The age of self-creation: why ethics must be central to how we create the future

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One of my flurry of media appearances over New Year was on the Sunrise show, talking about what to expect in 2014.

Click on the image to see a video of my interview.

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We discussed emerging consumer technology trends, shifts in retail, and the idea of “self-creation”, which was one of my 14 themes in our 2014: Crunch Time report.

As I wrote in the report about the theme:
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Why children (and adults) need to be on social media or get left behind

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Yesterday the West Australian newspaper began a five-part series on children and social media, beginning with a feature article introducing the topic.

The article’s title, Get online or ‘be left behind’ quotes an interview with me. It is very easy for journalists to focus on the negative when covering children and social media, so I’m very glad they took a more balanced stance.

The article began with an introduction to the issue, to the point of mentioning that English secondary school Eton has banned Snapchat. It goes on:

Sydney-based Ross Dawson, founder of think tank Future Exploration Network, said social networking was still in its early days. “We’re still fairly early on into what will become simply communication – life as we know it,” he said.

“Rather than logging on to Facebook and sharing some messages we are going to be in a world where we are sharing vast degrees (of information) with those who are close to us and to the world at large, and this communication will be intrinsic to life, our personal life and our work life.”

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Today Show: What to expect in the year ahead

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Early on January 1st this year, after a great New Year’s party and no sleep, I went into the studio to talk about what we should expect in the year ahead. The video is below

A few notes from what I discussed:
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Awesome video: we are building transparent machines of business exploiting society

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This fabulous video brings together a succinct telling of the privacy story of today with some exceptional 3D graphic animations and great sound. Watch it! (preferably full screen)

Transparent Machines™ from beeple on Vimeo.

In the Privacy section of our 2014: Crunch Time report we wrote:
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The future of human endeavor: humans and computers together far exceed the capabilities of either apart

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In my keynotes I often reference 1997 as the year that a chess grandmaster was first beaten by a computer, with Deep Blue outplaying Garry Kasparov.

Before that happened many believed that chess was the domain of ingenuity, imagination, and human insight that computers could never match. Yet brute processing power plus some improved algorithms did the job.

The power of computers has soared by around 1000-fold since then, and computers are moving deeper and deeper into the domain of what we consider to be fundamental human capabilities.

However, as I wrote in Chapter 11 of Living Networks:
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Meeting of the Minds: Key future trends with Ross Dawson and Gerd Leonhard

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When I was in Switzerland recently, esteemed colleague Gerd Leonhard and I recorded a number of video conversations, produced by Jonathan Marks. Following ones on Big Data, the future of privacy, and the future of Switzerland, here is our conversation on Key future trends.

For more conversations about the future see Meeting of the Minds.

After discussing some of the major trends, we go on to discuss our own preferred futures.

Trends and implications that we raise and discuss in the video include:
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The role of the futurist as leader

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When I was in Amsterdam recently for client engagements I also gave a keynote to the Dutch Future Society about the role of the futurist.

It was a fascinating evening. Given the audience of futurists and those well engaged with the future, my presentation went further out than usual, and the ensuing conversation went beyond that, to issues including the nature of humanity, the ethics of the future, and more.

In coming months I intend to share some of the many fascinating strands that came up during the evening.

After the event I was interviewed by Stephan Verveen. The interview, embedded below, covers quite a few of the points raised during the evening.


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As more jobs are automated, how many of us will still have productive work?

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There has been a lot of press the last few days about a paper The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerisation?, published by the Oxford Martin Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology.

Almost all the coverage has been on the headline figure that 47% of US employment is at risk. However the paper provides many more interesting insights when you examine the detail.
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The crime of the century: stopping the potential of connectivity

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Last week I gave the keynotes at the Sydney and Melbourne relaunch events of Nextgen Group, which has restructured and rebranded with the acquisition of 70% of the group by Ontario Teachers Pension Plan (OTPP) from Leighton Holdings. The group provides networks, data centers, and hosting services, including a 100Gbps link between major Australian cities, and is building a submarine fibre cable linking Australia to Singapore.

The theme of my keynote was The Future of a Connected World, showcasing some of most interesting implications and potential of connectivity.

To provide some context for the future I spent a moment looking at the past of connectivity, which unfortunately is not always as happy a story as the future.
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Amsterdam visit September 18-20: keynotes at Dutch Future Society and on the future of investment management

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I am looking forward to getting back to Amsterdam this September 18-20, after doing the keynote at TheNextWeb last year.

I will be giving a keynote on The Future of Investment Management and run an executive workshop on Creating the Successful Organisation of the Future at the closed-door SimCorp International User Community Meeting.

I will also be giving a keynote at the Dutch Future Society, described here:

The Dutch Future Society is proud to present a session with Ross Dawson. Ross will give a keynote presentation on what he believes is the role of the futurist; why he combines the roles of futurist and entrepreneur; some of the central trends he follow on the future of work, crowdsourcing, infinite information, creativity and experimentation; how he uses visual and now frameworks for futures communication; and how he has built his global business as a futurist.


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