This German author offers a peek into the future . . .
By Udo Gollub at Messe Berlin, Germany
Speed of Change
In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide. Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they went bankrupt.
What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 years – and most people don’t see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again? Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975.
The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore’s law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way superior and got mainstream in only a few short years.
It will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs.
Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution –
Welcome to the Exponential Age.
Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years. Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.
Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected.
Lawyers: In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you study law, recognize that there will be 90% less lawyers in the future, with only specialists remaining. IBM Watson already helps nurses diagnose cancer, 4 time more accurately than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.
Autonomous Cars: In 2018 the first self-driving cars will appear publicly. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car.
It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% less cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000 km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km.
We will save a million lives each year.
Most car companies might become bankrupt.
Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. I spoke to a lot of engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; they are terrified of Tesla.
Insurance Companies: will have massive trouble because without accidents, insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.
Real Estate: will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move farther away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.
Electric Cars: will become mainstream by 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all cars will be electric.
Electricity: will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil fuels. The price for solar will drop so much that all coal companies will be out of business by 2025. With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water.
Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter.
We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if we can have as much clean water as we want, at almost no cost.
Health: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year. There will be companies who will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone. It scans your retina, your blood sample and you breathe into it. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be so cheap, that in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, almost free.
3D Printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. At the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies have started 3D printing of shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed at remote airports.
The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used in the past. At the end of this year, new smartphones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D-scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they have already 3D printed a complete 6-storey office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.
Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want, ask yourself: “in the future, do you think we will have that?” If the answer is yes, say to yourself, “How can I make this happen sooner?” If it doesn’t work with your phone, forget the idea.
And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to failure in the 21st Century.
Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a short time.
Agriculture: There will be a $100 agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their fields instead of working all day on their fields. Hydroponics will need much less water. The first petri dish produced Veal is now available and will be cheaper than cow produced Veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces are used for cows. Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore. There are several startups which will bring insect protein to the market shortly. They contain more protein than meat. It will be labeled as an “alternative protein source” because most people still reject the idea of eating insects.
Truth or Lies: There is an app called “moodies” which can already tell us the mood we are in.
By 2020 there will be apps that can tell by our facial expressions if we are lying.
Imagine a political debate where it’s being displayed, if they are telling the truth or not.
Longevity: Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, now it’s 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more than a year in longevity increase per year. So we all might live for a long, long time, probably over a 100 years.
Education: The cheapest smartphones are already costing $10 in Africa and Asia. By 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smartphone.
This means, everyone has the same access to world class education.
(Berm Note: If we could just get them to use it!)