UAE. The Summit theme “Knowledge… Present and Future”, was on full display during the opening session at the 2016 Knowledge Summit, organized by The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Foundation, with a dynamic view into future technologies and its hidden effects on civil society and economics.
Thomas Frey, Executive Director and Senior Futurist at DaVinci Institute, has worked closely with world leaders and visionaries to develop original research studies which enable him to speak on future trends in technology and their hidden consequences.
“Humans have a very hard time envisioning the future as we are a very backwards looking society. It can be seen in the way we educate each other with a very high emphasis on history and almost no teachings on future thought,” Frey said. Thus, “we are walking backwards into the future,” he said. The future therefor gets created in people’s minds and these people create the future in the present. “If we change the way we see future, we change the way we make decisions and how we develop both our civil society and economics,” he said.
"The main thing that has caused companies to fail, in my view, is that they missed the future," said Google CEO Larry Page. Mr. Frey asserted that “over 2 billion jobs will disappear by 2030 and that is the hidden results of our rapid technology growth”. But he said, “if we understand all these hidden consequences we can create jobs at a much higher rate”.
As an example, he discussed the quickly developing area of driverless car technology. “As we move towards the deployment of driverless cars we all can easily see the benefits of improved safety and greatly improved traffic and fuel efficiency. But there is a hidden cost that we must identify and have strategies to deal with.”
“10% of all retail sales is associated with our cars,” he said. It is not just the manufacturing of the car itself that will suffer but the whole industry that supports personally owned vehicles. With driverless cars on demand, anytime and anywhere, you can get a car by using your smart phone application and just leave it when you are finished. This will eliminate the need for taxi and Uber drivers, valet services, parking lots, auto dealerships, personal mechanics and many other service related jobs.
“So, where do we look for new jobs? We must look at all the jobs surrounding the development, manufacturing and maintenance of the driverless car. This means we must be begin now changing the way we educate our youth looking at things like sensor technology, computer processers, artificial intelligence and current and future road infrastructure as examples. If we take a traditional course and react to the market when it has already changed, we will lose a great opportunity to make life better for people,” Frey explained.
Companies and governments that want to succeed in the future must take a holistic view of these technology advances. Looking backwards at problems will no longer work. We must forward thinking and willing to invest in the education and knowledge necessary to ensure our future success in this rapidly changing environment.
Photo caption: Thomas Frey, Executive Director and Senior Futurist at DaVinci Institute