Can’t wait to join us at THINK 16 in San Diego, learn from the amazing speakers and network with fellow thinkers? It’s still a few weeks until we meet again but we have a little gem that should hold you over until early May:
In The Industries of the Future Alec Ross, innovation expert and former advisor to Hillary Clinton, details what he believes the competitive landscape of the future might be. Ross’s book is about the next economy, and the promise and peril it may bring. Reading this book is a bit like going to THINK and sitting next to the smartest person in the audience. It’s filled with glimpses of cutting-edge biotech research, statecraft and entrepreneurship. Ross identifies areas that he sees driving global industrial and social change, including robotics, genetics, the “code-ification of money,” cybersecurity and the harnessing of big data.
Ross predicts the rise of new information translation services, protocols for business transactions, and explosions in the use of big data, which he says will permeate our lives. “[Big data] will change what we eat, how we speak and where we draw the line between our public and private personas,” he writes.
He also foresees the increased use of robots. According to Ross, these robots are in production now and will be the future drivers, caretakers, and surgeons that increasingly take over human jobs. “It’s my view,” he writes, “that the current moment in the field of robotics is very much like where the world stood with the Internet 20 years ago. Robots may walk the streets with us, work in the cubicle next to ours, or take our elderly parents for a walk and then help them with dinner.”
Don’t mistake this book for the typical techno-utopian fantasy: Ross strikes a calm tone, always considering the human cost of technological progress. He insists that technological and social advances go hand in hand. Countries will be left behind that do not pair incentives for innovation with equality for women in the workplace and educational reform. Social and economic progress feed each other.
Throughout the book, Ross elevates the need for openness in government and business, warning that “the 21st century is a terrible time to be a control freak.” The most intriguing story in the book centers on the crypto-currency Bitcoin, which some envision ensuring security by logging every single Bitcoin transaction publicly but anonymously. This would be openness as its own authority, although there have been plenty of security breaches surrounding the bitcoin system.
If you want to survive and thrive in the fast-paced world of today and learn how to anticipate the opportunities of tomorrow’s information age, this book is a good place to start.