Futurist to GLI: Millions of new industries will spin from technology
In the next decade or two, Thomas Frey predicts we’ll build our houses from 3D printers, shop at mobile convenient stores brought to our doorsteps and wear “smart” clothes that track our movements and guide us through the day.
Frey is a futurist who founded the Colorado-based DaVinci Institute. He’s also a sought-after speaker on the topic of how technological innovation will transform our lives.
He told 1,000 business people and community leaders gathered Monday night for Greater Louisville Inc.’s annual meeting at the Kentucky International Convention Center that while there are dire predictions of massive job losses from advances in artificial intelligence and automation, thousands of new industries will sprout from what’s right on the horizon.
Take autonomous vehicles, which Frey argued are going to be more disruptive than any other technology. They will ferry food and drink on a self-service truck to parades and softball tournaments without the need for a driver or cashier on hand.
“We’re getting blindsided by so many innovations,” Frey said as he sped through a PowerPoint sprinkled with photos and videos of 50,000 drones hovering over a city of the future, of mini-airports that fit on a downtown parking lot, and of homes and offices constructed from 3D printers that slide into a multistory bin-like structures.
Futurists have become a standard role at large global companies such as Ford Motor and Google in Silicon Valley. They research trends and provide predictions to help steer strategy and product development.
Frey created a sensation in 2012 when he predicted that 2 billion jobs would disappear by 2030. It’s not that 2 billion people would be out of work completely, he said then, but that because of the growth of technology, some jobs would become automated and processes would be optimized.
On Monday, Frey said that “by 2030, the average person will own printed clothing, live in a printed house, have packages delivered by drones, own more than one robot, work as a freelancer, frequently use driverless cars, and will be capable of accomplishing 10 times as much as the average person today.”
For future workers “all of this emerging technology is giving us the tools of production,” he said.
GLI President and CEO Kent Oyler told the audience that the metro chamber of commerce has set its sights on making 2019 the year of technology. The organization will lead its annual exploratory trip in September to San Francisco and Silicon Valley.
Louisville was dropped from the running to become home to Amazon’s second headquarters last year because of its workforce. Only 17,000 people in Louisville are working in techy jobs, which is less than half of what’s happening in peer cities doing a better job attracting new business and investment, Oyler said.
The organization intends to “stand up” a tech cluster and will push to scale its workforce development to become a “tech town,” he said.
Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin addressed the audience through video, adding his own call to to get engaged in educational efforts and other investments to grow new talent.
“We can’t continue to do things the way we’ve always done them,” Bevin said.