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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A Digital Divide

COVID-19 continues to expose pre-existing issues. While our human development has undeniably advanced through each phase of the industrial revolution, more work remains to be done. The first industrial revolution delivered mechanization – and yet 600 million people still do not benefit from it. The second revolution brought us sanitation, clean water, and electricity, and yet 3.6 billion people still lack one or more of those innovations. The third revolution brought us the internet and all things digital – and yet 3.7 billion people do not have access to the Internet. This Article by Douglas Broom states that the majority live in poorer countries, where the need to spread information about how to combat COVID-19 is most urgent. The issue was there, now it is likely to get more attention.

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Connecting our Brain to the Internet

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.

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Game-Changers Radio Focuses on the Rising Billions

I enjoyed participating in another episode of Coffee Break with Game-Changers this morning. The show’s title was: The Digital Economy is about to get more connected: The Rising Billions. I hope you get the chance to listen to the rebroadcast. The show was expertly moderated by Bonnie D. Graham, and my fellow panelists included Dennison DeGregor, the Worldwide Group Executive for CX Services at HP, and Paul Donovan, Senior Director in Solution Management at SAP.

The show abstract: According to Peter Diamandis of Singularity University, the most dramatic (positive) change in our global economy is about to occur between 2016 and 2020. He says that 3 to 5 billion new consumers, who have never purchased anything, never uploaded anything and never invented and sold anything, are about to come online and provide a mega-surge to the global economy. He calls this group the “Rising Billions.”

Technology giants like Google, Facebook, and SpaceX are all working hard to make this happen, and when it does, connectedness will take on new meaning. What will it mean to have a connected business in 2020? Now is the time for your company to begin addressing the fast-approaching era of hyper-connectivity in your business networks and turn it into sustainable growth opportunities. If you thought you were challenged to create the “The Internet of Me” today, that challenge is about to get much more complex.

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IoT: Unleashing the Mother of all Infrastructures

On a January 26th Game Changers Radio show, a panel of Futurists will focus on the Internet of Things (IoT) and its world changing implications. Here are some of my thoughts in advance of that discussion. I’ll start with a quote from Carl Bildt, Chair of the Global Commission on Internet Governance and a member of the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Europe:

“Very soon the Internet of Things will become the Infrastructure on which all other infrastructures are based.”

That bold statement supports thinking in some circles that a General Purpose Technology Platform (GPT)  is emerging, the foundation of which is The Internet of Things. This emerging GPT likely alters our world more dramatically than the GPTs of the first and second Industrial Revolutions:

general-purpose-technology-platform

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