Our Emerging Future

In my last post, I added more future scenarios to this visual describing the complexity and impact of our emerging future. The one piece left unfinished was the expansion of innovation accelerators to include emerging and future accelerators. With input from TCS CTO Ananth Krishnan, I have added a number of accelerators to the visual.


For those new to the visual, it attempts to identify several factors that converge to create or shape our future. This emerging future cannot be predicted, but can be rehearsed at some level if we can envision convergence, implications, accelerants, and obstacles. An example of convergence analysis can be found here. The foundational curve is the science and technology curve. This curve portrays the exponential progression of both science and technology and the reciprocal influence that one is having on the other. This progression continues its unabated exponential rise, and leaders can only see so far on the curve. This creates an uncertainty that makes it difficult to understand its implications into the future.

In a recent post, I described a third platform vision positioned by IDC that views a third IT wave built around cloud computing, social applications, big data, and mobile computing. The post goes on to describe an argument made by famous economist Jeremy Rifkin that a third revolution is upon us, and it is fueled by a new general purpose technology platform (GPT). I believe the innovation accelerator part of the curve bridges the gap between these two points of view. Some of these accelerators are in our line of sight and their impacts already felt. Others are emerging with an expected impact, and still others are far off in the distance with no ability to gauge impact. The ultimate impact as viewed by Rifkin may be A New Economic Paradigm.

This curve spawns a second very broad curve. It identifies future scenarios that span areas including health, materials, food, transport, logistics, energy, shelter, agriculture, governing, war, security, manufacturing, and the future of the human species. It is this second curve that creates a number of converging paradigm shifts that collectively transform our world. We have never witnessed the sheer number of shifts occurring at the same time, and if that isn’t enough, societal factors amplify the impact. There is an interesting reciprocal tension at work here, as the social dimension is impacted or squeezed by the curves, while at the same time, social change has a reciprocal effect.

This list of emerging and future accelerators is by no means an exhaustive list, but it captures the magnitude and speed of impact. As convergence on the science and technology curve accelerates, it will spawn additional future scenarios – and the cycle continues. In this spirit of crowd sourcing, I would be very interested in the community’s thoughts around additional innovation accelerators, future scenarios, and/or societal factors.

5 thoughts on “Our Emerging Future

  1. […] The driverless car is one of many emerging future scenarios that drive multiple paradigm shifts. As these shifts converge, they intensify the critical need for leaders to think differently about a world where the future arrives faster than people think. This speed is unappreciated, undermining the levels of urgency required to survive in this exponential age. I sat with Chunka Mui recently to discuss these shifts, using the driverless car to explore the challenges of our emerging future. […]


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