The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and A Roaring 2020s free summary

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Author: Mark Mills

The Cloud Revolution
The Cloud Revolution: Mark Mills

The Cloud Revolution: How the Convergence of New Technologies Will Unleash the Next Economic Boom and A Roaring 2020s Mark Mills 2021

About the book: The Cloud Revolution

There are epochs when already at the beginning of the decade people feel that the changes they are witnessing will soon change their lives forever. So it was in the 1920s: radio, cars, aviation, cinema, telephone forever changed the way industry, trade, advertising, entertainment. No wonder that decade was called the “roaring twenties”.

Leading innovation specialist Mark Mills is convinced that the 2020s will see similarly radical changes. After all, there is a repetition of three key drivers of change.

What kind? Will these changes be for the better? What symbols of the future can be seen today? And what can we hope for tomorrow? The answers are in this summary.

about the author: Mark Mills

Mark Mills is a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute and director of the Institute for Industrial Science and Innovation at Northwestern University, a top 10 US university. He served in the White House Science Department under Ronald Reagan and advised Bank of America Securities and numerous private companies on science and technology policy. Author of articles for the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Real Clear, and a frequent speaker on CNN, Fox, NBC.

20s again (The Cloud Revolution summary)

Recall the “roaring 1920s”: an incredible technological take-off, cars, radio and cinema become massive, aviation develops, for the first time in America there are more urban residents than rural residents … And the next 80 years were a time of unprecedented growth in prosperity. By the end of the 20th century, compared with 1920, the average life expectancy of an American had increased by 30 years, and the average per capita income had increased by 700%.

This has been made possible by the confluence of advances in three areas:

  • new means of collecting and disseminating information;
  • new cars;
  • new materials.

The 2020s will be another period when these three factors converge again, giving rise to no less radical changes in everyday life, work, and business.

cloud infrastructure

Fundamentally new infrastructures rarely appear and immediately change the world. The explosive development of highways in the 1920s changed every area of ​​life. In the 2020s, roads have become virtual: information moves along them.

The phrase “Data is the new oil” has become commonplace. Oil fueled internal combustion engines, data – “fuel” for silicon processors. Data is a unique resource: it is unlimited and created by the simple power of our collective imagination. More and more objects and phenomena are becoming digital, but the potential for digitizing the world is still huge. Today, the Internet of Things has about 20 billion connected devices – a drop in the ocean of information that can potentially be described (location, speed, temperature, chemical composition of substances – the number of indicators is huge). 

Getting used to paying with electronic money, trading in bitcoins, we are increasingly convinced that the economy is becoming virtual. But it’s not. Most of the economy – more than 80% of GDP – accounts for farms, factories, residential buildings, offices, hospitals, power plants, transport, that is, very specific physical objects. Their digitalization is at a very early stage.

The Cloud Revolution book summary Mark Mills

The number of objects broadcasting signals is growing – communication networks are expanding, which in the future should include many tiny radio nodes for connection. Since the time of the creators of radio, Marconi and Popov, engineers have reduced the energy spent on the wireless transmission of one byte by 10 billion times. And yet, creating reliable communications for the Internet of Things remains a non-trivial engineering challenge. This is why the shift to short wavelength 5G is so relevant: it will give a hundredfold increase in bandwidth, each cell of the network will handle a hundred times more connected devices and 1000 times more data traffic per square mile.

Data processing is rapidly becoming cheaper. In the 1960s, every dollar spent on hardware allowed for approximately one calculation per second. By 2000, there were 10,000 calculations per second per dollar. Today, a dollar can produce 10 billion calculations per second, and this has become a service that made Amazon and Alibaba rich, selling a cloud service to businesses. In just 10 square feet of a single data center, there is more processing power than all the computers in the world in 1980. At the same time, at the center of the information universe is not a separate device such as a telephone or radio, but a microprocessor – a general-purpose instrument, the power of which is growing due to Moore’s law 1 . Microprocessors are the building blocks of clouds.

A natural question arises: how much power will they have? We have reduced the energy consumption per logical operation by a factor of 1000 using technologies known to us. But there is also a micro-level of matter (which is why quantum computing looks so promising).

The Cloud Revolution book summary Mark Mills

The speed and convenience of data processing have given rise to a completely new, absolutely accessible tool – applications in smartphones. With their help, we order a taxi, buy food, play games, communicate and do a million other things. Today, 100 billion apps are downloaded worldwide every year, and this figure continues to grow. 40% of applications are games, but in the next couple of years this share will decrease in favor of other useful functions. This business is just getting started.

Alibaba CTO Wang Jian compares cloud services to electricity 2 . The analogy is attractive. Indeed, electricity was a revolutionary technology, not only because it improved the operation of existing mechanisms, but also because it allowed the creation of new ones. Electric lamps were cheaper and safer than gas lamps, but their function was the same, but air conditioners and vacuum cleaners are unimaginable without electricity. So cloud computing allows the development of a new generation of robots.

At the same time, cloud services themselves require electricity to operate. We too quickly got used to the availability of the Internet, not thinking about the fact that this availability is provided by hundreds of invisible to the layman, but quite real data centers. Every hour of video using the cloud infrastructure consumes more energy than a bus per 10 km of travel per passenger. Another confirmation that the economy is far from dematerialization. Its roots are in the real world.

Meanwhile, the prospects for switching to alternative forms of energy are vague. To replace all of the world’s hydrocarbon consumption over the next 20 years, global renewable energy production (solar, wind, tidal) would need to increase 90 times. The status quo of world energy is unlikely to change significantly during this decade (and even the next). Even if all countries fulfill their promises to use more renewable energy sources (so far no country can boast of this), in 20 years no more than one-fifth of the world’s energy will come from renewable sources. In addition, the creation of wind and solar installations will lead to an unprecedented demand for cobalt, lithium, nickel, necessary for their creation.


materials

In the 20th century, mankind has mastered synthetic, artificial materials (plastic) and has become much better at managing materials known since antiquity (concrete, oil). Traditional stone, wood and metals do not give up their positions today. The global timber industry is more than $250 billion. But the modern world also synthesizes chemical materials worth $6 trillion a year: pharmaceuticals and other industries are unimaginable without this.  And we also dream of biocompatible electronics, artificial skin for organs, the creation of human organs on 3D printers – active research is going on in all these areas.

Every year the world economy needs about 100 billion tons of building, food and fuel materials. In the next two decades, demand for them will grow by 300%. Even the demand for paper has not fallen: it’s just that now it goes not only for books, but also for packaging for goods. Over time, materials turn into garbage, the processing of which is a separate huge problem. The fundamental impossibility of a “circular economy”, in which almost all materials are recycled, has been proved. Today, less than 10% of the world’s materials are reused or recycled.

The Cloud Revolution book summary Mark Mills

The biggest difference between today’s world and the world of a hundred years ago is not so much in the amount of materials used, but in the use of previously unused ones. Silicon, the cornerstone of our information universe, is hundreds of times more valuable today than it was 100 years ago. Neodymium was discovered at the end of the 19th century, but it was only in the 1980s that it was discovered that it could be used to create the most powerful magnets in the world.

In addition, we ourselves create materials with truly miraculous properties. Airgel is lighter than a feather, but its thin layer is able to protect against blowtorch flames. Graphene is a material 1 atom thick, 60 times thinner than the smallest of viruses. For the description of its properties, the Russian physicists Geim and Novoselov received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010, but the practical application of graphene is yet to come.

Armed with artificial intelligence to help calculate the properties and possibilities of new materials, chemists have returned to the fundamental basis of their science – alchemy with its idea of ​​\u200b\u200bchanging elements. It turned out that the elements really lend themselves to many miraculous transformations. It’s just that our ancestors didn’t have the right tools. Artificial intelligence has become the philosopher’s stone of today’s chemists. In one decade from 2005 to 2015, four times more items were added to the world catalog of invented substances and materials than in the previous century. Over the next five years, until 2020, nearly as many more were added.


Cars

Improving microprocessors and cloud services are fundamentally changing how machines are controlled – they allow them to make their own decisions. Mankind had not known such a breakthrough since the industrial revolution of the 18th century and the introduction of the steam engine, but those machines were static, driven by a man. The machines of the new generation have dynamic logic, their own electronic mind .

Transport. The most advertised and most anticipated product on the market is, of course, self-driving cars. Elon Musk, who promises to change the way we think about cars, is in the news almost every week. In reality, everything is more complicated. On March 23, 2018, Tesla’s self-driving Model X crashed into a road barrier at full speed in California, killing the driver. Why the autopilot decided to turn aside is unknown. However, after examining the “black boxes” of the car, Tesla said that the system warned the driver several times to keep the steering wheel and control the situation.

This case is remarkable in two respects. 

  • Computers are still not smart enough for the driver to let go of the steering wheel. And it is unlikely that in 2020 they will grow wiser enough for this. Perceiving the surrounding reality, predicting and planning the actions necessary for driving are extremely complex operations for artificial intelligence, and in the case of cars, they must be worked out flawlessly. 
  • However, computers are getting smart enough to be a clue to the driver. Advanced driver-assistance systems (ADAS) to help you drive and park your car promise to be as common as an automatic transmission. 

Security is a key factor in the spread of technology. The rapid growth of air travel began not when it became technically possible, but when flights became safe enough. Perfecting automotive intelligence will take a whole decade.

But where the machine can handle it alone, things will go faster. It’s about fields and mines. In 2020, the first fully autonomous agricultural tractor was introduced to the public. All major manufacturers of mining equipment have already begun the introduction of autonomous trucks and loaders.

The Cloud Revolution book summary Mark Mills

The most successful idea of ​​autonomous control will be embodied in delivery drones. Autonomous control in the air is easier to organize than on the ground. 

In the 20th century, diesel-powered ships and the container shipping system reshaped the global economy and reimagined logistics, and drones will play the same role in our century. Today it is a $20 billion industry and will at least double by the mid-2020s. At the same time, dozens of companies continue to develop drones for transporting people. Toyota, for example, bought startup Joby Aviation, which has built a four-passenger drone capable of traveling at 200 miles per hour.

3D printers. Years of refinement of this technology have resulted in a nearly 100-fold increase in product manufacturing speed, making wide industrial applications possible.  They will be especially effective in large industries. True, while we are talking about working with plastic, and not with metals, but the technology continues to develop.

Robots at war. Spending on military technology is approaching $2 trillion a year, 40% of all spending is in the United States. There is an opinion that it is wars that lead to the invention of new technologies, but it is erroneous. The ideas of the atomic bomb, lasers, radars first arose outside of military laboratories. 

Three key drivers of military innovation are related to already mature technologies:

  • Cyber ​​attacks. Cyberwarfare is currently unfolding between Iran and Israel: Iran is behind a major attack on Israeli water infrastructure, Israel has launched a cyberattack on Iranian commercial ports.
  • Combat drones. The particular danger is that they can be used by any amateur terrorist.
  • Lasers. In the fall of 2019, the US Air Force received the first laser weapon to combat military drones. Since 2020, the US Navy has begun deploying laser weapons on its ships.

Zoo- and anthropomorphic robots. Xiaomi’s four-legged robot dog is capable of moving at a speed of three meters per second, responds to the owner’s voice and can do somersaults… Boston Dynamics robots danced to the hit of the sixties Do You Love Me… In early 2020, Boston Dynamics put up for sale (for $74,500) the Spot Mini robot assistant, which can carry gravity for the owner or give him objects … These are just some of the examples from the flow of news about the success of robotics.

Robots are becoming more and more like living beings. They are still rather clumsy, but they already win in speed: the Boston Dynamics cheetah robot is as fast as its natural counterpart. The very fact that companies are not only demonstrating their devices, but are also starting to sell them, suggests that the technology feels quite confident. We should stop believing the horror stories about the rise of the machines from the “Terminator” and seriously think about the potential of these creatures.

What will the 2020s look like

Work

Futurists love to talk about how automation will put people out of work. However, history says otherwise:

  • Technology leads to an increase in labor productivity, and this allows per capita wealth to grow.
  • Despite the flourishing of technology in the last 150 years, 95% of able-bodied people continued to work, the unemployment rate did not rise. The main threat is not in technology as such, but in the mismanagement of production processes.

Contrary to popular belief, new jobs will appear not only in the field of STEM 3 . America delivers 50% more STEM graduates annually than employers require. Much more she needs qualified welders, factory machine operators, electricians. As a recent Google study found, a STEM degree was the last in a list of the top eight skills that were found to be important for employee advancement. Everything else is soft skills, “soft skills” related to interaction, communication, as well as critical thinking.

Production as a service. The main factor that will change our understanding of work is the transformation of goods into services.  The first standalone product that was delivered as a service was software, but today, implementation of a service (SaS) is the default in any software. And the list of services is expanding every year. You don’t need to have a car – there is Uber. No need to book a hotel – there is Airbnb. And also clothes as a service (Stitch Fix), toys as a service (Sparkbox)…

Or imagine the work of a large plant somewhere in Poland. The robots are bought in Japan, managed by a cloud system in China, serviced by a third-party specialized service, product design is also outsourced. Everything is combined into MaaS technology (Mobility as a Service, “mobility as a service”). Technologically and commercially, MaaS is as advanced today as Amazon was in 1995. And it has the same perspective.

IBM has created the first RoboRXN chemistry lab that can be operated through the cloud. It combines artificial intelligence models, a cloud computing service and robots to help scientists design new substances remotely from home. IBM has already stated its ambition to “become the Amazon of chemicals”.

The Cloud Revolution book summary

Helper robots. Nearly 400 million industrial robots were installed in factories around the world at the start of 2020, double the number five years ago. By the end of the 2020s, robots will work in factories and warehouses on a par with humans. Storage, movement and sorting of goods can be entrusted to robots.  And of course, they will be responsible for the delivery: by the end of the 2020s, the market for hardware and software for drones will exceed $100 billion. Today, more than 400 companies are developing and selling warehouse automation systems that work with the help of cloud services. After the logistics market, the adoption of service bots is growing fastest in the agricultural sector, and also in medicine.

Distant work. 2020 has posed the question for employers: “Isn’t it time to allow employees to work from anywhere?” It turned out that 37% of all jobs in the US are suitable for remote work. True, this is only about quantity: no one has yet calculated how effective these employees will be remotely. But as the coronavirus situation began to level off in 2021, many companies returned employees to their offices. Modern teleconferencing facilities are unable to create that spontaneity and ease of the notorious “cooler meeting” that makes work both easier and more creative. 

However, science does not stand still: it is up to augmented reality technologies. In early 2021, the US Army initiated the launch of an AR/VR headset with a $22 billion contract with Microsoft. It is to be hoped that the technology will be quite successful.

Will remote work help the planet’s ecology? “Nature has been cleansed” is the main quarantine meme. It all started with fake dolphins in Venice, but the idea that keeping the streets and roads free of people would help the environment quickly took hold. However, not all so simple. Even if all 37% of Americans did not commute to work, this would reduce the country’s oil consumption by 1 million barrels per day – not very much on a global scale. Yes, and work on the Web, as mentioned above, leaves a carbon footprint.

The Cloud Revolution book summary Mark Mills

The medicine. Technology promises three breakthroughs:

 1. The discovery of new drugs and the acceleration of their production. In the late 1920s, penicillin was discovered, 15 years later, humanity received the first antibiotic, which saved thousands of lives already during World War II. The beginning of the 2020s was marked by the rapid development of an anti-COVID vaccine. Accelerating drug development is one of the most important achievements of artificial intelligence in the service of medicine. It allows you to refute the law of Erum 4 , making the production of drugs easier and cheaper. 

Atomwise is one of many pharmaceutical corporations that uses artificial intelligence to analyze the compatibility of hundreds of thousands of molecules. Thanks to this, Atomwise scientists have created about 30 projects to develop drugs for a wide variety of diseases.

The Cloud Revolution book summary Mark Mills

2. Optimization of the work of surgeons. The robotic Da Vinci Surgical System has been known for three decades and is widely used in a variety of operations – from bladder removal to brain surgery. In 2016, robots assisted surgeons in 10% of operations, by the beginning of the 2020s, in almost 20% of all surgical procedures.

3. Personalized diagnostics. Fitness trackers, smartwatches, and other wearable gadgets are all the rage, and this is in the hands of doctors, because they provide them with much more useful information than patients. 

The creation of digital twins 5  has become the main professional goal for many scientists today. In the future, if a patient is to undergo risky surgery, doctors will first suggest trying the operation on an individual avatar.  The development of such twins is now a $4 billion business (it is expected to grow 10 times by 2025). The development of the technology will probably take the whole decade, but the fundamental possibility of this is already obvious.

3D printing of organs looks absolutely fantastic so far, but… In the summer of 2020, scientists at the University of Michigan successfully 3D printed a tiny one-inch-long beating human heart. 

The prospects for genetic engineering are similar to the prospects for quantum computing or nuclear fusion: we know which way to go, but we are still far from safe practical implementation.

In the 20th century, life expectancy has increased significantly, but so far we have not been able to overcome the indicators achieved then: to live to 70 in a developed country is a common thing, but to 100 is almost a fantasy 6 . Meanwhile, futurologists are convinced that the term of human life is at least 120 years. Thanks to active research in the field of molecular biology, we can hope for breakthroughs in this area in the next 10–20 years.

The Cloud Revolution book summary

The problem with health care in the US is not a lack of scientific ideas or technology, but bureaucracy. There are 800,000 doctors in the United States, and twice as many employees serving the medical payment system. It is the sixth largest industry in the country, it takes a fifth of the total income of Americans – $ 3.2 trillion a year, it employs 15% of the entire US workforce. At the same time, America is in 31st place in the world ranking of life expectancy. The healthcare industry is governed by rules, many of which are decades old.

But there would be no luck, but misfortune helped: one of the consequences of the pandemic was the acceleration of measures to ease regulations for the introduction of digital technologies.


Education

2020 has shown what opportunities online learning gives us. It turned out that this is not a panacea: the number of those who are dissatisfied with certain shortcomings of distance learning is greater than the number of those satisfied with such training. And it is no coincidence: teaching is not reduced to a simple transmission of knowledge, it is a deeply social process in which direct contact is also important. Hoping for a magical technology that will make learning much easier is naive.

However, two undoubted advantages of online learning were discovered:

1. Online provides access to the widest possible range of teachers/mentors/coaches from around the globe. The Airbnb and Uber business model extends to education as well.

2. Online simplifies administrative management (electronic documents, online meetings instead of offline) and removes unnecessary bureaucratic burden from teachers.

This is not only about training students, but also about retraining workers. In 2020, the number of employees retraining in a variety of retraining courses will be four times higher than the number of those who receive higher education. This means that partnerships between universities and large corporations will grow stronger, or corporations themselves will create curricula for retraining (Google is already ready to consider them as the equivalent of higher education).

The Cloud Revolution book summary

Training under total automation will be facilitated by the introduction of low-code or no-code programs that require minimal programming skills from users. Today there are as many software engineers as farmers, but in the future this profession will become much more specialized. On the other hand, the training of specialized physical skills will increasingly be assisted by gadgets – primarily hyper-realistic virtual simulators for pilots and doctors, gloves made of a material that mimics human skin.

In 1820, 90% of the world’s population was illiterate. In 2020, almost 90% of the population can read and write. Technology has given us time to learn. And they will continue to do so.

The Cloud Revolution book summary Mark Mills

Entertainment

Technology frees up more time for us not only to study, but also to have fun. In the United States, the leisure sector employs as many Americans as the healthcare sector. 70% of all air passengers are tourists, not business travelers.

None of the currently existing types of entertainment will die in the 2020s, including more than once lamented books. On the contrary, people will shoot, write, compose more and more, which means that they will watch and listen more and more – but in a different way. The former culture was divided into films, books, paintings that had to be looked for in different places. The current culture is a stream of content that is constantly available on the screen. The 2020s will be the time of streaming services.Back in 2017, Disney was generating 400% more revenue from viewers who went to theaters than from content delivered directly to the consumer’s smartphone. By 2019, these two categories of income were almost equal. Well, things have changed in 2020. Facebook announced a new online gaming service at the end of 2020. And Amazon spent $1 billion back in 2014 buying Twitch, the largest platform for live gaming (a kind of YouTube for video games). In many countries, services are gaining popularity, where you can watch VR concerts and sports matches online with the effect of presence.

Analysts predict that the spread of VR technology will not only not kill live entertainment, but will also contribute to it. Watching a promotional VR video about Rome or Paris, and then going there yourself is the typical behavior of a tourist in the 2020s.

The Cloud Revolution summary

The essential difference between leisure in the 1920s and 2020s is that listening to the radio or watching a TV program is a passive activity. VR media will in every possible way contribute to the active interaction of readers, viewers, and gamers.


The science

Since World War II, the number of scientists has doubled on average every 18 years. However, this did not lead to a commensurate increase in scientific discoveries. We have been living in the 21st century for 20 years. Computers are getting cheaper, and the cure for cancer hasn’t been invented yet. Maybe all the most important discoveries have already been made and we have entered a period of stagnation?

It is important to separate scientific discoveries, technologies and commercial implementation of the latter. All this is strongly distributed in time – as a rule, for decades. GPS navigators could not tell us the way without correction for Einstein’s theory of relativity: the latter was discovered 100 years ago, navigators came into wide use only in recent years. 

To assess the significance of a discovery, one should not think in terms of “fundamental/applied”, but present it on the following chart:

And history also proves that the intersection of diverse technologies gives a multi-effect, many times accelerating the creation of innovation. Mills calls this the “rule of threes”. Let’s take the iPhone. It wouldn’t have happened if it weren’t for three technologies that Jobs didn’t personally create: the silicon microprocessor, the pocket-size screen, and the lithium battery. Jobs combined them in one gadget, and it was this combination that provided a breakthrough advantage. 

Other examples: 

Ford Conveyor = Internal Combustion Engine + Commercial Oil Refining + Conveyor Idea. Amazon Bezos = Internet + Smartphone + Data Center.

The Cloud Revolution summary

The universe is made up of just three things: atoms, energy, and information about both. New discoveries lie at the intersection of knowledge and imagination. Artificial intelligence is the accelerator of our imagination. Over the years, it has become more and more specialized, and therefore more useful – primarily in the field of calculations. The unprecedented capabilities of artificial intelligence in processing big data allow us to believe that the period of stagnation in fundamental science will soon end. We are on the threshold of a new Renaissance.

The best minds today work not only in research institutes, but also in tech giants like Amazon and Google. We will yet see a Nobel Prize awarded to a researcher working for Apple or Microsoft. Of course, Apple’s business model is far from the business models of universities or government labs. By contributing to the new technological revolution, such companies could help it more widely. In the early 2020s, the top ten US technology companies generated $1.5 trillion in annual revenue. These companies spend $100 billion a year on research to strengthen their competitive advantage. If they gave at least 0.1% of their income to basic research related to other areas of science, this would be of great benefit.

How to correctly predict the future

If you look for a wording that expresses the meaning of the human race, then it will not be Homo sapiens (a reasonable person), but Homo faber (a creative person). People are primarily inventors. With other animals, we could not measure fangs and speed, but tools replaced both. Artificial intelligence allows you to speed up this ability at times.

Any tool is equally good for both creation and destruction. There are many threats left in the world. The most important of them:

1. The coronavirus pandemic, which is far from over. She recalled how complex and dangerous the world of viruses is (but technology helps to study it deeper and faster).

2. Global warming (the world is far from solving the energy issue and still has not really mastered the recycling of waste; in addition, the solution of the climate problem is complicated by its extreme politicization).

3. The threat of China as a possible world authoritarian leader. However, Mills himself is skeptical about China’s current successes, but looks at the future of the United States with optimism. Yes, China is the most populous country in the world, but population size and global market dominance are not correlated. Plus, China is getting older. China is also inferior to America in the field of scientific and business achievements. The US leads in spending on cloud infrastructure and investment in AI software. America is home to half of the 700 unicorns: private companies valued at more than $1 billion. Up to two-thirds of all global private investment is concentrated there, and this is a sign of a free market. Residents and citizens of the United States received half of all Nobel Prizes in science, medicine and economics.

However, forecasts must be made with great caution. Here are three misconceptions that lead to erroneous predictions:

Misconception 1. We tend to evaluate history in terms of modern ideas, and not in terms of ancestors. As a result, we are always smarter and more far-sighted. But modern ideas do not mean “better ideas.”

Misconception 2. We are too fascinated by the possibilities of technology; meanwhile, achievements in one area are not necessarily applicable in another. If Moore’s Law worked for aircraft engines, they would be the size of a small book today. But it is not universal for all engineering science.

Misconception 3. We tend to overestimate short-term technological advances and underestimate long-term ones (   Roy Amara’s Law ). We like to think that robots will immediately become skilled, and artificial intelligence will solve most human problems in the near future. It is not so – yet. We all just have to wait, watching the scientists. As a rule, these expectations are justified.

Do not forget the elementary laws of nature. The promise of nuclear power inspired ideas about nuclear cars, but no one thought about how thick the radiation shielding of such cars should be. There are also immutable laws of society and economy. Thus, the instruments of trade have changed over the centuries, but the nature of supply and demand has not.

The current technological revolution will change both the physical world and the virtual one. Rather, it will inextricably connect atoms and bits. Many of the changes described in this book seem far too incredible for now. And yet they are a matter of time. The process of change, which is based on three key factors, has already begun. This book is not about “if”, but about “when”.

Top 10 Thoughts

1. New ways of working with information, new materials and new machines – these are the three key factors of the “roaring 2020s”.

2. The main characteristic of man as a species is not Homo sapiens (reasonable man), but Homo faber (creative man). We are able to create more and more perfect instruments, and this opens up huge opportunities for us.

3. Education will never be completely online, but technology provides access to the widest possible range of teachers and simplifies administrative work.

4. We create new wonderful materials, but already known ones, like concrete and oil, the world needs 100 billion tons annually. The problem is that only 10% of that number is reused or recycled.

5. Working remotely, we are not very efficient: online will not replace the live exchange of ideas. However, the development of VR technologies makes everything online “alive”.

6. The 20th century traded goods, the 21st century sells services.

7. Prospects for switching to alternative forms of energy are vague. The status quo of world energy will not change during this decade.

8. By the end of the 2020s, we are unlikely to see driverless cars on the roads, but drones delivering goods will become commonplace.

9. Pandemic, global warming and China as a possible world leader – these are the three world threats. The latter, however, may be exaggerated.

10. We tend to judge history in modern terms, overly fascinated by the possibilities of technology, tend to overestimate short-term technological advances and underestimate long-term ones. All this hinders a sober assessment of the future.

1.  In 1965, Intel founder Gordon Moore noticed that the number of transistors fit on an integrated circuit was doubling every 18 months. And that meant that every year and a half computers doubled their power without adding to the price. This trend has been going on for decades. It is thanks to Moore’s law that our smartphones are a thousand times more powerful, smaller and cheaper than the supercomputers of the 1970s.

2.  Read the summary of Wang Jian’s book Being Online. Computing, Data, Internet and Cloud. 

3.  STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) – science, technology, engineering and mathematics. The concept of STEM was proposed in 2001 to indicate a trend in the educational and professional fields by scientists from the US National Science Foundation, since then America has been most actively promoting the STEM approach in education.

4.  Eroom’s law states that the cost of developing a new drug doubles every nine years.

5.  Digital twins – a virtual projection of a person, created using the received diagnostic information and necessary for a detailed study of the patient’s condition.

6.  Read the summary of Sergey Yang’s book Science and Technology of Eternal Youth. Achievements that will radically extend your life.”

7.  Roy Amara (1925-1987) – American scientist, futurist and president of the Institute for the Future.

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