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:

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As We Accelerate In The Short Term – Horizons Move Closer

While COVID-19 is an acknowledged accelerant, we are accelerating towards a known destination. Remote learning and working should have evolved sooner; the digital foundation should have been a priority earlier; eCommerce should have exploded by now; and last-mile delivery is only just beginning. Although we may arrive at this destination sooner, acceleration now draws scenarios that are further out closer. Those that may have been reluctant to order online overcame their fears. The elderly on zoom calls is now a thing. With broader societal adoption comes an ability to more aggressively pursue innovative ideas that may have been further out. When combined with learning that comes from broader adoption, acceleration becomes a virtuous cycle.

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COVID-19 And The New Great Depression

In a new book by James Rickards, the author explores both the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic impact. A prolific writer, Economist, and adviser, Mr. Rickards predicts years of economic turbulence ahead. In The New Great Depression, Mr. Rickards sees the pandemic through an historical lens, where crisis presents a gateway between one world and the next. With an eye towards history, he concludes that the Keynes practical definition of a depression fits, and we are now in a new depression that is more far reaching than a mere technical recession. Along the way, the author wades into controversial topics such as China’s role in spreading the virus and the lockdown that ensued (which he calls the biggest policy blunder ever).

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Global Technology Governance

Strawberries. Simple enough for farmers to grow, but can they do better? That is a question that a smart Agriculture Competition in China attempted to answer. Four technology teams competed with farmers over four months to grow strawberries. This Article by Victoria Masterson describes what happened next: data scientists produced 196% more strawberries by weight on average compared with traditional farmers. It is not surprising, given that vertical farming using intelligent sensors and AI have shown the possibilities. As we witness this rapid pace of innovation, we see the potential for human development (in this case food abundance), but also the likely unintended consequences. These Two Paths have historical precedent, as every great period of invention has followed both paths. After all, fire provided light, warmth, and food, but also burned down villages.

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Are Big Cities In Trouble?

The remote work discussion will not go away. There are no shortages of predictions or perspectives regarding the world of work post-pandemic. I continue to believe that prediction is a fools errand, especially in a world dominated by rapid innovation, uncertainty, and a level of Convergence unseen since the end of World War Two. While we may not predict the future, we can continually look for signals – both weak and strong. The future of both work and cities is intertwined. If remote work becomes the standard practice, it has big implications for cities. A recent Article written by Derek Thompson explores this dynamic. This quote from the article represents a signal:

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Guarding Against Future Crises In Business

In the early days of 2021, there is still an uneasy feeling involved in any search for a silver lining to the COVID-19 pandemic. Indeed, it may be that this will always remain the case. And yet, without disregarding or minimizing the tragedy that the pandemic has inflicted all across the globe, there are certain potential positives coming to light.

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Companion Robots: An Example Of The Accelerating Power Of COVID-19

Hanson Robotics wants to help those craving company during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those not familiar with Sophia, it is a human-like robot from Hanson Robotics. For those not familiar, check out the video below. Sophia appears between the 2:10 and 5:30 marks of the 8-minute segment. In discussing the roll of companion robots, CEO David Hanson told Reuters that “Sophia and Hanson robots are unique by being so human-like, that can be so useful during these times where people are terribly lonely and socially isolated.” His company, Hanson Robotics, plans to roll out thousands of these robots in 2021. They aim to roll out four models — including Sophia — in the first half of 2021.

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Another Roaring Twenties?

Lost in the focus on life after the pandemic are all the forces that were already shaping our future. I explored many of them in various posts, but none have been as intriguing to me as the forces tied to history. If we look at history and apply it to current day, we can seek out periods that look like ours. This Application of History illuminates possible futures and has the potential to inform our actions. What happened in these similar periods and what can we learn? A recent article posed this question: Will the 2020s Really Become the Next Roaring Twenties? This seemingly simple question is loaded with implications. The article provides several links with great content and I highly recommend it.

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Organizing For Future Readiness

Back in 2013, weak signals clearly pointed to a structural change that was desperately needed. In a Post from that year, I described the type of change I envisioned in a world that looked very different than the world where these structures were born. The pandemic, as it has on so many levels, made something lying beneath the surface very visible. What it should also illuminate for leaders is that the future is uncertain, approaching rapidly, and likely to contain regular extreme events. Those factors make future readiness crucial to viability. To be future-ready, and to operate in a world dominated by uncertainty and pace, structures must change. When I say structure, I mean a broad set of things to consider:

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Post Corona: From Crisis To Opportunity

“I begin with two theses. First, the pandemic’s most enduring impact will be as an accelerant. While it will initiate some changes and alter the direction of some trends, the pandemic’s primary effect has been to accelerate dynamics already present in society.” – Scott Galloway

That is a quote from a book I just finished. Scott Galloway is a professor at New York University’s Stern School of Business, where he teaches brand strategy and digital marketing to second-year MBA students. In his new book, he looks at the world post corona. The book titled “Post Corona: From Crisis to Opportunity” has been added to my Book library. He points to remarkable things that have happened since the virus reared its ugly head, like: It took Apple 42 years to reach $1 trillion in value, and 20 weeks to accelerate from $1 trillion to $2 trillion (March to August 2020), and we registered a decade of ecommerce growth in eight weeks. Additionally, Tesla became not only the most valuable car company in the world, but more valuable than Toyota, Volkswagen, Daimler, and Honda combined.

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Life After Coronavirus

In this brief video, several experts talk about life after the global pandemic. Adil Najam, Dean, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University, and his colleagues set out to answer this question: what will our post-COVID-19 world look like? I tackled that question early in the pandemic by looking at Applying History to our current day. Mr. Najam interviewed leading thinkers on 101 distinct topics and produced a video series which you can find Here.

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The Changing World of Retail

The pandemic has had wide spread impact across multiple domains, and Retail is a space with considerable impact. As I mentioned in a Post last week, we have seen ten years of ecommerce growth in three months. Does the rapid surge of ecommerce represent the future, or does our human desire for social interaction serve as a positive catalyst for physical retail? Will physical retail survive in a post-pandemic world? In a recent Video Clip, Fool.com contributor Matt Frankel and Industry Focus host Jason Moser ask Shark Tank star Kevin O’Leary how the pandemic will change retail, if at all. Here is a summary of his perspective.


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E-Commerce Demonstrates the Accelerating Power Of COVID-19

At the start of 2019, I Articulated three macro-level forces that I believed would set the stage for a very disruptive decade ahead. They were: Acceleration, Convergence, and a Burst of Possibilities. Here we are during a pandemic, and all three are alive and well. The one that stands out is acceleration. There are many examples of acceleration driven by COVID-19 that demonstrate what we can accomplish when driven by a Catalyst. Innovation windows have collapsed considerably, and we are witnessing accelerated adoption of scenarios that although inevitable, were slowed by societal resistance. For example, the embrace of digital learning has accelerated, and while many employers resisted the move to remote work due to fears of productivity loss, those fears have proven unfounded.

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Ten Lessons For A Post-Pandemic World

“There are decades when nothing happens and weeks when decades happen.” – Vladimir Lenin

That quote is highlighted in a new book by best-selling author Fareed Zakaria. In “Ten Lessons for a Post- Pandemic World”, Mr. Zakaria helps readers to understand the nature of a world that emerges after the pandemic: the political, social, technological, and economic consequences that may take years to unfold. He does this by focusing on ten lessons:

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COVID-19 Accelerates Innovation In Healthcare

We owe so much to the frontline heroes that serve society in critical times. The pandemic has shown us just how important and under-appreciated these individuals are. We owe them a debt of gratitude. Healthcare is one of those areas where we see both heroics and exposure. The lack of digital progress has been exposed across sectors by the virus. That is the bad news. The good news is that extreme events like this can serve as accelerants. This recent Article describes the turning point that COVID-19 likely represents for healthcare. Rethinking healthcare for the digital age should be a top priority (as it should across all industries).

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COVID-19 Impacts University Enrollment

A recent Study found that the number of students enrolling in college immediately after high school plunged nearly 22% this past fall over last year. The future of education is a big discussion topic, as the pandemic is threatening the viability of education organizations and models. Key findings include:

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Envisioning The Future Of Sports

Last week, I participated in the Mass Participation World Conference 2020. The theme of the event was “Changing the Narrative: Solutions to help us move from Surviving to Thriving”. We shared the results of a recent survey of runners. The TCS This Run Tech Survey  reveals that technology is powering runners through the pandemic. The survey was geared towards uncovering running technology trends  amid COVID-19  and  helping  shape how TCS can best support runners and races in the future. TCS sponsors marathons around the world, including the NYC Marathon.

As a follow up to my presentation on the Future of Sports, this Article envisions the future of athletics and society. Reimagine the future of sports along with us – I’d be interested in your thoughts.

Eight Trends Amplified By COVID-19

I just finished another book and added it to my Library. Pandemic, Inc. explores eight trends that are amplified by the current pandemic. Author Patrick Schwerdtfeger believes we will see more change in the next 12 months then we saw in the last 12 years. He views the current crisis through an optimistic lens, seeing a time of incredible change, but also opportunity.

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Bill Gates Looks At Life After COVID-19

Back in April and May, there was a lot of crystal ball gazing going on. Will COVID-19 change our world forever? This Post, among others I wrote in the early days of the pandemic, explored the various ways the world may change. In the post, I reflected on a key warning sign: most predictions of a post-crisis world have historically been wrong. I pointed to an Article authored by Rob Walker, where he stresses that thoughtful speculation about the future helps us cope with the present and identify potential challenges and opportunities. He adds however that history tells us that most predictions will be wrong. In looking back at predictions post 9/11 and the great recession, Mr. Walker provides supporting evidence for this statement.

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Education In Transformative Eras

I had the pleasure of joining RegalixTV recently for a session focused on education. Host Dheeraj Prasad and I discussed the importance of education in transformative eras, how digital learning experiences are evolving, why there needs to be a shift in focus with respect to skill sets and a whole lot more on Knowledge-Centered Growth.

Tune in to watch the full Interview. I have focused a great deal on education recently. You got explore the topic via my earlier posts.

Capturing The Future Of Education Via Infographic

The Future Of Children

The Future Reimagined

Rethinking The Future Of Higher Education