Forget the misplaced hype surrounding the Wonder Woman movie and the invented back story of her classical Amazonian roots the real super human is Jeff Bezos. First his company Amazon was an online bookstore, then a seller of cleaning products and electronics now Amazon is dominating all forms of retail as well as cloud services, electronic gadgetry and small business lending. Its proposed aquisition of the Whole Foods chain will see Amazon breaking the barrier between the digitial and physical.
This is the nature of disruption: disruptive competition comes out of nowhere. The traditional book and record sellers were the incumbant retailers who were not ready to face the rapid growth of online sales and as a result folded, as will the vast majority of today’s leading companies who within the next 10 years are likely become obsolete. New disruptive technologies supported by their robot automated factories and drone delivery services make the prospect of a jobless future and new social structure built around a more culture and leisure focussed life a not too distant reality.
Disruption will appear in all industries as technologies advance and converge to render the navel gazing incumbants obsolete.
We continue to benefit at increased speed from the advances in computing devices; our smartphones have greater compting power than the Cray super computers of the late 1990’s! All technology with inbuilt computing is advancing on an exponential curve to include sensors and artificial intelligence to drive robotics; synthetic biology and 3D printing of new environments and products is already happening.
The patient doctor interface has not changed from the time of Dr Finlay and his erstwhile assistant Janet who shuffles his casebook while picking up the heavily thumbed Reader’s digest magazines from the stained carpet. (All women can multi-task)
Genome science will at last replace the worn out corduroy panted Finlay and his Laura Ashley bedecked Wonder Woman counterpart to give us an accurate picture of what is wrong you the patient. This will be based on individual DNA, an exact picture of what is going on in your body without having to say AAGHHHHHH while a lolly stick spatula is thrust into your throat. A small saliva or blood specimen placed on your home doctor app will advise you within moments to stay in bed in the company of a hot toddy or get yourself rapidly to the nearest hospital.
What skills and services lie beyond disruption? For now its is perhaps only those that are driven by creativity; the scriptwriter, the fashion designer or the movie director where intuition and the ability to bring together disparate sources of inspiration into something unique that is meaningful and has some sort of social credibility are going to survive the algorithmic age. Ada Byron when she wrote the first code for the Difference Engine could not have imagined that technology would become a major threat to the well being of those born after 2025 who will need to redefine the beloved notion the millennial generation “work life balance” to “life without work” especially those already at risk in the unskilled job sector.
My flight last weekend made this all too clear; the boarding desk Clerks and border control officers were all replaced by scanners, I was at one with machinery and AI, my journey saved only by human interface with the SQ flight attendant who picked up my pen from the cabin floor. Not quite that exquisite Kubrick 2001 moment of the fountain pen floating weightless in the cabin before its is plucked out of the air by a steward (nee stewardess) in a pure balletic movie sequence.
No proclamation 1081 will solve this type of disruption, biology and life become digital, this is the narrative of 2025, we are already in the middle, what is at the end?