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The Futurists - Starting at the start


Robert Tercek & Brett King

In this first episode of the Futurists we meet our hosts Brett King and Robert Tercek. We get right into why we created the podcast and why forecasting the future has never been more critical than it is today. As we launch this new podcast our intent is to seek out the world’s foremost thinkers, experts and visionaries building the future of tomorrow. Join us on this journey and we will see you in the Future!

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this week on the futurists what we're not very good at is examining the ideology that governs the us as welland there's a lot of mythology here about the us being number one in various categories where weclearly are no longer number one in those categories but we still persist in the belief that we are science remainsthe best tool that we have for sorting out right theories from incorrect theories however our acceptance ofscience and political discourse in the united states has waned pretty substantially [Music]Who are the hosts of The Futurists Podcastthis week on the futurists you get to meet the two futurists behind the futurist i'm brettking and joining me is robert turcheck hi brett it's great to be here how youdoing man great so um this is our first episode of a brand new podcast you and i have been doingpodcasting for a decade now in various forms and we decided to come together and do ourWhat is The Futurists Podcast missionown thing but with a specific purpose um and you know the name says it all we wanted to reallybring attention to some of the leading thinkers the futurists that are changing the world that are envisaging adifferent world for us and so um welcome robert excited to do this with you youknow over the last 10 years you and i have been talking about from time to time we talk about the super interesting people that wecome across that we encounter in our world travels in our work uh in our projects we're coming across people whonot only have an idea about how the future might unfold they actually are doing something to make it happenso i think when i when i talk about a futurist when i think about that word futuristsi'm not really thinking about someone who's gazing into a crystal ball i don't actually believe you can makeaccurate predictions about the future i don't think that's something humans can do but i do think that people can makeaccurate theories and one of the exciting kind of things about the time that we live in right nowis that many of us have the opportunity to exercise some influence on how events unfold so if you have a clear visionand you've got even the slightest opportunity to influence the outcome it's a great time to be alive right nowbecause you can shape the future you can actually bring the future of your dreams or your visions you can bring it intoreality and we know people who are doing that and that's one of the exciting things about this podcast is that we're going to reach out to those people andask them how they did it i agree and you know there's a lot of debate about you know what is a futurist or who arefuturists and you know who owns that tag you know so we want to bring a bit of order to the chaos inrespect to that so if you know if someone's coming on our show you know that they've got a track record of forecasting you know they've got a trackrecord of you know changing the world in a way that's meaningful from our perspective i think that's uh that's itWhat areas of forecasting has Robert Tercel worked inlet me ask you this robert um yeah you say you can't make predictions but what have you predicted in the past orwhat have you forecasted in the past that you got right well you know some of the thingsthat i've worked on projects that i've worked on uh have involved launching services thatsimply didn't exist you know so before i get started with them that type of medium or that type ofentertainment or that type of content delivery did not exist so my career has mostly been in the media field and amongthe things i've launched are some of the very first games and computers some of the very first multiplayer games on the websome of the earliest mobile games in the united states the very first video on mobile phonesand so in each of those cases you might you know people might be listening saying okay that's a lot of techy stuff that's a lot of media stuff but let meassure you that every one of those projects before we launched it some expert somewhere would come forthand tell us exactly why it wouldn't work why it was impossible and it would never happen and my take isnever is a very long time brett you know when someone tells you it's never going to happen i always think to myself wowthat's a long time to say something won't happen because if just one element changes youknow if one one negative factor switches and becomes true then all of a sudden the whole avenue ofpossibility opens up and so what i've noticed is that um every time i get organized to launch a new service that doesn't exist there'salways someone telling me exactly why it's not going to work and we tend to ignore that person and continue to just carry on with the project and whilethey're telling us it won't work we launched the thing today the services i mentioned are now used by hundreds of millions of people every single day andso it's a great joy to me to see that you one person in their own lifetime can have the experience of launchingsomething that never existed before now of course at this stage that type of innovation has expandedoutside of media and internet to touch just about every industry and so if someone's listening and they've gotimagination they've got an idea and they they have a vision for how things could be done differentlywhat we want you to know is that it's possible to make that reality it truly is possible to bring itto fruition so this is not a show that's about you know just pitching some forecast some visionsome some fuzzy notion about what might be in the future i think what we're going to try to do in this show is always peg it back to realWhat type of guests will be on the showworld events yeah you know whether that's actually doing it yourself we'll certainly bring people on who are builders and designersand creators or whether it's about influencing someone like an author who writes a really compelling vision of the futurethat inspires an entire generation to go out and build it you know for instance you and i both remember the neilstevenson book a snow crash and you know the concept of the universe in 1992 right so like back then we wereall like yeah cool a virtual world that'll be awesome and now quite literally an entiregeneration of tech geeks is trying to build the metaverse and so you know there's a great example of someone whocandidly is very skeptical about this undertaking right the author himself is like well i'm not sure this is actually such a great ideabut he planted the seed and the seed took hold in the minds of an entire generation of techniquesand now they're actually going to go out and try to build the metaverse so that's the kind of inspiring idea maybe it's acautionary tale that's okay like let's talk about those things these are super interesting topics for our time you knowum isaac asimov is always one that comes to mind for me with the three laws of robotics even though the three laws ofrobotics may not be the laws that we end up with for around robotics the factthat he was thinking about that in what was the 1940s when when he came up with that that's right um you know and andeven the term robot was only like 25 years old at that time you know roboti from that checkplay rossums universalrobots you know in in 1921 or whatever um you know it's like well just imaginebeing able to take just this concept of a motorized human effectively and sort of play that outyou know into into sort of understanding autonomy and how that would impact so um you know i think you know we're goingto talk about sci-fi authors in the second half of the show today but um you know there there are some people who'vewho um you know like neil stevenson and others who've made some incredible umyou know or laid out the landscape for us even if you you know like the star trek thing with the communicator and allof that um but um these days the the time betweenideation of a new idea and the ability to execute is definitely shorteningright and so i think that's true and also remember it's so competitive now um if you have an idea chances are quitegood that 10 other groups of people have the same idea and they may be in 10 different parts of the world and so youmay have competitors you've never even heard of in a completely different corner of the world working on the sameidea and mainly i would say if you suspect that might be true then you should also assume that some ofthose teams are hungrier than you and more driven than you and they sleep less hours every night than you do they gotbetter funding they're yeah that's right and they're they're striving towards it well that's the other thing that's changed brett this is a gigantic factoris the amount of funding that's available for new ideas innovative ideas even disruptive ideasthe sheer amount of funding that's available is breathtaking and the valuations at least last year you knowin 2021 were astounding for a startup company with no visible means of support it'sjust an idea just a vision just a technology path but you know listenwe will certainly talk more about sci-fi and we will certainly talk about technology but one of the things i really want people to understand is thatForecasting the future its not just about technologywhen we when it comes to forecasting uh the future or putting together a model for the future it's not just about technology becausetoo often those two ideas are are linked you know oh it's a futurist and he's talking about technology technology is agigantic factor let's not get that wrong of course it is but there are actually four factors thatgovern the future and if you're going to make intelligent predictions reliable predictions or forecastsi would prefer the word forecast over prediction right um if you're going to try to do that you really need to take into account all4 key factors to consider when forecasting #1 resourcesfour factors and those four factors are first of all resources and that's you know the earth the air the water theminerals this is limited to what we've got on this planet you know maybe in the future we'll be mining asteroids ormoving to mars or something else but at the moment what we've got to work with is what's on this planet so that's afinite resource doesn't necessarily mean there's a scarcity people often talk about you know resource shortages butthat's just a frame of mind it's how we're utilizing the resource and you know in a moment i'll talk about otherKey forecasting factor #2 Populationfactors that govern how that's done the second big factor is demography populationum and this is factual right so we know about population and it doesn't changethat quickly so it's quite easy to predict or forecast what's going to happen with the population over the next10 years because it just involves birth rates and you know survival rates and so forth butthis is one that has changed pretty significantly over the last 15 years and you'd be surprised how many people missthis okay because we make assumptions about the place where we live you know like i live in california a lot ofentrepreneurs in california and they make the blunder of assuming the rest of the world is like california and it'slike guys you got to get out there and travel you got to visit more places you know the one part of the world that's going to grow fastest in terms ofpopulation in the next 10 years is sub-saharan africa and yet i work with tech companies every day that don't have an office insub-saharan africa or they'll have an office in you know joburg or or cape town in south africa but they think that's covering all of africa whatthey're missing is that there's 52 countries it's a whole continent it's the second biggest continent it's apatchwork of different kinds of governments different kinds of people different tribes right now syria isgoing to be in the top five economies in the world in in 20s clearly on the path right there'll be another billion peoplein africa by the end of by 2030 by the end of this decade and so to to anyone who's listening if your plans for thefuture don't include africa as a central focus you're probably going to miss an opportunity flip it around if you get itright and you're offering an app or a service or a new product or some other kind of innovationthat works well you might just pick up another 100 million users it's like getting in an elevator and riding to the top floorjust the sheer force of demographic trends and by the way by the state same tokenevery country in the northern hemisphere is essentially flat in terms of population growth yes theydeclined europe in decline peak china happened about five years ago their population isn't isn't growing as fastas it was the us only grows because yeah and and that's the that's a reallykey point is that um you know we've seen a pushback against immigration the last few years you know in europe because ofthe syrian civil war um you know and and generally from in terms of the populistmovement but the reality is is these as the birth rates continue to shrink in umdeveloped economies they're going to have to really bring in talent they haveto bring in immigration to keep the economies growing you know um the economies of social democraciesrequire population and population and immigration in order to survive the only reason the united states population isnot in decline is because of immigration it's the one factor that keeps it growing a little bit but barelyso so demographics is an important factor and again it seems quite obvious until you start to peel back the fewKey forecasting factor #3 Technologylayers of the onion and then you discover that it's a complicating factor the third big factor is technology andwe all know about technology it moves so quickly often it's accelerating uh the accelerating technologies have aprofound influence over future trajectories so it's important to take that into accountbut it's really when you start to combine these factors together that you get to the most interestingKey forecasting factor #4 Governancescenario planning opportunities and that brings me to the fourth factor which is governance and governance comes in twoways markets and government regulation right those are the two things essentially you know the ideal scenario is that you've got afreeish market i don't think there's ever really been a real free market ever but there's a freeish market free enoughto enable innovation and enable entrepreneurs to do novel combinations of resources anddemographics and and technologies in order to create something new and then the role the government is tobe kind of an umpire uh to kind of like make sure that the game is played fairly to make sure that there are no umthere's no fraud and so forth yeah so for instance an example i use there is um given all the activity with nfts uhnon-fungible tokens in the past two years we've seen tremendous growth there but there is effectively no regulation that'sgoverning it and no surprise there's a ton of fraud you know so by some estimates 80 of thetokens for sale on openc right now are fraudulent they're either ripped off or copyright infringement or there's someother measure of fraud attached to them so you need both in the governance field do you need the free market you needthat uh that way to channel entrepreneurial energy towards economic return and reward but you also need somekind of umpire there to make sure that it's a fair game so it's those four factors together that help shape the future and if youstudy those four factors then you can start to formulate i think a credible hypothesis which i would calla forecast the next step is then to turn it into a story and this brings us to science fiction uhbecause you know scenario planners tell stories but candidly they're quite boring the stories that they tell the scenario planning stories are fact-basedyou know they're very serious you see these kind of things from places like the world economic forum they're hard to read candidly becausethey're quite dull they might be very accurate forecasts the people who make the interesting forecasts are sciencefiction authors so after the break let's talk about that yeah yeah now on thegovernance side um you know there's some interesting evidence emerging of differentregulatory environments you know you have had obviously some big changes in terms of governanceyou know you've got the european uh union which has created sort of centralized governance there there'ssome debate over whether that's been effective but it has created standards that are umyou know broadly accepted but one more recent example of um you know sort of a softer touch on aregulatory side is what china's done with the tech side and you've seen incredible growth therein technologies like the mobile wallets there and now they're launching the central bank digital currency at theolympics the first nation to to launch in over 35 million mobile wallets already downloaded thereum so but if you if you look at the environment compared with say the us orthe uk around fintech you know an area that i've studied significantlyone of the reasons china is now so far ahead of the united states in respect tosort of core fintech growth is that lighter touch of regulation and soit's interesting you say it's a lighter touch because what i've heard is that in the past year the president oh it's changed taking avery heavy hand approach oh so tell me about that well you know i mean that because it was so successful and sodisruptive um you know to give you an idea um you know in 2020 um in terms of plasticcards used around the world credit cards debit cards you know gift cards etc we totaledabout 35 trillion dollars of payments globally for all of the plastic cards in the worldbut in 2020 the two mobile wallets in china alipay and 10 cent wechat pay did52 trillion dollars of mobile payments so that's three times china's gdp andit's almost twice what the rest of the world did with plastic card payments um andjack mars uh business alipay or actually called ant group is the parent companyof the mobile wallet and they have a they have a bunch of different businesses underneath thatand um was set to ipo in china in umoctober of 2020 i think if i'm if i'm correctoctober november 2020 they were set to ipo the breaks were put on that afterjack ma made negative comments about how slow the banking industry was and howfar ahead ant was right and that was deemed to be unpatriotic that he wascriticizing the existing system he was to some extent right um about that but at the same time alipay had been so disthe alipay intensive wechat pay had been so disruptive to the traditional modelof banking you know think about just the fact that um you know pre these mobile wallets 98 of retailtransactions in china were done with cash right credit cards weren't big their debit cards weren't big um and nowyou've got um you know in in 2022 it's going to be around 30 cash and so you know that thatdemonetization you know the removal of cash out of the system as a result of mobile walletswe've we've not seen that happen anywhere near as rapidly um you know anywhere anywhere else in the world sothat's okay so so what i'm hearing you say is that uh a governance model that allows for innovationcan over a period of say 10 years lead to some transformative results and ithink it's true for particularly for listeners in the us or in europe who don't travel to chinawe don't get to see firsthand just how mobile first the chinese economy has andin many respects they've leapfrogged ahead of the united states and you know here in california where i'm based wetend to think of ourselves as always being at the leading edge of innovation and technology innovationum but but that's not actually true anymore innovation happens everywhere and um in many respects uh our tech giants herein the us have stifled innovation uh so we get innovation with their pace yeah andwe don't see the flurry of new things that are happening in other parts of the world i hope that's one of the things we can bring in no absolutely in fact i'dlove to get kaifu leon let's target him um you know because if if you've read his book on super powers you'llunderstand how competitive china is and how that competition is sort ofborne out some some incredible results there i mean um yeah i you know obviously china has to do somework on on pr uh in the rest of the world but the us's view of china is is also not a realistic view there to someextent but i'd love to have a more global view of this and and you know having lived uhyou know obviously i'm australian yeah i live in new york right now but i'm in the process of moving to thailand andi've lived in hong kong and i lived in dubai so i hope to be able to bring a bit of that sort of global network tothis play as well robert yeah i agree i think that makes good sense and and like yourself i've lived and worked all overthe world so i hope that we can do that bring a global perspective uh you know speaking of regulation andgovernance we should talk about the united states because there was a strategic decision made in the 1990s notto regulate the internet and the notion that that's at the time was let's not preemptively regulate thisindustry let's let it grow and see what happens well that was a very smart idea i think it was very wise it's also oneof the few examples of government restraint that i've seen in my entire career yeah where they basically letthis flower or the garden blossom but now the garden's out of control and now there's a big question of whether u.sregulators have the power to regulate these tech giants these companies that now exceed a trillion dollars in somecases two trillion in valuation uh maybe they're too big to regulate so maybe we'll come back and take a look atthat regulatory lens as one aspect of governance as one of the main factors that that shapes the future because it'scertainly true if the new antitrust cases prevail it's a really big if but if the newanti-trust cases prevail against companies like facebook and google and so on umthen we might see some kind of breakup or some sort of change in governance and that would dramatically shape the future in adifferent way so it's important to bear that in mind but at the moment at present it doesn't look like uhgovernment has many tools at its disposal to shape the trajectory of those companies i think one of the otherThe building blocks of 21st century economiesthings that we should definitely look at as well is you know as we're looking for forecasting and we're looking at thebuilding blocks of 21st century economies we should be looking at theyou know the preparedness of the economy in terms of pure skills stem skillsscience technology engineering math and the education behind that because it's i think it's nosecret but the you know the education in this respect is slipping in the u.s right now in terms of educationstandards um and one of the really interesting um elements ofof china's emergence as the world's number one economy you know over the next few yearsum for the for the world is that they've invested very heavily in sort ofretooling their population for these technology skills artificial intelligenceyou know for every one phd stem graduate in the us china producesthree at the moment so um you know i think that would be interesting to get into too is you know how do we prepareour um populace how do we prepare our systems that we have for the changesthat are inevitably coming in the future it's an interesting point it touches a related notion that i think is quiteA science-based outlook on the futureimportant it's about a science-based outlookon the future and a mythological based outlook on the future or an ideological view of thefuture and while uh here in the united states we're very quick to accuse other countries of being driven byauthoritarianism and ideology what we're not very good at is examining the ideology that governs the us as welland there's a lot of mythology here about the us being number one in various categories where weclearly are no longer number one in those categories but we still persist in the in the belief that we areum and some belief about or some i guess misguided understanding of what education should consist of andwhether we should be indoctrinating people or or teaching people uh you know science remains the besttool that we have for sorting out right theories from incorrect theoriesand uh that hasn't changed well that's unlikely to change however our acceptance of science and politicaldiscourse in the united states has waned pretty substantially to the point whereexperts uh scientific experts on a subject are often dismissed and sometimes rudely sothis is problematic because it clouds people's ability to think athletically about what's coming next and preparethemselves for it and then what happens is you end up with an angry disappointed mob who feels like they were hoodwinkeduh that's very destabilizing particularly for democracy so i mean i think we're getting evidencei think we've seen clear evidence of that with the pandemic um you know the the if you look at thescience around mrna and what it's enabling and gene therapy in generalyou know we're talking about an mrna vaccine in trial now for hiv aidswe are talking about gene therapy that potentially could eliminate diseases from the genome so theseadvances are going to be tremendously powerful over the next 20to 30 years and you know when we look at mrna and you know whether youvaccinated or not um you know the fact that it's sort of come of ageafter 30 years of investment in this technology and and now we're we're usingthat i think sometimes that's lost that all of that hard work that's been put intomaking sure the these these technologies work and you know after all mrna and inparticular just just mimics the the our own immune system in in many respectsbut with a very significant difference right so so the the key takeaway in mrna is that it'sthe it's the brainchild of synthetic biology and the principle of synthetic biology is that we can start to program biologythe same way we program a computer this is a bold concept and it's not new it's been around for more than a dozenyears but these vaccines are one of the very first tangibleresults of it certainly on a planetary scale they're the first encounter with synthetic biology products that mosthumans have had okay so that's an amazing story about a breakthrough in science but if you lookat the political discourse around the pandemic in the united states what you're hearing is a narrative that doesn't even touch on any of thatamazing stuff instead you hear mythology like oh they're implanting a chip insideof us and and this is just so absurdly incorrect first of all what kind of chip are you talking about how'sit gonna be kind of wireless chip is there a wireless part show me where the radio part isdoes it have software is there a microprocessor in this chip what's the energy source for that chip so whatwe're hearing is mythology from people who have absolutely no idea how the technologiesthey're referring to work it's ignorance piled on top of mythology piled on topof disinformation campaigns this actually clouds our ability to make intelligent forecasts and to make smartdecisions about how to prepare for the future right and what people should know is from outside the united states peoplein other countries are looking at us and saying what a shame it was the most technologically advanced society and now it's a society awashin fake mythology not even like genuine mythology that arises from you so the the population or tribal conviction orsome historical lore its mythology has been generated by paid hacks and pushed outour mission on the futurist is to cut through all the noisethrough social media well these things too are trends that we're going to have to cover because part of our message part of our mission in theshow the futurist is to cut through all the noise and find the signal and brett i would suggest that todaythere's a lot more noise in every channel than there ever has been historically people are publishingmore and more content and the ratio of bad stuff to good it remains 90 to 10. our job to find that 10 find the peoplewho are talking about their 10 and applying it to something so if you're if you're listening to this podcast then iwant to give you the commitment from robert and i um and that is that you know we aregoing to curate um the most credible people on the planet atgetting the future right you know in terms of understanding the sort of changes wewe're going to have to make helping us understand how to forecast better um and understanding you know what impactthat's going to have on the daily lives of individuals like ourselves and that's um you know what we make the commitmentto do but uh we're just gonna take a quick break and we'll be back right after this break to talk about how science fiction hasinfluenced uh futurismwelcome to breaking banks the number one global fintech radio show and podcasti'm brett king and i'm jason henricks every week since 2013 we explored the personalitiesstartups innovators and industry players driving disruption in financial servicesfrom incumbents to unicorns and from cutting edge technology to the people using it to help create a moreinnovative inclusive and healthy financial future i'm jp nichols and thisis breaking bankswell welcome back to the futurists this is the show where we take a look at allthe trends that are going to shape our future and talk to the folks who are thinking the hardest about thatdeveloping the scenarios around the future and in many cases inventing the futurei'm rob terczyk and i'm joined here by brett king and the two of us together are going to interview folks who arehelping us understand the future and prepare for it so welcome back to the futurists and youAn abiding love for science fiction, our favourite authorsknow brett one of the things we both share in common is an abiding love for science fiction i admit it i'm anunabashed fan of science fiction i've been reading it my entire life i think it's fun i think it's inspiring i lovethe visions that are spelled out and now weirdly at this stage in life i'm actually able to seesome of those scenarios are actually coming to play out right absolutely you know famously um you knowfamously like we talked about in the beginning to show that uh the the prediction of the metaverse you know for better or for worse i think that wasreally a warning mostly neil stephenson was warning us about this totally virtualworld and some of the pitfalls there of an ai driven corporation and so on and weirdly now some folks have embracedthat as kind of a manifesto and now they're seeking to go out and build it um that's not the only example and there'll be many othersbret tell us about some of the sci-fi authors that you've got lined up well we've got kevin j anderson on our shownext week talking about the june universe we're going to be talking to david brin aboutthe evolution of humanity and you know in terms of sociological and ethnographic growth he writes aboutsocieties 10 000 years in the future i want to have kim stanley robinson onstan is um you know probably the top sci-fi author in the climate space rightnow he just wrote the ministry of the future if you haven't read it i strongly recommend it um and you know we're goingto have ramez nam from singularity uh he's going to be talking about any person right he's a great illustration of the kind ofperson who does write science fiction it's very compelling but he also writes he's a practitioner as well extraordinarily good and then yeah heputs his ideas into action particularly in the energy field where he has deep expertise so good good illustration of the kind ofperson we're thinking of when we use the term futurist yeah and i think that's umyou know like science fiction is a great landscape for helping us envision the future and youknow you when you look at things like the star trek communicator andyou know its influence on the motorola flip phone design and things like that you know those connections have beenmade before but um it's like well you know think about jules verne fax machineshell you know uh leonardo da vinci helicopters uh you know jules verne facts machine submarines you know etcetera um yeah they they were logical schools of thought of course um some of thepredictions or forecasts that were made in in the past by science fiction authors also you know ended upbeing um way off off base um you know like uh you know um it wentbefore email existed if you you talked about the future of communication um youknow you would have had uh maybe concepts of um electronic fax machines and things likethat and how they would extend drones is one of those areas that not a lot of people not a lot of science fictionauthors got right you know but robots is one where they do get it right right exactly yeah some some of the things arephysically impossible so like a matter transporter for instance where there's no there's no physics today to supportthat concept um some of the energy drives that are proposed for starships alsouh but like i said earlier in the previous part never say never exactly because for every madcap idea thatpeople have dismissed as outlandish and impossible there's somebody somewhere who's working on it right now the example i'd use isflying cars and for a million good reasons flying cars are highly unlikely but notice i'm not saying they're notgoing to happen because there are plenty of people who are committed to bringing flying cars and as it turns outvertical takeoff uh aircraft like small short distance vertical takeoff aircraft had kind of aboom last year because most of the major airlines are now making investments they're viewing that as kind of like thelast hop from the airport to the final destination at least for first-class passengerswho don't want to get stuck in traffic and of course if you've been to a city like sao paulo and brazilwhere you know anyone who can afford it is jumping on a helicopter to go to the airport because they don't want to deal with grinding through traffic you canactually imagine a use case for it now is it feasible affordable for a million reasonsit's still unlikely however the balance got shifted a little bit towards more plausible last year becausenow the big airlines see that this could actually greatly enhance their service and so i think here what we can do isget inspiration from the sci-fi authors we certainly want to understand their methodology for forecasting to the extent that they haveThe hits and misses of forecastinga methodology but also let's talk about the hits and misses it's okay to talk about it youknow like i think if you're going to make forecasts you have to embrace the notion that some of the scenarios that you talk about are not going to happeni feel like if you're even 50 right in this field you're doing fantastically well because so many factors are at playyou know when i spoke about those four four forces what's important to understand is the four forces interact with each other andthat makes for very unpredictable situations you know so it's not just the resources and the peopleand the markets and the government regulations and so on it's that those things have an interplay and it's hard to predict how populationsare going to affect government decisions you know for instance or you know so so mass outcry againstgigantic technology monopolies might override the free market instinct that allows those monopolies to exist inthe first place that might play out we're going to see that battle happen so what happens with science fiction is that they make an entertaining narrativethey convey a world they describe a world in words in such a compelling waythat we can imaginatively project ourselves into it and when we do as soon as we do thatyou can start to envision possibilities and some of the people who do it are going to start to conjure up like they'll work their way back and say heythat's a cool scenario to get there what's an intermediary must be true yeah what are all the things what are the types of technologies thatneed to advance to make this possible um that is working on them you know is there material science we need to changeto be able to make this possible you know etc yeah so when you look at someone like elon muskis the best case example i think of this right now it's his missionis to get people on mars now we can differ about whether that's a big mission a viable mission a necessarymission and so forth but that's what well you know you're gonna hear through the life of this podcast i'm a fan of ofthe mars mission um i think it i think you know one of one of the things i agree with onwith the elon on this is is j and we'd love to have him on the show at a later date as well but umis the issues of humanity in terms of the big picture stuff you know yeah we've got problemswe have to solve and things like that but humanity needs a reason you know we we need towe need things driving us forward to thrive to push us to expand our horizonsto expand our intellect and you need those big goals look at the apolloproject or the human genome project you know and these these types of projects that bringpeople together um you know on these massive moon shots and leaps in terms oftechnology in both cases the reigning experts at the time said that they would neverhappen if you look at the beginning of the human genome project there was tons of skepticism at the time and the sameof course is famously true for the apollo mission where experts are like that's not going to work it'll never happen soit's not just inspiration it's a rallying cry and that rally and cry can bring together the politicalwill the scientific vision the grunt work you know that the sheer hard effort to makeit possible and the economic support the resources could be made made available to fund itthat's a really big deal so so for those who are listening to the show who are not themselves going to be starting acompany or they're not technologists but still aren't inspired by the future visions of the futureyou can make a great big difference just by telling a compelling narrative that narrative becomes a rallying cry or abanner around which a group of people can organize and they share that vision because you've told such a compellingtell you've kind of enchanted them they all believe it and the difference or i guess the gap between belief and actionis getting very very narrow yeah and it'd be interesting to actually look atsome of those things that have happened in the past in terms of science fiction authors and things likeHow do Sci-Fi authors & futurist arrive at their predictionsthat where they have got it right is you know what is the process that they wentthrough to do that you know like to make those those guests umlike h.g wells you know like how did he arrive at his his visions of the future it'd be quite interesting you knowcertainly one author we should consider is arthur c clarke because he famously predicted the the advent oftelecommunications satellites right spelled out exactly how they would work satellites are called clock orbityeah he was 100 right uh so there are many many examples of that and um i findit inspiring and fun and hopefully that'll add another element of storytelling to this program youmentioned neil stevenson um you know william gibson's another one which ishe's interesting you know i love his quote as the future's already here it's just not evenly distributed yet which isyou know another great thing to look at when you're looking at at futurists in general is that um you know they'reworking to close the gap between um you know what what's possible and and what'savailable um but um apart from neil stevenson what other science fiction authors have influenced you in terms ofreally have sort of captured your imagination well as a as a boy growing up in the midwest i was inspired by ray bradburybecause his stories are perfectly calibrated for a 10 year old boy in ohio or illinois and so that that was anauthor i was very inspired but i also loved robert heinlein uh enjoyed his books very much uh ithink stranger in a strange land is it was profoundly impactful on me at the time um i liked andre norton i mean thelist goes on and on and on but i i'm also um i'm very fond of pulp fiction authors ingeneral and uh you know authors like philip k dick have right you know influence so manypeople in los angeles in the entertainment industry with a compelling vision of you know kind of a dystopianfuture or dysfunctional very near future and so many of his stories have been turned into films and then again thosefilms end up having a profound impact on the way people perceive the world what they're moving towards so all of thoseauthors and i think we should probably include science fiction films uh as another aspect because you know think ofstar wars today look star wars is just an application of that classic heroes journey uh thing that wasdeveloped a theory that was developed by joe campbell but a very compelling application of itand a very convincing application you know very fanciful and vivid imagination of what the future might look like todaywe mostly use star wars as a kind of metaphor the way perhaps a previous generationwould use like a religious metaphor or something you know they would use some uh archetype from their own mythologyin a way star wars is modern mythology and so it's a reference point so when we talk about you know big tech companiesfacing off against feisty decentralized startup companies you'll invoke the metaphor of the empireyou know and the death star against the rebel alliance because everybody knows what you're talking about so it's a kind of a conceptual shorthand that makes itquite easy to convey a concept and frame an idea there's real utility to that i mean thisis not just fun and games this is actually efficient for people i actually um i heard a reallygood opinion piece so read a good opinion piece on why so much sci-fi hasbeen dystopian in the past from a movie and tv series perspective you might have heard this aswell is that a lot of it comes down to the production cost is that building a utopian universeis a lot more expensive from a sci-fi uh movie production thanit is uh building a dystopian buildings that are yeahexactly and you bring the windows around so you can you can degrade the existing world easily also we see that happeningin our day-to-day lives right so entropy is a factor in every city in the world so we experience it it seems very credibleto us that these places are going to kind of disintegrate and go away or fall apart over timewhat's very very difficult is to design a new world from scratch thatis holistic in the sense that it has an economic logic to it and it has a rationale to it and it has a you know apolitical concept and so forth so on that note uh what we might want to do for this show is bring in world buildersand i'm fortunate to know several of those folks as well uh world builders like the team that designed aminority report that spielberg film starring tom cruise that again said such a profound impact on how we think aboutthe future there they actually had an economic team an advertising team a commerce team asocial team to design scenarios for that world of future and they had to govern it so that all those scenarios pluggedin together into sort of a coherent hole and so if you haven't looked at a minority report in a while i i'drecommend you go back and take a look at the film's like 20 years old but even just really well they they use irisrecognition for commerce and transport and personalized advertising inside right right um and it's not like thatstuff is really in front of you too much it's kind of just woven into the narrative and occasionally it moves the plot point ahead you know um and now wehave traditional recognition in places like china which um you know it itobviously significantly ahead there are about 600 federal databases in the us ofcourse with facial recognition technology being used now but um you know the this is a logical transitionin respect to what we think of um around digital identity for the 21st century umyou know and so um you know we are starting to grapple with that we're finding that you know physical identity your yourpassport or your driver's license that those uh credentials can be sort of easily stolen in the current world andwe're looking for better better analogies so you know if you you start it's probably not going to be irisrecognition but it probably will be device-based and facial recognition and yeah there'll be some sort of biometricthing you know usually they say the best security is something you know and something you have so your body your biometrics isso i think you're right about that and certainly the future of identity is a gigantic topic and that's one that wewill certainly cover on this show in fact i had a very interesting conversation just two days ago that iwanted to share with you because this is a person i'd very much like to bring on the show um we were talking aboutidentity that you can transfer from one metaverse to another right so the principle here is that as much asthere's a lot of hoopla right now about meta or facebook's version of the metaverse we know very well that there'll behundreds of other companies launching their own versions and many of them will be platforms that allow people to create yeah another version so you can imaginemillions of metaverses are quite is a quite likey scenario over the course of the next decade and the big question isthen well what kind of credentials do i bring from one metaverse to another how do i teleport from one of those worldsto another world do i have to go through the process of setting up my avatar registering accounts or is there going to be some sort of you know universaltransferable credential now my instinct was sure because peopleare going to want that and that'll be efficient and it'll be better and faster and easier so it seems quite obviousthat we're going to need some sort of transferable digital identity credential well as it turns out um people who areworking are like no actually nobody wants that so we'll bookmark that idea for a future time but this is and thewhole we we should definitely get into decentralized versus centralized governance but we you know in terms ofthe metaverse it's definitely right we got to bring the weed whacker out for that subject decentralized versuscentralized because there's so much noise there and that's in that space but but i think this idea is uhillustrational point you can have a decent hypothesis you can have a good theory about what's going to happen andthen when you actually talk to the people who are working on that particular area it turns out that theory doesn't holdwater and i'm okay with being wrong because if i'm wrong it means i'm getting smarter somebody else is going to correct me uhso we'd certainly welcome that i think well that's it for the people great objective isn't it is is um you know if you want to getsmarter then listen to the futurists because we're going to have people that are going to make you smarter umall of us could do that with that but um i do think for people who are listening if there's a if there's a sci-fi authorthat you're keen on or if there is a particular subject matter that you want to learn more about or if there's aquestion that you've got about the future or even about the methodology you know how how might i become a betterforecaster certainly send those to us because we want to hear from you we want to design the show for you those are the kinds ofquestions that we're curious about so you can count on us to go find the answers absolutely and uh you know onthat uh message or on that theme you know one of the things we want totry and do is bring some structure to this conversation and so on the futurist website you're going to see not only uhinterviews from the futurists that we are profiling but also their subject matter areasso you know whether that is climate you know engineering or specifictechnologies like artificial intelligence gene therapy longevity science you know whatever that field iswe want to sort of create a library of content around those specific domains as well so if there's a domain you'reinterested in specifically in terms of technology that's developing that area also pleaselet us know because that's uh one of the ways we want to think about this um you know i ideallyif we take sort of the top 10 or 15 or 16 sort of categories of things that weWe will drill into futurists views of the short, medium and long termwe want to look at in the in the future you know we can have a view of sort of the short termfuture a medium term and long term so that's something else we sort of also want to look at when it gets into thefuturists you're going to hear at the end of each episode when we're speaking to the futurist allright give us your 10-year 20-year estimate your 50-year estimate and your 100-year estimate interms of what's going to happen here now as robert rightly said this is not necessarily going to be theart of prediction but we do hope that we can forecast someof these macro changes and if we get enough of these futurists together build some really interestingsort of visions of what that future is going to be like i think that's right and i think the exercise of formulating a hypothesiseven if it's incorrect is a good skill to build it's it's it's good athletic thinkingum how do how can futurists help business people i guess you know like that's going to be if you're anentrepreneur how can a futurist or someone in that field help you expand on your business idea you know whatsteps can they you know can they give you a competitive advantage all of those times well youknow it's a very lively part of my business as a consultant this is a big piece of what um what i do for companiesthey ask me to come in and help them plan for the next 10 years and let me point out that 10 years is a long time10 years is hard it's not too difficult to develop a theory about what will happen over thenext three years we can see pretty clearly a couple years out the third year gets a little bitharder five years is tough 10 years is almost impossible so so you end up withthink of it as a cone of possibility an ever expanding cone of possibility and a series of if then statements so if thesetrends hold true then this might be possible complexity comes in when you start to intersect the trends together so if thistrend intersects with another trend you know so for instance you know the the cost of processing power is dropping theamount of storage that we have available the bandwidth in the network increases uh the cost or the availability of thisin different parts of the world to different populations becomes available you have to start to take all those things into account and the list goes onand on and on you start to see that this cone of possibility can expand in a lot of directions then what we do forscenario planning is um we start to develop narratives around some of those we say okay so if these five things aretrue or these ten elements are true what does it look like tell me about a day in the life tell me about how thiswould play out tell me how would someone find this product in that scenario brett the world is changing so fastright now in so many ways on so many fronts in the in the form of the fact that you know now five billion on thispeople on this planet are connected and have a super computer in their hands that gives them super powers and aninstant access to all the world's information that means they can make decisions in ways that they never could have even 15 years ago right so that's agigantic shift any company that's trying to market or deliver services to those people has tounderstand that it has to be in front of those people in the places where they are that's just one element of the changeright then you add into that the rapid technological progress that's happening all the challenges around the world'sresources and climate and so forth and you can start to see that that road map gets awfully murkyjust even just the impact of ai on employment and society i know we're going to talk about uh that uh in ingreater detail as well but all of that makes uh you know that that's all going toyou know could take us off in very different directions for sure i'm sorry for sure and when we bring up ai andclimate it's always back to this dystopian view uh we very much frequently hear the dystopian side youknow robots are going to steal your jobs robots are going to take over and so forth um i want to state for the record that i'mi'm an optimist i am a cautious optimist i'm a maybe a a careful or pessimistic optimist in thesense that i want to kick the tires pretty hard but i do believe in progress and i do have faith the conviction that peoplewill figure out the right thing to do to make the right next move we might go through a lot of bad decisions before we get to the right onebut eventually we're gonna arrive at another outcome what is the future of humanity is is at the heart of all ofthis and uh you know aristotle i think said it best which is thethe future or the purpose of humanity rather is to thrive and the only way wecan really thrive is continue to make progress so that's sort of at the heart of what thisconversation is about how as a human species can we make a demonstrable progress is going to benefit everybodythat's going to improve the life of our grandchildren um our societies that we live in that is goingto make us as a species better off than we are and and even though you know currentlythere's plenty of news in the front page of every paper and magazine in the world that's scary and dark and ominousit's also worth noting that on the whole by most metrics liveand this is the greatest time in the world to ha to be alive that doesn't mean it's true for every single person of course not there's always because youcan take a instagram of your dinner plate you know i mean that's right sure you get thatand share it with two billion people instantly right so this is an important idea right because it's about thedissemination of ideas and information fast uh earlier i made some dark comments about mythology and you knowhow we're living in a time where people have disinformation that's certainly true but bear in mind if you're at allinterested in getting to the facts they're available you can get you can you can dig through or cut through all the hype and all the nonsense and allthe noise and disinformation and get to the heart of the matter and increasingly it's possible to reach the actual peoplewho are figuring this stuff out that's part of our job on this show and part of our purpose is to spread betterinformation to spread awareness all over the world the faster we all get on the same pageabout prioritization and ethics shaping the future the faster we're going to start to solvesome of those dysfunctional or just dystopian scenarios i for one am excited to sign up for that mission well we'reboth optimists and so i think that's going to come out in um in the show soover the next coming weeks you're going to hear interviews from some of the top futurists in the worldWho are the Futurists our listeners would like to see on the showum if if you have a favorite futurist or you have a topic as robert said let us know what that is about but certainlyour job as hosts is to be positive and optimistic about the future and find those things that arereally going to matter and make an impact on your future individually over the coming years and decades as well soum i guess that's it for our first show today robert how do you feel i'm excited to do this with you bretti've been looking forward to getting started so i'm thrilled that we're going for it this seems like a great new great new approachabsolutely and uh we will see you in the future[Music] well that's it for the futurists this week if you like the show we sure hopeyou did please subscribe and share it with people in your community and don't forget to leave us a five starreview that really helps other people find the show and you can ping us anytime on instagramand twitter at futurist podcast for the folks that you'd like to see on the show or the questions you'd like usto ask thanks for joining and as always we'll see you in the future

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