Can we avoid anarchy?
In the next few years we will see the convergence of exponential technologies go mainstream. Artificial intelligence, 3D printing, robotics, networks and sensors, blockchains, smart contracts, cryptocurrencies, and synthetic biology are all going to make a grand entrance into several business models and industries.
The impact of these technologies on life will be incredibly positive, but unfortunately, the downside is that we are currently so unprepared as a society that we are potentially heading towards anarchy.
The parent in me is worried that we are not setting our kids up for success. In 10 years or less, we will see the mass adoption of autonomous vehicles, robots doing unskilled work, AI completing all types of tasks faster and more accurately than any human being, while 3D printing will have a significant impact on traditional manufacturing. And let’s not forget about the bitcoin phenomenon, which boils down to a digital currency with no borders. I will later talk about the underlying technology, that drives this.
Our children are not being prepared to understand what it will take to enter the workforce and earn a living after leaving the education system. After 2020, up to 50% of the current jobs out there will require entirely different skills. We cannot expect Elon Musk to solve everything, even though he is giving education a shot, as well.
Many, if not all, governments all over the world are acting blind to what’s going on. What is most frustrating is they have incredibly smart people but tie them to legacy systems and bureaucracy that are having little to no impact on real issues that need immediate attention. When will a political leader step up and set an agenda to embrace technology and create an entire overhaul of policies that are out of date to cope with the changes afoot? Whom will that leader be, and in what country will that happen? It needs to happen soon, as I feel it will create a domino effect globally to avoid the anarchy I see ahead of us.
On the flip side
The entrepreneur in me sees an ocean of opportunities. I missed the Internet moment, which started around 1994; Amazon comes to mind for creating a great business that could leave a legacy. The Internet moment created Facebook, Google, Netflix, and many more industry-changing businesses. The year 2018 is going to usher in a new breed of companies that will be seeded around the world, leveraging new technologies to re-imagine every industry as we know it.
We all recall the demise of Kodak and of course, Blockbuster, and now we can imagine 100-plus other companies of this size going out of business post-2020 due to the mass adoption of exponential technology. My point is that, once again, major corporations will act too late or simply ignore the signals for change. Remember that Kodak and Blockbuster had many opportunities to make the change but chose to protect their dying business models. The speed of change this time is going to be so much faster.
In 2016, I heard Peter Diamandis predict this would be the case — I didn’t think it would happen that fast, but the emergence of blockchain is the missing link in how we can conduct business entirely in a trusted eco-system. Many of you just thought, “What is blockchain?” So, read on and learn.
Let’s get back to the bitcoin phenomenon that is gripping the world. Yes, I believe bitcoin will break records this year, but please don’t take this statement as a reason to invest. On this subject, there are smarter people than me. What’s way more interesting to me is the underlying technology called blockchain.
I’m borrowing an extract from Wikipedia to give you a quick insight into blockchain:
“A blockchain, is a continuously growing list of records, called blocks, which are linked and secured using cryptography. Each block typically contains a hash pointer as a link to a previous block, a timestamp, and transaction data. By design, blockchains are inherently resistant to a modification of the data. The Harvard Business Review describes it as ‘an open, distributed ledger that can record transactions between two parties efficiently and in a verifiable and permanent way.’ For use as a distributed ledger, a blockchain is typically managed by a peer-to-peer network collectively adhering to a protocol for validating new blocks. Once recorded, the data in any given block cannot be altered retroactively without the alteration of all subsequent blocks, which requires collusion of the network majority.”
You may now be asking yourself this question: What does this all mean, and how is it relevant to me? If you are a parent, entrepreneur, government worker, teacher, or damn well anyone who is collecting a paycheck, then this is the most important advancement to date, of any kind. It will have significant consequences on our lives and how we do business in the future.
I am going to give you a few quick examples of how blockchain will revolutionize commerce as we know it.
Imagine if we could send money to a charity and track it to the precise location or human being that it was intended to reach. Let us take that one step further, and you could track the administrative cost of your donation down to the last cent in real time. I believe blockchain enabled business models will go much further than this, and one day soon, we will see a more significant percentage of contributions going directly to the recipient or community without the need for a charity at all.
It won’t be too long before you do not need a mortgage broker or bank to get a mortgage. Blockchain enabled financing will enable a peer-to-peer community of lenders who are willing to invest in your next mortgage with features that are not currently available via banks or brokers. Why? It is immutable and can be trusted more than the bank, and if used correctly, everyone can win, not just the bank.
These are just a few industries that will be impacted over the next few years. If you are running a business or are part of leadership, then you must seriously start re-imagining your business model and explore how you can integrate one of many exponential technologies to remain viable. Do not become the next Blockbuster or Kodak.
Back to can we avoid anarchy
Now, imagine the anarchy in our local communities to families when a third of the workforce is made redundant across finance, transportation, real estate, and manufacturing (post-2020). This is a reality, and we can cope with this if we start asking the right questions of our governments.
- What training programs can entrepreneurs and governments start building immediately to help the one-third of the workforce that is likely to lose jobs globally, beginning in 2020?
- What changes need to be introduced at every level of education to help the next generation be better prepared for the changes ahead?
- What regulations can governments create to embrace new technologies rather than fight them?
Once we start working together on the answers to these questions at every level of society, we can ultimately expect to live longer and reverse the global trend of people going hungry or becoming homeless. I believe we can leverage new technologies that are about to go mainstream to solve many of the issues humanity will face in the next 100 years, like climate control.
By ignoring the realities of the significant changes ahead, we are heading towards anarchy.
I welcome your opinion and look forward to sharing my journey with you. I am part of several companies helping to shape the future by embracing many of the exponential technologies mentioned in this post.