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

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on February 1st, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Nature is Not Human-Centric

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on January 22nd, 2014

At a recent event I posed the question, “Is the intelligence of nature greater than the intelligence of humans?”

After pondering this question, the audience responded with a mixture of “there is no intelligence in nature,” and “nature is not an entity with a singular intelligence.”

So exactly what is thing we call nature, and why do we hold it in such high regard? 

One of my pet peeves with the food industry has been the association of “all natural” with “good for you.”

Not everything found in nature is good for you. Things like poison ivy, hemlock, chrysanthemums, and rhododendrons are poisonous. Weather events such as tornadoes, hurricanes, and hailstorms can also be massively destructive. Even viruses and diseases can be considered “natural.”

Yes, we all know these things, but there remains a pervasive notion that nature has it right.

Nature didn’t have it right when it came to the woolly mammoth, the dodo bird, or the saber tooth tiger. Nor did it have it right for the Aztecs, Incas, or the Anasazi. 

Nature is neither our friend nor our enemy.

If something is considered part of nature, it generally refers to the phenomena of the physical world, and also to life in general. It ranges in scale from the subatomic to the cosmic.

But it’s critical to frame our thinking around the fact that nature is not human-centric. Here’s why that’s important.

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The Quantified Self, the Great College Killer

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on January 14th, 2014

Who are you as an individual? 

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

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

That’s about to change.

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

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

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

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

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

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Eight Reason Why Future Computers will make better Decisions than Doctors

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on January 5th, 2014

…and eight reasons why we will still need doctors 

“2014 will be the year the ’quantified self’ goes mainstream.” Those were the words Silicon Valley prodigy Marc Andreessen used in a recent article to describe changes about to happen to American healthcare. 

The ‘quantified self,’ also known as lifelogging, is a trend toward gathering all possible data about our daily life, such as the food we eat, quality of the air we inhale, our mood, oxygen levels, as well as our physical and mental performance.

So what if you could cut your number of sick days by 80%, sleep better at night, be more alert, more efficient at work, and still have plenty of energy left for family and friends at the end of a busy day?

As we add an increasingly large number of sensors to our bodies and the world around us, our understanding of cause-and-effect health issues will grow exponentially.

This movement combines smart devices and the Internet of Things with health monitoring apps to give us a better idea of how to optimize virtually every metric associated with our lifestyle, health, and physical performance.

We are on the verge of crossing over from science hype to science reality, with the prospects of creating a tremendous upside. Yes, there will be more than a few battles fought along the way between doctors and health industry executives, but in the end, it doesn’t have to be a win-lose situation. Here’s why. 

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Top 13 ‘Futurist Speaker’ Columns in 2013

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on December 30th, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Competing for the Title – World’s Chief Innovator

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on December 26th, 2013

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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33 Dramatic Predictions for 2030

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on December 18th, 2013

Humanity will change more in the next 20 years than in all of human history.

By 2030 the average person in the U.S. will have 4.5 packages a week delivered with flying drones. They will travel 40% of the time in a driverless car, use a 3D printer to print hyper-individualized meals, and will spend most of their leisure time on an activity that hasn’t been invented yet. 

The world will have seen over 2 billion jobs disappear, with most coming back in different forms in different industries, with over 50% structured as freelance projects rather than full-time jobs. 

Over 50% of today’s Fortune 500 companies will have disappeared, over 50% of traditional colleges will have collapsed, and India will have overtaken China as the most populous country in the world.

Most people will have stopped taking pills in favor of a new device that causes the body to manufacture it’s own cures.

Space colonies, personal privacy, and flying cars will all be hot topics of discussion, but not a reality yet.

Most of today’s top causes, including climate change, gay liberation, and abortion, will all be relegated to little more than footnotes in Wikipedia, and Wikipedia itself will have lost the encyclopedia wars to an upstart company all because Jimmy Wales was taken hostage and beheaded by warring factions in the Middle East over a controversial entry belittling micro religions.

Our ability to predict the future is an inexact science. The most accurate predictions generally come from well-informed industry insiders about very near term events.

Much like predicting the weather, the farther we move into the future, the less accurate our predictions become. 

So why do we make them? 

In the segments below, I’ll make a series of 33 provocative predictions about 2030, and how different life will be just 17 years in the future.

I will also explain why predictions are important, even when they are wrong.

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Technology’s Threat to the Future of Sports – Part 1

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on December 11th, 2013

Recently I returned from a trip to Seoul, Korea where I was asked to speak at the Global Sports Marketing Forum on the “future of sports.” This event was part of a series being planned to draw attention to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, Korea.

Here’s how I began my presentation in Seoul. 

In 1980, Carnegie Mellon University announced the formation of the $100,000 Fredkin Prize, named after computer pioneer Edward Fredkin, for anyone who could develop a computer capable of beating a world chess champion. In 1997, IBM’s Deep Blue team took up the challenge and proceeded to beat Gary Kasporov, the reigning world chess champion.

In 2011, IBM waged a similar battle on the TV game show Jeopardy. This time they pitted their Watson Computer against Ken Jennings and Paul Rudder, the all-time top Jeopardy champions. Again the computer came up the winner.

So if computers can win at chess and Jeopardy, are we about to see similar contests between robots and basketball players, driverless cars and NASCAR drivers, or robots and golf champions? More importantly, do we run the risk of automating these sports out of existence?

Yes, we will see many more human-vs-machine staged competitions. But no, this won’t jeopardize the sporting industry. We’re asking is the wrong question.

Even though the human-vs-machine competitions won’t be an issue, there are several possible threats around the corner for professional sports. Here’s why.

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When Wasting Time becomes a Crime

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on December 2nd, 2013

Every time I delete spam from my inbox, I feel a tiny piece of my life flitter away.

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

This is what I call “time pollution.”

Little by little, whatever tiny amount of control we thought we had over our day becomes infested with some new life-sucking barnacle that congests our mind and adds surface-scratching aggregate to the smooth day we had planned.

Like a leaky sieve carrying our daily time supply, however much we started with is never even close to what we end up with. And while most of us enter life feeling like we have squanderable amounts of time to work with, as we get older, our rapidly dwindling years reveal a much different story. 

We live with two basic currencies – time and money – and we make countless time-vs-money decisions, each based on the running math equation we have going on in our head. 

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

Here are some thoughts on how we can rewrite what I’m calling the “Formula of Acceptable Interference” and regain control of our lives. 

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Where do great ideas come from? More importantly, where do they go?

Posted by FuturistSpeaker on November 25th, 2013

 

Recently my wife Deb came up with a rather comical phrase to describe her occasional memory lapse, referring to it as her “photogeriactric memory.”

A quick Facebook post later and she had released this brilliant new phrase into the wild.

Naturally this got me thinking about where original ideas come from, and whether or not this was truly an original idea.

After a few Google searches, I found a total of 83 results for the term “photogeriactric” and an obscure 2007 reference to the phrase “photo-geriactric memory.” So it wasn’t totally original, but the question continued to plague me.

When an creative idea appears in our head, is this a form of manifest destiny, divine providence, a piece of intuition, or something more like a ripple in the force?

Original ideas can be tremendously valuable, so if we know where they come from, our inclination has always been to create more of them.

But we all have ideas. Each of us is an idea-generating machine. We are radiating ideas similar to the way the sun radiates light.

Yes, very few are truly original ideas, but some are. So then what?

We now have over 7 billion people radiating ideas, every second of every day, casting pieces of inspiration and brilliance in every possible direction. The question we should be focusing on is, where do they go? 

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