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Moonshot thinking is transforming the future

Moonshot thinking is transforming the future

This year is supposed to be the one when wearable technology really takes off and will be the Big Thing. Well, it may be.

But to watchers at the frontier where technology and living meet, another announcement may signal more far- reaching consequences for the future of work and jobs.

Amazon, in its relentless quest to run everything, is set to deploy what has been labelled ‘am armada of ‘octocopters.’ These will be drones capable of delivering parcels up to 5lbs within half an hour of orders being placed.

To be called something like Prime Air Jeff Bezos told CBS television show 60 Minutes, that within 5 years these devices using GPS, powered by an electric motor , will be taking 86% of the items Amazon deliver off the roads.

Bezos is sure it is very green and when the Federal Aviation Administration has redesigned rules on the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, the sky will be full of them.

So What’s That About Jobs?

Certainly the implications for the logistics industry are enormous. But it is one example of what is coming out of Amazon’s ‘moonshot ideas’ labs, making science fiction science fact and bringing tomorrow to us today.

And along the way changing the face of so many jobs that we do. The days of manual working, offices, transport and communication are all changing so fast that its hard to see where new jobs will come from.

Already 8 out of 10 jobs in the new sectors didn’t exist a decade ago and may not be here a decade from now.

No Impossible Ambitions

The giants like Apple, Amazon, Google are all employing teams of thinkers who engage in off-the-wall projects and experiments that sound impossible till they are up and running. They are the money making get ahead projects to come.

Google Glass is a case in point. Originally an outlandish idea and this year becoming the norm, for people at Google it’s already run of the mill. They are onwards and upwards. ‘Loon’ to bring broadband to the developing world and driver-less vehicles are occupying them now.

Katharine Rushton writing in the Daily Telegraph (3 December 2013) described PayPal’s founder Peter Thiel and his plans to create artificial independent islands where technology and society can be experimented with but without any of the regulatory hassle innovation normally experiences.

Beyond earth, Avatar director James Cameron has teamed up with Larry Page and Eric Schmidt in Planetary Resources, a company planning to ‘mine asteroids for fuel and precious metals.’

Elon Musk, formerly of PayPal aims to colonise Mars with his Space X company. She pointed out that Bezos’ $42 million spending on a 10,000 year clock in Texas is designed to demonstrate the importance of long-term thinking.

Retaining the Talent

Rushton also pointed out that the purpose of these kinds of beyond blue-sky conceptualising is to ‘attract and retain the top flight engineering and design talent they require for the more mundane parts of their business.’

Google was her illustration. She said it was essentially an advertising business and ‘the best guys at Google are bored with search but they’re too valuable to lose.’

So, the best guys are given the radical thinking projects to keep their skills on board. People can be given a huge task, but when it is done and working, they need another. She said that the effect in Silicon Valley is ‘palpable. Technologist approach their work with the zeal of missionaries.’

And there we have it. Do we all approach our work with the zeal of missionaries?

As we said in In the Future, The Average Is History, the Machine Is King (30 September 2013)  the age of the average is over, soon there will only be Big Earners and Big Losers.

So, maybe bear that in mind as we get started on today’s working tasks.


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Image: Luc Viatour