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Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, "The Future Is Faster than You Think"

Week 1

Peter Diamandis and Steven Kotler, "The Future Is Faster than You Think"

Week 1

Executive Summary

Diamandis is a serial entrepreneur and Kotler is a researcher and journalist. In this 2020 book, they identify key technological accelerators and their future impacts in ten industries: education, shopping, advertising, entertainment, healthcare, longevity, food, insurance, finance, and real estate.

  1. Exponentially accelerating technology is “any technology that doubles in power while dropping in price on a regular basis” (p. 7). Such is the case with quantum computers, robotics, augmented reality, virtual reality, artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, nanotechnology, biotech, 3-D printing, blockchain, material science, sensors, networks. Further, unlike a few decades ago, most AI software is now open-sourced and so available to anyone. (37)
  2. Simultaneously, the rate of technology convergences is also increasing. A historical example in transportation: three converging technologies—internal combustion engines, moving assembly lines, and the petroleum industry came together with Henry Ford’s 1908 Model T as the tipping point.
  3. One astonishing acceleration is in AI: the game tree complexity of chess is about 10^40 and the game tree complexity of Go is 10^360. In 1997 a program defeated the world chess champion, and in 2017 one beat the world Go champion. In an evolutionary context: we humans are the only species capable of playing chess or Go, and it “took a couple hundred thousand years of evolution to develop that capability. AI, meanwhile, got there in less than two decades.” (36)
  4. So the authors cite Ray Kurzweil’s estimate: “we’re going to experience twenty thousand years of technological change over the next hundred years.” (12) Richard Foster of Yale estimates the business impact: “40 percent of today’s Fortune 500 companies will be gone in ten years, replaced, for the most part, by upstarts we’ve not yet heard of.” (23)
  5. Many naturally worry about lost jobs lost, but the authors argue the net impact will be positive. The Internet is a good, recent example: it “seemingly decimated industries—music, media, retail, travel, and taxis—a study by McKinsey Global Research found the net created 2.6 new jobs for each one it extinguished.” (23) Entrepreneurship will boom as the acceleration creates more opportunities and as the “time it takes to raise seed capital has shrunk from years to minutes.” (23)
  6. In healthcare, drug development is happening at an accelerated pace, and with the development of individualized drugs. In emergency-room use, for example, AI is “better at predicting sudden death from respiratory or cardiac failure.” (36)
  7. Other developments are disquieting, considering police and military applications: while AI systems can already “pick you out of a crowd, read your lips at a distance, and, by examining micro-expressions and other biomarkers, actually know what you’re feeling. Tracking software, meanwhile, is now so dexterous that an AI-piloted drone can follow a human sprinter through a dense forest.” (35)

Find The Future Is Faster than You Think here. Summary by Stephen Hicks, 2020.

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