Byron Reese recently authored a book titled The Fourth Age. I thoroughly enjoyed this fascinating look at history, and the focus on possible futures. In looking at the future, Mr. Reese explores the reasons that experts disagree on the path of these possible futures. He asks: why do Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and Bill Gates fear artificial intelligence (AI) and express concern that it may be a threat to humanity’s survival; and yet, why do an equally illustrious group, including Mark Zuckerberg, Andrew Ng, and Pedro Domingos, find this viewpoint so far-fetched as to be hardly even worth a rebuttal? The answer as described by the author lies not in what we know – but what we individually belief. This theme throughout the book is an interesting piece of self-reflection. See how you would answer the questions posed by the author.
As our emerging future shifts continuously, our challenge is to shift with it. The number of building blocks that combine continues to explode, challenging our ability to track its complexity. I’ve used a visual representation of this challenge – and I see older versions floating around – so I am updating it via this post. When I use the visual in presentations, I build towards it to avoid its overwhelming nature (which I believe accurately reflects the overwhelming nature of the challenge). I will replicate the approach here by building towards the full visual.
Convergence across aspects of science, technology, economic forces, politics, society, our environment, and a growing conversation around ethics, is creating a highly uncertain world. At the heart of the pace dynamic is the exponential progression of science and technology – reflected in the first piece of the visual.
In a recent insights report, authors Karen Harris, Austin Kimson and Andrew Schwedel look at macroeconomic forces and their impact on labor in 2030. The Collision of Demographics, Automation and Inequality will shape the 2020s – a collision that is already in motion. By 2030, the authors see a global economy wrestling with a major transformation, dominated by an unusual level of volatility. Here’s a summary of these three forces:
AN AGING WORKFORCE
As the global workforce ages rapidly, our authors forecast a slowing of U.S. labor force growth to 0.4% per year in the 2020s, thereby bringing an end to the abundance of labor that has fueled economic growth since the 1970s. Even as longer, healthier lives allow us to work into our sixties and beyond, it is not likely to offset the negative effects of aging populations. This labor force stagnation will slow economic growth, with negative side effects including surging healthcare costs, old-age pensions and high debt levels. On the positive side, supply and demand dynamics could benefit lagging wages for mid-to-lower skilled workers in advanced economies through the simple economics of greater demand and lesser supply – but that leads to their second major force: automation.
In a Post from 2014, I explored the path of automation and a possible economic impact between $14 and $30 trillion. Almost four years later, my focus has shifted from economic to societal impact. How far will we take automation? Will automation augment us, freeing us from mundane and redundant tasks, or will it replace us? Is automation limited to those characteristics we typically associate with our left brain – or will it encroach upon our right brain characteristics?
These questions currently have no answer – just speculation. How far the slider in the visual below goes, drives a profound difference in the ultimate implications to society. The obvious area of impact is the future of work – if we do indeed realize decentralized autonomous organizations. Do our right brain characteristics become much more important in this future world, and do they represent a safe haven? I show three very impactful examples in presentations that would have us question whether or not machines can be creative, compassionate, and eventual companions.
This very good opinion piece addresses a subject that is gaining more attention and driving more dialog. Will artificial intelligence destroy jobs? Author Kai-Fu Lee has an opinion:
“It will soon be obvious that half of our job tasks can be done better at almost no cost by AI and robots. This will be the fastest transition humankind has experienced, and we’re not ready for it”
After producing a short video on the Future of Sports, the reimagining the future team curated a video playlist that explores potential changes in the world of sports – influenced by various advances in science and technology. The short introductory video above provides a link to the playlist. The poll below looks at who is most impacted by these changes – please take a moment to respond to the poll.
With the Super Bowl behind us and the Olympics right in front of us, seems like a good time to reflect on sports. With so many forces converging across the science, technology, societal, economic, and political spectrum’s, there is one thing we know for sure; not even sports is safe from the world altering change that lies ahead. With that in mind, I began thinking about the Super Bowl and Olympics of 2030. What types of changes are in store for these massive sporting events?