Prognosticators continue to point to massive shifts in the aftermath of COVID-19. In this recent Article, author Bhaskar Majumdar explores an aggressive convergence of the physical and digital worlds. Pointing to the domains that have already converged – education and entertainment – Mr. Majumdar sees this phenomenon overwhelming all aspects of our lives. In the near future, he sees it impacting banking, medicine, trade, shopping, dining and sports. As we come to terms with social distancing in a post-COVID world, some level of change is inevitable.
The COVID-19 crisis is fast-moving with information bombarding us in real-time. On this Tuesday morning, as we awake to more isolation and rising numbers, there is much to consider across every domain. Some like Enrique Dans are writing about the changes coming to Education. Issues like a drop in school attendance, obsolescence of teaching methods, technology barriers of entry to education, and an aversion to face-to-face interaction are likely to change education as we know it. As it is with every domain, institutions, academic directors, teachers or students who are unable to adapt will simply have no place in this new scenario. As a new normal emerges, educators are likely to revise their teaching methods and evaluation approaches, among other things.
In this recent Article, the authors describe the future of food in a way that captures the massive change driven by one future scenario: in this case, Food 2.0. Setting aside the changes likely in the form of lab-grown meats and 3D Printed foods, this story is more fundamental: it’s about farming. The article describes the current state of the industry, mostly one in decline.
Many Future Scenarios are spawned by convergence across multiple domains. The most obvious Convergence is occurring between science and technology. I have been posting links to numerous articles that explore possible futures. These futures are important for us to understand, as they usher in a very Pivotal Decade. Here is another set of articles that help us envision the future.
The global population is projected to reach 9.7 billion in 2050 – up from 7.6 Billion today. This population growth along with city expansions are having major consequences, driving a lack of growing space and food in many parts of the world. Add to this the concerns of extreme weather events that will disrupt food production, and you have a scenario that forces us to find creative solutions. According to various statistics, 795 million people don’t have enough food; and keeping pace with population growth requires a focused effort on realizing food abundance.
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.
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.
Two major forces are likely to converge in very unpredictable ways. The road to Abundance, as described by Peter Diamandis, promises to advance our human development in ways we never could have imagined. At the same time, the journey will drive a number of unintended consequences. The intersection of these two forces underscores the importance of focusing on emerging scenarios now, while we have the opportunity to realize the advancements and mitigate the impact of unintended consequences. Let’s use the journey towards food abundance as an example.
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.
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.
I had the pleasure of talking to Marshall Kirkpatrick recently about his work at Little Bird and a new series on artificial intelligence that he just launched. Marshall has leveraged my emerging futures visual in the past, and is using it to steer the direction of his series. The first article focuses on How Artificial Intelligence Could Change the Future of Food.
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.