Can we predict the future?
It’s a question being asked ever-frequently, and one to which there is no clear answer.
Even Peter Diamandis, the visionary disruptive behind such organisations as Singularity University, Zero Gravity Corporation, and the X Prize Foundation, doesn’t know what the future holds. But he’s working hard to define it, and thinks we are all capable of doing the same. It’s all a matter of attitude, and a willingness to think crazy thoughts.
Diamandis’s attitude is shaped by the famous Peter’s Laws, written in protest of Murphy’s Law – “what can go wrong, will go wrong”. They are as follows:
- When given a choice, take both.
- Start at the top, and work your way up.
- When forced to compromise, ask for more.
- If you can’t win, change the rules.
- If you can’t change the rules, ignore them.
- When faced without a challenge, make one.
- ‘No’ simply means begin again at one level higher.
- When in doubt, think.
- You get what you incentivise.
- Without a target, you’ll miss it every time.
- If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
- The day before something is a breakthrough, it’s a crazy idea.
Murphy’s Law, he posits in this speech from day two of the 2010 Singularity University Executive Program, is the kind defined by a local and linear society; one that stakes its future on tradition.
Local and linear society came crumbling down on July 20th, 1969, when humans first landed on the moon. It was an achievement like no other, for it proved that there was no such thing as the impossible. It was all a matter of attitude.
The average age of the members of the Apollo 11 mission was 28. They were young people, full of ideas, and yet to be tainted by the cynicism and skepticism that often comes with years of routine in an industry. These people innovated, and defined the future as a result, because the old guard wasn’t at their backs telling them they couldn’t.
From then on, society surged towards a global and exponential future, one that promotes flexibility, change, and crazy ideas.
“This, folks, is what’s causing billion dollar companies to go out of business, and billion dollar companies to come out of no place, and it’s causing governments to fold overnight,” says Diamandis. Change isn’t coming to an end. Businesses will though, so long as they are unwilling to embrace it.
The rest of Diamandis’s 106 minute speech is framed in his own crazy ideas as a leader in so many groundbreaking aerospace companies, and that’s what makes it so worth watching in full. He’s not just saying, as is the case with so many futurologists. He’s doing. And he breaks it all down in a way that all entrepreneurs will find beneficial.
Some of what Diamandis discusses feels like sci-fi speculation, but humanity has reached a point where that speculation is more valuable than proven systems.
Education, energy, marketing, transport, retail, technology, politics. The quicker we accept that they’re changing, the quicker we can get involved.
It’s all a matter of attitude.