“The Future is BIG” by Uma Vanka

When I think about the phenomenon Uma Vanka highlights in his new book, The Future is BIG: How Emerging Technologies Are Transforming Industry and Societies, the first thing I think of naturally is the economy. There’s a terrific line from the Leigh Whannell (Saw) film Upgrade pertinent to what I see when I think of AI advancement, and a broader, technological overhaul. “I see an unemployment line.” Vanka is able to rebut this perfectly in a key portion of the book, in a passage christened with the following slogan: ‘Enough Lunch for Everyone.

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Some Will Need to develop New Eating Habits.’ Another concepts he reintroduces several times is the simple articulation of tech advancement mandating one to develop strategies for those disadvantaged to have pathways ‘beat(ing) the trend’: “Technology constantly creates new types of lunches even though it takes away many. But it’s merely the titles that go away. Automation transposes and transports the titles to places which will only become evident on the journey. In order to adapt to the change, you must consistently develop your taste and get used to eating new types of lunch. That is the only way to survive the future. If you can figure this out, you will not just survive, but you will beat the trend.”

He also writes, “The million-dollar fact we often ignore is there will be more lunch boxes, many times more, than boxes gone, although each lunch box might have smaller portions. Instead of grabbing one lunch box, grab two, maybe three or more. Let’s take the factory floor example again. While the robotic arm has consolidated five jobs into one, thanks to automation, we are now able to produce more.

More production will lead to cheaper prices. Cheaper prices will make products more accessible to everyone. What does this all mean? The demand goes up and also the overall quantity we produce. While the five jobs are consolidated into one, the overall production might have gone up by many folds. The net result is that the total number of jobs could be the same, maybe slightly less, or in fact, they may even be more than ‘preautomation’ levels.”

You don’t expect a futurist’s book to be able to address present day bread and butter issues. Yet the fact Vanka not only intends to do this, but is able to do so in a manner that is straightforward, empathetic, and understandable is part of what elevates his book into a class of its own. There is something of a segregating mindset when it comes to those who embrace the oncoming technological possibilities, and those who fear them. Naturally this can be traced as extensions pertinent to life issues, employment, financial status, and more. But the fact Vanka can bridge this divide so fluidly makes everything feel like it comes full-circle ideologically.

AMAZON: www.amazon.com/Future-BIG-Technologies-Transforming-Societies/dp/1637424914

As far as he is concerned, there is so much more to gain than to lose from technological innovation, and it is important we don’t forget that. It is also crucial we do not forget those negatively affected in immediacy by technological gain, noting how its net benefits must be utilized for the many by clarifying specified, trend-beating tactics: “Do not let anyone make you believe that the technology is here to get you. Be smart about it. Learn how to exploit it, because opportunities are endless. There are two things that never stop in life: learning and selling. Keep learning new trends and sell yourself out there, no matter what career you pursue.”

Clay Burton