Recorded last week, in Mill Valley, CA, this is Part 3 of a conversation between me and Futurist Dr. James Canton. This video is part of the new MeetingsOfTheMind.tv series (launching soon). Topics discussed include general sustainability trends and predictions, 'green future' opportunities, the future of capitalism and 'growth & profit economics', accountability and social innovation, renewable energy, Jeremy Rifkin's Intergrid, and much more.
Apologies for the low audio output, btw; if it's not good enough for you please try this audio-only version via Dropbox, or just listen to this one, below:
In 1900, an American civil engineer called John Elfreth Watkins made a
number of predictions about what the world would be like in 2000.... read more via the BBC. I just ran across this image of Watkins' predictions from 1900, and thought they would make a very good 2013 kick-off / happy new year post.
... a lot of pretty amazing scenes in here, blurring the bounder between science fiction and reality. Sorta like a Cory Doctorow novel, one can't help wondering whether this is the future of already reality.
"...the big insight here? With the rise of megacities, consumers will most likely drive less. But they’ll continue to search out exciting ways of getting around. By intersecting this need with BMW’s expertise in creating exciting transport, the car manufacturer is today cornering a market that to many other companies is still invisible. It’s futureproofing its brand. BMW i Brand Manager Uwe Dreher says that a surprising insight is guiding the carmaker. Dreher says that in the course of research the company conducted as part of the new sub-brand’s development process, the team discovered a group of affluent consumers—particularly in the San Francisco area—who were expressing their politics by driving seemingly downmarket cars. As Dreher said, “It seemed incongruous for someone to live in a $5 million home and drive a $35,000 Prius instead of a Porsche or Ferrari. But that’s what’s happening.”
I recently was invited to chime in on this snappy collection of 2020-predictions done by Amy-Mae Elliott at Mashable, along with some of my peers and esteemed futurist colleagues such as Ian Pearson, Jim Carroll and Dave Evans. Take a look. Here is my piece:
Connecting the Cloud With the Crowd "By 2020 everything will have moved into the cloud: content, media, health records, education. Connecting the cloud with the crowd will become a huge business. Related to this, access will replace ownership in almost all forms of media. Future media 'consumers' will simply have music, films, TV shows, games, etc. in the cloud, paid 'with attention,' i.e., advertising and data mining (Facebook cloud), subscription (Apple new iTV), and bundles (i.e., with mobile operators). Most importantly, many consumers will not pay for 'content' per se, but for all the added values around the content, such as curation, packaging, design, social connections, interfaces, apps, etc. Finally, all media that is not social and mobile will shrink; all that combines with their current models will prosper."
"Most companies try to be innovative, but the enemy of innovation is the mandate to “prove it.” You cannot prove a new idea in advance by inductive or deductive reasoning. You cannot prove a new idea in advance by inductive or deductive reasoning..."
MPI magazine just published a nice piece about my work, here. Some snippets:
"...he collects data from all manner of sources, talks to as many experts as possible, understands the whole context of what is happening in a given field and then articulates how trends will most probably move over the next three to five years. He says his ideas are often things people are already aware of but they either haven’t had the chance to crystallize the new focus in their own heads or haven’t taken appropriate action in their operations.
Working with the common threads that tie adult education, travel and event planning together, Leonhard shared his thoughts on the futures of these industries. For meetings among far-flung colleagues and education, he sees rising Internet technologies, with high-speed connections, 3D monitors and augmented reality tools making virtual gatherings more feasible. This will be especially true as travel costs rise. Businesses and students think twice about the cost of travel to particular locations for a meeting or education, so in many cases, the virtual meeting room or classroom will trump the brick and mortar kind.
But there is something technology will not be able to replace: human connection. “Any digital interaction creates the need for the live face-to-face interaction,” Leonhard says. “It doesn’t replace it.”
For instance, in regard to the learning process, he points out that it isn’t merely about information gathering; conversations with peers and teachers help people digest and fully comprehend all the information given to them. The need for social interaction, while at the same time saving costs, poses a conundrum for education and meetings. But it provides an opening for planners to exploit: They have to up the ante, specifically in terms of content quality, venues, food—the entire experience. “If the experience isn’t good enough, people will just stay at home and watch TED.com,” Leonhard said.
...as a futurist, Leonhard has to keep up with always-on sources such as Facebook, Twitter and Flipboard that spew out prodigious amounts of data all the time. One of the necessary prerequisites of his job is the ability not to be overwhelmed by never-ending data and to know exactly which sources of information need to be studied.
“It’s like cooking—you can’t use all spices at once,” he says, “you can only use some!”
As for his own future, Leonhard has big plans. He’s casting himself as a “green futurist” and moving into sustainability and environmental issues. He is also looking to launch a TV show where he says he will host discussions on “future issues in a way that will interest everyone, not just geeks or intellectuals" Fully embracing the life of a futurist, a role he absorbed a mere six years ago, you can’t help but believe him when he says, “What I do for a living is fun!..."
Video em inglês. Nesse vídeo Gerd Leonhard, autor, palestrante, CEO da The Future Agency e Professor convidado da Fundação Dom Cabral fala sobre o que o é um futurista, a carreira e a profissão de um futurista e tendências para a educação no mundo.
* A key role of futurists is to develop and share foresights * Someone who helps people think about the future to make better decisions today * To examine and distinguish between trends and uncertainties in order to work out the best path forward * Clients are interested in having help thinking about things they don’t have time to think about * It is not a luxury but a necessity to think about the future, but it is useful to get help doing that from people who spend all their time doing that * Going beyond the obvious is a special skill, but it is also about drawing out the implications of the obvious * Stepping outside of beliefs and orthodoxies can be more easily done from outside organizations * While some companies have resident futurists it is highly valuable to bring in people who can be disrespectful and challenge internal thinking * Being a ‘provocateur’ means provoking not just thoughts but sometimes emotions
This is a good one - loads of information in here, and pretty well recorded. More details and PDF with all slides, here. Enjoy and spread the word. Subscribe to my video RSS feed, here, if you want (download all videos directly to iTunes, watch on your iPod etc).
Recently, I have been thinking a lot about what my position on Wikileaks i.e. Cablegate should be. Some of the best - and also most thought-provoking - insights have come from a recent, hotly contested piece on TheAtlantic.com, written by computer scientist, virtual reality pioneer and musician Jaron Lanier (who I have met once or twice in the past).
I am not sure I agree with everything that Jaron says (in fact, I don't - I hope to publish my own take on these issues soon) but he makes some very valid points about openness and the future of the Internet that I think really merit our consideration and made me think, so I figured I should share them with you (all snippets are quotes from his piece, highlights are mine):
"The Internet can and must be redesigned to reflect a more moderate and realistically human-centered philosophy...openness in itself, as the prime driver of events, doesn't lead to achievement or creativity.
A sufficiently copious flood of data creates an illusion of omniscience, and that illusion can make you stupid. Another way to put this is that a lot of information made available over the internet encourages players to think as if they had a God's eye view, looking down on the whole system.
To me, both right wing extremist leaks and Wikileaks are for the most part resurrections of old-fashioned vigilantism...vigilantism has always eroded trust and civility, but what's new online is the sterile imprimatur of a digital ideology that claims to offer automatic betterment. But if there's one lesson of history, it is that seeking power doesn't change the world. You need to change yourself along with the world. Civil disobedience is a spiritual discipline as much as anything else.
You need to have a private sphere to be a person, or for that matter for anything creative to happen in any domain. This is the principle I described as "encapsulation" in You Are Not a Gadget.
Imagine openness extrapolated to an extreme. What if we come to be able to read each other's thoughts? Then there would be no thoughts. Your head has to be different from mine if you are to be a person with something to say to me.
I used to think that an open world would favor the honest and the true, and disfavor the schemers and the scammers. In moderation this idea has some value, but if privacy were to be vanquished, people would initially become dull, then incompetent, and then cease to exist. Hidden in the idea of radical openness is an allegiance to machines instead of people.
I bring this up to say that asking whether secrets in the abstract are good or bad is ridiculous. A huge flow of data that one doesn't know how to interpret in context is either useless or worse than useless, if you let it impress you too much. A contextualized flow of data that answers a question you know how to ask can be invaluable. If we want to understand all the sides of an argument, we have to do more than copy files.
Random leaking is no substitute for focused digging. The "everything must be free and open" ideal has nearly bankrupted the overseas news bureaus.
Anarchy and dictatorship are entwined in eternal resonance. One never exists for long without turning to the other, and then back again. The only way out is structure, also known as democracy.
We sanction secretive spheres in order to have our civilian sphere. We furthermore structure democracy so that the secretive spheres are contained and accountable to the civilian sphere, though that's not easy.
There is certainly an ever-present danger of betrayal. Too much power can accrue to those we have sanctioned to hold confidences, and thus we find that keeping a democracy alive is hard, imperfect, and infuriating work. The flip side of responsibly held secrets, however, is trust.
A perfectly open world, without secrets, would be a world without the need for trust, and therefore a world without trust. What a sad sterile place that would be: A perfect world for machines"
"Lanier thus conflates the right to privacy of persons with the privilege of non-disclosure that states may sometimes exercise. Raising personhood in this context is irrelevant and dangerous.
"I give you private information about corporations for free," SNL's Assange quipped, "And I'm a villain. Mark Zuckerberg gives your private information to corporations for money and he's the Man of the Year."
In my talk about Wikileaks at the Personal Democracy Forum recently, I emphasized that we should not see information by itself as a change agent and that a glut of information, especially without context and political leverage, may not result in meaningful change. That, however, is not an argument for less information.
During these past weeks, rather than a nerd takeover, I saw the crumbling of the facade of a flat, equal, open Internet and the revelation of an Internet which has corporate power occupying its key crossroads, ever-so-sensitive to any whiff of displeasure by the state. I saw an Internet in danger of becoming merely an interactive version of the television in terms of effective freedom of speech. Remember, the Internet did not create freedom of speech; in theory, we always had freedom of speech--it's just that it often went along with the freedom to be ignored. People had no access to the infrastructure to be heard. Until the Internet, the right to be heard was in most cases reserved to the governments, deep pockets, and corporate media. Before the Internet, trees fell in lonely forests.
The real cause for concern is the emergence of an Internet in which arbitrary Terms-of-Service can be selectively employed by large corporations to boot content they dislike. What is worrisome is an Internet in which it is very easy to marginalize and choke information.
What the Wikileaks furor shows us is that a dissent tax is emerging on the Internet.
I reiterate that one does not need to be a fan of Wikileaks to reject the notion that rather than demand increased transparency and disclosure from institutions with power, we should trust them because trust is a human value. Going back to my starting point, it appears that Lanier is once again conflating human-to-human relations and human-institution relations and suggesting that the same principles should apply to them. A world in which humans don't trust each other is indeed cold and inhumane. A world in which we trust powerful institutions merely on principle is one where we abdicate our responsibilities as citizens and human beings..."
This is the complete, 75-minute video of my appearance on Brazil's most popular talk show on Public TV, called Roda Viva (on the TV Cultura channel). I was delighted to be invited to the show, and really enjoyed being 'grilled' by the super-smart journalists and Brazilian media experts in the studio. We could have talked forever! The show was originally broadcast on April 26 (on Brazilian TV as well as online, see the Twitter buzz here) but unfortunately the webcast did not work very well so this is the first time I have seen the video, myself, and thanks to Roda Viva / TV Cultura I am delighted to be able to share this recording with you, as well.
More information about the show is here. Duda Groisman made some great photos during the recording of this show, embedded below. Related activities on this trip include: my presentation for NBS Brazil "The Future of Communications and Business", and my presentation at Fundacao Dom Cabral (one of Brazil's best business schools) on "The Open Network Economy". Please note: the video is half Portuguese (the questions) and half English (my replies)