I have been looking into buying an electric car and this has got me thinking a lot about the future. While most people are concerned about the economy or worrying about paying their mortgage, the world is changing rapidly and no one seems to notice. A couple of years ago there were a handful of electric cars. Now there are thousands being sold every month. Soon there will be millions on the road. Cell phones are now as powerful as the last generation of computers. Companies are taking reservations for flights into space. We are entering a brave new world and it will create many new opportunities for those who are looking to profit.
Electric Vehicles (EVs)
I have been following the evolution of electric cars for at least 20 years. Until recently the technology just wasn’t available to produce EVs that rivaled the range or performance of gas cars. A company called Tesla has changed all of that. What started out as glorified golf carts can now do 0-60 in less than 4 seconds. EVs can cruise at freeway speed for up to 300 miles on a single charge. They can be rapid-charged in 30 minutes. Electric cars are still more expensive and less practical than combustion cars, but that is changing. It will change much faster than most people expect. New battery technologies already being tested will make long range EVs affordable to the masses in just a couple of years.
What if your car could drive your kids to school and soccer practice for you? What if you could read the newspaper or answer emails on your commute to and from work? What if you were elderly, blind or handicapped and your car could drive you around? What if you wanted to have a couple of drinks and not get arrested? What if thousands of lives could be saved and hundreds of thousands of injuries could be prevented every year?
All of these things are possible with self-driving cars and they have been around for years. Google has a small fleet of self-driving Priuses that have driven millions of accident-free miles. Tesla is working with Google to bring this technology to their next-generation of electric cars. Self-driving cars will soon be available and affordable. The choice to drive or ride will be up to you.
One of my favorite places to ride dirt bikes is now covered in windmills. There is still plenty of room to ride, but the desert landscape has changed. In addition to blazing through miles of cactus and sand washes, you ride under towering white turbines that spin in a mesmerizing fashion. The owner of the land is furious with the new windmills blotting out his view of pristine desert. But, I have to admit that I think they look kind of cool. In either case, alternative energy is only going to expand. It’s not going away. The age of digging up carbon and burning it for energy will come to an end, just like the whale oil and kerosene lamps of the past. Combustion is primitive, expensive, inefficient and harmful to the environment. Companies and governments are making a fortune selling dirty energy. Soon, technology will free the people from energy monopolists.
For years, Google has been quietly rolling out a gigabit fiber optic network. The goal is to provide super-fast Internet for streaming media and other high-bandwidth uses. The exploding popularity of Netflix is only the beginning of this revolution. YouTube is launching premium channels and other providers will soon jump on board. Consumers have grown to expect instant choice for their viewing entertainment. They don’t want to wait for their show or movie to start. They want it to start when they are ready to watch it. They want interactive choices as they watch, such as choosing their own endings or camera angles. They want to be able to multi-task on the Internet as they watch their favorite shows. The old passive entertainment model is being replaced by a new viewer-centric reality.
The total amount of American student debt now exceeds $1 trillion. That’s higher than the balances of all our credit cards combined! The costs of higher education has far outpaced inflation for decades in a row. These costs are quickly becoming unsustainable for all but the wealthiest students. One potential solution is online interactive education. The digital infrastructure now exists to put remote students in the same classroom together. It may not be necessary to build and maintain huge campuses of buildings. Some subjects, such as foreign languages and computer programming, may be much easier to learn from interactive course-ware than from a professor. The old listen to a lecture, takes notes, read a text book and take a test method of the 17th century seems horribly antiquated and inefficient today. It may not be necessary to hire so many professors and administrators.
The Bottom Line
The bottom line is that the future is already here. Things that are cutting edge today will become mainstream tomorrow. It’s not only important to enjoy and embrace the future, it’s important to benefit from the changes.
“I look to the future because that’s where I’m going to spend the rest of my life.”
George Burns – American Comedian and Actor
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