Competences of the future.

It’s hard, some say impossible, to predict the future, but you can navigate it if you have the right set of tools. It’s clear that with the current pace of jolting technologies, yesterday’s learning will fade away, and we will have a choice on our hand. To be replaced. Or to advance ourselves to a new level.

Algorithms certainly can process more data than we as humans can. Contextual placements, empathy, creativity and dreams are the territory of a human brain. The ability to forget is the first competence we must learn. We must forget the way we used to learn and rethink the whole narrative of learning.

Another competence we must master is critical thinking. In a world where we constantly shift from a physical reality to a virtual one, where we will need to adjust ourselves to immersive experiences, and where the laws of physics are written in code, it is critical thinking that will help us cope.

As empathy might be one of the most important competences to have in the future, it will be the force that anchor us to the essence of humanity. Without it, there is no reason to discuss the future at all. Creative thinking and curiosity, no society exists without them. It’s not a competence we need to learn, but rather never lose.

On climate and data

Unfortunately, science is not based on data anymore, but on people’s opinions. We don’t try to learn the data, and instead get caught up in the buzzwords. We confuse correlation with causation, forgetting that correlation is not causation!

The climate is a non-linear, chaotic system that lacks a core of implicit order. As such, it is beyond our ability to fully understand and accurately predict. Carbon dioxide is essential to live on our planet, and it can’t be the enemy. By driving narratives that are not anchored in data, we lose sight of the bigger picture. Fossil fuel is a reliable, environment-friendly, and cost-effective energy source, while wind and solar, for example, are not.

The measurement of self value

More than anything, Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter brought forth the question of what is real. The battle between bots and humans is not simply a question of what is the real value of a company, but how our obsession with measuring self-value is leading us down a path that will land us in the fire of a digital hell.

How many times have you watched ‘Friends’? How many times have you had sex? How many vehicles did you drive? Why is our physical reality not being measured the same way our digital interactions are?

The way the digital realm is changing our perspective on the measurement of self-value is becoming more and more dangerous to our basic human interactions and mental models. It is shifting our focus from the data to people’s options, and by doing that it’s creating an extremely subjective environment where facts are not relevant as long as the numbers of likes and shares are high.

Killing in the name – When everyone wants a job but no one wants to work anymore

Amazon has stopped using their six-wheeled robot, “Scout,” for home deliveries. FedEx is planning to discontinue its last-mile robot, Roxo.

FedEx chief transformation officer Sriram Krishnasam told employees that the last-mile delivery robot will be scaled back.

“Although robotics and automation are key pillars of our innovation strategy, Roxo did not meet necessary near-term value requirements for DRIVE,” Krishnasam wrote in the memo. “Although we are ending the research and development efforts, Roxo served a valuable purpose: to rapidly advance our understanding and use of robotic technology.”

At one hand, this is brilliant for humans who work with package logistics supply chain—they get to keep their jobs. I have always argued that we shouldn’t blindly replace human jobs with technology, and that technology is here to make us better humans, not replace us. Yet, I cannot help but wonder about the larger issues—the gap between policymaking, technology development, and social needs, wishes, and preferences.

Technology-driven automation has been around for a while. However, our physical and social infrastructure was always able to accommodate these technologies and the users repurposing of that technology.

With the advancements of technology and its impact on our social fabric, along with the lack of accountability and smarter decisions by policymakers, our infrastructure is beginning to show signs of wear.

Look at South Korea. The demographic problems are clearly showing a disconnect between the situation to its potentials. Samsung is placing a lot of emphasis on automation due to a lack of available workers. The construction industry is facing a shortage of 250,000 employees. Schools are closing due to a lack of students. The taxi industry is lacking 30% of its manpower. The South Korea crisis wasn’t entirely unexpected, given the writing that was on the wall for some time now. However, it was pushed back by those who cling to the past.

South Korea must be a red flag to Europe and the US. The demographic challenges and the shift in social needs, wishes, and preferences where everyone wants a job but no one wants to work anymore will require a new set of policies.  We cannot continue to patch our societal building blocks and infrastructure with temporary fixes. We must allocate enough management power, budget, and intellect to reflect on our future before it will become our present.

Amazon and FedEx’s struggle with their automated delivery services is a failure only if policymakers, cities, and business are unwilling to learn from it, as it is not a failure of technology, but of the business model and infrastructure.

Driving into a wall—an automotive gold rush or a gold rash.

Not long ago, the automotive industry estimated that investment in electric cars would reach $600 billion until 2030. Yet now we can see that this number is doubling to a whopping $1.2 trillion. This will include an estimated 50 million new electric vehicles, as well as the batteries and raw materials needed to support their production.

Tesla is leading the pack with a promise of 20 million new electric vehicles, while Volkswagen has ambitions to build its electric car portfolio. Toyota has announced a $100 billion investment in new vehicles. Ford, Mercedes, BMW, and others are not far behind.

This new race present few questions. Until not long ago, companies such as Volvo refused to even benchmark Tesla as an automotive company. It’s interesting to think about the fact that Volvo already had a concept electric car in the late 80s. Today, Polestar is edging itself closer to being a Tesla 3 competitor, something that has put the idea of a premium brand into question. Volvo and Polestar are not alone; the entire industry is in marketing, communication, and positioning disarray.

The mixing of message techniques, confusing narratives, and false information about the benefits and impact of electrification are creating a scenario that could be one of the biggest pitfalls for an industry in the coming days.

It appears that the $1.2 trillion (almost high as google’s $1.3 trillion value) is base on fashion more than anything else.

I don’t deny that the goals look good on paper. Who wouldn’t want to live in a world without pollution, where everything is powered by a silent, electric engine? Where we can use our mobile devices to control our cars, similarly to how we would use a computer. But the Net Zero targets can’t hold water—in theory, we have enough global reserves of nickel and lithium to make enough batteries for electric cars—but only if we use these materials for batteries for electric cars. Cobalt is an entirely different question. That we absolutely do not have enough of. What would we do in a future where we harvested all the natural materials needed for electric vehicles? And that is just one of the issues with electric cars.

Another problem with electric cars is that they aren’t really an environmentally friendly choice. From the energy that we need to produce to power the vehicles to the process of production of the materials needed to build them and the batteries. The total energy cost is far higher than the energy cost of an old-fashioned combustion engine. Furthermore, considering the energy required for logistics behind it all and the relative short lifespan of a battery, and the total environmental cost of the electric vehicle industry is much higher than what we are told.

I have no doubt that in the future, new technologies will enable us to approach the level of perfection we achieve when we write on paper, like with the Green Deal. However, they will require a more holistic view of the challenges. Before we run blind into a wall, we must ask and tackle questions such as those related to infrastructure, how we harvest and process materials, and how we look at production logistics. We must also ask questions related to technologies such as nuclear power gen IV.

In the animal kingdom, it is known as natural evolution. A 96-year-old ‘national treasure’ has preached that we must pay any price to satisfy the new cult of the green god. More rational and cost-effective views are available.

Between AI, work and being human

The impact of artificial intelligence and on the world of work in the coming decades will be an interesting shift for us as human beings. Will see us move away from having to apply routine cognitive skills to everything we do. Jobs that require efficiency, technical skills, and constant learning will increasingly be taken out of our hands. As AI technologies will evolve, thy will send weaves through the fabric of our everyday lives. The instant execution of service and interaction that today require a linear, serial thinking will allow us to reimagine productivity and deliveries in a whole new way.

We are approaching a future where work will be more focused on creativity, ideation, and social interaction. The focus will be on being human rather than doing a job.

The Future of eMobility – Is Electromobility inevitable? Is eMobility still inevitable, or do hurdles for electromobility remain?

The very nature of our world is one of continual change. This, for the most part, is a very positive thing. Occasionally, though, we get somewhat slightly ahead of ourselves and neglect to use our rearview mirror as we hurtle uncompromisingly into a pre-defined future.

Take the electric car as a prime example. The entire automotive industry has been pulled, pushed and cornered into accepting the inevitability of eMobility. Sure, studies have been performed, DOE, the EPA and the EU have issued directives calling for a shift away from internal combustion engined vehicles, and battery chemistry is advancing at pace. But when you zoom out and look at the bigger picture, it can be difficult to accept that all the due diligence has, in fact, been done.

Devil in the details

To get a better understanding of where we currently find ourselves, it is necessary to examine how we got here. Humanity’s quest for progress and profit have delivered us to the veritable crossroads that Robert Johnson sang about. For progress demands a price, much as the Devil does in Mr. Johnson’s song.

Around two years ago, TEMPUS.MOTU GROUP was charged with providing insights into the challenges that remain in the shift to electromobility and increased electrification. To say that, we identified a rather large pachyderm in the room would be something of an understatement. Policymakers, despite clear signals from the automotive industry, decided to bring the curtain down on internal combustion engines and ‘encourage’ automakers to begin the switch to electric propulsion systems. To be fair, there was mostly stick and very little carrot involved in the discussions that led to this dictate.

The real culprits

However, everyone agreed that the internal combustion engine had outlived its usefulness and was a key contributor to climate change, even though power generation, the air travel and shipping industries, along with construction, remain the biggest contributing culprits.

The task we had been given was to provide a group of companies with some insights and potential pathways forward, whilst highlighting the challenges that lay ahead on their pre-determined journey.

What emerged was fascinating. A complete disconnect between policymakers demands, access to the required natural resources, a lack of strategic planning and threat analysis, little or no public consultation on the question of electro mobility, and a decidedly poor international-level approach to what would ostensibly become one of the major technology shifts of our time.

As usual, policymakers made the simplistic choice to replace one technology (the combustion engine) with another (the electric motor and battery) without fully examining the potential for disruptive alternatives.

Horses’ asses

To paraphrase my business partner, Aric Dromi, we continue to design everything in our mobility and logistic systems around the width of two horses’ asses (based on the initial technology – the chariot – for which the Roman Empire built its first roads). For a wonderfully inventive and imaginative species, we seem to be very attached to our horses’ asses, as we continue to design everything around them…

Of course public consultations do not necessarily provide any measure of actionable direction, but they do offer a snapshot of peoples’ pain points in the current mobility paradigm, from which one might extrapolate and experiment with alternatives.

Similarly, we found that while governments were hell-bent on a technology shift towards electrification, they seemed less aware of the crumbling nature of the electrical grids in their charge and their marked inability to meet the coming demand for both generation and distribution of electricity (green or not) to power the cars of tomorrow. It is somewhat akin to having a baby in an empty bathtub.

The lack of foresight, planning, or even awareness to the potential challenges that lay ahead was nothing short of criminal. One must only look back around 20 years when diesel-engined cars were heralded, by the same cadre of policymakers, as being better for the environment than petrol-engined cars.

Of course hindsight is infrequently experienced with less than 20-20 vision, but to continue making such schoolboy errors is unforgivable, given the current state in which we find our planet.

Investment required

Our findings were relatively straightforward and actionable. We saw a clear need for massive levels of investment in national electricity grids and power generation facilities – the kind of investments that governments and nations alone might struggle to achieve without private investment – even in the short term. For without this and without the underlying charging infrastructure that electric cars demand, there will be a lot of immobile electric cars on our streets in the coming years.

We also understood the huge challenge that was dropped onto the laps of the automotive industry, forcing them to adapt combustion-engined platforms to electric propulsion, when in fact they would have benefited from another 8-10 years to develop a ‘skateboard’ platform that better met the needs of an electric car. We are getting there today, but it has been a costly process, during which time the Hydrogen Economy has emerged to fracture consensus.

A new way of thinking

One cannot help but think that once again we are traveling down that old Roman road, two asses wide, when we have an opportunity to re-imagine public transport and personal mobility, just as we have the potential to re-imagine the road haulage, construction, steel and shipping industries.

The potential for smart grids, metered by AI, a move to a form of Universal Basic Public Transport to reduce single-person journeys, a fresh approach to town planning that puts people, rather than traffic first, is not too much to ask for.

If we must cross The Rubicon, let us do so in full knowledge that things cannot remain as they once were. If the current gas, oil, and electricity shortages brought about by the conflict in Ukraine tells us anything, it is that we are still not prepared for tomorrow, or today, for that matter.

The Future of Work – Understand how to build a better tomorrow What can we expect from the future?

This topic has been done to death in recent years, yet we see no change in peoples’ planning or actions for their future working lives. Even policymakers remain in a stance that could be best defined as ‘inert’ in the face of the coming challenges. One must ask why.

From artificial intelligence, robots, and automation, to universal income and the inevitable new division of labor, this discussion is becoming more and more important; not just for the future of work, but for the future in general

“Labour was the first price, the original purchase-money that was paid for all things. It was not by gold or by silver, but by labour, that all wealth of the world was originally purchased.” — Adam Smith

Of course, Adam Smith was quite correct in his day. Today, however, we have an entirely different economic and monetary system in place, which, some might argue, has begun to undervalue labor as a concept as we approach this transition to a more automated and yes, labor-free future.

I always thought that the word “work” represented a desire for freedom and the ability to rise and create value. As such, ever since the first people used their skills to exchange value with each other, we can’t talk about the future of work without talking about the future of the economy. We originally designed the economy as a set of tools to help individuals to better manage their resources. While some will define “resources” as a stock or supply of money, materials, staff, and other assets that can be drawn on by a person or organization to function effectively, (Oxford English Dictionary). I tend to like the idea that resources are a set of actions and collaboration strategies we devise, adopt and used to better re-imagine ourselves and push the boundaries of productivity and efficiency.

Economic model

The economic model that we have been using is the deductive system we use to reward the inductive work of the body and mind to generate growth. The relationship between the system and the worker has traditionally been defined by the tools developed to improve the desired outcome of the task in hand. This is where change will be felt the most.

Since the invention of the axe, through Watt’s steam engine, sewage systems, elevators and shipping containers, to screens, smartphones, processing power and machine learning, it has always been actions that were reasoned in creativity, imagination, and invention. Human curiosity has literally designed and built the very world we live in. And now, when we enter a new era in human and societal evolution, it’s more crucial than ever that we do not lose this reasoning.

We live in a world where technology is augmenting almost every aspect of our lives and enabling us to enhance our virtual presence using code. Empathy, freedom, well-being, intelligence, education, governance, creativity, economics, and politics are primary benefactors of the exponential growth and impact of technology. 

For the first time in the history of mankind, natural evolution has reached the zenith of its potential. There is no place to go from a biological perspective. Yes, we might become a little faster and jump a bit higher, but we have reached a point where our organic structure just cannot evolve much more, or fast enough, to make any real difference to our lives. Even with genetic modifications – eventually – we will hit the limit of our evolutionary potential. 

Limited mental abilities

It is not only our organic structure that is facing evolutionary ends; our mental abilities are also severely limited. This is evident in the narratives through which we create the surrounding reality. From geopolitics and global c-suites, we have managed the world with a limited understanding of the challenges that lie ahead and thereby under-utilized our evolutionary potential in almost every arena.

It’s easy to jump to conclusions given the parade of tech celebrities and the list of studies, surveys, and op-eds that present us with apocalyptic scenarios for the future of work:

  • “AI will make jobs kind of pointless” – Elon Musk
  • 75 million jobs are going to disappear. Robots will take over our factories. Millions of truck drives will lose their jobs.
  • Oxford academics, Carl Benedikt Frey and Michael Osborne, estimated that 47% of American jobs are at high risk of automation by the mid-2030s.
  • McKinsey Global Institute: between 40 million and 160 million women worldwide may need to transition between occupations by 2030.
  • Oxford Economics: up to 20 million manufacturing jobs worldwide will be lost to robots by 2030.

Alternately, we can take a deep breath and understand that automation and algorithms will define the future of work. At the end of the day, machines are good at finding creative ways to perform better in human environments, and as the economy should be driven by growth. We shouldn’t fight technology – rather find a means to partner with it and together cross the Rubicon and define a new beginning.

A new beginning

“Change always comes in waves. While the wave itself carries uncertainty, the gaps in between are filled of hope.” – Unknown

I meet many entrepreneurs and often discuss the importance of curiosity in their journey, and with the same breath, I remind them that curiosity is not mastery. You can’t learn entrepreneurship: it’s an emotion more than anything. The trick is to harvest that emotion to drive your learning and experimentation. We are nothing without knowledge – it defines our ability to navigate life. And today, more than ever, knowledge determines our place alongside technology.

Our current education system was designed to take us from the school yard into factories. As such, it’s essential that we open-up the education system to the idea of knowledge through experience and experimentation.

No more gold watches

World renowned author and educationalist, Todd Rose has the right idea when it comes to the required adaptations our educational system faces: “It’s going to require that we have a focus on life-long learning because it is next to impossible to imagine that whatever we’re equipping you to do right now, that that skill set will be somewhat immune from disruption. You know, my grandfather literally worked for one company all his life and got a gold watch at the end. The odds of that happening for you are slim to none.”

There is a need to link business, academia, and policymakers, to establish a new playground; a sandbox where the next generation of teachers, engineers, businesspeople, political leaders, lawyers, artists, nurses, and doctors can find new ways to become better at what they do rather than simply being replaced by technology. A sandbox where we experiment with the idea that thus far we have used technology to upgrade ourselves – maybe it’s now time to use our humanity to upgrade technology. After all, what is the point of technology if it does not enable us to become better individuals and citizens?

The current generation of decision-makers base their values on the principles of efficiency. As such, they are locked in an endless loop of “thought fixation” regarding their views on the environment, sustainability, work-life balance, technology, and more. We live in a world that is continually being modified, yet rarely transformed. The questions we keep asking ourselves are questions that were relevant to a reality that obeyed the laws of physics. And we’re ignoring the fact that most of our economic interaction occurs in a reality that is anchored in code, where physics is obsolete.

We can easily list the skills that today’s children will need to successfully navigate the future:

  • Critical thinking
  • Analytical thinking
  • Creativity
  • Originally
  • The ability to solve complex problems
  • Emotion and passion

But why is that list different from the skills we have always needed to excel in life and rise to the apex of our potential? The truth is it’s not!

More innovation

Richard Gerver, another world-renowned educationalist, author, and speaker, understands this challenge more than most: “We no longer need a mass populace educated just to a certain technical level to function efficiently on factory floors. We now require a workforce that are more entrepreneurial, that are more dynamic, more creative, more innovative, more collaborative. To explore the spaces that have been created by the time-saving devices that robots and early AI have created in factory work spaces. But the challenge, the problem in a way, is that we’re still educating people en-masse to fill jobs in those factories and in those offices which are largely technical and about routine cognition. And so, we’re starting to see the early stages of a major clash between educated people and the jobs that are available for them. And we have to understand as a society, and therefore bleeding down into education, that we are no longer preparing people for a world that existed twenty, thirty, forty years ago. We’re living in a post-industrial age, and that means the number of jobs in large factories and large office floors is going to diminish.”

So, we know what the challenge is and that we cannot avert it. What should we do about it? How should our thinking differ as we search for more palatable pathways forward?

We need a set of new ideas:

  • We can’t use code the same way we use bricks
  • We need to move from managing for-profit, to managing for impact
  • Experience should be measured by the quality of choices and not by the number of its functions
  • Don’t confuse symptoms with the appearance and root cause
  • Assets need to build up into properties and capital to deliver value to society
  • Think of technology as a legal system. The legal system was designed to be used (and sometimes abused) by lawyers – entrepreneurs use technology – technology is never the end goal, but simply a path
  • Innovation is an ecosystem, not a job title
  • Engaging in iterative change ensures you follow the pack as opposed to reap the rewards of being a thought leader
  • You can never look into tomorrow using yesterday’s eyes

The intricacy of behaviors between humanity and reality is about to enter an unclear space. To navigate this space, we must remember that only when we face the unknowns can we excel beyond imagination; that fear is the spawn of ignorance. If we only consider what has already happened – or worse, what is currently happening – we can’t design our collective tomorrow. We must learn from the past, be present at the moment, and let those insights allow us to think differently about the future and its endless possibilities.

7 advices to build a better tomorrow

My advice for those who are willing to embrace that challenge to build a better tomorrow:

  • Your careers should be driven by an internal need and not the predefined expectations of your chosen career 
  • It’s okay to be unstructured. When you’re too structured and play defence by the book, you’ll lose
  • It’s okay to take time off. It’s in the gaps we often notice opportunities
  • The traditional education system can’t teach you everything (think how Apple, Microsoft, FB, and others were built)
  • Learning doesn’t end when you finish studying. It’s a constant journey of self-discovery that will last you a lifetime
  • Learning is a painful process. That is why most adults don’t do it anymore:

“He who learns must suffer. And even in our sleep, pain that cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, and in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom to us by the awful grace of God.”  Aeschylus

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you choose to study. Let it be engineering, nursing, computer science, art, or teaching. Make sure you’re happy. Compensation for work is always an incentive – as long as you never compromise your moral values for money. The time you spend working is not as important as why you spend it working… And remember, life is short. At least until we can figure out how to transcend it.

When we are the data

Today, 3.7 billion people live in urban areas and that number will double by 2050, but cities and industrial companies (such as the automotive players) still operate under the 17th to 18th-century mindset. Most of our eco-social constructs have expired and our urban, medical, educational, transportation systems serve the limited information input/output model of yesteryear’s society.

To be able to survive tomorrow, we have to step back and take a holistic approach. It is essential to recognize that this gap is not due to a lack of technology. Like in several other industries, technology has progressed leaps and bounds in the automotive domain as well. However, the supporting ecosystem has been lackadaisical at best.

A new narrative is emerging, one that enables us to break the barriers of one-dimensional interactions and dramatically change our perceptions of identity, ownership, and society. In this context, Facebook became the world’s largest media hub, and while it does not create any content, it allows people to consume as much of the media as they can without owning it. People do not buy CDs; they pay to access music on Spotify. All of Alibaba, Uber, Airbnb, Netflix, and Amazon are operating under the access-based economic model. We are moving from a world of ownership to one of ‘access-ship’, and in that case, people do not need things in the traditional manner. They require practical solutions that fit their digital flow, i.e., they require a touch-point.

The time is ripe to take responsibility for the fields of potential that lie beyond the digital obvious. We need to cease the silo-thinking mindset in terms of software, hardware, human, technology and commence on the path to become the machine before the machine becomes us.

The era of digital augmentation is not in-front of us, but rather surrounding us. The enhancement of presence and perception through the use of coded driven content pushed our communication and languages to new heights and exposed us to new sets of awareness.

Augmentation of : Empathy. Freedom. Well-being. Intelligence. Education, Governess. Creativity. Economics, Politics, and more—gives us the ability to observe ourselves from parallel vantage points. To understand our genetic heritage and structure, design our cognitive process and social identities, we can isolate our internal mechanisms and create interactions that are customized by our intention and personalized for our needs and wishes.

For the first time, we are not simply interacting with data, but rather became part of the data that set our potential trajectories into the future.

In Areas such as artificial Intelligence, robotics, genomics, biotechnology, neurotechnology, adjustable reality and the codification (of value interactions) will let us re-imagine every aspect of our lives. We will be able to design spaces that are not governed by a fixed physical architecture, but dynamically adjusting to the wishes of the users. We can build cities that focus on experience rather than on productivity. And the visual elements of the city will be a personalized experience (Graffiti/ Street art/ Architecture and Advertisement will no longer necessarily be a social experience, but can be personalized to include or exclude based on your preferences.)

The time of “every device is an island” is certainly over, and the focus on ecosystems should be a thing of the past. Creation of products going forward is one of ecosystems, where collaborative and interconnected solutions with multiple expandable and inter-exchangeable business cases will flourish. Several key factors play a major part in the creation of such infrastructure, and every key element is a small piece of the larger puzzle that makes up the ongoing disruptive shift. The focus on creation of a whole solution is not one of a singular company, companies with the ability to see the whole picture from their place in the puzzle to best position for the future will flourish. Having a complete oversight of the customer journey, ability to forge alliances and strategic partnerships thereby enabling creation of infrastructure to package complete 360 solutions tailored for the mapped customer will be key to grow the core business.

Being observed

We live in a world where technology is observing us more than we are observing it, and it is reality, the information doesn’t exist behind the screen anymore – we are the information. Every aspect of our existence is being quantified, stored, and monetized. This has already fundamentally changed the narratives of work, travel, mobility, finance and more. Yet, we keep driving our economic models based on buzzwords that force our resources to focus on technology rather on the development of humankind, individuals and strategic thinking.
When we keep building “smart” things (smartphones, smart cities, smart cars) the word smart means Technology.

We keep surrounding ourselves with technology and forgetting that our entire infrastructure, that may be cities, legal, educational, political and economic models can be traced all the way back to the Roman Empire. Moving forward, we need to rethink the fundamental building blocks of societal development and evolution, or we are simply building a house of cards.

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