The Future of Energy: A Discussion with David Cohen

AI Intersects with Renewable Energy

I had a great discussion today with David Cohen, Founder, and Chairman of E7 Ventures. Our topic was the future of energy and his belief that we are rapidly heading towards an Energy Internet. Like most other areas of science and technology, energy is experiencing an exponential progression that likely changes the energy paradigm in the coming decade. In his book titled The Zero Marginal Cost Society, Economist Jeremy Rifkin describes how Internet technology and renewable energies are merging to create an energy Internet that changes the way power is generated and distributed in society – a paradigm shift in energy similar to what occurred in computing. He describes an emergent system with synergies between Five Pillars that drive this paradigm shift:

  1. Shifting to renewable energy
  2. Transforming buildings into micro–power plants to collect renewable energies on-site
  3. Deploying hydrogen and other storage technologies to store intermittent energies
  4. Using Internet technology to transform the power grid into an energy Internet
  5. Transitioning the transport fleet to electric plug-in and fuel cell vehicles that can buy and sell green electricity on a smart, continental, interactive power grid

Given the power of this shift, I wanted to get David’s thoughts on its timing and impact. We explored his current view of renewable energy and those likely to accelerate.  David sees solar energy as the dominant renewable, and mentioned that the energy internet – and solar in particular – will scale up much faster than people believe – which is a good thing, given that he mentioned energy demand doubling by 2030. In his words, the next ten years is where all the change will happen.

The rest of our dialog focused on solving storage issues, the role of Blockchain in creating an energy internet, and the likely path of the incumbents (part protectionism and part innovation).

You can listen to the full 25 minute podcast below. A transcript of our dialog will follow.

AI and the Conversational Era

AI Intersects with Robotics

On January 17, I had the pleasure of participating in another Game Changers show Presented by SAP focused on partnerships: Changing the Game for Digital Transformation. I was joined by Robin Kearon, SVP Channels and Alliances, Kore Inc. The show was once again expertly moderated by Bonnie D. Graham. You can listen on demand at your convenience.


Connecting People to Technology: AI and the Conversational Era


The primary focus of AI for the enterprise is still more tied to data than to some “dream” use cases we hear on TV or in science fiction. Basically, businesses want to know how to leverage AI to consume and process immense amounts of data – amounts no human could possibly take on – and use that data to take actions, make predictions, and ultimately boost ROI.

2016 was a pivotal year for Global 2000 companies to align practical AI application and embrace intelligent, conversational technology. Not really a perfect storm, but a confluence of more untapped data than ever (largely thanks to IoT), cost-effective infrastructure at-the-ready, and unprecedented consumer technology adoption. These factors not only piqued enterprise interest; investment in conversational technologies paved the way for AI, machine learning, natural language, and chat bots to elevate global business.

Business leaders across every industry identified bottom-line value in turning traditional tech interactions and interfaces into natural, human-like interactions, making it easier to engage and get more done – together. Authorities in the enterprise tech space resoundingly sang the praises of the potential of conversational AI, and enterprises are listening with open ears, open minds, and open check books.


2016 was a pivotal year for Global 2000 companies to align practical AI applications and embrace intelligent, conversational technology. As enterprise tech space gurus sang the praises of conversational AI’s potential, enterprises were listening with open ears, minds, and checkbooks. How can you take AI off the bench, make it a star player in your portfolio, avoid making fouls, and lead your organization into this new era? The experts speak.

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Podcast with Gerd Leonhard


This morning I had the pleasure of discussing the future with Gerd Leonhard. Gerd was listed by Wired Magazine as one of the top 100 most influential people in Europe. His recent book on Technology vs Humanity begins the dialog on ethics in an exponential world.

Our theme was reimagining the future and the topics ranged from artificial intelligence to exponential progression. You can listen to the entire podcast below.

Podcast Transcript

Edited for Clarity

GERD LEONHARD:  Hello this is Gerd Leonhard, Futurist in Zurich, Switzerland. Today, I’m having a conversation with Frank Diana who works for Tata Consultancy Services, TCS, and he will talk about that in a second. Frank and I have been exchanging e-mails and messages with each other for years now and we’ve become fans of each other’s work. There’s lots of synchronicity between what we do, so we figured we’d have a short podcast conversation today, primarily about the topic of Reimagining the Future, because Frank is also a bit of a futurist. So over to you Frank. Just tell us briefly what you do and how you do it.

FRANK DIANA:  Well, good morning Gerd. As you said, Frank Diana. I’m with Tata Consultancy Services and I am somewhat of a futurist and advisor. I spend most of my time focused on the next three to five years and beyond and what it might mean for leaders everywherenot just business, but government, the impact to society and what that might mean for a business. My title actually is Principal, Future of Business, here at TCS.

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2017 Predictions

“I am blown away by how palpable the feeling of exponential change has become. I’m also certain that 99.999% of humanity doesn’t understand or appreciate the ramifications of what is coming”

-Peter Diamandis

On Wednesday January 4th, I participated in a Game Changers radio program focused on predictions for 2017. The program, hosted by Bonnie D. Graham, included 15 other guests in an hour long show made up of four segments. A rebroadcast can be found here.

To prepare for the show, I took a quick look back before looking ahead. My 2016 Predictions focused on categories ranging from an emerging general purpose technology platform to the need for business model innovation. As I indicated last year, I viewed 2016 as a year of shifts – a tipping point towards a radically different future. As I look back on the year that was, it delivered on my expectations; in fact, it may have exceeded them. I point to a recent Article by Peter Diamandis as supporting evidence. Mr. Diamandis shared his review of 52 weeks of science and technology breakthroughs. A look back at this exponential progress lends credence to his assertion that humanity will likely be transformed. Yet, the quote above taken from his article rings all to true.

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Coffee Break with Game Changers: An Innovation Explosion

On November 30th, I had the pleasure of participating in another Game Changers show. I was joined by Futurist Gerd Leonhard and SAP Innovation executive Timo Elliott. The show was expertly moderated by Bonnie D. Graham, starting with her positioning of the topic: “Impossible is not a fact. It is an opinion” (Muhammad Ali). A unique clustering of inventions in the century after the U.S. Civil War improved the American and European standard of living – human well-being – more than any period before or after, with advances in everything from food and energy to health and work. Can our current innovation explosion have a similar impact despite unintended consequences? 

We explored a topic that I had written about in a recent post on Revolution and the Innovation Wheel. The show format opens with quotes from each of us, followed by a round table discussion that is based on statements that we provide in advance. Below are the quotes and statements provided. The show is available on-demand to listen at your convenience.

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Reimagining the Future

The future is arriving faster than most people think.


When we look around us, we see a world in which digital is now woven into the fabric of our lives. Where convergence of paradigm shifts is now the new norm and the pace of change is accelerating exponentially. We are now living in a looking-glass world; where everything we think we know is being challenged, including our long-held notions of success and failure. At the same time it’s a world where we can imagine, create and enable like never before.

These paradigm shifts will require us to think deeply about the future, with a focus on improving the global standard of living, and an emphasis placed on right brain characteristics such as creativity, imagination and reasoning. They will have a profound effect as purpose, structure, value, scenarios, ethics and viability are challenged, re-examined and reimagined.

In this keynote presentation, I make the case that we are entering a very transformative period in history – one that could someday be viewed as the MOST transformative. In a world where change is constant and shifts occur instantly, we can no longer accurately predict the future, but instead must rehearse it. I invite you to rehearse along with me – enjoy this journey through the looking glass. Expand the window below to view via PowerPoint online.

Revolution and the Innovation wheel

In a brilliant journey through the economic history of the western world, author Robert J. Gordon looks at The Rise and Fall of American Growth. This recent book focuses on a revolutionary century that impacted the American standard of living more than any period before or after. Our standard of living is typically viewed as the ratio of total production of goods and services (real GDP) per member of the population. But this measure fails to truly capture enhancements to our well-being. Human well-being is influenced by advances in the areas of food, clothing, shelter, energy, transport, education, health, work, information, entertainment, and communications. The special century (1870 – 1970) that followed the Civil War was made possible by a unique clustering of what the author calls the great inventions. Clearly – as the visual I developed depicts – the great inventions of the second industrial revolution significantly improved our well-being:


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