It’s The 2023 Prediction Season

It seems like you blink and prediction season is upon us again. Futurist Bernard Marr shares his top ten technology trends list in the video below and associated article. He touches on AI, Metaverse, Web3, Digital Twins, 3D Printing, CRISPR, Quantum Computing, Green Technology, Humanoid Robots, Autonomous Systems, and Sustainable Technology. A very good list from a technology standpoint. It’s time for this ritual to focus as much on geopolitics, economics, philosophy, and society, as these domains will play a significant role in shaping possible futures.

The Age Of Resilience

In an online leadership course developed in 2016, I stressed the need for resilience and adaptability. The course, titled A Journey Through the Looking Glass, focused on an emerging world of complexity, uncertainty, and the unknown. We rarely heard the words resilience and adaptability spoken back then, but along came a pandemic to force them into our vocabulary. While our short-term focus obstructed our view, cracks were forming and accumulating in ways that were likely to put a premium on these two traits.

One of those cracks is described in detail in a new book titled The Age of Resilience. Author Jeremy Rifkin was an early influence on my thinking. In his book published in 2014, The Zero Marginal Cost society, he took a fascinating look at economic history. That look backward provided a window into possible economic futures. Now, eight years later, Rifkin positions a transformative vision for how our species will thrive on an unpredictable Earth. Through an organizational lens, I viewed resilience as the primary trait on a strategic foundation of automation and intelligence. Rifkin views it through the lens of the biosphere.

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America’s Demographics

Demographics are a big piece of forward-looking analysis – and we are living in times of significant demographic shifts. An aging society, a fall in working age population, a drop in fertility rates, and a diversifying population are just a handful of examples. This recent article provides a great interactive visual via Visual Capitalist that captures one hundred years of demographic change in America.

The most obvious takeaway from this animation is that America’s population has soared over the last century. America’s population grew from 77 million in 1901 to over 330 million in 2020—or total growth of 330% over the 119 years.

Kaj Tallungs – Animated Chart: America’s Demographics Over 100+ Years

Other key findings include a near-even split between men and women and drastic changes in age and race distributions. As mentioned above, birth rates have been slowing over time, which results in an increased elderly population and a depleted workforce. From a diversity standpoint the shares of Black, Asian, and Hispanic have also been growing. The article provides other charts and insights.

What Do Patents Tell Us About AI In 2023?

Foresight is all about signals and they come from various sources. History provides us with an incredible number of signals, with other sources including venture data, market research, academia, analysts, think tanks, and experimentation. One critical source of foresight is patents. This recent article provides an example of patent data as a source of foresight – in this case, focused on artificial intelligence (AI).

In conjunction with the global AI market growth, the number of patents for AI technology are on an upswing, and a general survey of patents for AI technologies shows just how innovative these industries are becoming

Rose Acoraci Zeck – ANALYSIS: Patents Forecast Widespread Reach of AI Tech in 2023

Analysis of AI patents shows that the number of patents issued by the US Patent & Trademark Office for AI technologies has surged over the past five years – from 3,267 in 2017 to 18,753 in 2021. The types of patents and their applications provide a window into AI in 2023. FinTech is identified as a key area of advancement driven by AI, with a focus on blockchain, cryptocurrency, contextual mobile banking, and crypto coin generation, mining, and exchange. In the health and wellness space, patent analysis indicates that AI innovation includes enhanced disease diagnostic technologies and optical devices that monitor brain activity. At a recent CFO and Board Director event that I participated in, sustainability was a dominant topic. Many seek to understand the role of technology in addressing the pressing issues of sustainability, climate change, and environmental issues. Patent analysis provides examples of how we may address these issues in the future.

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A Look At Economic History

The “free market” is perhaps the most familiar of economic bywords. Since at least the Great Depression, the term has been a staple of the nation’s political discourse, used both to praise and to criticize policy. An economic philosophy intertwined with a number of powerful political ideologies

Jacob Soll – Free Market, The History of an Idea

Free markets and how we think about them are reflective of our broader polarized society. A recent book explores the history of the topic – one that has been polarized for centuries. In Free Market, The History of an Idea, author Jacob Soll studies the long history of free market thought. We learn that our conception of Adam Smith is not accurate, and the raging debates between laissez-faire and government intervention date back at least to the writings of first-century philosopher Marcus Tullius Cicero. Early thinkers did not believe greed was good, but felt society needed to find a way to harness commercial self-interest in ways that elevated the common good.

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Ecosystem Enabling Ways Of Organizing

Building blocks. We know they exist in the form of science and technology innovation, but they also exist in various geopolitical, economic, societal, philosophical, and environmental forces. It was 2014 when I read a report via John Hagel on combinations and disruption. Fast forward several years and discussions of composability have elevated to organization design. I recently moderated a CEO Roundtable titled “Envisioning Possible Futures.” In that discussion, enabling the edge of our organizations was discussed in an indirect manner. Without using the words, CEOs were challenging current command and control structures. I heard phrases like sense and respond for the first time in that type of leadership setting.

The driver of that dialog was the complexity and uncertainty of our world. The pandemic, extreme events, and recent geopolitical tensions have clearly changed perspectives. The characteristics of our times have historical precedent, but the speed at which change is occurring does not. As a result, new ways of thinking about operating in our current environment are emerging. Nicolas Colin, Cofounder and Director at The Family, has said that there is now more power outside than inside organizations. This dynamic has contributed to the rise of ecosystems. These forces and their visibility at leadership levels will drive a change in how we organize – both as a society and at the organization level. To deal with complexity and uncertainty, organizations must be viewed as composable building blocks that mimic the operating environment. As the possibility space expands (disruptors and opportunities) traditional hierarchical and command and control structures become increasingly irrelevant. This fundamental driver leads to a new way of organizing as described by the Boundaryless team.

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Building On Belief – For The Love Of Running

I had the pleasure of joining this One Vision podcast to discuss the future of running. As a sponsor of many marathons, TCS sees science and technology as an enhancer of the running experience, health, wellness, and performance. The podcast includes perspectives from Susanna Sullivan, a public-school teacher and competitive runner. The abstract of the session follows.


ABSTRACT

Running is about belief, determination, and community. How we get to the finish line and who joins us along the way are memories we all want to cherish. Have you ever wondered about the humans behind the marathon and the technology that brings them together? In this episode of One Vision, Theo and Bradley chat with Frank Diana, Managing Partner and Futurist at TCS, as well as Susanna Sullivan, a public-school teacher and competitive runner, and part of a group of teachers sponsored by TCS, about the upcoming TCS New York City Marathon and the tech innovation that serves to enrich the race experience. As in years past, technology will play a key role in bridging our physical and digital worlds and creating lasting memories of key moments. From the past, to the present and the future, the way we connect to each other will continue to evolve and be reinforced — from bits and bytes to true human connections — with the power of data.

Humanoid Robot Mimics Facial Expressions

She’s baaaack. Every new video of Ameca gets more fascinating. We watched her come to life. We saw her defend her personal space. We watched as she practiced facial expressions in a mirror. We then watched her have a conversation with her creators. Now, we see her mimicking the facial expressions of an engineer. Check it out.

Living Standards Have Improved Around The World

As the Industrial Revolution gathered momentum, circa 1800, virtually all countries had a life expectancy at or below 40 years; today, just six countries have a life expectancy below 60 years. Put another way, a daughter born into a family in Lesotho or the Central African Republic — the countries with the lowest life expectancy today, each at around 53 years — can expect to live a longer and healthier life than the newborn daughter of an Englishman or American in the year 1800.

Tony Morley – 9 astonishing ways that living standards have improved around the world

A recent article focused on what should be apparent to any objective observer – that is, living standards have never been better. While most people if asked, believe the world has gotten worse, the article provides nine ways that our living standards have improved around the globe. The quote above focuses on the first one, increased life expectancy. We will likely see this continue, as many innovations promise to drive our healthy life extension. The second area of improvement is extreme poverty, a fate that everyone experienced through most of human history.

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Scenario Planning Thoughts From Futurist Peter Schwartz

Are you curious, imaginative, and collaborative? If so, you have what it takes to be a scenario planner. This brilliant video via Peter Schwartz is a must see.

An Economic History Of The Twentieth Century

I just finished reading a book titled Slouching Towards Utopia. The book explores the history of what author J. Bradford DeLong calls a long twentieth century. He views the 140-year period between 1870 and 2010 as the most consequential years of all humanity’s centuries. In an earlier book by Robert J. Gordon, he told a similar story of a special century between 1870-1970. The common denominator is the starting point of 1870, or the start of the second industrial revolution. Both books tell a compelling story about a period of economic prosperity never seen in human history.

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Living In Uncertain Times

The title of an upcoming presentation I will deliver next week is “Adapting to Uncertainty.” It should be very clear by now that we live in extremely uncertain times. I maintain that the world has not been this uncertain since a series of twentieth century catalysts established our modern day. The reason lies in the similarities between our current times and that period decades ago. The world back then experienced uncertainty across multiple domains: science, technology, society, geopolitics, economics, and business. The breadth of change occurring across those domains made the period one of the most turbulent in human history. The uncertainty of our current world did not just emerge, it has been years in the making. As it did in that earlier period, the convergence of multiple forces created the current environment. In studying those forces, our ability to adapt became a central tenet of my thinking, alongside seeing the future and continually rehearsing it.

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A Future Shaped By Generational Differences

Overall, in 2021, Gen X (anyone born from 1965 to 1980) spent the most money of any U.S. generation, with an average annual expenditure of $83,357

Preethi Lodha – How Americans Spend Their Money, By Generation

As we focus our gaze on the horizon, history tells us that generational transitions to new stages of life play a role in shaping the future. As we traverse the seasons of life, how we think influences where society goes. In the book The Fourth Turning, the seasons of life are described in detail:

  • Childhood (ages 0-20)
  • Young adulthood (ages 21-41)
  • Midlife (ages 42-62)
  • Elderhood (ages 63-83)

However, many factors have converged to change the traditional life cycle from 4 segments to five.

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A Conversation With Ameca – The Humanoid Robot

Ameca has already proven to be an impressive demonstration of state-of-the-art humanoid robots, with her uncanny ability to contort her face into extremely believable, human-like expressions, ranging from disbelief to disgust. Now, thanks to the power of GPT 3, Ameca is able to converse as well, in an impressive extension of what modern robots are capable of.

VICTOR TANGERMANN – THEY PUT GPT-3 INTO THAT ROBOT WITH CREEPILY REALISTIC FACIAL EXPRESSIONS AND YIKES

I recently saw an article that once again shows the amazing advancement of humanoid robots. The article makes a point of saying that nothing in the video below is pre-scripted. Ameca uses a speech synthesizer and OpenAI’s GPT 3 to produce human-like text. In answering a question about the role of humanoid robots, Ameca said this:

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Digital Twins Reach A Tipping Point

I had the pleasure of joining Alan Shimel of Techstrong TV for a short Interview on digital twins. Our discussion explored the growing number of scenarios enabled by the convergence of multiple technologies. We discussed its application in the context of food and health in the short term, the Metaverse and smart cities in the medium term, and the off-planet economy in the long term. Alan does a great job with these interviews. You can explore several topics at Techstrong TV.

Purpose Plus Profit

I just finished reading my latest book titled Purpose + Profit. The book was written by Harvard professor George Serafeim. Being purpose-driven is no longer a brand or marketing gimmick, but a sea change driven by multiple forces. The book provides data to support the coexistence of both purpose and profit. In fact, it makes the case that purpose-driven companies have better outcomes. In 2017, I spoke about the need for a hybrid of purpose and profit. It is refreshing to read the many examples of how that exact scenario is playing out. Even more encouraging is the advancement in available data that allows us to measure impact – something the author calls impact weighted accounting. I recommend the book and have added it to my library. The Amazon abstract is included below.

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The Metaverse Handbook

The Metaverse is now one of those buzzwords we can expect to hear about for some time to come. With that in mind, I just finished reading my latest book titled The Metaverse Handbook. The book covers the following:

  • What the metaverse is, why you should care about it, and how to build your metaverse strategy
  • The history of the metaverse and primers on critical technologies driving the metaverse, including non-fungible tokens, XR, the blockchain, and web3
  • How to unearth unique metaverse opportunities in digital communities, commerce, and immersive experiences

Given the experiences of the last 2.5 years, an ability to feel like we are together when we are not takes on more importance. Renji Bijoy, Immersed VR’s founder and CEO went as far as to say that VR is less of a novelty and more of a quality-of-life tool. But as with everything else, there are paths that enhance humanity and those that diminish it. The book explores both the possibilities and the challenges. I have added to my book library.

Video: The Future Of Energy

Via Tech Bang.

Energy Generation in the future world. These are the SEVEN most exciting Energy Sources of the Future. The newest developments in Renewable Cleaner Energy to Get Us Off Fossil Fuels. These energy sources are promising a greener and more sustainable approach to the way we generate energy. We consume a HUGE amount of energy resources every day and we are at a point of transformation from a world powered by FOSSIL fuels to one powered by cleaner and RENEWABLE energy sources. The future looks promising.

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Robot Shows A Wide Range Of Facial Expressions

When I first posted a video of Ameca defending her personal space, the reaction ranged from fascinating to creepy. I would expect a similar reaction to this new video released by Engineered Arts. They have been working on teaching Ameca a wider range of facial expressions, with twelve new actuators added. See for yourself.

The Final Stages Of The Fourth Turning

It was 2019 when I finished a book titled The Fourth Turning. I found myself referring to it a couple of weeks ago during a conversation about the cycles of history. I went back to the book after our discussion given the many changes the world experienced since I added it to my library. The repeated cycles of history described by the book remain both fascinating and ominous.

First comes a High, a period of confident expansion as a new order takes root after the old has been swept away. Next comes an Awakening, a time of spiritual exploration and rebellion against the now-established order. Then comes an Unraveling, an increasingly troubled era in which individualism triumphs over crumbling institutions. Last comes a Crisis—the Fourth Turning—when society passes through a great and perilous gate in history. Together, the four turnings comprise history’s seasonal rhythm of growth, maturation, entropy, and rebirth.

Frank Diana – adapted from the book “The Fourth Turning”

Read that description of the historical cycles carefully. Turnings come in cycles of four. Each cycle spans the length of a long human life, roughly eighty to one hundred years. Now, let’s trace the current cycle back in time – quoted right from the book – keeping in mind that the book was written in 1997.

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