The Future of America and the Innovation Economy Part ll

Posted by Dr. James Canton on November 6, 2012 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

This post is on the day of the US election. Sometimes I think I must sound like a broken record but one more time, with feeling. This election is vitally important because it will determine not just the future US President but the future of the nation, with impact on the world of business, economics and globalization.

The Innovation Economy is an emergent economic paradigm for the planet. One third of US GDP is from innovation industries engaged in making or using technology. Innovation is not just about technology but the use of technology to enable business. Innovation: key technologies, processes, systems, methods will bring prosperity, peace and productivity that will bring democracy and a better world for the planet.

America has always been the leading global innovator, the New World driving new technologies like the Internet, nanotech, biotech and computing. This election, beyond the politics, is about the Innovation Economy. We need to get this right. And now.

This election, and the leader that emerges must be a catalyst for enabling innovation to move faster, deeper and with more financial investments to keep America competitively strong but also to continue to drive the next generation of innovations that enable not just the US economy but the world economy. America has contributed much to the world as far as innovation and tech innovations have transformed business, society and the marketplace.

A deeper connection between the White House and the private sector, regardless who is elected will mean a more viable future for America and the world economy. We must invest deeper in the Innovation Economy to spur on the next stage of prosperity and invention. Immense challenges such as climate change, security, energy shortages, health care access are global challenges not just challenges for America. Without deep investments in advanced next generation technologies: neuro, nano, info, bio, quantum and robotics we will miss a historic opportunity to shape a better future.

By 2025 the global innovation economy will be driver of prosperity, peace and progress on the planet. Technologies such as quantum computing, geoengineering, data science, molecular manufacturing, real time anywhere networks, neuroengineering will transform the global economy–if our leaders invest smartly in the future.

Governance is not just about law and politics. It’s about investing in the future. The next President needs to have a deep understanding of how productivity, peace and progress will be enabled by–the Innovation Economy. Invest now for our future and the future of the planet.

Beyond Politics: The Future of America

Posted by Dr. James Canton on August 31, 2012 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

The passionate forces on both political sides seem to have lost touch with the Big Challenge facing America–the future of America. Getting beyond the politics, both right and left, conservative and liberal is mission essential if America is going to chart a new course into the future. The Big Challenge is about sustainability, global competitiveness and innovation. This is what will drive the economy forward and yes create jobs and dare I say it, wealth.

Wealth, or the desire for improving ones well being, not just financial but the opportunity to have a sustainable job, smart schools for our kids, colleges that are affordable and relevant for the future is what authentic wealth is. Wealth is not about money alone but the quality of life that enables your life to have freedom, security and a chance to better yourself. This is why America has been a magnet for immigration for its short but vibrant history. Kill the wealth creating culture that brings up the poor into the middle class or even the middle class to greater wealth and you kill American culture. Wealth is fundamental to America. Ask any second generation citizen and he or she will tell you.

The future of America is on the line. Not because one or the other candidates are opposed to meeting this challenge but because they seem to both have lost sight of what this means. What America needs are leaders that embrace visions for America that make a better America and are realistic tactics to go after transforming education, health care, jobs and the economy.

This election is like most, a battle over ideas and ideology. But getting beyond the politics, both winners and losers must have a common objective–how to join together to improve America’s future. This will require a new narrative and a smart leader to champion. America’s future will not be transformed if the political acrimony prevails as the norm.

Enlightened leaders, from both political sides of the game must evolve to a new level of collaboration. America’s challenges are too heavy for one party, one President or one Congress to solve without a bigger collaboration of all.

Finally, my vote will be for free enterprise, free markets and innovation. Innovation is what America has given the world. From inventors like Ford to Einstein to Steve Jobs. Tech innovations have been a key driver of the American economy and tech innovations like Twitter, Apple and Google have driven entrepreneurs and freedom throughout the world. Our next President should be the Innovation President. Tomorrow’s innovations-Nanotech, Neurotech, Quantum tech, Infotech, Robotictech, Biotech–will change the world and America for the better. Innovation is beyond politics and will drive a better future of America.

Radically Rethinking Government: The New Digital Strategy

Posted by Dr. James Canton on June 30, 2012 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

There is a New Digital Strategy that is just released by the White House. It calls for a revolution in mobile, social, cloud, analytics and the interoperable use of data. It is the most far ranging attempt by any government to get tech savvy. It is part wish list and part logic: if we are going to build the next generation of 21st century governments then we had best rethink how we use technology and then rethink who we are.

Government 2.0 is a paradigm of rethinking what government agencies do, how they serve citizens and how they could operate more cost-effectively and be innovative in an era of complex change. The use of technology with work process transformation and better strategic planning is part of this model. Also, how they prepare citizens for the future is essential.

There have been many attempts with all administrations since the Internet became a dominant communications revolution to create change, Democrat and Republican alike. Few big changes came about while the private sector has been completely transformed. Government cannot afford in an era of fiscal prudence, yes even under the Democrats not to innovate to reduce costs.

But agencies are very protective of their power and unless the White House takes a stand nothing will happen. So that is what this is, along with more then a policy directive, there are aggressive time tables for each deliverable starting in 90 days. Which is what this should be so it is not just policy directives with no metrics or deliverables.

I think this is a timely and relevant policy shift driven by cost and innovation, or the lack of it. It has been coming for awhile and when I advised under Bush I banged the drum of digital integration as did many more closer to power. Now it is clear that in this climate of Twitter, Apple’s rise, the mobile web, Facebook and this president who has the best record on alienating business of any president, he is trying to demonstrate that he is tech savvy.

Now, to why much of this may not happen. The agencies are traditional bastions of power and hold tight their fiefdoms. Meaning they will not change unless mandated to. Next. There is no additional budget as yet so in essence your asking the agencies to make this very innovative policy directive happen without any new funds. Challenging at best.

On the security, privacy and terrorism issues. This is now in the hands of Depart Homeland Security. I think that there is a confidential counterpart plan to this that addresses these issues as this is DHS’s role and when talking about interoperability and shared data etc. in government the legal issues on use of citizen data access and disclosures are hugely complicated. So rather then complicate the vision here, it is implicit DHS will handle it but this too could not be funded and therefore not a priority versus hard targets like terrorists.

Now a more sinister forecast could play into the intrusion dreams of shared data and preying on citizens and unless you have not been paying attention that horse has left the stable–Big Brother has arrived.

My forecast that I gave to about 80 agencies was that there were going to be three trends facing them within the next 3-7 years that would be driven by higher expectations of performance, customer demands and smaller budgets. There are about 430 agencies making up about $13 Trillion (around same as GDP) of which best accounts are that there is over 30% waste or irrelevancy that we could eliminate if anyone had any guts to do so.

The first is Reduce Government Forecast will affect the lower performing group of agencies that resist innovation and cost cutting and resist rethinking their agencies purpose, work, mandate and customer-facing quality controls (impact on citizens). They would go away. These agencies would be eliminated or be outsourced to private sector companies. FedEx and UPS can do the postal service, should mostly be digital. And on.

The second Government M&A Forecast affects the next group of agencies. They would for similar reasons, basically not performing, get merged and consolidated into other agencies or new ones that have rigorous metrics, like the private sector but around leveraging innovation and serving real needs, with highly intelligent government pros as opposed to special interest agents or providing jobs for political hacks.

The third Government High Performers Forecast, this rewards agencies who transform themselves into innovative, digital, inventive and cost-saving and even profit creating but certainly customer enabling agencies, that derive their power from empowering citizens via better health, education, technology, defense and employment services. I would have them compete with real metrics to win even more budget.

The key, now and whoever the next President will be, is to use this digital mandate to set the stage, get the metrics, see who gets it or not and carve up the rest and get rid of the dead wood. I know this sounds deterministic but this is what needs to happen given fiscal austerity or a growth scenario.

Enabling government to do more with less funds will require a Radical Rethinking of Government. In a recent keynote in Washington DC I outlined this vision of the future.

Impossible Facebook and the Future of Social Media

Posted by Dr. James Canton on May 30, 2012 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Impossible to imagine that a billion dollar revenue based company that dominates social media and has over 900 million users has to endure all of this huge diversionary mirage about the dysfunction of their public offering. Whew!! There I said it.

Common wisdom is that drop in value has something to do with Facebook’s S1 public offering disclosures, their lack of desire to actually make money (please, does anyone actually believe this?). I cannot think that anything is farther from reality.

Facebook is developing, and I do mean developing a disruptive new business model that puts a value on connections, relationships, networks of communities. Over $1 million per 900 million. Over $3 Million per business. This is a new, yet to be proven business model.

So the fast R/evolution of web business is hard to see in real time. Microsoft dominated the desktop, Google blew up advertising, Apple conquered the apps world and now Facebook is a mega disruptor all over again dominating social media. This doesn’t mean there is lots of room in the business ecosystem for Twitter, Linked In, and others to play in the huge global web connected marketplace. Plenty of dinero. Plenty of time to grow new innovations with a long tail.

So back to Facebook. Impossible Facebook. Can they meet the mobile web challenge learning from Apple? Can they monetize advertising like Google has? I think they can and they can co-compete with other players.

Keep in mind that to 900 people today and over two billion people tomorrow, within five years, Facebook will be the Web for most people. Search, communicate, transact, locate and share all via Facebook.

So do I care that the stock is dropping? Or the valuation is questionable? No. This is a billion dollar company just growing up. Give it time, while your on Facebook or off Liking this or that.

Let’s let Mark show us what he can do. I bet he is a closet data scientist that has big plans for big analytics, big data and has a vision of the future of social media, maybe even the future of society and business.

Impossible Facebook is a fulcrum of change, electrifying the now and maybe the future of social media. Give them time to stretch and grow.

Future of Energy

Posted by Dr. James Canton on April 24, 2012 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Recently I have been giving a series of keynotes to clients on the future of energy. I spoke to the Biomass Organization and recently the Gas Processing Association. The same trends seem to be relevant.

To understand the future of energy you have to understand demand drivers such as population, wealth, economics, demographics, mobility and health care. Why? Energy lies at the very heart of every society’s sustainability. Their commerce, security and well being are tied today and will be tied in the future to energy. Energy access determines the future sustainability, climate change, evolution and development of nations. You have access to energy, you grow and thrive. You don’t and well the absence of energy is critical to survival or demise.

The world will need over 45 terawatts of energy to be sustainable by 2040. There is not enough energy in the world to keep pace with global or national GDP. Not enough means an energy challenged future.

Without radical accelerated alternative energy sources such as nano-solar, extreme biomass, natural gas infrastructure and yes more petro sources, we will not be able to feed 9 billion by 2050.

We need a new Smart Grid that connects everything users and providers, petro to alternatives to energy harvesting chips to pollution management. This is the future if we start thinking holistically. Plug in to the future.

So the future is about radical innovations that may bring us fast and accessible new solutions. Big data, Cloud computing, biotech energy development, synthetic biology etc. Without that we are at risk. Prosperity and the future are linked. Without energy there is no prosperity. New radical innovations will transform the energy equation–more energy sooner coming and fast.

Stay tuned

2012 Global Futures Forecast

Posted by Dr. James Canton on February 9, 2012 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

The Global Futures Forecast is a trend analysis of what’s coming this year from Dr. James Canton, the Institute for Global Futures. What’s on the horizon.

Just published at the Global Futures Forecast. Future of water, network agility, innovation, mobile, youth dissent, cyberhacking…

See for the full publication GFF 2012Future of Mobility

IBM’s Watson Challenge: Future Computing

Posted by Dr. James Canton on November 18, 2011 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

My friends at IBM research invited me and small group to the latest Watson Challenge at UC Berkeley and Stanford this week. I had a deep dive into the computing technology behind Watson and it was a exceptional.

Watson, named for the founder of IBM, was the computer that beat the World chess champ and recently became the winner over the humans on Jeopardy. Now Wellpoint the health care provider to 60,000 patients wants to hire Watson to do decision analysis.

I know what your thinking–HAL from 2001, the Matrix and Terminator’s Skynet cannot be far off. If we have Angry Birds will we have Angry Computers? This is a fair question. Luddites don’t unite just yet. There are legitimate concerns about supercomputers running our world in ways that humans do not approve of where humans are oppressed by computers. We are not there yet.

What the folks at IBM do get credit for is experimenting with inventing new ways to intelligently use data and computing to maybe, just maybe make the planet and our future a better place. Other then just making a commercial product they are making a profound contribution to computing technology but also are doing some Big Thinking about how we can use computers in health care, security, transportation and safety to better meet grand planetary challenges.

For this I give them lots of credit, willing to think big and apply computing to larger more holistic frameworks. If we are going to face the big challenges of our day and the future, Watson and computers and AI’s like Watson, who become, even evolve into true thinking machines with IDH Intelligence Different then Humans will make the difference.

Watson is a learning computer operating at 80 terabytes of power and 15 terabytes of memory. What makes Watson interesting is not the techno data but the combination of machine learning, natural language processing and reasoning programming. Watson is the beginning of a new more powerful era of thinking machines.

Is Watson a true AI, an artificial intelligence I asked the IBM team, is “he” capable do you think one day of self-awareness? maybe even consciousness? They don’t think Watson now or in the future will achieve self-awareness and after the deep dive into the technology behind Watson I agree.

AI, once known as the fifth generation of computing project ran into many barriers over the past 30 year of computing. Theoretically AI, thinking machines are possible and likely but not based on the still rudimentary computer tools we have today.

What future does Watson point to? Intuitive computing based on nanoscience-based computer chips, software that is genetic-inspired, Cloud Computing networks, quantum information systems and synthetic biology when mashed up will offer new hardware, software and computing ontologies that will transform the future of computing.

So real AI, that can advise us and invent new solutions for a planet in conflict dealing with poverty, explosive population, war, climate change and business requires a new computing model well beyond where we can can envision today. Are we there yet? No but we are on the way.

The exploration of evolutionary biology, as a computing platform is a direction I am interesting in exploring. Computers that use GA and GP, genetic programming and algo’s may hold the key to future computers.
Computing that is based on network cloud deployed anywhere AI, cloud based intelligence, with a personality, now that is coming.

If we are really going to make a better world we need next gen tools like Watson to help us get there. When Watson builds the next Watson then we will perhaps discover a new generation of post-human computing, built by computers that can help the humans figure this all out.
Stay tuned.

Meeting Future Global Challenges: Women, Leaders and Big Ideas?

Posted by Dr. James Canton on November 3, 2011 under Uncategorized | Read the First Comment

Recently I gave a talk at the International Women’s Forum in Washington DC, just near the White House. I don’t think I have been surrounded by so many dynamic, smart and educated women from around the world, 35 nations. This was an impressive and epic event well crafted where men were the minority in the room. This event brought together innovators from the Arab Spring, corporations, scientists, health economists, Ambassadors and diplomats to discuss balance and power on the planet. Human rights, innovation, freedom and prosperity were common themes. I learned a lot.

I gave a talk about the tech and science innovations coming in the future. I challenged my audience to use these tools–nano, bio, neuro, quantum, IT to make a better future–better health care, climate management, security, education, water and poverty management. I came away thinking these are the dynamic women who could shape the future, actually these 500 women from all over the world could do it.

The truly remarkable reality that exasperates the current economic crisis is we are all held captive by a lack of future visions; an absence of Innovative Big Ideas not being put forth by our global leaders. And those that should lead do not have and the courage to act on those few visions they do have. This obvious absence of leadership is a huge galaxy killing black hole that is the primary challenge facing our civilization: if we do not learn fast enough and come to understand the complexity of the challenges we have created so that we may find enduring solutions, we will encounter a clouded if not dismal future.

The list of complicated challenges demanding a future global vision includes: forging a sustainable global economic model that balances, growth and social responsibility; managed climate change; secure and affordable energy and affordable health care. My focus has been and I believe that investments in science and technology will play a large role in addressing global challenges of the 21st and 22nd century–but not without our leaders embracing the courage and the visions to apply these innovation tools.

The battle for the future is being played out now by our global leaders. Our economic models are in conflict. Our managing great challenges like water, climate change, health care cost containment, innovating in science and technology for making a better world is essential to our future. The economic uncertainty that will continue for some time will be a drag on the very investments in the future that may solve some of the large problems of our time.

The crisis in global leadership I would bet will be met by corporate leaders. Top talent from IBM, Cisco, Apple, Philips, GE and numerous emerging nation high tech start ups especially run by women will change the game. The leaders of the future may be dominated by women who will have the smarts, collaboration skills, tech savvy and maybe the Big Ideas that are needed to shape the future of the world for the better. I am betting on them.

Clash of Civilizations: The Connected Economy & the Battle for the Future

Posted by Dr. James Canton on under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

This moment in time is historically quite bizarre. Perhaps the deep pessimism that pervades the European mindset is that secretly they love the vision of a dystopian future and soon perhaps this will actually become realized. Then the critics of American positivism can be right after all as the EU brings down the global economy. I don’t think that is going to happen but then this futurist is a Yank.

The current conflict in the EU, with Greece threatening to spread their contagion of economic unsustainable finances and bring down the rest of the EU, if not the world is, in a Connected Economy actually today possible. This is the irony of the Connected Economy–connected for good or worse. The US has not dodged the bullet fully here but has experimented with bailouts already and headed off further financial contagion for now.

One of two scenarios will play out. Greece will accept the bailout package and basically push off the fiscal responsibility (with the EU cheering on) to future generations, hoping that growth in GDP and productivity will outpace their debt. This is magical thinking as Greece has no productive industrial sector and has no plan to invest in one like in the US, Germany or England. This of course is not a fix to put off the payment of debt and forgive some, but institutional denial of the inevitable, downgrading of Greece, then the EU as well or the prelude to either a Greek default or a downgrade of Greek status as a full EU member is the second scenario which is more real-politic but not likely.

As I wrote about in my book the Extreme Future, all markets, asset classes and economies are linked via globalization and technology in a one huge global network topology is like a Internet network, chaotic yet linked in various and intimate interconnected ways. Most experts could not agree on the various types of interconnections that have created this accelerating connectivity. I am grappling with this concept in my next book.

The Connected Economy is a recognition that validates when Greece falters on accepting the bailout deal as they did, the EU central bank reacts and cuts rates, the US Federal Reserve goes with a gloomy forecast, the US and Asia stock markets decline, MF Global with its sovereign EU exposure files for Chapter 11, major banks and securities worldwide lose billions in value all happening in ONE 24 hour period. If anyone does not believe the Connected Economy is real, they must have missed the last 15 years. Notice I did not evaluate or judge this phenomena as being good or bad for the global or sovereign economies, which is still very much a mixed bag to be analyzed later.

This is simply not an intelligent path to creating a sustainable global future for the EU or the world. Everyone knows it. Putting off to the next generations our problems because we have not the courage or intelligence to fix them now, is a recipe for more chaos. I cannot fathom our children approving of our cowardice in the future.

What kind of future do we want? One in which we deal with crises as a global commons with leaders telling citizens the truth and working to manage the future or to persist with the same old tired ideas and paradigms of the past? This is the strategic issue that faces business, society and individuals–what is our Connected Future going to look like?

The key issue of course is about the clash of civilizations: two vastly different models of the future based on different models of economics. The free enterprise capitalist and innovation based consumer economy versus the social welfare state of entitlements economy are as different as day and night. The free enterprise economy is driven by growth from consumer spending, innovation, investments in technology and business. Social entitlements such as education, health care, retirement and jobs represent a radically different model of incentives, competition, innovation and society.

How does this clash of civilizations play out? Well, what economic and social paradigms will create a better future is my question. Is growth and productivity as a panacea even possible long term in social welfare economies? I don’t think so. Is rogue capitalism that serves special interests better? I don’t think so. A balance of models including social accountability and free enterprise can and must be crafted for the future prosperity and security of the planet.

James Canton

Steve Jobs Legacy: Making a Better World

Posted by Dr. James Canton on October 11, 2011 under Uncategorized | Be the First to Comment

Steve Jobs passing has touched millions and rightfully so. As an innovator he wrote the book. In my last posting I acknowledged the lessons I learned working with Steve and Apple. But now his death has stirred new awareness in me about him and his legacy.

Look around our world in our home, in our kids hands, in schools and more now in business–The Apple experience is pervasive in our world, not just the device of choice. Animation from Disney where Pixar lives to iTunes, a paradigm shifting new business model to the iPhone populate our lives across the world. But Steve was always about a bigger idea that was beyond selling stuff. He was always about putting tools into people’s lives to transform their world for the better. This was a fundamental part of Steve’s DNA. He was not just a great salesman, he was a reality-shifter. This is an alchemy quite different.

When we launched the Mac at Apple none of us including Steve Jobs or Woz had a clue how the world would embrace it. We were all nervous and excited. Not quite flying blind but not looking over our shoulders but into a unknown future. There had been recent computer failures by Apple. The media was not rooting for us. IBM and all of business had dismissed Apple. Many thought we were not ready for prime time.

Much has been made about that Apple never did in the early days consumer research which is not true. Steve was not a big fan but some of us with a background in business decided that this could be a learning opportunity. I ran the first focus groups on the Mac with doctors in 1983 bringing ten into Apple HQ to show them the Macs. They were impressed and actually looked at them as they would other medical or surgical tools. Being in charge of business and industries like medicine, I wanted to learn from them about the new Macs. Steve did not oppose things even when he was not fully in agreement.

At Apple, we thought we were doing very cool things with technology to inspire the creativity of the individual, not make a productivity machine or even to make money. We were empowering the world with new personal innovation tools. At least that was the big idea. At Apple, in 1984 we were infected by an electric excitement authored by Steve. He was the catalyst for and the Apple culture reinforced, shaped and nurtured about changing the world.

Steve was baby boomer like myself. Many boomers were influenced by the progressive politics of the 60’s, the Vietnam War, Watergate, the social awakening of the American youth, the civil rights movement and the human potential movement, from Fritz Pearls to Tim Leary. These cultural change forces were about making the world a better place. This was the social context, the culture of making the world a better place, challenging norms, challenging authority and ultimately changing the establishment (becoming the establishment) that Steve and the Boomers were shaped by. Not all of us drank the whole cool aid but Steve did and he, like all of us then was struggling to making a difference before we even knew what that was about.

Apple, in this way, was shaped by the culture of dissent, invention and the rationale challenge of creating an alternative to society’s norms. The Mac was designed to be a social and personal tool of transformation, not just a computer. Even today this is still not quite understood or dismissed as an exaggeration. To Steve and most of us in the early days at Apple, this was our creed.

The intro of theĀ  new Mac was made to media and analysts first before the public saw it in 1984. This was Steve’s idea. We needed a big buzz to promote the computer. So we placed the Mac’s, each one in their hotel rooms. When they came in before the unveiling of the next day there was a computer sitting on each of the desks in their hotel rooms. No manual, no directions, nothing, just the Mac sitting there like some sentient beast waiting to come alive.

The natural instinct was to touch the Mac which the analysts did. And then something strange happened. Something that even today is not well known but points us to the future of computing–the Mac came “alive” and spoke Hello. This was the first time a computer spoke to a human. This was the first intimate, very natural and intelligent communication between a human and a computer. All smart machines of the future will owe a legacy to the first speaking computer, the Mac that greeted the public in 1984.Putting a voice chip into the Mac was pure imagination. That was Steve.

I am sad about Steve’s passing because most of what I learned about technology, culture and business I learned first at Apple. I recall being asked what I was doing at Apple, rather then writing books about future trends and innovation and at 30 years old, with a new PhD, I felt I knew little about technology so was there to learn, explore, discover. I was there to be part of a revolution in culture that transcended computing. It was about then in 1984 and still is today in 2011, making a better world. Steve knew that and his gift was reminding us we are about bigger stuff–the stuff that makes a better world.

A year after the iPhone was introduced there was Steve holding up a billion dollar check he was paying out to iPhone developers. Steve had empowered again a new generation of entrepreneurs, with a new personal computing platform. Steve and Apple created a tsunami of innovation that went beyond business they transformed culture. And Steve’s legacy may continue not by Apple alone but by the millions of inspired individuals that are using and will use cool Apple products to make a better world.

We will never know what Steve could have done if he had more time to live. Would he have created a new generation of Apple TV app entrepreneurs? Would he have created cloud based super-cheap computers that would transform the economics of the world? Or would Apple computers be used to create a new super grid and deliver clean energy to millions?

One thing is for certain and that is that his memory should live on and inspire us all to create a better world, a world that meets with courage the grand challenges of the day. Steve would have wanted to see this new future.