it’s clear that bots are going to be meeting many of our needs, offering proactive advice, and serving us in favorable ways. Since the best possible interfaces come from the inside out, working with AI will be far less about us trying to understand the technology and far more about technology trying to understand us.

Over the past decade, the digital revolution was about us becoming accustomed to using computers all day, sending texts, connecting with each others over social media, and even learning to code.

In the AI era, technology will slide further behind the curtain into more of an assistive role, one that is not meant to be all about shiny new gadgets and operating system updates. Over time, the gadget craze will subside, as we shift our collective attention to rethinking the human experience.

By Futurist Thomas Frey

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

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59 things you’ll be able to do on the cruise ship of the future that you can’t do today http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/59-things-youll-be-able-to-do-on-the-cruise-ship-of-the-future-that-you-cant-do-today/ http://www.futuristspeaker.com/business-trends/59-things-youll-be-able-to-do-on-the-cruise-ship-of-the-future-that-you-cant-do-today/#respond Tue, 19 Dec 2017 22:23:20 +0000 http://www.futuristspeaker.com/?p=8594

I always think that when I’m on a cruise I’ll be able to catch up on all the writing projects that I‘m behind on. But somehow that never happens.

Every ship is full of distractions and unusual forms of entertainment designed to keep the crowds coming back. And so far it has been working very well on me.

With 27.2 million passengers projected for 2018 and only 20% of US citizens having ever taken a cruise, there is an enormous untapped market left to conquer. The industry has seen 2100% growth since the 1970s, but that’s still only the tip of the iceberg.

A record 27 new ships are set to debut in 2018. Along with new ships comes a fierce competition to “out design,” “out tech,” and “out class” the competition.

But being out on the ocean creates its own set of challenges when it comes to accessing technology, which has put cruise ships behind land-based attractions in terms of digital attractions. Recently, however, cruise lines have dedicated more resources to increasing the connectedness of their vessels.

As connectedness improves, suddenly the sky is the limit for competing with inland resorts.

Key Industry Trends

Here are a few near term trends that will set the stage for longer-range ideas to take root.

  • Pushing the Envelope Experiences. Island hopping is so yesterday. Next generation cruisers will be looking for that unique one-of-a-kind experience to tell their friends about. Whether its underwater caving, or playing with swarmbots, or eating dinner made from glowing energy balls, or sleeping on touchless airbeds, future tech is where our next-gen cruisers live.
  • Multigenerational cruising is projected to increase in popularity in 2018 and beyond – but with a twist. More grandparents and grandchildren will travel together, but without the parents.
  • Health and wellness cruises are on the rise. Travelers are seeking health and wellness experiences for the mind and body. Today’s cruise travelers can participate in on-board health wellness seminars led by popular health experts, custom fitness programs, stress management and spa services.
  • From ‘Braincations’ to Working Vacations. Future cruises will span the spectrum from super connected to the super unconnected with some going so far as to billing themselves as “interventionist retreats” with 12 step programs to help cure those suffering from severe online addiction.
  • No longer warm weather only cruises as colder climate destinations like the Baltics, Canada, Alaska, and Antarctica are becoming more appealing. With unusual excursions ranging from penguin watching to ice fishing, these regions are drawing both new and repeat cruise travelers.
  • A cruise for any budget. Even though the average age of today’s cruise passenger is over 50 years old with a median household income of $109,000, a recent survey showed 33% of those who took a cruise within the past 3 years have a household income of under $80,000.
  • Ocean cruises add more capacity than river cruises. As the industry grows, cruise lines will invest more heavily in ocean-going vessels which attract younger generations. In the next nine years, investment into riverboats is expected to fall to nearly zero.
  • Increase in Smart Travel Technology – The coming year will see a rise in traveller-friendly on-board technologies. Several cruise lines are introducing wearable technology for cruise guests that will provide a personalized and seamless experience on board.
Billed as the world’s “greenest” cruise ship with 10 retractable solar-paneled sails and retractable wind generators, the Ecoship will launch in 2020

Six things that will disappear on ships in the future

As new things get added to ship, many older features will disappear.

1.    Cruise cards – Will be replaced by Bluetooth bands, smartphone scans, and facial recognition

2.    Using cash – Already nearly gone

3.    Gambling – With the rise of artificial intelligence, gambling, in it’s current form, will not survive.

4.    Massage showerheads – Next generation showerheads will be far cooler

5.    Paper receipts – Enormous waste of time and materials

6.    Human bartenders – The robots are coming

59 things you’ll be able to do on future cruise ships that you can’t do today

Increased use of Biometrics – Facial Recognition

1.    Biometric check-in process

2.    Biometric door locks – that recognize your face

3.    Biometric purchases – digital identity

4.    Biometric health scans

Expanding use of Drones

5.    Onboard drone airport – For drones ranging from supply delivery, to passenger delivery, to entertainment drones

6.    Drone boarding – For elite guests, passengers will skip the boarding process entirely and be flown directly onto the ship. Eventually this will happen even when ships are at sea

7.    Drone docks on balconies – For food deliveries, laundry, flower delivery

8.    Drone ambulances

9.    Drone taxis with multiple landing pads

10. Drone firework launches

11. Laser drone skeet shooting

12. Video/photo drone rentals to capture excursion experiences

Mixed Reality

Over time, terms like virtual reality and augmented reality will disappear. Mixed reality is the merging of real and virtual worlds to produce new environments and visualizations where physical and digital objects co-exist and interact in real time.

13. Mixed Reality behind-the-scenes tours of the galley, bridge, and engine room

14. Mixed Reality movies

15. Mixed Reality video games

16. Mixed Reality 3D art training

17. Mixed Reality classes

18. Mixed Reality therapy

19. Mixed Reality speed dating

20. Mixed Reality preview of future cruises

Internet of Things

21. Sensor-laced interactive clothing

22. Smart swimsuits – To let you know if you’re getting too much sun

23. Smart beds – Creating perfect rhythms to sleep by

24. Immersive sleep capsules

Royal Caribbean’s robot bartenders can produce two drinks per minute and can make up to 1,000 each day

Artificial Intelligence

25. AI menu-chef coordination at restaurants

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

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

28. AI music selection will be based on moods, ratings, and musical tastes


29. Pay with cryptocurrencies

30. Cryptocurrency ATMs

31. Cryptocurrency Loans

32. Cryptocurrency Safes – Digital vaults for your digital money


33. Prototyping classes

34. 3D modeling software classes

35. Make your own jewelry

36. Make your own pottery

37. Make your own purses

38. Make your own IoT devices

39. Create your own music/audio studios

40. Create your own video studios

3D Printing

41. Full body scans for 3D printing

42. 3D printed makeup for women. Just insert a person’s face and the machine will be programmed to apply the exact makeup pattern requested by the user

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

44. Scan and 3D print your own custom designed clothing

45. Scan and 3D print your own custom designed shoes

46. Shapies – 3D printed sculptures of you and your family

47. Expectant mothers can 3D printed models of their unborn baby

48. Trash can be sorted, cleaned, and turned into material that can be 3D printed


49. Cellphone to cellphone communications

50. Robotic chef food preparation

51. Auto-swinging hammocks

52. Telepresence rooms

53. Beer yoga (yes it’s a thing… sort of)

54. AI scrapbooking to give you a personal record of your trip

55. Order products on Amazon and have them delivered to the ship

56. Cannabis cooking classes

57. Hatchet throwing competitions

58. Video game tournaments

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

The Seasteading floating city will launch in 2020

The coming floating island culture

One possible game changer for the cruise industry will be floating islands.

Started in 2008 as a libertarian approach to opting out of traditional governance, the Seasteading Institute is targeting 2020 as the launch date for a floating city off French Polynesia, where it hopes to use a “start-up” ethos to eventually create a climate-friendly, small-government alternative to land-based nations.

Working with the French Polynesian government, it will begin construction on the first of 15 floating platforms. The domed, greenery-filled platforms will each be roughly the size of a baseball diamond, and can be rearranged to connect to different points on the floating city’s framework.

The first “city” is expected to house approximately 300 people, but the ultimate goal is to bring in people from various countries to found new, ocean-based nations.

While the launching of island nations is on the other end of the spectrum of today’s luxury cruise industry, there will be an obvious meeting of the minds as floating city technology matures.

With plans to add a variety of resort features including underwater restaurants and aquarium bedrooms with glass wall, the traditional cruise industry will be paying close attention.

What new features would you find most appealing?

Final Thoughts

Modern cruising is a relatively new industry with most of the modern ship designs starting in the 1970s.

Look for cruise ports to become a country vs. country status symbol as economic development groups offer incentives for cruise lines to offer more routes that include their city.

As the average age of passengers drop and cruise lines attract more working executives, companies will view these ships as a fresh channel for introducing new products. Whether its food products, household gadgets, internet of things devices, software, hardware, or something else, people are continually fascinated by cutting edge products. This will open the doors for sponsorship arrangements with companies who otherwise have little connection to the cruise industry.

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

By Futurist Thomas Frey

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

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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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