• Jeff Sproul

It's More Than Keeping Up with the Jones

Updated: May 9, 2020

The Singularity University Global Summit brings together some of the world’s brightest minds, showcasing the world’s most promising social impact tech companies. Teaming up with global Development Organizations, NGOs and Corporate Partners, it brings attention, connections, opportunities, resources, and recognition to the companies and projects they feel are capable of making the most significant positive impact through their use of exponential technology.

Below is a summary of a number of interesting thoughts from the Summit:

Rise and Fall: Software and operating platforms will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5 to 10 years. Uber is just a software tool. It doesn’t own any cars, but is now the largest taxi company in the world. Airbnb is the largest hotel company in the world, although it doesn’t own any properties.

Artificial Intelligence: IBM’s ‘Watson’ already helps nurses diagnose cancer four times more accurately than doctors. Facebook now has pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans. By 2030, computers will have become ‘more intelligent’ than humans.

Self-Driving Cars: In 2018, the first self-driving cars will be offered to the public. At present, 1.2 million people die each year in car accidents worldwide. There is one accident every 100,000 km. With autonomous driving, that will drop to one accident every 10 million km. It will save a million lives each year.

Electric Cars: These will become mainstream around 2020. Cities will be cleaner and quieter because all cars will run on electricity, which will also be less expensive. Most traditional car companies may become bankrupt by taking the evolutionary approach and attempt to build better cars, while tech companies such as Tesla, Apple and Google will take the revolutionary approach and build computers on wheels.

Insurance Companies: They will experience increased difficulty, because without accidents, insurance will become one hundred times cheaper. Car insurance business models will disappear.

Real Estate: Real estate values based on proximity to work places, schools or other desirable attributes will change. If people can work effectively from anywhere or be productive while commuting, they will move out of cities to live in more rural surroundings.

Solar Energy: Production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but is only now having a substantial impact. Last year, more solar energy was installed worldwide than fossil fuels. The price for solar energy will drop so much that almost all coal mining companies will be out of business by 2025.

Water for All: With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination now only needs 2kWh per cubic metre. There is not scarce water in most places, only scarce drinking water. Imagine what would be possible if people could have as much clean water as they wanted for virtually no cost.

Health: The Tricorder X price will be announced this year. This medical device, which is named after the “Tricorder” from Star Trek, works on a cell phone and scans a person’s retina, takes a blood sample and measures breath. It then analyses 54 bio-markers that can identify nearly any disease. The Tricorder X will be inexpensive, so in a few years, everyone on this planet will have access to world class, low cost medicine.

3D Printing: The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same amount of time, it also became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies started printing 3D shoes. Spare airplane parts are already being 3D printed in remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they needed in the past. At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your perfect shoes at home. China has already 3D printed a complete 6-story office building. By 2027, 10% of everything produced will be 3D printed.

Business Opportunities: If you think of a niche you want to enter, ask yourself, “In the future, do I think this will exist?” If the answer is yes, then work on how you can make that happen sooner. If it doesn’t work via your phone, forget the idea. Most ideas designed for success in the 20th century are likely doomed to fail in the 21st century.

Work: Seventy to eighty percent of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be many new jobs, but it is not clear whether or not there will be enough new jobs in such a short time.

Apps: There is already an app called “moodies” which can tell the mood a person is in. By 2020 there will be apps that can tell by facial expressions if people are lying. Imagine a political debate where views know whether or not participants are telling the truth!

Longevity: The average life span of humans increases by 3 months per year. By 2036, the average lifespan will increase by one year each year. Humans may live well beyond 100 years.

Education: The cheapest smartphones already sell for $10 in Africa and Asia. By 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smartphone. That means everyone will have much the same access to world class education. Every child can use Khan Academy for everything he needs to learn at schools in First World countries. Further afield, the software has been launched in Indonesia and will be released in Arabic, Swahili and Chinese languages this summer. The English app will be offered free, so that children in Africa can become fluent in English within half a year.

As always, times are changing, but now at a much faster rate than ever imaginable!


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