There’s no question that the past two years have been highly disruptive. Our daily lives look entirely different than they did in 2019, and we’ve all had to adapt in one way or another.
One thing that I’m grateful for, however, is that TED has continued to share inspiring and innovative TED Talks throughout this time to give us inspiration and insight. Watching these talented individuals on the stage has become a favorite part of my week as someone who misses in-person public speaking.
Here are my top five TED Talks of 2021:
“We were looking for bliss in a blah day and purpose in a perpetual pandemic. But languishing is not unique to a pandemic. It’s part of the human condition.” –Adam Grant, How to stop languishing and start finding flow, TEDMonterey, August 2021
The pandemic created a massive shift in our lives, and many of us found ourselves sinking into “languishing,” which Adam Grant expertly explains in this TED Talk. After spending nearly two years living through a pandemic, it feels validating to put a name to the feeling that so many of us were experiencing. Even better are the solutions that Grant provides in his talk.
“On today’s internet, we don’t get paid for the work we do with our minds. And what’s more, the content we upload to these services is trapped there. These services not only make money from our content, they control it. Until NFTs.” –Kayvon Tehranian, How NFTs are building the internet of the future, TEDMonterey, August 2021
NFTs surged into popularity in 2021, and people have been trying to explain them ever since. This TED Talk from Kayvon Tehranian does a brilliant job of explaining what NFTs are, as well as their potential to bring the internet into its next evolution.
“This wouldn’t just be better for chickens and cows and pigs and the people who have to farm them and slaughter them and process their meat. This could be better for the whole world.” –Isha Datar, How we could eat real meat without harming animals, TEDMonterey, August 2021
One of my daughters is vegan, and she’s always making creative meals for us to enjoy (like this vegan turkey). She’s inspired me to look into vegan options, but I have to admit that I love real meat, which is why the development of lab-grown meat is fascinating. This TED Talk from Isha Datar dives into the science behind lab-grown meat, as well as all of the incredible benefits that could result from this new means of food production.
“The future of work is not going to be created with top-down, opinion-driven edicts from senior leaders whose day-to-day realities don’t match those of us dual-career, time-pressed and income-pressed people. Of course, senior leaders want to go back. That worked for them. But they have to recognize that for 18 months now; their people experienced unprecedented agency, control, flexibility, trust, and accountability.” –Debbie Lovich, 3 tips for leaders to get the future of work right, TED@BCG, September 2021
There’s no question that the future of work has changed drastically, and the post-pandemic world is likely to see a somewhat permanent shift to remote and hybrid work. As Debbie Lovich says in this TED Talk, it’s time for leaders to embrace the change and learn new methods of leadership and teamwork.
“It’s not just about your commutes. It’s really about changing everything in terms of how we move people, goods and services, eventually.” –Aicha Evans, Your self-driving robotaxi is already here, TEDMonterey, August 2021
Self-driving cars are not a new subject, but Aicha Evans believes their technology has the potential to shift how our world moves entirely. In this TED Talk, Evans discusses how robotaxis could create a high-tech, sustainable, and convenient mode of transportation.
These were some of my favorite TED Talks of 2021, and I’m looking forward to more educational and inspiring talks in 2022!
As the pace of change continues to accelerate, one thing is certain. The future will look very different than it does today. I believe this accelerated innovation and the Megatrends driving it
will have a sustained, transformative impact on the world in the years
ahead — on businesses, societies, economies, cultures and our personal
This change is inevitable, and those that anticipate and
embrace it will be the revolutionaries of the experience age. In fact,
adapting to the changes is the difference between leading change and
being led by it. Unfortunately, there is no magic pill. No silver
bullet. It takes dedication and thought. So, how can you lead the way
and future-proof yourself?
When I was in college, a single computer took up an entire room. Yes, am dating myself a little here…. Now, we hold computing devices in the palms of our hands. In fact, we have more computing power in our pockets than all of NASA had when they put the first man on the moon in 1969.
Innovation is significantly shaping our world. And it’s the number #1 topic I’m most frequently asked about. Whether it’s at the HP offices, at speaking engagements, or when I attend conferences, people want to know how they can tap into their own inner innovator, and spark innovation at their offices.
Innovation is an attitude. As an innovator you need to believe you can change the world, that if you keep working on a problem you will eventually find a solution, and that anything is possible. Innovators have a passion to make things happen. They relentlessly take action.
with small things. Have lunch every week with someone outside of your
team. Talk to them about what they do and how they do it. Innovation is
about leveraging diversity, and the more you know about more things, the
better you will be able to innovate.
down your ideas. Sometimes the simple act of writing things down can
bring your ideas to life. You never know when that list will come in
Once you become comfortable with those, move on to larger mindset shifts.
your assumptions about everything. Many times, the “right” way to do
things can be altered and improved, it just takes someone to question
the underlying assumptions. Ask yourself, how can this be improved? How
can we make it better?
2.Keep learning or unlearning
times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find
themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer
exists.” –Eric Hoffer
you have a fixed mindset, your qualities are carved in stone. If you
lack a skill, you will continue to lack it. However, when you adopt a
growth mindset, you can grow and change through persistence and
experience. With a fixed mindset, you can be easily overwhelmed with the
future’s uncertainty, but the future belongs to those who can adopt a
growth mindset and keep learning.
very interested in how the line between science and philosophy is
blurring. It seems where science doesn’t have all the answers (e.g.
quantum mechanics and the true nature of reality), philosophy comes back
to the fore to help us imagine the possibilities that we hope science
might one day prove out. Consider Einstein’s original thought experiment
about sitting on the end of a light beam (philosophy) and how that led
him to the special theory of relativity (science). Both are equally
important for charting the human future in a world of accelerating
change and technology.
A Nielsen study
examined the impact of collaboration in the development stage of
innovation. It showed ideas developed by teams of three or more people
have 156% greater appeal with consumers than those developed by just one
or two people who played a hands-on role.
developed by teams of three or more people have 156% greater appeal
with consumers than those developed by just one or two people who played
a hands-on role.
with people in your field (current or desired) by discovering how they
think and their vision of the future. When you get to know one another,
you feel more comfortable sharing ideas and voicing your opinions,
creating healthy collaboration.
Stay current on trends by reading, watching, and listening to sources you trust. As a futurist, my job requires a keen understanding of how the world around us is evolving, the global forces that are dramatically changing the landscape of markets and industries, and trends that are reshaping customer expectation.
At HP, we’ve formalized our analysis and forecasting process into a body of work we call Megatrends, a systematic effort to identify the global technological, economic, and social currents that are influencing how people will live and work around the world in the future. Take a look at this year’s report that looks at how innovation and disruptions in economics, data, automation, and energy impact megatrends.
I stay on top of trends by reading the latest technology news, speaking
with customers and industry pundits, paying attention to university and
academic research areas, monitoring venture investing trends and
start-up activity. I also draw from my personal experiences, media
coverage, and public data sources.
important to have a vision and desired outcomes in mind. Then explore
how trends and technologies can help you realize those outcomes. Ongoing
problems the world is facing, like poverty and climate change, cannot
be solved with short-term thinking. If we want to move forward and
create the future we want, we must adopt long-term, futuristic thinking.
you’ve identified the trends, come up with proactive statements about
where you think the future is going. This is something that true disrupters do. So … ask outlandish questions, free your mind, and push yourself outside of your box. The future is yours to create.
5. Give yourself a break
all that, are you feeling a bit frazzled? We spend hours pondering how
we can stay ahead of this change instead of being led by it. Even if we
could predict the future perfectly (which, of course, we can’t), we need
to be willing to reinvent ourselves continuously as all of this change
in our world occurs.
It’s okay to take a break from
future-proofing yourself. Read a book. Take a walk outside. Listen to
your favorite music. Give your brain a chance to breath and recharge.
future will be transformed by people like you, who are strategic
thinkers, quick to innovate, and passionate. What do you think? What
skills or mindsets will we need to adopt today for the future? Sound off
What happens when computers become intelligent? We are just now beginning to see what this future may look like, as gains in artificial intelligence (AI) are increasing. From intelligent self-driving cars, to AI-powered robot surgeons and smart factories, computers and machines that can learn and adapt will soon change the world as we know it.
While we are still in the nascent phase of AI technology, billions of dollars are being spent on research and development, helping to accelerate AI advancements. IDC predicts AI spending will increase by more than 50 percent year over year and reach $57.6 billion in investments by 2021.
One industry poised for massive disruption from AI-led technology is transportation. Leading automotive manufacturers and technology companies are in a heated race to develop fully autonomous vehicles (AVs) for use as taxis, commercial transportation, personal transportation and more.
All major car manufacturers are currently exploring AV technology. Each day in Arizona, hundreds AVs developed by Google’s Waymo, Lyft, General Motors and Intel roam the streets of Phoenix and other cities. Arizona lawmakers intentionally created minimal regulations for AVs in order to attract AV-related companies, which encouraged a sort of tech boom in the state. Safety advocates have criticized the state’s lax approach, claiming that more regulations around safety, auto cybersecurity, insurance and privacy have not been worked out.
While AVs for personal transportation have garnered a great deal of attention, AI is now disrupting virtually all other areas of transportation. Uber, Waymo and other companies are testing and using autonomous cargo trucks to deliver goods. GE transportation is actively using AI to develop “intelligent” locomotives to improve efficiency of rail transport and Hitachi is using AI to reduce power consumption. Major airline companies already use autopilot technology to do most of the work once a plane is in the sky and can even land a plane in inclement weather. Now they are researching how AI can replace more of a pilot’s responsibilities.
AI is even having an impact on city infrastructure and planning of cities. The U.S. Department of Transportation issued a call for proposals from cities looking into smart infrastructures. It will award 40 million dollars to a city that can demonstrate how to solve critical municipal challenges using innovative transportation technologies, data and applications.
“It is very clear to us that autonomous technology will fundamentally change the industry,” said Michael Ableson, GM’s vice president of global portfolio planning and strategy. “There is no greater impact on the industry than self-driving cars.”
The brains behind self-driving vehicles Soon, we may well see the road filled with AVs. According to WinterGreen Research, over 90 million autonomous-capable consumer vehicles, cars and light trucks will be on the road worldwide by 2023.
In order for this to happen, a fully functioning, safe AV needs an enormous amount of computing resources, power and AI that can sort through large amounts of data in milliseconds. The biggest challenge facing AVs is to improve the software powered by machine learning and AI to correctly interpret data that is fed through the car’s sensors. It needs to safely drive a vehicle through various weather scenarios and identify and respond to other cars, animals, pedestrians, bike riders and more. In other words, the AI that controls self-driving cars needs to be error-free. “This is not a recommendation engine for Netflix,” said Danny Shapiro, senior director of automotive at chipmaker Nvidia. “The AI has to be spot on.”
AI is already being used for AVs today, including Tesla’s Autopilot system that helps drivers navigate highways and parking lots. Tesla claims every vehicle it produces has the ability for complete, autonomous driving, yet it will only be activated when the necessary software and government regulations are in place.
Cameras inside certain vehicles now identify drivers and track eye position to see if the driver is distracted or asleep. Cars also now identify and predict potential cross traffic danger. Auto braking features that prevent collisions are in place. In fact, if you have a 2017 car, it most likely has level two partial automation features, which can be steering assistance and accelerating or decelerating under certain situations, as defined by the Taxonomy and Definition for Terms Related to On-Road Motor Vehicle Automated Driving Systems. The next three levels in the classification system are all based on vehicles with automated driving systems that monitor and respond to the environment.
As we continue the road to AI-enabled AVs, here are some other exciting details that are expected to emerge in the coming years:
Automotive self-diagnostics and maintenance As automobiles become more like computers with wheels, they are increasingly becoming connected and, with artificial intelligence capabilities, will predictively identify maintenance needs. By combining data from advanced Internet of Things sensors, maintenance logs and other external sources, AI will help with better prediction and avoidance of machine failure, according to McKinsey. This could reduce maintenance costs by up to 10 percent.
Predii, a company that provides a platform that enables organizations greater efficiency for repairs and maintenance, predicts that connected cars will be a source of high-frequency data for predictive and proactive maintenance.
“The availability of continuous streams of data from vehicles will empower vehicle monitoring businesses which are responsible for continuous health checks of your vehicle or fleets of vehicles,” according to a white paper by Predii. “Intelligent repair solutions will monitor check engine lights, diagnostic trouble codes, symptoms and data from advanced driver assistance systems.”
Automated cars are programmed to obey laws Imagine intelligent cars that can drive somebody home who has consumed too much alcohol. Or takes over the wheel if somebody falls asleep. One of the key predicted benefits of having AVs on our roadways is the reduction of traffic accidents. In 2017, there were an estimated 40,000 traffic fatalities in the U.S., with more than 90 percent of them caused by human error, according to the National Safety Council.
Self driving cars are far better than humans at obeying traffic laws, since they are programed to do so. They don’t text and drive, or drive under the influence of alcohol, or drive too fast, which makes them much safer than humans.
Government traffic planners are optimistic that AVs won’t go over the speed limit, which will produce more cohesive and calm roadways with fewer accidents, according to a report last year on speed limits by the National Conference of State Legislatures.
Car Rental Companies become Self-Driving Car Fleet management operators If a car can drive itself, do we really need to own our own vehicle? Can’t we call Uber to pick us up in one of their AV taxis? That’s the question posed by various automakers, technology and rental car companies, who envision a near future full of “robot taxis” through a ride sharing or rental car service. This “on-demand autonomous” vehicle is a vision of Michael Ableson, GM’s vice president of global portfolio planning and strategy. And it’s why GM paid $500 million for a stake and a strategic alliance in Lyft, the second biggest ridesharing service behind Uber. Ford isn’t far behind, since in August 2016 the company announced a “high-volume, fully autonomous vehicle for ride sharing” by 2021.
With a fleet of AVs, car-sharing companies are expected to have a coherent view of an AV fleet, monitor and manage it, detect issues and enforce policies. Operators can gather data of each individual vehicle including location, mileage, fuel consumption, driving behaviors and even if a door is left open. The AVs can then be remotely controlled to drive to service stations for repair and refueling.
Reroute traffic based on congestion, accidents, etc. Google maps and other map-based apps have already helped road warriors find the shortest route possible to their destination. As AVs include greater connectivity, the AI behind it can gather data regarding traffic patterns, accidents and slows downs and appropriately — and automatically — reroute for optimal travel. This will help to ultimately lessen traffic congestion.
Tesla’s complete self-driving system will use GPS technology to find the optimal route to its given destination. If the car isn’t given a destination, it can check the owner’s calendar to determine the best destination or take the owner home.
Vehicles as “digital living environments” It now takes the average U.S. worker 25 minutes to travel to work, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. AVs are expected to free up time for passengers to focus other tasks, including work, socializing, viewing entertainment, etc. Bosch has created a show car to display the company’s “digital living environment” inside AVs. It features large-surface monitors with the ability to have video conferences, display real-time traffic and weather information, email accessibility and entertainment options.
“Alongside the home and the office, the car will become the third living environment and a personal assistant,” said Bosch CEO Volkmar Denner.
Autonomous truck services In October 2016, the world’s first successful autonomous truck delivery was completed when an Uber truck carried 50,000 cans of Budweiser beer over a distance of 120 miles from Fort Collins to Colorado Springs, CO. Now Uber’s autonomous trucks are delivering goods throughout Arizona. Other AV companies are following suit.
A report by the International Transport Forum claims autonomous delivery vehicles will save costs, lower emissions and improve road safety, compared with trucks operated by humans. New autonomous trucks will have the ability to perform a host of delivery duties including pick up garbage, deliver packages and food, and a numerous other services. All these services can be optimized through advanced logistics for traffic flow.
Public transportation safety and usage optimization Public transportation also stands to benefit from the use of AVs and the associated logistics operations systems.
In Helsinki, Finland, trial is underway where an autonomous bus transports up to a dozen passengers at a time through a quarter-mile route with restaurants and saunas. The city is expected to expand the trial and provide autonomous bus services throughout the city, in order to measure customer response and basic operations data.
“There’s a lot of demand to solve the last-mile problem,” said Harri Santamala, the city’s project coordinator, referring to the challenge of transporting passengers from centralized transit hubs to their final destinations. “I think this is something we could do with automatic buses. On a real-time basis, we can adjust how they drive and where they make the connection. We’ve learned with this pilot that you can be flexible and synchronize with this technology. We could scale this up to the entire fleet.”
Metro Magazine suggests numerous benefits to a municipal transit system powered by autonomous buses:
Trip-planning information is integrated across modes and agencies (public and private), so the general public has the ability to evaluate their travel options with comprehensive information on travel time, cost, environmental impact, and more.
Real-time schedules for all transportation modes are centrally available.
Vehicles and transit schedules are “right-sized” so fleets are used effectively and there are no more empty buses.
Fare payment is made electronically and only one payment is needed for each whole trip.
Travel times are generally predictable and well-communicated.
Lower income and people with disability populations have access to all of these services.
The future of AVs are near A world of intelligent vehicles is no longer a novel science fiction idea, but a near future. Passenger busses, taxis, personal vehicles, airplanes, trains and more are set to improve the way we get around. Ford, GE, Volkswagen, Audi, Toyota, Ford, BMW and Nissan are all hard at work creating and testing AVs they say will be road ready by 2020. And the U.S. Secretary of Transportation stated at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto show that he expects driverless cars to be in use all over the world within the next 10 years.
This AI-driven transportation revolution is expected to make our roadways safer, ease traffic congestions, make our transportation systems more efficient and make transportation more enjoyable. And, the trend toward urbanization might be reversed as AVs give people more time to work and be productive.
AI’s potential impact on transportation is immense. Advancements will continue to reshape the industry, how we drive, deliver and ship goods on earth and possibly in space in the future. Get ready to start your AI-powered engines.
I recently sat down with HP Labs for Part 2 of a five-part series discussing HP’s future technology vision, and how key global forces known as Megatrends are being used to shape that vision and our future. Megatrends are global socio-economic, demographic and technological forces that will have a sustained and transformative impact on businesses, societies, economies, cultures and our personal lives in unimaginable ways in the years to come.
In this TED talk, Joi Ito, head of the MIT Media Lab, shares how he used personal experiences to create one of the most successful citizen science projects in the world.
At HP, we’re constantly building and reinventing things. Staying in the moment or being a “now-ist”, as Ito calls it, is crucial when it comes to innovation. Here are my four tips for staying in the moment:
Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab, pushes the edge of the information revolution as an inventor, thinker and angel investor.
In this TED talk, Negroponte recounts the last 30 years of technology. He highlights his predictions from the 1970s and 80s that were originally dismissed, but are ubiquitous today. He also leaves us with a fascinating prediction – we will ingest information through our blood stream in the future.
Ingestibles are especially intriguing to me because it’s a technology that has the potential to be transformational. We are moving from a world where we carry technology, to a world where we wear technology, and more recently to a world where we can now ingest it. At this point, I don’t think we’re far off from Negroponte’s prediction becoming a reality.
In fact, healthcare-focused ingestibles have already hit the market. The FDA-approved Proteus pill uses a one-square-millimeter sensor to transmit important information about your health to your doctor or family member. Upon swallowing, the sensor is activated by electrolytes within the body. The pill then transmits a signal to a small patch worn on your torso and sends the data via Bluetooth to a designated smartphone.
When you think of this pill by itself, it may seem like a novelty, but when you consider the strides made in wearables and ingestibles along with the convergence of consumer products and specialized medical devices, it’s inevitable that we’re going to experience a structural change in our healthcare system.
I want to hear your predictions. How do you think ingestibles will be used in the future?
I really enjoyed Guy Kawasaki’s “The Art of Innovation” talk at TEDxBerkeley 2014: “Rethink. Redefine. Recreate. Kawasaki, Chief evangelist of Canva, author of numerous books, and former chief evangelist of Apple, has a refreshing take on innovation.
The virtual reality trend is set to sweep the gaming industry, and several companies are taking note. Sony created Project Morpheus and Samsung recently introduced the Gear VR Innovator powered by Oculus. The technology used in these virtual reality headsets is driving innovation by plunging gamers into a 3-dimensional virtual world that feels incredibly lifelike.