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What Does Your Magic 8 Ball Say?

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March 31, 2020

For many of us, we’re navigating week 3 (or 4) of social distancing or self quarantine. If you’re like me then you might resort to just about anything to pass the time away from others.  I can’t count the number of fitness challenges, social media memes and 21st century chain letters that have come my way in the last 24 hours. 

So, I’ll up the ante.  Remember the Magic 8 Ball?  I’m would kill for one of those seemingly omniscient devices right now.

(Plus, they make a great addition to any virtual happy hour!).

Though “signs point to yes” was my preferred response, I always hated when the Magic 8 Ball would respond with a vague or non-committal: ” cannot predict now” or “ask again later” or the worse: “reply hazy, try again.”

If there’s one thing we humans resist more than the inevitability of change, it’s uncertainty. 

Recently, however, I came across the mantra: find security in the wisdom of uncertainty. Indeed, it is this challenge that underlies this question of the week:  what can uncertainty teach us?

Who Wins, Who Looses

In the investment world, the concept of betting short extends beyond the example from the film The Big Short, in which hedge fund traders bet more than $1 billion against the housing market in advance of the subprime mortgage crisis of early 2000s.

When I think of buying short, I recognize the essence of this strategy lies not in betting against failure but in accurately predicting in favor of market uncertainty, or going against the grain.

If we ask a Magic 8 Ball which sectors as poised to win, I imagine the answer would land on the following list, inspired in large part from Star Trek: Picard marathon.

How we think: McKinsey predicts artificial intelligence will add $13 trillion to the global economy over the next decade.  AI is creating new predictive capabilities, solving industry challenges and enabling breakthroughs in drug research, bio-industrial materials and advanced manufacturing and logistics through a wide spectrum of intelligent automation and algorithmic learning. 

How we feel: While we haven’t advance to a sick bay staffed by holographic physicians, sensor technology, predictive data models, advanced algorithms and robotics are innovations that sit at the center transforming how health care is designed, delivered and received. Technologies that elevate patient center care, individualized and quality treatment, and preventative regiments are helping to save lives and lessen costs on a local and global scale.

What we eat:  food replicators are still lightyears away; however, trends in downscaling previously labor intensive farm-to-fork supply chains through high-tech agricultural production hubs designed allows us to feed more people using a smaller footprint and hopefully make a dent in the nearly 1 BN people globally who remain undernourished. Wholesale redesigns of food production and processing are embracing real time sensor data, zero waste aspirations and carbon footprint reductions trends remain at the forefront of AgTech innovation.

How we work: I’m still holding out hope for a Star Trek era Commbadge– the niffty device that served dual purposes of communicating across distance and time, but also made it easier to beam from place to place.  Unfortunately, we’re stuck with zoom and telecomuniting. Yet, innovation in the future of work is deepening human to humanoid interaction through automation and machine learning. And, data visualization, augmented reality technologies and educational shifts are combining the arts to STEM, opening doors to a new agile, creative and interdisciplinary workforce.

How we act: With an estimated 20 billion active IoT (internet of things) devices in use, we may see the sophisticated likes of Commander Data and other synthetic human androids in use sooner than imagined.  There is urgency and a fast-paced quest to create impenetrable security systems for global trade, banking and consumer product supply chains to serve a exponentially growing digital-first population.  Advances in blockchain, quantum computing, fintech and an augmented analytics markets are predicted to rise $18.4 billion valuation by 2023.

Where would you place your bets?

In doing so, beware of projection bias, that is the degree to which people ten to exaggerate the degree to which their future tastes will resemble the current. Indeed, futurism quite often has a cultural blindspot.

Yet, when we strip away all the negative connotations associated with uncertainty, the future, our projections and predictions, we find ourselves with space for opportunity, innovation and creativity to work collectively towards a outlook untethered by our perspective in the certainty of now.

Cheers,

Leigh-Ann / Venture Cafe Miami

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