The most recent Good Weekend magazine, which reaches over 1 million readers in Saturday’s Sydney Morning Herald, Brisbane Times and Melbourne’s The Age, included a compact feature interview with me titled Meet the futurist with 2020 vision.
This year it is 50 years since Alvin Toffler published Future Shock. It was an immensely influential book in shaping how his generation thought about the future.
In commemoration of the anniversary, a new book After Shock: The World’s Foremost Futurists Reflect on 50 Years of Future Shock―and Look Ahead to the Next 50 is coming out in early February, with contributions from a wide range of leading future thinkers, including Ray Kurzweil, Alan Kay, David Brin, Zoltan Istvan, Aubrey de Grey, myself, and many others.
Below is the chapter I contributed, summarizing my thoughts on this remarkable book and how it helps frame our future.
It is exactly two decades since I became a professional speaker. I had paid my dues over the previous four years speaking frequently for free at conferences. My breakthrough from ‘free to fee’ came from the publication of my first book, Developing Knowledge-Based Client Relationships, which gave me the credibility and visibility to be invited for my first professional engagement in late January 2000.
I have to acknowledge I didn’t do a stellar job for my first paid gig, but it was the beginning of what has been and still is a truly wonderful career. For me being a futurist and professional speaker is an absolute dream job, travelling the world to share ideas with an eclectic range of fascinating people.
Here are seven things I have learned about the profession of speaking over the last 20 years of hard work.
A report just released by McKinsey, On the cusp of change: North American wealth management in 2030, offers some interesting perspectives.
The ideas presented in the report include the rise of “fit-nance” tracking of holistic advice, financial advisors focusing on life coaching, and ubiquitous user ratings of advisors.
One of the key concepts in the report is that financial advice will be substantially provided over Netflix-like subscription platforms:
Companies are continually asking for our feedback. But do they actually use that feedback, and if so how? Unless we know, the company’s response comes back to its customers, there is zero motivation to provide meaningful input. But if that feedback loop is well-designed it will build far more loyal and engaged customers.
I wrote about how to build customer feedback loops in my book Living Networks, shown below. The advice is still just as relevant today, not least as still so few companies are doing this well.
Building customer feedback loops
Consumer expectations have soared over the last years. In a world of digital connections, customers take for granted virtually immediate responses to their problems and desires. For the last few years companies have been working hard to improve their service response, by creating new service delivery channels, building sophisticated automated response systems, and enhancing call center processes. The intent is to respond to customers’ issues quickly and efficiently.
I am honored to be top of the list of Tech Predictions Gone Wrong – Top 5 Failed Tech Predictions for 2010s:
Ross Dawson, a futurist, made a prediction that people will be seen wearing AR glasses and contacts that will allow them to control machines. As shocking and intriguing this prediction was, it was a massive failure as well.
Based on this prediction, no one would have thought that Google Glass and Snap Spectacles would be seen in the lists of Worst Tech of the Decade. Although a lot of people tried it as well, it was of no use. The idea was not appreciated by most people. Google even released a warning for wearers to not be “creepy or rude”. However, the consumer sales of this product were ended by Google in the year 2015.
Global population growth reached its peak of 2.09% in 1968 and has steadily declined since then to its current levels of 1.08%.
The United Nations forecasts that in 2050 the growth rate will have slowed further to around 0.3% to give a global population of 9.7 billion, however its 80% probability range of forecasts includes the possibility that world population will be shrinking, a scenario I think is more likely than suggested by the UN forecasts.
However looking at global population figures hides the massive disparity between fast growing nations and those where population is declining. For example Japan’s population was 127 million in 2000 and is forecast to be 97 million in 2050, whereas Uganda’s population is expected to be 100 million in 2050 from just 24 million in 2000.
The future of work is not about AI replacing humans. It is about designing work so that machines and humans are complementary, not substitutes.
As described in my Humans in the Future of Work framework, there are a number of uniquely human capabilities that can be brought together in a wealth of roles that transcend what machines can do on their own.
This means that in designing the future of work, we need to have a keen focus on human-machine complementarity.
Ten years ago I released my map of the 2010s, consisting of 14 “ExaTrends” (Exa being the cube of Mega).
Click through on the images for the full size pdf. The complete text describing the ExaTrends on pdf is also on the post below the images.
What are your thoughts on how well I did at anticipating the decade just past?