Freakouts in Our Reptilian Brains

Aug 18, 2015 | Uncategorized

What an interesting time we live in. The 24-hour news cycle propelled forward by competing political agendas adds an emotional froth to everyday life. Below all of the contrived angst are significant technological and economic changes that are as confusing as they are profound.

Last week I heard Salim Ismail talk about exponential disruption. Ismail is a former VP of Yahoo! and is now the executive director of Singularity University. Here are some of the notes I captured:

  • Society is not ready for change from local and linear to exponential and global. Leadership systems are set up to protect organizations by maintaining the status quo.
  • The amygdalae are two walnut-shaped groups of nuclei buried deep in the brain. The amygdala evolved to keep complex vertebrates, including our species, alive by processing emotional reactions like fight or flight. While no longer needed to save us from getting eaten (usually), they scan for danger. We have modern day “amygdalae freakouts.” Just look at the political campaigns now underway that are playing to fear.
  • As disruptive as the recent past has been, most disruption is still ahead of us –
  • In 4-5 years it will be impossible to lie due to voice and facial analysis.
  • Robots really are a threat to replace jobs. One called Robot Baxter only costs $22,000. Move its arms to perform a function or task and it then learns to do the task.
  • Driverless cars will increase road capacity 10-15 times, which will impact real estate values and make proximity less relevant. He says that his 4 year old will not need a driver’s license.
  • Uber and drones will become our delivery vehicles.
  • The Star Trek tricorder that has been depicted in the television shows and movies has remarkable analytical capabilities. It is now approaching reality. The Qualcom Tricorder X Prize competition winner will be announced in 2016.
  • He said that solar will soon be cheaper than oil. (Note to the reader: I’m just reporting what I heard. I’m not necessarily agreeing with all of this!). Per Ismail, every 22 – 30 months solar doubles in effectiveness. The Middle East will collapse, which is why Saudi Arabia is selling off its oil reserves as fast as possible so to not leave something that currently has value in the ground.
  • The pace of change is accelerating and the ability of government to control and regulate is falling behind. He cited governments trying to control Uber, the app-based ride sharing service. By the end of this year, Airbnb will be the biggest hotel in the world…and they don’t own a single hotel room.
  • All of this is being driven by sheer democratization with people using technology to content with one another to add value.
  • Blockchain disruption will dramatically and adversely impact banks, auditors, accounting firms. Per BBVA “Blockchain is a peer-to-peer public ledger maintained by a distributed network of computers that requires no central authority or third party intermediaries. It consists of three key components: a transaction, a transaction record and a system that verifies and stores the transaction. The blocks are generated through open-source software and record the information about when and in what sequence the transaction took place.”
  • Google Loon is a project to bring internet access to remote corners of the world via balloon. Once thought to be, well, loony, the technology now looks viable.
  • Leadership of legacy businesses needs to get up-to-date on this disruptive change. While continuing to operate under the current business model, leaders should assign small teams to attack the model and find a new way forward. Look at the Innovation Partnership Program.
  • Disruption is unsettling but it also represents new opportunities.
  • His book “Exponential Disruption” and website
  • Another book he mentioned is “Abundance: The Future is Better Than You Think”