Tuesday, October 14, 2008

David Houle: The Shift Age

This week I had the privilege of attending a presentation by David Houle, futurist and author of Shift Age. The Shift Age is the next stage in human develop, after the Information Age. In addition to 3000 times more change now than at any point in human history, these three forces will define the Shift Age.

1. Global Consciousness: technology is enabling personal connections to all of humanity. Anyone can share experiences with anyone else.

2. Emotional Individual: power is flowing to the individual and people are seeking emotional connections. The best things in life tend to be economically irrational.

3. Sideways Connectedness: unbundling of corporate assets combined with collaborative interactions. The exchange and management of intellectual property (information) will emerge as the new profit centers.

So in addition to globally aware, emotional, individuals, collaborating to create and share information, what other things can we anticipate?
  • Societal values and economic power centers are shifting from institutions to individuals; from producers to consumers.
  • Individuals define themselves by joining groups of shared interests and values.
  • Decentralization and disintermediation: the middle man is out and the network effect may overtake economies of scale and the key to profitability.
  • Intellectual Property is wealth in the Shift Age.
  • Media is the message: broadband now in more than half the households: online video is will soon be mainstream
  • Western Science Proved Eastern Philosophy:
  • Global (re)organization: The West (winners of WWII) and their institutions (UN, IMF, World Bank, NATO, etc) will shift some hegemony to the global East and South.
  • Long term economic downturn (3 to 5 years) and a result of a sharp decline in stock market, housing market and consumer spending (on credit).
  • Cleantech: Wind and Solar next huge market opportunity, long term space based solar.
  • Peak Oil: Production will sharply drop in 2015 and the world will run out of oil by 2050. Indicators that we are currently at peak oil: price increases, volatility, and demand out stripping supply.