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The Next Renaissance


Anders Sorman-Nilsson

Anders Sorman-Nilsson is a Swedish futurist living in Australia, but he believes that humanity is on the cusp of a new renaissance where humanity finds purpose beyond consumption and market profit. He calls out human systems that are coming to a natural conclusion due to this emerging thinking, including the damage that fossil fuel companies and others have done to our ecosystem in the name of profits. Ultimately, Anders is an optimist but he thinks that human behavior and technological leaps and bounds don't necessarily align, but it's navigating the conflict between our long-held traditions, global conflicts, and climate disasters, along with our rapidly advancing technical capabilities that will define humanity for centuries to come. We get deep on this one...

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[Music] this week on the futurists and as Solomon Nielsen
we haven't really had a clear sort of villain up until recent times but I do
think you're calling it out there and it's the fossil fuel industry
[Music] this week we're going to get into the
avant-garde side of futurism with my friend Anders from Down Under but before
we jump into that Rob what have you got in the news [Music]
well you know Brett lately you can't open a newspaper or go to a website without seeing some news about
generative Ai and I know the story is starting to get a little bit old we've covered a few times but they keep
finding new ways to use these genitive pre-trained Transformers and here's one that I read about and I thought you
would dig at the most Brett so here we go it's a robot attorney and as it turns out uh the legal
language and the proceedings in court are actually quite a good use case uh for an AI and so they have now developed
a new kind of uh GPT model or large large language learning model
um and it's called gptj Uh and the J stands for justice or jurisprudence I
suppose but the point is that it is a robot uh basically robot cheat sheet so if you're in a courtroom for a standard
procedure like traffic case uh you can wear a Bluetooth headset and this thing will whisper in your ear instructions
and if you repeat what it says you might be able to talk your way out of the court case and uh the the uh the company
that made it is called do not pay and so they uh they they offer ways for people to beat traffic tickets and this is
their new gimmick um and uh so this this is an AI that advises uh defendants it's not entirely
clear that this is legal because in most U.S states uh you're required to be a licensed attorney to practice law and so
this would be kind of a legal robot although it is a kind of a neat concept and it's going to be tested you're
allowed to represent yourself as well yeah that's the idea and so and you're also allowed in certain courts uh you're
allowed to wear an earpiece that's not true in every Court uh and so they had to find a jurisdiction where those two
things are possible and they claim they found two so they're going to go with a test case in about a month so we shall
keep you posted on the outcome there in that trial uh what's interesting is do not pay the CEO is not revealing which
jurisdiction they're going to have the case in because he doesn't want to tip the judge off that they're having this robot attorney assist them so there's a
little bit of suspense around this story but I just thought you get a kick out of it you can now have an AI help you beat
a speeding ticket now I did see uh some other news as well which uh we we should get into but um
that China has developed a drone that works off Laser Technology so the Drone
can stay aloft essentially forever based on on laser tech so
um now I don't know if this is a sort of microwave energy charging the battery or how it works but um yeah when we start
talking about automated Warfare and so forth as well you know particularly now that we see like the US and Europe
sending tanks to Ukraine and so forth you know there is going to be a lot of experimentation in the autonomous
Warfare Arena as well so yeah that's worrying Trend in that respect but um
well let's let's jump into something a bit more positive you know let's turn to our guests yes yeah
I was going to say at what stage do we start pushing the Panic buttons here of weaponized Ai and going from you know
harmless speeding tickets to to to drones being weaponized then yeah you know places well that's the thing we're
going to try and automate everything because that's what we do right we throw ticket everything and
um in many cases that's well you know I mean this is going to change the nature of work uh obviously you know um but uh
we we the problem is we spend far too much time debating whether AI is going
to change things instead of actually starting to think about how we transition Society you know in that
state you know with with these changes I mean that's my thought but Anders Nielsen uh Simon Nielsen welcome to the
futurists hi Anderson yeah great to be uh on the show nice to see you Robin good to have to connect again Brett yes
like a little a little anecdote uh just on that chat GPT piece um I mean I don't
know if this was ironic or uh just the way things are these days but we uh we had a last-minute inquiry from from a
from a large uh credit card company doing some work with a major Bank in
Asia pack and they started asking you know where do you get your research from like when you
talk about the top 10 top 10 uh clean tech trends for example or whatever else
it happens to be and they they were quite sort of into and investigating and litigating uh our ability with our
research team to do some really cutting edge research and uh I shared with them that you know in preparation for the
call one of the things based upon their written brief that I've done was to put the brief into chat GPT
um and I don't know if I felt like I was cheating on the exam or not but I think they actually were quite um impressed
that not only do we use you know primary and secondary sources and we have a you know research team around us but you
know we're also assisting the human intelligence with artificial intelligence and some of the best research ahead of that call
were in fact from chat GPT because that particular client wanted to know about you know what are the top five use cases
in in Social and and uh you know and then in the metaverse where Financial Services firms are doing some really
interesting thought leadership and educational pieces and you know better than my human researchers chat GPT uh
pointed Us in the right direction uh to help influence that little uh well you know maybe we should skip the interview
with you and just go straight to chat GPT so we can just read them into them like
now I I think um you know I mean already we're seeing things like you know work
on proteins and compounds and uh things like this where Chachi BT is allowing us
to figure out certain scientific compounds that we haven't created before that could be really the danger though
is that this this version is often incorrect right and and it's very convincing uh someone today said it was
basically automated mansplaining because it speaks with great Authority even though it doesn't know what it's talking about to someone whom it has no
understanding of whether they are an expert in the subject or not and is blissfully ignorant of that I thought that was a nice way to put it gpt4 is
coming though imminently and that it's being trained on much larger data set and so it probably will be formidable in
many of these same Oakland sort of tried to downplay GPT for a couple of weeks here I don't know whether you saw that
but um you know I do think you know obviously it is going to be a larger data set it is going to be more
comprehensive already chat gbt has got people talking it it's just a matter of
time right whether it's gbt4 or 4.5 or 5 or Google Lambda right which they have
right exactly but that apparently is quite compelling as well so yeah we'll see I think the AI Wars are just heating
up I think Sam Altman's comment on Twitter was something to the effect of
um that she chat GPT is uh extremely convincing at pretending that it knows
something uh maybe to your point there Robert uh but it's about explaining yeah
um so Anders uh you're um originally Swedish but you're based in Australia
um you've uh you know over the last few years you've published a number of books
um you know in the space uh you know I think um one of the things that that is
interesting is you've sort of embraced the futurist moniker
um that's a more recent thing in your career to some extent um you know if we go back to some of
your earlier books um you know you were trying to marry the the the the the the with the your
digilock stuff you were trying to marry um you know the traditional world and and the emerging world but in in more
recent years you've you know become much more immersed in um you know the futurist play so
um tell me about that transition and maybe it it doesn't maybe it's you know that transition is is not accurately
portrayed by me but um you know when was it that you decided that you were going to be a futurist
well uh probably probably when I grew up watching a lot of uh
Star Wars back in the early 80s in in Sweden I always had a fascination with
you know with sci-fi and you know the adventure genre and all the rest and then I understood later on through my
Global Executive MBA that you know future strategy uh strategy development
and transformation is really just like telling a science fiction story a story that you know your whole organization
needs to believe in they need to suspend disbelief and go along to this point in the future that you know CEOs talk about
this is you know what we want our bank to look like or you know what we want the UN to look like in 2030
um so that's a little bit of of background I guess I still have a bit of a soft spot I always talk talk about the
fact that I like to marry you know tradition with technology and the analog whether digital and you know the
physical with the virtual um and I think the fact is that when I look at the
thing that really slows us down it's um humans
um I mean no doubt chat GPT and artificial intelligence is going to keep exploding in its sophistication and you
know robots and machines have been learning while we've been sleeping at the wheel
um and um the only thing that can really kind of slow down this adoption is is humans becoming you know
enmeshed in our own lagardeness so there is a real sort of human element to all
of this and I guess um even though I'm very much focused on sustainable futures
um this marriage of you know the virtual and and the physical the analog and the digital still plays part in my I guess
narrative and Outlook um so um and it's and it's something it's I mean it's it's funny Brett right
because like yeah um we talk about near Horizon Futures and far Horizon Futures and you
know different Horizons you know whether those be the next two to three years or the next you know 30 to 40 or 50 years
um I've sort of found that working with clients that um sometimes when I start talking about 2050 or 2045 people sort
of go oh yeah here we go The Singularity again yeah like and they glance over a
little bit because they're like you know my computer doesn't even talk to my printer so you know when you talk about the singularity that I feel a little bit
too far you know I think part of the challenge here and and Robert feel free to chime in but um
part of the challenge is um you know we we have very short-termism uh um as a result of
capitalism I you know I think that's created a lot of short-termism you know Humanity didn't always we weren't always
very short term like this investors demand results and they want them now and they don't tell me long-term results
the other Factor here is that you know these systems were joking about a moment ago uh these Learning Systems you know
certainly they're filled with defects and there's ways for them to go wrong there's no question about it but when the system learns something correctly it
knows it forever and that's just not true for human beings we tend to be forgetful we're terrible eyewitnesses
for example and it also takes a long time to train a human uh in how to be an adult right it takes 18 years or more
before we're fully formed as functioning adults so we're at a structural disadvantage to these machines because
they're going to keep getting smarter and they retain all that memory and all that learning uh you know we're certainly not at that point at this
stage so it's easy for us to poke holes in them but I think that's one piece that's missing or people they lose sight
of uh that the the knowledge is retained and so the assistant are going to continue to get smarter and smarter and
and we're not necessarily getting that much smarter yeah I think we would be right you'd think we'd be working on
governance but there was a period of time when IQ was progressively going up
the last uh you know um instead of 80 years but that happens and
it stopped it came to a screeching halt it was Tick Tock so Anderson we had a
recently had a guest on the show uh David Matton who is the author of uh New World same humans and he had a really
interesting perspective that I think is uh consistent with yours or maybe it's uh it's similar enough that you can comment on it uh he I asked him about
his technique for forecasting I said how is it that you can analyze all these Trends across so many different sectors
and you come up with such interesting Insight he said it's very simple I have one technique and you can do it anyone can do it
he said he tries to understand what fundamental human need the new
technology or the new trend is addressing and if it's an adequate substitute for something we already have
then he thinks that's going to be a durable Trend and then he writes see he's willing to you know basically stick his neck out uh and write his opinion
about that and that's what his newsletter consists of he'll identify one Trend gives you an analysis of it and then he'll give you his view of it
it sounds to me that you're using a similar humanistic uh lens when you consider these Trends you're looking at
the human being caught between you know our physicality uh our analog Hearts if you will and then the digital world
that's kind of reprogramming our minds is that is that accurate is that kind of the the lens that you use to look at
digital change yeah I mean we've got a got a few models few few approaches a few ways of thinking systematically
about the future but um just to comment on that I think that um you know David's
view is is one that's sort of picked up by you know likes of Jeff Bezos he says you know anything that doesn't change in
the world or is going to you know continue to be a fundamental human need for a long period of time you know
that's something you can build a business model around I think in our world of futurism oftentimes we get
asked to comment on these like little blips sometimes they're you know durable future signal sometimes they're Mega
Trends and sometimes they're just you know flashing the pan moments right um now you know we could have arguments
about you know whether crypto is here to stay you know the usefulness of of Bitcoin and the blockchain and other
things you know some of these things are you know non-fungible tokens right some of those things that I really great
click bait and then you know there's always an argument are they going to solve a fundamental human need in the long term so I think that that is a
really nice lens to look at and we certainly share some of those perspectives but I guess you know some of the thought experiments and models
that we we use are things that are you know at everyone's disposal be it you know scenario planning you know
categorizing our thoughts and our observations and you know pretty simple tools like you know state sociocultural
technological economic environmental and political Trend analysis um lenses for
example and just kind of go hey you know is this a cultural trend is an economic trend is an environmental Trend so we
use that to inform our scenario planning and I guess then you can you know draw a bow or a string a bow and look you know
to 2030 or 2035 and of course with all of that goes a little bit of external
scanning so when we see what we think are long-term projections or Trends Mega trends like the UN sustainable
development goals which are firmly focused on 2030 I think that provides a really useful lens to kind of go you
know um here's a you know a creativity Catalyst of doing more uh with less and
you know catalyzing creativity and entrepreneurial business models within planetary constraints so yeah well
that's a goal right that's a little different from a scenario right that's a goal the the sdgs
um one of the things that comes up frequently on this show when we talk about scenario planning is that uh it's
relatively easy to predict out about 18 months most people can do that at least for their field of expertise with a fair
degree of confidence you can't be perfectly right but with a fair degree of confidence You can predict what's going to happen sometimes that's
difficult but generally speaking people can see ahead a year or so and three years out it's not that difficult to
work with a team at a company with the Strat team to figure out what they're planning to do for the next three years
after that it starts to get murky really fast and anything five years out you're you're out of the realm of like
analytics and you're in the realm of Storytelling I think and and story and scenario planning uh done right you do
you posit like a positive scenario and then a negative scenario and then a couple of other Alternatives around that sometimes using criteria that you
describe um and it keeps coming up again and again it's the storytelling that's important because that's how humans
process that's how we create meaning in our experience it's also what motivates us if you think about the great heroic
myths you know and the national myths and so forth that Inspire us uh so storytelling turns out to be a really
powerful thing for future casting and I find that just sort of interesting because um I didn't think when we started this
program that we're going to be talking about storytelling as much as it often comes up but it seems to so for our future
uh for the future that you're thinking about the sustainable future it seems to me that there are scary scenarios and
there are exciting scenarios encouraging scenarios can you share with us a little bit uh of the positive and negative
stories that we might be thinking about when we think about the future and sustainability
so I think there's a wonderful marriage made in heaven in a sense
um between digital transformation and technology and sustainable Innovation
and um pundits and and researchers uh universities have been publishing some
of this information for a while but if you look at American productivity for example going back 100 years we're now
starting to decouple our productivity from the usage of natural resources and
minerals in in some areas so you know you'll see U.S productivity you know you know goes up and down a little bit but
you know generally the trend is on the up but the use of things like aluminum or nickel and copper is actually going
down and across the world now as you see um you know economies and the developing
world so I think that you know the general trend is towards more productivity while trading more lightly
on on the planet and you know we see that with us productivity you know
generally trending upward while the usage of nickel and copper aluminum is
going downwards I'll give you a couple of examples of where this is a really exciting story but around the developing
world you're also seeing you know just like Brett would point out that you know people in Kenya used empeza instead of
going to physical credit cards and all the wastage in in you know producing plastic cards uh as a form of mobile
payments so through like M copper for example these developing countries are
now skipping entire generations of building a massive National electricity grid and instead building smaller solar
grids where again people can pay for electricity where there was no power before to power you know the lamps and
houses that would actually provide people the ability to do homework at night as a result they don't have to burn kerosene anymore so again this leap
frogging across entire generations of you know physical infrastructure is something that's again going to help us
achieve the UN sustain development goals and if we think about something as
simple as the humble iPhone and the hundreds of devices that it's replaced
in the one device um you know whether it be the VCR but be
the camcorder the Sony Walkman the the fax machine etc etc they would have all
consumed virgin planetary resources back in the 90s and 2000s you're speaking my
language my friend I wrote a book about that subject called vipro so yes I agree with you there you go let me let me take
an opposite point of view just for the sake of interesting conversation I've been reading vlakov smill you know him
he's the Canadian energy researcher and uh and a scientist who's who who would
frankly would would probably have a pretty dim view of the conversation we're having right now but because I
think what he would say is sure the United States economy has de-industrialized to some extent so of
course we're using fewer of those minerals it doesn't mean that we're not consuming them we are we're just importing them from places like China
where they do the manufacturing you could say something similar broadly about Australia Australia isn't
manufacturing cars anymore it doesn't mean Australia's not consuming cars and you know Australia has a giant minerals
industry but they ship the minerals to China where they manufacture the products that the Australians then consume so I think on a planetary scale
uh those mineral resources are still being consumed uh fossil fuels are still being consumed and they will be for a
very long time I'm not trying to be a pessimist but I think it's useful to have that grounded perspective right to
respond to well how do we change those incentives no that's really the question is how do we change the the incentives
to the system to be more you know more geared towards sustainability than it is
profitability because that's a challenge though right because uh Black Ops Mill would say there's still a billion and a
half people on the planet who don't have basic things like access to an apartment or regular food that they can expect or
access to transportation and clean water I mean really fundamental and he's like those folks are going to want an
apartment with air conditioning just like you have and just like I've got and who's to say they shouldn't have those
things so in fact he predicts that the consumption will increase now Anders I just threw a bunch at you feel free to
respond to any of that and pick it apart yeah I'll just say no no
you know as as futurists and even I guess as a climate Optimist I certainly
um love to uh process and sit and reflect on uh on what is oftentimes a
very bad news story right um I think I just want to give you the sort of climate upside that I think
there's a real there's a real opportunity when we shift away from a linear economy of take make and waste
towards a circular economy of repurposing and recycling upcycling and
I think you know one of the benefactors here is is Apple um Apple when we you know when we take
back the old version of the iPhone again something that replaces so many physical devices that would have all you know
consumed planetary resources and would bring back the Cobalt the lithium uh in
that iPhone as well as the gold making apple one of the largest gold miners in 2018 you know that that is something
where Apple saves you know we're engaging in urban mining um and again they're showcasing that
they can have their productivity cake and eat it at the same time and treading more lightly on the planet I think that
I think that is a heartening story of course um I think Apple can see where it's
going right yeah if you look at their 2030 plan they see where it's going they claim to be carbon neutral right so like
at least they're aiming in the right direction yeah and probably you see this yeah I'm not
going to be polyanish about it because it's uh you know but I I think it is this these are future signals when when
large organizations are shifting business models be it apple or you know our clients at Philips for example that
changing their business models around you know Healthcare tech for example so that you know it's Healthcare Tech as a
service as opposed to just selling something they're taking you know product stewardship of uh those devices
and similarly to that leapfrogging comment before you know they don't sell the monitors anymore into hospitals but
their ultrasounds for example now will tap into the iOS or the Android system of nurses and doctors and as a result
you know existing Technologies get utilized yeah consumer Technologies get
get get get utilized to make sense of the ultrasound um so I think you know those things are
happening and then you see you know the likes of Unilever we had um who's the CEO of Unilever for Australia New
Zealand on our podcast the second Renaissance and I interviewed her in her Quest and now mission accomplished of
turning Unilever into a b Corp so Unilever Australia New Zealand is now certified as a b Corp now just one of
their brands T2 which is a tea brand that was sort of a test case when they
converted that into a b Corp over about 18 months or two years they had to either work with get rid of or upskill
400 different suppliers around the world so that's just one brand in the Unilever family now we all know Unilever has a
lot more Brands than just T2 so you can imagine a big engineering project re-engineering the supply chain and
there's uh we should probably continue this conversation after the break we'll continue talking about transforming
physical products into digital services such a rich Divine domain but before we do that we like to torture our guests on
this show with a series of short questions and the person is going to administer the punishments use your
friend Brett so Brett it's up to you to do the rapid fire round the lightning
round [Music] so and as what was the first science
fiction you remember being exposed to it would have been
um Star Wars back in I think 86. all right
okay um what technology do you think has most changed Humanity
for better and For Worse social media interesting um you you obviously are well read but
um can you name a futurist or an entrepreneur that has personally influenced you and and why
I would say someone like Alvin Toffler um certainly his his Future Shock is uh
you know a great uh time in the industry but also I was recently asked to
contribute to his um 50-year celebration of Aftershock so
um Alvin Toffler awesome uh you know in terms of predictions or forecasts is there a
entrepreneur um or a futurist or a Sci-Fi that's made a
particularly good prediction you think entrepreneur that I you know that I look
up to and I've had the you know privilege to meet um on occasion is Mike Cannon Brooks from atlassian
um you know they they employ a workplace futurist Don price at atlassian um uh
similar to Google's Ray Kurzweil for many years um I think that's really heartening but also you know some of his investments in
in climate Tech and clean tech really really heartening as to how he's
looking to make a real real impact and a real sort of intergenerational change um so I'd say but for those listeners
who are listening from outside of Australia Mike Cannon Brooks is the sort of Elon Musk of Canada he's he's created
the one big successful software company that's exported technology all over the world and it is a genuinely solid
success case let's go to Break um you're listening to the futurist with myself and Rob turc as uh hosts we'll be
back with our guest and as Solomon Nelson after this quick word from our sponsors
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and radio show
welcome back to the futurists I'm Rob turisic and my co-host Brett King this
week we are interviewing Anders sermon Nelson from Sydney Australia by way of
Sweden great to have you on the show yeah you know we were talking away from the future well a citizen of the world
right and literally you are coming to me from the future because I'm here in California and you're already into
tomorrow they're in Australia I've always found that kind of perplexing good morning um before the break we're talking about
an inspiration to all of us Alvin Toffler and Brad I found this book in a used bookstore and I thought I'd show it
to you it's called the futurists awesome yes so uh that is a book that I
will try to find a copy for you it's a compendium of future forecasts that were written in the 70s and when he was at
the height of his powers um but what we were talking about just a moment ago during the break which I think is a good topic is what's
Difficult about this job of forecasting and thinking about the future uh everyone tries to keep it really
positive I understand that energy and yet we're surrounded by negativity all these bad news stories that seem to be
uh constant and and turn interminable here in the US we seem to have this like
political war that won't stop and it's been going on for 10 years and it's exhausting culture War it's turning into
a cannabis right a battle between them yeah we wasted a ton of resources
distracting people well and that's true with this war in Ukraine right it seems so utterly pointless and so much is being wasted
there right now um now maybe there's a positive side to it though because uh what's going to
happen on the other side of this is that Europe will be less dependent on natural gas and that might actually Propel uh
you know a kind of reawaken an interest in Renewables in Europe we'll see that may be too optimistic as well but let's
see what happens Anders what's your perspective on that as you look at this world and you're focused on
sustainability do you view these things as difficult problems and do you see some difficult
problems ahead well I think I mean so a few comments there one is um you know
humans have had a tendency when there is a you know short-term crisis to you know yes innovate but sometimes also go the
other route of anti-innovation um you know I remember 20 years ago when
my parents bought their current home in Sweden there was an option for them to
get a geothermal heating to the house and and and sort of go you know go off the grid and and Dad's like oh you know
like it's too expensive and and all the rest and um now they're um their electricity bill
through uh this last winter in in Europe has been four to five thousand Aussie dollars per month wow um they live in a
house from the 16th century but you know it's um so it's well insulated for Swedish standards and all the rest but
you know they still got to keep it warm so that you know water pipes don't burst and all the stuff that
you know people are familiar with in in the northern hemisphere wow what's driving that car Spike why is it so
expensive is that is that a side effect of the war no absolutely yeah and and of course you know in in Sweden uh you know
I'm I'm a climate Optimist you know I'm you know I'm a sustainable futurist
um but at the same time you know the green movement in some areas including in Sweden has uh engaged in some
anti-innovation by closing down all of our nuclear power plants for example you know that is a type of renewable energy
but of course all of those have been shut down meaning that our Reliance on Russia has been uh enormous and so you
know the Swedish government has come come out and said you know don't panic guys but you know please you know turn off the lights at home and uh you know
put up put on an extra um sweater through winter and my parents in the house that they live in now have
put in potbellies inside of the open fireplaces that sort of distribute a heat uh better throughout the house and
I'm like oh that's you know that's an innovation and I'm like but you're you're burning sequestered carbon to uh to keep the
house warm and so all day long you know they're you know either chopping down trees or putting trees
um you know through the potbellies to keep the house warm the climate impact of that is is pretty
significant as well I mean during uh Super Storms storm Sandy when when I was
stuck in uh Connecticut at the time we we the only you know the power's off for like you know weeks and so we were
cooking food on on the Open Fire and yeah I'm I'm not gonna judge too hard
like you know it's uh it's it's it's super cozy and it's like one of these traditional human legacies of you know
sitting around the fireplace and sharing stories and a glass of red wine right um but if everyone if everyone starts
you know um burning dung again uh we're also doomed so I agree with Robert that I
think there's a you know massive Awakening now that we need um we need more solar we need more wind
do you think that's a general renewable energy shift or or is that like you know
is it is is it going to happen as a result of the impact of climate change
well I think it's I think it's a combination now I think uh Europe is definitely realizing how Reliant they've
been on you know importing stuff from a dictator um so energy Independence is going to be
something uh that's going to be a focus and then the question is how do we get that energy Independence you know it's
increasingly uh looking at what natural resources do we have do we have lots of wind off the coast of Norway and England
for example do we have lots of solar in Sweden probably not but we have other types of energy like you know
um do you think the likelihood of of nuclear energy making a comeback might be because you keep hearing about people
saying look it's we have this system it's efficient it's much better than the power plants we have clean nuclear now
like thorium reactors and stuff like that that you know we could develop that are much more environmentally friendly
than um you know what we like plutonium reactors and stuff like that
I think in many northern hemisphere countries that like my native country of
Sweden where they're not blessed with a lot of sunlight nuclear is going to have to be part of the equation but of course there's the image problem that they will
have to overcome as a result I mean luckily I live in Australia where we're blessed with solar and wind
um into the degree that we could power not just all of Australia as a you know as a superpower us um one of our guests
Ross Dr Ross Garner calls it but also export four times the amount of power
that we actually need in Australia to power some of the largest economies around the Asia pack as well it seems so
obvious right so why hasn't Australia done it so far well I think we've been also uh blessed
with coal and other uh incumbent Legacy interests that have a very strong political voice so
um I think again you know let's keep digging it out until you know until it's no longer profitable I mean you yeah and
you see the same thing in Norway right you see you know they're moving they're now the second largest or so second
greenest economy in the world um 97 of all electricity consumed in uh
in Norway is from Renewables uh 65 percent uh of all vehicles sold in 2021
were electric Tesla has um you know 16 17 market
market share there it's incredible but you know what pays for all of this is of course oil and gas and the uh the
Norwegian Sovereign wealth fund so but you know that's the climate Paradigm I
mean you you couldn't make an argument that Norway at least has invested in their future using those funds for that
whereas in in the U.S all of that profit goes to individuals and corporations and
doesn't necessarily go back into the system um you know and as Al Gore was saying at
Davos the other week you know um every decision on climate legislation in the United States is controlled by
the fossil fuel companies they're intimately involved in the legislation they will be involved in exactly what
the wording of those agreements said and they're fighting tooth and nail all of the time to limit the effect of climate
legislation which which is a systemically horrendously bad for human
humans you know 10 million people die every year from air pollution as it is and that's that's setting aside the
climate change issues so what's the Renaissance using your uh your
terminology from your podcast what is the Renaissance that get gets humans to change this trajectory
well I think a few things I do feel like there are um some future signals um in
the shape of the Awakening of the conscious capitalism movement uh we've seen you know as I alluded to before the
likes of leaders at Unilever you know converting you know an important part of their international business models
towards being a certified B Corp so you know achieving at the highest level of es and G factors you see the likes of
Larry Fink from BlackRock you know launching a circular economy fund and predicting that you know the next
thousand unicorns will come from the Green Tech cleantech sustainable space I
do think that there is a recognition now that you can't innovate without being sustainable I think the other thing is
strategic storytelling around this because Robert you alluded to it before that a
lot of this is about science fiction and storytelling and and even even the idea of the hero's journey
um comes up for me uh Joseph Campbell's work of you know who who's the who's the
dragon we've got to slay in in all of this and when it comes to
um you know people picking up the sword and going on an adventure uh on this sort of you know Luke Skywalker mission
right which by the way follows that whole Joseph Campbell's Heroes Journey narrative
um we haven't really had a clear sort of villain up until uh recent times but I
do think you're calling it out there uh Brett and it's the fossil fuel industry it's um that are literally polluting uh
the planet and uh that are also of course uh trying to delay and delay uh
some of these really really critical you know I hear it all the time the biggest criticism I get when I comment on
something like this on social for example you have the capitalists jumping in well we've got to do this
progressively so it doesn't affect the economy now this is this is the uh argument and and but the reality is 50
years ago we had the technology to replace fossil fuels in in large portions of society right um even if it
was nuclear um but certainly in terms of solar and wind and other you know Hydro we could
have developed these Technologies a lot faster we could have developed storage energy storage Technologies faster we
didn't because the fossil fuel Industries was were incentivized to keep that party going because they were
making tons of money out of it so how do you change those incentives I mean one of the things is from the corporate to
um you know future futurist side of things you spend a lot of time advising corporations and um you know in in the
sort of the futurist angle of of um that work you do with the corporations are corporations becoming
more conscious of these things or you know what's driving their need for you
know having this sort of future forecasting well I think um when it comes to
sustainability and and forecasting what you're now seeing is that uh organizations are waking up to the fact
that you know shareholders will punish them Talent will avoid them or leave them and of course uh stakeholders will
also abandon them as well as consumers and customers will abandon them unless
they uh there are seen to be doing the right thing I think what they're also seeing is that you know supply chain is
now becoming the story that's going to win the digital minds and analog hearts
of tomorrow's customers where you know the conscious consumer uh wants to buy from conscious capitalists where
I as a hopefully somewhat conscious consumer I have no problems buying the
next generation of iPhone because I know it comes from a sustainable supply chain
I know it's part of the circular economy so I can gladly spend my money not just
knowing that I'm getting the latest and greatest technology but I'm also doing it with a company that's part of a
conscious capitalism movement so we do see and like what I'm hearing from you
know boardrooms and executive management meetings Etc is that they're already seeing with a great resignation and
great reevaluation that people are leaving organizations because they're going hey you're not
Purpose Driven um this place doesn't feel feel like an ethical organization to work out and let
me let me offer this perspective though so there is this challenge that we're facing uh which is
consumers are jaded consumers are cynical and actually they've been taught to be cynical by the marketing uh and
many companies around the world have been quick to co-opt whatever trendy
term is the cause du jour and incorporated into their marketing in fact they have advisors like you and me
who are whispering in their air telling them that these are the important Trends you need to be attentive to pay attention to in the future
and those companies are quite smart they're quick studies right they hand the problem in the marketing department well they don't necessarily change their
practices they stick the right label on the front of the Box uh so consumers today are quite cautious about claims to
things like organic and fair trade uh we want to believe those things are true
but we've been conditioned by Relentless marketing campaigns to be doubtful of all those claims so there's sort of an
uphill battle and we've created this for ourselves if we really do want to change the narrative and inspire people to
change and inspire people to make decisions with their wallets you know
with their purchases that are going to lead to sustainability you have to have trust and this is a
real serious problem at least in this country right now because nobody knows who they can trust anymore uh social media to some extent has eroded trust
our politicians and the fact that their bribed and paid off by the fossil fuel industry for example that's created
great deal of distrust as well and it just goes on and on so we have this uphill battle in front of us if we're
trying to be future forecasters and good storytellers and inspire people to positive actions we've got to regain
their trust you know Anders there's a role in all of this for the blockchain and I know people will laugh when they
hear this because the blockchain has been casting around for 10 years for a problem that it can actually solve uh
but it turns out that the trust protocol does work in this context where um you
can um there's a there's an opportunity to use uh uh the blockchain in uh within
connection with barcodes so that consumers can scan the barcodes and find out a verifiable uh Identity or a
verifiable proof about the provenance of goods where those goods were manufactured whether or not they were
certified fair trade or certified organic and they can look at the certification I know this because I
worked with the standards body that created that standard for the barcode so it's not just myth or Theory it actually works and what I'm happy to share with
you is that major companies like some of the ones you mentioned earlier consumer products companies they're beginning to
embrace this labeling system so you might not see it in a store in Sydney anytime soon because like all things
it'll take some time to roll out um but one of the firms I talked to uh that is embracing it they found that
they were being challenged by female Shoppers women were coming to stores and they were so cynical and so jaded that
they didn't believe any of the marketing and they wanted the way to verify for themselves and so this ability for people to use the smartphone in their
pocket to scan a barcode or a QR code and we'll quickly look up and verify that the facts claims on the front of
the package are actually true this is a powerful idea I just want to share that because I know on this on this show I
often play the role of the cynic and the doubter but if that's not necessarily my nature I'm just cautious about embracing
all these uh all these fanciful Visions unless they're grounded in some kind of a practical reality well let's go
futurists right now and and and as um you know let's talk through the time frames of when do you see that shift
occurring so that corporations you know at what stage is is that sort of
Community Action that we see emerging right now going to be formative where
um corporations will live and die on their sustained ability
for May uh 2030 is is the big marker um that's what I'm firmly focused on so
I feel like we're having the next seven years to get the house in order certainly uh you know the science and a
lot of scientists agree that these 2050 Visions yes they're useful but really we need to take Massive Action now to
prevent some really disastrous climate outcomes and I think people will be willing to fall on their own sorts what
you will see here yes we might have a you know short-term you know economic slowdown whether it's going to be a
recessionary or not in the future we'll we'll decide but I do think that um there is so much creativity potential
within the constraints of the United Nations sustainable development goals and of course they are firmly focused on
2030 so I think that is that is the time frame um where we have to get things right and
I I do see a new generation of you know Talent of leaders of people making some
really really uh momentous big decisions so so the next seven years is is what
we've got um I think also yeah I think also from an intergenerational equity
perspective I mean um as I mean I say I talked about Australia a moment ago Australia's Got
the most to gain in terms of its um renewable resources so solar and wind
out of any country in the oecd perfect economy but it also but it also has the
most to lose because we are so exposed towards drought flood and a bunch of
other climate impacts that actually over index in Australia I think Australians have working up to these bushfires that
we have or these floods that we have um you know even at our summer house with because of La Nina and climate
change rain uh you know we've had land slips and insurance companies are now
stopping to ensure coal-fired power plants for example and of course when
the insurance Industries is making you you know the the running of fossil fuel
companies impossible because um they see that it's a stranded asset
you know there are things starting to happen it just needs to happen a lot faster I believe yeah my
Miami-Dade is going to be completely uninsurable within the next decade if
you live in Miami-Dade you know in terms of weather affects flood hurricane damage so forth
um we've had eight uh insurers go bankrupt in in Florida in the last uh
eight years right so um insurance companies are pulling up
because they can't uh they can no longer take bets against climate change I was just in Charleston South Carolina where
they have a sea wall the old city is right on the water and it's right at water level and surrounded by a low wall
but the wall does no good because the water comes right over it now so they've reached a point now where they need to they need to make it bigger and taller
Seawall and it's of course Very controversial because it'll end up looking like the Berlin wall and ruin
all the pretty views in that town but that strikes me to be uh a global we need that in New York you know yeah well
look man you're living in the city Brett you're in Bangkok you're under sea sea level right it's so even Bangkok is
threatened it doesn't help that they're putting up all those concrete towers for the sky Train there that's going to push down pressure on the aquifers and sink
the city even faster um I was gonna say one of my favorite
questions in all of this and you know it's one that you can use quad meaningfully in in dinner conversations
but equally uh with clients and in your own work I found it really empowering
myself is how climate change ready are you and by that I mean how climate change
ready is your Investment Portfolio how climate change ready is the house that
you live in how climate change ready is the schooling and the education that
you're providing to to your kids you know how climate change ready is
um is the energy that you're producing or or consuming I mean and how climate change really is your business model
um and if we don't uh equate for that or take that into our calculus well you
know we're we're simply you know burrowing our heads in the sand right yeah to the extent you're you're ahead
of the curve because you're already off the grid and you're already using Renewables in your home and so forth so you're you're a model for all of us to
emulate I don't want to say I'm a model but I'm like and some of these shifts are so easy right I mean you know literally you
can just you know you if if you happen to own your own home um you know you just switch to provider
right um in our studio here in our podcasting Studio you know we've made those choices as well you know the the
electricity that we get the the power that we get yeah it's renewable we can't we don't own this building so we can't
put solar on but we can you know we can Lobby to our uh landlord um in our you know in our business that
you know they start you know shifting shifting and generating their own electricity Etc I mean we can we can do
small things like you know composting at home like it's it's a very small scale
uh solution but you know a family of four that composts all its food and food waste through a year you know that is
the equivalent of sequestering the amount of carbon that a petrol based car generates in six months so people might
as well get get used to it because we're all going to be there sooner or later right that's the inevitable future okay
okay I have two questions for you to wrap up here the first one is do you think we're gonna make it to those sdg
goals by 2030 what's the likelihood that we will achieve those ambitious goals and my second question is give us a
sunny scenario give us an optimistic optimistic view for way out in the future for for 2050 if you will yeah get
sci-fi okay so I think um I think there are um not everyone will make it right I
think uh with a sustainable development goals um I think they are a great set of criteria that that organizations should
embrace as part of their you know organizational icky guy as the Japanese would call it from Okinawa they're you
know they're they're reson Detro their life purpose um and we're already seeing a bunch of
organizations that we work with making them a central and core component of their strategy uh trying to go against
that I think is ludicrous is every organization going to get there uh no uh
how you know I I doubt that a bunch of fossil fuel companies will make that big transition but others like BHP uh are
now you know selling off its stranded Assets in the fossil fuel industry and making some really interesting bet in
the bets in the renewable space as well yeah they are embracing Renewables they see which way the wind is blowing so to
speak yeah yeah and I think between countries it's also going to be interesting to not I think a country like Australia I think feel finally
there's this and even with it with the changes in government that we saw in in 2022 uh and also a bunch of independent
teal Independents who are climate activists winning really really important seats we're now seeing a real
swing in terms of political will okay so what's your boss vision for 2050 share something science fiction with us yeah
yeah what are you optimistic 2050 um I'm yeah I I it's hard for me not to be
not to be an optimist um but I do think that on the way to 2050 even though we might come out on
the other side of you know a few pretty tricky Decades of you know yes we might
see climate Wars we might see the fighting for for resources some people say that you know beyond all the history
and all the rest in israel-palestine it's also you know it's a war about resources and same with you know Ukraine
um it's essentially an oil War another one so I think you know
what's the best way to make sure we have energy Independence is to You Know download the resources wind solar Etc
that we have available to us but you know with any sort of transformation towards you know a really positive
future scenario that's around conscious capitalism um that assists where we have ai
assisted you know unleashing of human creativity uh to solve for some of these
um issues with amazing Technologies and sequestration regenerative farming and all the rest
I think you guys are going to have to also get rid of the old and um that
might mean we have even more climate Wars and you know re-drafting of geostrategic borders and boundaries and
forming of new alliances and all the rest because um it's hard for Humanity uh
historically to leave behind an old model and sort of you know spiral Dynamics evolutionary theory leaving
behind one old without some some massive conflict on the way it's like when Niels Bohr said about physicists you have to
just wait for the previous generation to die off so maybe that's the real issue here is we have to wait for all these uh you know uh Baby Boom Generations
senators and Executives yeah we have to wait for them to shuffle off this Mortal coil so the Next Generation can can
clean up the mess that we're leaving behind yeah boy that was not the sunny note I was hoping to end on
um I'm not going to be pollyanish but you
know I do like you know I've got two young Sons aurelian who's one and Lucian who's five and a half five and a half
very important um and you know I like to believe that um we're not going to leave a scorched
Earth that they can't inherit um and you know I was recently working with a with a family business in Mexico
called Grupo kaluz who have you know Diversified interests and I love I love their Mantra when it comes to
Investments um and Innovation which is you know is it is it an investment or an
innovation that's gonna leave a world worth inheriting yeah that is their guiding Mantra and everything that they
do that's not just family businesses having those types of intergenerational perspectives even the likes of Unilever
they ask themselves the question with any investment or innovation it's got to tick two boxes one is is it good for the
business and profitability and is it also good for society and if it only gets one tick they just don't do it
um and that makes strategy pretty easy and it's an internal check is it good for society and is it good for
profitability and I think that's where people planet and profit can coexist and
maybe my final note here is like a little Swedish old school moniker of the idea of log on
it's a Swedish word that means just right essentially uh the old myth was
that it was about how the Vikings poured beer and when you sat around uh you know
a table of Vikings um and somebody poured the Mead into the horn you couldn't drink too much so that
it wouldn't go around the whole team logon means around the team you shouldn't be seen to be selfish and
drink at all but you also mustn't drink too little because you wouldn't be seen as not masculine enough so just finding
that right sweet spot between people planet and profit I think is a real sort of you know again creativity Catalyst
and a great example maybe just to finish off there is you know imagine being the the person at UPS who a bunch of years
ago um said let's just stop turning left now I've got to harness that we're
sitting idling in traffic for too long you know we're wasting fossil fuel by just you know sitting still waiting for
oncoming traffic to pass let's just stop turning left and then they started fitting you know
yes and RFID yeah so in Australia I think don't turn right
um so now we're confusing everyone um but they they stopped doing this and as a result you know they're delivering
you know hundreds of thousands or more Parcels a year they're burning less fossil fuels as a result and of course
um you know their carbon emissions are way lower to you know taking the equivalent of something like 20 000
passenger cars off the road every year just because of that one decision to stop turning left that's a nice story
beautiful well and it's been a great pleasure chatting with you today on the futurist thanks for joining the show I
certainly enjoyed our conversation great to meet you how do people find out more about about
you Anders and and about your podcast and your books uh we're on we're on the blockchain our story is fun to table
producer to Consumer uh but check out the uh second Renaissance podcast I think it's very complimentary although
maybe even more focused on sustainable Futures that's our podcast on Spotify and all the rest uh and uh you can go to
our website think.com or Anderson uh and that's how to spell my name
t-h-i-n-q-u-e.com right correct and uh just Google my name spell it however you
wish the algorithm will probably predictably spell it for you and you will find us in the metaverse Fantastic
well and thanks for joining us on the futurist today if you've enjoyed this show if you uh enjoy the the podcast
generally please make sure you give us a review shout out to post uh some episodes on your social feed whatever it
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easily but the best thing you can do is obviously listen which you are so thank you for that uh we we've had tremendous
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got and you know having great guests like Anders on obviously as part of part of that formula but uh we will be
returning next week with another episode of the futurists until then we'll see you in the future
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