Future forecasting remains fraught, fascinating

Our book has some fun mocking the self-assurred pronouncements of televised pundits, and also pushes our readers to seriously confront their own blinkered views of what may be coming in the decades to come.  The fundamental message of The Resilient Investor is that no matter what you see as most likely, these times of rapid change and unpredictability require a broader diversification of our time and attention, so you’ll to be “ready for anything.”  This can sometimes come across as preparing for the worst (we’ll have a post on this misconception soon), but staying poised to take advantage of new opportunities is surely the more exciting part of the equation.

A series of recent articles caught our eye in this regard.  First up, a couple of quickies from Peter Diamandis, one that looked back at eight exponential changes we’ve seen over the past ten years (e.g., in 2005, YouTube first appeared and driverless cars were just twinkles in DARPA’s eye), and another that spells out eight even more disruptive changes that he sees in the coming decade (including 8 billion people being online and a financial revolution driven by the blockchain protocol that fueled Bitcoin).

Going a tad deeper was a Huffington piece featuring few paragraphs each from seven top futurists.  What are they seeing in their crystal balls that might shape the world in ways we’ll want to be ready to respond to? Many focus on health care, where computing, sensing, and AI advancements are combining to create some huge leaps. Read the whole thing, but here are some highlights:

“By 2025, 3D printers will print clothing at very low cost. There will be many free open source designs, but people will still spend money to download clothing files from the latest hot designer just as people spend money today for eBooks, music and movies despite all of the free material available. 3D printers will print human organs using modified stem cells with the patient’s own DNA providing an inexhaustible supply of organs and no rejection issues. We will be also able to repair damaged organs with reprogrammed stem cells, for example a heart damaged from a heart attack. 3D printers will print inexpensive modules to snap together a house or an office building, lego style.”

“Predictive medicine transforms health care. Early diagnosis of disease with medical devices that sniff our breath, and free DNA sequencing that predicts our future health will be common. Personalized genetic medicine will prevent disease, saving lives and billions in lost productivity. . . . Apps designed by medical professionals will provide efficient real-time feedback, tackle chronic conditions at a much earlier stage, and help to improve the lifestyles and life outcomes of communities in the developed and developing world.”

“The technologies aren’t the most important bit—although they are super cool. It’s what society does with them, and right now it’s institutional change that’s the sticking point. What you really want to look at, in my opinion, is new ways of organizing ourselves.”


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