2082 is 68 years away. Adrian Hon can take you there now.
In the same way that humans have a hard time understanding exponential functions in mathematics, we also find it difficult to anticipate what I term “exponential causality.” Journalists and academics tend to focus on things that can be directly inferred. To catch up with everything else that will eventually matter, some may turn to science fiction.
Exponential functions — such as 10 to the power of 9 — can cause dizziness in most people quickly, especially when the exponential superscript attached to the base number is negative! Medina’s idea is that thinking about the future — and the changes that will be exponential disrupters — can also cause people to shrink back to the cold, hard facts of current reality. But, she says, to start thinking about exponential causality, sometimes science fiction can help.
Enter Adrian Hon (@adrianhon), who is both a neuroscientist and CEO of the Six to Start software gaming company [link]. He is also the author of A History of the Future in 100 Objects [link]. As Medina explains, Hon’s book is science fiction with a strategic twist: “[The] book looks back from the year 2082 (which is within the likely lifespan of some living Millennials) and stitches together its narrative using 100 objects that represent the journey humanity took since the present day.”
On the book’s website, you can read some of Hon’s stories about what will be happening in the world over the next 68 years. You’ll find, in Hon’s future world, individuals greatly empowered, governments struggling, and business somewhere in between.
Keep in mind that all of Hon’s trends-to-come are framed by objects that he projects will be invented between 2014 and 2082. Take, for example, one that caught my fancy. He writes in his book that “Mutual Assurance, an insurance co-operative based in Buenos Aires,” will create a Lifeline bracelet in 2032. This is fun and stimulating reading!
Says Hon about that prospective object [link]: “The bracelet I’m about to put on is a slender band of sensor-packed composites that tracks the usual things: blood pressure and oxygenation, heart rate, metabolic panel readings, galvanic skin response levels, and so on. The Lifeline also hooks into the wearer’s glasses and other technology to determine, in short, what they are doing and how risky it is. All of this health and behaviour data is then combined and converted into a single number — the micromort. A micromort is a unit of risk representing a one-in-a-million chance of death.”
Strategic thinking has never been more entertaining. For example, what if you are in health insurance or health care in any way? Should this idea be developed in less than 20 years from today, there could be vast implications for what you should be doing to guide your company toward that future.
Medina highlights three of the trends she finds most compelling, if Hon’s scenarios evolve even remotely close to what’s in his book: (1) a greater role for Africa in the world, (2) a greater impact by the dynamics of the cloud, cyber progress, and artificial intelligence, and (3) the introduction of neurocience as a major change agent in human behaviour, which occurs when people start controlling their brain activity.
I know of many companies — whole industries, even — that have been stuck in their status quo for several years. Consider Hon’s clever writing as not only one way to help understand Medina’s concept of exponential causality, but also as a kind of defibrillator for the brain, a way to shock you and your team into thinking about all kinds of possibilities. Science fiction can sometimes help people think strategically.