This is the third book from bestselling authors and futurists Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler which tackles the challenges of the future. The first, Abundance, looked at the really big global issues, such as poverty and hunger. The second, Bold, considered our new emerging technologies and how they may create a raft of powerful new entrepreneurs. This latest volume, The Future Is Faster Than You Think, is a prophecy outlining how our world will change in response to the next ten years of rapid technological transformation.
Jumping straight in with flying cars, you could be forgiven for wondering what this book has to do with the future of work. Yet the in-depth exploration of how the technologies of today are evolving and permeating every aspect of our lives includes a view on what the new world of work will look like. Not only is how we get to work going to change, the places we earn our living and the new areas of commerce that technology will open up are discussed and dissected in detail, laying out the opportunities and threats that will present themselves in the coming decade. And it’s all coming so much faster than you think.
The Future Is Faster Than You Think is laid out neatly in sections covering all aspects of our lives – work, rest and play. Neatly packaged in three sections, the book takes you on a ride that gets faster and more fantastic with each section while never losing plausibility of the arguments and discussion posed.
PART ONE: CONVERGING TECHNOLOGIES
Section one begins with fantastical flying cars that are already a reality. From here, individual technologies such as 3D printing, bespoke medications, applications for blockchain technology and materials science are all explored. All of these and more are advancing, on their own, at a rapid rate. Yet, as the book explains, when these technologies converge, the rate of advancement accelerates exponentially. Innovations explode, feeding off each other and creating a positive feedback loop that gets bigger and bigger, affecting more and more people around the world. What was once far-fetched fantasy could now be within the reach of reality and delivered to your door by the end of the decade. One of the biggest beneficiaries of this will be our new world of work.
Daily commutes can be replaced with VR connections. Our hyperconscious world, with its constant stream of information, is likely to be managed largely by AI’s designed to makes sense of this barrage of data on our behalf; all with the aim of making our lives easier and happier. This same AI is likely to augment our workforces and deliver more meaningful, engaging and enjoyable jobs for all.
PART TWO: WELCOME TO THE THE EXPERIENCE ECONOMY
Part two looks at how the seven main areas of America’s commerce – retail, advertising, entertainment, education, healthcare, insurance, and food – where more than 80% of Americans find their employment, will change beyond recognition in just a decade. Crowdsourcing ‘on steroids’ will negate the need for insurance. Healthcare will become accessible to more and more people around the world, and what’s more, it’ll be tailored to your own unique DNA. Education will become immersive and entertaining – geared towards putting students in a state of flow enabled by AI that monitors the student as well as providing lessons. Because of this we’ll be able to learn more, remembering and integrate the knowledge being imparted.
All of this is made possible with the merging of technologies. The lack of teachers can be answered by virtual reality and artificially intelligent programs. Advertising will become so personal, thanks to Geolocation technologies and the understanding of our mountains of data by AI, that advertisers and brands will need to be careful not to overstep the line between helpful and creepy.
The experience economy, already growing at scale, will come to replace the product and service economies. Retail will change so much it becomes unrecognizable in comparison to today’s experience of shopping. Customer service assistants will be supported by AIs or otherwise replaced by them.
When taken all together and dissected to see how each of the advances in different technological fields will influence and impact the others, the question becomes not ‘how can this be possible?’, but ‘why aren’t we seeing more of these changes already?’
The truth is, in some parts of the world, these changes are already afoot. Children in Africa are self-educating with a basic tablet loaded with educational games and tutorials, nothing more. Smart objects in the home are already ensuring we never run out of coffee and switching off the heating when there’s no one around to benefit from it. Blockchain technology is facilitating smart contracts between workers in the gig economy from different corners of the world. Our world is becoming smaller, faster, and smarter, thanks to the many individual technological advances. When these advances converge, technology bounds ahead at an increasing speed. We start to realize a world where every individual is connected and given agency and the ability to engage with any other human on the planet – no matter where they physically stand. This in itself could be the largest innovation in all of history to date.
The waves of acceleration explored in part one are followed as they spread through all of the sectors investigated in part two. The impact on our daily lives is both far reaching and fantastical. Up until here, the book keeps its view to the coming decade, and if you through it was tracking fast then, in part three, things go into overdrive.
After detailing the disruption we’ll grow to expect and accept in our daily lives over the coming decade, the authors begin looking at the global effects of these disruptions and how they can, and already are, being used to answer some of the most pressing problems of our times.
PART THREE: A NEW TECHNOLOGY-LED WORLD
Part three is where things get really exciting; taking a longer term view that looks at the next century with ease. As well as exploring the solutions that are already in process for the pressing issues of clean water, climate change, biodiversity loss, extreme weather and pollution, the authors look at how various migrations will bring about a world far more akin to William Gibson’s Neuromancer than the one we’re living in now. Technology won’t take work away, it will simply change it to beyond anything we’ve imagined up until now.
When the Internet took hold of the world, 2.6 new jobs were created for every one job that became extinct, across 13 different countries. The same pattern can be expected for the proliferation of AI, robots and other converging technologies. People will be able to retrain quickly and efficiently thanks to the advances in education and its cross-over with VR and AI. Workforces are likely to be made up of teams including disembodied AI, robots and creative humans. New tech will emerge to answer the new problems that arise with these changes.
Technology has given us, and is still giving us, the tools to answer the problems facing us today. Unusual collaborations between massive corporations like Coca-Cola and prolific inventors like Dean Kamen are now providing drinking water to small, remote villages in Africa. Renewable energy sources such as solar panels and wind turbines are already surpassing traditional forms of electricity production. As is pointed out, time and again, the biggest hurdle holding us back from solving humanities biggest and most pressing crises today is cooperation on a global scale.
However, even if we do learn to cooperate on this unprecedented level before it’s all too late, the convergence of technologies and multiple climate crises is likely to create more jobs as well as the biggest population migration the world has ever seen.
Migration is one area of human movement that promotes innovation. The need to adapt to a new culture encourages immigrants to meld their familiar solutions with the new cultures they are integrating with. A natural byproduct of this adaption has been shown to be innovation – new products, processes, businesses and jobs. As new worlds open up through the coming century, migration to space, other countries, the cloud, virtual and augmented realities will take place.
Further advances like brain-computer interfaces and nano-bots that enable extreme longevity will create a civilization that is light-years ahead of where we stand today, and all of this in less than 100 years.
This book details our journey from now towards greater abundance, meaning and happiness. It’s going to be a wild ride that just keeps getting faster.
If you’ve been wondering how cleaner air, more efficient agriculture or faster transport options are going to impact the world of work, this book lays it all out in scarily precise and plain detail. Our world is speeding forward on a path to an ever more healthy, wealthy and happy period of humanity.
The Future Is Faster Than You Think is a terrific summary of how the world may change to the next decade’s wave of technological disruption. Well written and genuinely fascinating , The Future Is Faster Than You Think is a discerning and perceptive look at the future and the new world of work.