The Industries of the Future

Image of The Industries of the Future
Release Date: 
February 1, 2016
Simon & Schuster
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“Alec Ross answers the clarion call for innovators who can imagine tomorrow today.”

Our world needs a few more futurists, those crystal ball glazers who can predict inventions and prepare us for transformations that will change our lives—and save us from making big global mistakes.

Enter Alec Ross and The Industries of the Future, which answers that clarion call for innovators who can imagine tomorrow today.

In a riveting and mind-bending book, Ross, one of America’s leading experts on innovation, takes us on a tour of globalization and how countries like America, China, India, and others will usher in the next chapter for citizens, companies, competitiveness, and culture. His predictions will keep you awake, and when you fall asleep you may dream about a new world that resembles something out of a sci-fi movie.

For example, get ready for robots. According to Ross, they are in production now and will be the future drivers, caretakers, and surgeons that increasingly take over human jobs. “It’s my view,” writes Ross “that the current moment in the field of robotics is very much like where the world stood with the Internet 20 years ago . . . robots may walk the streets with us, work in the cubicle next to ours, or take our elderly parents for a walk and then help them with dinner.” Countries like Japan already operate 310,000 of the 1.4 million industrial robots in existence across the world.

If your child is a science geek this book will give you great comfort. Ross explores the cutting edge of fields like genomic technology, which may lead to cures for cancer and other diseases. Innovations in the study of the liquid biopsy, for example, may help detect ovarian and endometrial cancers at an earlier stage. DNA research is taking off with all kinds of promising outcomes. America, according to the book, is leading in the breakthrough advances in life sciences, but Ross warns that countries like China are not far behind. “China’s strategy emanates from the top of the Chinese government . . . In three years, the Chinese government has successfully attracted 80,000 Western-educated Chinese-national PhDs to return to China.”

Economists and money watchers will have a field day with The Industries of the Future, which explores the rise of digital payments like Bitcoin; e-commerce sites like eBay, Airbnb, and Uber; and the new “code-ification” of money and markets. Ross predicts the rise of things like new information translation services, protocols for business transactions, and explosions in the use of big data, which he says will permeate our lives. “It will change what we eat, how we speak, and where we draw the line between our public and private personas.”

Alec Ross does not see everything through rose-colored glasses. He concedes that often there are innovation gaps where the wealthy gain first from innovation. He admits that technology and globalization have their downsides in spurring hacking, cyber conflicts, and infringements on privacy as well as ethical debates. But in the end he is optimistic about the power of tomorrow’s technologies to solve big problems like poverty, climate change, and food scarcity.

Finally, Ross is one of the few futurists who reminds readers of two critical pillars of success in the world our children are inheriting: women and culture. “Multicultural fluency is increasingly important in a business world that is growing more global,” he writes in a reminder that engaging with other countries, traveling to foreign places, and learning the customs of other cultures is part of the recipe for success in the 21st century, and that “the states and societies that do the most for women are those that will be best positioned to compete and succeed in the industries of the future.”

If you want to know how to survive and thrive in the fast-paced world of today and how to anticipate the opportunities of tomorrow’s information age as well as how to solve big mysteries, this is a good place to start.