Roadmaps directionally guide us when situations are unclear. To guide me, I often used this framework in client work, speeches, and reports. It serves us to see how technology is rolling out in our lives, as Scott Monty said, it could a “chart of your life”. It’s not just for me, it’s for all of us to use in our personal and professional planning.
As we approach the anticipated recession, now is a good time to publish this roadmap, as we’ve seen economic conditions shape each era. For example, in the Internet Era, the dot coms experienced a shakeout in the 2001 recession. Next the Social Media era became a low-cost channel in the next economic downturn and the collaborative economy birthed in the 2008 recession as people struggled to stay in homes, and get what they needed, cheaply.
The same will happen in the next recession, technologies will reduce costs, increase efficiency, and humans and businesses will turn to them to increasing their adoption at an exponential growth rate.
It’s worth noting that these eras often happen in overlapping waves. One era doesn’t start and stop, they overlay each other, and obviously interact with each other. For example the Collaborative Economy era (like Uber) will soon become the Autonomous World era, as the cars become self-driving.
Social Media era
Collaborative Economy era
Autonomous World era
Modern Wellbeing era
Mid 90s, “popped” in 2001. Currently a matured market; nearly all internet users access these services.
Gained traction in 2005, gained market adoption during 2008 recession, most internet users use these platforms multiple times a day.
Many companies birthed in 2008 recession, when people were resource strapped.
Undergoing growth for decades, there have been many surges and ‘winters’
Early Fitbit emerged in 2007, Nike’s Fuelband emerged in 2012, spurring a craze. Since then hundreds of wearables attracted mainstream attention.
Every media, business, and entity created a website to share information and enable commerce; “dot com” boom.
Free, low-cost people-created media, and used by marketers to reach customers.
Peer-to-peer commerce platforms emerged during recession, enabling people to get what they needed from each other.
AI technologies simulate human intelligence by replacing and augmenting simple repetitive tasks to more complex problems.
Consumer accessible technologies improves humans minds, bodies, physical spaces around them, and communities.
Easily accessible browsers, web software, hosting, network technologies
RSS, ratings, commenting, publication tools.
Mobile apps, geo-data, online payments, ratings and reviews, marketplace software
Machine learning, big data analysis, advanced computing.
IoT, devices, apps, machine learning, and prior digital eras
Birth of business to consumer ecommerce.
Peer to peer communication changed the flow of information power.
Near real time services, sharing of resources can improve sustainability, human connection.
Reduce humans painful toil of hard labor, repetitive tasks –solve complex problems
Humans can improve mental capability, increase longevity, enjoy happier, more content lives with their loved ones.
Many failed startups from lack of monetization, “dot bomb”. Traditional retailers and middleman struggle to compete.
Privacy woes. Monetization of user data in questionable ways. Digital addiction, psychological damage, social dynamics changed.
The sharing companies and their investors became 1%ers, some models increased congestion, and workers rights often trampled
Top fears include: robot overlords enslave humans, job loss, lack of human/work purpose, unforeseen ethical dilemmas
The concerns over data privacy and over reliance on technology in our lives continues to grow.
The race is far from over, but current leaders: IBM, Palantir, Google, Amazon, Apple, Nvidia
This battle is still being fought, but Apple, Google, Calm, Headspace, 23andMe, Ubiome lead the market.
Thousands of “dot bombs” and their investors.
Users privacy, journalism, governments and marketers who failed to adapt.
Some on demand workers. Traditional companies who failed to adapt.
Workers who conduct repetitive tasks.
Traditional medical, health, pharma and insurance companies who don’t adapt to these consumer technologies will lose out
These large companies are laying foundation to support –but not always lead– in the other eras
Leading platforms must adjust business model for autonomous world era. Balance user and gov needs.
Workers who perform repetitive tasks will be replaced by autonomous systems.
These autonomous technologies will continue to creep into our lives, businesses and society, indistinguishable from most human services.
These technologies continue to integrate with our bodies, where we become reliant on them, a form of cybernetics
The first version included only the first three eras, and the second edition layered on the Autonomous World era. While I’ve been eyeing the fifth era, Modern Wellbeing era for about a year (prior we called this a quantified self), I waited until the right time to publish this in public. It’s ripe now, as with the growth mindfulness apps and features emerging, new devices that measure heart rate variability and others coming. During the next period, people are so tired from the politics, bad news, too much tech, they want to focus on themselves.
With that said, what’s the six era? I’ve some early ideas, but it would appear as unrealistic science fiction at this stage. Love to hear your reactions to this view of how technology is going to roll out. Which era are you currently focused on? How will you plan for the next phase?
This may come as a shocker to many, but in the next few years, the peer-based sharing/collaborative economy will shift to automation.
I’ve studied this market closely and want to make some clear predictions on where things will head. Four years ago, I mapped out the Collaborative Economy, which is the phase where humans get what they need from each other (peer-to-peer commerce). In the next phase, the Autonomous World, robots will augment and replace humans, and they will serve humans. In some cases, robots will serve other robots as we advance further.
The transition from traditional business models to the Collaborative Economy and ultimately to the Autonomous World is already creating ripples throughout the world. We are in the midst of global disruption due to widespread mobile Internet and cloud technology, vastly improved processing power and Big Data, and the rise of the sharing economy and crowdsourcing, according to the World Economic Forum. These changes have prompted new waves of geopolitical volatility and the creation of a new middle class in emerging markets.
These innovations are now spawning new energy supplies and technology, the Internet of Things, advanced manufacturing and 3D printing, and societies that live longer — all of which are quickly altering expectations about the future.
The next turn is likely to produce robots and autonomous transport, AI, and breakthroughs in advanced materials and biotechnology. These represent a new frontier that may only be a few years on the horizon. WEF posits that the world could look fundamentally different by 2020.
Let’s indicate how timely this is, and how it lines up with what we see.
How the Collaborative Economy will shift to Automation
(Uber, Lyft, Didi, Ola)
Self-driving cars are quickly emerging, most by 2021, from many car manufacturers
Uber has experimented with cars, Lyft’s bold pronouncement, and Didi
Professional drivers will need to upskill and find a new career
Wheeled and flying drones will deliver packages, beyond humans
Starship, based in my area, is delivering food, and Amazon’s patents are inspiring
Postmates, Instacart and other couriers will be displaced by robots
Home Sharing (Airbnb, VRBO, HomeAway)
Home automation will enable hosts to offer hospitality without being present
Airbnb could offer digital locks, Wi-Fi management, digitized home appliances, and more
Hosts can manage more properties, and guests get a personalized experience
Online Service Marketplaces (Upwork/Freelancer)
Simple AI bots will complete rote tasks currently performed by online service providers
While a plethora of early-stage bots have emerged from M, Alex, and Watson, advanced AI to conduct intermediate tasks hasn’t emerged
Online workers will need to specialize their skills for project or robot management, human-based design, community skills, and humanities
Anywhere repetitive tasks exist but could be automated
Simple machines will replicate human behaviors
Jobs will be lost, so humans must upskill or specialize in humanities
The implications of these coming changes will likely have a profound effect on the people of the world. Here are some concrete observations:
Only some, not all, humans will be able to upskill, unlike other social economic revolutions. Humans could grasp industrial revolution roles as we shifted out of agriculture because they were taught single repetitive jobs. The challenge now is that robots will always learn faster than humans, as they are networked and can process faster and work at an accelerated pace.
The world will need solutions to unemployment. From a nonpartisan standpoint, the next threat to Western employment isn’t offshore workers but the rise of automation. Predictions from the former White House administration predict that automation could replace 83% percent of lower paying human jobs. The impact to other nations that will develop these automated technologies are also at hand, they must prepare for changes in society and their economy. Humans will need to redefine what purpose means, for those where human labor is the primary driver.
The impetus to push for universal basic income is at hand. The experiments are happening in Finland, Oakland and more, proposing such a policy would provide every human — regardless of age, gender, educational attainment, or intelligence — with a guaranteed living wage to cover basic needs: food, shelter, and clothes. For anything else they want, they will have to earn it. The companies that own and/or profit from these technologies should be taxed to cover this societal benefit. The robots should not only provide more resources to the planet for cheaper, but they should also fund a quality life for others.
Who will maintain employment: Those who manage robots, humanities, nonlinear roles. While we actively try to teach our children coding, technology is quickly advancing that robots will be able to self-code. This means that understanding how to manage systems of robots towards solving problems will be key. Secondly, arts, humanities, entertainment, sports, psychology and other softer skills will rise to the forefront as skills that are needed. It’s assumed that robots will replace many repetitive and rote jobs, humans that can solve complex tasks that are constantly unique, will thrive.
In summary, Uber, Lyft are ushering in self-driving cars and a wave of automation that will cascade across the broader ecosystem as humans are augmented then often replaced by robotic systems.
The future of Airbnb lies in creating memorable guest experiences, and brands will benefit by complementing these experiences in relevant, valuable ways.
Since attending Airbnb Open in Los Angeles a few weeks ago, I’ve been contemplating what Airbnb’s announcements around shifting toward experiential hosting mean for both guests and corporations. Guests will find authentic travel experiences that complement their hospitality choices, while corporations will find opportunities to partner with Airbnb and sponsor these entertainment and cultural adventures.
During the event, executives from Airbnb revealed a few interesting data points:
The average business traveler stays at an Airbnb for six nights
The average Airbnb host makes $7,530 per year
Travel spending is nearly 10% of global GDP ($7.2B)
Airbnb had 40M guest stays in 2015 (see graph below), in 34K cities in 191 countries
With guests staying for nearly a week at their hosts’ abodes, many are looking for immersive experiences in the local scene––activities and sights that can’t be booked through a travel agent or seen from a tour bus. There are already more than 600 experiences available to travelers through Airbnb! The company is also experimenting with on-demand car delivery for off-the-beaten-path travel, as well as prepared food delivery.
What does this mean to you? Corporations have the opportunity to connect directly with tastemakers around the world, inserting their brands and products into diverse experiences with lasting impact. Let’s explore a few of the potential industry opportunities:
Consumer Goods: Airbnb is the world’s largest showroom, with the goods in hosts’ homes used to influence buyers as the level of trust between guest and host are high.
Retailers: These new “experiences” mean that local retailers will be visited in cities, led by the hosts and tour guides.
Hospitality and Travel: For hotels, this new offering is about the entire trip, and they’ll soon offer flight deals and cars, in addition to experiences and homes.
Food: Food will be delivered directly to Airbnb locations, and continued on-demand food models will become important.
Finance: Hosts are generating a modest amount of income per year, but need money to upgrade their locations, an opportunity for small loans.
What does this mean for all companies? Today’s modern customer is seeking experiences, they show off using digital technologies, and access to physical goods is easy with on-demand models, rather than ownership of a house, car, electronics and more. Established companies need to revisit their strategy to provide customers with experiences that connect to the real meaning of why customers want platforms that enable new adventures and more.
Today’s 3-year-old toddlers are unlikely to ever learn how to drive. With autonomous cars already making their debut now, and then en masse in 2021, per Ford and others, these toddlers are unlikely to require driving skills in the year 2031.
Here are four scenarios of car ownership that could play out:
The shared car model, a.k.a. “Zipcar” model. A group of cars are available in a convenient regional area, where many can share and own these cars. For example, some progressive apartments now have shared vehicles in their garage for renters. In this model, a group of neighbors could invest in the commonly owned costs of these cars, and share insurance, car ownership, and maintenance costs. We’ve seen a growth in P2P insurance models, which could further enable this market.
The wholly owned model, akin to current ownership. Just as we currently own most vehicles, we could continue to own vehicles in the future, but they will self-drive. This makes the most sense in rural areas and, to some degree, in suburban areas. Some people with families that have specific car seat or mobility needs (the elderly, those with wheelchairs, etc.) may require their own self-driving vehicles. Others we have spoken to suggest that human-driven cars will only be owned by the very rich — or very poor — similar to how horses are owned today.
Autonomous cars own themselves. Also called a distributed autonomous organization (DAO), self-driving cars could become sentient creatures in the radical future that can not only self-drive and self-charge, but also then take themselves to be repaired at a local garage, and pay for it on their ownership. In this future, the excess profits generated from these self-driving cars would enable them to purchase an additional vehicle, expanding themselves from one car to eventually a fleet. All of this, in theory, could occur without human intervention and without human ownership.
In the end, there won’t be one single model. We’ll likely see a mixture occurring, just as we see this occurring now. Below, the models are broken out into a grid.
Matrix: Scenarios of Future Car Ownership
Who’s Likely to Adopt
Who Will Own
Urban areas will embrace
Uber, Lyft, car manufacturers
Urban areas, suburban
Enterprise, Avis, private owners offering cars on Getaround, Turo
Wholly Owned Car
Wealthy, young families, special care
Autonomous Cars Own Themselves
An advanced artificial intelligence that can self-manage a fleet
Cars will own themselves
Computer-owned “corporation,” an undefined model, or a nonprofit akin to Wikipedia
Above: Tesla’s Autonomous Car
Tesla showed its hand by prohibiting customers from sharing. Recently, Tesla made an unusual mandate, that its own customers cannot enable their privately purchased self-driving Teslas to be listed on Uber or Lyft. This is a strange mandate considering the cars were purchased outright. It, of course, forebodes a few future business models that we’ll see from Tesla; it’ll likely offer a service model where the owners, or Tesla themsleves enable their autonomous cars to be made available to others as a service.
When would human-driven cars become obsolete? While Elon Musk suggests that manually driving a car may someday be illegal due to human error and safety reasons, such vehicles won’t go away anytime soon. There would be a significant economic bottom if so many owned assets were quickly depreciated by a government decree. But looking decades forward, when autonomous cars become dominant and common, we will see a social and perhaps government cry for human drivers to be curbed. Perhaps if it’s not illegal, the insurance costs of manually driving would become too high.
To summarize, autonomous vehicles will not only significantly impact how we will be transported, but also the very business models in which our economy operates and how cities will change.
Facebook Joins the Collaborative Economy Facebook has announced the launch of its Marketplace, a new feature in four countries that enables users to buy and sell their used goods using Facebook connections. While Facebook’s strongest advantage is a network of trusted users, it must develop more sophisticated features to compete against established players. But it has a good start, as the environmental benefits of Facebook Marketplace for helping individuals reuse goods rather than send them to the junk yard will be of particular help for many migrating students, new families, or those seeking to change up their personal items.
Market Timing: Existing Startups Under Fire At a macro level, the startups in the Collaborative Economy Honeycomb are undergoing a shakeup as VC funding is being reduced, startups are being acquired, and regulators are putting the pressure on. The end result is that some startups are having to fold up shop. Facebook’s market entry is smart timing, as it can be a trusted player.
Marketplace Competition To the casual observer, it would be easy to compare Facebook Marketplace to established players like eBay, Yerdle, Nextdoor, Listia, or Taobao, but these players are far ahead of Marketplace. Marketplace could pose some threats to Craigslist local listings for users seeking to find people they may know, or listings from friends of friends. And the potential is huge; for scale, massive eBay has 164 million active users in Q2 2016, a far cry from Facebook’s 1.7 billion users in the same period.
Four Features Facebook Is Missing: While Facebook offers a very strong trust graph of people you know in your area, Marketplace lacks a few key features, including:
A payment system that enables digital transactions, similar to eBay using credit cards or PayPal.
A guaranteed bidding system so the buyer doesn’t have to worry about getting the item.
A shipping solution or meeting place (sometimes called a “sharespot”) to enable people to share goods, whether it be at local police stations or Amazon lockers.
Lastly, there doesn’t appear to be a ratings or review feature so buyers and sellers can rate each other, especially if people don’t know them, to build further trust.
The Future for Marketplace Facebook must improve its feature set, then move into ride and home sharing. An ideal next move would be for Facebook to tie in its Messenger payment system, enabling seamless transactions, and potentially move into more lucrative on-demand commerce systems like ride sharing, or perhaps even home sharing, thereby threatening Uber and Airbnb. By enabling the commerce aspect, not only does this make transactions easier for members, but Facebook will have yet another revenue stream. This isn’t an odd concept, as in China, Uber has sold off assets to Didi, which is owned by Tencent and Alibaba — companies that offer a wide range of Internet products. Yet before Facebook can move into new markets beyond used goods, it must first bolster those four missing features in order to prepare the platform.
There are three topics that should be discussed as we forge the next economy: the Autonomous World, Silicon Valley feudalism, and ensuring human safety from advanced robots.
For the second year, I’ll be at Tim O’Reilly’s Next:Economy Conference in San Francisco on Oct. 10–11, which brings technology, the economy, and forward-thinking industry leaders together under one roof. These events set the tone for the impacts of technology on businesses, governments, societies, and global economies.
I see three red-hot challenges for the Next:Economy:
The Autonomous World. What role do humans play when robots do jobs better? This topic, which was discussed at the last Next:Economy, was a major theme –yet we’re nowhere near from settling it. Did you know the White House predicts that 83% of workers who make less than $20 an hour are likely to be replaced by robots? And it’s about a one-third replacement rate for those who make $21 to $40 an hour. We need continued dialog about solutions, including a combination of: upskilling, which will likely never catch up to robots because they will learn faster than humans ever can; and universal basic income or a guaranteed wage for all humans to offset the robots that will increase productivity and replace human jobs.
Is Silicon Valley creating global feudalism models? Economically, is this the best way forward? This topic, which I’ve tackled a few times in my own keynotes, is in response to the fact that Silicon Valley startups are owned by the 1% elite — who then create platforms for the rest of society to use. Who are these 1%? Are they benevolent dictators? Early risk-takers? Deserving capitalists? Folks who just got lucky? They’re likely a combination of all of the above, but the reality is that they’re becoming the most powerful group on the planet. For example, Mark Zuckerberg could, on a whim, place his thumb on the Facebook newsfeed and fill it with content and stories that veer to either the Left or Right points of view. Elon Musk has already developed powerful space programs that are starting to challenge public sector aerospace and are innovating quickly for future world exploration and transportation. These powerful entrepreneurs not only own and control the data and technology we use daily, but they are also able to fund the nonprofits of their choosing through incredible wealth that sometimes outmatches public sector spending.
To protect the human economy, should we have an “off” switch for computer intelligence? How do we influence, manage, or even control advanced robotics and artificial intelligence systems that will eventually become superior to human intellect? Should there be a standards board, a set of legislation, or even a security force that manages robots? Beyond the fears of most dystopian science fiction films, what can we do now to set the groundwork before these technologies are self-sufficient without human support. For example, scientists seek to create a system of checks and balances for advanced robots that ensure humans have fail safes, power-offs, and other security measures that could provide forms of safety. Today, technology is dependent on humans to be created, managed, and supported. Tomorrow, a new level of co-dependency will evolve. On the day after, advanced technology may be independent of human support — will we be ready for this future?
So there you have it: three distinct topics that are set to reshape the economy of the future. You can see the themes of technology overtaking human jobs, those who own these technologies, and ensuring we have balance points for safety. All these and other pressing issues will demand our top insights and ingenuity in order to prepare us all for the next phases of technology, business, government, society, and the economy.