The Industrial Revolution is the most transformative event in human history. It is the true Singularity — and you’re living through it.
In recent years a bunch of technologists have pushed a once fringe idea into the mainstream. That idea is the Singularity.
For most in Silicon Valley and beyond, the Singularity has come to mean one thing: a future event in which humankind merges with artificial superintelligence, sparking a new era for us as a species that is definitively different from anything that has come before.
Two vastly powerful trends are reshaping the world around us. Now, every business must ask itself: Which side of the line do we fall on?
I work in central London and live in the southeast of the city. Almost every night on my way home from work, I stop at the London Bridge outpost of M&S Simply Food (yes, my life is that glamorous). The place is always packed, but the queue moves quickly because there are 12 staffed checkout tills. Or, they were staffed. Last month the 12 conventional tills were replaced by 12 self-checkout touchscreens and two roaming staff members. Overnight, pretty much all the familiar faces were gone.
The unspoken statement could not have been more clear: the future is coming. Technology is eating jobs. No wonder so many books are being dedicated to the question: Are we heading towards a workless future? And what does that mean?
An emerging techno-consumerism is taking aim at what makes us human: love, happiness, politics, the search for meaning and more. It amounts to the beginnings of a new kind of modernity.
The founders of a new, AI-fuelled chatbot want it to become your best friend and most perceptive counsellor. An intelligent robot pet promises to assuage chronic loneliness among the elderly. The creators of an immersive virtual world — meant to be populated by thousands or even millions of users — say it will generate new insight into the nature of justice and democracy.
Three seemingly unrelated snapshots of these dizzying, accelerated times. But look closer and they all point towards the beginnings of a profound shift in our relationship to technology. How we use it and relate to it. What we think, ultimately, it is for.
Evolving Uber’s internal culture isn’t only the right thing for staff and drivers — it’s the most powerful way to repair the broken Uber brand.
So it looks as though Dara Khosrowshahi intends to accept the offer to become Uber’s next CEO.
Khosrowshahi’s name wasn’t talked about much during the endless who’s it going to be? machinations over the Uber CEO vacancy. But his appointment makes plenty of sense. After all, he’s been a stunningly successful CEO at Expedia for 12 years now. And both Expedia and Uber are, when it comes down to it, platform businesses that connect individual consumers to providers who can serve them. Khosrowshahi has quadrupled Expedia’s revenue since taking over in 2005.
Legacy brands should find the global challenge they are best placed to solve, and get to work.
So Trump’s business councils fell apart after a host of CEOs quit in the wake of Charlottesville. For those of us obsessed by the future of business, last week was a telling one.
That the POTUS can’t hold together a collection of some of the country’s most senior business leaders says a lot. And it’s deeply welcome that so many CEOs decided after Charlottesville that they could no longer be associated with Trump (though, guys, who did you think he was when you joined the councils?).
The Google anti-diversity manifesto story is just one example of a powerful shift in what it means to be a brand.
So you took some time during the weekend to process the whole Google Anti-Diversity Manifesto scandal.
Just in case you virtuously stayed offline: an anonymous Google employee wrote a 10-page argument against the company’s efforts to improve diversity. It leaked and predictably got a lot of attention. You can read the whole thing here. But the core argument (warning, sexism ahead): there are fewer women in technical and leadership roles partly because of innate ‘biological’ differences between men and women. The author says that Google’s diversity initiatives ignore this core truth. In consequence they are ‘unfair, divisive and bad for business.’
The fall of the Uber CEO signals a profound shift in what we mean by the word brand.
So Travis is gone. After persistent accusations of endemic sexism, a memo telling employees not to have sex ‘if you are in the same chain of command,’ and that time he berated a driver and the video went viral (obviously), the Uber CEO bowed to pressure from investors and stood aside this morning.
There’s a lot of talk right now on how this heralds a new era for the Valley. The beginning of the end for the aggressively non-corporate, roll with me, bro-CEO. And there’s probably some truth in that.
Trump has ditched the Paris climate agreement. Enlightened brands will see a massive opportunity to step up and win the future.
So Trump has ditched the Paris climate agreement. He cited his duty to the ‘citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris’. Sounds as though some among the good people of Pittsburgh are not too happy about that namecheck.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Trump is only doing what he said he’d do. Of course the commentary now will be endless — and so it should be.