The pace of change is such that no forward looking visual can stay static for too long. I have therefore updated the anchor visual that looks at the digital platform, the innovation accelerators, and the disruptive scenarios that result from the convergence of societal progression, science, and technology. It is impossible to capture the current environment in one visual, but I hope what has been captured drives a clear message: there is a lot happening, on a rapid pace, and its convergent effects are multiplicative. There are several changes to the visual, and my thanks to the authors of The Future of Business for their inspiration:
There are simply too many technologies and innovation accelerators to account for, and I have resisted adding more for simplicity sake. However the discussion around Blockchain is growing louder, and so I have added it to the technology curve. The Blockchain technology is a highly secure protocol that enables the direct digital transfers of information without an intermediary. It can be used for money, personal data, stocks, transaction records, and contracts. Blockchain technology creates activity ledgers that have the potential to transform the nature of trade, contracts, and transactions across every sector. Some are arguing that it could be the foundation of a new economic system.
A more subtle change was a shift from focusing on next generation automation, to the automation of everything. This change reflects the reality that the platform to automate everything is indeed emerging, and the ultimate destination may be Decentralized Autonomous Organizations (DAO). Self-provisioning platforms, AI, Robotics, the automation of knowledge work, and Blockchain technologies foreshadow the rise of the DAO.
The next editions are the disruptive scenarios that likely impact financial services – I’ve simply termed this money 2.0 to also explore the role of money in society as we look into the future. As financial services are continuously unbundled, how will it shape the future of financial services? Are the public stock markets transformed? Is there a need for a clearing house role? Does the Bank as we know it disappear?
What it means to be human could be challenged by two new additions to the visual: Human 2.0 and Human-Machine convergence. In the case of Human 2.0, advances may enable the chemical, genetic, electronic, and physical augmentation of our brains and bodies. Could we see the emergence of a new breed of human with greater capabilities? Regarding our converging with machines, Gerd Leonhard and I have interacted quite a bit recently, and he takes a fascinating look at the topic of human-machine convergence in the book referenced above. Gerd takes a refreshing look at the need for society to shape the evolution and ethical governance of technological innovation and the boundaries between humans and machines. You can learn much more on this topic by visiting Mr. Leonhard’s site.
Next on our visual is the decentralization of everything. I recently did a radio program that focused on this fascinating topic. Wikipedia defines decentralization as the process of redistributing or dispersing functions, powers, people, or things away from a central location or authority. Multiple technologies on our curve drive towards decentralization. Renewable energies fundamentally decentralize energy production, as consumers become prosumers and create their own energy. 3D Printing promises to decentralize the highly centralized manufacturing and distribution environment, as we all become prosumers. Blockchain technology promises to remove middlemen and central authorities from the mix, affecting multiple sectors along the way. The decentralization phenomenon does not stop there. We are heading towards decentralized autonomous organizations that are enabled by AI, Robotics, Blockchain and more. What happens when an organization is almost fully automated?
Finally, we come to Democracy 2.0. What does all this mean to our current model of governance? Will technology facilitate a transition to a more open, participative, and informed model of governance and democracy? In the digital era, could we realize the true tenets of democracy by using technology to give everyone a voice?
For me, each addition to the visual – and the knowledge that each bubble on the curve likely converges with multiple bubbles to amplify the effect – underscores the massive paradigm shifts that lie ahead. My goal remains the same – shine the light on these shifts and begin the dialog.