By Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, April Koury, Alexandra Whittington, and Maria Romero, authors of Beyond Genuine Stupidity and The Future Reinvented
If we look ahead five, fifteen, or twenty years into the future, what would we see affecting the entrepreneurial environment?
Automated, smart, digitised, and autonomous are some of the design qualities likely to define the future tools we’ll see across society: business, manufacturing, retail, service, agriculture, military, healthcare, leisure, entertainment and domestic. Surveillance, omniscience, and control are some key features of the coming waves of gadgetry.
In Beyond Genuine Stupidity and The Future Reinvented, our two most recent books, we explore how we can harness the potential of artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, and a growing range of other increasingly powerful technologies in service of humanity. Here we highlight examples of how robotics and connected devices may change a range of life experiences – something all investors need factor into their future thinking.
Rescue Drones – Drones are already available that can target individuals in need of emergency assistance, and either airlift them to safety or provide them with vital life-saving equipment. These drones will become ever more sophisticated and capable, with the ability to undertake more complex search and rescue missions and perform a growing range of medical procedures on the spot.
Autonomous Drones for Crowd Control and Border Security – Autonomous drones with AI enabled behaviour recognition and infrared capabilities could patrol border areas and other sensitive security situations when there are risks to safety and the potential for social unrest. On identification of security breaches or potential anti-social behaviour, the appropriate human or automated resources could be mobilised and deployed to counter the risk.
Autonomous Cars – Self-owning independent taxis will earn fares for each ride, sharing revenue with those who manufacture, service, and refuel them. The cars would work in self-managing, self-insuring networks—covering each other in the event of increasingly rare incidents. As autonomous technology grows ever smarter, accidents will only tend to arise when human-driven vehicles are in collision with autonomous cars.
Personal Robo-Delivery – Small autonomous robots are already delivering fast food and mail—soon they could run daily errands while their owners work. As our grocery order or dry cleaning becomes ready, the robot is alerted and sets out through the town to pick up the orders from the local shops.
Robo-Mummy – Continuous monitoring of health indicators would allow your devices to order what you need to prevent you getting sick. Your devices would try to nudge your decision making towards a healthier lifestyle and what’s best for you.
Digital Twins – After collecting massive amounts of data about a person through connected devices, robots would be able to replicate this person’s behaviour and responses. In fact, your digital twin could attend a meeting for you and comment on your behalf. You twin could also capture and summarize the entire conversation including analysis of the body language and micro-facial expressions of the other participants and then report back.
Robotic Farming – Our farms may become entirely automated. Intelligent robots will plan, plant, water, weed, fertilise, and harvest entire crops at the perfect time based on a continuous feed of connected sensor information. An apple at a grocery store may never have been touched by a human hand until the moment a customer picks it from the shelf or eats what their robo-assistant has selected.
Self-Filling Vertical Farmer’s Market Bag – Smart, self-filling, self-unloading, reusable bags could communicate with smart homes and smart appliances to place new orders from a local vertical farm or supermarket. The bag would fill itself with groceries at the point of origin, be delivered via autonomous vehicle or drone, unload on arrival, and be returned empty on the next delivery run. This could save time for shoppers, support local produce, and discourage food waste.
Automated Sharing – Sensors in devices and objects would identify opportunities to participate in the sharing economy, i.e. rent or loan out your stapler, motorcycle, hammock, or home for a day. Local internets and intranets could provide neighbour-to-neighbour sharing for free or via a charge included in local taxes or building fees. Robots would undertake deliveries and ensure building safety.
Life Automation – Connected devices and ‘life automation’ apps will share your agenda and habits to plan the flow of your day. Music from your surround system would automatically keep playing in your headphones after you leave your home and switch to the in-car system when you get behind the wheel. The home heating system would turn on when you are ten minutes away. Food would be delivered or ready to serve minutes after you walk in the front door.
AI HR – Artificial intelligence is already changing the way HR operates. Perhaps we are edging toward human-less HR with AI powered recruitment, selection, appointment, onboarding, performance monitoring, payment (employees, contractors, gig-bots), and offboarding based on automated needs and skills matching. The smart HR could also monitor us via all our devices and detect factors such as stress levels, distraction, the extent of social conversation we engage in, and when we are performing at our peak.
One way to make the future feel more relatable is understanding and seeing hypothetical future customers and employees as people experiencing some of the same universal human dramas that we do right now. Whatever business sector you are currently involved with the technological changes which are rapidly developing are something you need to be factoring into your thinking about future business development and investment opportunities.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Rohit Talwar, Steve Wells, Alexandra Whittington, Maria Romero, and April Koury are from Fast Future which publishes books from future thinkers around the world exploring how developments such as AI, robotics and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, society and business and create new trillion-dollar sectors. Two new books from Fast Future are: ‘Beyond Genuine Stupidity – Ensuring AI Serves Humanity’, and ‘The Future – Reinvented: Reimagining Life, Society, and Business’. See: www.fastfuture.com
The authors are futurists with Fast Future who specialise in studying and advising on the impacts of emerging change. Fast Future also publishes books from future thinkers around the world exploring how developments such as AI, robotics and disruptive thinking could impact individuals, society and business and create new trillion-dollar sectors. Fast Future has a particular focus on ensuring these advances are harnessed to unleash individual potential and enable a very human future. See: www.fastfuture.com
Rohit Talwar is a global futurist, keynote speaker, author, and CEO of Fast Future where he helps clients develop and deliver transformative visions of the future. He is the editor and contributing author for The Future of Business, editor of Technology vs. Humanity, and co-editor of a forthcoming book on Unleashing Human Potential–The Future of AI in Business.
Steve Wells is the COO of Fast Future and an experienced Strategist, Futures Analyst, and Partnership Working Practitioner. He is a co-editor of The Future of Business, Technology vs. Humanity, and a forthcoming book on Unleashing Human Potential–The Future of AI in Business.
April Koury is a foresight researcher, writer, and publishing director at Fast Future. She is a contributor to The Future of Business, and a co-editor of Technology vs. Humanity, and a forthcoming book on 50:50–Scenarios for the Next 50 Years.
Alexandra Whittington is the foresight director at Fast Future. She is a futurist, writer, and faculty member on the Futures programme at the University of Houston. She is a contributor to The Future of Business and a co-editor for forthcoming books on Unleashing Human Potential–The Future of AI in Business and 50:50–Scenarios for the Next 50 Years.
Maria Romero is a futurist and foresight researcher with Fast Future. A recent graduate from the University of Houston Master in Foresight, Maria has worked on projects for consultants, NGOs, for-profit organisations, and government clients. She is currently working on a study of AI in business.