The world has now got so complicated that we need to employ “futurists” to tell us what’s going to happen, never mind what’s going on. Here’s some interesting predictions:
In a recent interview, the Head of Daimler Benz said their competitors are no longer other car companies, but Tesla (obviously), but also now, Google, Apple, Amazon ‘et al’ because software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
After all, Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and they’re now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties. And so it goes.
Artificial Intelligence mean computers will become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected.
In the U.S., young lawyers are already finding it more difficult to find jobs. This is allegedly because of IBM Watson, meaning you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. Some futurists believe there will be 90% less lawyers in the future, and only specialists will remain.
Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, four times more accurately than human nurses. In February 2013, IBM announced that Watson software system’s first commercial application would be for utilization management decisions in lung cancer treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, New York City, in conjunction with health insurance company WellPoint. IBM Watson’s former business chief, Manoj Saxena, says that 90% of nurses in the field who use Watson now follow its guidance.
Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognise faces better than humans can.
Autonomous cars? In 2018 it is believed the first self-driving cars – already being experimented with – will appear for the public to actually use. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be utterly disrupted. As a result, increasingly people won’t want to own a car anymore. Within a few short years it is predicted you will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You won’t need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance, and you can be productive while driving.
Some people think the children of today – or definitely tomorrow – will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car.
The changes will fundamentally change the look, feel and utilisation of cities, because we will need 90-95% fewer cars. We can transform former parking spaces into parks … or well, anything. Homes?
1.2 million people now die each year in car accidents worldwide. We currently have one accident every 60,000 miles (100,000 km). With autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 6 million miles (10 million km).
That will save a million lives each year. Just that. Right there. And imagine the saving in trauma care and rehab.
Most car companies will probably go bankrupt in their current form. Traditional car companies will keep trying the traditional approach and try to build a better and better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will take a revolutionary approach and build a better computer on wheels.
Car insurance companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, car insurance will become much less relevant, and thus much cheaper and less profitable. The “car insurance business model” will slowly disappear. As for panel shops, they simply won’t be needed.
Real estate will change, too. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away from the centre of town to live in a more beautiful neighbourhood.
Cities will be less noisy because all new cars will run on electricity.
Electricity will become cheaper and cleaner: solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, and we are already seeing the burgeoning impact. Last year, for the first time, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil.
Energy companies are desperately trying to limit access to the grid to prevent competition from home solar installations, but that can’t last. Technology – and the need to cool the planet – will take care of that strategy.
With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination of salt water now only needs 2kwh per cubic meter (@ 0.25 cents). We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as they want, for nearly no cost?
We will handle our health differently. The Tricorder X price will be announced this year. A medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, your blood sample, and you can breathe into it.
It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medical analysis, nearly for free. Goodbye, medical establishment.
3D printing: the price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies have already started 3D printing shoes. At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoes at home. Goodbye shoe shops.
Some common spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. Even the space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to keep in the past.
In China, they already 3D printed and built a complete 6-storey office building. By 2027, less than ten years from now, some experts believe that 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.
Business opportunities: if you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: “In the future, do you think we will have that?”. If the answer is yes, then how can you make that happen sooner?
But be careful. If the business idea doesn’t work with a phone, forget the idea. Already over 80% of internet transactions are phone based. Any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to failure in the 21st century.
The world is going to look very very different. Up to 70-80% of current jobs may disappear in the next 20 years. Yes, there will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.
It’s expected there will be a $100 “agricultural robot” in the future. Farmers can then become managers of their field instead of working all day on their fields, especially in the third world. Agricultural production will soar, changing the balance of trade relationships completely.
Aeroponics will mean that food production will need much less water. We will grow plants in air.
And the first petri-dish produced hamburger has now been produced. The burger was created by Maastricht University’s Mark Post from the cultured muscle cells of living cows. Other scientists want to engineer meat from plant-based materials. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows. Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore?
And imagine if all those cows stopped farting? Livestock currently produce anywhere from 18 to 50 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions.
There is presently a global herd of 60 billion land animals for 7 billion people, and 70 percent of agricultural land and 8 percent of the global water supply is already devoted to livestock production. With the global herd in 2050 projected to be 100 billion land animals for 10 billion people, we just don’t have the resources to maintain more animals. But meat consumption is growing too fast, and we need to come up with several solutions for mitigating the risk to sustainability. In fact, current production is already unsustainable.
Also, our current factory farming methods bring about many opportunities to create widespread disease. Epidemic viruses are almost all from livestock farming (swine flu, avian flu), and widespread bacterial contamination opportunities make meat recalls an everyday occurrence. More animals means more risk to our population.
There are several startups who will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labeled as “alternative protein source” (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).
It goes on. Politics will change. Doing business will change.
There is an app called “Moodies” which can already tell in which mood you’re in. By 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where it’s being displayed when they’re telling the truth and when they’re not. Imagine pointing your phone at a salesman while you listen to his claims.
And you will change, too. This will vary, but right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, now it’s 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there may well be more than one year increase per year. So, we all might live for a long time: probably way more than 100. Ah, but will we have any money to live on? That’s the multi-million dollar question for all of us.
Are the futurists correct? In everything, no. In a great deal of it? Yes. And there will be hundreds and thousands of other changes that we cannot yet predict. Just watch tomorrow’s news headlines.
But one thing will never change.
Whatever confronts us – and no matter how much change there is – we will always need creative thinkers. People who can turn the Rubik’s cube of the world round and round until they discover new ways of doing business, new ways to solve problems, new possibilities, new markets and new industries.
People who can pick their way patiently through a strategic problem and offer you actionable ideas, insights and solutions.
At MOP, we employ those people. Come talk to them.