2016 Forward: Impactful Tech Evolution Trends

June 21, 2016

Having neglected my blog for over one year, now is as good a time as any to update my views on where our tech world is headed and where the best opportunities and greatest risks will be in the economy.  Within Tech, they are evolutionary trends, but in regard to the broader economy and in relation to jobs, they are driving forces. Given this is a blog post, I have chosen to present these in list format so that any curious readers can gain an overview and begin to do their own deep dives into any of the topics they find of interest. The lists were developed from memory over the course of a little over an hour, and if I missed what some would call major omissions, so be it. If you see an item in more than one list, that just means I see it growing in its evolution and significance. There is no science behind my selections, just a boatload of reading, listening to podcasts, and attending lectures from people who I feel are credible in their own research. In a future post, I want to list my influences in terms of sources, and also the books on my reading list. To be fair for now, just think of me as having no original ideas. (humility) Well, of course this is the internet, but most bloggers should probably point this out every so often.

As you might infer from the lists below, my research has been anything but focused. I feel that in 2016 we find ourselves on the precipice of so many major technology-driven transformations that it was impossible for someone like myself not to be overly self-indulgent in better understanding the many trends and their driving forces. If you appreciate the magnitude of what’s coming, you’ll understand I chose the term ‘precipice’ for good reason. Life in 10 to 20 years will be quite different than it is now. Though it may seem to some in 2025 0r 2035 that the evolution was gradual, the impact will probably be lumpy to many.

As has been the case with previous tech driven change, there will be positive and negative impacts, but I believe that the impacts will be felt more soundly by wide swaths of the population than in prior times. Imagine what life will be like the day after cancer is cured. Imagine how many drivers will lose their profession once self-driving vehicles become the norm. Imagine how good you will feel when a high performance pill is taken that has been personalized to your genetic makeup. Imagine the financial markets when the world turns to the bitcoin currency standard. Imagine the perfect prime rib steak being grown in a lab without the collateral damage of bovine methane that contributes to global warming. Imagine the townspeople arriving with their pitchforks as described by Nick Hanauer if  economic disparity is left to grow unmanaged. Then imagine that was only a VR experience you could not distinguish from reality. (RIP, Rowdy Roddy Piper) Imagine being able to solve almost any problem perfectly by buying some cheap AI over the web.  Then imagine the person who you used to pay to solve that problem getting laid off, wondering what they are going to do for income and how they will pay off the loans on their PHD.

I feel that while I have achieved a good overview, the changes will occur in so many disparate disciplines generically from physics to bio-chemical to electrons (affecting so many economic marketplaces) that one would have to be a genius / polymath on the level of a Benjamin Franklin or Edison to claim any level of expertise across the board. At the same time, many of the trends are interrelated; One can draw a circular thread through Genomics, Quantified Self, Farming and Personal Performance for example.  AI will impact just about everything. I liken my own humble understanding of these trends to a Lake Tahoe windsurfer’s awareness of that deepest lake in the US. Still, for those either seeking to define their own new ventures, or seeking an opportunity that has legs be it in a job/career or a startup, or just having the intuition that you need an awareness of upcoming changes presenting risks that are not readily apparent today, I find that the first valuable step to understanding the detail is appreciating the big picture.  Here’s a heads up for you then, the big picture as I see it, with a US bias (not in order of importance):

DISRUPTIVE EMERGING MEGA TRENDS – LONG TERM
1) ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE – PAY BY THE DRINK BRUTE FORCE INTELLIGENCE APPLIED TO ALL PROBLEMS (AI) – WHEN ARTIFICIAL NARROW INTELLIGENCE EVOLVES INTO ARTIFICIAL GENERAL INTELLIGENCE, THINGS GET INTERESTING
  (AI DEPENDS ON NVIDIA/GRAPHIC CHIP FARMS AND BIG DATA FOR PATTERN MATCHING, SCENARIOS AND BENEFITS FROM SIMPLE VOICE API’S)
2) INTERNET OF THINGS & WEARBLE TECH – SENSORS, INTELLIGENCE, REMOTE MANAGEMENT, TRACKING
3) MAKER REVOLUTION; 3D PRINTING ; BIONIC LIMBS AND EXOSKELETONS
4) ROBOTS; POOF GO A LOT OF THE PRODUCTIVITY AND EFFICIENCY JOBS
5) GENOMICS – MAPPING AND PATTERN MATCHING GENES, HUMAN ORGAN AND BODY PART CREATION
6) PERSONALIZED MEDICINE – RESULTS FROM PRECEDING POINT
7) VIRTUAL, AUGMENTED AND MIXED REALITY – LESS NEED TO TRAVEL, BETTER SELLING, ON DEMAND ROBUST INFORMATION, PARALLEL LIFE, INCREDIBLE EXPERIENCES HAVE US QUESTIONING REALITY
8) DIGITAL SECURITY – NEVER ENDING ENDEAVOR TO STAY AHEAD OF THE BAD GUYS
9) BLOCK CHAIN : VIRTUAL CURRENCIES, DISTRIBUTED LEDGERS, SMART CONTRACTS, DECENTRALIZED ECOSYSTEMS, TRUSTLESS TRANSACTIONS
10) QUANTIFIED SELF AND LONGEVITY – MEASURE, IMPROVE SHORT TERM AND LONG TERM HEALTH AND POTENTIAL, CHEMICAL METRICS
11) ENVIRONMENTAL – ENERGY AND ELIMINATION OF WASTE
12) GLOBAL – MARKETPLACES, ESPECIALLY 2 SIDED MARKETS SUCH AS OUTSOURCING AND FREELANCING, SOLOPRENEURSHIP
13) VOICE API’S USING AI – SIRI, ECHO’S ALEXA, GOOGLE NOW, LANGUAGE PROCESSING AND ESCROW SHRINKS WORLD
14) QUANTUM COMPUTING
15) FARMING: CRISPR FRANKEN FOODS VS. URBAN ORGANIC FARMERS, CONTROLLED HIGH EFFICIENCY FARMING, LEGAL MARIJUANA, ANIMAL PARTS GROWN IN LABS
16) DRONES, SELF DRIVING OR FLYING VEHICLES, GADGETS FOR TRANSPORTATION AND DELIVERY, ELECTRIC AND HYPERLOOP
17) PRODUCTIZED IN-PERSON EXPERIENCES; FOR EX, SPARTAN GAMES, CROSS-FIT, AM NINJA WARRIOR = REALITY TV BECOMES REALITY, (SAFARIS)
18) SUBCONSCIOUS PUPPETEERS – NEURO MARKETING, NEURO CUSTOMER SUPPORT, NEURO SELLING, NEURO EVERYTHING
19) NOOTROPICS & PERSONAL PERFORMANCE, COACHING AND PERSONALIZED HELP OF ALL KINDS, POTIONS, MENTORSHIPS, MASTERMIND GROUPS, LATER FOCUS COACHES TO DIMINISH SHORT ATTENTION SPAN DISEASE (ADD, ADHD, MILLENNIALS), CREATIVITY THROUGH CHEMICALS
20) ASIAN WISDOM; MEDITATION, MYSTICISM, RETURN TO RELIGIONS, YOGA EXERCISE, RETREATS, ANCIENT FOODS AND SUPPLEMENTS
21) CROWDFUNDING FOR EQUITY (TBD) ; DEMOCRATIZATION OF CAPITAL; IDEAS WIN OVER CURRENCY
CURRENT TRENDS – SHORT TERM
1)  MOBILE CONTENT AND APPS
2) DIGITAL VIDEO
3) LEAN STARTUP; FUND TO DOMINATE MARKET SEGMENTS
4) EMAIL AND DIGITAL MARKETING, PODCASTING, POINTS OF CONTACT TO CONTROL ATTENTION
5) BIO-TECH (INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH NOW, OPEN LATER)
6) GAMING CULTURE
7) TREND STACKING (SNAPCHAT VS INSTAGRAM)
8) SHARING ECONOMY BUSINESS MODELS; UBER, AIRBNB
9) NICHE MASTERY CO OR PERSONAL BRANDING – YOUTUBE SENSATION, FROM TINDER AND OKC TO KLOUT AND LINKEDIN, OUR ONLINE PERSONAS = BRAND OF 1; FROM ZILLOW TO HOUZZ TO WAYFAIR
9) ORGANIC FOODS
10) YOGA AND FITNESS
11) EARLY QUANTIFIED SELF (WEARABLES – ACCURACY IN QUESTION)
12) EARLY IoT -CONNECT EVERYTHING – PHILLIPS AND BIG CO SENSOR NETWORKS; M&A OF STARTUPS RING (DOORBELL) PEBBLE (FUTURE M&A)
13) GLOBAL VS WALLED GARDEN (POLITICS), OPEN (ANDROID) VS CLOSED (APPLE), OPEN CURRENCY (BITCOIN) VS CLOSED (NATIONAL / US DOLLAR) GOVERNMENT (EU VS. BREXIT, GREAT BRITAIN AND SCOTLAND SECCESSION EARLIER)
14) EARLY DRONES FOR COMMERCIAL APPLICATION
15) RE-SELLING: YOU VIDEO A SPARTAN GAME, WRITE A BOOK ABOUT EXPERIENCE, CREATE CONTENT ABOUT HOW TO PREPARE/TRAIN, SELL SUPPLEMENTS TO COMMUNITY, PODCAST IT, LATER BET ON TEAMS (SEE #12)
16) CLOUD STORAGE AND CLOUD COMPUTING; (DROPBOX, FLICKR, TENSORFLOW)
17) CROWDFUNDING FOR INTEREST IN PRODUCT OR SOCIAL CAUSE (NON-EQUITY)
18) ON DEMAND MARKETPLACES – NETFLIX, SAAS, WORDPRESS; PAY BY THE DRINK
19) LOCATION-BASED / TRACKING – CUSTOMIZED MARKETING AND COMMERCIALIZED DATA (FOURSQUARE)
20) SOCIAL MEDIA – CONNECT EVERYONE, TRACK, SEGMENT AND MARKET THEM
21) FORMAL UNIVERSITY VS. CERTIFIED TRAINING (ROI)
EXCLUDES PURELY SOCIAL TRENDS SUCH AS DEMOGRAPHICS, GENERATIONS, HIPSTER BOHEMIANS, ETC AND IT EXCLUDES DEFENSE AND LAW ENFORCEMENT RELATED, GOVERNMENT FUNDED PROJECTS
HIGHER POTENTIAL WORKING
1) PLUMBERS (WHO AM I TO ARGUE WITH BLOOMBERG)
2) FIREFIGHTERS AND FIRST RESPONSE (SEE WILDFIRES, TORNADOS, HURRICANES, FLOODS, MASS SHOOTINGS, ETC. – NOT TO MENTION THE BIGGEST BLACK SWAN HITTING CALIFORNIA’S FAULT LINES)
3) LAW ENFORCEMENT (ECONOMIC TRANSITION AND WEALTH GAP – See Nick Hanauer’s Ted talk; GLOBAL TERRORISM; DRUG ADDICTION; PSYCHOPATHY)
4) MECHANICAL TECHNICIANS (DRONES, ROBOTICS, DRIVING FLEETS)
5) EXPERIENCE WORKERS – SET UP, EVENT, AND RELATED
6) ON SITE NETWORK TROUBLESHOOTING AND REPAIR
7) CAREGIVERS – GREYING OF AMERICA
8) NURSES AND HANDS-ON MEDICAL
9) VIRTUAL AND PERSONAL ASSISTANTS, FREELANCE LABOR
10) COACHES WITH NICHE EXPERTISE IN DEMAND WHO CAN SELF-PROMOTE
11) CREATIVE FINANCIERS, NEGOTIATORS AND M&A EXPERTS
LOWER POTENTIAL WORKING
ACCDG TO KEVIN KELLY, ANY JOB WHO’S VALUE LIES IN EFFICIENCY OR PRODUCTIVITY (I HAVE YET TO READ HIS NEW BOOK “THE INEVITABLE”)
I WOULD ADD, ANY POSITION THAT FOLLOWS STRICT RULES, CAN BE PROCESS MAPPED AND PROGRAMMED IS ALSO TOAST
SO, IN THE NEXT 10-15 YEARS, EXPECT MANY OF THE SOFTWARE DEVELOPERS TO PROGRAM THEMSELVES OUT OF A JOB – RULES BASED AUTOMATIC CODE GENERATORS WILL FINALLY BE ENABLED BY AI TO A GREATER PROPORTION
TAX PREPARERS, ACCOUNTANTS, STOCK TRADERS, BANKING ASSOCIATES
 TRAVEL PREPARERS
LAST NOTE
A SMALL PERCENTAGE OF THE WORKFORCE ARE IN TECHNOLOGY PER SE, BUT TECHNOLOGY AFFECTS AND WILL DISRUPT EVERY PROFESSION
ACCDG TO K KELLY, UPCOMING STARTUPS WILL TREND TOWARD ‘ADDING AI TO WHATEVER’. AI IS PERHAPS THE BIGGEST DISRUPTIVE FORCE AS IT CAN AFFECT SO MANY OTHER DISCIPLINES.  I ASK MYSELF, IF KNOWLEDGE WORK IS THE LAST BASTION OF HUMAN ECONOMIC VALUE CREATION, WHAT HAPPENS TO OUR ECONOMIC STRUCTURE WHEN AI DEVALUES HUMAN KNOWLEDGE WORKERS??
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