I read this inspiring piece online this past week: The ideas below are attributed to a recent interview with Dr. Dieter Zetsche, Chairman of the Board of Management of Daimler AG, and Head of Mercedes-Benz Cars. In the piece, Dr. Zetsche notes how the world is changing and describes how technology, our well-being, and economic realities are driving us to a more sustainable future.
It’s fantastic to parse out some of Dr. Zetsche’s ideas and look at how these changes may affect your future: Jobs are changing so fast — old ones are disappearing and new ones are emerging. Perhaps it’s harder to plot out a career, but it is possible to live a dynamic and engaged life as you make your way through the eminent shifts in the world. These are truly exciting times!
A couple of interesting highlights from his interview include:
- The MD of Daimler Benz (maker of Mercedes Benz autos) said their competitors are no longer other car companies – but rather Tesla, Google, Apple, Amazon ‘et al’ are now competition in the automobile industry.
- Software will disrupt most traditional industries in the next 5-10 years. Uber is just a software tool. They don’t own any cars, and are the biggest taxi company in the world! Just like Airbnb is now the biggest hotel company in the world and they don’t own any properties.
Dr. Zetsche went on to call out specific paradigm shifts
Computers are becoming exponentially better at understanding the world. This year, a computer beat the best Go Master player in the world, 10 years earlier than expected. In the U.S., young lawyers can’t get jobs in part because of technology like IBM Watson, which provides legal advice within seconds, with 90% accuracy, (compared to 70% accuracy by humans.) Studies show that there will be 90% fewer lawyers in the future with only specialists remaining. Watson already helps nurses detect cancer with four times more accuracy than nurses can alone. Facebook now has a pattern recognition software that can recognize faces better than humans can. By 2030, computers will become more intelligent than humans.
In 2018, the first self-driving cars will appear to the public. By 2020, the complete industry will begin to be disrupted: You won’t want to own a car anymore, you will call a car with your phone and it will show up at your location and drive you to your destination. You will not need to park it, you pay only for the driven distance and can work while driving (riding). Our great grandkids will never get a driver’s license and will never own a car.
Most car companies will probably go bankrupt. Traditional car companies tried the evolutionary approach of building better cars, while technology companies (Tesla, Apple, Google) use revolutionary approaches and are building computers on wheels.
Cities will change, because we will need 90-95% fewer cars. Soon, we can transform parking spaces into parks. In the past, 1.2 million people died each year in car accidents worldwide. Now, we see one accident for every 60,000 miles (100,000 km) driven, and with autonomous driving that may drop to one accident in 6 million miles (10 million kms) driven. Millions of lives will be saved each year.
Suburban communities will change as well, because if you can work while you commute, people will move further away from urban cities to live in more beautiful neighborhoods. Electric cars will become mainstream about 2020. Cities will be less noisy because all new cars will run on electricity. Electricity will become incredibly cheap and clean: Solar production has been on an exponential curve for 30 years, but today you can see the burgeoning impact.
Finally, more solar energy (than fossil) is being installed worldwide. Energy companies are desperately trying to limit access to the grid to prevent competition from home solar installations, but that can’t last. Technology will take care of that strategy.
With cheap electricity comes cheap and abundant water. Desalination of salt water now only needs 2kWh per cubic meter (@ $0.25 cents). We don’t have scarce water in most places, we have only scarce drinking water. Imagine what will be possible if anyone can have as much clean water as he wants, for nearly zero cost!
The Tricorder X price will be announced soon. There are companies who will build a medical device (called the “Tricorder” from Star Trek) that integrates with your cell phone: When you breathe into it, it takes your retina scan and blood sample. It then analyses 54 biomarkers that can identify nearly any disease. It will be inexpensive and accessible, meaning everyone on the planet will have access to world-class medical analysis, for basically free. Goodbye, medical establishment.
The price of the cheapest 3D printer came down from $18,000 to $400 within 10 years. In the same time, it became 100 times faster. All major shoe companies have already started 3D printing shoes. Some spare airplane parts are already 3D printed at remote airports. The space station now has a printer that eliminates the need for the large amount of spare parts they used to have on board.
At the end of this year, new smart phones will have 3D scanning possibilities. You can then 3D scan your feet and print your own perfect shoes at home. In China, they already have 3D printed (and built) a complete 6-story office building. By 2027, 10% of everything that’s being produced will be 3D printed.
If you think of a niche you want to explore, ask yourself: “In the future, do you think we will have that?” If the answer is yes, ask yourself how can you make that happen sooner. If it doesn’t work with your phone, forget the idea. And any idea designed for success in the 20th century is doomed to failure in the 21st century.
70-80% of jobs will disappear in the next 20 years. There will be a lot of new jobs, but it is not clear if there will be enough new jobs in such a small time.
There will be a $100 agricultural robot in the future. Farmers in third world countries can then become managers of their fields instead of working all day in their fields. Aeroponics will need much less water. The first Petri dish has produced veal, and will be cheaper than cow-produced veal in 2018. Right now, 30% of all agricultural surface is used for cows. Imagine if we don’t need that space anymore.
There are several startups who will bring insect protein to the market shortly. It contains more protein than meat. It will be labelled “alternative protein source” because most people still reject the idea of eating insects.
Right now, the average life span increases by 3 months every year. Four years ago, the life span was 79 years, today it’s 80 years. The increase itself is increasing, and by 2036, there will be more than a one year increase per year. So, we all might live for a longer time — probably more than 100 years.
The cheapest smart phones are already $10 in Africa and Asia. By 2020, 70% of all humans will own a smart phone. That means, everyone will have the same access to world-class education.
Every child can use Khan academy for everything a child needs to learn at school in first world countries. There have already been releases of software in Indonesia. Soon there will be releases in Arabic, Swahili and Chinese. I see enormous potential if we give the English app for free, so that children in Africa and elsewhere can become fluent in English — and that could happen within six months!