Jesse Hirsh | The Economy of the Future: Four Trends to Think about Now

August 3, 2016
Jesse-Hirsh-highres (11)Today’s guest blog is courtesy of Futurist & Digital Strategist Jesse Hirsh. Jesse explains and analyzes the latest trends in technology using language and examples that are relatable, meaningful and relevant to everyday life. He focuses on research and consulting around new media business models, big data, and the strategic use of social media. As a new media educator, Jesse’s passion is helping people and organizations identify the potential benefits and perils of technology. NSB-Divider   We live in a time of a transition, which some people may see as a curse. But I encourage everyone to see this as an era of opportunity. Many of the companies that dominate our contemporary economies didn’t exist 20 or even 10 years ago. This suggests that the companies who will dominate the economy of our future may not exist today, yet to be conceived by the people and society that will create them.  

1) Open Source Technology

The most powerful companies today (Google, Facebook, Amazon, IBM, Twitter) are all based on open source and leverage the speed of technological development towards growth in their various services and initiatives; open source allows us to focus on ideas, services and execution, rather than reinventing the wheel. Consider how the blockchain is disrupting the financial services industry. In addition to smart contracts and automated governance, blockchain technology has already been used to create a “DAO,” or “Distributed Autonomous Organization,” that has raised over US $150 million dollars as a kind of venture fund to further develop blockchain and DAO applications. The desire is to launch a constellation of autonomous corporations that have no staff, no management, no human overhead, just a lean and efficient corporate entity controlled by shareholders as a responsive and intelligent actor within the economy. Already we see the growing role and dominance of high-frequency trading algorithms in capital markets – how long before these automated agents become fully functional corporations in the global economy? Open source applications are disrupting industries beyond traditional IT and will continue to expand to other areas of the economy.  

2) Artificial Intelligence

Open source is also fueling the rapid development of artificial intelligence and machine learning by making it remarkably accessible to experiment with and adopt. 3d-printing There are now 3D printers that print 3Dprinters, foreshadowing a time when robots will be able to create robots, and play a bigger role in our economy. While many worry about the loss of jobs that will come with the rise of robot labour, the economic opportunities far outweigh any economic or existential threats. Take, for example, access to Canada’s vast Northern wilderness. Currently, there is a lack of infrastructure due to the cost of establishing and maintaining something as straightforward as a road in the North, making it extremely expensive and difficult to live and work there. But what if robots were able to build and maintain said infrastructure? All of a sudden that wilderness becomes accessible and available to residents and industry. There will always be a need for humans to be responsible where robots cannot be. However, robots are also capable of doing things that humans cannot, and when it comes to our economy, that’s not limited to the kind of menial or thankless tasks that humans would rather not do. Is your group ready to compete in a smart and automated economy? How is your sector preparing for this seismic shift in how we do business and deliver value to the marketplace?  

3) Multiple Internets?

ai-brain-knowledge-graph-ss-1920We’re now witnessing the rise of multiple Internets versus a singular, interconnected Internet. There’s the “dark web” but also both Facebook and Google are actively involved in establishing their own networks that inevitably will serve the needs and interests of their creators, rather than necessarily offering access to an open Internet. Where today we have platforms, tomorrow we will have entire networks, within which people will connect, socialize, and engage in commerce. And as the technology to access these networks becomes easier to use, more people will choose to do so, if only to protect their personal (and corporate) information. What will it mean to have competing global economies, markets that transcend national boundaries, but are not necessarily connected with each other?  

4) Citizen Science

To ensure our prosperity and democracy in the economy of the future is to also embrace citizen science as a means of both informing and engaging the public in the ongoing development of economic opportunities and enterprises. Citizen science is an emerging method of using principles of scientific research and experimentation to facilitate greater participation and community involvement. One of the benefits of citizen science is to access greater research and harness greater capacities. However, another benefit is to involve citizens in the decisions and developments that impact their communities and environments. Therefore, rather than see community and industry as oppositional, citizen science provides a bridge to find commonality and foster shared responsibility. Earth-Day As technology continues to connect us globally, we find a greater desire and focus on locality. We now have access to global markets, and yet we place even greater value on our local communities. Those who will have success in the economy of the future are those who are rooted in community, respectful of other communities, and courageous enough to engage emerging markets and platforms that thrive in this global village.   NSB-Divider   Learn more about how Jesse’s  insights can help your organization achieve success by checking out his speaker profile or by contacting us.