Monday, January 12, 2015

2015 Pinto Prognostications

Steve Jobs often quoted ice-hockey player Wayne Gretzky: 
“I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”


The world is in the middle of the second decade of the new century. In the midst of accelerating technology changes, fragile financial failures and precarious political problems almost everywhere in the world, new societies are emerging – new demographics, institutions, ideologies and problems.

Things are rapidly becoming quite different from what most people expect. Everywhere new societies are emerging – new demographics, institutions, ideologies and problems. Things are rapidly becoming quite different from what most people expect.

I’ll outline the things that are expected to happen in the near-term. Over the next decade, much will change; what we can do is extrapolate the technology trends.

Automation Industry Trends

Automation growth is occurring primarily in international markets where new factories and plants are being built. Several growth opportunities are emerging. The new automation leaders will be those who can demonstrate that their products and services can yield significant productivity improvements, and navigate the complexities of global markets. New inflection points will change the leadership lineup.

With roots in the automation business, here are my perspectives on automation technology trends (1) (2).

·      Internet of Things (IoT):  The Industrial Internet will transform the next decade. Intelligent sensors and networks will take measurement and control to the next level, dramatically improving productivity and efficiencies in production. Growth in 2015 will be bottom-up, not top-down.
·      Smaller, Cheaper Sensors: Everyone is looking for or working on smaller, cheaper sensors for widespread use in IoT. Expect fast growth for sensors this year.
·      Cloud Computing: Cloud computing technology reduces capital expenditures and IT labor costs by transferring responsibility to cloud computing providers, allowing secure and fast access for data-driven decisions. The significant gains in efficiency, cost and capability will generate continuing rapid growth in 2015.
·      3D Printing in Manufacturing: Today, do-it-yourself manufacturing is possible without tooling, large assembly lines or multiple supply chains. 3D printing is reshaping product development and manufacturing.
·      Mobile Devices in Automation: The use of WiFi-connected tablets, smartphones and mobile devices is spreading quickly. Handheld devices reduce costs, improve operating efficiency, boost productivity and increases throughput. More and more employers are allowing BYOD (bring your own device).
·      Robotics: Millions of small and medium-sized businesses that will benefit from
cheaper robots that can economically produce a wide variety of products in small numbers. The next generation of robots will be cheaper and easier to set up, and will work with people rather than replace them.

·      Control Systems Security: In spite of apprehensions over consumer security breach events, industrial cyber security has mostly been ignored due to lack of understanding of solution costs. Many companies struggle to justify what is seen as added cost to secure their operation. Major security breaches will change this attitude.

Business Technology Trends

Gartner’s top trends for 2015 (3) cover three themes: the merging of the real and virtual worlds, the advent of intelligence everywhere, and the technology impact of the digital business shift. There is a high potential for disruption to the business with the need for a major investment, or the risk of being late to adopt.

Here are the top Gartner trends:

·      Computing Everywhere: As mobile devices continue to proliferate, there will be increased emphasis on the needs of the mobile users. Increasingly, the overall environment will need to adapt to the requirements of the mobile user
·      3D Printing: Worldwide shipments of 3D printers are expected to grow 98 percent in 2015, followed by a doubling of unit shipments in 2016, reaching a tipping point over the next three years.  
·      Advanced, Pervasive and Invisible Analytics: The volume of data generated by embedded systems generates vast pools of structured and unstructured data inside and outside the enterprise. Organizations need to deliver exactly the right information to the right person, at the right time, so analytics will become deeply, but invisibly embedded everywhere.
·      Smart Machines: Advanced algorithms will allow systems to understand their environment, learn for themselves, and act autonomously.
·      Cloud Computing: The convergence of cloud and mobile computing will continue to promote the growth of centrally coordinated applications that can be delivered to any device. Applications will evolve to support simultaneous use of multiple devices.
·      Risk-Based Security and Self-Protection: All roads to the digital future lead through security. Organizations will increasingly recognize that it is not possible to provide a 100 percent secured environment. They will apply more-sophisticated risk assessment and mitigation tools. Every app needs to be self-aware and self-protecting.

2015 Consumer Electronics Show

The Consumer Electronics Show (CES) is the shiniest, gaudiest, most over-the-top technology show (4) (5) (6). The last few years have been big on glitz and thin on substance. But at CES 2015this year, there were companies with real products solving problems worth tackling. Some exhibits were crowd-funded projects. Here are four standouts.
·      Wearable Devices: The time is right for wearable devices. CES 2015 featured the expected health trackers, fitness bands and smart-watches. Smart hearing aids use Bluetooth to connect to smartphones and tablets; hands-free temperature monitors for babies.
·      Practical green tech: Many solutions to get more energy efficient with gadgets. Pocket-sized 90-minutes solar phone charger; iPhone case with solar charger built-in.
·      Sustainability and transportation: Tesla Model X all-electric SUV with the doors that open like a Delorean. Electric-assisted bike technology; electric scooter with swappable batteries and dashboard analytics.
·      Kid-Tech: Apps to help teach children science, math, and tech. Fun little robots that teach kids computer programming concepts. Drawing, design, and color patterns to help kids learn about robotics and computer programming.

Finance, Politics & Religion

There’s nothing I can write on these subjects that hasn’t been covered by gurus everywhere. I won’t forecast whether Hillary will run, and whether Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney will run against her. Others handle my own financial investments. So, I won’t venture into arenas where your guess is as good as mine.

Future Prognostications 2015-2025

Here are ten prognostications for the next decade, picked from the World Future Society (7) forecasts, plus other readings and discussions with Futurists. These are intended to illustrate how different the world will be for my grandkids (who will still be teenagers). They will grow up being used to the world being this way and will shape the future.

  • Education: A major shift to on-line education and certification is already happening, and will continue steadily. (8) (9)
  • Jobs: Advances in artificial intelligence will eliminate human workers. Two billion jobs will be jettisoned by 2030, replaced by jobs that are still developing. (10) (11) There will be big opportunities for technical specialization, as well as more varied cultural opportunities – music, art, and novels, for instance.
  • Robot Work Force: Machines can automate production economically so marginal laborers will be laid off. The technological boom in robots and intelligent computer systems will proliferate to the detriment of human labor. 
  • Middle Class Impasse: The middle class is accumulating debt and delaying retirement. Young people cannot find work, so live with their parents. With income stagnating, consumption must fall, which will cause empty shipping malls. (12) 
  • Driverless cars: As automated vehicles increasingly replace human-driven ones, the numbers of deaths and catastrophic injuries will drastically decline, along with lawsuits and the need to insure humans and vehicles against drunk or sleeping drivers, road rage, and other problems. (13)
  • Speak to Computers: Word-meaning models, logic algorithms, and grammar and syntax analysis will accurately predict the meanings of sentences 85% of the time. Tomorrow’s computers will know what people are saying and will be able to tell when someone is lying. They’ll take over many jobs; more creative and useful human occupations must be generated.
  • Robotic Augmentation: Robotic exoskeletons will allow wearers to move their arms, legs, and torsos, with mechanical amplification in every motion. Some designers envision senior citizens in civilian life using exoskeletons, to stay mobile even as their bodies lose strength and vitality.
  • Health & Well-being: Future medicine will rely on an array of sensors collecting and reporting on body status. Digestible sensors will store and transmit body data. Sensors embedded in teeth will recognize when people eat, drink, cough, or smoke. Sensors under the skin will constantly measure vital signs and produce alerts when something is wrong. (14)
  • Brain scanning will replace jurors: Increasingly sophisticated neuro-technologies will enable the legal system to spot when suspects, witnesses, and police are telling the truth or lying. As functional MRIs become more widespread, courtrooms will allow brain-wave detection.
  • Energy: Futurist Ray Kurzweil notes that solar power has been doubling every two years for the past 30 years while costs have been dropping. He says solar energy is only six doublings (less than 14 years) away from meeting 100 % percent of energy needs. (15) (16)
Millennial Optimism

In America today, eighty million “millennials” (people who are eighteen to thirty years old today) are coming of age and emerging as leaders. They have begun their careers amidst a recession that has seen record youth unemployment levels, yet they remain optimistic about their future. (17)

By 2020, this largest generation in US history will represent one out of every three adults in the country. They are more ethnically and racially diverse than their elders, they are the first generation to come of age in a truly global world, and the first to come of age in the new digital era.

Humans have a way of adapting to thrive. I am optimistic about the future!

The future's arrived
Nobody can doubt
The future is what everything's about
It's better for you and its better for me
It's better than what everybody thought it would be

The future has arrived
The future has arrived today

The future's alive
Alive as can be
Just open your eyes it's as plain to see
Just don't be afraid
Just keep going on
One step at a time and you can't go wrong

Song, The Future Has Arrived, from Disney's Meet the Robinsons,
composed by Danny Elfman, sung by The All American Rejects.


  1. Manufacturing Automation 2015 Trends:
  2. Pinto Automation Technology Futures:
  3. Gartner - Top 10 Strategic Technology Trends for 2015:
  4. Best of CES 2015: Products tackling real world problems:
  5. Digital Trends Top Tech of CES 2015 - award winners:
  6. IOT and wearables to be in top 10 tech trends in 2015:
  7. World Future Society: Outlook 2015:
  8. Why Free Online Classes Are the Future of Education:
  9. Video Games Are the Future of Education:
  10. Economist - The future of jobs - The onrushing wave:
  11. We’re heading into a jobless future:
  12. America's Disappearing Middle Class:
  13. Driverless car market watch:
  14. Future When Doctor's Office Is In Your Home:   
  15. Future of Energy:
  16. Economist - A survey of The future of energy:
  17. How the Millennial Generation Is Shaping our World:

Jim Pinto
Technology Futurist
Carlsbad, California, USA
Tel: 1-858-353-5467
12 January 2015


  1. For the 1% - If you make noise you get noticed. If you are loud you get on radio. If you are angry your show gets picked up for another season. If you have no shame your show gets syndicated nationally.

    For the Rest of Us - Be Optimistic, Be Nice, Do your Best and Move On.

    Gary W.

  2. Very meaningful article. For an individual, a red dot, in Asia Pacific, i could make sense but hope is all i can hold on in this seemingly pessimistic future. Keep the faith and may God bless you.

  3. very good summary Jim

    disturbing about the reduction of jobs due to automation, and the increase of younger millenniums, with perhaps less vocational or practical skills in the future you outline

    how do you foresee the development of government/bureaucracy/special interests and pitchforks?

    1. Thank you for the insightful response.

      Government/bureaucracy/special-interests will simply muddle along and cope. Old habits will die, new trends will emerge - and new "special interests".

  4. I am more pessimistic.

    100 years ago people worked 60 or 70 hours per week at drudgery just to stay alive. Now automation has reduced this to 40 hours (or is it 30?) and increased the standard of living. But the future will eliminate a lot of jobs. What will we do with all the unemployed? Or will the work week become 20 hours? The population of sub-Saharan Africa is now 1 billion. By 2100 it will be 3 billion. The way I see it, there will be an additional 2 billion living in poverty.

    1. Bob :
      Thank you for your always insightful comments.

      Yes, lots of jobs will be eliminated, and new ones will emerge. But the new jobs will only be for technically qualified with special skills.
      20-hour work-weeks will be everywhere for the part-timers - not standard. Global competition will rule.

      Yes, the increase in the sub-Saharan population will cause problems. That part of the world is already unstable, controlled by the likes of Boko Haram. The rest of the world remains helpless to do anything.

      I don't know the solutions for these problems. I am optimistic that "millennials" will indeed emerge with practical answers to poverty and conflict.

  5. I especially noted your comment on developing machines that can detect when a person is lying. Years ago i read a book " The Truth machine" which is a spellbinding account of a future where no one can lie. The changes that happen when this is possible are truly amazing....

  6. I must share this email exchange with someone in Israel, where there most people are despondent about current events.
    Email: OPTIMISTIC about the future ?
    Do you live in heaven ?
    Do you see the news from Paris for example ? or Syria ? or Iraq ? or the USA ?
    Keep well - So help you god
    JimPinto: Yes – I have seen the news from Paris. And Syria. And Iraq. And I live in the USA. And yes, I am optimistic. The world will cope and correct itself – I hope and expect. God will help us all!
    Email Response:
    Correct itself ?
    Means killing a few hundred of thousands of Arabs
    Hope your Obama can do something
    Meanwhile he is sleeping
    Keep well
    JimPinto: It is 4:00 AM here in California. I have been thinking about your message and my seemingly unfeeling response.

    Yes, right now, in the short term, it seems very bad, very sad. But, in the depths of that sadness, we have no choice but to be optimistic about the ability of humans to cope.

    Yesterday, we witnessed more than a million people march in solidarity in Paris: "Je Suis Charlie". I too wish Obama had been there with the other leaders of the world. Indeed, the universal response to the brutality was heartening.

    We cannot despair. We have no choice but to be optimistic that the world will correct itself. And God will help.

    Je Suis Trop Charlie. (I am also Charlie)
    Email response:
    You can sleep some more ...
    JE SUIS JUIF (I am Jewish)
    AND I live in Israel

  7. There will be better bicycles, Research going on now will impact how we treat drinking water and sewage. Electricat power will double in cost as we go to "carbon free". Education will be watered down more and more until a University Degree will be nearly meaningless. The coming rules for automobile efficiency will result in horibly expensive and unreliable cars. Terrible scandles will erupt in governement. Our medical services will undergo unexpected but important changes. Seeing a real doctor will be rare. Treatments will be based on the "average" (non-existant) patient and determined by committees and computer software.
    Many companies will vanish as the management manipulates decisions and sell off all the assets and then take the golden parachute and no one will see it coming. Debased currency will devastate rerirees. Military strong men will rule the near east with human suffering beyond hope. Living standards will drop as a corrupt government spends all they can borrow for personal gain and call it saving serving the poor and saving the planet.
    "I believe in clothing the naked, housing the homeless, feeding the hungry, raising the dead to life BUT NOT WITH BORROWED MONEY."
    Some few optimists will start businesses and create meaningful jobs and industry until a vengefull government taxes them out of busines.
    We do need Devine help. It is time again for a Great Awakening and a return to moral standards and ethical behavior. This might or might not come from the Established Churches.......

    1. Bravo, Cullen :

      Your prognostications are right on!

  8. Very good summary. useful information for the grandkids who are in college wondering what to do or what to major in

    J. R. Anderson

  9. Nice summary, Jim. I share your choice of having an optimistic outlook while also being cognizant of the real world challenges. I've always liked the statement, "I am an engineer - I'm here to help." Now I can add to that, "I am a Rotarian, I am here to help." The saying from the current Rotary International President (attributed to Confucius) resonates with me: "It is better to light a single candle, than to sit and curse the darkness."