As I mentioned, Ed was quite familiar with the organization at the World Future Conference (while I was not), and he additionally seemed to know some of the players, including the materials put out by this exhibitor. Fred Rogers (no, not the “won’t you be my neighbor?” one), publishes Trends Magazine, an audio-only publication as well as a new book, Ride the Wave: How 12 Technologies will Change the World and Make You Rich, both of which they were actively promoting.
One of the things that I found fascinating at the Futurist conference is how little consensus there was about anything … what one speaker insisted was an unquestionable truth, another might be 180° opposed on the same subject. Among the things that I sat through, there were a good four opinions on where population, jobs, and the general economic outlook was heading. Mr. Rogers was on the extreme “sunny side” of that particular street, and I guess the focus of Ride The Wave is on supporting that argument. There’s not a whole lot of stuff on their site about this, but here’s one bit of text which points to the main thesis:
For over two hundred years, pessimists have been telling us things were going to get worse; and they’ve been wrong every time. In fact, since the Industrial Revolution began in 1771, a series of technology revolutions have raised per capita GDP over 3200%. And, just when few people expect it, the pieces are falling into place that will more than double GDP in the next two decades.
Of course, this goes against pretty much everything that appears in the “if it bleeds, it leads” mainstream media, which seems to be dedicated to creating as much fear and foreboding as possible. I’ve certainly been a fan of books in this niche (such as Peter Diamandis’ Abundance) to which Rogers’ book has been compared elsewhere, so I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt (despite those circuits in my head which tell me “if it sounds positive, you’re being scammed”!). Anyway, here’s what he had to say when we caught up with him for an interview:
Certainly his prediction that 21.8 million jobs will be created over the next 10 years seems a stretch, especially in regards to how whole industries are evaporating as their products get merged into other technologies. I’m also not sure what he means by the “American energy revolution” as a key driver for this, as it would seem that nothing (except possibly for Fourth Generation nuclear reactors, but those are still decades off) currently in development would produce anything that would dramatically impact employment.
There is quite a list of new technologies, from Quantum Computers to Synthetic Life, rattled off on the book’s site, most of which will no doubt spur a great deal of development, and perhaps whole industries … but most of these point towards “Jeston jobs” where a handful of operators are overseeing systems that have automated processes that would otherwise had been done by hundreds of workers … so I wonder (having not seen the book) how Rogers comes to his conclusion of a coming massive increase in jobs.
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Filed under: Green Tech Events