New book iDisrupted will guide us through change

The greatest technological disruption in history has started

London: Monday 8th December 2014, digital entrepreneur John Straw and technology and economy expert Michael Baxter today launch their book iDisrupted. Set to send alarm bells ringing throughout the establishment, iDisrupted provides a road map as to how we can all benefit from the new wave of technology that is about to affect everyone in society. It is also a warning about what will happen if we mishandle this opportunity.

iDisrupted is an attempt to kick-start an enormously important debate with as wide an audience as possible. It explains economic and technology theories in highly readable, entertaining, jargon free language. It offers everyone the opportunity to understand the rapid changes that are occurring in society. This book is of interest to employers, employees, students, business leaders, policy makers and investors, all of whom need to know more about the potential impact of new technology.

Some of the theories within iDisrupted are explained here:

Moore’s Law                                                                               

Moore’s Law is one of the most important rules in business and the economy today. It says that computers’ double in speed every 18 to 24 months. iDisrupted extends this law to apply to technology in a broader context and refers directly to rapid changes in genetics, 3D printing, AI and nanotechnology. If these crucial technologies are in acceleration mode, it’s a case of which industries will not be affected rather than which industries will be?

Downton Abbey Economy 

Technology may distort the economy and create a Downton Abbey economy. Emerging trends, such as the Free Economy and the Sharing Economy, can potentially make most of us better off, but they carry dangers. Take as an example sharing photographs via social media taken from our smart phone. This is a positive development, but can undermine traditional businesses, for example Kodak. The combination of the Free and Sharing economy could lead to lower tax receipts for governments. This leaves fewer resources for the government and less funding for public services. Also, if AI and robotic technologies continue to develop at a rate commensurate with Moore’s Law, many jobs will be replaced by robots, which don’t require wages. This means owners of technology businesses will become the rich minority, leaving the rest of us to become the under class. A future society could reflect that of 1900, where we saw the haves and have-nots. We must find a way of ensuring that the fruits of technology trickle down, creating demand for the kind of jobs that computers and robots will find hard to do.

Chainsaw Theorem 

iDisrupted addresses the rise in the Internet of Sharing, in the Chainsaw Theorem. This describes how business will be disrupted as individuals rent out their assets online. Innovation will thrive thanks in part to 3D printing, but this will also disrupt, creating a more localised form of industry.

iDisrupted co-author John Straw said: “We are entering one of the most crucial phases in society’s history as AI is becoming a reality and technological giants are disrupting all aspects of industry. The next thirty years could change society more than the last one hundred years. iDisrupted puts in context how we can manage this period of change.”

iDisrupted co-author and economics editor Michael Baxter continues: “How disruptive will technology be? We need to understand the great changes that are just beginning to re-shape the human domain and our daily lives. iDisrupted helps to draw up plans.”

Laurence John, ex VC and now founder of startup Ctrlio, says: “It may be an enjoyable read, but iDisrupted provides both hope and grave warnings which we cannot afford to ignore.”

Book extract:

The high street of the 2030s will see the 21st century equivalent of the local blacksmith– it is just that these 21st century blacksmiths won’t be heavily muscled craftsmen working in the heat of a furnace; instead they will be 3D printing experts, with specialist skills in the design of clothes, shoes, fashion accessories, or spare parts for cars, or products for DIY. The high street of 2030 will see the return of cottage industries, as bespoke design takes over from mass consumer similarity. Urban legend has it that Henry Ford famously said: “You can have any colour you like as long as it is black,” illustrating how in assembly production, specialisation was key; the more identical copies of the original design that can be made, the cheaper they could become. In a mass customisation economy, you will be able to have any shape, size or colour you like, as long as you are prepared to pay for it.

Disruptive technology may provide a feast for many. It could even provide a helping of fine living for most of us. But some will lose out. Some will be left asking: “What happened to my company, my investment, my job?”

But it doesn’t have to be bad news. If we play it right, the result of the technological innovations that are afoot will be a kind of economic utopia. Poverty will be ended; we will live longer and have the potential to be healthier. Technology does not have to replace us; it can enhance us. But we first need to understand what is happening, why it is happening, and both the dangers and opportunities associated with it. Then we can adapt and embrace it.

It is human nature. We overestimate how quickly technology will develop, and underestimate its final impact. Technology has and will continue to disrupt business, the economy, workers, our health, and above all what it is to be human. Nothing is more important than understanding these issues.

iDisrupted is a book about what is quite possibly the most important topic in the world today.

It is about disruptive technology and about how it will affect business, the economy, people who care about whether they will stay have a job in ten years’ time, but, above all, what it is to be human.

Its key point is that technology is changing fast. In fact, the book says the rate of technological change is accelerating at an accelerating rate. This means there is little time for businesses, policy makers and indeed the media to prepare.

It strongly argues against economists, who suggest that the low hanging fruit of technology has been picked, and that productivity and economic growth are set to slow.

The book suggests we are on the verge of seeing two technological revolutions; one charged by robotics, the internet of things, 3D printing, and changes in energy storage, and the second by nanotechnology and artificial intelligence.

The book also looks at changes afoot in healthcare/medicine and technology that will not only help to make us healthier and live longer, but will also augment humans via prosthetics, exoskeletons and brain interfaces to computers.

It looks at the sharing economy, collaboration, and virtual reality.

It suggests that the continued unwinding of Moore’s Law, open standards/collaborative economy and the internet promoting the spread of ideas will be the foundation of these new waves of innovation.

It says that among the industries that technology will disrupt radically are banking, car manufacturing and energy/oil.

iDisrupted also looks at the economic implications of technology. It suggests that economic success does not always follow technological innovation. For example, the greatest era of innovation to date occurred between 1870 and 1914, yet the US Great Depression followed soon afterwards.

A challenge for policy makers is to ensure the fruits of new technology trickle down into higher wages, otherwise growth in demand may be restricted, which will affect the link between innovation and growth in GDP.

Some technologies, such as virtual reality, augmented reality and artificial intelligence may change what it is to be human.