The future will be whatever we make it. Unlike the past or the present, it is the only arena where we have any control. But the future, as the saying goes, is not what it used to be.
As digital technology rockets through the exponential growth curve, it is fundamentally changing how we live, work and play. Our traditional ways of thinking about the future are not enough.
Walking 30 normal steps takes you about 30 meters. Thirty exponential steps, where each is double the one before, will take you on a round trip to the moon. Furthermore, 75 percent of the distance will be the last two steps, with the final one being the moon back to earth! This reveals why advances in digital technology are coming at us so rapidly. We’re about 30 exponential steps into the march of Moore’s Law.
With digitization driving change at an exponential rate there’s only one way to ensure long-term competitive advantage. Be better at seeing the future than everyone else. To this end, Digital Futures examines the powerful digital forces re-shaping the world over the next five to 10 years. These stories will help you prepare for the amazing opportunities they hold and anticipate risks you will want to avoid.
Here’s a sample.
- Are self-driving cars a joyride or a wrong turn? Either way, there are sharp curves ahead. Cars that drive themselves will be a profound shift that touches almost every industry, geography, and aspect of life: our hometowns, car design, liability, safety and yes, the car industry itself.
- Drones generate a lot of buzz. We are hurtling toward a future in which drones are widely available, increasingly autonomous, and capable of tasks we have not begun to imagine. They will augment human capabilities in a range of commercial industries, including agriculture, utilities, scientific research, and emergency response.
- Virtual Reality, and its digital sibling Augmented Reality, is emerging from science fiction into the real world and will soon change everything from shopping to entertainment to healthcare. Future uses may even transform our very definition of reality
- Bitcoin’s blockchain could disrupt our financial system. Its model of trust, through massively distributed digital consensus, is challenging our assumptions about what makes transactions secure. This computer science breakthrough might reshape commerce across the entire digital economy.
- The future of robotics will be more like Ironman than Terminator. While robots excel at lifting heavy objects, working in dangerous places, moving with precision, and performing repetitive tasks, human advantages suggest we should blend the best of people and machines.
“It’s difficult to make predictions, especially about the future” is a quote with hazy provenance. What’s clear, though, is that exponential technologies like self-driving cars, drones, and virtual reality are not just hot, trending topics in your social feed (though they certainly are that). They will, individually and in combination, disrupt industries, create new winners and losers, and radically change many aspects of society. The purpose of Digital Futures is to give you the foresight to help ensure the very best outcomes; those that will make the world run better and improve people’s lives.
How do we blend the best of humans and machines? Check out this video on the future of robotics, a companion piece to the Digital Futures story focused on the same topic.
Where will the self-driving car take us? Watch this video to see how quickly they will become a part of everyday life. To learn more, read the Digital Futures story focused on the same topic.
This story was first published in Digitalist Magazine, Online Edition (www.digitalistmag.com), an always-on companion to Digitalist Magazine, Executive Quarterly. The Online Edition provides the latest news, analysis and research focused on the emerging digital economy. Dan Wellers is the Global Lead for Digital Futures at SAP, which explores how organizations can anticipate the future impact of exponential technologies.