Leading from the Future Back … Jump to the future, then work backwards to today, to shape it to your advantage

June 6, 2018

How do you see your future?

We live in an incredible time.  More change in the next 10 years than in the last 250 years. New technologies transforming the ways in which we live and work. Digital platforms and blockchains, AI and robotics, 3D printing and nanotech .

These are just some of the fantastic new capabilities that enable us to innovate beyond what we can even imagine today. The future isn’t like the future used to be. We cannot just evolve or extrapolate the past. Today’s future is discontinuous, disruptive, different.

It is imagination that will move us forwards … unlocking the technological possibilities, applying them to real problems and opportunities, to drive innovation and growth in every industry, in every part of our lives.

Imagine a world where you press “print” to get the dress of your dreams, the food of your fantasies, or the spare parts for your car. Instantly, personalised and on demand. Think then what does that mean if we don’t need the huge scale of manufacturing plants, warehousing and transportation. Maybe we will even subscribe to the IP catalogues of brands, in the ways we currently subscribe to Netflix.

Innovation starts from the “future back”

The best place to start is the future. The best entrepreneurs think “future back” rather than just trying to move forwards with the limitations and distractions of today. Elon Musk grabs headlines with his bold “Humans on Mars by 2025” vision, but then that makes everything else more purposeful, and more possible. Tesla to Hyperloop to SpaceX, all seem more possible, and even stepping stones to a greater destination.

“Future back” thinking also means you are not limited by your own capabilities. Richard Branson had a fantastic vision for a better airline, a consumer bank, a space travel business. But no idea how to make them happen. But then he found partners who could help make them happen. Partners with the expertise on tap, to connect with his ideas, and together innovate further and faster.

Partnerships are key to the future, connecting ideas and capabilities, risks and rewards, to achieve more together.

What might the future look like, and how will it affect you?

Predicting the future is a fun game, but also a series challenge for every business today. What might the future market look like, therefore which are the smartest choices of today?

Jumping to the future, we see dramatic change. For example, by 2050 ,the global population is likely to hit its highest point, then slowly reduce. By 2045, the much discussed “singularity” will be reached, where some machines have greater intelligence than humans. By 2040, a federated world government could be established, working with nations and tribes. And by 2035, a human population is likely to be established on Mars, perhaps by Chinese-owned SpaceX.

The World in 2030

By 2030 the average person in the U.S. will have 4.5 packages a week delivered with flying drones. They will travel 40% of the time in a driverless car, use a 3D printer to print hyper-individualized meals, and will spend most of their leisure time on an activity that hasn’t been invented yet. The world will have seen over 2 billion jobs disappear, with most coming back in different forms in different industries, with over 50% structured as freelance projects rather than full-time jobs.

Over 50% of today’s Fortune 500 companies will have disappeared, over 50% of traditional colleges will have collapsed, and India will have overtaken China as the most populous country in the world. Most people will have stopped taking pills in favor of a new device that causes the body to manufacture it’s own cures.

Here are 33 dramatic predictions by a range of the worlds think tanks and futurists:

  • By 2030 over 80% of all doctor visits will have been replaced by automated exams.
  • By 2030 over 90% of all restaurants will use some form of a 3D food printer in their meal preparations.
  • By 2030 over 10% of all global financial transactions will be conducted through Bitcoin or Bitcoin-like crypto currencies.
  • By 2030 we will seen a growing number of highways designated as driverless-vehicle only.
  • By 2030, a Chinese company will become the first to enter the space tourism industry by establishing regular flights to their space hotel.
  • By 2030, the world’s largest Internet company will be in the education business, and it will be a company we have not heard of yet.
  • By 2030 over 20% of all new construction will be “printed” buildings.
  • By 2030 over 2 billion jobs will have disappeared, freeing up talent for many new fledgling industries.
  • By 2030 a new protest group will have emerged that holds anti-cloning rallies, demonstrating against the creation of “soul-less humans.”
  • By 2030 we will see the first city to harvest 100% of its water supply from the atmosphere.
  • By 2030 world religions will make a resurgence, with communities of faith growing by nearly 50% over what they are today.
  • By 2030 over 50% of all traditional colleges will collapse, paving the way for an entire new education industry to emerge.
  • By 2030 we will see a surge of Micro Colleges spring to life, each requiring less than 6 months of training and apprenticeship to switch professions.
  • By 2030 scientists will have perfected an active cross-species communication system, enabling some species to talk to each other as well as humans.
  • By 2030 we will see the first hurricane stopped by human intervention.
  • By 2030 we will see wireless power used to light up invisible light bulbs in the middle of a room.
  • By 2030 we will see the first demonstration of a technology to control gravity, reducing the pull of gravity on an object by as much as 50%.
  • By 2030 democracy will be viewed as inferior form of government.
  • By 2030 traditional police forces will be largely automated out of existence with less than 50% of current staffing levels on active duty.
  • By 2030 over 90% of all libraries will offer premium services as part of their business model.
  • By 2030 forest fires will have been reduced to less than 5% of the number today with the use of infrared drone monitoring systems.
  • By 2030 over 30% of all cities in the U.S. will operate their electric utilities as micro grids.
  • By 2030 we will have seen a number of global elections with the intent of creating a new global mandate, forcing world leaders to take notice.
  • By 2030 traditional pharmaceuticals will be replaced by hyper-individualized medicines that are manufactured at the time they are ordered.
  • By 2030 we will have seen the revival of the first mated pair of an extinct species.
  • By 2030 swarms of micro flying drones – swarmbots – will be demonstrated to assemble themselves as a type of personal clothing, serving as a reconfigurable fashion statement.
  • By 2030 marijuana will be legalized in all 50 states in the U.S. and half of all foreign countries.
  • By 2030 cable television will no longer exist. By 2030 a small number of companies will begin calculating their labor costs with something called “synaptical currency.”
  • By 2030 it will be common to use next generation search engines to search the physical world.
  • By 2030 basic computer programming will be considered a core skill required in over 20% of all jobs.
  • By 2030 we will have seen multiple attempts to send a probe to the center of the earth.
  • By 2030 a form of tube transportation, inspired by Hyperloop and ET3, will be well on its way to becoming the world’s largest infrastructure project.

Counting back down through the next 10 years, the possibilities become ever more real, more predictable and influenceable:

2029

  • Cars now fully automated, with rapid decline in personal ownership
  • City of Bangkok requires huge new sea wall due rising oceans
  • USA is now only fifth largest economic nation

2028

  • Scientists rebirth dinosaurs from fossil DNA
  • Tesla is world’s largest subscription-based mobility operator
  • Realtime health-tracking of all citizens by World Health Organisation

2027

  • Brainwave control, for security and identification
  • 3d-printing of all human organs is now standard
  • Majority of world’s population are now vegetarian

2026

  • Barcelona’s Sagrada Familia is completed after 145 years
  • Cure for Alzeimer’s Disease launched and made available free to all
  • E-payments dominate as most countries end use of physical money

2025

  • Tracking technologies now implanted in most humans
  • Human brain simulations and back-ups
  • Saudi Arabian mission to Mars is launched, followed by China.

2024

  • Vertical farming takes off, particularly in Middle East
  • DNA profiling now standard in most countries
  • Production of carbon-fueled engines ends

2023

  • Commercial asteroid mining is launched
  • Online voting is now standard in all countries
  • Micro-protein (insect-based) foods become popular

2022

  • India becomes the world’s largest population
  • China wins FiFA World Cup in Qatar
  • Germany closes its last nuclear power plant

2021

  • China’s tallest building is over 1km
  • First manned mission lands on an asteroid
  • Hyperloop launched Mumbai and Hyderabad

2020

  • World Expo in Dubai, including launch of world learning platform
  • Human memory and conversation stored
  • High resolution bionic eyes

Shaping the future to your advantage

By jumping to the future, and then working backwards, you develop a bolder, braver ambition. Shaping the future on your terms, exploring the new possibilities for innovation and growth, unlimited by the priorities and prejudices of today. New technologies will be key, but they are more the enablers than answers. How will they make life better? How will they make your business better?

Inspired by the Adidas Speedfactory, what does the future of your manufacturing look like? If Amazon’s Alexa can manage your home, then what could the future workplace look like? What would happen if phones were free like Jio Phone has just disruptively done in India? How could you apply big data like 23&Me in healthcare to predict what people want? Or the new business models like Airbnb and Nespresso to redefine markets? Beyond the hype of Bitcoin, how could blockchain redefine how you engage customers? And what actually will people want most in the future?

Futurists look for emerging patterns – signals of future possibilities, already out there. Emergent behaviours, adaptive usage, new aspirations. You just need to find these signals, and apply them. Maybe on the fringes of your market, or by transferring ideas from other sectors, or other geograhies, or others aspects of life.

Leonardo da Vinci definined innovation as making unusual connections. So how could you connect the most relevant and disruptive ideas together in new ways?

Are you ready to create your better future?

It’s time to jump to the future. And then look back. Then you will see today differently.

Too many of us get locked in to a mindset of today – of incremental, extrapolating, and perfecting the old world. Working backwards from 2025 you will define different milestones, different priorities to be achieved within 3 years, and even next year.

Innovation demands a future mindset, that will deliver bigger ideas to drive innovation and growth, and new perspectives on what matters most today.

Are you ready?

More useful future links

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