Over the past decade, Thomas Frey has built an enormous following around the world based on his ability to develop accurate visions of the future and describe the opportunities ahead.
His keynote talks on futurist topics have captivated people ranging from high level government officials to executives in Fortune 500 companies including NASA, IBM, AT&T, Hewlett-Packard, Lucent Technologies, First Data, Boeing, Capital One, Bell Canada, Visa, Ford Motor Company, Times of India, and many more.
In his interview with ‘The IoT Magazine’, he touches upon how he is contributing to the world as a futurist, whether machine intelligence will exceed human intelligence in coming times, future trends in IoT and how IoT will change our lives and also talks about his book ‘Epiphany Z’.
Thanks Thomas for your time
So here we go, hope you’ll enjoy it —
Hi Thomas, great to have you today as a guest speaker. Can you please tell us, as a futurist, how do you contribute to the world?
Having started seventeen businesses myself and working with hundreds more, I try to couple reality with the visualization of the world ahead.
I believe that predicting the future has little value without understanding the driving forces behind the trends, subtle nuances that can be leveraged, and implications for both the people directly affected in the industry as well as others farther down the technological food chain.
I also consider the important role of governance, system changes, evolving attitudes and human conditions etc. along with technological changes. As a futurist, my job is to offer unique perspective and connect the dots leading to the future.
Do you believe machine intelligence will exceed human intelligence in coming times?
Well, machines cannot be built without human touch. Humans build technologies, machines and integrate intelligence in them. Also, we are not good at doing all kinds of work by ourselves. So we hire people to do tasks which we cannot do and this generates income. If we don’t need any help, we won’t have an economy.
So in future, we will see people working alongside machines. There will be jobs to build, maintain and monitor these technologies. Most importantly, no matter how intelligent a machine becomes, it will not be capable of formulating legal frameworks and policies required to govern the system.
With the introduction of technologies like ‘big data’, there will be a greater-than-ever need for more people to sort the useful information from the disposable. But people need to be more agile to keep up with technological changes.
What are the future trends you see in IoT?
Future industries will be able to leverage tomorrow’s technologies far faster than anything today. It is a great possibility that entirely new industries will be launched in near future. Which might include Asteroid Mining,Cryptocurrency, Instant Learning, Cure for Human Aging, Human Cloning or 3D Printed Bodies, Artificial Intelligence etc.
We can expect quite fascinating advancements in healthcare and financial industries as well including conducting medical procedures with AR/VR and use of digital currency. Agriculture will also witness some great innovations. We are also hearing a lot about Water Harvesting (generating water from atmospheric moisture) — there are companies which already figured this out. We are also slowly finding out the ways to create energy out of the air. I will not be surprised if we will be able to harvest energy from lightning bolts.
We also got ‘supermaterials’ like Graphene which is a form of ultra thin carbon just one atom thick, a million times thinner than a single sheet of paper. Very few people know that graphene is one of the strongest materials in the known universe, 100 times stronger than steel.
Great deal of research is being done on Graphene by China and Korean companies followed by US companies. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have figured out how to unlock graphene’s superconductor properties by coupling it with a material called praseodymium cerium copper oxide (PCCO). We will soon see super thin Graphene wires replacing the current metal towers.
What would be the role of IoT in our day to day life ?
IoT will be present in most of the areas of our daily life. Recently, I came across the news “Airbus will test a prototype for a self-flying taxi by the end of the year 2017”. There will not be a pilot in it. Rather, you will just need to provide the destination and the taxi will take you there.
Our regular household devices have already started to communicate with each other, this will go to the next level in coming times. Have you heard about smart pants? Probably yes ! These are pants which will alert you in the traffic and would monitor your movements as well as your step count. Similarly, a smart coffee maker will tell you how much caffeine you should take and will also keep track of your sugar intake.
3D printing is also one of the industries which will dominate the future. People will be able to 3D print their complete house ! You might be able to print construction material, the lumber, rock, drywall, shingle, concrete etc.
You’ll also be able to print pharmaceutical drugs with precise proportion of ingredients. So, Healthcare which is currently driven by pharmaceuticals, will become an industry that is driven by data.
In this hyper connected world, how would you describe the importance of IoT security?
I think of internet as house of cards, nothing is immune to external threats. It’s highly open source nature makes it quite vulnerable to cyber attacks. We see plenty of evidences everyday.
So IoT security stands to become an industry in its own. There will be a huge demand of cyber security professionals and ethical hackers. Organisations need to focus on building strong firewalls for cyber threats without any delay. Security needs to be integrated from the development of technology itself.
For example, Bitcoin — it is a form of untraceable cryptocurrency. Unlike previous digital currencies that failed because of security issues with hackers breaching the system and literally copying money, Bitcoin uses the block chain, an innovative public accounting ledger which helps to prevent double spending.
What would be your advice to companies and startups building IoT solutions?
I would say, define your market niche and really own it. It’s very simple yet many organisations fail to figure this out. IoT is too vast and it’s nearly impossible to become expert in all domains. So select your own niche and become well known in that niche.
Tell us a bit about your book ‘Epiphany Z’
‘Epiphany Z’ was released in January 2017. It’s my approach to envisioning, comprehending, and ultimately thriving in the radically different futures emerging around us at the speed of light.
It happens with many of us that we wake up in the middle of the night with a big idea and then it does not lets us sleep. I believe that eureka moments are what make humans such an interesting species, constantly moving forward, letting our amazing mind drive us to new direction. Grand ideas are like playgrounds where you can dream about solving big problems, starting your own business, contributing to the betterment of the world etc.
So when an idea pops up in your mind, you become responsible for that idea. If we let these eureka moments vanish, we will fail to act on our vision.
“Epiphany Z” is my framework for developing tools, skills and abilities, that will be necessary, even essential, if your dashboard is to really provide you with the information you need to control your destiny, or if it will only provide you with information about the forces controlling you.
What will be your advice if someone wants to become a futurist like yourself?
The best way to become whoever you want to become is to surround yourself with people you want to be like. If you want to become a painter, hangout with other great painters. If you want to become an author, spend more time with authors. Similarly, if you want to become a futurist, hangout with other futurists. Also try to solve hard problems in the world and don’t limit your imagination.
Via The Iotmagazine