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    Jack's latest book provides eleven easy-to-read scenarios spelling out what the world may look like in just 8 short years. In addition to providing future scenarios in education and healthcare, the book addresses how technology will transform the agriculture, energy, retail, and manufacturing sectors and provides an in-depth exploration of how robotics, gaming dynamics and artificial intelligence will change everyday life by the beginning of the next decade. Buy here.

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    In this highly provocative book, best-selling author, acclaimed global futurist and the iconoclastic “chief unlearning officer,” Jack Uldrich turns the world as you know it—or think you know it—on its head and makes the compelling case that unlearning will be the most critical skill for charting, navigating and, ultimately, conquering the brave, new world of the 21st century. Buy the Book

  • Bestselling Books By Jack Uldrich

    Bestselling Books By Jack Uldrich
  • Keynote Speeches with Jack Uldrich

    Jack speaks to a variety of audiences about future trends, emerging technologies, innovation, change management and leadership.

Apr
24

Another Way to Think of the Internet of Things: Drop the “Things”

One of my many strategies for thinking about the future includes the dropping of words. This old post explains the concept but an example of the idea can be found in the term “color TV.”

When most television sets were black-and-white it was necessary to add the word “color” as a necessary descriptor for new TVs. Over time, however, all manufactured sets were just assumed to be “color TVs” and the word “color” was dropped from the description.

In this same way, the Internet of Things–which I deacribe as the extension of the Internet to the physical world–is a relatively new idea but over time the words “of things” will be dropped and the Internet will simply be assumed to incorporate both the digital and the physical world.

Other words to be dropped: Online education, cloud computing, big data, precision farming, robotic surgery, 3-D manufacturing and artifical intelligence.

Interested in futurist Jack Uldrich other thoughts on the Internet of Things? Check out these recent posts:

10 Unexpected Ways the Internet of Things Will Open Up a Future of Possibilities
What Will the Future of the Internet Look Like?
The Internet of Things & The Jetson’s

Apr
22

The Internet of Things & The Jetson’s

Did you know the cartoon series The Jetson’s was originally released in September of 1963? Also, the program wasn’t a commercial success and only 26 episodes were ever produced.

The program’s relative failure may, perhaps, surprise you—especially if, like me, you grew up watching countless re-runs of the program.

The reason the program didn’t meet with commercial success is because, although the program was originally produced in color, less than one percent of American household’s in 1963 had color TVs and therefore couldn’t watch the program in color.

Not surprisingly, the Jetson’s doesn’t have the same futurist feel in black-and-white as it does in color.

It was only later when color television sets became the de facto console in most people’s homes that The Jetson’s began to catch on.

I offer this analogy because today’s Internet of Things—FitBits, Nest thermostats, and smart light bulbs—might not feel terribly futuristic but that’s because only 1 percent of all physical objects are currently connected to the Internet. When the remaining 99% are connected it is possible that our future might just feel as cool as the Jetson’s!

Interested in some of Jack Uldrich’s other thoughts on the Internet of Things? Check out these recent posts

10 Unexpected Ways the Internet of Things Will Open Up a Future of Opportunity

What Will the Future of the Internet Look Like?

Apr
21

What Will the Internet of the Future Look Like?

Over the coming months, I’m scheduled to deliver a series of 12 keynote presentations across the United States for Verizon Wireless on “How the Internet of Things Will Transform Business.”

I have written a little about the “Internet of Things” here but it’d be presumptuous for me or anyone to claim that they will know what the Internet of the Future will look like.

It is a little less presumptuous, however, to start from the opposite premise: What won’t the Internet of the Future look like?

It will not look like this vision which I spotted today outside a business center in a hotel in Las Vegas.

This is to say the Internet of the Future won’t be a place behind a piece of glass–or even behind the screen of a smartphone–that you go to access.

In fact, this vision will seem as antiquated tomorrow as the idea of being physically tethered to a wall to make a phone call is today.

The Internet of the Future will instead be all around us and we will need to shift our thinking of the Internet from “a place you go” to a new and much different paradigm of “living in the Internet.”

Interested in some of my other thoughts on the Internet of Things? Check out this recent post:

10 Unexpected Ways the Internet of Things Will Open Up a Future of Possibilities

Apr
18

The Future is Here and It’s Poised to Kick Your Ass

Last year, Simon Anderson, one of my favorite futurists–and a reverse mentor of sorts—said something that really resonated with me. He said, “2013 is the year the future arrived.”

In a literal sense, the future will always be, well, in the future; but let me provide you a glimpse into what Simon was driving at:

On April 16, MD3 announced a successful multi-million dollar Kickstarter campaign to build a 3-D printer for $299. To understand how revolutionary this may be, it helps to understand that just a few years ago 3D printers cost $100,000 and were owned and operated by only the largest companies in the world.

The same day, Amazon revealed it’s cloud computing services would be slashed by 40 percent. Why? Because continued advances in data storage make it possible for Amazon and other cloud providers to offer virtually unlimited data storage for pennies.

On Monday, Google announced the acquisition of Titan, a solar-powered drone company. Google’s purpose is to use Titan’s technology to help deliver high-speed Internet access to all 7 billion people on the planet.

Last Friday, researchers at Wake Forest announced they had grown human vaginas and successfully transplanted the organs in three patients.(If you’re wondering why a woman would need a vagina, there is a rare disease that leaves a few young women without one.)

The previous week Facebook announced the $2 billion acquisition of Oculus Rift—an impressive and immersive 3-D virtual reality technology. The company was only an idea in a teenager’s head 18 months ago and now it is poised to transform a number of industries, including gaming, education and manufacturing.

Last month, the former president of Yale University, Richard Levin, was selected as the head of Coursera, an online university that is a mere two years old.

Affordable 3D printers, unlimited storage, grown human body parts, global Internet access, virtual reality goggles, and free high-quality online university courses. The list could go on–and it will!

Welcome to the future. It has arrived and it’s going to kick your ass if you don’t wake up to the fact that these advances are poised to change and disrupt virtually every industry.

If you are wondering what the first step you need to take in order to prepare for the future, it is this: Become aware of what’s already here today!

Interested in some other thoughts on this subject? Check out Jack’s latest article:

Business as Unusual: How to Prepare for the Coming Decade.

Apr
14

Business as Unusual: How to Prepare for the Coming Decade

What will the coming decade look like? The honest answer is that no one knows. A glimpse, though, can be found in a promising new start-up, Oculus Rift. Eighteen months ago, Palmer Luckey was a teenager with a clever idea for a new business. Foregoing the traditional path of securing a bank loan, Luckey instead went to Kickstarter—a peer-to-peer lending platform—and, within days, raised $1 million from strangers. This success caught the attention of venture capitalists who quickly poured in $25 million to create a working prototype. So successful were the initial reviews of Oculus Rift’s virtual reality technology that Facebook purchased the company for $2 billion in March of 2014.

From an idea in a teenager’s head to a $2 billion company in less than a year-and-a-half, welcome to the future—where business as unusual will become usual.

The Big AHA

The pace and scale of tomorrow’s change begs the obvious question: How does a business leader prepare for a constantly changing future? The answer can be found in a simple acronym: AHA. It stands for: Awareness, Humility and Action.

First, leaders must become aware of the extraordinary changes taking place across today’s global landscape. For example, advances in nanotechnology are leading to the creation of new materials that can out-compete copper in terms of conductivity and steel in terms of strength. And soon, some of these exotic nanomaterials will even compete on price. Additionally, the extraordinary advances in 3D manufacturing show no signs of abating—Chinese manufacturers are already using a 12-meter 3D printer to create titanium aircraft wings and fuselages. Continued advances in wearable technology, robotics, big data and the Internet of Things also promise to transform global commerce. (In fact, the Internet of Things—also known as the Industrial Internet—has alone been estimated to be a $15 trillion business opportunity in the coming decade!)

Yield to Humility

Quick question: What two colors are yield sign? Did you say yellow and black? If so, that was the correct answer—up until 1971. That’s right. The yield sign has been red-and-white for 43 years. If you got the wrong answer, don’t worry—most people over the age of 40 do. Nevertheless, your outdated response should humble you enough to recognize that not everything you learned in the past about your business, your customers or your competitors is necessarily still true today. Consider, for example, how recent advances in hydraulic fracking and horizontal drilling technology have changed the game in terms of global energy production within just the past few years. This startling change should serve as a reminder that the world—and even big industries—can change quickly due to unexpected technological advances. And when these advances scale, old ideas about business models as well as customer and market expectations may have to be unlearned quickly.

Action

Once a leader is aware that the only “constant” in today’s world is change, and is humble enough to accept that unlearning will be as important as learning, what does he or she need to do to prepare for the future?

First, begin by setting aside time to think. Personally, I recommend taking an annual “Think Week.” Now, you’re probably thinking: “I don’t even have enough time to do all the things I need to do in day! How am I going to find a whole week just to think?” If that’s your mindset, what you’re essentially saying is that you can’t dedicate two percent of your time to think about the future. Well, if you’re not thinking about the future, who in your organization is? I’d argue that thinking is your most important job.

If one week a year is too hard, break the task down into smaller chunks. Take an hour a week, or 12 minutes a day, to read about advances on the periphery of your business in such publications as The Economist and MIT’s Technology Review and then reflect deeply on how various technological advances might disrupt your business or open up entirely new opportunities.

Another way to future-proof your company is to conduct a pre-mortem. A pre-mortem is the opposite of a post-mortem. Instead of waiting until your sales have plummeted, your old customers have left or a new competitor has ravaged your business to determine what went wrong, you take a more pro-active approach. Encourage your team to imagine it is ten years in the future and you are out of business. Then ask the provocative question: What went wrong? What didn’t we seeing coming? The dialogue this question unleashes will astound you. More interestingly, instead of it being a depressing question, it’ll generate a candid conversation about the threats and opportunities the changing world is creating and you can use these insights to take constructive actions to position your organization for the future.

By their nature, many of the actions are likely to be risky. I wish I could guarantee you that each one will be a success. I can’t. What will serve you well is a policy of conducting small experiments and pilot projects. In an ever changing world strategic planning is less and less helpful. What needs to replace strategic planning is a thoughtful policy of experimentation. Try new things, play with emerging technologies, and partner with different individuals and companies to exploit new technologies and explore new ways of doing business. There will, of course, be some setbacks and failures but there may also be some surprising successes. If you learn from the mistakes and build upon the small successes, your future might just be unusually successful.

Jack Uldrich is a professional futurist, best-selling author, keynote speaker and the “Chief Unlearning Officer” of the School of Unlearning. He can be reached at jackmuldrich@gmail.com or 612.267.1212.