The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing. Socrates

Our future holds great opportunity but new risks at the same time. Some people will not be sure this is for them. And right now you might find yourself in the camp of the believers or in the camp of the non-believers. Some might feel like they’re sitting on a burning platform in the open sea, waiting for the perfect storm to hit. Some might not take action and wait like the boiling frog to be cooked.

Today we can solve paradoxes like combining customisation with scale or increasing productivity while becoming more ecologically sustainable. We have the opportunity to create organisations that take better care of the earth’s resources, of customers, of us.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution, with an exponential acceleration of technological advances, will lead to opportunities, and as with every revolution it will pose some important challenges for our economy and society. The relationship between humans and computers will evolve. Klaus Schwab, Founder and Chairman World Economic Forum (WEF), said, ‘Industry 4.0 will not only change what we do, but also who we are.’

Today’s technology is different than what we’ve seen in the past. The technology is taking on cognitive tasks. We now have machines and algorithms that can, at least in a limited sense, think. Martin Ford, the author of the recent book Rise Of The Robots: Technology and the threat of a jobless future.

It is impossible to stay neutral as everyone has their opinions about why they might like or not like the future. Different scenarios can come to life where humans rule machines, or where machines rule humans, or most likely, where humans and machines find a way of existing together. Where humanoids become colleagues. Whether you see the glass half empty or half full, or you are just happy to have a glass, will determine how you approach the future.

So how can you make the most of whatever is in your glass? On one hand, advances in biotech and new material science will help us to solve issues in the energy and health arenas, connect people and enrich lives, finding cures for diseases like cancer that are incurable today by repairing genes or producing 3D printed body parts. This will create new jobs that don’t even exist today, and we might be able to come closer to the meaning of life and what truly counts by digitally delegating repetitive tasks to humanoids.

On the other hand, the challenges will be to manage the disappearance of jobs, the move from manufacturing to an automated or service-driven economy, ethics, privacy and control, and bridging the gaps between inequality of wealth, skills, gender and access to innovations. And all of this while we take care of the earth’s limited resources.
Whatever happens, we humans will need to prepare mentally for a huge change and determine the relationship we want to have with robots. Can we co-exist and find the right balance? Do we believe that the losses on one side will be compensated by the gains on the other? As with everything, the truth will be somewhere in the middle, and of course humans will play a critical role. Let’s stay alert, keep moving forwards, create energy and have the courage to see and to act rather than holding on to the past.

Living in the land of chocolate, Belgium, I agree with Forrest Gump when he says,’ Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get.’ I try to see the possibility of the possibility. Join me on the journey to the future that is here already so we can craft a balanced society and industry together, one that is harmonious, healthy and happy. Why not give it a chance? We have many challenges today, and this might bring us on to the next step of humankind.

So where are you? Who are you? Who can you become?

The pessimist complains about the wind; the optimist expects it to change; the realist adjusts the sails. William Arthur Ward
Are you a healthy optimist, always trying new things with plenty of energy, exploring the magic of what the future will bring? Are you a mature realist, who has wisdom and two feet on the ground? Are you an injured pessimist who has tried to keep moving ahead, but feels confused and lacks energy? Or are you a scared defeatist, who is sure this new digital revolution will bring doom?

But humans are very strong.

Seeing what is happening around you is the starting point; it sets a level for your knowing so you can gain more energy, peace of mind and the ability to take the right actions for you, your family, your friends, your peers and your business.

And by all means keep eating dark chocolate, as it is good for your health and your brain.

Impossible is just a big word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is not a declaration. It’s a dare. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing. Muhammed Ali, the greatest boxer of all times

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Olivier Van Duuren

As international Public Speaker, Trend Sensemaker, Executive Whisperer and Author, I help businesses to take the pain out of their personal and business transformation, leaving them with a regained sense of spark