How the next generation – and all of us – will save the world

I was recently interviewed for an article Why the world will be better in gen Y’s hands. Below are some excerpts from the article (by the way I’m not a Dr., but I won’t object :-) )

The impact of these powerful attitudinal shifts are playing out in the workforce and how organizations attract talent.

Millennials, on the whole, don’t question the concept of rights for women, gay and transgender people, that climate change is a reality or that every race is equal.
Their focus as leaders will be less on arguing a point than doing something about it.

“One shift is wanting to create a better world,” prominent futurist Ross Dawson told news.com.au. “It’s exceptionally difficult to hire talented young people if they don’t feel their work is making a positive difference. Social enterprise and innovation is very apparent in Silicon Valley but also in Australia.”


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How virtual reality, augmented reality, robots and real-time translation will transform travel

Navit_Reality_View_next_to_realityI was recently interviewed for an extended feature on the future of travel, Technologies that will change the way we book, plan and experience travel.

Below is a selection of quotes from the article.
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How Science Fiction shapes our future

As other futurists, I’ve had done quite a few media interviews recently on Back to the Future 2, which was set on October 21, 2015.

One of the most interesting broader issues around the film is very simply the degree of interest people have in the film, which captured people’s imaginations about the future, even though it was primarily a comedy.

ABC’s 7:30 Report on Wednesday ran a segment on Back to the Future 2 and tweeted this quote from me:
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In a syndicated piece by AFP on Back to the Future and in an earlier article in Newsweek I made the same point:

The reason people have been trying to create a hoverboard is that it was in the film and it captured people’s imaginations. They weren’t trying to predict the future, they were trying to create an interesting film, but I think it’s interesting that everyone is saying “Where is my hoverboard” and now people are trying to create that. We discover what we want. Science fiction creates the desire for the technology that we see, which means that entrepreneurs can see if there is a desire and they then work hard to be able to create the technologies that we’ve discovered that we want.

Countless technology innovators have said how they were inspired by William Gibson’s Neuromancer and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash to create essential elements of the connected world we know today.

Science fiction in movies and books has shaped what we desire, as well as what we fear. It is a critical driving force in helping us shape our future, as it uncovers what we want to happen and don’t want to happen. Let us celebrate all science fiction, from the most serious to light-hearted comedy.

Jobs of the future: sports referees out, emotional designers in

This morning I was interviewed on the national breakfast program Sunrise on the future of jobs, discussing a report that suggested 40% of jobs could be replaced by automation in the next 10-15 years.

Click on the image to see a video of the segment:
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In the segment I pointed to some of the broader trends shaping the future of work, as well as particular jobs that would be disappearing or growing.
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Tech dangers: Will smart clothes make us obsessive about weight?

Yesterday I was interviewed on the Channel 9 Mornings show about Google and Levi’s announcement that they are working on smart jeans that will provide a touch interface to digital devices and could include sensors to monitor weight gains and health.

Click on the image to view a video of the segment.
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The real role of education is to teach us to play

Earlier this year I gave the opening keynote at the annual thought leadership forum of Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand, with the conference this year titled “Future Proofing the Profession: Preparing Business Leaders and Finance Professionals for 2025”.

An interesting article titled The uncertain future of work reviewed some of the ideas presented by speakers at the event. On my session it reports:
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What people value in creating better lives: differences around the world

The OECD has created a wonderful interactive visual map of the world, showing the Better Life Index – what people value most in their lives – in different countries around the world.

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Source: OECD

It is fascinating to see what people value the most around the world. When we look at cultural differences between countries, the simple question of what people value show deep differences, and strong insights into national identity.
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Six compelling reasons we should have driverless cars

Yesterday morning I was interviewed on Channel 9 Mornings about driverless cars. You can view the segment by clicking on the image below.

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While daytime TV isn’t an ideal form to discuss all of the ins and outs of big issues, we did start to discuss some of the advantages of driverless cars. Some of these are:
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Cities reconfigured: How changing work, shopping, community, and transport will transform our collective lives

One of our companies, Future Exploration Network, recently created a detailed report for a client delving into the most important shifts shaping the next decade and beyond.
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One of the themes was Cities Reconfigured. The section began:

Urbanisation has proved to be a dominant global force, shaping both developed and developing countries. We know cities are both spreading out and become denser at their centres, but radical shifts are now reshaping the structure and shape of cities. The rise of flexible, remote and freelance work and shifts where and how people shop and socialise are significantly changing travel patterns. The widespread deployment of data sensors is providing real-time insights into environmental, traffic and infrastructure conditions, enabling rapid response and a deeply-needed increase in urban efficiency.
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Can Facebook-informed algorithms know you better than your mother?

This morning I was interviewed on the national breakfast program Sunrise about whether algorithms can assess our personality better than those who are closest to us.

Click on the image below to view the segment.

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The segment described some just-released research titled Computer-based personality judgments are more accurate than those made by humans in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, which says:

This study compares the accuracy of personality judgment—a ubiquitous and important social-cognitive activity—between computer models and humans. Using several criteria, we show that computers’ judgments of people’s personalities based on their digital footprints are more accurate and valid than judgments made by their close others or acquaintances (friends, family, spouse, colleagues, etc.). Our findings highlight that people’s personalities can be predicted automatically and without involving human social-cognitive skills.

The personality-assessment algorithm was solely based on Facebook likes made by participants, with results compared to the assessments of people who know them well. As little as 150 likes was sufficient to provide a more accurate personality assessment than a family member such as a parent, while 300 likes enabled a better assessment than a spouse.

What was perhaps more interesting was the claim that “computer personality judgments have higher external validity when predicting life outcomes such as substance use, political attitudes, and physical health; for some outcomes, they even outperform the self-rated personality scores.”

The potential implications are profound. Article co-author Wu Youyou said “In this context, the human-computer interactions depicted in science fiction films such as ‘Her’ seem to be within our reach.”

Being able to interact with people in a way tailored to their personalities and designed to generate particular responses is certainly a fair way beyond being able to assess personalities accurately, but we are rapidly heading in that direction.

These findings are unlikely to give pause to people sharing their lives – and personalities – on social media, but we absolutely need to be aware quite how deep the insights about ourselves we are sharing in our everyday online behaviors.