When I got to know that Singularity University was organizing their first ever summit in South East Asia, I immediately bought myself a ticket because I’ve been a huge fan since I first got to know about Singularity from a tech geek friend of mine.
For the benefit of those who have never heard of Singularity University, this is a Silicon Valley think tank that focuses on scientific progress and “exponential” technologies. It was founded in 2008 by Peter Diamandis and Ray Kurzweil at the NASA Research Park with corporate founding partners such as Google, Autodesk, LinkedIn, XPrize, etc.
This 2 days summit expanded my mind with an “exponential” mindset, understanding of emerging technologies, and ideas for innovating my business and my life into the future.
In this article, I’ll share my top 4 key takeaways from what I’ve learnt in SingularityU Summit Thailand 2018.
1) The Rules of Economics Have Changed
We have moved from a world of the old economy to a world of the new economy. A revolution in economic affairs thanks to the launch of fundamental enabling technologies, that is creating sustainable exponential growth.
Think about it?
In 1956, the data storage for a 5 Mbytes in an IBM 350 will cost anyone easily USD$120,000.
Today, the cost of a 32 Gigabytes pendrive cost you less than USD99.
It’s not only the prices of hard drive storage capacity that is dropping at an exponential path. This includes the prices of semiconductors, DNA sequencing and synthesis costs, data transmission rates which drives the number of broadband Internet subscribers growing at exponential curves.
The rules of economics have changed. Thanks to the exponential growth of technology.
At the rate that we are moving, the 4 key technologies that are taking off at an exponential paths will be; Quantum Computing, Distributed Ledger Technologies (Blockchain), Solar Power, and Artificial Intelligence
Personally, I’m convinced that the economy of the 21st century will be an Exponential Economy driven by the combination of distributed ledger technology (accountability), artificial intelligence (automation) and quantum computing (optimization).
And when the day these technologies mature, we will head towards a new revolution in the economy.
2) The Rules of Professional Jobs Have Changed
We are living in time when we are holding what’s been called ‘supercomputers’ by our ancestors in our palms every single day.
The technology that was created in the last 10 years is greater than the last 1,000 years combined. With this pace of change, this means that we are just few years away from a world where humans and machines live together. Yes! You’re right. We are moving towards an unimaginable future!
Is there a possibility where humans will work for machines in future? Possible!
CASE STUDY: Lawyer vs Robots
In 2018, LawGeex pitted 20 experienced attorneys against a 3 year old Artificial Intelligence trained to evaluate contracts. As you can imagine, the computer won.
The LawGeex’s neural network achieved an average 94% accuracy rate compared to the lawyers’ average of 85%. Close call.
But what truly matters is this… The human lawyers took anywhere from 51 minutes to more than 2.5 hours to complete all 5 NDAs.
Guess how long the AI engine took?
Whether you’re an employee, a professional or a specialist, your next biggest competitor will no longer be your peers. But machines, artificial intelligence and androids!
I still recall when I was in school in 1997, the news that an IBM Computer Deep Blue won a chess match against Garry Kasparov. It was the first time a machine defeated the world chess champion under tournament conditions.
In 2011, another IBM computer Watson took part in a television quiz show against former winners and won. Watson had to listen to questions and give answers in natural human language and he wasn’t even connected to the Internet.
In March 2016, AlphaGo played the board game Go and beat the World Champion.
Being a computer science student myself, I thought that I’ll have an upper hand in this new world of tech geeks. But guess what?
Artificial Intelligence can now write codes better than computer programmers and software developers!
In this video, Elon Must was interviewed on his opinions towards Artificial Intelligence.
And guess what? He is worried of what will happen when the machines becomes smarter than the humans.
“Even in the benign scenario, if AI is much starter than a person, what do we do? What job do we have?” – Elon Musk
There is no doubt that besides lawyers, accountants, doctors things are looking bleak for even computer scientists!
So for parents, do think about it when you want your kids to be professionals like lawyers, doctors and accountants.
Are these jobs still relevant in years to come?
3) The Rules of Business Have Changed
In 1975, a 24 year old engineer named Steven Sasson invented digital photography while working at Kodak by creating the world’s first digital camera. Kodak wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the industry-changing breakthrough. Sasson showed the new technology to a number of Kodak executives, but they couldn’t see the potential of what digital photography could become. This was their reason, as told by Sasson to the New York Times:
“They were convinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set. Print had been with us for over 100 years, no one was complaining about prints, they were very inexpensive, and so.”
In 1998, Kodak was still going strong with a market capitalization of $26 billion and 140,000 employees.
By 2012, Kodak was bankrupt with 17,000 employees. It was disrupted by the very same idea created by it’s 24 year old engineer 37 years ago! What a bummer.
And guess what?
On the very same year, another photography company achieved it’s $1 billion unicorn status.
Guess who? Instagram!
Instagram’s number of employees? 13!
Over the past 150,000 years, human development around the world has been local and linear. However, in the past 10 years, human development has moved from local to global, and from linear to exponential.
As an entrepreneur, you have to be reminded that what’s affecting you is no longer your next door competitor. Very often, it’s created right across the globe.
So, make sure that you UBER-ize yourself before you get KODAK-ed.
4) The Rules of Life Have Changed
According to Professor Richard Foster from Yale University, “The average lifespan of a company listed in the S&P 500 index of leading US companies has decreased by more than 50 years in the last century, from 67 years in the 1920s to just 15 years today.”
Today’s rate of change “is at a faster pace than ever!”
The saying “For an understanding of the future, look to the past” is no longer relevant. In today’s business world, the past doesn’t equate the future. Because it’s a different world.
Remember the time when Internet was created and talks shows were discussing about what is “Internet” and what is the usage of “@” in a “.COM” and what is “Email”And guess what the internet has done to the world?
And guess what the internet has done to the world?
We are living in a time from when an aspiring entrepreneur says “I’ve got an idea” to this entrepreneur successfully says “I run a Billion Dollar company” is getting shorter and shorter.
First, thanks to the faster and cheaper computing power that is creating a strong connection among people. And second, thanks to the new disruptive business models based on the sharing economy.
Think about it?
Aren’t we now living in a time when we are all confused with words like synthetic biology, quantum computing, 3D printing, augmented reality, artificial intelligence and blockchain?
So, can you imagine how the world is going to become when all these becomes a part of our daily lives?
With the exponential fast changing pace today, what’s exciting is you don’t have to be IBM or Amazon to make an impact. Whether you’re working for someone or if you’re an entrepreneur, we are living in the greatest time to be alive. Because of the collaborative nature of the business world, we can all make a difference if we all work together!
Hope you enjoyed my sharing here on my 4 key takeaways in SingularityU Thailand Summit 2018!