Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution in this Exponential Age – by Udo Gollub

Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution
Udo Gollub

Udo Gollub

Udo Gollub at Messe BerlinApril 22 · Berlin, Germany · [article link]
 I just went to the Singularity University Summit and here are the key learnings.

In 1998, Kodak had 170,000 employees and sold 85% of all photo paper worldwide.
Within just a few years, their business model disappeared and they got bankrupt.
What happened to Kodak will happen in a lot of industries in the next 10 year – and most people don’t see it coming. Did you think in 1998 that 3 years later you would never take pictures on paper film again?
Yet digital cameras were invented in 1975. The first ones only had 10,000 pixels, but followed Moore’s law. So as with all exponential technologies, it was a disappointment for a long time, before it became way superior and got mainstream in only a few short years. It will now happen with Artificial Intelligence, health, autonomous and electric cars, education, 3D printing, agriculture and jobs. Welcome to the 4th Industrial Revolution.
Welcome to the Exponential Age.  

Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years.
Uber is just a software tool, they don’t own any cars, and are now the biggest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world, although they don’t own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence: Computers become exponentially better in understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the US, young lawyers already don’t get jobs. Because of IBM Watson, you can get legal advice (so far for more or less basic stuff) within seconds, with 90% accuracy compared with 70% accuracy when done by humans. So if you study law, stop immediately. There will be 90% less lawyers in the future, only specialists will remain.
Watson already helps nurses diagnosing cancer, 4 time more accurate than human nurses. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. In 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.

Autonomous cars: In 2018 the first self driving cars will appear for the public. Around 2020, the complete industry will start to be disrupted. You don’t want to own a car anymore. You will call a car with your phone, it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you only pay for the driven distance and can be productive while driving. Our kids will never get a driver’s licence and will never own a car. It will change the cities, because we will need 90-95% less cars for that. We can transform former parking space into parks. 1,2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. We now have one accident every 100,000km, with autonomous driving that will drop to one accident in 10 million km. That will save a million lives each year.

Most car companies might become bankrupt. Traditional car companies try the evolutionary approach and just build a better car, while tech companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) will do the revolutionary approach and build a computer on wheels. I spoke to a lot of engineers from Volkswagen and Audi; they are completely terrified of Tesla.

Insurance companies will have massive trouble because without accidents, the insurance will become 100x cheaper. Their car insurance business model will disappear.
Real estate will change. Because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away to live in a more beautiful neighborhood.
Electric cars will become mainstream until 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all cars will run on electric. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but you can only now see the impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil. The price for solar will drop so much that all coal companies will be out of business by 2025.
With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter. We don’t have scarce water in most places, we only have scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly no cost.

Health: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year. There will be companies who will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that works with your phone, which takes your retina scan, you blood sample and you breath into it. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that will identify nearly any disease. It will be cheap, so in a few years everyone on this planet will have access to world class medicine, nearly for free.

3D printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from 18,000$ to 400$ within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started 3D printing shoes. Spare airplane parts are already 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have in the past.
At the end of this year, new smartphones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoe at home. In China, they already 3D printed a complete 6-storey office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.

Business opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to go in, ask yourself: “in the future, do you think we will have that?” and if the answer is yes, how can you make that happen sooner? If it doesn’t work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed in to failure in the 21st century.

Work: 70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.

Agriculture: There will be a 100$ agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in 3rd world countries can then become managers of their field instead of working all days on their fields. Aeroponics will need much less water. The first petri dish produced veal is now available and will be cheaper than cow produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surfaces is used for cows. Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore. There are several startups who will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labeled as “alternative protein source” (because most people still reject the idea of eating insects).

There is an app called “moodies” which can already tell in which mood you are. Until 2020 there will be apps that can tell by your facial expressions if you are lying. Imagine a political debate where it’s being displayed when they are telling the truth and when not.

Bitcoin will become mainstream this year and might even become the default reserve currency.

Longevity: Right now, the average lifespan increases by 3 months per year. Four years ago, the life span used to be 79 years, now it’s 80 years. The increase itself is increasing and by 2036, there will be more that one year increase per year. So we all might live for a long long time, probably way more than 100.

Education: The cheapest smartphones are already at 10$ in Africa and Asia. By 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smartphone. That means, everyone has the same access to world class education. Every child can use Khan Academy for everything a child learns at school in First World countries. They have already released the software in Indonesia and will release it in Arabic, Swahili and Chinese this Summer, because they see an enormous potential. They will give the English app for free, so that children in Africa can become fluent in English within half a year.

Udo Gollub2

Udo Gollub at Singularity University Summit

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  • demerwater  On June 12, 2016 at 5:09 am

    For quite some time I have been wondering how come Wall Street is doing so well; and Main Street is not.
    Is this the answer?
    That “Labor” has ceased to be a ‘Factor of Production’? – as taught in Economics 1.01.
    If the ‘One Percent’ has indeed achieved this objective, then it puzzles me as to from where will any new wealth come. They do also tell me that it is a “Consumer Economy”.
    What am I missing here?
    Do not say, “A quart of oil” or “A suite from the deck”. It will shatter my fragile personality.

  • walter  On June 12, 2016 at 8:52 am

    A friend of mind during one of his visits about fifteen years ago, had said at Oxford they did “Future Projections”. Similar conclusions, most disturbing to me was the idea of idea of most of the Industrial Countries would shift to Service, and manufacturing to Asia and other third world countries. I was in manufacturing then, so I disagreed. Well I was wrong, as we are seeing now. The self driving cars were seen same as this article, with one major problem. Apart from roadways, human nature, freedom of spontaneous movement, and natural curiosity, tinkering. With more “Time” on their hands people tend to tinker.

  • Clyde Duncan  On June 12, 2016 at 10:08 am

    Aargh! We are going to Mars ….

  • Clyde Duncan  On June 12, 2016 at 10:09 am

    It used to be “Go to France!”

  • walter  On June 12, 2016 at 4:45 pm

    France ? No Ima skipping France

  • Albert  On June 13, 2016 at 7:59 pm

    @demerwater: “For quite some time I have been wondering how come Wall Street is doing so well; and Main Street is not”

    In part because Wall St is the owner of the digital technology replacing the work force. It takes money, which these guys have, to make money . They are also usually very smart, could afford the best advisors and lawyers and know where the next advancement will come. Manual labor force is becoming extinct. Students coming out with liberal art degrees have minimal opportunities in todays job market. There are History and English PHD’s driving taxis in New York City.
    What seem obvious is that the demand for high paying jobs will be in areas like software engineerin ig. The son of someone I know got a masters in genetic engineering and claim he had several job offers. The problem is the typical American kid is not incline towards tough science. Many will just become unemployable because of the structural economic changes.

  • Clyde Duncan  On June 13, 2016 at 8:35 pm

    Regarding education, inflation got that also – Pull out a slate and some chalk and see how you do with the 8th Grade Exams from 200-years ago:


  • Albert  On June 13, 2016 at 9:11 pm

    @Clyde “Pull out a slate and some chalk and see how you do with the 8th Grade Exams from 200-years ago”
    One question is how relevant is some of the education in those days to todays environment. Years back high school students had to memorize all those geometric functions and proofs. A teacher told me they don’t do that anymore because a student/scientist could easily plug in the information into a computer program and get all the answers he needs. If he spend more time learning how to apply the computerized geometric concepts he would be more productive……….it makes a lot of sense.

  • demerwater  On June 14, 2016 at 3:55 am

    That perennial commentator / philosopher wrapped it all up in our tempo.

    He keeps updating things. Maybe there is more out there.

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