Future predictions: Welcome the Exponential Age

Here are some predictions for the future from Dr Robert Goldman (MD, PhD, DO, FAASP). Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution. Welcome to the Exponential Age.

Exponential technologies

Did you think in 1998 that three 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 as with all exponential technologies it was a disappointment for a long time before it became superior and mainstream in a few short years.

Software disruption

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

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Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world.

In the US young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice within seconds, with 90 percent accuracy. There will be 90 percent fewer lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain.

Autonomous cars

The first self-driving cars will be available to the public in 2018. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. 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 will only pay for the distance driven and you can be productive while driving. Future generations may never get a driver’s license and may never own a car.

Electric cars

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Electric cars won’t become mainstream until 2020. Electricity will become cheap and clean. Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but we can only now begin to see its impact.

Computers on wheels

Most car companies may become bankrupt. Currently traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build better cars, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will take the revolutionary approach and build computers on wheels. The car insurance business model will disappear.

 3D printing – the future of production

shoe-manufacturers

The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. In China, they 3D printed a complete six-storey office building. By 2027, 10 percent of everything produced will be 3D printed.

Cheap and abundant water

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With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much cheap, clean water as they want.

Agriculture

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  • Agroponics will need much less water.
  • There are several start-ups that will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labelled as “alternative protein source” because most people still reject the idea of eating insects.
  • Cheap robots, already in existence, are the future of agriculture.

Disappearing jobs

Between 70 and 80 percent of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be many new jobs, but will there be enough new jobs in such a short time?

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