“I am a Futurist. Futurism is part of who I am as well as my profession. I spend my time studying, researching, thinking, writing, consulting and speaking about the future, a future that is coming into existence far faster than the second by second movement of the clock would indicate.
Anyone who has lived more than a very few years can see that our present is quite different from even our recent past. If you’ve got more than a decade of years behind you, you’ve witnessed transformations—technological, economic, social, geopolitical—unimaginable to your parents when they held you as a newborn.
How do we best prepare ourselves—and our families, children, colleagues and co-workers and employees, our businesses and institutions, the world at large—for the dramatic transformations and disruptions that will accompany the enormous opportunities and possibilities the will present to us?
By learning how to think differently about the future.”
Thomas Frey has been Google’s top-rated futurist speaker, former Innovation Editor for Futurist magazine, and, during an earlier phase of his career, IBM’s most award-winning engineer. He co-founded the DaVinci Institute, a Colorado-based think tank and networking resource focused on anticipating and defining future trends and innovations. His latest book “Epiphany Z: Eight Radical Visions for Transforming Your Future”, is based on the idea of exponential acceleration, the consequences of exponential technological developments and the radically different perspective on society that can emerge from it. This is his Epiphany Z.
Epiphanies are something very common to Frey. And all of us He writes that billions of them occur every day. We see their end results in new products, films, books, software apps and science discoveries. Eureka moments are what make humans such an interesting species, constantly pushing ahead, letting our fertile mind drive us to new direction.
Frey is troubled about the many times in our human past when we have allowed eureka moments to vanish because we failed to act on vision. He states, “every grand problem humanity faces today has been solved a million times over inside the minds of people unprepared to move them forward.” Frey hypothesizes, however, that in our digital age we have a distinct advantage. Where advancements in the past worked on doubling per decade timescales, today we follow an accelerating curve with advancements doubling in increments of two years. That means over a decade a 32-times factor in advancements as opposed to a mere factor of two. This scale of advancement, states, Frey, can be applied to any industry undergoing digital transformation. It can apply to cities as they become “smart.” And, states Frey, it can apply to his epiphanies, something he calls Epiphany Z, a framework for achieving the future.
In his exploration of optimizing tools, Frey talks about robots and jobs. He describes the robot taking our jobs scenario as a myth, that for every automated process we gain efficiencies as human beings as well as new jobs to meet new purposes. Sure, automated vehicles will kill taxi and limo drivers jobs and meter maids. Drones will replace delivery services. 3D printing and contour crafting will disrupt manufacturing and construction. Big data plus artificial intelligence will impact doctors, financial planners, lawyers and even writers like me. These are just some of the examples he gives of disruptive impacts but with each displacement comes the opportunity to begin anew.
In his statement of the ultimate epiphany, Frey describes eight critical skills we individual humans need to master to excel in the future. These include:
- communication management
- reputation management
- privacy management
- information management
- opportunity management
- technology management
- relationship management
- legacy management
Through mastery of these skills we will be able to tackle the future, revolutionize financial services, rethink cities and our civilized infrastructure, overcome the forces of nature, reaching the speed of light, time travel, or even combat gravity. This is our human promise if we embrace knowability and tackle the unknowable.
Frey ends with a new prime directive for our species and the challenges awaiting us:
“Preparing humanity for worlds unknown, preparing our minds for thoughts unthinkable, and preparing our resolve for struggles unimaginable.”