The future of virtual reality… is video

By Andy Smith on July 6, 2015 | Permalink

The VR revolution is coming, and it’s not going to be what you expect. While VR gaming is considered to be the “tip of the spear” that will see the initial launch of mass-market devices like the Oculus Rift, the breakout application for the technology may not be gaming but video that allows you to look in any direction as the action unfolds around you in real time.

With GoPro’s recent acquisition of VR video company Kolor, it is clear that by the time that the Rift hits the market they will support a ready market for virtual reality video. In theory, the ability to naturally look around in a panoramic view sounds simple, but in practice it’s game-changing – as significant an advance to the medium of film as the move from black and white to color. (more…)

Virtual reality meets social media: what is Facebook’s endgame?

By Andy Smith on May 28, 2015 | Permalink

With Facebook’s acquisition of Oculus, the creators of the Oculus Rift Virtual Reality Headset, the general consensus is that Virtual Reality is about to be “the next big thing”. Major companies are starting to investigate the Oculus rift and ensure that when the wave breaks they won’t be caught unawares. Google is even reported to be working on a virtual-reality version of the Android OS.

But what is far less clear, is exactly what form mainstream virtual-reality will take, and how precisely Facebook will drive mass adoption of the platform, let alone monetize it. The Oculus Rift was originally aimed at mainstream video gamers, who were none too pleased to see their gaming platform co-opted by a company whose principal revenues are driven by advertising and metrics. (more…)

Thought leaders’ views on the future of professional service firms and their clients

By Jenna Owsianik on April 12, 2015 | Permalink

Professional services are a critical and fast-growing sector of the economy. It’s important for everyone, not just people in the industry, to think about their future and the forces that may influence them in the next decade.

To address this topic, Future Exploration Network and Beaton Capital recently ran the conference Clients and Firms of the Future: How to Compete, co-facilitated by Ross Dawson and George Beaton. The highly participatory event was an opportunity to learn from the foremost experts in the field. The main themes of the conference included the future of professional firms’ clients, the impact of digital technology on the industry, and future of business models and competition.

Robots on the rampage: How autonomous weapons will reconfigure the ethics of warfare

By Vanessa Cartwright on March 30, 2015 | Permalink

Robot stare 640x427

The robot armies, artificial intelligence networks and cyborg assassins of science fiction continue to haunt the human imagination. But could they be the future of warfare? To some extent, the onslaught of robots appears inevitable within major militaries. The U.S. Defense Force could replace a quarter of its combat troops with robots by 2030. Using nearly autonomous and autonomous “warbots” capable of intelligent battlefield behaviors could potentially save soldiers’ lives and improve the efficiency of decision-making in war. But it could also bring a host of dangerous problems. (more…)

A thousand man years in a weekend: How the power of iteration may make artificial intelligence unbeatable

By Andy Smith on March 23, 2015 | Permalink

Technologist and real-world Tony Stark inspiration Elon Musk recently donated $10 million dollars to the Future of Life Institute to run a global research program focusing on Artificial Intelligence, specifically “keeping AI beneficial to humanity”.

But does Artificial Intelligence pose a genuine threat? There is a lot of hyperbole around AI, and in science fiction rebellious or malevolent AI is practically a whole sub-genre in and of itself. And while it’s easy to laugh off ridiculous scenarios like killer robots, the real threat that AI presents may not be to life and limb, but to economic stability and the unscrupulous wielding of artificial intelligence to disrupt markets and outpace human-driven innovation.

Avoiding the pitfalls of AI

Elon Musk was one among a number of prominent co-signers of an open letter that was also published by the Future of Life Institute. In it, they note:

Multi-screen viewing and transmedia storytelling: How marketers will turn multiple device ownership into brand immersion

By Aaron Heinrich on April 30, 2014 | Permalink

There are two critical dynamics occurring today that will impact the way we consume and share content, and the way that content is presented: multi-screen viewing and transmedia storytelling. Both are challenging the entire concept of how we view “channels”, storytelling, and brand/consumer interactions.

Here are some insights that help make the point. A May 2012 study conducted by the IAB (Interactive Advertising Bureau) of nearly 2000 US consumers over the age of 18 found that “52% report that it’s somewhat or very likely that they’re using another device while watching television.” That percentage rose to 60% of smartphone users and 65% of tablet owners. So the more screens a person owns the more likely they’re using one or more of those while watching TV.

Relaunch of Future Exploration Network

By Ross Dawson on November 18, 2013 | Permalink

We have recently completed a long-overdue relaunch of the website for Future Exploration Network. In many ways it is also a relaunch of the company.

Future Exploration Network was established in early 2006. The name says it all really: it is a network to explore the future.

Our first public venture was the Future of Media Summit 2006, the first conference ever held simultaneously in two continents, with live video and social media linking panel and audience conversations between Sydney and San Francisco, followed by other events around the future of work, organizations, and entrepreneurship.

Launch of Map of the Decade, ExaTrends of the Decade, and the Zeitgeist for 2011

By Ross Dawson on December 14, 2010 | Permalink

It is traditional at the turn of the year to look forward at what is to come.

We have crystallized our thinking on the year ahead and the decade of the 2010s in a new 3-page visual landscape.

You can download the pdf of the framework by clicking on any of the images. The full text of the ExaTrends and the Zeitgeist themes is below.

Note on ExaTrends: Given the exponential pace of change of today we are far beyond a world of MegaTrends. Exa is the prefix meaning 10 to the power of 18, following Mega, Giga, Tera, and Peta. As such Exa is Mega cubed.

Map of the Decade: 2010s


Infographic: Used mobile phones yield 1000 times more gold than gold ore

By Ross Dawson on June 25, 2010 | Permalink

A couple of weeks ago I flew to Perth to participate in a scenario planning project for a mining company. As I struck up conversation with the person next to me, it turned out we would both be presenting and contributing to the same workshop. I was kicking off the two-day workshop with a broad presentation on the future of business, while Damien Giurco, Research Director at University of Technology Sydney’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, would speak later on ‘Cities as the mines of the future’.
Damien showed me their excellent report Peak Minerals in Australia, which provides an in-depth analysis of the state and implications of peak minerals. One of the data points quoted in the report was fascinating: used mobile phones yield 1000 times as much gold as gold ore. I thought it was worth creating an infographic to bring the point home – click on the image to download a large version of the infographic.

In short: make sure you recycle your mobile phone!

Creating the Future of Media: 4 Driving Forces, 4 Strategic Issues, 4 Essential Capabilities

By Ross Dawson on December 18, 2009 | Permalink

I very rarely find the time to write magazine articles, but I was delighted to write the opening feature article for MediaTitles 2010, an annual publication which covers the media and magazine industry.
To see the article in the full splendor of the print version, go to the MediaTitles website, which has the full publication viewable using Realview Technologies (with the article reformatted to take out the lists of four, which I think is a pity). My article is on pages 7-10.
The (original) text of the article is below.


These are the best of times, these are the worst of times. The global economic crisis, coming on top of a dramatic transformation wrought by the rise of the Internet, is creating the swiftest change in media industry structure ever experienced. Newspapers and magazines are being shut down at an extraordinary pace all over the world, journalists are losing their jobs, and broadcast media are under threat as sliding advertising revenue hit an unmoving cost base. Yet as the world shifts towards what will be truly an all-encompassing media economy, there are extraordinary opportunities ahead for media organisations.
This is a critical juncture to examine the future of media. Magazines have and will continue to be central to how we learn, socialise, entertain ourselves, and make buying decisions. Yet the magazine industry will undoubtedly look very different scant years ahead. It is our role and responsibility to create the future of media, rather than to let it happen to us. To do that, we need to examine the most central driving forces, strategic issues and capabilities in the evolving media landscape.