Frame your sector
I had the pleasure of seeing Paul Hayes of BeachhutPR at work with a group of start-ups. He explained that successful starts ups frame the future of the sector they operate in. Preferably in 5 words.
You need a vision
That means you need to have a vision of that future. To do so, you need to understand future trends in your sector. Without that, you cannot frame the story.
But it is amazing how unaware people are of future trends and as a result do not have a vision, let alone a sense of direction.
Play Xbox and read science fiction
We regularly speak to groups of businesses about future proofing their business. The advice we give is this. Play Xbox and read science fiction. Because science fiction is becoming science fact. If you are a science fiction fan, you must have read “Neuromancer” (1984) by William Gibson. Or “Snow Cash” (1995) by Neal Stephenson. Cyberpunk is now around the corner. If you believe in “Filter Bubble” then “1984” has already happened.
In “Tomorrowland” Kotler describes how science fiction is now science fact, covering:
- mind uploading
- flying cars
- space diving
- nuclear power
- asteroid mining
- life extension
- stem cells
- synthetic biology
We are stepping into a weird and wonderful world. Exponential change is changing everything.
Kotler goes back to Kevin Kelly and “What technology wants”, claiming that technology in itself is an organism with an inevitable trajectory to AI, Singularity (by 2029) or Skynet.
Some examples of science fact
We are building new bodies. Soon we will build new brains. They are building intelligent prosthetics. They are building soul catchers (a micro memory chip implanted in the brain, capturing your life. IBM already created Watson, but are now building a blue brain. They have built artificial eyes. We are (re-) terraforming the Everglades and will start applying that to other planets soon. We are five years away from asteroid mining (building an oil platform is more difficult). We can build portable safe, portable nuclear reactors, which would address some of the climate change and carbon issues we are (not) facing.
Because of our involvement in Climate-Kick, solving the carbon problem is close to my heart. If an American got all his or her lifetime electricity solely from nuclear power, that person’s share of waste would fit into one soda can. If an American got all his or her electricity from coal, that person’s waste would weigh 68.5 tonnes and fit into six 12-ton railroad cars. And their share of carbon dioxide coal emissions would come to 77 tonnes. Nuclear reactors, meanwhile, have virtually no carbon footprint
If Kurzweil is right, you will be able to download your brain onto a laptop. Immortality is around the corner.
Evolution at the speed of Moore’s law. We are hacking Darwin. How long after that until parents are saying: I bought you the best brain money can buy — now why don’t you use it?
Did you ever read “I am Pilgrim” by Terry Hayes? Biocrime is new. But did you know that that the Secret Service is already taking extraordinary steps to protect presidential DNA? According to the Daily Mail, in May 2011, when Barack Obama stopped off for a pint of Guinness at Ollie Hayes’s pub in Moneygall, Ireland, his service detail quickly removed the glass from which he’d drunk.
They have created the world’s first self-replicating, synthetic chromosome. Synthetic Genomics is working on a designer algae that consumes CO2 and excretes biofuel. DuPont recently designed an organism that utilises corn syrup to create a widely used polymer base for plastics manufacturing, saving 40% on energy costs. Imagine organisms that can thrive in battery acid or on the surface of Mars, or enzymes able to polymerise carbon into diamonds or nanotubes. The ultimate limits to synthetic biology are hard to discern and have yet to be explored.
Why is this relevant?
We can already hear the questions. Why is this relevant? Science fiction has nothing to do with business. Or the best one “this does/will not apply to my sector”. Here are some examples of what that means:
- If you are in computing or health; $ 2.7 billion to sequence DNA in 2000. Now it costs $ 1,000. It will cost a penny by 2020. It will be cheaper to sequence your DNA than flushing your toilet.
- If you are in transport; a Predator drone cost 4 million. The crowd can build if for $ 300. The development of drones is accelerating at twice the speed of Moore’s law.
- If you are in farming or retail; in 3 years there will be nano fridges that can print broccoli.
- If you are in pensions; in 5 years there will be at least 2 million people that are completely digitised. DNA, neuro-profiles, biomarkers, bacteria, food intake, etc. You will live to be 200 years. That is the current pension system gone.
- If you are an accountant; Bitcoin will make accounting obsolete.
- Builders need to be aware of 3D and 4D printing.
By 2020 there will be fifty billion connected devices. A trillion by 2030. We will have robots, virtual technology, sensors everywhere, augmentation, AI, solar, nano, collaborative consumption, open innovation, local Techshops everywhere, neuro-enhancements, drones, Bitcoin, quantified self (everything in your life is measured).
It is coming your way
Name it. Impacting every industry. Doubling the speed of development every year. Getting cheaper, better, smarter.
Frame your future
Now frame your sector, your business and your success in that future. Reading Tomorrowland is a good start.