The Good Future: A Perspective Via Gerd Leonhard

We must make the right decisions now, if we want a good future

Gerd Leonhard – The Good Future is entirely possible, and it’s our choice!

That quote from fellow Futurist Gerd Leonhard comes from a recent film he produced to convey optimism about our ability to create a good future. He opens with several statements that are core to my beliefs about our emerging future. He states that what we have done for the last one hundred years is no longer going to be suitable for the future. In other words what got us here won’t get us there. It was back in 2013 when I wrote about the structural change expected in the future. Much like my belief that structures and institutions will change, Gerd believes that the current system is unfit for the future, driving the need for a different logic. He mentions something that he has been saying for years: science fiction is becoming science fact. In exploring the possibilities of a good future, he starts with a question: what does good look like? He proposes a definition of good that includes relationships, experiences, the planet, purpose, and prosperity.

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Interview With Amanda Blyth – AIST Publications Manager

I had the pleasure of keynoting the AIME 150th anniversary event last week. In advance of that session, I did a short interview addressing five questions posed by Amanda Blyth, publications manager for the association of Iron and Steel Technology. The questions were in the areas of energy, digital transformation, sustainability, skills needed in 2030, and remote work. The interview can be viewed below. Note: I misspoke during the interview. When addressing the skillset question, I for some reason reversed our left and right brain characteristics. It is our right-brain that houses those characteristics that make us distinctly human.

What Does A Recent Trend Study Tells Us About The Future?

Each year the Future Today Institute releases a very comprehensive trend study during SXSW. I just finished getting through this very comprehensive installment. In announcing this year’s report, Founder Amy Webb had this to say:

The cataclysmic events of the past year resulted in a significant number of new signals. As a result, we’ve analyzed nearly 500 tech and science trends across multiple industry sectors. Rather than squeezing the trends into one enormous tome as we usually do, we are instead publishing 12 separate reports with trends grouped by subject. We are including what we’ve called Book Zero, which shows how we did our work. There is also an enormous, 504-page PDF with all content grouped together as one document.

Well, Amy was not kidding, there is quite a bit to digest. The 12 separate reports referenced can be downloaded Here. As I do with each look into the future, I captured some highlights from this year’s trend study. I will start however with an important observation that Amy made in the opening of the report.

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What Does 250 Years of Innovation History Say About Our Future?

“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

That quote captures a phenomenon that has plagued humans throughout history. In a recent article, Per Espen Stoknes looks at 250 Years of Innovation and what it reveals about the future. History is indeed very revealing, a fact that explains why Futurists spend so much time in the past. Whether it is the Uncanny Similarities to the 1920’s or other Lessons from History, applying history is very instructive. That quote speaks to a status quo bias that has existed in every age. As the article’s author describes, we have a strong emotional bias that prefers the current state of affairs over change. That bias now hampers our response to an ecologically destructive future. The article views the topic through this lens.

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Sustainability: Not Just Talk Anymore

Sustainability is not a new topic. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals have been in place since 2015 and were adopted by 193 countries. At the heart of these goals lies our desire to advance our Human Development. We may be in a better position to do so now then we have in quite some time. In fact, History tells us that the last time we experienced a period of great human development spanned the century from 1870 to 1970. While there have been notable efforts to realize these U.N. goals, progress has been slow. Let’s take energy as an example. It is a big part of the sustainability story and the Future of Energy has been discussed for years. However, progress towards that future has been slow. That could all change in the next decade. Several forces are Converging to accelerate the path of energy. One of those forces is a shift in orientation to purpose:

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Transforming The Energy Paradigm

Yesterday, I Wrote about the speed at which change is likely to occur this century. Paradigm shifts will happen regularly, in stark contrast to the past, where paradigms had a long shelf life. From health and education to energy and transport, paradigms will shift. The energy transition is big discussion topic today, and rightfully so. The most transformative periods in history have been tied to energy transitions. While renewable energy dominates the dialog, rapid increase in energy demand can negate those gains. This short video captures parts of this dialog. Visit this YouTube Channel to join the discussion.

Transforming The Energy Paradigm

The most transformative periods in history are linked to eras of energy transition. The most impactful was the emergence of fossil fuels. What does that say about what lies ahead? Have we entered a period of energy transition, and if so, are we on the cusp of another highly transformative period? Energy is just one piece of a very disruptive decade ahead – but it is perhaps the biggest piece. As we Accelerate Towards a new energy paradigm, what can we expect? One thing is certain: there are societal and geopolitical implications to consider.

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The New Map

I just finished another book and added it to my Library. Author Daniel Yergin explores the convergence of energy, climate change, and a world where an existing power is confronted by an emerging power. The New Map helps us understand global dynamics, historical perspectives, the entrenched role of oil and gas, the forces that are driving an energy transition, and the impact of a raging pandemic.

Daniel Yergin is a highly respected authority on energy, international politics, and economics, and a Pulitzer Prize-winning and bestselling author. He is vice chairman of IHS Markit, one of the leading information and research firms in the world, a member of the board of the Council on Foreign Relations, a senior trustee of the Brookings Institution, and has served on the Secretary of Energy Advisory Board under the last four presidential administrations.

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2030: The World’s Electricity Demands Are Met By Renewable Energy

It was 2014 when I was first exposed to the concept of an Energy Internet. It was Economist Jeremy Rifkin in his book The Zero Marginal Cost Society that introduced it as part of a broader vision for a new general purpose technology platform (GPTP). I have since written extensively about the Shifting Energy Paradigm and the implication for society. When evaluating the three foundational components of a GPTP (Energy, Communications, and Transport), changes to the energy component have historically driven the biggest societal transformations.

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Is Wireless Electricity Part Of The New Energy Paradigm?

Yesterday, I wrote about the potential Acceleration towards a New Energy Paradigm. A New Energy ParadigmWhen we consider the building blocks on the innovation wheel that shape this emerging paradigm, the change is likely significant. One such building block is the wireless transmission of electricity.

This recent Article describes new innovation that enables this transmission. It was Nikola Tesla that first worked on Wireless Energy and Power Transfer. He almost succeeded when his experiment led him to the creation of the Tesla coil. It was the first system that could wirelessly transmit electricity. From 1891 to 1898 he experimented with the transmission of electrical energy using a radio frequency resonant transformer of the Tesla coil, which produces high voltage, high frequency alternating currents.

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Accelerating Towards A New Energy Paradigm

My Post yesterday revisited the intersections that shape our future. Convergence across multiple domains sets these intersections in motion. In this context, convergence refers to a virtuous cycle where events in one domain spur action in another. The great inventions (electricity, telephone, and internal combustion engine) were clustered together at the end of the 19th century, forming a virtuous cycle that drove a period of astounding innovation. Several Catalysts drove an enabling convergence across the economy, science, technology, business, geopolitics, and a broader set of societal issues.

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Revisiting the Intersections That Shape Our Future

The building blocks of our future are numerous, and they are intersecting in ways that drive rapid shifts. I Visualized this phenomenon a while back, trying to depict the complexity of our world and the challenges it represents. It was Futurist Gerd Leonhard that gave me the idea. As someone who used my Anchor Visual in keynotes, he reflected on how impactful it might be to demonstrate the convergence that was occurring across the visual.

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Technology Pioneers Describe How the World Will Change By 2025

In a recent Article via the World Economic forum, author Saemoon Yoon identified 17 ways that technology could change the world by 2025. While the current pandemic exposed our vulnerabilities, it also shows what is achievable through collaboration. While efforts to collaborate globally must improve, a heightened visibility to the issues combined with an appreciation for the power of science and technology is a step in the right Direction. Here are snippets from the article that captures insight from 17 experts related to the world of 2025.

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Possible Futures Emerging Across Multiple Domains

It has been my desire to tell stories; to paint pictures of possible futures. Any story-teller would marvel at the amount of possible futures evolving from the current crisis. I have been a fan of the book the Fourth Turning because of the compelling journey through history that the book takes you on. Stories of crisis that emerged every 80 to 100 years like clockwork; and the reshaping of the social order that followed. It has been a little over 80 years since the last world altering crisis emerged. World War Two qualifies as an event that reshaped the social order when it was done.

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The Impact of Capital on Exponential Progression

In a post back in 2018, I described a phenomenon that contributes to the rapid Acceleration of innovation and scientific breakthroughs. Peter Diamandis coined the term Techno-Philanthropists and compared and contrasted them to the Robber Barons of a different era. Billionaires get a lot of negative press these days – but one thing is clear: their wealth is both accelerating the pace of innovation and addressing some of the world’s greatest challenges. Stories described by Articles like this one highlight the point.

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Electric Batteries and the Grid

This Article provides a very good example of domains that are converging in ways that shape our future. In this example, innovations in science and technology converge with future scenarios involving the emerging Mobility Ecosystem and one that is often described as the emerging Energy Internet. Author Jeff McMahon indicates that there will be more than enough batteries in electric vehicles by 2050 to support a grid that runs on solar and wind—if the two are connected by smart chargers, according to experts at the International Renewable Energy Agency.

As described in an earlier post, these Intersections across multiple domains introduce new scenarios that amplify impact. In this example, the boundaries between mobility and energy blur, creating a synergistic linkage between the two ecosystems. This complex and unpredictable dynamic complicates our Future Thinking exercise – but it may be the most critical focus of any forward-looking effort. The above referenced article provides a good example of how the Convergence of science and technology leads to a convergence with multiple future scenarios. Visualization helps to understand the various dots that are connecting.

Wednesday Musings: Education, Energy, Currency, and Purpose

Every morning, I scan the horizon.  Horizon Scanning is a systematic process that serves as an early warning system to inform decision makers about possible futures. It identifies actions, innovations, and events that have the potential to alter our future, both positive and negative. I am struck by the sheer volume of news, areas to consider, and emerging building blocks that are likely to impact society. The Possibilities – both good and bad – seem endless.

Thinking about the Future should be a normal part of every leaders day. With so many building blocks to consider, the need to understand them intensifies, as well as the various ways they are connecting. A Canvas that helps us to visualize can be very helpful. My scanning this morning underscores just how much to consider. In a short period of time, I explored the World Economic Forum’s continued focus on Purpose. Having just written about How Different Jobs will be in the next ten years, I read another Article on the need for a Global Reskilling revolution. As the world explores a profound shift in our energy paradigm, I learned that the windows in our buildings will provide all the Energy Required. The foundational elements of society are shifting. Even money is likely to transform, as Central Banks study the possibilities of Digital Currencies.

So, scan away my friends, the horizon is approaching rapidly.

Change Has Never Been This Fast – It Will Never Be This Slow Again

Happy New Year all! As we enter the next decade, an expression that is now popular rings true: Change Has Never Been This Fast – It Will Never Be This Slow Again. It is not just the speed of change – which many attribute to Exponential Progression driven in part by the Convergence of Science and TechnologyFuturistic Developmentsbut the sheer number of Dots Connecting in what is a very complex system. As is customary this time of year, there is no shortage of content focused on the year or decade ahead.

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Which U.S. State Generates the most Wind Energy?

Although we spend a lot of cycles debating climate change, some have placed economic development above ideology.  You wouldn’t expect a state tied economically and in the American imagination to oil, gas and coal, to lead the U.S. in wind power generation. Less restrictive zoning, taxation systems that encourage building, and robust transmission lines can enable this type of progress.

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Society 5.0

I found a very refreshing Article today describing Japan’s vision for the fifth iteration of society. Our hunter-gatherer days represent the first iteration, with agriculture coming in as number two and the industrial and information revolutions rounding out the next two. I’ve written about the Tipping Points in human history – and this vision of a future society is aligned with my point of view on the next tipping point. With each tip, we have experienced Unintended Consequences. Big visions such as these would be wise to ensure a balancing of the Opposing forces of Innovation.

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