Excellent foresight post by Vivek Wadhwa on Singularity HUB on the grand challenges we face the coming decades with more and more exponential technologies taking the highway of change , leaving most governments, businesses, and economists perplex:
“Governments, businesses, and economists have all been caught off guard by the geopolitical shifts that happened with the crash of oil prices and the slowdown of China’s economy. Most believe that the price of oil will recover and that China will continue its rise. They are mistaken. Instead of worrying about the rise of China, we need to fear its fall; and while oil prices may oscillate over the next four or five years, the fossil-fuel industry is headed the way of the dinosaur. The global balance of power will shift as a result.”
Vivek articulates the next shock will come from clean energy: “Solar and wind are now advancing on exponential curves. Every two years, for example, solar installation rates are doubling, and photovoltaic-modulecosts are falling by about 20 percent. (…) By 2030, solar power will be able to provide 100 percent of today’s energy needs; by 2035, it will seem almost free — just as cell-phone calls are today.”
One of the foresights we endorse at The Futures Agency, is what the advancement of robotics and automatisation can mean for China’s future, its economy and society. China’s business owners plan to take the lead in replacing humans with robots. See the example of the Guangdong province constructing the world’s first “zero-labor factor,” with 1,000 robots which do the jobs of 2,000 humans. It sees this as a solution to increasing labor costs. What’s going to happen with the labour workers without a solid social security system in place? Once again, these are becoming THE questions we need to think about and find answers to. The consequences of this automatisation process might become quite challenging for China and the rest of the world this coming decade.
But that’s just part of the first big challenge coming. Vivek continues:
“The problem for China is that its robots are no more productive than their counterparts in the West are. They all work 24×7 without complaining or joining labor unions. They cost the same and consume the same amount of energy. Given the long shipping times and high transportation costs it no longer makes sense to send raw materials across the oceans to China to have them assembled into finished goods and shipped to the West. Manufacturing can once again become a local industry.”
And he goes on… “After this, another technology revolution will begin: digital manufacturing.”
I urge you to head over to Singularity HUB and read the full article, it’s worthwhile your time!
In this unique film, Futurist Gerd Leonhard reads his chapter in the 2015 book ‘The Future of Business’, entitled ‘Redefining the relationship of man and machine’. In his piece, Gerd addresses the key issues and opportunities that will arise from an increasing convergence of humanity and technology, touching on related topics such as AI, Digital Ethics, reductionism, technological unemployment and machine-thinking.