The Future Of Freight Transport

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.

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Resistance To Renewable Energy Is Similar To The Early Rejection Of Coal

Without good stories to help us envision something very different from the present, we humans are easily stuck in our conventional mental programming

Per 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.

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Living An Extra One Hundred Years

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.

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Alexa Can Mimic Anyone’s Voice

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 boy

Dale 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.

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The Consciousness Debate

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.

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The Energy Transition

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.

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The Global Decline In Fertility Rates

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:

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A Shift In Economic Power

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?

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Digital Resurrection

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.

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Ecosystem Leadership

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 ecosystems

Sarah 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).

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The Future Of Autonomous Driving And Logistics

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.

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The Redesign Of Cities

Yesterday I wrote about endless possibilities. In thinking about the topic, I pointed to the  2022 Trends Report launched by the Future Today Institute. My post focused on a number of scenarios that represent possibilities. Here is another example of a possibility from the report – new city designs. Post-Industrial Revolution designs focused on cars and roads versus people, but that focus is likely to change. Future communities will be built around nature, not over it. As described by this article, THE LINE is an example of that change.

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An Endless Possibility Space

In times of significant change, society has followed two distinct paths that represent the Opposing Forces of Innovation. This subway diagram focuses on these two paths: one that enhances human development (green), and one that diminishes it (red). The station stops are the major impacted domains in either direction – but we could add several other stations based on the number of Building Blocks available to society. Click on the visual to expand it.

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What Role Did Geography Play In The Past – And What Does It Mean For The Future?

Another recent article explores the factors that drove civilization success. The article – along with a number of recent books – looks for historical signals that aid in our understanding of the future. In this case, the focus is geography, which the article positions as the reason both individuals and civilizations are the way they are today. If history informs our views of possible futures, then according to the article, geography has influenced history more than any other factor. The author uses Japan as an example.

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Economic Headwinds Highlight Uncertainty Across Multiple Domains

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has lowered its economic predictions for 2022 and beyond. The IMF predicts that global GDP growth will slow from 6.1% in 2021 to 3.6% in 2022 and 2023

Jenna Ross – Mapped: Economic Predictions for 2022 and Beyond

This recent article maps economic predictions for 2022 and 2023. Those predictions are presented in two very effective visuals via Visual Capitalist provided in this post. The article provides commentary on the headwinds that global economies face. As mentioned in my post yesterday, sustained economic growth dating back over 200 years was the engine for standard of living improvement. Managing these headwinds along with other forces across multiple domains is critical to enabling ongoing human development. The two visuals are provided below – click on the visuals to enlarge.

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That Point In History Where Our Standard Of Living Improved

The third period, in which we all live, is characterized by an unprecedented phenomenon: sustained economic growth. Quality of life went from improving very gradually if at all for the vast majority of human history to improving very, very quickly.

Dylan Matthews – About 200 years ago, the world started getting rich. Why?

That quote comes from a recent article that summarizes the thinking from a book titled How the World Became Rich. As readers of my Blog know, I believe this look at history helps us understand possible futures. In this case, what history tells us about our potential to further advance human development. Another recent book titled The Journey Of Humanity took a similar look at history and attempted to explain this path to standard of living improvement. The earlier book makes it clear – the world has changed considerably in the last 200 years:

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Innovation And Our Well-Being

In a post from 2016, I launched an innovation wheel that captured the activity of the second industrial revolution. This activity set the standard of living that much of society enjoys today. As I mentioned in that earlier post, 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. The book focused 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 depicts – the great inventions of the second industrial revolution significantly improved our well-being.

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Science and Technology Race Ahead

I recently wrote about innovation being everywhere. This pace of innovation has me believing in a possibility space with the potential to solve many of humanity’s grand historical challenges. As Chunka Mui (Futurist and innovation advisor) said in a recent article, today’s innovators can prosper by building a better tomorrow. Indeed, purpose has become a catalyst for positive change. I encourage you to read his recent article. Chunka described our current world in late 2013 with the release of his book titled The New Killer Apps: How Large Companies Can Out-Innovate Start-Ups.

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A Reimagining The Future Presentation

I have the pleasure of speaking in various forums about the future. It is a fascinating time to be focused on illuminating the path forward, as the pace, uncertainty, and complexity of our times makes it very challenging. This short three-minute video describes my reimagining the future presentation.

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The Journey Of Humanity

Since the dawn of the nineteenth century, a split second compared to the span of human existence, life expectancy has more than doubled, and per capita incomes have soared twenty-fold in the most developed regions of the world, and fourteen-fold on Planet Earth as a whole

Oded Galor – The Journey of Humanity

That quote comes from a book I just finished titled The Journey of Humanity. Author Oded Galor explores the origins of wealth and inequality. He takes a fascinating journey from our migration out of Africa, through the Neolithic and Industrial Revolutions, to modern day. Along the way, he describes how technological advancements and higher land productivity led to larger but not richer populations. The fact that standard of living improvement only occurred during a tiny stretch of recent human history – and the reasons why – are explored in detail. A somewhat perplexing fact that hunter-gatherers evidently lived longer, consumed a richer diet, worked less intensively, and suffered fewer infectious diseases, is echoed in the book titled Work by James Suzman.

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