My friend Mario and I used to drive for hours out west in Australia. We would visit and advise local communities on strategy and risk. At sunset, thousands of kangaroos (roos) would be on the move. At sunset, we moved at a steady watchful pace to avoid a collision. The less common and more dangerous animals were emus. When we saw an emu, we literally stopped our car until we spied the second one. These ostrich-like birds traveled in pairs often roaming around 150m apart. If an emu raced across the road in front of us, there was a good chance, out of nowhere the second emu would come speeding past the front of our car to be with its mate.
With each new wave of technology, there is a second and far more significant wave that follows. People often overestimate the initial impact of technology but underestimate its impact in the long run. Mario and I were very cautious of the emus we could see. In the long run, we knew it would be the emu we couldn’t see that would have the greatest impact.
From 2014 to 2017 there was a lot of talk about self-driving cars. Many overestimated their initial impact, believing they would start taking over by 2020. Autonomous cars will take longer to gain acceptance. However, when they do, the impact on society will be enormous. Fewer cars in highway lanes (many cars will convert into drones and travel in skyway lanes), no more car parks and fewer road fatalities.
Here in Australia, global auto giants are testing autonomous cars out west, to work out how to program them for roos, that jump randomly. I wonder how they will go? When I am on my sports motorbike and a roo jumps out in front, I brake and keep myself on a collision path with the roo. If I swerve to avoid the roo, there is a 50% chance the roo will jump at the last minute a hit me. If I aim for the roo, at the last minute there is a 50% chance the roo will go left and a 50% chance the roo will go right. So, there is a 0% chance that I will hit the roo! Once the auto giants have an algorithm for the roo, the second emu and the gravity assisted drone collision fallout from the adjacent skyway, things will be very different indeed.
On a blank page, list three new technologies that people have been overestimating the impact of for a while now. Now sketch out what life and business would be like if these technologies became commonplace. What would be some new risks? Consider how this would disrupt your business and your life as you know it. List creative ways you could begin to embrace change sooner and start preparing for this new way of being? Keep looking for the second wave.