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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Technology – but 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.
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.
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.
Our energy platform has not changed since the early days of the second industrial revolution. Energy is one of the three foundational pillars of our society – with communication and transport representing the other two. Collectively, they create a general purpose technology platform that enables our society. Although we talk a lot about a Fourth Industrial Revolution, in reality, there was never a third shift in this foundational platform.
The center-piece of my work is the early signs of a Shift to Purpose and Well-being. I first developed this Innovation Wheel (click to view in a separate window) when analyzing the impact of second industrial revolution innovation on well-being in the Western world. The Possibilities are boundless – but society must Map the Path of Future Innovation. I walk around this innovation wheel when describing it to an audience, investing time in describing the possibilities across the various areas of well-being. This short video clip replicates that walk around the innovation wheel. The possibilities are indeed boundless.
A group of billionaires have pledged one billion dollars to fund radical new energy technologies. Breakthrough Energy Ventures (BEV) is an investment fund that aims to accelerate energy innovation and disrupt the energy industry. This Bill Gates brainchild managed to secure a host of high-profile investors, including Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Jack Ma, and Michael Bloomberg – and they’ve just announced their First Seven Investments.
Fast Future Research provides a glimpse into possible futures through a series of recently published books that focus on our Our Emerging Future and accelerate our learning and dialog. As with his previous books, Rohit Talwar enlists several authors in a new book just launched titled A Very Human future. An abstract for the book reads as follows:
As society enters the fourth industrial revolution, a major question arises—can we harness intense technological bursts of possibility to bring about a better world? A Very Human Future illustrates how the evolution of society, cities, people, businesses, industries, nations, and governments are being unexpectedly entangled by exponential technological disruption. This is not a book about technology but an exploration of how we make it serve humanity’s highest needs and ambitions.
Today on Coffee Break with Game Changers, Bonnie D. Graham hosted a show focused on the future of energy. You can listen to the rebroadcast here. The session abstract is included below, as well as a Twitter stream that provides insight into the topic and our discussion. The show participants included: Bonnie, Gray Scott, Tom Franklin, and myself. You can take a deeper dive on the topic via this Discussion with David Cohen.
The Energy Internet is positioned to transform our lives – perhaps on a larger scale than the Internet before it. This dynamic, distributed, and multi-participant Enernet – as some are calling it – is built around clean energy generation, storage and delivery. With a long list of innovators emerging, the resulting innovation will drive massive change, including how we think about cities, municipal services, transportation, insurance, real estate, financial services, and more.
For those that have taken the thought leadership course focused on our emerging future, thank you. For those that may have interest, the course will run for foreseeable future. In this post from last year, I summarized the key messages from the course. It has been updated to reflect the progression of our emerging future.
Yogi Berra is credited for once saying that the future ain’t what it used to be. What a perfect way to describe what is coming: a complete change in the way we think about the future. Our journey to the future begins with a look back. A convergence of multiple forces during a special century following the U.S. Civil War established the standard of living in developed economies. Some believe that we will never see a convergence of forces as dramatic and impactful as that which occurred during this period. I pulled this wheel together to capture that convergence across the various areas of our well-being, leveraging the work of economist Robert J. Gordon. I captured his thinking in a recent post titled Revolution and the Innovation Wheel.
Since the time I completed this post on Disruptive Power and Intersections, it continues to receive attention. It is by far the most effective component of any Future Thinking effort. Given the continued traffic to this two year old post, I am updating with current content. By way of reminder, the anchor emerging futures visual is available via this PDF. An expansion of the science and technology foundation is visualized via this PDF. The visual below connects the intersections of 8 combinatorial scenarios. This is not an exhaustive set of connections; it is strictly intended to describe the scenarios at a high level. This visual can be downloaded via this PDF.
Figure 1: Intersections amplify both power and impact
In a recent post titled Demonetized Cost of Living, Peter Diamandis describes how technological socialism (i.e. having our lives taken care of by technology) will drive our cost of living close to zero. A similar case was made by Economist Jeremy Rifkin in his book titled The Zero Marginal Cost Society. Diamandis defines demonetization as the ability of technology to take a product or service that was previously expensive and making it substantially cheaper, or potentially free; removing money from the equation. Demonetized is one of the Six D’s of digital, as described by Diamandis and captured in one of my visuals below.