Blending Signals To Envision The Future
In a previous post, I mentioned that for some, foreseeing the future is challenging. Not sure why, since the signals of the future are all around us. Every day and in every way, we see glimpses of the future in everything around us – like the Canadian Shield poking up through the ground – all we need to do is to try to recognize them as indications of a future. Sure, they may or may not grow into something (they will, we just aren’t sure when), but it’s worth thinking it through. For example, let’s look at several possible random signals that are out there in the world and see what we can come up with.
Signal 1 – The cost of housing in urban areas like the San Francisco Bay Area is out of reach for most people who don’t already own a home. In San Francisco, a studio apartment in a terrible area of town goes for $4500 a month.
Signal 2 – Tiny Living – more and more people are interested in living in much smaller spaces – either because they want a more mobile lifestyle (which is very easy to do now with the infrastructure available today), they may prefer to collect experiences over things and don’t require a lot of space any longer, or they simply prefer to live in a smaller, cozier, and ultimately less expensive space.
Signal 3 – Ridesharing services have become so ubiquitous that many folks no longer own cars – they have given it up for ridesharing, which allows for more effective use of resources, it also creates a new workforce.
Signal 4 – Autonomous vehicles are beginning to be viable – many states (despite the typical backwardness of the state) have started to allow autonomous cars on the roads.
Finally, Signal 5 – electric vehicles are starting to be accepted by the mass market. Put all these signals together, and what do you see?
Hint: the high cost of housing in the Bay Area has spurred several individuals to move into camper vans and trailers parked on the side of the road.
If you combine all of these signals and the hint – what do you see? What can you predict? Give up?
Autonomously driven tiny mobile homes. Instead of spending $1.2M on a home, these autonomous “homes” are large enough to live in. They will drop you off at work in the morning and then go on to take fares during the day. These fares can either drive folks from place to place like rideshare or can simply be AirBnB type space for someone to let out for the day or a few hours for meeting space.
While you are at work, your home is out there, earning its keep. When you are done, it comes for you, and you get in. It can then take you to a remote location to park, to a restaurant for dinner, or simply drive around while you sleep. This blurs the lines between home and transportation, and the autonomous aspect will allow you to put it to work, paying itself off over time. Sure, if we ever saw anything like this, it would disrupt hundreds of industries and jobs, but many more to service and supply such devices would appear.
Is it so far-fetched? The signals are there – it solves several problems at once – and it is technically possible. This is an example of predicting the future – take several signals which are trending out there and combine them to make something new – which at the same time solves a problem. Now that you have envisioned the concept – you can now take steps to make it happen.
You can either attempt to do it ourselves, or just throw the idea out into the world – like Elon Musk did with the hyperloop, and hope that someone else can build it.