getAbstract: In which area or industry do you expect the next big exponential business idea?
Peter Diamandis: By definition all of the various exponential technologies (Computation, Sensors and Networks, Artificial Intelligence (A.I.), Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality, Synthetic Biology, 3D Printing and Robotics) will be driving exponential business opportunities and the creation of “unicorns” in the years ahead. Some of the significant opportunities that are getting the most traction for 2016 include re-inventing Healthcare through genomics and big data and Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality. This will change many aspects of our life from retail shopping, to human-to-human interaction, to the elimination of screen technologies. Leaders in this area include Magic Leap and High Fidelity. Without question, the most powerful force for change will materialize from the application of artificial intelligence: A.I. is entering every aspect of our lives from self-driving cars, to a future where every device is “smart,” and will enter the consumer retail business in 2016 with a vengeance.
getAbstract: With people all over the world connected to the Internet, where is the geographical origin of the most powerful ideas? Do you think this will change in the next few years?
Peter Diamandis: Over the next 5 years, some 3 to 5 billion people will come online for the first time. In Abundance, we refer to them as “The Rising Billion.” These are people who never had the opportunity to join the global conversation. This will radically shift the demographics of idea generation. The Rising Billion will be coming online with a megabit per second connectivity, access to the world’s information on Google, the ability to tap massive computational power on Amazon Web Services and even the capability to tap into significant A.I. and 3D printing services. We expect that we’ll see very powerful ideas originating from Asia, India and Africa, at a rate far higher than we’ve seen before. The world’s biggest problems offer the opportunity to create significant business opportunities. And those in the developing world, with the problems that they solve, now have the ability to export those solutions to the rest of the world.
Peter Diamandis: BOLD outlines our ability to tap into the crowd for capital, expertise and solutions. In a world of 5 billion+ connected individuals you will have the ability to get what you need, when you need it. Eventually A.I. will be your partner for solving any problem. Need a product designed or software written? Your A.I. can do that for you. Need a business plan written? Sure, your A.I. can do that, too. But until we have true A.I., the crowd serves as the proxy. Somewhere in this hyper-connected world is someone with the skills or solution you need. BOLD outlines a number of “crowd-related” tools and services worth noting: IndieGogo and Kickstarter for money-crowdfunding; Freelancer, Crowdflower and Fiverr for expertise; HeroX for incentive competitions; Tongal and 99Designs for design & creative. A complete listing of hundreds of crowd-related tools are available at Crowdsourcing.org.
getAbstract: You suggest that a primary objective for entrepreneurs is to change and improve the world. But isn’t financial reward the main incentive behind entrepreneurship? How can one simultaneously pursue altruistic and monetary goals?
Peter Diamandis: For starters, the numbers behind social entrepreneurship don’t lie. You can absolutely do a lot of good in this world and still make a significant profit. Today, without question, the world’s biggest challenges are the world’s biggest business opportunities. We would argue that organizations like Google, Facebook and a hundred other mobile-based companies have massively transformed a billion+ people around the world at the same time that they have created numerous billionaires. As I teach at Singularity University, “the best way to become a billionaire is to help a billion people.”
getAbstract: Crowdsourcing and incentive competitions sound like a great opportunity to identify great ideas. But how do these vehicles ensure that the people with the best ideas or solutions for a problem receive proper credit and also financial benefit?
Peter Diamandis: In the case of incentive competitions like the XPRIZE and HeroX, the team that wins the competition is clearly stated as the winner and will receive all of the credit it’s due. Also in most cases, the winning team members will receive a prize AND also retail the intellectual property so they can further commercialize their technology. In some incentive competitions, the intellectual property is transferred to the entity funding the prize, but the competing teams know this in advance. In Crowdsourcing, the ability to receive credit is a bit more shrouded since a logo designed for you by 99Designs won’t carry the designer’s signature. But, again, that is fully understood in advance.
getAbstract: You discuss the impact of artificial intelligence on manufacturing and its enormous potential for the next couple of decades. If the experts are right and A.I. one day surpasses the abilities of human beings, are we destined to become obsolete? Should we be scared?
Peter Diamandis: It’s a tricky question. Historically, every time a new technology has come along that threatened an older economy, the new economy created by this technology produced more new jobs than were lost. For certain, A.I. will produce jobs. The questions are will it produce more than it takes and how long will it take those new jobs to show up. It’s also worth asking whether “jobs” are fundamental to humanity and happiness. There will be a future in which A.I. and robotics can take care of all of our basic needs – food, health, teaching, elder care, etc. – think of it as “technological socialism.” Is that a terrible future in which all of your needs are met efficiently (think how Google influences your ability today to search for information)? You may ask, “How will I earn the money I need to live?”. In this future of technological socialism we will see complete demonetization where the cost of our basic needs have effectively reached zero cost (much the same way Google made research free). The second question you may ask and is worth consideration is, “How will I spend my time?” We believe that we will be living in a future where we value entertainment, creativity, exploration and other leisure activities at a very high level.
getAbstract: It seems as if A.I. may create massive problems in the workforce. Is this an over-simplification or a legitimate threat? How will employment opportunities be altered in the future? What fields will offer the best opportunities and which ones will disappear?
Peter Diamandis: Like the above question, the answer remains uncertain. But A.I. is only part of this equation. There are now dozens of technologies advancing along exponential growth curves. Every time one of these techs hits the market, they have produced giant opportunities. So yes, A.I. might take a lot of jobs, but there’s an Internet-sized opportunity sitting inside of virtual reality. Today, most of that market is invisible, but starting in 2016 – as the gear begins to roll out – those jobs and that opportunity will become visible. If you look at this in isolation, then yes, perhaps A.I. does look terrifying, but it’s only one part of a much bigger picture.
getAbstract: Not everyone is used to thinking exponentially, especially those who are in routine positions. How can they begin to think “bold”?
Peter Diamandis: Our point in BOLD is that today, for the first time in history, individuals have the power to change the world. So, for anyone interested in doing just that, the first step is connecting with your life’s mission – your Massively Transformative Purpose (MTP) – that will drive you to take risks and impact the world. The second step has to be to educate oneself about exponentials – to realize that you actually have more power today at your fingertips than the world’s largest companies and governments just 20 years ago. A lot of this game is about mindset. As we say in BOLD, all the tools you need are readily available; the real hurdle is psychological. Thus, without trying to toot our own horn, read Abundance and BOLD. The goal of these books is to show people that they now have the power to change the world and to educate them on what steps to take to wield it. Another opportunity is to plug into institutions and programs like those offered by Singularity University that offer 3-day and 7-day programs to help you get connected.
getAbstract: Since it’s the New Year, can you give our readers a tip on how to “go big and be bold” in 2016?
Peter Diamandis: We will see a lot of accelerated growth in 2016. Get ready for “smart everything” where machine learning and narrow A.I. begins to invade all of our products. Products that understand when you speak to them, that learn your desires and behaviors and become far more efficient and powerful. Also watch out for the roll-out of Virtual and Augmented Reality. We’ll see continued growth in Crowdfunding and your ability to access the crowd for expertise. Our biggest tip for you is to experiment. You’ll be amazed how you surprise yourself. At a minimum, go to a platform like HeroX and join an ongoing competition or start your own challenge on a problem that you’d love to see the crowd solve for you.