Education As The Bridge Between Eras

In the mid-1800s, when operating steam-driven machines required a skilled workforce, education helped the working class emerge from a period of stagnation. Later, high school helped ease the transition from the farm to the factory and office. We find ourselves straddling two eras again. The world economic forum estimates that sixty-five percent of children today will end up in careers that do not exist yet.

Our goal is to double the world’s GDP. That’s a very audacious goal. But education is the only thing that has ever done it in the past. It can jumpstart entire economies

Sebastian Thrun – Chairman and co-founder of Udacity

So here we are again. Education must emerge as the bridge between eras. It must ensure that those educated embody the qualities and competencies essential to life in a society different than our industrial past.

Continue reading

Futuristic New Cities

I believe the smart city represents the intersection of multiple emerging ecosystems. Energy, transport, water, food, health, and more, could come together to create a more equitable and sustainable future. At least that’s the mission of Telosa. A recent article via Oscar Holland describes the vision of billionaire Marc Lore:

The cleanliness of Tokyo, the diversity of New York and the social services of Stockholm: Billionaire Marc Lore has outlined his vision for a 5-million-person “new city in America” and appointed a world-famous architect to design it.

Oscar Holland – Plans for $400-billion new city in the American desert unveiled

Per the article, the 150,000-acre proposal promises eco-friendly architecture, sustainable energy production and a purportedly drought-resistant water system. It embraces a “15-minute city design” that allows residents to access their workplaces, schools and amenities within a quarter-hour commute of their homes. The brief video describes the vision.

Astounding Levels Of Innovation: Energy

As we move aggressively into this period of great invention, we will increasingly marvel at astounding levels of innovation. Every domain will experience this phenomenon…and it is accelerating. The articles below make the point very clear. The most encouraging piece of these breakthroughs is growing evidence that our world of extraction is shifting ever so slightly to one of creation. Advances in materials science are critical to solving some of the worlds greatest challenges. The energy transition is underway.

Tesla aims to release $25,000 electric car in 2023, likely will not have a steering wheel

This wildly reinvented wind turbine generates five times more energy than its competitors

Experimental chlorine battery holds 6 times more charge than lithium-ion

What if walking around on your wood floors powered your home?

Hydrogen in aviation: how close is it?

Graphene innovation opens doors to low cost, sustainable, sodium-ion batteries

Crewless Cargo Ship with Zero Emissions Launches

A Norwegian company has created what it calls the world’s first zero-emission, autonomous cargo ship. If all goes to plan, the ship will make its first journey between two Norwegian towns before the end of the year, with no crew onboard. Instead, its movements will be monitored from three onshore data control centers.

Rochelle Beighton – World’s first crewless, zero emissions cargo ship will set sail in Norway

That quote from this recent article describes the worlds first fully electric container ship that is also autonomous. The shipping industry currently accounts for between 2.5% and 3% of global greenhouse gases emissions, according to the International Maritime Organization. This zero emissions cargo ship begins the long process of addressing that problem. It is envisioned that it will replace 40,000 truck journeys a year. The crewless feature of this emerging innovation makes the ship more cost effective to operate. Almost every scenario we look at tells the same transition story. In this case, the transition involves humans loading and unloading the ship initially, but eventually transitioning to all operations using autonomous technology.

Continue reading

3D Printed Smart Homes

When looking into the future, changes to the home may not be the first place you look, yet it will not be spared in this era of transformative change. In fact, the home experience was already changing prior to the pandemic, and in a post-pandemic world, the future home looks different. Other drivers like sustainability and aging in our homes are likely to alter our long-standing views of homes. As an example, a recent article describes a new home that is self-sustaining, autonomous, and 3D Printed. The video provides a glimpse.

Autonomous Trucking

A growing narrative these days reflects a belief that realizing the autonomous driving vision is far off in the future. It’s harder than people think, and many experts believe reaching level five autonomy is next to impossible. Those beliefs stem from the complexity of the human mind, and the intuition we use in decision making. Yet quietly, Autonomous Trucking is on a path towards realization by the middle of this decade. Starting in the southern region of the U.S., autonomous trucks are logging miles. Southern states like Arizona, Texas, and New Mexico, provide the right conditions for early phase testing: bad weather is less common, favorable regulation, and strong highway infrastructure.

Continue reading

Talking To Ghosts

Storytelling is a powerful way to communicate in a world as fast-moving and uncertain as ours. Jason Fagone demonstrates its power in a brilliantly written piece on mental health, loneliness, grief, and isolation. It is a very long article, but incredibly impactful. He tells a story of a grief-stricken freelance writer that lost his fiancée to a rare liver disease. In telling the story, Jason shows both the power and fascination of current day innovation, and its fear and destructive potential. It effectively describes our need to balance these opposing forces of innovation. Some background: Jason Rohrer, a Bay Area programmer, launched Project December, which is powered by one of the world’s most capable artificial intelligence systems, a piece of software known as GPT-3. It knows how to manipulate human language, generating fluent English text in response to a prompt.

This text-based experiment created a new kind of chat service that lies at the heart of this story. He created various personalities and proceeded to communicate with them. During one exchange with a bot he named Samantha, he asked her what she would do if she could walk around in the world. This exchange led to a realization:

Continue reading

Are We Living In The Most Important Century For Humanity?

I have written in the past about tipping points in human history and a belief that the world may experience its third tipping point sometime this century. A recent article via Holden Karnofsky hypothesizes that we live in the most important century in human history. Both views are driven by an underlying belief that the century likely delivers humanity altering changes. In my view, the combination of rapid knowledge expansion, artificial intelligence, machines, biotechnology, genetic engineering, our connectivity, and a new computing paradigm, are likely to change what it means to be human. In the article, the author argues that the 21st century could see our civilization develop technologies that allow rapid expansion throughout our currently empty galaxy. He argues all sides of a debate that ranges from impossible, to skeptical, to humanity altering.

Continue reading

How Close Are We To Autonomous Driving?

I’m extremely confident that level 5 [self-driving cars] or essentially complete autonomy will happen, and I think it will happen very quickly. I remain confident that we will have the basic functionality for level 5 autonomy complete this year.

Elon Musk

The question of full autonomy goes back to 2014. There was a time when leaders across industry focused on the disruptive potential of autonomous vehicles. Here in 2021, those disruptive scenarios have not emerged on the timeline many expected. So, how close are we really to level five autonomous driving? That quote above provides one man’s opinion. Granted, that opinion comes from Elon Musk, a person that has made technology history for decades. As this article via Nick Hobson describes, vehicles that have achieved level five autonomy can drive in all circumstances, removing the need for a steering wheel and driver’s seat. Many experts believe reaching level five autonomy is next to impossible. Those beliefs stem from the complexity of the human mind, and the intuition we use in decision making.

Continue reading

Perspectives From A Labor Economist And Epidemiologist

I had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion on day two of the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California (WCIRB) annual conference. Bill Mudge CEO of the WCIRB moderated a discussion that looked forward and somewhat over the horizon. We focused on the future of working labor, medical science, and the long term or latent issues from COVID-19. Our dialog explored the opportunities that COVID-19 and economic recession have unlocked, and the accelerated trends that were already emerging. Joining the discussion were Dr. Sylvia Allegretto PhD., the labor economist and co-chair of the center for wage and employment dynamics at the university of California. Also joining us was Jacek Skarbinski, MD Physician and Research Scientist with Kaiser Permanente.

Continue reading

The Probability Of Living Past 110 Is On The Rise

I posed this question in 2018 in a post on healthy life extension: Has the first person to live to 200 already been born? I ask that question in various forums to provide a good example of how one scenario can challenge current institutions and traditional thinking. In that earlier post, Johnty Andersen, had this perspective on that question:

Continue reading

Will Artificial Intelligence Be More Profound Than Fire, Electricity, And The Internet?

Sundar Pichai, the chief executive of Google’s owner Alphabet, believes that artificial intelligence (AI) will eventually have a bigger impact than fire, electricity, and the Internet. Historically, general purpose technologies have driven two major tipping points – from the hunter-gatherer era to the agrarian, and agrarian to industrial. Advancement of human development through transformative periods like this had two common drivers: the growth of knowledge and inventions that served as a platform for society. With that in mind, Mr. Pichai’s assessment when viewed through the lens of history could be spot on. Artificial intelligence combines both drivers in a way that prior platform technologies did not. AI is a general purpose technology that is increasingly woven into the fabric of society, and it could ultimately represent the pinnacle of knowledge attainment.

Continue reading

Meet The Jetsons

We wanted flying cars, instead we got 140 characters

– Peter Theil

That quote dates back to 2013. Reid Hoffman reacted to our progress since then in a recent Tweet.

Much progress has indeed been made as demonstrated by the video below. However, this article provides a word of caution:

Continue reading

What Do AI and Kurt Cobain Have In Common?

I never thought I would put artificial intelligence and Kurt Cobain in the same sentence. As we continue to explore the path of AI and its reach, one critical question is just how far it will encroach on our right brain characteristics. Those traits that make us distinctly human have long been considered out of AI’s reach. Yet, we slowly see signs that we could be wrong. What do AI and Kurt Cobain have in common? A new song. This song titled “Drowned in the Sun” was written by Google’s AI as described by Vanessa Bates Ramirez in a recent article. Read the full article for a fascinating look at how this was accomplished.

Now, consider a scenario where Nirvana lives on and performs new material in concert with Kurt Cobain appearing as a hologram. Listen to the song below and then let me know how you react via the poll.

A Perspective On Where We Are On The Autonomous Vehicle Journey

Francesco Biondi doesn’t mince words in his recent assessment of autonomous vehicles both today and into the future. I looked back on my thoughts regarding this scenario in a recent post, concluding that self-driving cars have not evolved to where experts predicted. There was a lot of hype across industries regarding the disruptive potential of this one scenario. I remember the countless conversations about insurance premiums drying up, or how Internet companies would displace the automakers – so I get the skepticism. As Mr. Biondi asks: what went wrong?

Continue reading

The Road To Artificial General Intelligence

The tremendous advancements in artificial intelligence remain focused in narrow applications. As described in a recent article authored by Ben Dickson, these narrow systems have been designed to perform specific tasks instead of having general problem-solving abilities. The quest for general problem-solving ability has long been pursued, with many focused-on replicating aspects of human intelligence like vision, language, reasoning, and motor skills. Now, a new paper submitted to the peer-reviewed Artificial Intelligence journal describes an argument put forward by scientists at U.K.-based AI lab DeepMind. They argue that intelligence and its associated abilities likely emerge by rewarding maximization versus formulating and solving complicated problems.

Continue reading

Are Electric Vehicles Taking Over Faster Than We Think?

We are in the middle of the biggest revolution in motoring since Henry Ford’s first production line started turning back in 1913.

Justin Rowlatt – Why electric cars will take over sooner than you think

That quote from a recent article brings to mind a fundamental truth: there are divergent opinions on just about any emerging future scenario. Author Justin Rowlatt states that we have past the tipping point; that milestone where electric vehicle sales begin to overwhelm traditional car sales. As the big car makers position themselves to sell only electric vehicles at some point this decade, one must wonder what factors led to those decisions. One of those factors comes from government, as they ban the sales of traditional vehicles on some predetermined timeline. The author however points to the speed of the technological revolution the world is experiencing. I liken this period to the early days of the second industrial revolution. A period of great invention which is likely surpassed by the period we have entered – with the big difference being the speed of realization.

Continue reading

Seismic Shocks In The Never Normal

Thinking it’s going back to the calm old normal, forget it. It’s a world of volatility. That’s what I call the never normal.

Peter Hinssen – Thriving in the Never Normal

I obviously agree with that quote for the most part. I would argue that the old normal wasn’t all that calm. It took a pandemic to illuminate what was lurking beneath the surface. However, this is a brilliant short keynote on the decade ahead. It is loaded with great quotes and examples of reinvention. Holding on to the past is a losing strategy, as a funny segment in the video makes clear:

Continue reading

Resilience Is Top Of Mind These Days

Resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties. That word is suddenly in everyone’s vocabulary. Whether it is individual or organizational, resilience helps us withstand adversity and bounce back. The pandemic can be credited for our heightened awareness, but it was just a matter of time before we all got here. The factors described in my Post yesterday describe why: complexity, pace, volatility, unpredictability, and the unexpected. These factors have always been there, but during specific transformative eras throughout human history, they combined in ways that challenged the existing order.

Continue reading

A Possible Future: Automation Shifts The Economic Paradigm

In exploring possible futures, we give ourselves an opportunity to shape them. With all the existing and emerging science and technology building blocks converging with domains like society, the economy, and geopolitics, predicting the future is impossible. But we can look at possibilities and what they mean to our future. One great recent example was described in an article by Tristan Greene. In looking at artificial intelligence and related automation, Mr. Greene focused on how automation could turn capitalism into socialism. This is not a political discussion, rather, it is following a thread to a logical conclusion. In this case, the impact of automation on the future of work. Mr. Greene said:

Continue reading