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Full keynote: The Future of Crowds at The Next Web 2012 in Amsterdam


Crowdsourcing – Keynote speaker Ross Dawson

Ross Dawson is a highly acclaimed futurist and keynote speaker whose compelling insights leave audiences stimulated and inspired. He has delivered numerous keynotes on crowdsourcing and is considered one of the most influential thought leaders in this space.

Keynote speaker video – The Future of Crowds at The Next Web in Amsterdam

Recently crowdsourcing expert Ross Dawson gave a keynote at TheNextWeb conference in Amsterdam on ‘The Future of Crowds’. Below is a video snippet of his inspiring keynote, offering compelling insights into the future of crowdsourcing.

See below for full transcription of video.

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Full Transcription: Future of Crowds at The Next Web 2012


Ross Dawson:

My definition of a futurist is someone who helps people to think about the future, to make better decisions and to act better today.

When I look into the future and see some of the things perhaps a single biggest driver is a move to crowds and I believe that crowds are the future of almost everything. So it’s important to be able to look at that to explore a little bit the world of crowds and where they’re going.

So we have over 7 billion people on the planet, 7 billion minds, 7 billion bodies, all of us unique, all of us individuals, all with our own perspectives and intelligence and ways of thinking, and we can all have this passion and energy and the alignment in the way in which we bring our ideas and ways of working together to life. And these people are all over world, certainly here in Europe. Absolutely in Asia, in Latin America, all over the world we have many – we have all these insights and ways of thinking to bring to bear.

Now if we look at the big trends we can look at the monolithic organizations, the big boxes we’ve had in the past and what we are seeing is a shift, to now what I described is the economy of individuals, they’ve been shattered into pieces bringing us to the individual. The meaningful unit of the economy today is not organizations; it’s individuals. You. The people you know, the people around you, people you are working with. And what each of us does, what all the people in the crowd do; is they contribute. They contribute many things. Ideas, work, opinions, perspectives, money in the case of crowdfunding and so what we need to do is crystallize, to build the mechanism where by all of these extraordinary contributions from many, many people can create amazing things.

So I have a simple definition for crowdsourcing and that’s “tapping the minds of many”. So now that we are so richly connected there are so many minds, so much imagination that we can tap, crystallize and create extraordinary things out of.

This is my crowdsourcing landscape., in my book “Getting Results from Crowds” – you can just search for that and you can see the landscape there.

It identifies 22 categories of crowdsourcing. This is not a simple thing. A lot of people think about crowdsourcing as one thing, it’s design competitions or about, contributing opinions around things. It’s many, many things. We don’t have time to look at all of these things but what I want to do is explore a little bit this entire world and to be able to zoom out from the world of today, to look at the big picture, of what I think are the ten domains in which crowds are important, at work, organizations, business models, capitalism, reputation, media, marketing, innovation, opportunity, and government. So, what we’ll do is to zoom in to each of these worlds and just spend a moment in each of them. Just skim through the surface of clearly what are extraordinarily rich spaces and see what’s happening in those worlds.

So first let’s go down and see what’s happening in the world of work.

And in the world of work we have individuals working hard who now because they are connected are amongst other things, are competing with everyone else in the world, whether you’re in Amsterdam or Zimbabwe, or Bangalore, you are competing with everyone else with talent around the world. So we must be world class. If we are not world class we’re a commodity. So, if we look at this whole world at large, there are many, many people and many, many workers, all working in different ways. So the trick that comes is, if we are so specialized, we must connect with others. We must collaborate with others, we must bring our talents together with others, to be able to create value, to be able to create extraordinary things.

And moving on from that, we have now a whole range of marketplaces. Ways in which work flows easily, these fluid markets we have. We have microtasks; these very small things such as recognizing photos or adding submissive data to something or checking something or translating a phrase and there are markets which bring this together at very low cost.

We have a whole range of service marketplaces; Elance, Freelancer, and oDesk. We heard from Matt Barrie from Freelancer yesterday who are creating already now over a billion dollars worth of work flowing through these. And in the next years to come, probably quite soon, ten billion dollars. These are places where work flows. All sorts of kind of work, any work. You know, I often say that it’s everything except hairdressing and massages is now going to become global.

But we also have specialist network. This is not just about commoditize work, it’s also more across specialist. So Kaggle. We’ve heard data-science quite a lot in this conference and this and this is where the top data scientists compete, to win prizes about more better analysis, predictive modeling, and the biggest prize on that is a US insurance company offering 3 million dollars for the best analysis of data.

We have Vumero which – where are the financial analysts. People that come out of Morgan Stanly or PwC, do at a reasonable cost provide their insights to anyone around the world.

So if we move on from the world of work and look at organizations, and organizations are clearly fundamentally changing. The transaction costs that Ronald Coase talked about are shrinking all the time. Which means that when we have, what we look now is that the boundaries of organizations are blurring. The difference, what happens outside organizations; what happens inside organizations, are blurring more and more. So the heart of strategy today is to answer a simple question: What happens inside the organization, and what happens outside the organization? And that boundary is changing all the time as we can put so much more of what our organization does to create value around us.

The simple quote by Bill Joy: “no matter who you are, most of the smartest people work for someone else”. And in fact, in a more recent sort of study, showed that every single domain, every single area – there is no organization that has more than 1% of the talent. And that means that if you’re an organization relying solely on your own talent you’re in extraordinary disadvantage to those that are tapping the world outside open innovation, being able to tap insights and talent from around the world. And if we, you now, look now at business processes, business processes don’t just happen inside organizations, business processes have to link to other things that are happening outside organizations in various ways. We have been able to say the things that are creating value do not just happen inside your organizations they happen: within, across and beyond those boundaries.

So from there and clearly particular interest to the crowd here is that of business models. And what I’ve done is to organize the crowdsourcing landscape into eight categories of business models. And again you can go to or search for Crowd Business Models and where I’ve looked at both in terms of monetization and the success factors for each of these crowd business models.

So there’s a whole array, now, business cannot say, “Okay, we’ll, this is our business. Oh, how do we, how do we include the crowd? How do we tack it on?” It doesn’t work that way anymore. Business models must start from the crowd. Just to give a few very simple examples: we have which used to be jigsaw which was acquired by Salesforce and what it does is, it has 2 million members which pay it for the, the pleasure and privilege of donating all of their personal contact data. So, everyone they know, all of the phone numbers and emails and so on.

Now what this means, is, that those who subscribed have access – currently, every time somebody moves company, then, hundreds and thousands of people have to update their database if they find out about it. Now, because that is run by the crowd, the first person to know about it can update it, and immediately we have access to the latest information and data and a great business model in it.

Giffgaff is a UK based telephone company. So, they say “all of our things we do are created by the crowd.”

The customer service, the marketing, the support, and the people who contribute from that, the customers are rewarded with money or free time on air or contributions to charity.

And we have other ones like, a fantastic example where, which is a product company and all of the products are designed by the crowd where people say, “I’ve got a great new idea for a product,” they submit it, other people refine it, they add to it, they vote on it. They select the best ones and the best ones go in the stores like Toys-r-us and Target and they actually have a deal with Home Shopping Network. So those who have bought contribute the ideas and added and refined the ideas are rewarded. They’re paid for their contributions over time.

And we’ve also seen today we got “babble verse” which is a crowd based business model which is one of the startups outside. Being able to bring these new models to bear, tapping the crowds to create value.

Now, capital. I used to be global director of capital markets at Thomson Financial so I’ve got a perspective on capital markets. Capital needs to go to where it has the most value. If it doesn’t, the whole system is broken. But there are so many people in here who are deserving of capital and you want to have that.

Now Marillion I don’t know what you call them a glam-rock band, they in the 90’s said they wanted to do a tour in the United States but they couldn’t get any promoters. So they went to their fans. This is ’97, so they had the Internet. They went out to the fans and said, “Please, would you contribute some money, so that we can do a US tour.” They raised $60,000 and they did a US tour, and their fans were rewarded.

In 2000 Artist Share set up – and they provide a platform for artists – and it was only in 2008 that Indiegogo and then Kickstarter set up crowdfunding, just four years ago. And you’ve already heard yesterday about the pebble e-watch. It’s a e-ink watch, just strap it to your, to your wrist and it links to your mobile phone. So it gives you not just the time but also the weather and your, your Twitter updates and your latest messages. So, it’s a, you know, great product and it has raised, at last count, 6. 6 million dollars.

It was only February 10th that the first million dollar project was done on Kickstarter and two of them came in the same day. Double Fine Adventure a game and also basically an iPhone stand which was funded for a million dollars. Now we have or – just in the last couple of months of our six million dollars for the top one, 3.3 for the next one, 3 million dollars the next one to get this whole new structure for how money is being raised.

Critically important, April 5th, Obama signed into law, the Jumpstart Our Business Startups Act which enables cloud funding for equity, which means if you have a great idea, then anybody you convince it’s a great idea can contribute a small amount, you can you have many people to contribute small amounts and this is extraordinary enabler, for startups, for innovation for ideas, and so these are really shifting ways of capitalism where the crowd, is allocating money to where they want. And this legislation is now going to flow through to other countries from the US’s lead.

I talk about the reputation economy, this is one of the biggest trends we have this decade and beyond, where, clearly if we’re dealing with an individual, if we’re dealing with a business, we’d like to know more about them. And so, all of them have contact with many people. So there’s this role for an organization which sits in the middle, which is able to aggregate all of the opinions of people to create a reputation measure for each of those organizations or the individual. Clearly we have Yelp, we have TripAdvisor, we have which is a service where people anonymously rate other people, and give their opinions on them. Now we are still just at the beginning of these, but these reputation measures are extraordinarily valuable. They start to provide context to us.

So, as we know, we have mobile apps, including augmented reality apps, where we can, look around us, see the restaurants or the bars we can see how much people like them and chooses ones we choose to wonder in. Now that we’re having augmented reality glasses hopefully kicked off by Google’s glass project, means that when we walk up to people in the street, it will not only tell us what their name is and what their Twitter handle is, but it’ll also tell us their reputation so we’ll know whether or not we should say hello to them.

And moving on from reputation we have a world of media. And this is one thing which is pretty clearly being driven by crowds over the last, the last decade or more.

We have the whole monolithic worlds of news and television and, images, and music. And clearly what is happened from the late ’90’s moving on is all of this has been shattered into pieces where we don’t just have the big providers or publishers or streamers – we have worlds many, many, many. The crowds have being creating content. And that’s not a new story, that’s one of the big shifts, where, content is being created by many. Clearly, there’s a massive amount of drops in that but there’s also extraordinary gems things that never would have gone out otherwise, things that wouldn’t have been found.

So when the crowd looks at that, and this is where we are still in process and still in finding is where those individuals can find what is fantastic, what is brilliant from all of that, again this is a form of reputation measure were the crowds are selecting from, we have now an infinity of content where the crowds together can find and discover what is truly unique. What is really wonderful, and that’s what all of us are doing, initially through Twitter and other platforms which are going to develop more over time.

We have media clearly if we want to think about marketing. This idea of how do we use crowds to be able to market things at large. The whole world of T.V. commercials and how it used to be sort of the 30 second commercials and going to broadcast things to people. Even that world has changed. So this is an advertisement for Harley Davidson which was created by the crowd. “Victors and Spoils” was an ad agency set up two and half years ago – by who used to be the strategy director at “Crispin Porter + Bogusky” and they have clients like “Harley Davidson” and “Levis” and other large companies, and what they so is they go to not everybody, they have what is, what I call a “managed crowd”. They have highly talented people that they have worked in advertising before, they choose the best from, they work with them, they bring the client in – to be able to create in this case, the first TV commercial created by the crowd. Bringing the ideas together, refining them and, and taking them at large.

We have the Blur Group and that is a platform where you can go in and instead of going to one agency or getting bids and ideas from three or four or five agencies, you can get them from dozens. There’s platforms, there’s marketplaces where you can democratize really, the availability of talent making sure you’re getting the right comparative pricing and getting the best ideas. Which again they don’t come from the few, they come from the many. So going to the many is what brings them in.

You know, Sam Adams at South by Southwest had a beer which was especially for South by Southwest that was created by the crowd. The crowd actually designed the beer. Now it’s probably a gimmick, in one sense, ’cause you can’t – they have taste leavers and how much hops and so on in it. So it’s, it’s not really creating the beer. But it’s a way of engaging customers in various ways and being able to tap their ideas, to get them engaged, to hopefully get them buying the Sam Adams which comes out the other side.

And so now if we look at the top eight brands in the world as ranked by inter-brand, all of them are using crowdsourcing in their marketing and another ways as well in various guises. Intel has T.V. commercials created by the crowd, Microsoft is getting videos to help with it’s teacher outreach program. Coca-Cola has all sorts of initiatives and T.V’s and marketing which are created by the crowd. All of them are saying “but this is just a very beginning”. Clearly more and more marketing is not: “Okay. Here’s a great idea. Let’s push it out to all these people”. How do we engage people? It’s not all about pushes. It’s about getting the crowd to be engaged, to want to create that, to be part of the message, to be part of this whole movement.

From marketing we move on to innovation and that’s one of the most critical ones, because, as I said, innovation can’t happen in just a single place. It has to happen beyond that. So you’ve probably heard the story of Procter & Gamble and their move to open innovation where from 2000 A.G. Lafley the CEO said :”We must have half of our innovation outside”. So when they wanted to extend the Swiffer range into a Swiffer duster they found that what they did internally wasn’t as good as what they could find externally. So, they went outside to create a ninety million dollar a year opportunity. They are open, they are looking, they are seeking what is the best, from what is there around the world.

We have prediction markets and these are applied in all sorts of way. So in Best Buy for example, and you will see this process where people inside Best Buy are actually, making votes, they are doing trades to be able to predict what the sales are going to be for that organization. Now these kinds of prediction markets are being applied in pharmaceutical companies, regularly, and many other companies where the people inside the company can predict what is the success of this product going to be? Is it going to get to market on time? What other resources do we need? So rather the product manager giving the report, everybody in the organization can see what’s going inside, what’s going on outside, can work that out and get in that collective intelligence on where the bet should be placed, where things that should be happening inside the organization.

And we also have amazing situations where, like, I’m sorry Fold it. Now Fold it. You can see here is a level 47 player of the game Fold it. Now Fold it is a game where you play with proteins. Proteins are the essence of life and they can only fold in particular ways. So, the game Fold it is where people can go in and they can see how can this protein fold? How does it not fold? And learning this gives scientists the ability to design new drugs to be able to find new ways to help people. And it’s these kinds of opportunities that we have through, aggregating people’s attention, aggregating their talent through structures, like gaming.

I think one of the biggest shifts in the world is between the haves and the have nots. This connection is extraordinary yet it polarizes and many ways. It says many people that are not connected, that are not able to benefit, and whilst we, all of us, the elite really, are taking advantage of this; many of them aren’t.

So in addition to the service marketplace I mentioned, there’s this platform called Samasource. And Samasource is specifically designed- essentially is a fair trade service market place. They find people who they are able to give work to in developing countries. They find clients in developing world to be able to give that. And so these are ways in which we can equalize, we can give opportunity, we can give work in developing countries now are going to rely more and more on the incomes and the possibilities of these worlds.

We have VizWiz and that’s one of my favorites where this blind gentlemen is taking a photo with his iPhone of his socks. Then speaks into it says: ” what colors are these socks”, and within thirty seconds, suddenly from a whole pool of people around the world will say the one on the – type in, the one on the left is black and the one on the right is white and gray and then it speaks it back and it says it to him. So, for example, like going to the cupboard in their, in their kitchen, they can say, “Which is the can of soup?” And they can use a photo. So, the crowds are lending their eyes to blind people to be able to do these things. There is an extraordinary way in which we equalize opportunity through the…Through these tools.

And finally, we have government. Now government I think goes beyond what we think of government today. Government needs to be something which is about how do we together create our lives. Now clearly crowds have always been what shapes government. We’ve seen that in Egypt, where there’s crowds in Tahrir Square have changed the government and many other countries and they’re regions around them. So, but they have been amplified. I always believe that I talk about social media was the amplifier of our voices, of our expressions, and that’s what happened where these crowds have made themselves felt over time.

We have, for example, in Iceland. The recent constitution of Iceland was crowdsourced, all of these people are there to be able to contribute to the crowdsourcing of the Icelandic constitutions. It was also on Facebook and in other online wiki. So we are forming policy as crowds, the New Zealand Police Act quite a few years ago it was actually shaped on a wiki. So collectively we are not just voting for people and saying: “Okay. Go do until next time we vote you in or vote you out”. We are collectively making things happen.

Clearly the information the government has, the many departments that the government have, it’s our information.

So, when they create a very simple mechanism, such as in API’s. The proliferation of innovation creates all of these applications. We can access, we can add value through what the government provides us, through what our government provides us. We tend to think of the government and us; but, they, the government, must be us. We must shape the government and beyond this clearly is the shift of participatory democracy, which will have its struggles on the way but absolutely, we need to be able to create that, to take control. To become more the government. To be the government which controls us.

So if we then zoom out, we’ve seen these worlds. The worlds in which crowds apply of work, organizations, business models, capitalism, reputation, media, marketing, innovation, opportunity and government. So, let’s zoom back into the world, the Earth, and see in fact we live in a global brain. The people on the planet are as the neurons in the brain. We are now so richly connected. This is an old dream, this is an old story, the ancient Greeks, used to say that together we can have a collective intelligence, and just as we can imagine flying through the brain today the people on our profiles is only just in the last few years we have so richly connected to the messages that flow between us really make us, all of us and our connections like a global brain. Again it doesn’t have necessarily value itself. We must distil that value, we must find the value from which this flow this, this connections can truly create collective intelligence. We can then together be more intelligent than we are separately. It’s an extraordinary ambition, yet that is something that is a part of the human race I believe moving forward.

So this gentleman, this wild looking guy, that’s John C. Lilly. If you saw the film Altered States from a while ago that’s, it was based on him. He was a scientist who explored with, amongst other things, human-dolphin communication and taking LSD in sensory deprivation tanks, and other ways of exploring consciousness. And he had a dream that we can achieve not just global intelligence but a global consciousness. That we can be so richly connected in our thoughts, that, in fact, our consciousness can be something beyond us. Again, this is an age-old dream, yet we are getting closer to the technologies that will enable us to achieve it.

Now, one of my publications of my group of companies is, where we explore the future of sex, and there’s many interesting aspects of that—virtual sex, remote sex, robots, modes of entertainments and so on. But if we look at just a little beyond the immediate there’s potential to actually touch the pleasure sensors of our partners through technological means. To be able to have that into media, to be able to actually stimulate ourselves, which raises the potential, perhaps not immediately here, that we can create a crowd orgasm. Imagine what that would be like. So these are the some of the possibilities, the potentials. So we think, what is the potential of crowds, these are some of the things that we can dream about.

Now, Marshall Mcluhan, great visionary. One of the things that he said is that media is an extension of our senses, and what it means for example TV. Every TV camera is an extension of our eyes. It enables to see where we are not today. Radio is an extension of our ears. Where we can hear, where we aren’t today. Today crowds are the extension of our capabilities. They give us so much more potential. There are so much more that we can achieve through crowds, and that’s extension of who we are. That is a real possibility.

Now we live in this recently connected world with talent everywhere and I’m sure some of you will be interested in how I’ve created this visual presentation. This is in fact I’ve been aspiring to do an entirely moving visual presentation for some years and this is in fact the first time I’ve done this. And it’s enabled by the crowds, you know, something like this not long ago would have cost tens of thousand dollars to create. Now through the crowd it is possible to be able to create this motion graphics presentation. So I believe we’re at the beginning of the near fully motion, fully moving presentations. The old present power-points with bullet points, I hope are of the past. So I have set a starting point and I invite you to go out and to create better and better, fully motions graphic presentations. Certainly this for me was just a starting point and I want to be able to go beyond it, to continue to improve that, so that the visual moving images are part of the immersive world of how we communicate messages. How we move beyond.

So, I truly believe that we are at the dawn of a new era. The crowds give us so much more capabilities and the people in this room, all of you are the ones that will do that, to be able to create new business models, to be able to create new forms of marketing, to be able to create new opportunities for people around the world, to be able to create extraordinary things. I invite you to create the future from crowds. Thank you.


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Full keynote: Telstra cloud computing


Cloud computing trends – Keynote speaker Ross Dawson

Ross Dawson is a widely acclaimed keynote speaker. He has delivered numerous inspirational and insightful keynote speeches on cloud computing trends which leave his audiences stimulated and energized.

Keynote speaker video – Telstra Cloud Computing Conference

A confluence of powerful driving forces is driving the shift to cloud computing. In the domain of technology, exponential increases in bandwidth, rock-solid reliability, and mature technology platforms mean that on-demand computing resources now provide a compelling alternative to in-house computing.

Recently Ross gave the keynote address on cloud computing trends at a five-city Australian roadshow run by Telstra Business. He opened the breakfast events by providing a big picture view of how driving forces in technology, business and society are moving the world towards cloud computing, cloud working, cloud thinking, and cloud strategy. In doing so he came up with the concept of ‘Breathe in the Cloud‘ as a useful metaphor. Companies need to breathe in the resources of cloud computing in order to give them the vitality to grow and prosper.

Below is a video of the opening for his inspiring keynote, talking about the cloud computing trends and why it is so important for companies to Breathe in the Cloud.

See below for full transcription of video.

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Full Transcription: Telstra cloud computing conference


This first speaker this morning was writing about social networking and cloud revolutions before they happened. He has been named of one of the most influential people in the world on Enterprise 2.0 and is a widely acclaimed futurist, author, speaker and CEO of the international consulting firm, Advanced Human Technologies. His name is Ross Dawson and this morning he will be presenting our keynote titled “Tapping the Forces of Change.” Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Ross Dawson to the stage.

Ross Dawson:

So, it’s early in the morning, I’d like you to take a deep breath, breathing in the air that is all around us, we cannot see, but it gives us the energy and the vitality to do all of the extraordinary things that we will achieve today. In the same way cloud computing is all around us and it provides your organizations the resources, the capabilities to do extraordinary things. So this morning I want to look at the driving forces that are creating that opportunity for your businesses to tap the wonderful cloud that is all around us.

Now, to begin, let’s look a little bit at what’s being happening over the last while. The U.S. economy, in 1980 was worth 4.9 trillion U.S. dollars and the weight of the goods produced was 1.3 billion tons. If we fast forward next twenty years, the economy had almost doubled in size to 9.3 trillion U.S. dollars. But the actual good, weight of goods produced had barely gone up. And this makes sense if you think about the things that are most valuable in our economy are not the biggest and bulkiest things, they are the things that are very light, becoming lighter or, in fact, weigh nothing at all.

So if we look at the next 17 to 22 years, we can pretty confidently predict that the global economy will double in size and all of that growth will come from things that weigh nothing: ideas, information, knowledge, services. So this opportunity to participate in this doubling of the economy in front of us depends on being able to create value from things that weigh nothing.

I’d like to give away a copy of my book, Living Networks, whoever can tell me, within a couple of percent, what’s proportion of Australia’s economy that is of services, value added services?

Ross Dawson:
Anybody prepared to hazard a guess?


Ross Dawson:
Up, up, up.


Ross Dawson:
We have a winner!


Ross Dawson:

So 76% of Australia’s economy, the value added from Australia’s economy is in services. Those things that weigh nothing. Yes, Australia’s is a resource intensive economy, we dig lots of big things out of the ground and we ship them off to other parts of the planet. But the value is in things that weigh nothing.

Now, today perhaps the most important thing to understand about the economy is divergence and performance. The difference between the most successful and the least successful organizations is increasing and this is reported by research from Deloitte’s Center for the Edge, based in Silicon Valley, just showing over the last decades in the U.S. economy that consistently you can see in this blue line, that the best performing organizations are consistently returning 11 – 13% return on assets and in the last years through the global financial crisis – Yes, they were still consistently performing at these kinds of levels return. Whereas the least successful organizations are consistently destroying value. Either they’re going to have to reinvent themselves, get taken over, or disappear and so, as today, given the pace of change, only those organizations that can continually reinvent themselves will be able to maintain that upper level of performance, the rest will diverge and they’ll be left on the wayside.

Now, part of the reason this has happened is that we are moving from the very structured way of business to a very informal network connected world of business. This diagram shows the top hundred executives in one of the Australia’s largest organizations in a study I did a little while ago. And each of those dots is a person, each of the lines that connects them shows significant communication and just at a glance, you can see, for example, in this lower right-hand corner, there is a group of people who are very good at speaking to each other but they’re not good at speaking to the rest of the organization. So these people on the outside, their capabilities, their connections, relationships, expertise is not available to the rest of the organization. So for an organization to function effectively it needs to be more networked internally to be able to bring together resources and capabilities and absolutely to be, to have better networks externally, with their customers, their suppliers and their partners.

So there’s a gentleman called James Carse who, quite some time ago, said something which is extremely relevant today. He said that “finite players play within boundaries and infinite players play with boundaries.” and that is the challenge in front of you. To be able to play with the boundaries of your industry, of the way in which your customers perceive you, in the way which you perceive yourselves.

Yes, there’s still going to be some scope to what you do, but that will have to change, that will have to adjust, that will have to shift over time. This morning quite quickly I want to look at what are the driving forces that are creating this new world. Look at increasing productivity, building growth, and finally taking action to be able to create value.

Let’s begin by looking at the driving forces.

There’s three major domains we need to understand. Technology clearly is a major driver of business. You’ll need to understand why the world of business, how that is changing, and finally, look at society which is the context in which we work. Now over the last decade or more that I’ve been working as a futurist have distilled the key themes I’ve been seeing into one fundamental force in each of those areas. In the field of technology it is exponential drivers, everything in technology is moving at an exponential pace, we’ll come back to that in a moment.

In business, the key driver is efficiency. Ever more efficient business and in society the key drivers that of expectations. We expect more and what comes out of that. So, we’ll just look at each of these in turn.

So, I’d like you to think back to say 1995. How many people who had a mobile phone then? Yes, some people, and if had been much earlier than that it would have been a rather bulky device. Now if we compare the mobile phones of yesteryear with those of today, we can say, well, you know, these are, it’s, it’s smaller. It’s perhaps around 120th of small. But the power of this device would have literally filled a room not that long ago. So everything, in terms of the amount of storage available, the amount of processing power, the amount of bandwidth, all of those things are moving exponentially, and it’s quite difficult as humans, our brain is not great at understanding this power of exponential change.

So if we think about today, let’s say that all of human technological progress is to 2010. That’s taken us to this level of 100. And this chart shows that if you add that up at 50% growth, which is pretty much what happens across storage and bandwidth and processing power, means that in five years, you have six times the amount. In 10 years, you have sixty times the amount. In 20 years, you have three thousand times the amount of what are the fundamental enablers of business today. Now, this extraordinary shift is something which we need to be able to grasp. All of these drivers are exponential. So this impacts just about everything. In terms of bandwidth it means that, amongst other things, work can be done anywhere. This image happens to show a surgeon in the United States performing an operation in Europe. Now, if those kinds of expertise and fine touch can be replicated at across the planet, clearly work can be done at home, on the move or indeed anywhere around the world.

If we look at processing power, it’s back in 1997 that Gary Kasparov, the grand chess master, was beaten by a computer. Now we have computers that can recognize your face from hundreds of thousands, that can recognize your voice and respond to that, and now the next frontier is that of emotional robots, where this is Paro, a robot seal in Japan which has been designed to, for us to emotionally respond to it, and we can fall in love with it, it’s been used in therapy, and it’s, these are the processing powers reaching the things which we did not think. We thought we were always human, we thought we were always the, the capacity of living life, but no, we will fall in love with robots because we now understand when they have enough capabilities to be able to emulate those things that we admire and love.

And finally, this other thing which we often ignore which is the interfaces between man and machine, the computer mouse that we still spend a lot of time on is over 40 years old. That is old technology. Now I’m moving to, beyond these to things like this which are augmented reality glasses. We can look around and see information laid over above us. We can control computers with gestures, with our facial recognition, our expressions, by where our eyes look.

All of these interfaces are giving us more and more control over the computers. So if we pull all these things together, we are looking, at what I describe in my book, “Living Networks,” as the “global brain.” The people on the planet are like the neurons in the brain, and only now that we are so richly connected that it is a real metaphor. We are part of something which is beyond ourselves that rich lattice of connections is creating a global brain.

Now coming back to earth for a moment, efficiency is the key driver of business. Has been, is today and will continue to be. I’d like to tell you three stories that illustrate this.

This image shows the glorious city of Chongqing in Western China. In the whole metropolitan area is 30 million people. Now, some decades ago, quite a while ago, in fact, now, Britain used to lead the market in motorcycles. That’s where all the best motorcycles with the throatiest roars used to be made. Then Japan took over as the motorcycle capital of the world. Today the motorcycle capital of the world is Chongqing. Now, there’s an interesting reason for that. The Japanese used to specify in great detail to their suppliers, saying this is exactly how you must make this part, down to the micro-level of it. If it’s not right, we won’t accept it.

In Chongqing they take a very different approach. The assemblers there, say, “We want a motorcycle which has these characteristics. It will go this fast. It’s around this big. It has these safety features. All right, suppliers, you get to work out how to do it.” Then the suppliers need to collaborate, need to see how their parts fit together, they need to be able to work efficiently to be able to create something which meets those specifications and this has meant that they can create great motorbikes at very low cost. Now this is a metaphor for modular economy where businesses work together and they collaborate, put the pieces together to be able to create an offering which is extraordinary in the same way your business processes can now be distributed across the planet. Broken down into pieces, done partly by computers and partly by people around this world, driving the modular economy.

Now, the electronics supply chain, which comes from chips and capacitors through computers and devices, through wholesalers and retailers is worth one trillion dollars. And not that long ago, it was a very inefficient industry. Had different order entry, processes, different part numbers, different ways of working and then the industry got together and formed a group they called RosettaNet to be able to get a common language between them which has saved literally tens of billions of dollars. Now, if you can think about it in your own industry, in your own company, there are, no doubts, some inefficiencies you can identify. Those will be squeezed out. The pressure is on efficiencies. If something is not done well someone else will do it better. And you have to be able to bring those efficiencies to bear.

Some of you may have been reading recently about Zara, very interesting company. In 1975, they set up a store in the Spanish town of Aquadonia, and the shop did well. So they set up another one and another one. It is now in 77 countries around the world, and the owner is the ninth wealthiest person on the planet and they’ve finally reached our shores.

Now, Zara works by being fast to market. Traditionally in the retail industry-fashion industry, takes 6-9 months, so currently designers are looking at autumn of next year in the southern hemisphere. Now, in Zara they say, this doesn’t make sense, we have no idea what people are going to want in six to nine months. So they have a process where they can see people walking by, they can see people coming asking for things, they can see what the fashions are. So from design to creation, to manufacturing, to shipping, to putting it in the shops, to selling it is two weeks and, nothing stays in the shop for more than four or five weeks at a time. So, this – they’ve taken one, taken the normal business cycle and shrunk it to one twentieth of the size. If you are not doing the same thing, then your competitors will be, absolutely bringing that speed to market to an extraordinary degree.

Now, in society, all of us together there’s one fundamental trend and that’s quite simple. That we expect more. We expect more in absolutely every way, and just to take a few simple examples of that, one is that we expect to be able to live rich lives, at the same time as working hard, to be able to, you know, not have to commute during rush hours, to be able to spend some quality time. Yes we may be able to do a few late-night emails, but we’ll all have some flexibility and do some work and get away at other times. This is the, the potential, and this is the expectation today, that we can do that.

How many people here have a Facebook account? Thank you and congratulations. You have made Australia the number one in the world in using social networks. And it’s an interesting thing because only a few years ago Australia was actually quite behind in the use of social networks. Suddenly we seemed to have come from behind and leaped out ahead, expressing whatever it is about us that makes us want to connect with our friends here and around the world and this use of social networks, this use of social media, these tools is part of our expectation that we can participate. Also there are expectations that our voices will be heard. And more and more of us are using these tools to be able to express our opinions about companies, and amplifying our voices and our contents and discontents so they’re often heard on an extraordinary scale, and businesses have to respond because we have this expectation of participation and that our voices will be heard.

Clearly we have expectations that ourselves and our organizations that we buy from and work with are doing things that enhance the world around us rather than destroying it. So seeing this key driver in technology of everything is exponential, and what that means in such a short period of time. Look at how business is driving efficiency at every turn and finally the expectations in society. So let’s move on and look at one of the implications of these driving forces. Absolutely increasing productivity is a key facet of being able to tap this drive to efficiency.

Now these are servers, things that churn away, providing computer resources to the world. Now, it’s an interesting statistic, there is now close to 2% of the electricity in the United States being used up by servers. Now Google and Microsoft are locating their servers near hydroelectric plants, because there’s such a demand for electricity. Yet, generally, servers are being used to 10% of their capacity, so this is an extraordinary waste. It’s a waste of money, it’s waste of… it’s inefficient and it also has an impact on the economy, sorry, on the environment as we are seeing these the degree of energy in the fossil fuel required to drive these servers is quite extraordinary. So this, the global nature of the resources means that efficiency so why don’t we use skills, why don’t we reallocate these, make these available to people around the world?

We know that work can be done anywhere and is being done anywhere with extraordinary results. And part of what that supports this connected world, this network’s inside organizations so the, the, the issue is not just being connected, but how do you drive at a better networked organization? So, this is part of the role of the technology function of organizations.

Until recently, a lot of that is being about things like buying PCs, putting them on desktops, keeping them up to date with software and so on. So, as those things can be automated, done more effectively, done more efficiently, this creates an extraordinary opportunity for the technology function to support the expansion of business. To be able to support the opportunity thinking, to say, “This is how technology can shift your business.” And for the technology function to reposition itself, to facilitate those networks inside organizations, across organizations, that drive value.

Now, I’m looking at building growth, and this is really what business is about. That’s the doubling of the economy, and how you can participate in that. Now I’d like to just use one key study and just talk about one extraordinary phenomenon, which is enabling this building of growth. Aussie Whitegoods Rescue, is an Australian company which has just been around for a year. And they started off by buying the, the services division of Kleenmaid, the white goods manufacturer. Now, in fact, all they bought was a website domain, a phone number, a business name, there was actually no operating assets at all, it was all just, you know, the things that connects us.

So they start out by saying, okay how are we going to build this business, and they started by doing some research and they talked to other companies doing service for refrigerators and washing machines around the world and asking them, well, how are you doing it? And they found that almost all of them were unhappy, that they were – had some systems that weren’t working very well. So at Aussie Whitegoods Rescue they thought about this and they thought, well, we know we want to grow, we want to grow fast and we don’t know quite what that’s going to look like. So they made a fundamental decision, they say everything we do is going to be based on the cloud. So they’ve implemented all of their relationship management software. They’ve implemented their connections with all of the service people. They’ve got all of their office productivity suite. Everything is in the cloud. So, now, they have this flexibility to be able to adapt things on the move.

So, for example, they may see that a business process isn’t working quite right, so they, rather than putting in a request to their IT department or their vendor, they change it. On the spot, next minute they have a business process which is more effectively adapted. The company is now growing at 15% per month, and they have the capability not just to scale their business very rapidly but also to move off into new areas, to be able to change the business and what it is from the conception to the implementation being really short.

Now this complicated looking diagram that I created last month shows the landscape of crowdsourcing. Now, crowdsourcing is a word that brings together the outsourcing and crowds, saying we can outsource now, not just to, for example, a big Indian services firm but to many, many people, wherever they are around the world.

So I’d like to just quickly take a few of these different types of crowdsourcing and explain those.

One of those is service marketplace, and this is pretty straight forward. It’s like eBay for services. Say I want a website design, I want some graphic work, I want some advice on marketing, and you go out to the world and people put up the bid saying, “I’m great and this is the price for it.” So you can get extraordinarily, talented people at often very inexpensive prices. For example, MiniMovers, the Brisbane based Australian moving company uses these to be able to get talented people in the Philippines, to be able to do some of their administrative work.

For example,, up there is an Australian company. Distributed innovation, so Procter and Gamble, and Boeing, and Eli Lilly and IBM all say, “We don’t have the research staff we require. We have to go out to the world.” And so now small companies and so Ideas Culture, a Melbourne based business, in fact, where they provide businesses the opportunity be able to tap ideas, innovation around the world to be able to create, something extraordinary and crowd funding, so it’s no longer you have to go to the ASX, you can actually get many, many people to fund your business operations. Diaspora which is creating an alternative to Facebook, which has no, none of the privacy issues of Facebook. Set up saying they went to Kickstarter and they said, “We want to raise $10,000 to be able to do this project.” They got $200,000. So people have funded them and now they’ve got these things coming out on the marketplace.

So what all of this means is that the power of ideas reigns supreme. If you can think of something, you can do it and that’s never been the case before in human history. There’s access to resources, to money, to capabilities. This cloud business, in the broadest sense, is absolutely transformative, and that is going to really change that, increase that divergence between those that have the ideas and execute them and those who continue doing what they’re doing.

So finally want to look at taking action, how to be able to bring this to bear. And, the law of requisite variety from Cybernetics, tells us, basically, that if you are not as flexible as the world around you, not so much dead meat necessarily, but you are subject to the world around you. Whereas if you can be as flexible, as adaptive as the world around you, you can be in control of your destiny.

So the six steps you need to take:

1. The first is to breathe in the cloud, to be able to take advantage of those cloud resources, computing resources all around you to be able to have this flexibility.

2. You need to make sure that those people inside your organizations and beyond can work anywhere, anytime.

3. But it’s not just about the technology; it’s absolutely about the culture. How do you deal with the fact that people are often working from home? How do you deal with the fact that you have to have some, you know, some intellectual property and confidential discussions with people outside your boundaries? That’s just the nature of how you tap these resources. These are some of the cultural issues you need to support and be able to tap these, potential of these technologies.

4. Technology must become a strategic function. The technology is now available as a utility, you turn on the tap, it’s there. The issue is now what do we do with that power and the technology function can now become strategic.

5. You need be able to build organizations that are very flexible, very adaptable, can move, can be able to see an opportunity and grab it because that is where business is. It’s, yes, we have an idea where we’re going, but the five-year master plan is dead. You really have to be that responsive, and be able to grab things and take advantage of them.

6. And finally, you need to look at the forces of change. Business is not staying the same. We’ve seen before, we’ve that the forces of change are going to continue to play. So, you need to understand them and to build your business to be able to tap those effectively.

So, I’ve looked at the driving forces; increasing productivity, building growth and taking action. So if we look at all of these, the business impact is going to literally explode and providing extraordinary opportunities for you and your companies moving ahead. Thank you for your time.

Every keynote speech by futurist and keynote speaker Ross Dawson is fully customized to the client and the audience. Energize your event with his inspirational presentations on cloud computing trends that leave audiences with valuable and actionable insights.

ExaTrends of the Decade: The Reputation Economy


Reputation Economy – Keynote speaker Ross Dawson

Ross Dawson is a globally renowned and highly acclaimed keynote speaker. Strong demand for Ross’s expertise has seen him deliver numerous keynote speeches across six continents. For years he has been writing about reputation and has often said that this will be the decade of the reputation economy.

Keynote speaker video – ExaTrends of the Decade: The Reputation Economy

The rise of the reputation economy is one of the most important trends of our time. In the following video keynote speaker Ross Dawson discusses the rising importance and opportunities of the reputation economy. Some of the issues covered in the video include:

* The amount of data we have now is enabling the measurement of reputation
* Influence and Reputation are different
* Klout, PeerIndex and their peers do not measure reputation, they are trying to measure influence.
* Other players in the emerging reputation space include LinkedIn, and CubeDuel
* Service marketplaces such as, oDesk and Elance have internal reputation measures
* There is immense value to reputation measures, across many aspects of business
* Reputation is becoming central to business and society

Read more

Keynote: SUN Microsystems Executive Forum


Future of Network Economy – Keynote speaker Ross Dawson

Ross Dawson is a widely acclaimed keynote speaker. He has delivered numerous keynotes on the subject of business networking and network economy and is considered one of the most influential thought leaders in this space.

Keynote speaker video – Sun Microsystems Executive Forum

Recently Ross gave a keynote speech for the Sun Microsystems Partner Executive Forum, where Sun brought together the top executives from its extensive partner network for an update and relationship building session.

Below is an 8 min video containing brief excerpts from his keynote, titled The Future of the Network Economy.

Topics covered in this inspirational keynote video include:

* In the Depression of the 1930s there was little structural change in the economy; in the current downturn there will be massive change.
* In a connected world you can – and must – reposition yourself across boundaries.
* Scale-free networks provide a common structure across society, web, infrastructure and more.
* Collaborative filtering is where the web is going: it enables us to find what is most relevant to us from infinite content.
* Open innovation requires identifying and stimulating the social networks where relevant ideas are proliferating.
* Our individual and organizational reputations will precede us, giving us and others insights into our expertise, reliability, and credibility.
* Strategy in a network economy based on the flow of information and ideas requires us to rethink alliances and identify opportunities in new domains.
* The law of requisite variety means we must be at least as flexible as our environment.
* Studying ants’ collective behavior can help organizations understand how to tap emergence to create value.

See below for full transcription of video.

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Full Transcription: Sun Microsystems Executive Forum

Ross Dawson:

The future of our lives, of our business, of society is very much in a networked world. We think back to the period which is being compared to the times today or coming up and the depression of 30’s. During that phase economic structure barely changed at all, there were the same business activities going on there was really very little change, which today we’re going to see because of the connectivity, because of the networked world we will see the pace of change accelerate and that is an extraordinary opportunity for those who will take it.

So, in the next 20 to 25 years you can confidently predict that the global economy will again double in size and all of that growth, all of that growth in the economy from things that weigh nothing. Ideas, information, knowledge, services, that is where the shift is coming.

In this linking of knowledge, this linking of ideas more faster and faster is what we can really think of as the birth of the global brain, the networks are literally coming to life and as we are so connected, which is only just happening today, that is a real analogy. The people on the planet are as the neurons in the brain, and we are all participating in the emergence of the birth of a higher order life form.

I guarantee you that in the challenging times ahead if you stay within the existing boundaries of your business, of your industries, of your clients, the way you are perceived – you’re going to find it very challenging. But as we are connected, that is exactly the opportunity where you can transcend those boundaries, to play with those boundaries, literally to be able to move into new spaces, to be able to re-position yourself, to be able to take advantage of the opportunities.

What I call scale free networks. Now a scale free network is the network that has the same structure at any size. Be at the macro level or a smaller level, and this absolutely applies to the internet, so this particular image of a scale-free network could apply to any of those things: to social networks, to the spread of disease, to infrastructure, to life, to thought, to the internet and these all have exactly the same underlying structure.

This particular framework, which I created recently on the future of the media lifecycle, which looks at how content flows both through the “how we consume that at home”, and “how we consume that in the mobile space” to create our personal clouds where we store information and that flows back, precipitates back into the sea of content.

So, this collaborative filtering is where the whole web is going, where there’s aggregation of this life streaming that participation enables this infinite content to be made where we can find what is relevant to us.

For the networks to come alive, we as people must interface directly into the networks, so Doug Engelbart invented the mouse 40 years ago, that is ancient technology. If you are using a mouse that’s antediluvian, everything can be replicated, everything can be copied. So, unless you are either innovating or able to protect that intellectual property that value, the half-life of that value, disappears, in a shorter and shorter time, as we’ve seen earlier. This is now innovation laid open, open around the world, and when I was consulting to Procter & Gamble around these issues, I was looking to identify how do you find out where are the communities, where are the people who can contribute the ideas, how can you connect to these people to create the network of ideas, where again, moving beyond this technological network and the social network and the network of ideas that are linking out of which innovation flows and unless you are plugged into that you are an island and you are not able to participate in these networks coming to life.

Social networks are ultimately about people being connected here in these scale-free networks which we saw before. Now, if I asked you how an organization works, I often get an organizational chart, but the reality is that this is how organizations function. There’s a study I did of a large Australian organization, the top 100 executives looking at where there was communication, where there wasn’t communication. The network structure of that organization, and as a result where the functions and dysfunctions.

Now as we move into more and more connected, more and more transparent more and more open world where information flows readily our reputation precedes us, and as organizations and as individuals. So we are just on the cusp now. There’s more and more ways in which we can gain insights into what our reliability is, what our competence is, how valuable and useful we are in a particular context. So, expect your reputation to precede you and expect to be able to gain insight to people’s reputation before you meet them.

In my book Living Networks I describe what I call the flow economy, and the economy based on the flow of information ideas. What I described at the beginning as this weightless economy. Everything that weighs nothing is basically around the flow of information ideas, that’s what your business is and that’s why your assisting your, your clients with, and there are six elements of that:

• Standards
• Relationships
• Connectivity
• Interfaces
• Content and
• Services

And a very powerful strategy tool is to understand where you are currently, which elements of this you are participating in currently, who you are partnering with to be able to create the other elements of this flow economy, and where you can shift into new areas.

The law of requisite variety back William Ross Ashby 1958, basically says the only way you can control your destiny is to be more flexible than your environment. Today your environment is very flexible, very fast moving, very fast paced. So, your organizations must have the flexibility, the adaptability which comes out of being able to tap the concepts of how ants work and move to be able to create value, to be able to be effective and to win in this world.

Now, I’m not saying that you or your colleagues and organizations are like ants, but absolutely we can learn, again looking at some of these principles of network science to understand how ants collectively are creating quite extraordinary things and these emergent properties in how they follow the pheromone tracks to be able to find with the honey is in your kitchen. Or to be able to work together, to be able create extraordinary structures. These are all based on the similar principles of the web 2.0 style tools to be able to allow us to discover what is interesting to discover, what is relevant to be able to tap into and create value inside organizations. If you pin organizations down to process and workflow they will commoditize they won’t be able to progress they will be in boxes, they are within boundaries. Those that allow that emergence to come out by playing with that balance between structure and unstructure to be able to use the tools that allow these ideas to flow out, that’s where value will be created.

The pace of change is absolutely extraordinary and moving faster, and this is going to really, literally explode over the next coming days, weeks, months and years. So I invite you to build the future of the network economy. Thank you.

Energize your event with Ross’ inspirational presentations on the future of network economy that leave audiences with valuable and actionable insights.

Keynote excerpt: Serious Games – The Value for Organizations


Technology keynote speaker – Ross Dawson

Ross Dawson is a globally renowned and highly acclaimed technology keynote speaker. He has delivered numerous inspirational and insightful keynote speeches which leave his audiences stimulated and energized.

Keynote speaker video – Serious Games: The Value for Organizations

Recently futurist Ross Dawson gave a keynote on ‘Future of Technology’ at the ADC KRONE conference. Below is a video snippet of his inspiring keynote talking about how games, gaming technologies and virtual worlds can be used to create value for modern organizations.

See below for full transcription of video.

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Full Transcription: Excerpt from Serious Games – The Value for Organizations

Ross Dawson:

There’s a new phrase which is being used a lot, it’s called “serious games” and you think well that could be a contradiction in terms. Last night there were some games being played and building are pretty serious. But games can be serious. At the beginning of each year Harvard Business Review publishes a list of 20 fundamentally important trends in the economy and business. Four of those 20 trends this year were about how games and gaming technologies and virtual worlds were being used in business and there are many, many similarities. I don’t know how many of you are familiar with games like World of Warcraft. What you do in World of Warcraft is you go, you form teams, you collaborate, you create tasks, get task done, you have competitors, you have collaborators, you work together to actually achieve something.

Sounds a bit like an organization doesn’t it? There’s no reason why an organization could not function inside a game or a game interface where people take on these characters more than literally and play a game in order to perform business processes, to perform their tasks. Now this happens to show at the port of Rotterdam and some of the things which they’re doing, to be able to use games as an interface to getting work done and so games and the virtual world which we participate in are increasingly fundamental to the way in which organizations work.

Every speech by technology keynote speaker Ross Dawson is fully customized to the client and the audience. Energize your event with his inspirational presentations that leave audiences with valuable and actionable insights.

Robotics and the future of the Japanese economy


Keynote excerpt: Weightless economy


Weightless Economy – Keynote speaker Ross Dawson

Ross Dawson is globally recognized as a leading futurist and keynote speaker. He is an entertaining, engaging and highly interactive speaker who brings critical business topics to life, and leaves participants with practical take-aways on how to achieve success in the rapidly evolving weightless economy.

Keynote speaker video – Weightless Economy

Recently futurist Ross Dawson gave a keynote for Optus Business. Below is a video snippet of his inspiring keynote, offering compelling insights into the rise of Weightless Economy.

See below for full transcription of video.

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Full Transcription: Weightless Economy

Ross Dawson:

So, in order to understand the future it’s useful to think into the past, and if we look at the U. S. Economy and in the year 1980 was worth 4.9 trillion US dollars. The actual weight of goods produced was 1.3 billion tons. Now if we fast-forward for the next ten years marked the year 2000. The economy almost doubled in size to 9.3 trillion US dollars, yet the weight of goods produced had only gone up by a few percent. That makes sense if you think about it. It’s not as if we eat twice as much when we become wealthier and in fact that the big hi-fi’s, the speakers we used to put on our cabinets back in the 1980’s, have shrunk into iPods that we slip into our pockets. So, what this means is that the economy is becoming more and more virtual, and if we think about the next 20 to 25 years; we can confidently predict that the global economy will double in size and that all of that growth, all of that doubling of the economy will be from things that weigh nothing; ideas, information, knowledge, services, this is where our future lies, the economy. This is where the value is being created.

Every keynote speech by futurist and keynote speaker Ross Dawson is fully customized to the client and the audience. Energize your event with his inspirational presentations on weightless economy that leave audiences with valuable and actionable insights.

Keynote excerpt: Emotional machines and robotic pets


Future of technology – Keynote speaker Ross Dawson

Ross Dawson is globally recognized as a leading technology futurist and keynote speaker. He has spent over a decade researching, writing, speaking, and consulting about the future of technology, and has worked with a range of clients all around the world.

Keynote speaker video – Emotional machines and robotic pets

Recently technology futurist Ross Dawson gave a keynote at Future Tech conference in Hobart on ‘The Future of Technology’. Below is a video snippet of his inspiring keynote, offering compelling insights into the rise of robotic pets and emotional machines.

See below for full transcription of video.

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Full Transcription: Emotional machines and robotic pets

Ross Dawson:

What I would like to explore though I think is a really interesting space is where we start to become emotionally engaged with robots. This is Paro the robot seal, and it’s a seal which is trained to respond, to, to people, so when you pat it, it responds, so in these particular images we’ve got some young children who are recovering from surgery respond to it. And when you put these robot seals in old people’s homes, people start to become more talkative, become more engaged because they’ve got something human to engage with. I’ve got the, the latest generation of robotic toy here, and this is Pleo the robot dinosaur, Hello Pleo.

I was recently interviewed on the Today Show, I’m just showing off this, and this is a wonderful little robot where it really responds to your petting and the way you stroke it, you can be learn over time. It’s got a camera so it can see things, it can hear your voice, wonders around, it’s very happy and if you look at the, the woman on the Today Show and see that she starts to fall in love with Pleo. Because… Something which we can actually engineer. We can actually create things that we are emotionally engage with becomes part of our lives and, you know, what I was saying on Today Show here is that we will have robotic pets.

It’s not as if we are all going to send off all our cats and dogs immediately, but we will choose, whether we got allergies, because we can switch them up when we go on holidays, and for all sorts of other reasons, we will start having robotic pets, and these are the things that we engaged with. And this is the first generation, now, look at the way she’s falling for it. She actually falls in love with it. Now one is also a really interesting thing that a little segment after this Today Show was on, the male host held Pleo up by the tail and, and Pleo is not very happy about that and so, the Today Show got a number of calls from people complaining about this. How could he treat this robot like that? Such a lovable little robot and that’s the reality is that we can get emotional engaged with the robots.

And [chuckle] that’s alright. I really love you, don’t worry. [chuckle]

It’s $350US, available in Australia quite soon. I think over the next month or two.

[Someone asks a question – inaudible]


Unfortunately not. [laughter] This is… There is only a handful of these from Australia at the moment. But, this I said, this is the first generation of these robotic pets we engage with. Soon, it’s not as if we want to make ones that are indistinguishable. If you made robot cat it would seem funny, but we’re not used to having dinosaurs, so we can engage more with that. So we’re also trying to emulate current pets. We’re trying to create new ways in which we can get emotionally engaged.

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