wave of confidence is sweeping India, to become a
big world player. We are proficient with computers,
at a rate faster than any country and our youth are
the drivers. BSNL and MTNL have offered cheap
broadband at Rs. 500 per month and that should be
another fillip. We watched three smart Indian
professors from Harvard discuss the future on the
CNBC TV channel on 13 Jan and the message was 末
兎xpect surprises". India could be that
surprise. Ratan Tata has made a car, which is set to
sell in China. He has bought out Daewoo in India.
There is new synergy between India and China. The
Ambani痴 may fight and spoil their broth but 15
years ago they were pygmies. Mittal is set to become
the No 1 Steel maker in the world. Ranbaxy is the
saviour of many in Europe and USA providing latest
drugs, Bharati is the telecom whiz making money as
line prices have crashed and has given excellent
service at low prices. India can gain by jumping on
to the world's latest technology, cheaper than those
who invented it and compete with them. India is
therefore unwittingly rising and new players not
heard of a few years ago are multinationals 末
like Biocon and Moser Baer. But are we ready to
change and face the future by reading into it. This
message is for every IDC visitor and Kolber's
article below is pointed at our Armed Forces too. It
is philosophical and without philosophy there is no
The Wave Of Change
are at one of those unique moments in history when,
to borrow a phrase, "everything old is swept
away as in the twinkling of an eye." Tomorrow's
world will be unimaginably different and those who
understand it 末 anticipate it even 末 shall
inherit the earth.
preposterous, doesn't it? It's not. And in
retrospect 末 like everything in this world
末 it'll all seem so obvious. "If only I'd
bought $100 of Microsoft stock twenty years
ago," they still lament, "I'd be
rich." I tell those types to stop whining. The
opportunities presenting themselves now are many
times as lucrative 末 and you don't need any
special tools to pick them. All you have to do is
open your eyes!
Drivers 末 the power behind this juggernaut
末 are already turning whole economies upside
down 末 but a century from now? Forget about it.
The world will be entirely unrecognisable. Those who
surf this wave will make fabulous profits... some
are already doing so. Those who ignore it will be
crushed beneath it.
I know what you're thinking... you're probably
wondering what I've been smoking. That's all right.
When I first began to understand this, I was
sceptical too. Then I was shocked. Then I started
setting up technology companies! Consider this: In
the next century, we'll see something like 20,000
years of change.
read that right. The world of 2105 will be as
different from today's world, as we are from the
hunter-gatherers. That's because progress works like
interest payments 末 it compounds. Scientists
call this process "multiplicative." Every
technological advance rests on the foundation of a
series of advances that came before it. That's
obvious. What's not so obvious is that many of these
advances aren't just freestanding, they're
catalytic-they transform how other fields of
technology can progress.
certain fields, the catalytic effects are going to
be especially great. Included among these are future
energy, nanotechnology and space development. Each
of these is a Change Driver. Computers are another,
with offshoots in artificial intelligence, robotics,
and virtual reality, to name a few.
you doubtlessly realize that computers pervade our
lives, you may not appreciate the difference they've
recently made to seemingly unrelated fields, such as
have recently gotten fast enough to enable something
called "gene sequencing". This is a
mathematical process by which a species is
"decoded" like a massive jigsaw puzzle.
It's broken down into specific genes, and then the
functions of those individual genes is understood
a result, there's been more progress in
understanding how biological processes function in
the past 10 years, than in all of preceding history.
Kurzweil 末 the keynote speaker at the World
Future Society's last annual meeting, and founder of
six leading technology companies 末 has
researched the progress of technology. He's
established that in every measurable area the rate
of progress has been doubling every two years-and is
understand what this means, consider the tale of the
Chinese wise man. He had done something wonderful
for the Emperor, who offered him a reward of his
choosing. "Nothing much", the wise man
averred, "just a grain of rice. Take a
chessboard and put a grain of rice in the first
square. Double it in the next square, and double it
again with each square." The Emperor, thinking
this request quite modest, readily agreed.
the first 32 doublings, it was a modest amount. At
that point-the halfway mark-the grains totalled the
output of a large field. It was here that the curve
began to get strange. After 32 more doublings, at
the end of the chessboard, the wise man owned more
grain than could be planted across the arable
surface of the Earth.
progress is sneaky. It looks slow and even linear
for the first few dozen multiplications. Then it
takes off with a bang, and follows with a roar.
at the 32nd doubling of computer speed right now.
Today's supercomputers-if they can be said to be
intelligent-rival a rat's capabilities. The next few
decades will see the arrival of computers that first
match, and then greatly surpass human intelligence.
now, computers exist that can play chess as well as
Kasparov, the greatest human player ever. Computers
can diagnose illness as well as 90% of physicians.
Computers manage investment portfolios totalling
billions of dollars. Computers are starting to write
short stories and poems indistinguishable from good
human works. Computers have even invented things
that have been awarded U.S. patents.
at the 32nd doubling level. This isn't the halfway
point in progress. Not at all, it's a tiny fraction
of 1% of where computers will be in 2070, at the end
of the metaphorical chessboard.
still argue that computers will never "really
be intelligent." They're missing the point.
Remember the old saw, "If it walks like a duck,
quacks like a duck and flies like a duck, it's a
duck?" For all practical purposes, a computer
that can perform an activity better than all but the
best human practitioners can be said to be
intelligent, at least in that area.
are being developed that can learn. You can today
walk into a toy store and buy a robotic dog made by
Sony that learns and responds to your behavior. It's
being sold as a "companion." Computers
based on something called neural networks can even
develop abstract concepts. Equipped with proper
backup systems, computers don't forget, and they can
transfer their knowledge quickly and completely
been in what's called a "jobless
recovery". You can't have an economic recovery
without the work somehow being done. Outsourcing
still represents a tiny fraction of the jobs lost.
Machines have quietly replaced many of the jobs.
Computers and robotics will continue to replace more
of the economy's jobs whenever they cost less than
that people are generally less reliable, can't work
24 hours a day, and expect to be paid on a regular
basis; as the power of computers continues to double
every year or so, the economics will shift in their
favour. This is a hard truth, but a truth
nonetheless. Successful investors pay attention to
spend more time each day talking to my computer than
to any person in my life. It turns my speech into
words with incredible accuracy. Twenty years ago, I
would have had a secretary with outstanding typing,
grammatical and spelling skills to do this. The
program that enables this cost $195-less than a
secretary in India, were one available.
computer capabilities continue to surpass humans in
more and more areas, whole professions will
disappear in the blink of an eye. Already, service
professions are starting to disappear. Consider the
automated checkout line at your grocery store. It's
less expensive to operate than human labor. Once the
public accepts this technology, grocers will offer a
discount-say 5%-for using these lines. Very few
clerical jobs will remain.
we will start seeing automated fast food
restaurants. Then automated mechanics. The so-called
professions will hardly be immune. If a rat-brained
computer of today can diagnose illness better than
most doctors, a computer 100,000 times smarter will
be the perfect expert to guide a robotic surgeon
with unerring, microscopic precision at hummingbird
speeds. You'll be sewn back up before you were even
sure the operation had started.
who ignore this do so at their peril. You have no
assurance that your profession of today will still
pay well 末 or even exist-in 2020. Your only
assurance of a high income in the future is to own
assets today that grow into wealth tomorrow, so they
can pay you dividends and interest. The Luddites of
yesteryear got crushed, and the ostriches of today
will get eaten.
are living in an age of science fiction made real.
But unlike the potboilers of yesteryear, where a
single advance was worked into an otherwise normal
world, we're seeing advances in diverse fields all
rushing forward together, intersecting and tumbling
into one another, cross-fertilizing into all kinds
of bizarre and wondrous things.
genetics, robotics, artificial intelligence, outer
space development, nanotecnology, future energy,
virtual reality 末 these are but a few of the
technologies leap-frogging each other, mutating and
cross-fertilizing into ever newer and more amazing
technologies. Do you know what computational
genomics is? No? That's probably because it didn't
exist 10 years ago. It wasn't possible until then.
In 25 years, most technical disciplines will have
names we can't even pronounce.
world of 2105 won't materialize overnight. It will
evolve from today's world in an ever-unfolding
progression, faster and faster. The key to making a
fortune from this technological tidal wave is 末
understanding that tomorrow's IBMs and Microsofts
will be those companies that surf the wave, leading
progress in some area crucial to human progress.
Some of them exist today. I recently helped create a
company to commercialise the third basic type of
magnet, only just discovered.
went from nothing to one of the world's biggest
companies in just 20 years! Others will do the same
in diverse fields as other change driver
technologies leap ahead. Those who invest early in
these companies will make staggering fortunes.