I was honored to appear on a segment of the Don Proft radio show earlier this morning. The show is a part of the Salem Radio Network. The topic was what America will look like post-pandemic. My piece of the segment begins around the 5:25 mark. As always, all views expressed are my own.
The COVID-19 crisis is fast-moving with information bombarding us in real-time. On this Monday morning, as we awake to more isolation and rising numbers, there is much to consider. In this Article, the author focuses on three economic scenarios: Easter: an optimistic scenario (25% likely) where isolation leads to a slow return to normal by late April; Summer: the main scenario (55%) where improvements begin in mid-summer; and Winter: the pessimistic scenario (20%) where impact lasts into the winter. Given the expansion of isolation through April in the U.S., the optimistic scenario is all but eliminated from consideration.
This Analysis by the Conference Board underscores how the trajectory of COVID-19 and the economic response over the next few months are uncertain. They developed three scenarios for the course of the US economy for the remainder of 2020. Focusing on future scenarios was already a critical imperative given the pace of change; the current pandemic just underscores the point. The analysis authors from the Conference Board are: Bart van Ark, Executive Vice President & Chief Economist, and Erik Lundh, Senior Economist. Here is an executive summary from the report:
In 2018 I shared a video that I use in presentations titled The Great Reset. The video features economist Tyler Cowen as he describes our current trajectory and the possibility of a great reset. He has talked about strong indicators that this great reset is already underway – and that was before the world began to envision A Post Pandemic Society. Mr. Cowen thinks about these indicators as canaries in the coal mine. As he describes it, miners used to take canaries with them to provide an alarm when levels of toxic gases were too high. The birds were much more susceptible to the gases and would show signs of distress – or even die – before the miners were in grave danger.
Although it’s now popular to ask how life will change after the Coronavirus pandemic, truth is we were already on a path towards massive change. Nationalism was already a growing movement, immigration was already a hot button issue, the world was already moving towards a Post-World War Two order, the negative impact of globalization on jobs in developed countries already had leaders promising to bring manufacturing back, while automation promised a jobless era of localization. The pandemic serves as an accelerant in some instances – and an obstacle in others. But let prognosticators be warned; past predictions of life after pandemics have not Gone Well.
I’ve talked about the Catalysts of a different era. These horrific events of our past were catalysts towards a better future. This horrific event – the Corona Virus – will shine a light on education, health, work, and other aspects of our well-being, while exposing underlying weaknesses. Responding as a global community to these types of events is hard. I’ve asked the question about the catalysts of our future in a recent Poll – please participate and add your thoughts.
This week I attended the Annual Directions Conference held by research firm IDC. Because of the coronavirus, the conference was held online. Here are some of the key messages – a deeper analysis is provided by Michael J. Miller, chief information officer at Ziff Brothers Investments and can be found Here.
The Fast Future team continues to provide foresight in various areas. In this recent Article they explore what family life may look like in 2025. The possible future they describe is built on a foundation of multi-sensory immersive experiences, while distance is eliminated. We will no longer miss family celebrations and story-telling rises to new levels. Imagine a grandparent telling stories from their past, brought to life in ways that stimulate our emotional sensations.
In a world of knowledge abundance, there are so many things to consider. Knowledge has always been the engine that drives human development – and it has been throughout history. Knowledge expanded in the hunter-gatherer days with the invention of fire. In those days, a human obtained all its food by foraging. Although the source of food did not change, fire allowed humans to cook food and consume more calories. The human brain expanded with this caloric increase, and soon we invented language – the first in a series of innovations that drove the growth of knowledge. All that followed – from agriculture to the great inventions of the second industrial revolution – enabled us to advance as humans. I explored that progression Here.
I recently added a new book to my Book Library. Authors Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler explore the acceleration of technology and the Upheaval we are likely to experience in the coming decade. Diamandis and Kotler investigate how exponentially accelerating technologies converge and impact both our lives and society as a whole. They ask key questions like: how will these convergences transform today’s legacy industries? What will happen to the way we raise our kids, govern our nations, and care for our planet?
In a recent Article by Bryan Walsh, he describes the mega-trends that are likely to shape this century. These trends are driven by the Acceleration of innovation and a growing set of Societal Factors. In describing the seriousness of these trends, our author points to a forthcoming book titled “The Precipice”. In the book, author Toby Ord of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute gives one in six odds that humanity will suffer an existential catastrophe during the next 100 years — almost certainly due to our own actions.
In the book The Fourth Turning, authors William Strauss and Neil Howe illuminate the past, explain the present, and reimagine the future. They offer an utterly persuasive prophecy about how America’s past will predict its future. Here is what they had to say:
I Just finished another great book. This one is titled A World Without Work authored by Economist Daniel Susskind. The author explores a phenomenon that we have discussed many times over the centuries: Technological Unemployment. Drawing on almost a decade of research in the field, Susskind argues that machines no longer need to think like us in order to outperform us, as was once widely believed. The book describes a world where more and more tasks that used to be far beyond the capability of computers – from diagnosing illnesses to drafting legal contracts, from writing news reports to composing music – are coming within their reach. Mr. Susskind tells a compelling story to support his conclusion: the threat of technological unemployment is now real.
Recently, someone shared a very interesting inforgraphic on the future of cars. I get these requests to share content on a regular basis, and I assess them based on their insight and potential value to my readers. This is an example of a very well done Infographic with a great deal of insight. Below is an introduction and the infographic. Enjoy!
In a recent Interview, Peter Diamandis talks about the rapid pace of innovation and how it is about to get a lot quicker. Diamandis has always had a positive outlook on the path of innovation – and although I share his optimism, there is no disputing societies need to map that Path. His ability to explore possible futures is very instructive, as leaders everywhere must understand the potential to advance our human development.
Mr. Diamandis believes we will see more change in the coming decade than we have in the last 100 years. He speaks of the Convergence of building blocks in the science and technology domains which contribute to the quickening pace. I’ve explored this notion of intersections in the past, but with a broadened focus. Convergence is occurring across multiple domains, not just science and technology. That additional convergence across society, economy, geopolitics, environment, philosophy, and business introduces a set of additional accelerants – but they also create obstacles.
In looking at possible futures, here are some of his predictions:
In his book titled Homo Deus, Yuval Harari provides a look into possible futures; he echoed those themes as he addressed the attendees of this years annual meeting of the World Economic Forum. I encourage everyone to read his Address, as it touches on the three existential threats that he believes humanity faces: nuclear war, ecological collapse, and technological disruption. Given the attention paid to the first two, Mr. Harari focused his address on technological disruption.
A view into history helps us better understand the future. A recent Article describes this phenomenon in detail, exploring how to apply historical reasoning to the future. I have invested considerable time in understanding the Cycles of History and how they help us better understand the future. As Future Thinking becomes an increasingly bigger part of a leaders agenda, a historical perspective provides valuable input. As described in the article, the goal is to reason well, using an understanding of history to think more clearly about a range of possible futures and how probable a given outcome might be.
I just finished a book titled The Fourth Turning. I wasn’t sure I wanted to invest the cycles, but given my year-long focus on the past, I thought I’d give it a go – and I’m glad I did. In my continued efforts to reimagine the future, books such as this provide a richness of historical perspective. Although history was a key aspect of the book, I was more intrigued by the focus on generations, archetypes, and the cycles of our history (which last the length of a long human life). What intrigued me as a Futurist is the claim by the books authors that our past can indeed predict our future – it’s a compelling argument when viewed through the lens of these historical cycles.
So add another book to my Book Library. It was written in 1997 and accurately predicted some of the events that occurred in what the book refers to as a period of unraveling. If the cycle which has repeated itself six times was to do so again, we would have entered a crisis period somewhere prior to 2010 (great recession anyone). The crisis period would last one generation – moving towards a resolution that dramatically alters the social order by the late 2020s. Here is how the cycle is described by the book abstract.
As we close out 2019, the world is getting ready to gather once again in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland for the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting. The 2020 event is held from January 21st through the 24th. Stakeholder Capitalism is a major theme for this years event. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum describes the need for a better kind of capitalism. In this recent article describing why we need the Davos Manifesto, he describes the three models of capitalism. The current dominant model is shareholder capitalism – a model that enabled hundreds of millions of people around the world to prosper, as profit-seeking companies unlocked new markets and created new jobs. This model is embraced by most Western corporations and holds that a corporation’s primary goal should be to maximize its profits.
In a recent book, Richard Baldwin takes us on a fascinating journey to the past, and then provides a peak into the next great transformation. In The Globotics Upheaval, Mr. Baldwin describes a cycle that has played out multiple times throughout human history. The cycle of transformation, upheaval, backlash and resolution (Let’s call it TUBS) was experienced each time the world entered periods of major disruption. Mr. Baldwin introduces the Globotics Transformation as the third great economic transformation to shape our societies over the past three centuries. As he describes, the first was known as the Great Transformation started in the early 1700s, and it switched societies from agriculture to industrial and from rural to urban. The second started in the early 1970s, shifting the focus from industry to services – the Services Transformation. I take a different view of transformation in the context of Tipping Points – but the cycle is the same.
Add Singapore to the list of Nations establishing a Smart Nation agenda. In a recent Article authored by Eileen Yu, she describes the launch of Singapore’s national artificial intelligence (AI) strategy. The Singapore government aims to drive AI adoption to generate economic value and provide a global platform on which to develop and test AI applications. As future scenarios go, Smart Nations represent a complex intersection of multiple ecosystems – broader than similar complexities associated with the Smart City scenario.