A new book called iDisrupted claims that business, the economy, and even human nature are about to see huge changes, as Michael Baxter explains
Look forward a few years and the world will be a very different place. Many of the giant companies with which we are currently familiar will have departed this place and joined the great stock exchange in the sky.
iDisrupted is a book about disruptive technology – technology that will wreak havoc and cause great changes. Among the predictions: if you were to write a list of the world’s 100 largest companies in 2012, and revisit it in 2043, only 19 or so of those firms would still appear in that chart. The book also claims that the rate of innovation is set to accelerate at an astonishing speed.
Here are two reasons why... Firstly, there’s Moore’s Law – the observation that computer power doubles every 24 months. In 1965, Intel’s Gordon Moore predicted that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit would double every two years. If the family saloon car had seen its top speed increase on a similar trajectory, today it would travel at roughly ten times the speed of light.
Faster computers matter. When the human genome project got underway, progress was so slow that critics said it would take more than a hundred years to complete. Eventually it cost $2.7 billion and took 13 years to sequence
the first human genome. Thanks in part to more powerful computers, it now costs just a few thousand dollars and the process can be completed in a matter of hours.
The second reason is the internet. Ideas build upon ideas. No medium in history can match the internet for facilitating the spread of ideas across the globe.
So why will so many companies fail? Firstly, this has happened before. Of the world’s top companies in 1912, only 19 were still on that list in 1995; 29 had gone bust. History is set to repeat itself, but the next cycle will be a compressed version of the last. Oil, energy, banking and the car industry are all vulnerable. The car industry? Surely not! Why?
Firstly, it’s already happening. The rate of car use is still growing, but at a slowing rate. Experts predict that by 2050 the number of automobiles in Germany will fall by 50%. Then there are self-driving cars. The relationship between driver and car is quite intimate. The car is like an extension of ourselves. With self-driving machines, something will be lost. Cars will just be things.
Then throw the rise of the sharing economy into the mix. The economics of self-driving cars combined with lift sharing will be so compelling that people will start questioning whether they really need a car to drive. There’s a noticeable attitude change too. The Millennial Generation (that’s people born within a few years of the year 2000) are typically more attached to their smartphone than they are to their car.
Electric cars will cause disruption as well. The car industry is somewhat cynical about electric cars. However, the combination of nanotechnologies – such as carbon nanotubes and graphene – with lithium-ion, -lithium-sulfur batteries and new superconductors will revolutionise energy storage.
Technology will transform business, the economy and may even change what it is to be human. This is both exciting and terrifying. Few seem to appreciate the changes that are occurring. Stepping into this new technological age blind is a very dangerous thing to do. That is why few things are more important than understanding this new world. Michael is co-author of iDisrupted, on sale now in both e-book and conventional formats. See idisrupted.com for more
NO MEDIUM CAN MATCH THE INTERNET FOR FACILITATING THE SPREAD OF IDEAS