Predicting the Future…

I am often asked how I see the near future and how I plan to position my different businesses in light of all the challenges ahead; living in an increasingly complex world.

Well here are some thoughts worth considering….

It is clear by now that “Power” is moving from west to east. China is going to surpass the United States as the largest economy; in some categories, it already has. Emergent economies are dispersed, from Jakarta to Johannesburg, Istanbul to Sao Paulo. The total size of the developing economy has grown larger than that of the industrial world. Despite all those changes, I feel strongly that the United States is the only nation that can provide the leadership the world needs.

Regarding Washington DC: I think that the gridlock in our nation’s capital is not about to change anytime soon and will only get worse with time. Not necessarily a bad thing since disagreement in Washington usually leads to less future regulation and I am staunchly against government regulations in business and much prefer when the free market can operate with independence.

Regarding Wall Street: While some tech companies find immense success in the private sector, I strongly believe they could flounder if they entered the public market. The reason is that the public is still hesitant to invest in Internet technologies after the Dot-Com bust more than a decade ago. It’s a story of broken trust. The level of cynicism and psychological scarring in the entrepreneurial and investment community is strong. On the other hand, Crowd funding is on the up and up. Everyone knows you can use crowd funding sites to raise money to record an album, open a store or complete an art project. But it’s spreading into new disciplines and that is great since this process will democratize capital even further and provide “financial wherewithal” to companies that otherwise might not have gotten off the ground.

Regarding jobs and the global economy: I strongly believe that the world has entered a new stage of economic globalization, with tighter interconnectedness across all national and regional borders. This affects all areas of classic production–labor, capital, and natural resources–for both physical and cognitive functions. As part of it, you’re already seeing advances in “robo-sourcing,” the outsourcing of jobs to machines. There are for example algorithms today that allow a first-year associate at a law firm to do the same amount of legal work as 500 used to be able to do. Bottom Line: Jobs will never get back to their level pre-2008 crisis. Get used to it. We now have a stalker economy. Start redefining yourself to stay ahead of the curve.

Regarding Technology’s impact on our lives: I believe that 10 years from now, artificial intelligence will advance to the point where some work will be done by intelligent machines. Of course, the traditional view of a robot is a humanoid that looks like something out of Terminator, but future robots will take over mundane tasks and won’t look like humans at all: Smart machines will flip hamburgers at a local eatery, diagnose your illness at the doctor, serve as digital avatars during a meeting, and clean the office floors. Robots like the Roomba vacuum already exist, so once again start positioning yourself for the real cerebral jobs because intelligent machines will do most manual labor.

Regarding education: I predict that within five to 10 years, most college students will enroll in online universities. With online programs improving in quality over the past few years, students will soon be able to obtain a Harvard or Wharton-caliber degree at a fraction of the cost. The reason is that college is a privatized sector that’s ripe for innovation from start-ups. A word of advice: Try to avoid government and union-regulated public education like the plague.

I frankly believe the “information age” is so last decade. Today, we’re in the way-too-much-information age. Digital content is exploding at an exponential rate, with more than double as much content today as there was this time last year. With 546 million websites (compared to 249 million last year), the information is becoming harder to handle and navigate. The future will involve a more careful curation of data—a role real smart third-party groups will step into.

Should we be worried about the future?

I try to get people to think and understand that you can’t let the future happen to you. You have to take action. We all own the future and have the power to shape it by creating a vision of the world we want.

Despite all of this, I am still optimistic about the future. What can we improve? As a starter I recommend Americans rally around the power of the Internet to drive for campaign finance reform. Our democracy has been hacked; the people are not in charge anymore and that could derail all.

Now that you can see some light at the end of the tunnel….go and find your niche to redefine your authority, your reputation, and your ability to inspire others, create great wealth and shape your world.

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