For at least seven years, the concept of ecosystems has been discussed and defined in various ways, while sometimes applied in a context that dilutes its eventual impact. At the highest level, an ecosystem is a network of connected stakeholders interacting in ways that create and capture value for all participants. Why has this ecosystem phenomenon emerged now and why do people expect it to drive structural change? Once again, history may provide an answer.Continue reading
I just finished reading the latest addition to my book library. The New Fire was written by Ben Buchanan and Andrew Imbrie. The book explores artificial intelligence (AI) through the lens of geopolitics, specifically, the prospects for democracy versus autocracy. A worrying possibility is highlighted in the book; that AI will do more for autocracy than democracy. In comparing artificial intelligence to fire, the authors make a comparison that I explored in a recent poll. Fire is very destructive, but as the authors state, it is also the basis for civilization. Humans learned to tame the destructive nature of fire, while harnessing its power. That is the precise analogy to AI that the book studies.Continue reading
Are there other forces lurking that could indeed lead to relocalization? Might a world where our food, energy, and products are created locally drive deglobalization? An open question with massive implications. Relocalization is a geopolitical building block – one of many that contribute to future thinking exercises.Frank Diana – Deglobalization
That quote from my post on deglobalization highlights a possible future. That future is not the same as a possible post deglobalization future. The context surrounding deglobalization is centered on resilience and risk. To drive resilience and reduce risk, nations will diversify their supply chains and pursue reshoring strategies where appropriate. Relocalization on the other hand has massive implications to the nation-state structure and long-standing institutions. Imagine a world where our energy, food, and goods are sourced locally. What happens when a state is self-sufficient? What need does the state have of nations? What happens to logistics and transport if our needs are satisfied locally?Continue reading
Given the recent focus on demographics, I went back to review a book in my library titled “The Great Demographic Reversal.” In a post that reviewed the book, I mentioned that the authors state several times that their findings are controversial and counter to the views of mainstream economists. By way of review, the authors concluded that the future is one of:
- A fall in working age population
- An aging society that struggles with the ravages of dementia
- Declining growth of real output
- An increase in labor’s bargaining power
- Possible interest rate increases
- Increased health expenses
- A reduction in inequality
Several of those projected characteristics of a possible future are currently in play. Whether these are transitory or the new normal suggested by the authors remains to be seen. We have the benefit of history in looking at the various forces that shaped the current global economy.Continue reading
Deglobalization is a geopolitical building block with massive implications as it converges with its societal counterparts. In my August 2020 poll on the catalysts that drive change, deglobalization entered the list. It was not surprising, given the supply chain concerns that emerged in the early days of the pandemic. But is deglobalization likely? This recent article explores that question.
The risks of sourcing overseas are a less immediate concern than higher shipping costs, which might tip the balance in favor of sourcing from nearby – and shipping costs are not the only trade costs which are rising. Increasingly, policy is adding to trade costs. The EU’s new Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism will add the equivalent of a trade tariff to reflect the emissions embodied in imports from outside the EU.Inga Fechner, Joanna Konings, Rico Luman – Deglobalization Ahead? The Pros And Cons Of Reshoring
The article states that despite headlines about an increase in reshoring, evidence does not support the headline of companies bringing production back home. Instead, there is evidence of more diversification. Construction activity for manufacturing facilities is on the rise in the U.S., but mainly in critical areas such as microchips. Trade in intermediate goods continues its upward trend, but the war in Ukraine has introduced uncertainty regarding future direction. The recent announced G7 $600 billion infrastructure investment in response to China’s Belt and Road Initiative will increase trade, and friendshoring seems to have entered our vocabulary.Continue reading
I just finished another book titled Future Stories authored by David Christian and have added it to my book library. The book focuses on future thinking, exploring the various ways that experts, plants, animals, and even cells manage the future. This visual from the book provides a glimpse of the possible futures explored.
I am a big believer in storytelling as an effective means of understanding complex scenarios. The book does just that. An abstract of the book follows. I highly recommend it.Continue reading
My last two posts focused on labor shortages and population growth; two critical societal building blocks that converge in ways that shape our future. Continuing with that theme, this recent article looks at these building blocks through the lens of China.
China has edged over a demographic precipice: Its population has begun to shrink. United Nations data published on Monday showed that the long-anticipated tipping point came in the first half of the year; it’s a significant moment for a country whose large population helped transform it into a manufacturing powerhouseLili Pike – The end of China’s population boom has arrived. How will the country’s changing demographics shape its future?
According to the referenced United Nations Data, the world’s population is projected to reach 8 billion on 15 November 2022. The report titled World Population Prospects 2022 provides the latest United Nations projections that suggest the global population could grow to around 8.5 billion in 2030, 9.7 billion in 2050 and 10.4 billion in 2100. Another data point from the U.N. report highlights that population growth is driven in part by declining levels of mortality, as reflected in increased levels of life expectancy at birth. Life expectancy reached 72.8 years globally in 2019, increasing 9 years since 1990. Mortality reductions are projected to result in an average longevity of around 77.2 years globally in 2050Continue reading
In a post yesterday on population growth, I shared a fascinating visual that looked at the age structure of our population in 2017 versus projections for 2100. The tweet is shared again below, click on arrow in the visual to see the changes.
Population size is important in several ways. Historically, experts worried about societies ability to sustain an ever-growing population. With climate change issues mounting, those concerns remain. However, a scenario where our global populations shrink brings a different set of challenges. As this article on projected labor shortages describes, the growth rate of an economy is determined by two factors: growth in hours worked and growth in productivity. The sustained economic growth of the last 250 years can be attributed to a growing skilled workforce (education played a major role) and major innovations that drove productivity.Continue reading
Recent estimates for population growth are at odds with one and other. Where the United Nations sees 11 billion people on the planet by 2100, the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation sees growth to 9.7 billion initially and then a decline back to 8.8 billion by the end of the century. Future population sizes underpin future strategies for governments and industries around the world. This article via the World Economic Forum underscores the point. The quick video snippet in the Tweet below is fascinating.Continue reading
Our fascination with autonomous vehicles spans over ten years. Much of that time was focused on self-driving cars in our cities and highways. While that scenario has been slow to materialize, autonomous vehicles are emerging all around us in various applications. We see autonomy rolling out in agriculture, mining, and increasingly, logistics. The autonomous trucking trials happening in the southern region of the U.S. are a harbinger of things to come. The movement of freight however is not limited to our current roads. This recent article describes the future of freight transport – which may be heading underground.Continue reading
Without good stories to help us envision something very different from the present, we humans are easily stuck in our conventional mental programmingPer Espen Stoknes
I was reminded of the above quote when I came across this recent article about America’s early rejection of coal. With cheap wood available and houses having wood fireplaces, not many saw the wisdom of shifting to coal. As the article states, our current societal struggle with renewable energy has a long history. Coal itself faced a similar pushback in the early 19th century when the power source promised to solve many of the country’s problems.Continue reading
One of the future scenarios that I have focused on for some time is healthy life extension. When I mention to an audience that the first person to live to 200 has already been born – it gets quite the reaction. That scenario is not as far-fetched as people believe. This recent article explored research in the field of senolytics – drugs that work to eliminate cells that degrade tissue function. The drugs are already showing promising results and could become available on the market within the next decade.Continue reading
The Alexa team demoed the new feature during the event by presenting a scenario in which Alexa uses the voice of a dead grandmother to read a bedtime story to a little boyDale John Wong – Alexa will soon be able to talk using a loved one’s voice (even if they’re dead)
That quote from a recent article builds on the digital resurrection post from June 14th. When they say anyone’s voice – they mean it. Take a look at the video below starting at the 1:01:58 mark, which is a different application of the same scenario – resurrecting a lost loved one. If you have not already responded to the poll below, please provide your thoughts.Continue reading
The AI and consciousness discussion was bound to emerge in the media at some point – and here we are. The debate in my mind is hindered by how we define consciousness. Nonetheless, the debate continues. Watch the video and see where you land on the question. Take the quick poll below to provide your thoughts.Continue reading
Energy transitions throughout history have ushered in times of dramatic change. These transitions represent the most impactful periods in human history. At the heart of this transition lies renewable energy.
Renewable energy technologies harness the power of the sun, wind, and heat from the Earth’s core, and then transforms it into usable forms of energy like heat, electricity, and fuel.Govind Bhutada – What Are the Five Major Types of Renewable Energy?
That quote is from a recent Visual Capitalist article that describes the five major types of renewable energy. Given the growing focus on these sources of energy, the IEA forecasts that, by 2026, global renewable electricity capacity is set to grow by 60% from 2020 levels to over 4,800 gigawatts—equal to the current power output of fossil fuels and nuclear combined. This visual describes these five renewable energies.Continue reading
Societal change is a critical area of convergence that is likely to play a major role in shaping the future. Three building blocks provide an example: declining fertility rates, an aging population, and a fall in working age population. This article connects those dots visually. In looking at the global decline in fertility rates, the article illuminates the impact to global stability, as a given area needs an overall total fertility rate of 2.1 to keep a stable population. But why are women having fewer children? According to Dr. Max Roser, the founder of Our World in Data, most of the literature boils down to three main factors:Continue reading
This visual from visual capitalist looks at global economies between now and 2036. It tracks the shift in economic power across the years, dating back to 2006. This article provides color commentary. Below the visual is a chart projecting the top ten economies in 2031. The economic domain is one of our convergence areas, with the changing economic landscape contributing to our uncertain environment. In rehearsing the future, this domain is a critical area of focus. What are the implications to the future if the visual accurately depicts economic power shifts?Continue reading
In a post from 2020 I asked readers if they would digitally reconnect with a lost loved one. I explored advances in affective computing, a field of computer science that is dedicated to building systems that encroach on tasks that require our affective capabilities, our capacity for feelings and emotions. There are systems, for example, that can look at a person’s face and tell whether they are happy, confused, surprised, or delighted. In that post, I shared a video that brings this form of computing to life. On February 6, 2020, a Korean TV show called Meeting You, which focuses on lost family, reunited a mother with her deceased child in the virtual world. The mom was strapped in a VR headset and brought into a massive green room. She was provided touch-sensitive gloves. This allowed her to move around and even interact with her daughter.Continue reading
In today’s world, the most effective CEOs recognize that no one is an island: no CEO, no company, no industry, no country. The lines have permanently blurred, and chief executives must embrace the opportunity to help shape our shared future — as enterprise leaders who are moving across and beyond — to influence entire ecosystemsSarah Jensen Clayton, Tierney Remick, and Evelyn Orr -Today’s CEOs Don’t Just Lead Companies. They Lead Ecosystems
That quote from a recent HBR article speaks to a phenomenon that has been developing for some time in a synergistic relationship with a growing focus on purpose. I have covered the topic of ecosystems extensively across many years – the various posts can be found here. An ecosystem is a complex network of connected stakeholders interacting in ways that create and capture value for all ecosystem participants. Increasingly, that value addresses the various aspects of our well-being. This visual describes a cross-industry scenario that addresses human need in the context of wellness (click to enlarge).Continue reading
Uber Freight and Waymo Via just announced a long-term strategic partnership to connect their technologies and deploy autonomous trucks at scale on the Uber Freight network. According to the announcement, carriers that purchase trucks equipped with the Waymo Driver in the future will be able to opt-in to Uber Freight’s marketplace to seamlessly deploy their autonomous assets on the Uber Freight network. This announcement informs two often asked about possible futures: autonomous driving and logistics.Continue reading